Political. Political man.
Politics is one of my concerns only when it comes to marketing, communication and public behaviour. What I can observe is an obvious lack of structured and pragmatic thinking of public presence and communication, at such a low and unprofessional level that I tend to believe that the strategy does not exist.
Today, it is hard to say exactly what is politics in politics and what is, in fact, marketing strategies. Its limits are very loose, wide, narrow, adaptable or sometimes even non-existent. Politics is an area in which you must be able to perpetuate change and adaptation while remaining true to a certain guideline.
Political marketing, in my opinion, must take into consideration the average person on the street, the voter. I know I said a truism but I try to define target groups, as FMCG marketing does it by the book: age, social group, income, education, family, consumption habits, forecasts, profession, etc. In politics, at least in theory, the target group is made up of all the citizens. In reality, only a certain part of them, 51% ideally, resonate with the messages of politicians and propel them to the seats of the positions they aspire to. Or maybe not. In consequence, this leads me to the communication strategy, messages, environments, their frequency, adaptability and reaction to competition messages, co-branding (associations with positive effects) and much more.
More or less, you can find what has been written so far in various marketing textbooks in a fancier form, that is theorized and sometimes too intellectual (something that drives students crazy). What interests me today is what happens after a person or a party wins the election. I might receive some criticism now and the following, might seem cynical to some, naive by others, but if I were the consultant (or the leader) of such a person or party I would tell them what to do “post-coitum”, at least the during the term of office:
1. Life goes on after the mandate.
2. Try to be, at least to look like, a credible “public servant”.
3. Voters need to be taken into account and listened to. Do it once a week at your local office or elsewhere. Don’t forget to go out on the street. Be an ordinary person. Nobody believes in saviours and heroes on pedestals anymore. Everybody wants, no matter what they vote for, a manager, a manager of a segment that comes from their reality.
4. Forget about UTC populism like “we’re going to put on our rubber boots and we are going to get the trucks out of the mud that comes from the flood”. There are specialized services for this.
5. Get real counsellors, not persons that tell you what you want to hear. There are a few good counsellors. However, there are a few who are able to really tell you to stop before doing something stupid, even if they are professional mercenaries and not your friends.
6. Remember that political marketing is not done with the laptop and sophisticated PowerPoints presented by theorists, foreign gurus or corporate advertisers who have no idea about the realities of this country.
7. If you are somehow among those who decide on other colleagues, whether to propel them or not, do a blood test before that. Look at their faces and facial expressions, at least to inspire confidence and maturity.
8. A cow is milked so as to give milk as long as possible. Any peasant with a cow in his yard could tell you this simple truth.
9. Own your mistakes. Do not forget that you are only human after all. Sometimes you can even orchestrate a few mistakes on your own.
10. If you are lobbying for something, do it in such a way that everyone wins something.
11. Ostentatious jewellery costs you a lot of money and at least a percentage less in surveys.
12. Do not buy a car that is more expensive than a used VW Passat or a Ford Mondeo. Forget about the Mercedes S-Klasse and other nonsense that would cost you than 10-15,000 euros.
13. Do not buy cheap properties in the name of your wife, father, mother or aunt.
14. The declaration of assets must be absolutely clean and perfectly credible throughout the term of office.
15. There should be no “alternative” sources of income, at least not visible, documentable.
16. Do not use European funds for your cousin’s company.
17. Wear decent clothes, but not ostentatious, without visible brands. Don’t change your wardrobe once a month as seen on Fashion TV.
18. Do not drive a luxury car registered on the company that will prove to be a political sponsor or worse.
19. Expensive and frequent vacations are forbidden.
20. Speak correctly and learn English. If you don’t know it, get yourself some private lessons.
21. Be calm, smile, control your nervousness, anger or indignation. The audience that voted for you expects to have a leader and not a person that is ruled by his emotions, his personal problems or his problems with his mistress.
22. Take care of co-branding. If you are seen in the company of a thief or a person stained by various political, economic or legal “problems”, you will be in trouble. At most, you will be able to transfer your respectability to that person, and not the other way around.
23. Actually, support community causes: environment, social integration, preservation of historical monuments, volunteering. Choose one and go for it.
24. If you contribute to the sale of a state good or the purchase of services for the state, do it in such a way that you can prove that there is a real gain or at least a saving of resources or money.
25. Sarkozy or Berlusconi are known for their taunts and “spirits”. And, what did they do with it?
26. Build something, leave something behind, not scorched earth.
27. Smile, it does not cost you anything.
The list could go on and on and I could even make a textbook out of it, with various nuances and adaptations depending on the person, party and situation, but the main ideas are there. I will repeat one of them, perhaps the most important one: Life goes on after the mandate.
My opinions have three sources of inspiration:
1. The experience of meeting two rather visible different politicians who asked for my support and advice. Even today I don’t know why, because after a two-hour discussion with each of them I realized that they also want to talk, they don’t listen to anything and they will do everything they can. So what should be my role here!? Confessor? So I politely refused.
2. My marketing and branding experience in FMCG which is very similar to the political one.
3. The public landscape.