Last night was the third and final Presidential debate of this election cycle. So here’s the question: what can marketers learn from the debates themselves and the campaigns generally. What are the candidates doing that marketers should be doing as well?

What can we learn from these campaigns?

1. Branding

From a visual perspective, both campaigns brand in a stunningly effective way. By now, everyone in America has instant brand recognition when they see the Obam campaign’s sunrise logo or the big letter ‘R’ that denotes the Romney campaign. Both campaigns have done an effective job of branding. They brand consistently and constantly.

2. Commercials

Whether or not you like negative campaigns ads isn’t the point. The bottom line is this: the ads are well done from a storytelling and video perspective. They pack a ton of info into a 30 second spot. They are shot well, narrated appropriately, and are generally very ‘slick’ and professional looking. They don’t hire amateurs to do their work.

3. Social Media

The Obama campaign set new standards for social media marketing in 2008. And both campaigns are doing a great job this year. The Obama campaign clearly had a built in social media engagement advantage coming into the race. But the Romney campaign has sought to mitigate that advantage. Both campaigns understand how critical social media marketing is. They seek to trend on Twitter, accrue ‘Likes’ on Facebook, and +1s on their websites.

This should be a valuable lesson for marketers everywhere.

4. Mobile Marketing

The most interesting marketing frontier this election cycle is the advent of true mobile marketing campaigns. The Romney campaign, for example, actually built a mobile app that would send an exclusive alert when a VP pick was made. People with this app found out who the Republican VP nominee would be before anyone in the media knew.

What cheap, simple, app can you develop?

Social Media: Taking Over This Election

The other interesting thing about this election so far is the pervasiveness of social media. Experts and pundits are turning to Twitter to get immediate and real-time reaction on the debate performances. It is nothing short of stunning to see longtime political talking heads turn to social media to quote random people throughout the country. In a very real way, anyone with a Twitter account can be a talking head during campaign season. Twitter even gives the networks a way to instantly determine a winner of the debate. In addition to using Twitter as a way to communicate, increasingly, we are using Twitter as a tool to gauge perception, momentum and even all-important Presidential debate results.

And yet, Twitter is still ‘not important enough’ for many businesses to spend time on? Hmmm….