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Political Marketing: Why Your Guy Will Lose!

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I first began to follow politics during the 1952 election between Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson. I was nine. Kids were interested in politics back then. We actually had to know how a bill became a law before you could graduate elementary school. After all, there were no video games, the music industry wouldn’t invent rock n roll for another eight years, no one was on dope, and TV was in its infancy.

In those days there were only three choices of TV networks and they covered both conventions gavel to gavel for four days each. Speeches by people no one knew, funny hats and clothes, signs for candidates bouncing up and down with every promise of change and prosperity. This was the first time a political election came into American homes. We were mesmerized by the spectacle and awe of the political system at work. It was almost as good as actually being in the smoke filled rooms where the deals were made.

Eisenhower and Stevenson had it rough. No sound bites, no appearances on the Today or Tonight Shows. If either candidate said something stupid, like there being 57 states, or having a car elevator, 90% of the American people would never know. Most of the country had no idea FDR got around in a wheel chair. The press protected JFK’s occasional dalliance with some female friends. But Richard Nixon put an end to all that with Watergate. No more press protection. Hunting season was on. So, how do the politics of today compare?

Free Background Check?

If you would like a free background check in today’s world, just run for public office. The press will happily turn over every rock, to find anyone, or anything, that will put you on the front page above the fold. Open your mouth and it’s open season to twist anything you say for whatever ideology benefits.

It’s not 1950 guys!!

The thing that really amazes me about today’s politics is, not how far we’ve come technologically, but how far we lag behind, in advertising and marketing, our political figures using that technology. Today’s political marketers are woefully out of touch with the American voter.

Yard signs … Really?? Here’s a hint. Smart phones, texting, email, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Stumble On, Pinterest. According to Open Secrets.org, the 2008 election average winner of a seat in the House of Representatives spent $1.4 million on his or her campaign. The average winner of a Senate seat spent $9.8 million. If we used the same advertising techniques big businesses rely on, the average candidate, in my opinion, could be elected for about a third of those numbers.

Business Knows Two Things Political Marketing Firms Don’t

Business knows that when logic and emotion come into conflict with each other, emotion ALWAYS wins. This is the principle reason that “negative campaign” ads work. But the way political gurus use negative advertising misses the mark. The political ads are often focused on the opposing candidate in order to prop up the favored candidate at the expense of the opponent. So, what’s wrong with that you might ask? The voter is left out. Top advertising agencies know that customers don’t care about the good or bad of a product or a competing brand. All they want to know is what will your product do for me. The biggest waste of advertising and marketing money is to try to change someone’s mind.

The second thing advertising firms know is, don’t waste money advertising to people who are not, or who will never be, your customers. What’s the most effective form of advertising known to man? Word-of-mouth. Smart marketers start word-of-mouth campaigns on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and they go viral.

Campaign Managers and advertisers seriously underestimate today’s voter

When it was almost impossible for anyone to check, politicians would use some obscure news story to condemn the actions of their opponent. Because they knew that no one would go down to the local newspaper and sit all day trying to find that particular article to get the “rest of the story.”

Today we can hear any sound bite, read any newspaper account, or find any fact a politician throws out, in a matter of seconds. Yet political campaigns still insist on using this old outdated tactic.  “My opponent voted to sell babies overseas!!” Yeah, baby calves as an agricultural trade agreement. I can find out how incorrect that is in about five seconds. Now I have a question about the trust of this candidate.

I stopped believing the hype on TV or radio long ago. Now, if it’s a vote, I go straight to the bill. Anyone can make anyone else look bad. The problem is it never achieves the desired result.

We have seven months till Election Day. I really don’t care whom you vote for. What I do care about is you showing up at the polls uninformed. If that’s the case I would rather you just relax and enjoy some Pre-Christmas shopping. You’re not helping anyone.

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