Government marketing in a climate of bi-partisan feuding

Marketing is a challenging endeavor. At its core it is about finding some thread of commonality within a large segment of people, generating a message that touches that common thread, and finally leading those people to take action based on the message. In government marketing, this process is simplified because that commonality is defined by government bodies themselves.

But if you aren’t targeting a single entity in the government (like the Military Health System or the Department of Agriculture) and need to reach out to the Senate or the House of Representatives, how do you find the commonality? Is there a way to appeal to both sides of the aisle?

There is, but the more set against each other your target audience is—as it is in our current political climate—the more thought and brain power you need to put into your strategy and message. And that’s bad news for government marketing.

Is there good news?

Of course, there is always good news. The good news is that all you really need to do is simplify your message. Let me explain:

In marketing, the more specific your strategy the more powerful it is. If, for example, you know your target audience responds to the color blue, that’s good. Use it. But if you can figure out that they respond to Cerulean blue that is infinitely better! The more specific your tactics, the more impact your total strategy will have will have on the target audience.

But, in government marketing this can backfire. In order to target an increasingly combative Congress, you need to broaden the spectrum in order to appeal to a common thread. If your primary goal is to attract both Republicans and Democrats, your secondary goal is to avoid being labeled as either. Avoid the labels of conservative or liberal. Instead use a larger brush to paint the picture by appealing to the one thing they have in common. Their humanity. That is something they can’t debate. It unites your audience and drives home a single, simple message.

Creating marketing that appeals to different political parties is a tricky road to travel. It’s not impossible, but does require being aware of–and avoiding—“hot button” issues within each party. It involves ensuring that neither side can point fingers across the aisle. It involves ripping their attention away from each other and focusing it, for however long you can, on your goals. And most importantly, it requires that you remember marketing is a challenging endeavor at the best of times. Throwing politics in the mix makes it even more challenging. So do yourself a favor: simplify.

Now that’s a refreshing change in government!