Marketing professionals can learn a lot from rappers and politicians.

While you usually can't imitate their exact tactics, you can get inspiration about ideas that might work in your own space.

Here are a few marketing lessons you can learn from rappers and politicians.

1. Picking Fights Gets You Noticed

Have you noticed that a guy named Donald Trump has been in the news lately?

It's not just because he's running for president. He plays the media like a grand piano.

One way he keeps his name in the spotlight is by picking fights. Whether or not you agree with him, there's no doubt that he gets a lot of press by picking fights with his political opponents and people in the media.

What can you learn from that?

Attack ads get you noticed and controversy gets you noticed. 

2. Saying Something Controversial Gets Higher Ratings

You want to generate buzz? Create some controversy.

Kanye West recently did that when he released a song with lyrics that referenced his 2009 spat with Taylor Swift. You might remember that moment at the MTV Video Music Awards when West stole the mic from Swift's hand and essentially said she didn't deserve to win the award she'd just won.

West eventually apologized to Swift and everything was good. For a while, anyway.

Earlier this year, West released a song called "Famous."  In it, he describes Swift in ways that aren't appropriate for a polite audience.

West claims he needed to produce that song to overcome writer's block.

That might be the case. What's indisputably the case, though, is that West generated a lot of press with his lyrics about Swift.

That kind of coverage keeps his name in circulation. It's how he promotes his brand.

It's one of the reasons he's so famous.

3. Endorsing Each Other Goes A Long Way

Politicians still crave endorsements. They want former opponents, talk radio hosts, celebrities, and newspaper editorial boards to endorse them.

Why? Because endorsements matter.

In fact, politicians usually make a big deal out of endorsements. They'll often clear out a part of their busy schedule and hold a special press conference just to announce a recent endorsement. They'll give the endorsing party time to speak at that event.

What kind of endorsements is your brand receiving? Do you have social proof on your website? Do you have a large following with plenty of engagements on social media?

If your sales are lackluster, maybe it's from a lack of endorsements.

It's also worth noting that politicians usually crave endorsements from high-profile individuals. Those are the kinds of endorsements that you should seek as well.

Who are the main influencers in your industry? If you can get them to endorse you on your website, it will go a long way.

4. Appearing On Each Other's Albums Brings Twice The Audience

"Right Above It" is the title song to the first season of Ballers, an HBO comedy. It's a catchy hip-hop piece that has the unfortunate side-effect of getting stuck in one's head.

It's also sung by two people: Lil Wayne and Drake.

They don't sing at the same time. Drake does the introductory lyrics while Lil Wayne sings most of the song.

It works, though.

Even more than that, it follows a pattern. It's often the case that rappers will ask each other to make an "appearance" on one or more songs to increase the marketability of their music.

That also works. "Right Above It" was certified double-platinum.

Here's the takeaway: attract non-competitive big names in your domain to be a part of your marketing efforts. You can offer to return the favor or, if you're tight on cash and not-yet-famous, you can offer freebies from your products or services.

Keep in mind that if you're not in a position to align yourself with big names, you can usually find small business owners who might be up for some cross-promotion. Usually, recent startups are a good place to begin.

Think guest blogs, webinars, events, promoting each other on email and social media, etc. When you align with others, you get double the audience. 

For example, right now I am working with another industry expert on a co-branded infographic. We will both be promoting it, so it will have twice the reach.

5. Use Soundbites In Marketing

"Make America Great Again."

 "Change We Can Believe In."

Those are all slogans used by politicians and their followers. They appeal to people because they say a lot in just a few words.

That's a good way to reach people. The fact of the matter is that most Americans are too busy to dissect a huge policy statement or pore over position papers. People need to know what a candidate is all about in just a few words.

That's why those pithy little slogans work so well. They make a grand statement that people can understand without much effort.

It's also the case that political soundbites resonate with the struggles that many Americans are facing.

Brainstorm for a bit about a soundbite or two that you can use for marketing purposes. How would you summarize your product or service with a few words? Better yet, how can you communicate the benefits of your brand in a brief sentence?

Use This To Your Advantage 

Marketing is everywhere, even in hip-hop music and politics. Pay attention to what rappers and politicians are doing to promote their brand and get some ideas about how you can improve your own marketing techniques.

Published on: May 11, 2016
The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of