According to AdAge, the Lincoln Project, the anti-Trump PAC that ran ad after of scathing ad throughout 2020, was one of the best marketers of the year. In their words, “The conservative anti-Trump PAC made some of the most compelling and influential ads of the year.”
The purpose of the Lincoln Project was to get Republicans to defect from Trump. Disaffected Republicans created The Lincoln Project because they felt that Trump was destroying the country and the Republican Party. Their YouTube page has more than 350 videos, many viewed well over a million times, and they are some of the highest-quality political ads you’ll ever see.
The problem is, they weren’t influential.
In fact, 93% of registered Republicans voted for Trump in 2020, compared to 90% in 2016. Worse, according to a study by the Democratic super-PAC Priorities USA, the most popular ads had the least impact on voters in swing states,
The lesson is essential: we must always remember what marketing is.
Marketing is the act of persuading someone to take an action.
We consistently confuse who the “someone” is: it is not us, it is someone else.
The Lincoln Project convinced me of a lot of things; it also convinced Trump-haters of a lot of things. But I and they weren’t supposed to take a different action because of these ads.
As marketers, we struggle so much to create great content that, when we do, we’re quick to tell ourselves that we’ve done great work. And, we very well may have.
But our job as marketers isn’t to create great content. Our job is to persuade someone specific to take a particular action.
If you haven’t figured out who you’re trying to persuade, and if you haven’t figured out if they took the action, you’re not marketing. You’re just creating stuff and putting it out into the world.