Political Marketing is not that much different than image marketing, after all once you throw your hat in the ring, and the die has been cast you have essentially become a product. The upcoming year in Medford and Jackson County will have some heated races and won’t be immune to the mudslinging that is taking place nationally, but is that what consumers want to buy.
There are so many marketing similarities with a political campaign that business owners in Medford struggle with every day, Image marketing or call-to-action advertising. Just like small business owners politicians must make the decision, do you want to market yourself and your message or advertise it?
In image advertising you create a likeable brand, one that the consumer can relate to or strive to be. Consumers have a tendency to shop at and buy brands that they ‘like’ and ‘trust’ that’s where image marketing equals a sale. In political marketing that is sticking to the issues, what makes you different and unique? How are you going to change my life? Image marketing is about how you’re going to change that individual’s life.
The chrome campaign that is taking place right now touches upon how chrome can change my life and make it better. Chrome doesn’t bring up Firefox or Explorer and talk about their negatives, they highlight the positives of Chrome.
The political marketing that we’ve become accustomed to isn’t image marketing, but more about tearing the opposition down to make you look better, and here in Medford is no exception. You don’t put you or your image first, you point out the faults of your opponent. It’s not how you voted or what you stand for, it’s about them. What makes this political marketing work, is when the opponent joins in in this style of marketing. In marketing there is a saying as first in wins and this is a case where if you’re first to sling mud and the other slings back you’re first in.
This is why it’s on the minds of most candidates, as in their mind it’s not a matter of if it gets dirty but when, and isn’t it better that we fire the first shot. But I’m not convinced that mudslinging actually creates a winner.
Money wins. Just like with brand advertising so many times the brand that invests the most money wins. The more radio, TV and print you buy the more apt people are to recognize you. Recognition is very important, when in the supermarket how often to you buy something you’ve never heard of? How many times do you pull the lever for a candidate you’ve never heard of?
There have although been, and always will be great grass roots marketing campaigns, and with the advent of social media there are so many ways to get your message across that if what you have to say really resonates with the consumer or voter you chances of cutting through the clutter and mud is increased.
All is not lost if you’re going to be out spent, that’s where being smart and efficient with more grass roots will help. Whether you like him or not, Obama primarily ran on the message of hope and the mantra of “Yes we can.” That’s a pretty positive approach. He spent more of his time running against and targeted his criticism towards Bush who wasn’t even in the race. I’m sure there are going to be several books written for several years over that campaign.
Win or lose you have to live with the campaign that you run. It’s an image that you will take into your elected office or walk away with. People are always saying it’s just politics, but is it really? Does it have to be this way? Brand building and image marketing have taught us differently, you can run on a positive, hopeful message and win. So what kind of campaign do you want to run?