Without revealing my own political beliefs, I can honestly say that politics embodies one of the worst examples of marketing that I have ever seen. Really doesn’t matter if it’s for a person or for a ballot measure, political marketing does not embody good marketing - at least as I see it.
What makes me say this?
1) Marketing should be about why people should choose you. In political campaigns, the message always seems to be about why you shouldn’t choose the other guy or the other way to vote. Seems to me that message is less about making the “right” choice and more about “My way won’t make things worse.” Of course I don’t want to make things worse – I want them to be better.
2) No clear target market defined. Ever notice how politicians skew their message (and sometimes their appearance) based on their audience at that moment. Now, that may be a good marketing tactic when you have a consistent product (think Geico insurance), but different target markets. When, however, your message is about what your beliefs are and what you hope to accomplish, isn’t redefining yourself for every soundbite opportunity a bit more like prostituting yourself than about inspiring people to earn their vote?
3) Lack of morals and ethics. OK, this one is from the viewpoint of someone who works with politicians to provide promotional products for their campaigns. Rule #1 of working with a political campaign of any kind is “Get paid upfront for all goods and services provided.” Why? Losing campaigns generally don’t pay their as yet unpaid bills. Usually they’re out of money and the candidate who we were supposed to trust enough to vote for can’t be bothered to make good on the debts of his/her campaign. Of course, many of these losing politicians go on to run again while extolling the virtues that they will bring to office. Even winning campaigns don't always pay their outstanding debts - they need the money for the next campaign; that's if there's any left. Get paid upfront, my friends and take that as a lesson to these folks morals, ethics and values towards their constituents.
Am I a fan of politics – no! I believe that we need leaders, not people who are too busy marketing themselves and/or their political causes to actually do the job.
Maybe I’m naive, but I believe that a leader’s actions will market themselves. After all, word-of-mouth is the most powerful marketing tool in the world!