Question: 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?
– A. Obeya.
In continuation with my first-hand encounter (stated in the earlier part of this expose) on portraying an occupant of an elective office not living up to the people’s expectations, as exemplified by my experience in Abia state, bear in mind that favourable attributes of a product (e.g. functions and benefits) make for commensurate consumer disposition towards it. Likewise, those promises you made in the course of vying for an elective post will be used as the electorate’s yardstick for ‘swinging’ to your side or otherwise when you occupy the post.
Another you should recognise from my encounter during the same trip was my octogenarian mother’s reaction when she observed my conscious effort at putting off various control switches of electric light in our family house, while it was far into day time. The essence here was to comply with what I presumed to be the best means of reducing power consumption and subsequently prune related bills. Her reaction was that of amusement, as she made me realise it was in response to my now semi-urban ancestral community (just at the outskirt of Owerri in Imo state) having it so good with regular electric power supply in the past few months.
Moreso, coupled with the public power provider’s adoption of “electric co-operative” billing system (a concept my piece in future on ‘electric power distribution marketing’ will clarify) that undoubtedly favour both the electricity provider and the consumers. An aspirant for elective office promised Nigerians improved power supply in the course of the 2011 general elections. You and I know there is evidence of this all around, that will surely rub off favourable on public impression about this elective office holder in consonance with anticipated voter needs.
Thirdly, from the same journey carried out thankfully by road all through, I observed that the claim of the Minister of Works that roads linking Lagos with the south eastern part of the country would wear completely new look before year’s end was true. Aside about two percent of the entire stretch (somewhere between Benin and Ore) which was in a fairly poor state but evidently being re-constructed, I had no reason to complain at all. This tallies with the expression that, “… politicians are constantly trying to create value for their constituents by improving the quality of life and creating the most benefit at the smallest cost”. If you must succeed in that crave for elective office, you must hold firmly to this principle as if an oath.
Just like efforts of a sales person at making promises about a product or service in order to convince the prospective customer, in this bid to seek elective office are you willing to spend more time walking-the-talk, actualising carefully constructed programmes promised the electorate, rather than taking them ‘for a ride’ afterwards? Have you considered yourself as capable of rising above what Chinua Achebe (the renowned Nigerian author) observed as “the trouble with Nigeria” – Arising from a failure of leadership? In his words, “… the Nigerian problem is the unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example which is the hallmark of true leadership”.
Similar to what obtains for consumers’ assessment of products quality which leads to brand acceptance and subsequently brand loyalty, remember that what you ‘sold’ to the electorate while seeking their support will always be there as yard-stick to judge your performance later. The same aspirant for elective office stated above stressed he would unleash a ‘frontal attack’ on corruption (the bane of Nigeria’s development) during campaigning for the same general elections of 2011. Now in that elective office, we can all see that sleaze has almost overrun the land and the political will to tackle it is obviously non-existent. Nigerian electorate are now wiser and can only be fooled once.
As companies make the customer part of the development team, endeavour to engage elements who comprise part of your prospective voting public as components of your campaign organisation. This affords you first-hand information about voter expectations. As companies are known to incorporate input of high level officials for support and advocacy, in politics the support, endorsement, and even advocacy of prominent personalities are relevant towards boosting campaign efforts. While business concerns do not leave the issue of promotion (e.g. announcing a new product) to chance, the place of ‘communication process’ within your campaign plan serves the same purpose. To foster a successful outcome of a product development process, most business concerns tend to create an entirely separate framework or structure for this. Something similar holds for your electioneering effort – A campaign organisation.
As good governance to the people remains the end point of your aspiration to that elective office, remember that apart from the politician’s unique service obligations and anticipating voter needs stated earlier, these components of commercial marketing are also applicable here: The voter as a consumer; marketing research (to direct campaign strategy); market segmentation and targeting; candidate positioning; image handling; and marketing strategy. A successful marketing strategy in politics starts with the recruitment of viable candidates, then the candidate’s “positioning”, which is reinforced through multiple channels of awareness creation.
Your role when you become a leader entails offering “goods/services” which have the capability of uplifting the welfare of the citizens. These, if satisfied, will surely reciprocate favourably. According to Aham Anyanwu and others, “Marketing in governance consists of human activities aimed at anticipating the needs of the citizens and taking steps to meet them with a view to enhancing their well being and satisfaction in return for their loyalty”. In poche parole, politics and marketing have something in common – Welfare of the citizens.
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