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May 2008

Election '08: A Marketer's Dream, or Never-Ending Nightmare?

Confession:  the Democratic Primary has turned me into a political junkie.  Why?   I'm an unlikely addict.  I'm not a registered Democrat, or a Republican, for that matter.  I'm an "uncommitted" or Independent voter, who, until recently, couldn't even vote in a presidential primary in my home state.   And I'm highly skeptical of political spin, since I do competitive positioning for a living. Ballot_box_2But I keep hitting "refresh" on political blogs to see if anything new has transpired (even if I only browsed the site 10 minutes ago) and I'm losing sleep on primary nights to listen to the same banter over this seemingly-endless Democratic race.   

After weeks of puzzling over this strange new addiction (I suppose it could be worse...), it finally dawned on me why I succumbed so easily.   I'm a marketer.   

We marketers position our companies for success.   If we are outmaneuvered by a competitor, we re-position, and make it fit into the overall plan.  We're always making adjustments, to meet a changing market, new prospects, new competitive threats. Election '08 is marketing on steroids.  In our drive-thru news culture, it's point-counterpoint every few hours.   And if you thought CMOs had short tenures (I believe Coopers and Lybrand measured the average CMO tenure at 14 months), we have long runs compared to campaign staff, who are hired and fired in the time it takes to make and retract a stray comment.   

So I'm empathising with my fellow sleep-deprived marketers on the campaign trail, and coming up with fresh strategies for them in my mind (for all candidates, by the way), because I can't help thinking of the next chess move (I position in my sleep).  It may have been an interesting puzzle for starters, but there's no need for me to go the distance to Puerto Rico, South Dakota, or the convention.

Now that I have this all figured out,  I think I will get some sleep, for a change.