When students arrive in my marketing class on day one, my introduction includes the following: “In this class, you must take off your consumer hat and serve the consumers. You will learn to become a scientist, one who understands consumers’ needs and wants and learns to create more value for them. You cannot do this if your decisions are anchored on yourself. That is why marketers are uniquely trained to be ‘The Consumer’s Champion’. We serve them and not ourselves.”
This is why the Republicans’ continued losses due to the abortion issue are so striking. Last night, flipping between MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News, I observed confusion over the results by some on Fox News — except for Steve Hilton. Hilton essentially said that Republicans win on 9 of the top 10 issues that voters care about (e.g., crime, border security, national security, economic security, etc.). But they lose on abortion and they keep trying to run on the one issue that is a sure-fire loser.
Politics provide a real-time examination of positioning statements and voter reactions (i.e., polls / votes). We learned something in Virginia last night. In a WSJ poll, more voters support a 15- week abortion than oppose it. This likely led Virginia’s Governor Youngkin to fight during the mid-terms for a 15-week abortion ban, predicated on winning both legislative chambers (he would have to flip one chamber and keep the other). This position was defeated as Virginia lost both the Senate and the House of Delegates to the Democrats. The problem. The state currently has a 26-week abortion ban (after the second trimester), enabling the Democrats to run on the fact that the Republicans are removing liberties and rights. It is one thing for Republicans to expand rights and it is another to take them away. In other words, not all 15-week abortion bans are the same. The voters spoke up.
Party leaders are supposed to develop strategies that enable them to win. Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the Republicans have consistently lost in races where they advocate restricting abortion rights. This is where a good marketing strategist (and party leader) would take off their proverbial voter hat and put on their scientist’s hat. They would seek answers to the following questions.
- “Why are many of the polls wrong?”
- “Why does this one issue trump economic security, national security, border security, and education? What am I not understanding about what this issue means to them to override economic, physical, and national safety?”
- If I’m a man, “how can I really understand this issue as I don’t know what it is like to be a woman? How do women experience this issue?” Note: When I worked at P&G, there were men who worked on Always, a feminine hygiene pad. To be effective, they needed to step into the world of women. They would sit and listen to what women experienced every month – how they felt, what it was like. They would look at data. They would shop with women. They knew that they weren’t the target and they were forced to walk in women’s shoes to be effective creating value for them. On an issue in which one demographic group (women in this case) experiences legislation differently than others, it is critical to understand that particular group.
Good marketing strategists would not fight for their own point of view and instead lead the team toward a winning strategy (e.g., something that creates more value for more voters than the opposing party). They would accelerate voter insight generation as they would bring answers to the above questions (and more) to party leaders to help them step out of their own shoes and into those of the majority of voters.
Regardless of who wins or loses in these races, marketing strategists should help each party better position itself to create more value for voters and win. The results in the past couple of years suggest that Democrats are winning this battle.
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