Renee Prejean-Motanky

WHAT A POLITICAL CAMPAIGN CAN TEACH US ABOUT MARKETING

In Business Strategies, marketing, marketing campaign, Marketing Plan, political campaign on July 29, 2010 at 2:45 pm

First it’s important to understand that a political campaign is a marketing campaign.

A campaign is defined and remembered by its message. How that message is crafted and delivered — is called positioning. Positioning is, perhaps, the most important element of a campaign.  While all of the components of any marketing campaign contribute to a success or failure, it is the message that differentiates and it is how it is determined, how it is shaped, how it is used and conveyed in a political campaign that we, as marketers, can best learn from.  

Positioning is a process that begins with understanding and defining consumer expectations (best determined by research) if it is to be effective. 

And while it’s true that in an election campaign the winner is usually the candidate with the best organization to raise funds, rally voters, and get them to the polls, it is the message that generates the excitement and trust that ultimately wins the campaign. It is the message that builds trust, and builds the foundation for a working relationship.

The first Clinton for President Campaign, with James Carville’s core message of; “It’s the economy, stupid,” makes the point very clearly that campaigning is marketing. It was a classic case of positioning. It was only a prelude to the campaign that elected Barack Obama which was brilliantly positioned. The campaign’s message; “Yes we can!” based on a carefully devised position, was supported by a number of highly focused voter concerns.

While there are obvious differences between a presidential election and a campaign to sell a product or service, there are sufficient parallels between the two to allow for a profitable comparison. At the same time, the success of both the political and marketing campaign relies not merely on the mechanics of marketing, but on the strategy.

No campaign is successful if its mechanics aren’t deployed strategically.

There are seven key components in successful political and marketing campaigns:  

            Political Campaign

  1. The candidate, who has qualifications and some appeal that warrants the candidacy, demands trust in many more areas than a business does. The political candidate must persuade a constituency of a great many capabilities and characteristics.
  2. The electorate, which, while generally diverse, has some reason for considering one candidate over another based on issues and concerns as well as the perception that one candidate, is better able to address those issues and concerns.
  3. The message, which addresses the candidate’s solution to those concerns.
  4. The (political) organization, which disseminates the message, raises funds, and gets out the vote.
  5. The research, opinion polling, which helps determine the concerns of the electorate, and monitors the efficacy of the strategy throughout the campaign.
  6. 6.     The strategy, the structured plan to inform, persuade, and, generally speaking, get the candidate’s message out.
  7. The execution, carrying out of the plan from its beginning through the Election Day.

Markting Campaign

  1. The business (service or product) to be sold.  A business seeking to convert prospects must project understanding of their industry and business, and the particular nature of their needs as well as its ability to fulfill them. 
  2. The prospect, which, like the electorate, is faced with specific needs, desires, wishes, and opportunities.
  3. The message, which is the information about the firm and its services, specifically addresses the needs of the target audience, and should convince them that it can address these needs effectively and efficiently (at a competitive price.)
  4. The organization, which is the marketing structure that brings the message to the audience and executes the marketing plan.
  5. The research, which supplies the information needed to appropriately shape the selling message so that it speaks to the needs and wants of prospects.
  6. The strategy, which is the plan.  It defines the market, its needs, wants and strengths, weaknesses and opportunities, and determines the tools that best convey the ability to offer solutions to those needs.
  7. The execution, which is the carrying out of the structured plan. It brings together all of these elements to produce a client.

A political campaign is more complex in the design and execution of these factors because it has a broader target audience than a marketing campaign will have. A political campaign persuades people to vote for a candidate based on identification with his/her personality, credibility and charisma while a marketing campaign addresses solutions for the very specific needs of an individual or corporation. Most often the solution offered requires very specific expertise and credentials. That’s why positioning is key… it is what differentiates you from your competitors. 

Beware!  Positioning is, too often, misconstrued as a determination of how a business wants to be perceived.  But that isn’t positioning, it’s wishful thinking! 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: