Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Millennial minority political candidate with a minimal budget who had never run before, just got more votes than a 10-term incumbent. She beat out U.S. Representative Joe Crowley, who has been in office since 1999.

The odds were stacked against her. Because of this, there is a lot to learn from her victory. Ocasio-Cortez's campaign strategy shows a winning marketing and branding approach that all entrepreneurs and business can learn from. When asked why she won, Ocasio-Cortez said, "We beat a machine with a movement."

Marketing research will tell you that Millennials and Gen-Zers care about social issues. If you want to market to them, your brands should be transparent and even cause helping. 

A study done by 3BL Media showed that 94 percent of Gen-Z think that companies have a responsibility to address critical social issues. And that 90 percent of them would buy products from a company that is focusing on environmental or social issues. 

If you want to engage with young constituents, you need to speak their language. You need to care about relevant issues. 

Ocasio-Cortez's campaign did just this. She beat out a veteran Democrat because her policies resonated with her voters. Her campaign was pro-minority and she has said that she'd work to abolish ICE. She ran for Congress because she wanted to represent working class New Yorkers by giving them a system with criminal justice reforms and Medicare for everyone.

She won because she had a clear message and she organized to promote it.

She was outspent 10-to-1 and came out on top. Part of her victory can be attributed to her brand message. It was clear. It was concise. It promised beneficial change and care for her community. And it gave her voters hope.

The other effort that should be acknowledged was her advertising strategy. Ocasio-Cortez didn't have the budget to be frivolous with her marketing campaign. She had to be calculated. 

Small-business owners struggle with this all the time. For a new e-commerce site, it may seem impossible to compete with the Amazons of the world. Still, it can be done.

Victoria's Secret was the place to go for all things undergarments until Third Love. This startup campaigned to give women better fitting and more affordable bras. It competed with the industry leader by enhancing the product--creating half-size cups--and by targeting ads to women. It used models who represented more types of women, instead of perfect-bodied models. It had a clear message that resonated with women and their bra needs. It reached women even though its budget was smaller than Victoria's Secret.   

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez used the same marketing techniques. She promoted her message by knocking on doors that have never been knocked on before. In an interview with CNN, she explained that she won because she went out and "spoke to communities that had typically been dismissed. And they responded."

As any good entrepreneur would do, she found a need in the market and created something to solve for it. Then she used grassroots/bootstrap methods to get the message out. 

Published on: Jun 27, 2018
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