Electable vs. Marketable

It’s easy to get the two confused, but if you do, you’ll probably regret it.

To be marketable, you must be remarkable. Marketing isn’t about getting more than 50% market share, it’s about spreading your idea to enough people to be glad you did it… 3% of a market may be more than enough, especially if you have a local business or an expensive service.

The temptation of the marketer is to try to get elected. To be beloved by everyone. As a marketer, you hear from someone who doesn’t love your product and you work to change it. Eventually, that strategy leads to boredom, to sameness and to stagnation.

I know it’s tempting to create electable products, but it never works. All the tried and true warhorse successes (Nike, Starbucks, Apple… the NSA of marketing examples) didn’t accomplish market share until long after they accomplished becoming remarkable. If the founders had set out to get elected, they would have failed in creating much of anything.

Contrast this with the plight of the typical politician. To her, 45% market share is total failure. In my opinion, remarkable politicians (using the word non-judgmentally) like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, David Duke and John Ashcroft are unelectable.

Not because there aren’t some people who are passionate about them. Obviously, there are people who are quite passionate. And the media loves to feature politicians that generate passion on the cover of magazines. The challenge isn’t coming up with a remarkable story… the challenge for a politician is ensuring that the story is both authentic and appealing enough to spread to the majority.

If I were a marketer, I’d forget about getting elected. I’d ignore the dissidents, even if they are in the majority. You don’t need the most popular blog, the consulting firm with every single company as a client or the flavor of ice cream that almost every single person loves. What you need instead is a passionate minority, a minority so passionate that they spread the word. Jackie and Ben call these people the 1% and they exist in just about every community.

If I were a politician (heaven forfend), I’d studiously ignore the 1%. The 1% are the fringe, and they don’t actually want you to get elected. They merely want you to make a point. I’d skip this group and pay attention to the next 3% of the population. These people still have passion but they also understand what it takes to get elected.

So, back to my original point: Who have you offended today? You’re not running for anything exept perhaps Mayor of the Edges.