Collaborative CRM, Business and Politics

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I was out running errands yesterday and, as usual for me, had the radio on TALK. That day, it was Rush Limbaugh. That’s right, many Liberals might call me an extremist just because of that. The truth is that most of the nasty battles seem to take place in the “social” side of things, and frankly, that’s not a place I play politics. I’m a business guy pure and simple. I like to think of myself as fiscally conservative and socially….awkward. Now I’m exposed.

Anyway, since I’ve noticed that most of the major players in the CRM (or social media) realm don’t hide the fact that they are liberal (at least the ones I know), I kind of fly under the radar because while I don’t align myself with their political leanings, I do agree with customer collaboration, customer engagement and everything about putting the customer at the center when it comes to business. This isn’t political to me…it’s just good business and I don’t want to muddy the water with a side discussion. OK, I just did.

Yesterday, something that Rush was talking about actually made me think about CRM. He was challenging something that Jeb Bush said in a discussion about strategies for the Republicans. “Listen, Learn and Lead”, is basically what Jeb was saying.

Now Rush had a field day with this because he’s all about leading first. After all, he believes a political party should stand for something and not constantly evolve. For a minute I was at odds with him about not listening first, and then I realized something…

Politics is not Business.

A business makes a product or delivers a service. Other businesses can make a similar product or deliver a similar service. Differentiating one business from another does require a business to Listen and Learn. Absolutely. If you aren’t catering to the needs, wishes and demands of your customers, then you’ll be on the constant search for new customers. The expensive way to do business.

Are Conservatism and Liberalism the same product?

Absolutely not. These are different products for completely different groups of customers. When one party wins, the other group does not consume their product per se. They have to live with it for awhile. It’s a strange business, if it were a business, that’s for sure. In the real world, you can still purchase the competing product. It’s not all or nothing.

What’s even worse, for those that Listen and Learn in politics, it’s generally a packaging or product placement exercise. They are saying (marketing, collaborating, whatever) what they must in order to get votes ultimately, and funding immediately. How would you like to go to the store, buy a jug of Orange Juice only to find out it’s filled with coffee grounds? That’s what happens in politics when you try to cater to too many constituencies. It’s ugly. There is no market share, it’s all or nothing at the end, and the ends justify the means.

If a political party were to Listen and Learn as it relates to what they ultimately deliver, they would soon become something else. Sure, that happens, but I don’t agree with it.

To hear one Party tell another Party that they need to listen to the results of an election is pretty funny when they don’t take their own advice; especially when it would move them in another direction. They listen to what they want to hear and then they tell you what they want you to absorb. It’s amazing what mind control can do. It wouldn’t work for long with a product, although I still call adhesive bandages “Band Aids”. I don’t necessarily but the brand anymore. I have options.

Liberals will always be Liberals. Conservatives will always be Conservatives. The Parties, unfortunately, are susceptible to blowing with the wind. In my opinion, the middle tier of confused consumers need to be lead based on principles. They are constantly exposed to the repetitive mantras of opposing thought and it’s a constant tug of war. If one party were to listen to the mental programming of the other party via their constituents, they would lose, and we would end up with a single party eventually. In the business world, wouldn’t a competing brand want the other one to stay the same while it listened, learned and evolved? Yes. In politics, no.

Having said that, politicians can learn from CRM, Social media and the channels they use to more effectively lead their constituents. Their product is based on principles, not features. As a result, I think collaboration would really get confusing. Principles shouldn’t change, but products and services must.

I know if anyone reads this the discussion could lean way too far towards politics, so let’s just keep this at a tactical discussion of how political campaigns might have more effective outcomes using CRM strategies.

I know that Brent Leary wrote a book called Barack 2.0 which talks about the ways the Obama campaign used social concepts to invent a new type of campaign. This could be an interesting read so I’m putting it on my must read list. Gotta get my hands on a copy. Not that I intend on getting into politics any time soon.

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