Why consider affiliating your business with political issues?
Before affiliating your business with political issues, you may want to consider why you are doing it. Here are some possibilities you might be considering:
- Can I convince others?
- Can I assuage my conscience?
- Can I educate people who might be on the fence?
- Can I express my values?
- Can I prune my friends and followers to those that are sympatico?
Let’s take the first reason first (it’s safe to say that you can accomplish the rest): Are you convincing anyone?
Is it possible to persuade people to your political views?
As I’ve noted in the previous post on how politics influences business, unless you’re a big-money donor, your sole voice will make no difference to most politicians. And in last week’s post, we saw how advertising about political issues is unlikely to convince anyone holding an opposing position that your view has merit.
The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism published a report in 2015 examining the relationship between traditional, new media, and the electorate during the 2015 UK General Election. It concluded:
There is no evidence that social media played a decisive role either in boosting engagement and turnout, or in the (2015 UK General) election result. There is evidence that traditional media, and particularly broadcast media with their set piece debates and events, remained much more influential on voters.
Many touted that 2016; however, might have been a turning point for social media’s influence on politics. Robust studies may not yet be available, but I have seen evidence that suggests that social media was for some (14% of respondents), the “most important” news source in the run-up to the election, especially with regards to the prevalence of “fake news”.
In other words, your voice on social media:
- will likely not change anyone’s mind
- will most likely be ignored by politicians
- may grow in importance in the future, but to date is only galvanising those who have similar beliefs but are perhaps not as politically active as you.
Do you speak and act politically on behalf of your business v on your own behalf?
There are several ways you can speak or act politically. You can:
- publicly support or oppose a politician, political action committee, party or policy
- privately discuss politics with your colleagues
- choose suppliers on the basis of their political leanings
- Hire or influence your subordinates concerning positions you care about
As an employee, you have an almost insignificant chance of changing anyone’s mind. Coupled with the risks of illegitimately speaking on behalf of your employer, the costs of speaking politically on behalf of your company far outweigh the benefits. As an owner or executive of a business, however, the picture turns murky.
Most of the readers of this blog aren’t leaders of giant corporations who have the market size to consider broadcasting a political message. They are small and medium-sized business owners. Their challenge is that the public will perceive their personal attitudes and actions as indistinguishable from their professional attitudes and actions.
As a small or medium-sized business owner, if you speak politically on a personal level, it’s unlikely people will be able to separate your opinions from your corporate messaging, regardless of the disclaimers you might use.
An excellent example of consumers conflating a CEO’s actions with their company’s position was when Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber joined Trump’s advisory economic council. Many criticised the move but things got heated when Uber chose to continue to offer taxi service to JFK airport despite NYC taxi drivers declaring a strike during the chaos immediately following the travel ban. The resultant #DeleteUber movement started as a hashtag on Twitter, resulting in 200,000 account holders deleting their accounts.
With that said, Uber has 40 million account holders worldwide, so the boycott campaign had only limited impact. Still, Kalanick did choose to later resign from Trump’s advisory council during further protests of his involvement.
Unhappy consumers are taking more widespread and long-term actions towards Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump’s daughter, who is closely involved in his administration.
Two big US department stores, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus pulled Trump’s brands from their shelves citing low sales. Low sales are the aim of the #GrabYourWallet movement, which aims to get concerned consumers to boycott any company that carries or is associated with any Trump family products.
Donald Trump later publicly slammed Nordstrom on Twitter, calling them unfair for dropping his daughter’s brands. One day later, Nordstrom’s stock closed 4.1 per cent higher as the public showed their support for Nordstrom after Donald Trump’s tweet attacking the company.
So the evidence shows that affiliating your business with politics can have both strong negative and strong positive impacts, depending on what your beliefs are. As we discussed at the beginning of this series, if you are merely trying to guess or predict where the public’s interests may go (on a whim), you could wind up in hot water. It’s best to not play the lottery and only back positions that you have deep convictions about where you can back up your beliefs with evidence and find a core market that shares your beliefs. This fits in well with niche positioning, which is a strategy we advise all of our clients to implement in their marketing.
You need to pick your horse well and believe in that horse, as your fate will be tightly linked with theirs.
(NOTE: Want to see how your practice marketing measures up against the best in class? Take this 5-minute quiz to see how you stack up in the 9 areas of practice marketing and get specific tips and advice on how you can improve your weak points and better leverage your strengths).
Psst….This is the third part of our 5-Part series on business and politics. Click on the links to read the related posts (released weekly):
About the author
Founder & Fractional CMO
Rod co-founded LiveseySolar and acts as a Fractional CMO for our customers. He’s on a mission to help transform the lives of 10,000 people through vision correction surgery by 2024. To achieve that, he inspires his customers to make confident decisions that will help 50,000 people take the first step towards vision correction.
Meet our Founders
Founder & Fractional CMO
Rod co-founded LiveseySolar and acts as a Fractional CMO for our customers. He’s on a mission to help transform the lives of 10,000 people with vision correction surgery by 2024. To achieve that, he inspires his customers to make confident decisions that will help 50,000 people take the first step towards vision correction.
LiveseySolar completely transformed the way we were approaching this… We’ve gone from having just the dream of having a practice to having a practice up and running with people making inquiries and booking for procedures… It’s extremely pleasing. We feel lucky we connected with LiveseySolar.
— Dr Matthew Russell, MBChB, FRANZCO, specialist ophthalmic surgeon and founder of VSON and OKKO
Founder & CEO
Laura Livesey is the co-founder & CEO of LiveseySolar. She has developed powerful refractive surgery marketing systems that increase patient volumes and profits for doctors, clinics, and hospitals, since 1997.
Rod and Laura know as much about marketing surgery to patients as I know about performing it. They are an expert in the field of laser eye surgery marketing. They know this industry inside out. I believe that they could help many companies in a variety of areas including marketing materials, sales training and marketing support for doctors.
— Prof. Dan Reinstein, MD MA FRSC DABO, founder of the London Vision Clinic, UK