How MSP Owners Can Use Politics And Media To Boost Their Marketing Efforts

Robin Robins MSP Marketing Leave a Comment

From time to time, I say or do something I know will ruffle a few feathers. (Yeah…surprise, surprise. Save it.)

Occasionally, I do it just for kicks. After all, I do a lot of speaking and writing, and sometimes I just need to entertain myself. Now I don’t even have to try anymore, given that so many people are walking around pissed off about an ever-growing litany of things that my presence is sending people into fits of rage without me even opening my mouth.

Most recently, a prospect e-mailed me with “GO F*** YOURSELF” after reading my article on quiet quitting on The same week, a client canceled his membership because he didn’t like my “ongoing arrogant stance” on vaccines (which I’m still not sure what he meant, given that I got the vaccine) or that I was continuing to have events and not enforcing people to wear masks at them.

Another prospect thought my red “Bubba Gump Shrimp” hat that sits behind me at my desk and is visible in the videos was a MAGA hat, and therefore I was a “vile white supremacist” that he wasn’t going to support with his patronage. Someone even commented on the fact that I had a white dog, implying this was somehow racist. I’m waiting for the complaint about the American flag we have onstage.

All of this is just a giant, unproductive distraction of pure nonsense.

There was a time when we could transact with others without knowing or (now) demanding to know their stance on abortion, vaccines, immigration, preferred pronouns, the cause of inflation, or who they voted for. Does it really matter if your dentist voted for Bernie or Trump, as long as they do a great job?

My mentor Dan Kennedy often said things I found offensive, but I simply brushed it off because I found value in what he said and decided to just let the rest of it go. I didn’t even have to bring it up to him – I just decided to ignore it. Just like that. No clinging to an emotional support dog or spending a few hours in my safe room. The same goes for Kevin O’Leary, Seth Godin, Robert Herjavec, Peyton Manning, Mike Ditka, Grant Cardone, and a countless long list of mentors, coaches, and entrepreneurs I’ve learned from.

So what are we to do about it as business owners when trying to get the most out of our marketing efforts?

You can try to ignore it and not get involved, but that’s getting harder and harder to do by the day. If you run a restaurant in certain states, how fervent you were with Covid restrictions was seen as a direct statement of your political views. On the other hand, if you allowed people to slip into your establishment without actual proof of a vaccination card and simply took their word for it or walked to their table maskless, you were, in some people’s eyes, unforgivably irresponsible.

Then, if you were extremely strict, the opposite crowd would refuse to come in at all. Many women’s clothing catalogs come under fire for their choice of models. If they lack a variety of body types and skin colors, they’re assumed “non-inclusive” or even racist. I’ve been lectured at by clients regarding my lack of women speakers – something I find utterly amusing, given the fact that I AM a woman on the stage. Apparently, that doesn’t count.

Some businesses are intentionally using people’s anger over political issues in their marketing to drive sales and new client acquisition.

Black Rifle Coffee comes to mind. Former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s sister started a dating app called “The Right Stuff.” Last month, I was in Philly, where the owner of Geno’s steakhouse created a huge stir over a sign he hung in the window telling people to order in English. Apparently, that has since been taken down, but at the time it got both a huge boost of business in support from some and withdrawal from others. When the founder of Goya products publicly supported Trump, his products were both banned and boycotted by some, while others stockpiled the products to show support. Now, according to Meetings & Conventions magazine, 43% of event planners said abortion-related legislation at the state level would be a factor in their site-selection decision – pro and con.

A liberal, meanwhile, could snag a pick-me-up at Blue State Coffee, look for romance on OKCupid, which according to one ad appeals to “every single tree hugger,” and shop for apparel at Patagonia, which in fall 2020 sold shorts with tags that said “Vote the a**holes out,” an apparent reference to then-president Donald Trump.

The simple reality is that people are voting for or against their views with their wallets, which is really a by-product of the overwhelming number of choices we have. We have SO many options that are good or great that we need something else to make our decision on.

This is a powerful way for marketers to differentiate themselves and win clients without having to play by the “old rules” of quality and service.

Is Black Rifle Coffee better than umpteen number of other choices for your morning motivation? That’s for you to decide. What I can tell you is that their continued growth reveals the correct strategy – specifically, being FOR SOMEONE.

However, I would caution that IF you’re going to use this approach of taking a political viewpoint, regardless of which side, you don’t want to “wade” into the pool. This is not a half-pregnant deal. You should be all in or all out, hot or cold. Being lukewarm only serves to annoy both sides. Many foolishly post online some funny meme or comment that’s the equivalent of a drive-by shooting but aren’t making it part of their overall marketing message, core values, etc. THAT’S not smart.

If you’re doing it to take a stance on political issues, tie it to a core value or purpose.

Mike Rowe is an example of someone who is able to do this and does it brilliantly. He doesn’t comment on every issue – only the ones that pertain to his core philosophies of being FOR blue-collar workers, being FOR hard work, and being FOR those who do “dirty jobs” without feeling they need a college degree. I would also make sure you’re fully prepared for the onslaught of hate that will come at you. If you’re not one who takes criticism well, you probably ought to steer clear of any political stance.