Tired of those endless political calls that seem to show up before every election? Do you throw the phone down in anger when you realize it’s a machine on the other end? Maybe this call is from Arnold Schwarzenegger… why would Arnold want to call me you wonder? This is politics in the new millennium. Endless phone and mail spam…. call after call, brochure after brochure… most deleted or thrown in the trash.
Does any of this stuff work?
In my experience these tactics just make me mad, especially the phone calls at dinner time. But they must work to a certain extent or politicians would not use them. Many of them are from candidates or causes that I truly support. This is a strange dichotomy… I support you… you spam me.
There must be a better way!
Enter the idea of Permission Politics. Candidates and causes develop a list of followers and “ask their permission” to send them items, call them on the phone, and update them on elections. The idea is similar to marketing guru, Seth Godin’s, book on Permission Marketing. Fast Company had an article on the Seth’s book and here is a brilliant excerpt…
The biggest problem with mass-market advertising, Godin says, is that it fights for people’s attention by interrupting them. A 30-second spot interrupts a “Seinfeld” episode. A telemarketing call interrupts a family dinner. A print ad interrupts this article. “The interruption model is extremely effective when there’s not an overflow of interruptions,” Godin says. “But there’s too much going on in our lives for us to enjoy being interrupted anymore.”
The new model, he argues, is built around permission. The challenge for marketers is to persuade consumers to volunteer attention – to “raise their hands” (one of Godin’s favorite phrases) – to agree to learn more about a company and its products. “Permission marketing turns strangers into friends and friends into loyal customers,” he says. “It’s not just about entertainment – it’s about education.”
I think this can truly work in politics as it does in the marketing world. Let me choose how you communicate with me. Send me an e-mail newsletter, but don’t call me on the phone. No need to fill my mailbox with your expensive advertising. I’ll give you permission to send me an absentee ballot so I don’t have to fight the lines at the polling place. You can even send me a reminder e-mail on election day. And to help you, I’ll respond with a return e-mail letting you know that I voted.
In a world where a minority of the population decides most elections, this type of strategy would be very effective. All of a sudden I’m part of your team. You communicate with me in a way that works for me. Maybe I want you to call me to remind me to vote. You’ve got my permission to call me the day before. I’ll want to see how the election turned out so make sure to update me election night by e-mail or send me a link to your election website.
This concept would be effective in turning the usual “adversarial relationship” into an evangelical one. If you treat me right and communicate with me in a way that “works for me”, I’ll tell others all about it. I’ll spread the word. This scenario can easily lead to a word of mouth bonanza.
Now if we can only get politicians to think this way….