For those of you who have not been following the presidential race quite as closely as others, let me first clarify that it would be an awful idea to put these things in a bar together. Those who have, for now let’s say they begin begin chatting and naturally begin to talk about things they have in common. “That’s preposterous!” you may say, “These things have nothing in common!” Well, actually, they may share a lot more traits than you think. They’re linked together by three simple words: audience centered advertising, and as we’ve stated earlier this week, UNCW Homecoming could stand to learn a thing or two from these men.
Let’s start with Trump.
Trump has been quite the interesting candidate this year, going from a joke a first to the frontrunner for the GOP. His rise to power has been swift and sudden and doesn’t seem to be losing a whole lot of momentum going into the primaries. Candidates such as Trump, who is by most measures under qualified to run for office, usually lose steam very quickly in these first stages of the election, leaving only one or two career politicians as candidates by the time the primaries roll around. Trump, however, has been dominating polls; CNN estimated him at around a 41% backing among Republican voters. Why? He has had his fair share of uniformed comments, politically incorrect remarks, and colorful language. The thing is, Trump does one thing incredibly well and that is targeting his message to the audience. Trump is a mastermind when it comes to capturing the hearts and minds of voters who are fed up with the current administration and who feel that they have been isolated and betrayed by the liberal legislation and actions of the Obama administration. Trump knows who he’s talking to, and many of his speeches almost seem like he’s reading from the same script. This is one of the main things that sets him apart from candidates in previous elections who tried to force their way into the race. He has a target and a message and adapts the latter to suit the former instead of furiously sticking to any one thing. This is Trump’s strength and the reason we likely won’t see his numbers drop a whole lot in the upcoming months.
Sanders is very similar to Trump but also very different. Whereas Trump is creating a message as he goes along to the audience he captures, Sanders is taking a different route and crafting a message for a key group of voters. Millenials and Generation Y are a massive voting force in the upcoming election and Sanders is keying into the things that young America wants.
Granted, many of these things are issues Sanders has taken the same stance on for years, but the way that he delivers his views and makes his point is very different from what we have traditionally seen in politics. By all means, Sanders is an old man who is a bit rough around the edges, very blunt, and very demanding when it comes to debates and speeches. However, he centers his message around what he believes that the voters need and want to hear and delivers them in a way that his audience finds appealing. Unlike Hilary, who has made some interesting attempts to connect to the younger generation, Sanders focuses on appealing to the hearts of a generation that is fed up with always drawing the short straw and being forced to fight against a ridiculous financial standard and delivers his message specifically to them by being direct and a bit angry. Sanders knows who his message is popular with and tries to flow with it. He’s had multiple speeches and Q and As as well as debates at or near college campuses. Sanders is tuning in to his audience and though he hasn’t posted quite the numbers that Trump has, he runs one of the most successful grassroots campaigns ever.
So what can UNCW Homecoming learn from this? The best lesson to take from these politicians is that your audience can make or break you. If the audience is not engaged properly, if the message falls on deaf ears, or if the audience is just not motivated by your call to action then you are going to have a serious problem with involvement.
That’s one of the key things here. Homecoming has to be targeted. We can’t just look at parents and alumni and donors because they, while very important, aren’t the ones who are going to rally together to scream the school’s praises at a game. The students do that. With a little adjustment to the marketing strategy to create brand awareness and make our messages more audience centered, UNCW can also be a school that inspires fierce loyalty at what should be a sacred school tradition.
-Allen, Austin, and Lane