Tom Whatley and John Marshall were in the running for Gilmer post II commissioner for the 2022 election. Whatley’s brand and marketing strategy were tipping points for his campaign up until election day. Whatley established early on, countywide-famous brand “Keep Gilmer Rural™” to attract attention and amplify his campaign message over Marshall’s. While doing this he also took to social media and capitalized on the power of the Trump brand, which people associate with and aspire to leadership, no B.S. and in your face conservatism. However, come election day the silent majority spoke, and John Marshall won the runoff election for Gilmer post II commissioner.
So How Did Marshall Win?
Marshall’s platform appealed to the one thing that all Americans have in common, they want their family doing well, having places to live, and in business. During Whatley’s push he used social media, Facebook in particular, to build relationships with voters and create a buzz for his brand. Marshall’s supporters were a bit more reserved with use of social media but spoke openly to friends and family. While Whatley’s campaign was a bit more abrasive and drew supporter’s that want to slow the growth in Gilmer and some even “Qanon” like followers, Marshall kept a dignified demeanor throughout his push for the election on and off social media and drew support of many local business owners and people in favor of workforce housing.
Key Marketing Take Aways
To me, the main thing I learned from each election campaigns is loud isn’t always heard. I think Whatley’s message fell on deaf ears in the beginning due to his in your face strategy, especially after rumors of bullying locals, and his background of removing people from local Facebook group, it just didn’t align with the majority of this county. When you draw that much attention to yourself, you have to walk a fine line because everyone is watching your next move. Another thing that stood out to me, is no matter how aggressive a marketing campaign is, you can never out perform word of mouth to yield a better return. Referrals are by far the most powerful form of marketing, higher paying clients, more loyal clients, and just ready to go a lot faster than any other form of marketing. In the end, I think both of these guys show us as business owners great opportunities and lessons to take into the field and how each method has pros and cons to take your business to the next level.
In your corner,