If you ask a Democrat who will win the 2020 Presidential Election, they will respond by stating “definitely not Trump!”
It’s as if they are trying to say that the candidate — any candidate — who is most unlike Trump will win the presidency back from the Republicans.
The only problem with this Pollyanna theory is it has not been successful in the marketing world. So why do Democrats feel it will work today? The simple answer is because they know — in much the same way that they knew Hillary Clinton would be president in 2016.
Let’s explore this campaign-losing notion that the Democrats have recently wrapped their arms around and has a very good chance of failing.
In the 1970s, the 7 Up brand, a lemon-flavored soft drink beverage, tried to win market share from the cola beverages — Coke and Pepsi. They believed if they promoted 7 Up as the “un-Cola,” they would sway cola drinkers to abandon their beverage of choice in favor of 7 Up.
It never happened, even though they believed strongly in what they thought would be an award winning campaign. Creative — yes! Effective — no!
The problem with this un-cola branding strategy for 7 Up was simple. Potential customers could not identify with the clever but un-aspiring marketing tagline. The 7 Up marketers didn’t give their potential customers a reason to switch. And they didn’t — to the benefit of Coke and Pepsi.
The Democratic candidates are following the 7 Up path. They believe that all voters, even independents, share the same beliefs regarding competitor Trump as they do. The dirty little secret is that most likely, the candidates’ view of Trump is in the minority — probably around 30 percent, which is a bad thing when trying to persuade voters to come to their way of thinking. They are, as they say, “preaching to the choir.”
For a customer to switch a brand or to initiate trial use, as one likes to say in marketing, the marketer needs to provide a real benefit for the customer. What is the product going to do for me? As the old political adage says: It’s not what have you done for me, but rather, what have you done for me lately. It appears that the Democrats have got this only partially correct.
They are offering “free things,” to voters, such as free healthcare, free college and even free reparations for blacks and gays — noble ideals without practical implementations. The problem for Democrats is that their proposed benefits are not broad enough to attract general election voters and appear to be a pandering tactic that is likely to turn off most independents. And independents are without a doubt the key to winning in November.
The 7 Up story was a classic case of a brand position resonating with the marketers and not with the un-Cola prospects who liked what they were drinking. This type of groupthink is often seen in politics, where the high priests of all smart thinking can never conceive that any intelligent person will vote for the competitor — or as one says in politics — the other side.
For Democrats to win the presidency, they must think in terms of the voter who could vote for an alternative to Trump, not a party regular who thinks like them, which translates into out-right hatred!
The smarter approach is to think in terms of “what can a Democratic nominee propose that will get individuals to vote for the party’s candidate.” It doesn’t appear that any of the candidates have grasped this. At least not yet.
And if the Democrats get this marketing concept, and start thinking like the voters (as they did successfully during the midterms), they might finally realize it’s always easier when you have marketing and branding in mind.
Dr. John Tantillo is a marketing and branding expert, known as The Marketing Doctor. JT utilizes his doctoral skills in applied research psychology to analyze the issues and personalities of the day utilizing his marketing and branding lens. This provides his readers with additional insight needed to understand the “new normal” in politics, news, and culture. Dr. Tantillo is the OpEd writer for Political Vanguard. He is the author of "People Buy Brands, Not Companies,” and the Udemy course "Go Brand Yourself!" You can follow him on Twitter @marketingdoctor and at Facebook.com/dr.johntantillo. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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