When you start losing your base, you’re in trouble, and this doesn’t just apply to politics. It applies to every business — restaurants, retailers, lounges — you name it. If you notice a new hot spot is syphoning away customers, then you need to change something — your ambiance, music, specials, menu — and reinforce how your business has undergone a transformation.
In simple terms, you need to give your customers a reason to come back.
When this happens in politics, the communications staff is quickly reshuffled and a new image is created. This is why over the summer, Presidential candidate Mitt Romney was never seen wearing a suit and tie on the campaign trail.
As a former Communications Director for a Congressional challenger, I can tell you Romney’s internal polling likely showed that voters wanted a President who was going to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty, fixing this economy. A suit and tie reinforces an image that your white collar is clean.
So what did Romney do? The perennial politician lost the suit and rolled up his sleeves like he was going to work in a factory.
President Obama is now at the lowest approval ratings of his administration. The latest Rasmussen poll shows 64 percent of Americans say they don’t approve of the way he has performed.
That’s not shocking with the sagging economy and meager jobs numbers, but I am surprised President Obama’s communications team hasn’t addressed this image issue. In fact, his staff is practically reinforcing this negative image with their actions.
When President Obama campaigned in the heart of America in August, he hopped on a bus that was made in Canada. How can the President lobby for Made in America when he is riding in a million-dollar bus that was Made in Canada?
And when Americans were pulling back on their vacation plans, President Obama went to Martha’s Vineyard for a vacation and was photographed eating ice cream, riding his bike, and playing golf.
This article is not meant to sway your political views. It’s meant to expose how your image matters when it comes to the media and public. If locals view your wine bar as a place where only seniors hang out, then the myth will perpetuate itself. Young people will flock to a new place and older people will stop in until your customers (or business) slowly die.
One of the first questions I ask potential publicity clients is “Where is your base?” Surprisingly, many business owners can’t answer that question. It’s important to ask yourself where your most important customers are coming from so you can go to them.
In New York, we have several newspapers with completely different demographics: The NY Post, Daily News, NY Times, Newsday, amNewYork, and Metro. Each newspaper serves a different type of client. If you want to find new clients, you need to know where they are. If I’m going to pitch a story on your business to a newspaper, I want to make sure your potential clients are reading the article.
And don’t be naïve in your assessment. Open your eyes and ears to the alternative.
I have a cosmetic surgeon client who told me his clientele only reads the WSJ and finance publications. He was adamant that a story in the NY Post or Newsday wouldn’t help his business.
I thought to myself: That’s funny, because as I waited in your lobby for our meeting, I saw women reading New York Magazine, People, US Weekly and other fashion magazines. I also saw a woman with a copy of the NY Post crammed in her purse.
You may not immediately recognize when it’s time to reinvent your business just like we don’t always know when it’s going to rain. But if we pay close attention to the leading indicators — revenue, customers, the media — we will get a better idea if our image is no longer appealing to our base.
Mark Macias is the co-founder of BigBirdFans.com. He produces social media videos for all kinds of clients and consults on publicity campaigns. You can read more at www.MaciasPR.com.