Friday, April 22, 2011

Here's some advice from a marketer to politicians (of both aisles):

No matter what the topic is, whenever you cite your reasons for taking the position that you have, you absolutely positively need to make the public feel they have a vested interest in your accomplishing your goal.

It doesn't matter what the subject is, the public just won't care if they don't think their lives are going to be affected by whatever is going on. And if they don't care, not only are you not going to get points for addressing whatever it is, you're going to lose points for spending time and effort on something the public just doesn't consider relevant to their lives.

Let's look at some examples:

Libya. Aside from the knee-jerk support that goes with anything involving our troops, there is no public support for whatever it is that Obama is doing. Why? Because Obama hasn't drawn the dots between his getting involved and our lives. He hasn't argued that getting involved will help our economy or make us safer from terrorist attack. (note: probably because it won't)

Deficit: While politicians from both aisles have been spending lots of time arguing about this or that plan to reduce the deficit, none of them have done a particularly good job personalizing the issue. It's not enough to talk about the deficit (or the debt) in abstract terms, they need to talk about how their plans will provide concrete benefits to the public.

Notice the key word: benefits. As any good copywriter knows, the key to a successful advertisement is making sure the target sees your product as the solution to whatever problem they feel they have. Pushing benefits, benefits, benefits is the copy equivalent to retail's 'location, location, location'.

And politicians are selling, or at least they ought to be trying to sell, their ideas. And if they want us to buy their idea (and not their competitors' idea), they need to constantly trumpet the benefits to us if we buy their pitch.

This means Ryan and the GOP need to drive home how implementing their plan will help our home prices... and lower the cost of medical care... and improve our retirement plans... and lower prices at the pump and the grocery.

If they do that, they'll get support. But if they continue to talk about the issues as abstracts, they won't.

Remember, it isn't enough to build a better mousetrap, you have to convince the public that their lives will be immeasurably improved by buying that mousetrap. You can't assume the public will figure that out for themselves, you have to make the point over and over and over again.