How Politicians Fail at Marketing


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Politics might not be an industry, but it relies on marketing, branding, communication and relationships as much as business does. This explains why politicians have never ranked lower in public opinion. Imagine if other industries marketed themselves the way politicians do, using this playbook:

Base Your Branding on Attacking the Opposition

Suppose Airline X spent its advertising budget telling everyone that “Airline Y promises to be on time, but they never are.” Airline Y responds with, “Airline X’s pilots believe that Tucson is in Nevada. Do you really trust them to get you to your destination?” You get the idea. A few months of this and the entire industry would go into a tailspin. Everyone’s brand would be tarnished. But this is business as usual for politics.

Avoid Conversations With Customers

Imagine a software company that never relied on its customers for any insights. Instead, the firm’s executives watched polls and gave speeches. Their only marketing efforts would be one-way non permission-based tactics like robocalls, online banner ads and TV spots. How would they do? Answer: they’d go out of business, or switch to politics, where this kind of pummeling is accepted. In politics, communication with customers (constituents) is asynchronous and rigid. Collecting customer insights to improve the product (legislation, governance) is irrelevant.

Never Admit Mistakes

Your telecom company still charges you for roaming 4 months after you’ve canceled it. When you point out the problem, the company says, “We categorically deny that levied any incorrect charges. In fact, the record clearly shows we have been giving you 25% off your bill for six years. This is all an effort by our competitor to distract you from the real issue: that they advocate taking away everyone’s phones and replacing them with tin cans and strings.”

The sad part is that this is no exaggeration. And no American industry could get away with this kind of marketing strategy. What do we do? Taking our business elsewhere is not an option. So it’s up to customers – the voters – to let this wayward industry know that it’s time to clean up their act.

Don’t forget to vote!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Thompson Morrison
Thompson Morrison has spent the last couple of decades figuring out how companies can listen better. Before co-founding FUSE, Mr. Morrison was Managing Director of AccessMedia International (AP), a consulting firm that provides strategic market analysis for the IT industry. His clients included Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, IBM, and Vignette.


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