I know I’m stepping into dangerous territory here but, please, bear with me. Building materials companies can learn some very important lessons from our Presidential elections. The success or failure of a building materials company’s sales and marketing plan is more dependent on a sound strategy than its execution.
Strategy Comes First
Don’t get me wrong: strategy and execution are both important. But poorly executing a great strategy is better than a perfectly executing a poor strategy.
One of the reasons Hillary lost is because her campaign carried out a great execution of a poor strategy.
Presidential elections and military battles are great events for studying strategy: they tend to happen in a limited amount of time, there are clear winners and losers, and there is a lot of publicly available analysis.
If you can set aside your feelings about the candidates and study their campaign strategies, you can learn a lot. You will learn new ways to segment your best prospects and craft the right message along with the most effective way to deliver it.
Who’s On Point
Behind every winning candidate is a campaign manager or strategist like:
- James Carville (Bill Clinton)
- Roger Aisles (Ronald Reagan)
- Hamilton Jordan (Jimmy Carter)
- Karl Rove (George Bush)
- David Plouffe (Barrack Obama)
During this election, the more I read about Hillary’s campaign manager—Robby Mook and his big data operation in Brooklyn—the more impressed I was.
In fact, it was a little concerning just how much they knew about each of us individually. They knew who was either so loyal to Hillary or so determined not to vote for her that they could be ignored. They also knew who could be convinced to vote for Hillary, which is where they spent all their time and money. They knew this down to the level of which houses on a block to contact.
I thought Trump would get killed by the team behind Hillary and I also thought he didn’t have a chance because he was his own strategist.
The building materials industry is behind other types of businesses when it comes to sales and marketing strategies—way behind. That’s why I push my clients to make better use of CRM, marketing automation and data.
But there is a risk of going too far, too fast, as Hillary’s campaign did.
Here’s What Hillary’s Team Did Wrong
- They sat in Brooklyn and made their decisions based solely on data. I’ve seen a few large building materials companies with MBA’s behind computer screens making important decisions without ever spending any time in the field.
- They took their most loyal customers for granted. Many building materials companies have the opposite problem: they don’t pay enough attention to gaining new customers.
- They underestimated their competition. This is where smaller building materials companies have an advantage as they are always underestimated by the big guys.
- They believed their own shit. A close-knit group of insiders and their favorite media organizations kept slapping themselves on the back, certain they would be successful. Welcome opposing opinions. In many ways, opposing opinions are supporting your efforts.
- They didn’t see any need to pay attention to what was actually happening on the ground. Many building materials companies make the same mistake by ignoring one of their best sources of information: their sales force and their customers.
This Politico.com article is a very interesting read about how the Clinton campaign lost the election by brilliantly executing the wrong strategy.
What’s Your Take-away?
We could debate over the other reasons Clinton lost, but there are some real lessons here. Don’t lose sight of these five reasons her campaign lost. And ask yourself what you can learn from these mistakes. The success or failure of your building materials company could depend upon it.