Apparently the presidential candidates missed the memo

Picture_7 The Iowa caucus of 2008 is history.  We all know who is viable, which messages resonated and which candidates need to re-tool.

But here’s what I know.  Not one of the candidates got the memo. 

What?  You haven’t seen it either?   Hmm.  Maybe it got bogged down with all the holiday cards and political post cards.  Okay…let me share it again.

TO:       Presidential Candidates of 2008

FROM:    The American people

SUBJ:    How we’d like to hear your message

DATE:    From now on

Thanks for caring about our votes.  Really. 

We appreciate that you want to share your ideas and vision for a different and better America.  But things have changed since the last election and we thought it was only fair to clue you in on how we’d like you to conduct your campaign.  Here are some key truths we’d like you to know.

We don’t want to be hunted down like rabid dogs:  The good old days of you being everywhere we look are over.   We want to decide when to listen.  Where to listen.  And who to listen to.  Stop sending your volunteers to knock on our doors.  Stop invading our homes with your stupid recorded messages.  Don’t force us to hide from you.

Frequency is one thing.  Overkill is another:  We all know the marketing maxim — tell them and then tell them again.  But know when enough is enough.  We don’t need a new postcard every day.  We don’t need to see the same commercial so often that we can recite it with you.  Show some fiscal responsibility and stop wasting your supporters’ money.

We do care about your plans.  But you can’t explain them in :30 TV spots:  TV spots are a great medium for generating an emotional response.  But we don’t want to just like you.  You’re not selling beer.  You are selling our future and our kids’ future.  We want to know what you’re going to do.   Tell us in detail.  Give us facts.  Not spun facts — real facts.  Be relevant or go home.

And you can’t use weasel words either:  As soon as we hear the standard political rhetoric, we start calling bull%$#*.   You see, we’ve been advertising consumers for too long.  We know all the tricks and we’ve stopped believing them.  A long time ago.  Talk straight. 

Sometimes we don’t need you to talk at all:  Give us places (websites, blogs, etc) where we can explore for ourselves.  Put real content there — not campaign highlights.  No fluff.  Just honest details about what you have done and what you want to accomplish.

A monologue is no longer acceptable:  We are tired of being talked to.  We want to talk back.  We actually want to initiate some conversations.  No matter who wins this election — you’ll be just fine.  But for many families and businesses — this is a make it or break it election.  We want to participate and we do not want to be ignored until you decide to talk at us again.

Leave the other guys alone:  You really should have gotten this one by now.  When you take a swing at an opponent, it makes you look scared and desperate.  Or like a bully.  either way — not so good for you.  If you don’t have anything important to say about yourself – then you probably need to just go home.

Be a good guest:  There are two kinds of guests.  Those you’re sad to see leave and those you can’t wait to wave goodbye to.   How did you leave your Iowa campaign headquarters today?  How will you leave the meeting halls in New Hampshire.  What would happen if you sent your volunteers to do some good once a week or month.  Read to some kids.  Feed the homeless.  Visit the elderly.  Not because there are cameras running but because you want to set a good example.   

Just try to be a real human being:  We are really looking for a candidate we can trust to speak for us.  We want to like you.  More important, we want to believe in you.  Stop thinking of every appearance as a "show" and every human being as a vote.   Tune out your advisors, stop worrying about the perfect sound bite, don’t give us the thumbs up and  goofy smile.   Just be real.

That’s it.  Easy stuff.  We’d really appreciate it if you’d give these ideas a spin.  Thanks for listening.  We really hope you’ll try it again soon.

P.S.  The same rules apply to your business and mine.  How many of these old school marketing sins are you guilty of?