Are you guilty of voter suppression? I’m not referring to second Tuesday in November voters. Instead, I’m referring to the voters you face every day, known as customers, the ones who vote for or against doing business with you.

I love political advertising. For better or (more often) worse, it exposes the persuasive dark arts of direct response in its rawest form—especially these days. In 30 seconds, political ads must establish connection, conviction, and conversion quickly. While it’s no way to run a brand long-term, it does demonstrate the power of a focused message.

Whether you vote blue, red, or purple, the green with dead presidents on it goes to advertisers who follow the example of successful political campaigns:

  • Know who’s voting.
  • Speak to their concerns.
  • Convince them you can deliver the goods.

Know Your Voters

Start by understanding your voters. Being the one that they think of first and feel best about happens when you do, in fact, think of them first. How well do you know your customers? What drives them? What scares them? What gives them hope? The degree to which you understand their triggers determines whether you’re on the ballot or lost in the breeze.

Those political ads you prefer skipping past on your DVR say much about your market. Get past the specific issues; set your bias aside as best you can. Consider the primal levers political ads strive to move: safety, control, and betterment. (Us vs. Them, Good vs. Evil—only animate a villain-driven narrative I wrote about long ago here.)

Stay On Message

Craft your message on those three themes as they relate to your customer’s triggers. Then, stay on message. Go watch a political ad with which you disagree. Notice where they leave room for doubt. Those are loopholes. Close yours. Listen or watch your ads with your BS meter set at max. Provide proof that shows (never tells) how you deliver where it matters most to your customers.

Get Out The Vote

Your website provides real-time data on how well you’re connecting on these themes. That’s because typical customer journeys include passage through your website en route to conversion. That means every link is a ballot, and every click is a vote.

How’s your direct traffic compare to paid traffic? If you have to pay for traffic, you’re working deeper down the funnel because your message isn’t earning you direct traffic. If you’re paying for votes, a better message would earn more effectively.

While on the subject of your website, how easy do you make it to vote? Buttons above the fold written in an active first-person language, links within content, and forms on every page are just three ways you make it easier for customers to cast their vote.

Deliver On Promises

What happens when a customer finally makes it to you? Does their experience align with your message? As my grandmother, Margaret, taught me, “many a slip between the cup and the lip.” Staying on message means making sure your team delivers on your campaign promises. You might not lose every customer here, but those you do won’t come back.

Know your customer. Speak to their concerns. Stay on message. Make it easy to choose you. Failing to do any of these makes you guilty of voter suppression.

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