Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Politics & the Internet

Amongst all the analysis and punditry surrounding what happened in last week's election, I saw one piece of analysis that looked at a very small part of the infrastructure of the campaign. Jakob Nielsen's useit.com, a site dedicated primarily to web usability, examined the role of email newsletters.

He compared the calls to action in Bush and Kerry newsletters in the last weeks of the election and found that Kerry's focused primarily on money-raising, while Bush's focused primarily on getting out the vote and issues.

So, so different from the general impression people had of these candidates...Bush with the large war chest, Kerry all wonky and into the details.

It's not that raising money via the internet was a bad idea...certainly it evened the playing field for much of the campaign.

Nielsen's point is more that Kerry's campaign overplayed it. By the last week people were so used to getting the money requests that they were running out to any other message.

Meanwhile, Bush's campaign focused on turnout late in the game, and turnout won it for them.

Lessons for marketers everywhere:

1. Don't let your marketing messages get stale or too "expected."

2. Don't be afraid to ask for actions that are more intangible than a sale...asking for loyalty, for referrals, for feedback can come in handy as much as asking for a sale.

3. Plan ahead. When times get crazy it may be a lot easier to stick with what you know...and that may make your marketing boring. Planning the evolution of your message over an extended period of time lets you carry out a higher level strategy even when the world is going crazy all around you.

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