4 Ways The U.S. Elections Will Affect Business Growth In 2020

4 Ways The U.S. Elections Will Affect Business Growth In 2020

Strategic plans are set to be derailed in the upcoming 2020 election. Is your business prepared?

With January 1st just around the corner, it’s time for businesses to take stock of consumer confidence and perceptions, the national and global mood. It’s time to evaluate trends and forecasts, and measure them against our earlier plans and projections.

Even if your company is apolitical, a major national election cannot be ignored. It is critical to anticipate its impact on your consumer relationships and the growth of your business.

4 factors that could derail your strategic plan this year

Of the many nuances we navigate in an election year, there are a few major factors that will change the way your business communicates with your consumers – and the way they respond to you:

  1. Social media platforms are taking oversight more seriously.
    • Starting November 7th, advertisers on Facebook must complete new disclaimer requirements in order to place ads (in addition to the identity verification processes rolled out last year). Since the 2016 elections, Facebook’s advertising policies have been questioned concerning accountability, verification of data and conflicts of interest. They responded by implementing these new policies, which can take days or weeks to complete. Is your team ready?
    • Twitter is banning political ads on its platform, with details to come in November. Many users are celebrating a network free of heavy political spending, but the technical implementation of any policy can prove complex for advertisers as it rolls out.
    • Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg’s stance on political advertising raised a national debate – indicating that changes to any platform’s policies could easily change in the next 12 months, and all digital platforms will be under close scrutiny throughout the election cycle.
  1. Advertising space is more competitive, and costs more.
    • In 2016, some networks reported having their top ad slots consistently sold out, or close to it; chances are good that the same will hold true in 2020.
    • Media companies forecast 2020 political ad spending of $6 billion to $10 billion in 2020 – and some of these estimates don’t even include PACs and special interest groups. This budget is divided among national and local broadcast ads, digital, print and OTT, primarily. Across the board, there is great uncertainty in which channels and geographic areas will rake in the most ad revenue (and capture the most consumer attention).
  1. News media is volatile and saturated with politics.
    • Talk about competition: the 24-hour news cycle is full of dozens of candidates, high-profile primary debates, negative campaigning, a fast-changing policy landscape… It can be difficult to get a word in the mainstream media about other topics, and any moment could bring a campaign trail update that takes over the news for minutes or days.
    • Business news outlets – both local and national – could be best-positioned to keep up with daily developments in communities across the country.
  1. Consumers are fatigued, more insular and less trusting.
    • Even if your story gets covered, is the audience listening? 7 in 10 adults report being ‘worn out’ by the news and 46% of social media users are tired of seeing political posts on social media. This could drive them to consume less news and more pop culture, or deactivate their social media accounts.
    • Consumers are increasingly polarized. If they do consume news, they choose sources that share their political, economic and social views. When it comes to economics, most reports say consumer confidence has been relatively consistent in spite of market fluctuations – but even economic outlook is now divided along party lines. This makes the economy much less predictive (and predictable) in 2020 than during previous elections.

What kinds of messages will get through?

So how can business owners navigate this unpredictable landscape? (And stay out of politics!)

Most importantly, listen. Pay attention to the public mood. Stay in close contact with your stakeholders and ask them what is top of mind and what problems you can solve for them.

When it comes to the messaging, stay human: stay focused on the value you offer and the impact you have on your consumers’ lives. Invest in your local community and be visible as a positive force in the lives of your employees and neighbors.

And finally, stay flexible – and get creative. New parameters or constraints often breed innovation, new ideas and solutions that will serve you and your consumers well for years to come. After all, 2020 is just the start of a new decade.

GillespieHall VP of Operations ◆ Consumer Behaviorist ◆ Digital PR & Marketing Strategist

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