The next presidential election is still more than three years away, but in today’s world of instant information, members from either side of the aisle need to raise their profiles significantly in order to have a formidable seat in the national conversation.
Following in the footsteps of U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), who held a 13-hour filibuster earlier this year to question America’s use of violent drone strikes, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) took to Capitol Hill on Sept. 24 and spoke for more than 21 hours, urging his colleagues to support the defunding of the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare.
Though not technically a filibuster—the Senate was scheduled to begin debate on a bill that would prevent a government shutdown at noon the following day, and they did—Cruz’s antics generated a ton of buzz, both good and bad, throughout every corner of the Internet and from anyone politically-connected.
But by taking a stand for something he was voted to help suppress, many Republican voters have embraced Cruz as their latest flavor of the month.
So did it work? What’s the trade off?
At the time of this writing, a quick Google search for “Ted Cruz” returns 687 million results. Whether you agree with his stance or not, one can’t help but be somewhat impressed by a guy who chooses to stand up for more than 21 hours repeating essentially the same refrain over and over again—that he is opposed to Obamacare and will continue to fight for its repeal. For the Republican voters opposed to Obamacare, it appears that Cruz is now their guy.
Cruz’s speech was one of the longest speeches on Capitol Hill during the last century. In the marketing of himself, he’s differentiated himself from his colleagues in the fact that he at least gave the impression that he will fight for precisely what he believes in, that he will fight for what he was sent to Washington to do.
Facing the disdain from some of the establishment in his own party—and naturally the disdain from those across the aisle—it appears Cruz couldn’t care less. He defined his target audience and marketed to them in the precise way he knew how to in order to establish goodwill and interest from the general public. And he did so in a way that undoubtedly differentiated himself from other politicians: spoke for 21 straight hours.
What’s the lesson marketers can take out of Cruz’s theatrics? Don’t be afraid to try something different—within reason—to separate yourself from your competitors. Precisely define your market and create solutions designed specifically with their needs in mind. Remember that it’s impossible to win over every single person, but by sticking to your mission, you’re likely to secure an audience of loyal customers who will support you so long as you stay true to message.
It remains to be seen whether Cruz will indeed throw his hat in the ring in 2016, but if he does, it won’t come as a surprise to the electorate.