Election Day showcases the power of well-run campaigns.

Every four years, the collective consciousness of the United States turns its attention to a pair of massive marketing campaigns. Vying to outdo the other, these competing forces each seek to win over the hearts and minds of the population. No, this isn’t the latest round of the Cola Wars or another flare-up of the Burger Battles. It’s something much more important: the presidential election.

No matter where you fall in the political spectrum, it’s nearly impossible to avoid getting swept up in the campaigning. It’s everywhere – on TV, in yard signs, even in the conversations among co-workers. It is undoubtedly the biggest marketing event of year, and for a savvy marketer, there’s a lot you can learn.

Like what? You may be asking. I’m a marketing professional. I’m not planning on running for office any time soon, what could I learn?

Take a closer look. There’s lots of marketing wisdom and strategy to be gleaned from any election, and presidential elections are a particular goldmine.

Differentiation

This is where political campaigns thrive. Candidate A claims to have a lower tax plan than Candidate B. Candidate B is self-described as “tough on crime.” Candidate A paints his or her approach to foreign policy as better than the opposition. Candidate B has a unique plan for economic growth.

Elections depend on finding what separates candidates, and why this separation is better for America. What’s your differentiation? Why does it make you better than your competition? Highlight it, put it in the forefront, and persuade people that you’re better.

Tell a story

Each candidate finds a way to spin his or her background for maximum charm and relatability. Maybe one candidate grew up shoeless in a one-room Kentucky shack before climbing to these great heights. Another candidate served honorably in the military and thus knows the true value of freedom.

Like these candidates, your brand has a story and a background worth sharing. Find it, develop it, and make it part of your corporate DNA.

Be image-conscious

One false move can sink even the best-run campaigns. Remember Michael Dukakis riding in the tank? Or Richard Nixon’s sweaty debate against JFK? Presidential candidates, like brands, need to be constantly aware of the message they’re sending.

Before you implement your latest advertising campaign or hit send on that mass email, it’s a good idea to take another look. Or even better, get another set of eyes on it. Are you sure your message can’t be misconstrued? It’s much better to catch it before it happens than try to do damage control after.

Know your audience

If a politician wants to have any legitimate shot at capturing the highest office in the country, he or she has to understand who his constituents are.  If they give the wrong speech to a crowd, they might witness support dry up in no time.

Likewise, your brand has to understand who your key customers are. Don’t risk alienating the people who are your biggest supporters trying to capture a fringe segment. Stay true to who you are and remember what brought you success in the first place.

There’s a reason why top strategists make so much money, they’re very good at what they do.  If you look there’s so much you can learn from presidential campaigns. And no matter what the outcome of the election, that’s good for your brand.