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Archive for November, 2010

A Marketer’s POV: Why Bill White Lost

By: Oscar L. Orias

Perry Win's a Resounding 55-42

I write this blog after the aftermath of one the biggest sweep elections in quite some time. An election that appears by all projections and results a title wave of conservatism arriving to this country. This title wave has been accompanied by controversies and the emergence of the Tea Party. The conservatives sweeping victories was due in part to bad campaigning and poor planning by Democrats. Yes the poll numbers were against them but many Democratic candidates didn’t even attempt to energize their core base. Bill White, a candidate I strongly supported failed to do exact just that. Earlier in the year Bill White had a competitive margin against the cunning, veteran politician Rick Perry. Bill White start-off very well, with a small gap between him and the current governor. White’s poll number held steady while Rick Perry’s numbers had climbed. Rick Perry is not a particularly popular politician in Texas but run his campaigns similar to how successful business targets and retains its market.

Bill Who? Factors for his Defeat.
The message of this election was that “liberals” had their chance and it was now up to the conservatives to come in and make the real change. Yes this was a great obstacle for Bill White to conqueror but what didn’t help his case was how relatively unknown he was. Even in strong democratic sections of Texas Bill White’s personality and campaign promises weren’t really known. Any successful business knows that in order to expand you must first strengthen your core demographic.

Here is an example of a good commercial but it doesn’t really express what Bill White’s views are.

Another reason Bill White lost the race so badly was that he was being too conventional against Rick Perry. This is a man who has been the longest running governor in Texas history. He knows how to get it done and how to pick up the votes he needs. His approval rating isn’t high but come election time he has a clear cut strategy that keep him in power. That is why Bill White needed to try to think outside the box against Perry. He needed to tap into the general Texan discourse for Perry and create an opportunity. Obama proved that thinking outside the box, have an organized campaign, and using the latest technology can help you defeat powerful foes like Hillary Clinton.

First Step to Victory is Rallying your Supporters and Customers
Bill White should have started about 2 year ago targeting his base. During that time the Democrats swept in to power and many counties that had previously been Republican turned Democratic. White and his staff should have seized the opportunity to tap into new Democratic voters and shore up the base. Unfortunately due to indecision on White’s end they squandered a good opportunity. They could have done this through showing up at events and locations where there was heavy Democratic support. In Houston where he was popular, there was verbal support for Bill White but citizens in the city didn’t see any real presence of the candidate until a few months before election time. In the business world, when a company wants to expand its market it first must focus on its core of support and reaching out to them. It is no secret that 80% of your profit and success comes from 20% of your customers.

Rick Perry on the other hand reached out to his very conservative base early. He was touted by himself and others to be one of the leaders of the far-right Tea Party. Since the inception of the Tea Party, Perry and his campaign have shown their devotion and support in fulfilling their needs. This was at a time when the Republican establishment was wary of supporting them, much less show up to rallies. He spoke about issues his core of support felt strongly about before they became main stream issues. The surprising part of it was that he contradicted himself in several instances like accepting federal money when he said earlier he would reject it. In the world of politics and business, image and good branding can trump substance.

Thinking Outside the 3 Dimensional Square
White also made another critical but common error: underestimating his opponent. By trying to run a tradition campaign he fell into Perry’s hands. He didn’t take exploit new technologies or different media avenues in running against Perry. Obama on the other hand took full advantage of the new phenomenon of social networks like Facebook and releasing videos on Youtube. Something Sarah Palin does very well also. She has built a following through several media outlets like cable news, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and newspaper columns. You may not like what she has to say but Palin has several marketing avenues to promote herself and her ideals. Bill White may have a good Facebook page but that is where it usually stops. Like many businesses have discovered, there are limitations to social network sites especially using only Facebook. He didn’t diversify his media and marketing avenues enough to make a true impact on the voters’ minds.

Even some of Whites marketing streams weren’t that good. His Youtube site was mostly videos of ad seen on TV numerous times. Things like showing old TV ads and commercials usually don’t attract or make an impact on the viewers. Obama used Youtube to show virtual Town hall meetings, his daily activities, and videos tailored just for the internet. Those types of videos attract viewers and created an impact on the voters’ minds.

The Future of Politics
The trend the last few years in politics has been that voters vote based on the personality of the candidate more than party affiliation. With an increasing amount of disillusioned Americans, independents are becoming an important fact. Google and social media have also made campaigning more interactive and personal. You can now watch a candidate speak and the election from the comfort of your personal laptop. Grassroots political rallies are becoming a great asset or handicap for politicians and political hopefuls. It can allow them to interact closely with their base of support or alienate them completely.