I have a confession to make and it dawned on me when I was working on a presentation Monday night in my Hotel's restaurant that it should be today's post. When I first became introduced to political marketing back in 2004 (introduced, not actually doing any work), I was like everyone else that dips a toe into this murky water; the skills that I've developed will translate into this market. Heck, I did major consumer marketing for AT&T, marketed wireless plans, long distance, 800 service, WorldNet (BTW - how is that still in existence?), a super calling bundle launched on a Super Bowl, and a brokerage account linked to a checking account marketed out of its territory, so I thought I was prepared. Wrong.
Sure, I've forgotten more about online advertising than most people know (tongue and cheek of course), and that makes running political online campaigns easier. I can tap into people in the internet industry at large and get help from experts when I need it. The big differences that private sector wanna be political marketers don't realize are:
- Real Deadlines - not the kind that you promise your boss that have no discernible impact on your bottom line if it launched on a Monday or a Friday. I had an old boss (name and date withheld to protect, well me) that would scream if I missed a launch date even though I rarely missed an objective. In politics you have real deadlines - like a vote that you must get because there may not be a tomorrow.
- Marketing a Moving Target - In the private sector the brand quantities infused into your product don't change often; sure external forces can impact your product over time, but in politics, issues and crisis arrive hourly and candidates provide opinions that change perception. You are constantly making changes even when someone makes an announcement on David Letterman that you weren't expecting (see links tomorrow).
- MSM and Blogs - The higher the profile, the more press coverage and if you say buy one bad word, make a typo on a banner (you've never done that right) it will show up. Guaranteed. I remember a time at AT&T when by error a new trafficking coordinator at Excite ran our One Rate 5 Cent banners run of site and they ended up in Club Excite (serious porn). Sure a customer alerted us, but it didn't end up in the newspapers or on a blog.
Political marketing is not like selling the typical marketing textbook widget. There are so many traps along the way and an army of people to point out your errors and critique your marketing plans that it takes a thick skin and dedication to make it work. It is definitely not something that you jump in blind or without someone to guide you.