Although the presidential election is still over a year away, the political machine of the election cycle is already revving its engine. Within the last month, four potential Commander-in-Chief contenders have announced bids for their party's nomination. Ted Cruz was the first, followed by Rand Paul about a week later and Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio shortly thereafter. These four potentials lead the pack of the presidential campaign thus far, but the race promises to be a crowded one, especially for the Republican Party, and more presidential hopefuls are predicted to announce within the coming weeks and months.
As each candidate strives to win the support, loyalty, and ultimately vote of their party members, their campaign announcements can teach companies about how to win the loyalty and "vote" of their customers. Whether you love or love to hate these candidates, each announcement had merits that companies should espouse.
Ted Cruz - Announced March 23
More than two weeks before anyone else had announced their candidacy for president, Cruz led the pack of Republican candidates and declared his campaign to a crowd of thousands at Liberty University, a Christian academy founded by Jerry Falwell. By declaring his nomination before anyone else, Cruz positioned himself as an immediate target for publicity, giving him a platform to speak before other contenders and allowing him to control the narrative before anyone else announced their candidacy. An adviser to Cruz said his speech highlighted his positivity and personal story, which have gotten lost amid his reputation for opposing Senate measures.
Companies should also consider how they can be the first to propose new ideas and stay ahead of the pack, especially as consumers have more and more choices and information about products and organizations. By doing so, companies can highlight optimism and their corporate histories in order to attract customers and win their loyalty and vote.
Rand Paul - Announced April 7
Like Cruz, Paul faces a similar challenge of standing out in a crowded arena. Knowing this, in his announcement speech, Paul focused on how his values and principles differ from not only the Democratic Party but even his own fellow Republicans. In fact, Paul called out his own party for being part of the problem and emphasized how his values and actions would be vastly different from other Republicans who are vying for the nomination.
Companies that want to differentiate themselves from their competition should take a lesson from Paul. Paul criticizes the shortcomings of Republicans and Democrats past and present and offers different solutions than what other nominees broadcast. Organizations should do the same: evaluate the areas in your industry that need improvement with razor-sharp precision and find a way to make your company the solution to those problems. Then, set yourself apart from the competition by highlighting your alternate thinking.
Hillary Clinton - Announced April 12
Thus far, Clinton is the only contender for the Democratic nomination, and although other potentials are predicted to enter the race, Clinton is viewed as the most likely winner; some have even predicted that her nomination is "inevitable." Unlike Cruz or Paul, Clinton did not kick off her campaign with a speech or an event. Instead, she announced on her social media sites with a short video that focused primarily on the people she hopes will vote for her. Rather than resting on an (almost) assured victory, Clinton advertised in her video that she would be "hitting the road to earn your vote." The video focused so much on those people that Clinton does not make an appearance in the video until just after the minute-and-a-half mark.
Companies with name recognition and a strong brand may have a tendency to slip into laziness and rely on recognition more than customer-centric principles. But, like Clinton, these organizations should always hone their focus on others, not themselves, and shift their mindset to serving those that keep them in business.
Marco Rubio - Announced April 13
Closely following Clinton, Rubio announced his candidacy just this week at the Miami Freedom Tower. Rubio is a 43-year-old freshman senator and the youngest contender for a 2016 party nomination; however, he has already made his youth and (relative) inexperience a calling card for his campaign. His background and youth is an immediate contrast to Rand and Clinton, as well as other potential contenders who are likely to jump in, such as Jeb Bush. In his speech, Rubio positioned his youth as a positive that would allow him to make better, clearer decisions not weighed down by outdated thinking.
Like Rubio, companies should not adhere to tradition simply because it's always been done that way. Even if a company has longevity, it should always be invigorated with new and unique innovation, rather than being tied to antiquated methods, procedures, or ideas.
All four of the current presidential contenders have announced their candidacies in unique ways. Each declaration has set the tone for the individual's campaign and each has a specific lesson that companies could adopt.
Readers, who has made the biggest impact with their presidential announcement thus far? Who else do you think will jump in the race?