When pundits brand politics as marketing, we marketers are insulted. We only wish today’s politicians adopted a marketing mindset. Then perhaps, they’d adopt the cornerstone of modern marketing: Actually helping people.
If you’re not actually helping people, you’re messing up one of the main pillars of marketing – the product.
Marketing is, of course, about an exchange: If you give me X, I’ll give you Y. Communication (the part of marketing we call promotion) is about making the deal sound good. Marketing is about creating the good deal. That’s why a major chunk of what we do today at Marketing for Change is develop products that solve problems.
Maybe you’ve heard of this one political issue – Obamacare (aka the Affordable Care Act). It passed Congress and millions of new people now have health insurance. Yet, it remains a rallying call for a wide swath of angry voters to this day. Politically, it succeeded. From a marketing standpoint, not so much. Putting aside the debate over the product (that’s for a different blog), the deal did not get defined in a way that made it as popular as Medicare. Marketing would have focused more on the deal.
So now certain presidential candidates declare themselves winners by capturing the largest fraction of the fraction of voters who vote and are registered in their party. Are they doing it by defining a deal they can deliver – an exchange worthy of the term marketing? I’m not so sure. So maybe instead of focusing so much on the pitch – the promotion – today’s political journalists (bias alert – I used to be one) should focus more on the likely exchange. The product P.
Only when a politician can truly deliver a good deal – can actually help people – will he (or she) be worthy of being called a marketer.
Peter Mitchell is CEO at Marketing for Change.