Feel the Bern: Sanders Finds His Marketing Groove

Bernie Sanders PR 04.02.16

For a self-avowed Democratic Socialist, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders sure seems to know a thing or two about how to capitalize on your brand.

Sanders, the junior U. S. Senator from Vermont, provides solid schooling for PR brand managers and marketers for how to deliver an effective message and cut through the proverbial clutter.

The lesson is simple and it involves tattooing two words to your marketing brain: straight talk.

Agree with his policies or not, part of Sanders’ success on the campaign trail so far has been his ability to speak in naked terms and declarative statements.

He delivers his talking points in ways that leave little to mystery and resonate with supporters. “The system is rigged” and “We are talking about a political revolution” are just two Bernie-isms that seem to be providing encouraging returns for his run for the White House.

The statements are easy to understand. And, like any seasoned marketer, he knows that you can’t repeat your core message enough. He doesn’t get bogged down in political minutiae. He speaks with his stakeholders, not at them—another crucial takeaway for marketers who like to communicate with their customers and prospects particularly in-person rather than via digital channels.

As he heads into a Democratic presidential debate Thursday night against Hillary Clinton, Sanders has the political wind at his back. Although Clinton can claim victory in the Iowa caucuses against Sanders, the race was a virtual tie. Sanders is expected to win the New Hampshire primary, which takes place Feb. 9.

If Sanders captures New Hampshire he will have a lot of momentum. (We still haven’t seen Sanders and “Seinfeld” creator Larry David in the same room, but that’s another conversation.)

In addition to delivering straight talk, Sanders is well-versed in another effective marketing tool: Talk about your customers and their needs. Talk about a movement that goes well beyond one person. Talk about community.

Don’t bother with biography; it’s what Hillary Clinton has relied on throughout her campaign. But if she loses the New Hampshire primary she will be in the fight for her political life.

By contrast, if Sanders wins—via a strategy of straight talk and appealing to the passions of his supporters—he will be riding the crest of a political wave. 


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