Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Of Politicians and Programmers

Smart programmers are like smart politicians.

This month’s gubernatorial election in New Jersey (insert joke here) saw incumbent Jon Corzine unseated by Republican Chris Christie. Some post-mortem election quotes and observations from the Newark Star Ledger included:

“Despite spending millions, Corzine’s inability to connect with the core was his downfall.”

“…Corzine was badly crippled by a failure to marshal forces including a failure to get out the vote in places…typically key” to victory.

“You just don’t get the vote out at election time and be successful. It has to be a year-round communication, a year-round interaction.”

“He was totally isolated... and surrounded himself by people who were totally isolated…”

Areas of Corzine support in the last election “…were turning away or worse – not turning out at all.”

Exit polls showed that the former Governor “…lost the confidence of too many voting groups his campaign had no expectation of losing.”

Ouch! Could any of this be said about our relationships with our listeners? Or are we more like…

Obama Campaign Manager David Poluffe, whose strategy memo cited as advantages having “the largest and most committed grassroots organization in the race,” an “enthusiasm gap” between Obama and other candidates, and a candidate who is “most clearly synched up with the electorate”

Karl Rove, whose strategy included a “careful identification of Bush voters and continuing contact” to increase the number of people who identified themselves as Republicans thus building a support base incrementally, and then firing that base up to take action.

Hillary Clinton who, when her husband was still considering his Presidential candidacy, felt it was extremely important that Bill be perceived as involved, not isolated from voters. "Bill and I have lived in an extraordinarily personal political environment," she said. "We love the opportunity to go out there and talk to people and listen to them. If a campaign does not teach the candidate, then how can people feel like they have any part of it?" As Matthew Saal wrote in 1993, “What Clinton had that was special was an ability to make a personal connection with voters.”

Business and executive consultant Peter Cicero sums his marketing/sales strategy this way: market to people by understanding who they are, sell them by knowing what they want.

Sounds like what succesful politicians and programmers do.

If you don't have something similar in place already, adopt a “political strategy” for 2010 that includes furthering your understanding of your prospects’ values, lifestyles, and tastes; connecting and communicating with them in evermore regular and meaningful ways; and empowering and mobilizing your base.

Yes we’re busy and no we don’t have a big (or any) research budget, but with 60-70% of most stations’ AQH coming from P1s, making connections with our constituents and leveraging in-house resources a priority will absolutely pay off.

If you need help developing your plan, just give a call.

It’s almost always much more fun to make a victory speech than a concession.

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