Politicians, Here’s How To Win

 

The Market

I was visiting a friend in Auckland the other day, and we decided (along with my sister, who is currently visiting me here in New Zealand) to head out of the city to a small town due East called Thames.

Thames is not the kind of place you go to hit a club, but it is the kind of place you go to buy fresh bread. And fudge. And check out a ukulele festival (all things that we did).

It’s also, apparently, the home of a fairly well-known Kiwi politician, Jeanette Fitzsimons.

Jeanette Fitzsimons was big in the news for a while as the co-leader of the NZ Green Party. She quit as a professional politician after her co-leader died not long ago, however, and now she’s not exactly in the public eye.

She is, however, still involved with what she believes. When my entourage and I came across her, she was at the Thames farmer’s market, selling fruit and roasted chestnuts. Both were delicious.

The point is, though, that she was selling these tidbits to raise money for her passion. At her table she had a petition related to a big Green Party-related cause. She was talking to people and sharing her ideas, but without the pomp and circumstance that’s usually associated with politics.

Whether or not you agree with a politician’s ideas, you can’t help but respect someone who believes so strongly in what they represent that they continue to bang their drum even when the prestige, money and glory are out of the picture.

The Chestnut Strategy

I have no desire to go into politics, but if I ever did I would use a completely novel marketing strategy from what they’re all doing these days.

You know the millions and millions of dollars that politicians spend on advertising? I would take that money and spend it on causes related to my message.

I’d sponsor scientific endeavors and give money to Planned Parenthood and start a local Kiva fund and give merit-based scholarships to innovative children.

The only press I would get would be related to the good things I’d do with that campaign money. Newspapers, blogs, TV stations, they all love to talk about something new and heartwarming. I would give them story after story after story. They wouldn’t be able to get rid of me. It would be awesome.

And really, that’s the kind of press that matters most today, anyway. Who actually listens to campaign commercials? Is anyone convinced by political signs in their neighbor’s yard?

Unfortunately, politicians aren’t encouraged to act, only talk about what they WOULD do.

I would be much more likely to trust someone who sells roasted chestnuts at a farmers market in the backroads of nowhere to support their cause than someone who spends millions of dollars to reassure me that they share my values.

If they would do more than show up for press photos, they wouldn’t have to spend so much time, money and effort branding themselves…their brand would be self-evident.

Who’s to say if this model would really work, or if anyone would actually do it, but you can be damn sure that anyone who DID use it would receive more than their fair share of press attention, and regardless of their platform, they’d certainly get a kind word from me.

So…who’s feeling brave?

23 comments

  1. That’s a fantastic idea.If you do decide to run for office, you have my vote. Unless you’re up against that roast chestnut seller that it.

  2. That’s a fantastic idea.If you do decide to run for office, you have my vote. Unless you’re up against that roast chestnut seller that it.

  3. Colin,

    That’s an interesting strategy. I’ve often thought about what I would do if I were running for office, and I’ve decided that my strategy would have little chance of being effective. The problem is that I would be truthful, and I wouldn’t promise all sorts of goodies to everyone. I finally figured out that politics is about promising to use government power to transfer money from certain groups of people to other groups of people. Promising people money that belongs to others is an amazingly popular promise. It also helps to make promises to have the government solve problems it has no ability to solve. Rationality doesn’t count nearly as much as the *perception* that you care about solving the problem, and sometimes that perception can only be created by being willing to get government involved, even if government will most likely make things worse.

    Anyway, I think your strategy is pretty creative. It’s hard to say how it would compete against the typical political machine, but I hope someone takes your advice and tries it.

  4. Colin,

    That’s an interesting strategy. I’ve often thought about what I would do if I were running for office, and I’ve decided that my strategy would have little chance of being effective. The problem is that I would be truthful, and I wouldn’t promise all sorts of goodies to everyone. I finally figured out that politics is about promising to use government power to transfer money from certain groups of people to other groups of people. Promising people money that belongs to others is an amazingly popular promise. It also helps to make promises to have the government solve problems it has no ability to solve. Rationality doesn’t count nearly as much as the *perception* that you care about solving the problem, and sometimes that perception can only be created by being willing to get government involved, even if government will most likely make things worse.

    Anyway, I think your strategy is pretty creative. It’s hard to say how it would compete against the typical political machine, but I hope someone takes your advice and tries it.

  5. I like your strategy, but I have my doubts as to whether it will work.

    First of all, where would you get the money from? Anyone who donates money to your campaign is going to want something in return, like bailouts or a veto or something.

    Second, you might get a lot of press, but it will be press showing you giving money to charities. Do people want to see you giving money to other people? I think they want to feel like you will give money to them, not to others. What are you going to do with their tax money?

    Like I said, I like the idea. And it’s crazy enough that it just might work.

  6. I like your strategy, but I have my doubts as to whether it will work.

    First of all, where would you get the money from? Anyone who donates money to your campaign is going to want something in return, like bailouts or a veto or something.

    Second, you might get a lot of press, but it will be press showing you giving money to charities. Do people want to see you giving money to other people? I think they want to feel like you will give money to them, not to others. What are you going to do with their tax money?

    Like I said, I like the idea. And it’s crazy enough that it just might work.

  7. The chestnut method that you point is basically the way to go, in fact it is the kind of branding we always talk about. Actions are far more powerful than words.

    They would really do good in reading your latest book and checking some of the best topics around here, we always talk about how every action is important and that is why it is better to live our values than just speak about them.

    I wonder if there are any politicians reading this kind of things. I would really hope they do.

  8. The chestnut method that you point is basically the way to go, in fact it is the kind of branding we always talk about. Actions are far more powerful than words.

    They would really do good in reading your latest book and checking some of the best topics around here, we always talk about how every action is important and that is why it is better to live our values than just speak about them.

    I wonder if there are any politicians reading this kind of things. I would really hope they do.

  9. What I like about ‘The Chestnut Method’ (can we all agree that this is what it should definitely be called?) is that it isn’t campaign money. Yes, if people give you their money in a campaign, they are probably going to want something tangible back for it. She’s out there raising her own money for the causes she believes in. She’s not taking other people’s money in exchange for promises. She’s taking it for chestnuts and delivering on promises.

  10. What I like about ‘The Chestnut Method’ (can we all agree that this is what it should definitely be called?) is that it isn’t campaign money. Yes, if people give you their money in a campaign, they are probably going to want something tangible back for it. She’s out there raising her own money for the causes she believes in. She’s not taking other people’s money in exchange for promises. She’s taking it for chestnuts and delivering on promises.

  11. You could do the same with any business. What if instead of spending $1,000 on advertising for a specific soccer league I used that to give out 10 $100 scholarships to kids who couldn’t afford camps.

    The money is better spent in that sense, but in the end, it’s still advertising right? You want people to have a heartfelt story, so you change the point of attack so to say so that others will talk about it.

  12. You could do the same with any business. What if instead of spending $1,000 on advertising for a specific soccer league I used that to give out 10 $100 scholarships to kids who couldn’t afford camps.

    The money is better spent in that sense, but in the end, it’s still advertising right? You want people to have a heartfelt story, so you change the point of attack so to say so that others will talk about it.

  13. You’re ideas about this are fantastic. I’ve been working on a political campaign for the last 10 months. Politics are definitely not my thing, but hey, it’s a job.

    What you have described here is similar to what I’ve been quietly suggesting to some of the people who work a little higher up on the ladder than me. Especially in a state as small as Maine, this could really work.

    I don’t enjoy working in a field that is almost totally based on deception and false promises, and reading this was a very fresh breath of air for me. Even if’s something that people aren’t really doing. Yet.

  14. You’re ideas about this are fantastic. I’ve been working on a political campaign for the last 10 months. Politics are definitely not my thing, but hey, it’s a job.

    What you have described here is similar to what I’ve been quietly suggesting to some of the people who work a little higher up on the ladder than me. Especially in a state as small as Maine, this could really work.

    I don’t enjoy working in a field that is almost totally based on deception and false promises, and reading this was a very fresh breath of air for me. Even if’s something that people aren’t really doing. Yet.

  15. Great idea Colin! I think that would really separate the career politicians from the genuine people who want to make the world a better place.

  16. Great idea Colin! I think that would really separate the career politicians from the genuine people who want to make the world a better place.

  17. I like your idea. I’ve actually had many ideas about how I’d run a campaign if I decided to run for public office and they were thought of about in the context of what sort of person I’d be likely to vote for. The problem with this method is that 90% of the population is asleep at the wheel, they’re not political engaged or savvy and just lap up what is fed to them by the mainstream media.

    So what I see politicians forced to do in this era of global and immediate information is to operate completely on spin externally and if they have any courage, operate faithfully internally. The media lap it up, serve it to the general public who also lap it up. No one has to think about anything. It’s all presented on the TV or in the local rag.

    I wish more people would engage with politics so that your method of campaigning gained more credibility.

  18. I like your idea. I’ve actually had many ideas about how I’d run a campaign if I decided to run for public office and they were thought of about in the context of what sort of person I’d be likely to vote for. The problem with this method is that 90% of the population is asleep at the wheel, they’re not political engaged or savvy and just lap up what is fed to them by the mainstream media.

    So what I see politicians forced to do in this era of global and immediate information is to operate completely on spin externally and if they have any courage, operate faithfully internally. The media lap it up, serve it to the general public who also lap it up. No one has to think about anything. It’s all presented on the TV or in the local rag.

    I wish more people would engage with politics so that your method of campaigning gained more credibility.

  19. This is an amazing idea, and one that I’d love to see! Though I have no interest in running for any office, this I’d use The Chestnut Method if I were to do so. Likewise, I’d vote for someone who was using it. It would be so refreshing to actually see action instead of words.

    I especially like Ryan Knapp’s idea of applying The Chestnut Method to business as well as politics. Even if I can’t spend money, I’m sure that I can spread around some time.

  20. This is an amazing idea, and one that I’d love to see! Though I have no interest in running for any office, this I’d use The Chestnut Method if I were to do so. Likewise, I’d vote for someone who was using it. It would be so refreshing to actually see action instead of words.

    I especially like Ryan Knapp’s idea of applying The Chestnut Method to business as well as politics. Even if I can’t spend money, I’m sure that I can spread around some time.

  21. Pingback: Políticos, he aquí como ganar | Colin Wright | afinidades electivas

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