Ever since I stumbled into the world of startups, like Alice falling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland, I have remarked, privately and in public (here and here) about the similarities I see between startups and politics. With the US presidential election 33 days away, and the first debate still being kicked around in the media, it would be a shame not to expand on this topic.
Politics and startups are two passions of mine. Especially US politics. Which is why I was happy to have discovered one startup which intersects both – ElectNext – one of the 14 winners of DEMO Fall 2012, profiled here in TechCrunch. Their blog demonstrates how the platform determines voter sentiment on issues – most recently relating to gun control (in reference to recent tragic shootings).
I could go on about politics Ad infinitum, but I won’t, because that isn’t what this particular blog post is about.
I simply wish to point out that I believe startups can learn something from electoral campaigns. For a start, political operatives have been doing this a lot longer. Startups and politicians face the same basic challenge, which comes down to the voter or user asking questions like: “Who are you? Why should I care? What can you do for me?”
Startups and politicians both have considerable investment directed towards them, are often trying to reach a massive and diverse audience, and until they become household names they struggle to achieve name recognition. Politicians however, can access an army of talent, knowledge, and wisdom going back generations, to help them win elections.
Startups do not have the same level of support. Hustling – the favored standard operating procedure of startups – can only achieve so much. A concerted and driven marketing strategy – comparable to an electoral campaign – can do so much more. If your startup is looking at growth metrics and wishing they had more oomph in them, then it might be time to consider a new approach.