Branding, Branding, Branding
…or Badgering, Bullying and Bashing?
Every election season we are bombarded with messages that label opponents as “crooks,” that excoriate opponents by name for all manner of sins, and that threaten us all with $$$###!!!-DOOM-!!!###$$$ if we don’t vote for …
“WHO? What Did you Say Your Candidate’s Name Was?”
So, every election season I wonder, why do so many candidates squander their money and our interest in their qualifications by negatively branding their opponents, a marketing tactic that history has proven to fail, for both products and candidates, time and time again?
Why do so many campaigns ignore the all time winners of electioneering success, such as Ronald Reagan’s feel-good “Morning in America” commercials (that never said a word about Walter Mondale), and Barack Obama’s friendly little “Hey” emails (that never said a word about Mitt Romney)?
Just as sales are the only currency that counts in business, votes are the only currency that counts in a political campaign.
“All Publicity is Good Publicity”
Branding 101 for both product and candidate marketing, especially when it comes to email, is to exploit the medium’s greatest value.
Think about it: if busy consumers (many of whom have day jobs and kids to manage) do not recognize a product name on the shelf, they are less likely to choose said product. They are more likely to choose the more familiar name of a positively or negatively branded competitor, or, if the negative branding is too strong, to not bother choosing at all.
By the same rule, recognizing a candidate’s name on the ballot is a pretty fundamental requirement for most voters.
Email is one of the most visual methods of branding a candidate by name, serving as a sort of electronic yard sign or bumper sticker. So, if campaign emails remain focused on bashing an opponent by name, logic dictates that the opponent’s name will be most recognizable to voters on the ballot.
Email marketing has been around for almost two decades now. Spamming, *(razy ^(haracter #(ombinations, ALL CAPS, and negative messaging were weeded out of game plans in the last millennium not just because of laws protecting consumers, but because the methods failed at the business level.
The most effective email marketing techniques, in fact, have proven to be positive branding and incentivized messaging.
Seven Rules for Positive Email Branding
Below are some fundamentals to follow for strong email branding. (For retail marketers, trade the words “candidate,” “opponent,” and “vote” for “product,” “competitor,” and “buy,” then adapt the rest accordingly):
- Name the candidate and elected office in the Sender or Subject Line of the email, as in “M.E. Myselfi for [your State’s] Governor.”
- Never, EVER mention the opponent by name; ever; EVER!!!!
- Provide some inkling of the candidate’s belief set and policy positions.
- Tell the voter when to vote and state clearly what you would like him / her to do next for the campaign (as in “Volunteer!” or “Donate!”)
- Keep it positive, happy, inspiring, and inclusive.
- Add a pretty picture or logo, or better yet, an incentive, like a chance to win dinner with the candidate.
- Say “Please” and “Thank You,” a lot.