Remember the movie Forrest Gump and what his mother told him? “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”.

From chocolate to politics to marketing…

When I watched the Republican debate with 17 candidates standing side by side seeking your vote, it not only reminded me of Forest Gump but of shopping the cereal aisle at the super market.

Every cereal company on those shelves has spent a fortune to try and attract your attention. Hoping you’ll part with some of your hard earned money and buy what they’re selling.

Unfortunately, often, you don’t know what you’re gonna get until after you open the box. Or in the case of the debate, after the election.

Perhaps presidential candidates should take a lesson from the adept marketing machines employed by these cereal companies.

To begin with, they try to develop a product which satisfies their target market in terms of wants, needs and the struggles of their daily lives.

Is the appeal of their product a healthy alternative, a sweet, calorie ridden kids breakfast or is it simply offering a low price?

Once the product is developed, the next most critical consideration is the packaging.

One can only imagine the hours spent with focus groups coming up with just the right package with the right colors, graphics and message, to grab the attention of their target audience.

They certainly wouldn’t expect to attract someone looking for a high in fiber cereal with all those health benefits using Tony the tiger on the box.

Think about the packaging of our most recent presidents. They were all attractive men. Of course that didn’t work for Mitt. Where did his cereal fall short?

The message.

The potential buyer has picked up your cereal, now what? Coming up with the most immediate, compelling and convincing message you want to convey to your target demographic is a must.

“They’re Great!” doesn’t work for irregularity.

Many research dollars are spent picking the right talking points and position.

On that debate stage, just like in the cereal aisle, your competition is staring you in the face.

The big buck guys with all the marketing dollars fighting against you, the lone female fighting as the first in a category, all trying to convince you they’re selling benefits rather than features.

Notice in the winning slogans from past presidential campaigns, they all promise a benefit to the people and not just chest pounding.

  • 1976 Jimmy Carter – A Leader, For Change
  • 1980 Ronald Reagan – Are you better off than you were four years ago
  • 1992 Bill Clinton – Putting People First
  • 2000 George W. Bush – Leave no Child Behind
  • 2008 Barrack Obama – Change We Can Believe In

What promise can you make about your business that truly benefits your customers?

Sell nutrition and not warm mush.