Have you ever heard of a PEST analysis? It’s not something you do with annoying people on Facebook or around the house. It’s a basic form of business analysis that looks at four key “big picture” factors that might influence your business, factors in the environment around you and your company. These factors are political, economic, social, and technological. Let’s take a look this week at what these might mean for your business and marketing efforts.
Politics can have incredible influence over your business. A party in power may change your industry’s tax rates or change how your industry works entirely. For example, in 2008, I was working in the student loan business. That year, Congress decided that only the federal government could issue federal student loans, and wiped out about 70% of the company’s business model nearly overnight.
Some key questions to ask:
Who’s running for office and what are their plans for your industry specifically? It’s not a bad idea to email candidates and outright ask them. This applies not only to national figures, but state and local ones too. I was recently at a conference where a CEO of a manufacturing firm was told to close up his plant (it was allegedly an environmental hazard) in 6 months’ time by the local environmental controls board.
Do the candidates/officials have any understanding whatsoever of your industry and how it impacts them as elected officials? One of the most basic forms of lobbying is to simply provide clear, easy to understand information that gives them some basic thinking and talking points. As a marketer (presumably a competent one), you should be ideally positioned to be able to influence your elected officials with helpful, useful information as it benefits them.
Have you checked to see which of your competitors are spending money on political lobbying, and how much? Competitors will sometimes use lobbying efforts (especially in highly competitive industries) to craft legislation that is specifically advantageous to them and disadvantageous to others in the industry. Check out websites like OpenSecrets.org for your competitors to see who they’re backing.
Finally, as a marketer, how strong are your community building efforts? Do you have a large, vibrant audience? The reason is simple: if something happens that will politically or legislatively impact your business, positive or negative, you want the ability to mobilize a large number of people to support you as quickly as possible.
Everyone at every level of business needs to have some awareness and understanding of the politics that impact your business. If you don’t, you’re liable to be badly blindsided by political changes.
This week, we’re tackling the details of a PEST analysis! Stay tuned tomorrow for economics.
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