Politics 101, Web 2.0 and Your Business

Politics. Love it or hate it when it's the season for Presidential politics, you can't escape the political onslaught. Since Kennedy and Nixon in 1960, presidential campaigns have been run like a new product launch. Business people can learn a lot about promotion from politics to help your business grow and succeed.

To "sell" their product politicians "win votes". Politicians are after the hearts and minds of the voters. Politics is built on relationships - one voter at a time. Similarly, every day a business has to win the heart and mind of its customers to win their dollars. Branding in politics and in business is relationship oriented. The more personal the relationship; the stronger the branding connection.

The time for merely providing passive information about your product or service in the form of a newspaper, radio, or television ad or web "information" site are over. It is no longer simply about "getting-on-the-web". Today, business needs to embrace the Web 2.0.

Presidential candidates have embraced the new interactive Internet tools that are currently available. They use email, blogs, and video clips. Today, politicians permit any one ~ supporters or detractors ~ to post comments on the politician's blog and website. On the web, "we-the-people" have a lot to say to our presidential hopefuls. And they are listening.

Politicians are also on YouTube and have MySpace and Facebook pages. Like it or not, the web is an active part of the political process. The genie is out of the bottle and politicians have adopted these methods of interacting with and engaging the voters to raise previously "unheard of" amounts of money. Like politicians, business must interact with and engage its customer. To stay competitive your business must employ these tools. The benefit of the Web 2.0 will be increased sales and service for you business. Starbucks is doing this with MyStarbucksIdea.com and see the blob Brand Autopsy which posts information on and asks questions about a broad spectrum of companies.

Use the Web 2.0 to Identify Your Customer's Needs

By interacting with the voters the candidates learn the individual needs of each state's constituency. In Ohio, Obama and Clinton emphasize the economy to an economically challenged constituency. In Michigan and other mid-west states, they address union issues, like NAFTA, outsourcing and unemployment. In Florida, Texas, and California, the Number 1 issue is immigration.

Is this "preaching-to-the-choir" or meeting your customer's need? It has been said that a good salesman can sell anything. However, would your business prefer to spend all the capital and human resources necessary to sell ice cubes to an Eskimo or would your business prefer to provide a product or service it knows its customers need and want.

Interactive Internet tools allow business to learn what is important to your individual customer and gives you the ability to meet your customer's stated need. The goal of any business is to be the best and only business to meet your customer's need.

Use the Web 2.0 to Develop Customer Relationships

Relationships exist on two levels, personal and mass market. Politicians build relationships on both levels. First, politicians know that there are certain market trendsetters that they must contact directly and meet in person. These influential voters are the early majority who can drive voter acceptance or rejection. They influence other voters. Secondly, politicians embrace the masses at rallies and fund-raising dinners as well as through the media and the web.

Business must embrace the same dual approach. You must have some relationships that are built one-on-one and develop other relationships through seminars and workshops; and through the media and the web, such as YouTube, MySpace and Facebook.

One-on-One Relationships

A one-on-one level relationship involves pressing the flesh. You simply have to be there. In the seventies, the original AT & T ran a series of TV ads saying "reach out and touch someone" to promote its long distance service and have customers "connect" with someone far away. Telephone calls are great. So are emails and text messages. VoIP and Skype video over the Internet are marvelous new technologies. And they can reach and touch a vast number of people.

However, nothing is as effective and personal as sitting down and connecting with a client or customer one-on-one over a drink or the time-honored tradition of bonding over a meal. Imagine how effective this one-on-one contact is for a business seeking to learn the needs of its target market. One-on-one relationship building is marketing at its best.

Building Other Relationships

You must have a "COMPELLING MESSAGE" that resonates with your market or you will not "connect" with your market. It is essential that you stand out from the crowd in a way that does not offend your customer. You must have a unique message in which you are the only business that can satisfy your customer's need.

A politician singing the same old song or, conversely, a politician who embraces an avant garde beat that is too progressive for the voters are not likely to win election. It is a balancing act that every politician faces. It you want to succeed in business you must learn to walk the same tightrope. Find a niche and serve that niche. Successful politicians (i.e. the winners) have clear and compelling messages. Their message is a message that "sticks" like "it's the economy, stupid". Business can learn a lot from "slick-wily" politicians.

PUBLIC SPEAKING is a critical part of getting your message to your audience ~ your target market. Barack Obama is a contemporary example of a great public speaker. Other examples of great speakers-statesman are Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, John Kennedy, and Winston Churchill. If you are in a service business, or sales or launching a new product, it is important to think of public speaking as a valuable tool for building your brand and developing trust.

A speaker has about 30 seconds to capture an audience. Impossible, you say! It can be done. Do you know that theme songs for TV show are about 30 seconds long and most radio and TV ads are 30 seconds or less. An audience either embraces a speaker and his message quickly or, even more quickly, dismisses the speaker and tunes out his message. Generally, audiences want to support a speaker, but it is the speaker's job to capture their interest. Audiences want connection. Live and in-person or via video conference, you must provide the contact they seek. The speaker controls the connection with the audience when his presentation is confident, commanding and compelling. If the speaker is unprepared, unsure and emotionally unavailable, he will alienate his audience.

Use the Web 2.0 to Develop a Broad Customer Base

Politicians develop a core constituency by branding themselves as for or against a particular issue. They use their brand to recruit voters, who influence and recruit other voters. All presidential candidates stress that their message is not about the candidate but a bigger, broader issue. Actually every candidate wants to be President because of the power and prestige that comes with the position. They do not say it; because we do not want to hear it. Officially they have to communicate the altruistic impression that they are running to serve the country and the people they represent. This is why candidates say, "I can't do it alone" and "you and I share a common bond or vision". Alone no candidate can influence and recruit enough voters to vote for him. In order for any candidate to win an election, he needs rabid fans that will influence and recruit the voters in his sphere-of-influence to vote for his candidate.

The Republicans have a "base constituency". The Democrats have a "base constituency" too. Each political party's "base constituency" is akin to the national rabid fan base of the Chicago Cubs, the New York Yankees and the Green Bay Packers. These particular sports fans possess an intense and occasionally overwhelming liking of their professional sports team that borders on the fanatical. These fans are loyal and committed supporters of each organization. Like a political party or the Cubs, the Yankees and the Packers, business must develop a rabid fan base that will deliver its message to other customers. Use Skype, YouTube, MySpace and Facebook to connect with your existing customers and they will connect with people in their sphere of influence who may become part of your expanding customer base.

Use the Web 2.0 to Track Your Website Traffic

Everyone says that they hate political polls. Yet, pollsters and tracking are vital to political campaigns and to your business. Pollsters tell politicians what issues matter to the voters and tell business what issues matter to its consumers. Data is available for your business. By using tools like Google Analytics and WebTrends business can make this data work to develop and promote its business.

Every day basics: Every business needs to track who is viewing its website. Determine what your customers are looking for? It is of the utmost importance to your business to be aware of the vital numbers for your business. Identify your business' key metrics and ratios. And monitor them closely. Blogging and YouTube can provide excellent feedback.

Close the deal: No matter what the polls say ~ "to win", the voters gotta vote for you. The pollsters may say that a lot of people support a particular candidate but, supporting and voting are two separate and distinct activities. Unless they make the effort to vote and have their voice heard, it means nothing. Business needs its customers to purchase product or services.

Business needs to make it easy for your customers to buy its product. Your website must be user friendly and easy to navigate. Make your web presence a fun experience. Make it easy for your rabid fans to purchase your goods or services. Words and good wishes are not enough. You need a WOW factor. You need to be the only one who can satisfy their need. You need to know their need before they know their need. "Personal" Web 2.0 marketing will work vastly better for you than purely informational marketing.

Candidates work toward Election Day much the same way retailers work toward seasonal Christmas sales. The reality is that in business your customers vote every day. Use personal Web 2.0 marketing to make them vote for you over and over and to be rabid fans who spread your message to other customers who will vote for you over and over.

David Danda is an attorney, comedian and national marketing coach and columnist who helps businesses market more effectively by leveraging technology. He can be reached at 770.938.0977, or through his website at www.daviddanda.com.

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