Politics and the New Marketing

Well, fall is here, so it’s time for a quick roundup of the good and the ineffective in political marketing:

This book by Richard Viguerie lays out, far better than any traditional marketing book, the step by step approach that patient politicians can take to outlast and outpromote competing ideas. Emergencies rarely work in campaign strategy.

This site takes a totally different tack. No direct response here, just a virus in the making.

Pastor John Hagee spreads his ideas by making deliberately provocative statements (‘Katrina was God’s way of punishing gay sinners in New Orleans’) that he knows will upset and outrage many people.

This group has 51 members (after a few days) and is started by an ordinary non-politican person. For free. What happens when it has 51,000 members? 500,000? It’s unlikely that this particular cause and this particular site is the one, but have no doubt that it’s happening. There will be a woot or a digg or a daily candy for every political point of view.

And finally, Senator Barack Obama blows part of his hard-earned credibility by spamming people looking for $50 donations for the DSCC (hint: if it starts with "Dear SETH," it’s probably not personally written by the Senator.)

Your political goals (right, left or center) don’t really change the reality that marketing in politics is changing forever. The idea of a spend-and-burn candidacy is fading (how much more than a billion dollars per cycle can we spend?) and it’s being replaced by a person-by-person, viral approach that relies more than ever on authentic storytelling and worldviews.

Is it a good thing? It might be. It doesn’t really matter whether politicians like it or not, though, it’s happening. Behind the scenes, outside the Beltway, there are new assemblies of people coming together, people who are giving permission to hear focused messages, and people who are eager to spread the word, person to person.

Given the choice between a great TV director and an amazingly talented permission-marketing/viral specialist, I’d pick the specialist every time. The future of our world (if the future is determined by politicians… a scary thought) belongs to those that earn, build and protect a permission asset.