Tonight is the first of the presidential debates. And in these, there will be approximately zero point zero zero percent of actual substance. It will be nothing but carefully crafted talking points with one purpose: hit the marketing message of said campaign.
As a marketer, I have a little bit of a different take on politics. And if you’re a marketer, there is much to learn from this.
I watch in wonder as the marketing machines in either campaign spin their craft. I am in awe of their precision and downright marketing brilliance. But as a citizen knowing the inside joke, I worry for us.
Nothing will ever change because people do not vote based on substance. They think they do but they don’t. And politicians on both sides know it.
It’s not substance that wins. It’s marketing. And make no mistake, these guys have surrounded themselves with a marketing machine.
This is why the average person cannot ascend to national office. Only the wealthy and connected can.
There are 3 types of people they have to worry about. The people who are voting for Obama no matter what. The people who are voting for Romney no matter what. And the very tiny percentage that will make their decision in the coming weeks. At this point, it is those yet undecided voters that will sway it one way or another.
And yes, the number of people who will vote for Obama no matter what Romney does, is about 47%. And no matter what he does, he will never convince them to switch teams. And the more he tries, the more angry he will make them. They are indoctrinated. They would sooner switch religions.
So Romney is right. To worry about that segment is a waste of his limited resources that he cannot afford. From a strategic point of view it is idiotic to worry about that 47%.
If you owned a hamburger joint, would you market to Vegetarians? Of course you would treat them with the same care and respect if they came into your restaurant. Maybe you have salads. But spending hard earned marketing dollars to get them into your restaurant would be pretty dumb, right?
But the Democrats used this marketing opportunity to do to him what that side must. Paint him as an uncaring bad guy who hates the middle class. Grrr, where’s my pitchfork?
Because the campaigns know that people will vote the way they buy. We buy from companies we have a deep affinity with. We buy from those we know, like and trust. We make buying (and voting) decisions on emotion and justify it with logic. And often, that logic can be just plain wrong.
Ever buy something you really wanted even though you know you shouldn’t? I have. Then later you give your wife a cockamamie host of reasons that you concocted together but they only make her angrier at you.
That’s marketing 101 and that’s how the campaigns do it. Talking about what they will really do if elected, aka substance, is suicide for either party. What they do is work up the raw emotions. They get you to know, like and trust them while firebombing the other guy so you feel the opposite about him.
You will rarely hear them actually tell the truth. And when they do it gets twisted like what happened to the 47% Romney comment.
Or you hear the occasional brain vomit from Biden, God love him. He’s a classic.
He recently said the middle class has been buried the last four years. Duh, of course they have. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. Paging Captain obvious.
But the other side, who was up in arms that Obama would dare to take Romney out of context, is now running gleefully with it. Hypocrisy anyone? Nah… it’s ok when it’s our guy.
Building rapport with you so you know, like and trust them is all that matters and all they do. Its all they have to do.
People vote for who they like. That’s why a guy gets elected because he seems like someone you can have a beer with. Or he speaks real pretty so he must be smart. All business is nothing more than a popularity contest. And the coolest kid wins that.
This is basic psychology used in marketing every day to get you to buy things from milk to iphones. And it’s used to get you to vote.
You will never hear the candidates say something unscripted. They will spend more time attacking the other than anything else. It is why you will hear them speak in absolute evils.
“If you elect him, Stalin will rise from the grave and then dig up Carl Marx and Adolf Hitler to turn this country into a Communist nation where everyone is trying to take your guns and money.”
“If you elect him, all the rich people will join forces to take your house and health care and make you work in a factory in China for $2 a week.”
This is all they will do from now until then. And no matter who is elected, they will both do crappy things that are short sighted and generally bad for the country. Because you don’t win elections based on what you accomplish. You win based on good old fashioned marketing.
If we were smart, we wouldn’t allow these rich lawyers and corporate raiders to debate. We would get a bunch of top economists to just work it out. But that would just be boring. We need the red meat.
So guess what Americans… guess who’s fault it is that we have a corrupt government that doesn’t work? Nope, it’s not the other guys fault. It’s your fault. It’s my fault. It’s our fault.
We have low attention spans. We are more interested in what Snooki does than what our politicians are really doing when no one is looking.
We care about what the big group which we have an affinity for tells us we should care about. People like to belong. We seek the comfort of larger groups who can, if they are sneaky politicians, manipulate us. Good marketers know this and they know how to use it to their advantage.
We care about catching someone in a lie. We want to see mangled bodies on the side of the road by an accident. We want to boo someone. We want blood.
The only way this government will run right is when we stop allowing ourselves to be marketed to and start thinking for ourselves. When people who think they know the issues stop listening to the fake media and start digging deeper. Look at the issues from a higher vantage point then the typical talking points.
Fixing this economy and the greater world is not as easy as either side makes it sound. Hard decisions need to be made. And everyone… everyone is going to feel the pain if the politicians acted appropriately. Which they won’t because they don’t have to. Only important thing is the next campaign cycle.
But until we stop acting like sheep and falling for the complex marketing psychology and become a more thoughtful and, quite frankly, less oblivious society, things will never change.
By the way, I am not supporting either candidate here. I think I defended and picked on them both equally.
In actuality I’m not picking on either of them. I am picking on you. Now go unplug yourself from the matrix and use your own brain. Question everything no matter how much you like someone. Be skeptical. Listen to the other side. And stop watching Snooki!!!