Vraag: I am interested in vying for a very significant elective office in Nigeria come next elections which are fast approaching. Going by your in-depth knowledge about the place of marketing in various aspects of human endeavour, how applicable is marketing in aiding my clinching a desired elective office?
- 'n. Obeya.
Marketing related input are essential to almost all aspects of efforts at seeking any elective position at most levels. Just like in a typical commercial market place situation (bijv. for goods or services) where companies have a market orientation and are constantly engaged in creating value for their customers (Remember, marketers must anticipate their customers’ needs, and then constantly develop innovative goods and services to keep these customers satisfied), the political terrain holds something similar. According to Philip Kotler, “Politicians have a similar orientation and are constantly trying to create value for their constituents by improving the quality of life and creating the most benefit at the smallest cost”. Basic marketing skills are required even in the process of campaigning for any elective office – Campaign posters, campaign badges, political rallies and campaign speeches to get prospective voters acquainted with a name, a party, and a platform. To a large extent, all these rely on marketing to communicate their message to the people.
On a personal level, judging by the present obvious signs that votes (to a significant extent) are beginning to count in Nigeria – Thanks to inclination of the executive arm of government (at the federal level) deviating from the past of being ‘the puppeteer’ with strings attached to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) ; coupled with public confidence and renewed interest which INEC’s helms-man (Professor Attahiru Jega) and his team seem to have generated towards elections in the country – My package on electioneering campaign, long kept in the ‘cooler’ due to the style of electioneering that has been our bane until 2011, will be applied when the need arises. It mirrors marketing input in political campaigns, from a global fast growing concept – Political marketing. This is indeed where marketing comes in to aid your clinching that desired elective office.
My package bears practical planning and organising requirements for electioneering campaigns, reflective of campaign organisational structure; election statistics and demographic elements; opinion poll and opposition research; plan, scheduling and strategy; fundraising; off the ground/kick-off event; local organisation; communication process; tour events and grassroots efforts; election day activities and get-out-the-votes (GOTV) techniques.
Political marketing is derived from the outcome of applying typical input of commercial marketplace in a political terrain. Met ander woorde, “the application of marketing principles and procedures in political campaigns by various individuals and organizations”. Political marketing is marketing designed to influence consumers about political issues, especially candidates for public office, or public issues. In political marketing, marketing techniques are applied to promote a concept or an idea, and then motivate people to vote for that idea, rather than a specific product or service (as often the case for a commercial marketing situation).
I intend to proffer hints in this piece about the following, in line with this request for enlightenment on where marketing fits into your bid for elective office: Politics and democracy as applicable to good governance; political party versus candidate, application of the 4Ps of marketing; and marketing formula for political success. Nietemin, just note that nowadays it has literally become impossible not to encompass a marketing orientation when running for office, and even more especially, when running the country. Another write-up conveying more about this subject will be for another day (especially with Nigerian politicians now having their eyes ‘glued’ on 2015). I urge you take to heart two aspects of this approach: ('n) The politician’s unique service obligations, en (b) Anticipating voter needs.
With ('n), you must project an issue which is distinct from what your opponents offer as obligation to the electorate (bijv. initiating the construction of a good road which has eluded the people for a very long time). On (b), view yourself as embarking on a ‘failed mission’ if you refrain from anticipating the needs (just like in commercial marketing) of those that make up your prospective voters and the electorate in general (the consumers, in relative term). This brings me to some related recent experience which you must learn from in order to be successful as an elective office holder, through living up to the expectations of the people and adherence to election promises.
My recent decision, in the light of attending to my mother-in-law’s funeral arrangements, to shift from ‘hopping’ from one airport to another paid off a great deal. As all related trips this time was by road, I had a wonderful opportunity for a ‘first hand’ assessment s of goings-on in many places. One which is relevant to my submission here is the confirmation of a ‘gut feeling’ that something was not really right with happenings in Abia state, hence the almost daily ‘bombardment’ of media relations items on this state’s governor to highlight one developmental issue or another.
To feature in the related funeral activities in Arochukwu in Abia state, I was warned about the dilapidated state of a route to my in-laws’ I had plied severally in the past – That through Aba and Ikot-Epkpene, which was declared ‘a no go area’ due a collapsed bridge. The only alternative route to Arochukwu for a delegation of relatives, friends and I was through Umuahia. This route (Umuahia through Bende to Arochukwu) was so derelict that it provided one a clear insight into what inefficiency in governance was all about. Indeed with a portrayal of typical roads of 1960s Eastern Region, having even the remains of a Bailey bridge (indicative of post-Nigeria/Biafra war replacement of destroyed bridges of the 1970s), the state of this road has given me cause to henceforth take any commentary or press statement which emanates from the Abia state governor with more than a pinch of salt – A spoon full of salt. (Word vervolg)