Selected Topics in Marketing

You will learn the application of marketing to the political environment. The politicians are regarded as marketers who are interested in offering political programmes in terms of the social goods they will provide if elected, while the general public are the customers. The concept of relationship marketing is also discussed as a way of establishing cordial interaction between the marketing organization and its customers for a mutual beneficial exchange. An effective relationship marketing programme is fundamentally based on reliable databased marketing hence this concept is also explained. Interestingly, industrial marketing is a also explained as an interaction between one or more organizations. It is often called organization buyers.

Political Marketing: Definition and Functions

Political marketing is a process whereby political parties use marketing instruments as part of their electoral campaign activities. Wring, defines political marketing as the exchange process arising between voters and candidates. It also involves the use of marketing mix to promote political parties and the party or candidate’s use of opinion research and environmental analysis to produce and promote a competitive offering which will help realize organizational aims and satisfy groups of electors in exchange of their votes. O’Cass uses an exchange model to define political marketing. According to O’Cass, politics fall within marketing extended domain centrally because an exchange takes place. When a voter casts a vote for a particular candidate, he/she is engaged in a transaction and exchange time and support (their vote) for the services the candidate offers after election through better government. Marketing then, as applicable to politics specifically is concerned with how transactions are created, stimulated and valued. The very essence of candidate and political party’s interface with the electorate is a marketing one and marketing cannot be avoided. Harrop (1990) perceives political marketing as being not just about political advertising, party political broadcasts and electoral speeches but covering the whole area of party positioning in the electoral market. Kavanagh views political marketing as electioneering, that is, as a set of strategies and tools to trace and study public opinions before and during an election campaign, to develop campaign communications and to assess their impact. Maarek conceptualizes political marketing as “a complex process, the outcome of a more global effort implicating all the factors of the politician’s political communication”. It is the general method of political communication. He considers the introduction of marketing in politics as an outcome of “the elaboration or a policy of political communication. It is global strategy of design, rationalization and conveyance of modern political communication”.

Political Marketing Functions

Political marketing functions are general forms of relationship network that political actors maintain with the electorate (or electoral market). These functions are:

Product Function

This refers to the offering of something of value to a recipient (voter or citizen) provided or produced by a marketer (political party or candidate). The product is honest government, brand image of candidates, which are characteristics or cues that voters assess when making their voting decision (Kavanagh, 1995). It consists of all activities of political party, members and candidates (Lees – Marshment,2001). The political “product” is some amalgam of policy, leader image, inherited memory and promises and it is also a referendum on past performance. In political marketing, different products can be sold to the consumer: the politician or candidate for an elective office, the political party, the programmes and intentions of the government. It is the service promise and characteristics such as personalities of candidates and service delivery personnel, specific political issues or manifestoes or policy intention or ideology. These are all political service brands provided to meet voters’ expectations. This political function provides promises to be delivered in the future by parties and candidates to everyone in the society.

Marketing a candidate as product to the electorate: To enable people vote for a candidate, the candidate and the party use name, term, sign, symbol, design or a combination of these elements that show one candidate as different from other candidates. This will help to overcome information clutter (jamming) and place the candidate above his opposition. Some of the issues essential to the marketing or packaging a political issue are discussed by Sharma (1973) as including:

Issue polls: This relates to conducting research on issues that are of interest to the electorates, their attitude to such issues and why they hold such attitudes.

Tracking polls: It is essential for political organizations and candidates to continuous monitor the attitude and opinions of voters on issues as their opinions and attitudes are always constant. This will keep the politician in touch with the mood of the electorate.

Target polls: This is designed to conduct research into a specific group within the general voting population. The essence of this is to segment based on peculiar needs of different segments of the electorate and fashion out appropriate strategies for each segment.

Assessment of the candidates: Apart from finding out about the electorates, the candidate must do a thorough self-assessment of his strengths and weaknesses. Self-assessment will enable the candidate know issues that are important to voters and how he measures these issues compared to his opponents. Such an analysis enables the candidate to have sufficient information to design a realistic positioning of himself to the electorate.

Communication: The party or the candidate needs a strong and convincing communication platform as politics is largely about communicating ideas. Politicians can use tools such as public relations, publicity and advertising to communicate their ideas and stand on issues with the electorate. Because politics requires visibility, candidates can use events such as awards, contests, debates, luncheons, tours, placement (presence at non-political events will expose the candidate and enhance his visibility, much like product placement), radio and TV shows, and other interesting events.

Pricing Function

This is the sacrifice voters make to realize the value of the offering. It is the sacrifice that electorate as customers make to realize the value of the product, the political exchange and voter’s feelings of national, economic and psychological hope or insecurity. It is the price and cost in political marketing. For the aspect of cost, it is the sacrifice. It is inhibition or opportunity cost considerations that prevent voters from implementing their intentions and to minimize this opportunity cost of voters decision, campaign management reduces monetary and non-monetary efforts for voters to process political information, form opinions, evaluate alternatives and participate in political discussion.

Promotion or Communication Function

This informs the primary exchange partners (electorate) of the offer and its availability. Communication function means that political parties provide political contest, image and cues. It provides messages, delivery of distribution and multiple directional flow of information and sharing of political agenda formulation. It develops the content from product function. Positioning in political marketing is connecting candidates with voters or developing a campaign theme that contains convergent policy stances on issues. Positioning strategy presents policies the party applies to  persuade voters to vote for them. The theme is then rationale for a candidate’s election and his opponents defeat. It is the single, central idea communicated to voters to aggregate a candidate’s relationship and concerns for the voters as against another candidate. Positioning of the party is a way of making the party and its candidates to be perceived as better than opponents in the minds of the voters. It deals with presenting the product’s unique advantages that differentiate it from other products. It is the process of developing campaign theme containing the stand of the party on important issues affecting the society. It is the basis for establishing party practices applied to persuade and win voters. Theme is the rationale for a candidate’s election victory and opponent’s defeat. All marketing communication tools used for political persuasion must be integrated in such a way that they are focused on the marketing objectives (political objectives) of the candidate, the politician or the political party. It involves political promotional campaign. This is the rush of media items leading up to the polling day. It persuades target audiences by managing the message to them through media such as radio, TV, billboards, internet, posters and handbills. Free editorial coverage of activities of political parties and candidates are presented to the electorate through press releases, press conferences, political debates and regular interaction with journalists.

The avenue open to politicians is to seek the aid of the mass media since it is impossible for them to assemble and talk to all electorate one on one. They can get publicity for their positions through the media but cannot control the way a political event is reported in the media. Therefore, the option open to the politician is to advertise his position on issues in media accessible to the electorate.

Message presentation, the main concern is to dwell on issues that plague the ordinary citizen such as health, food, housing, transportation, education/employment, human development, women affairs, etc.

Aspects of communication functions include:

News management function: It is directed to intermediaries or secondary exchange partners such as mass media that manage publicity of the party. It is free communication public relations activities or spins. It includes involvement of very credible channel not under control of the parties as they are journalists and other opinion leaders.

Fundraising Function: This function’s need is addressed to provide political actors with resources. Its sources are membership fees, donation and free services. Parallel-campaign management function: Single issue groups and political parties coordinate their activities.

Internal-cohesion Management Function: The party establishes internal structure and cohesion that promote relationships with members party activities and touch-point agent of the party (such as front benchers and spokespeople). It helps to achieve internal stability and credibility of the party to achieve good external image and favourable assessment by the voters.

Distribution Function

This is the political grassroots.providing local electioneering support including canvassing and leafleting; speaking events and rallies. This is the function ensuring availability of exchange or political product to the voters. It uses rank and file of the party, the grassroots or local electioneering canvassing and leafleting, speaking events and rallies to the reach the voters and delivery of information on the party policies, candidates promises and characteristics. It is concerned with availability of the exchange offer (political product) to exchange partner. It includes:

Campaign delivery function providing electorate access to all relevant elements of the products through information dissemination on political policies using such media as TV ad, radio ad, canvassing, party conferences or chat shows. Offering delivery function is the fulfillment of political promises (Palmer, 2002). This occurs when the party or candidate has political and legal means to fulfill their promises; that is, after winning the election and assumed elected position. It involves the electorate and parties through participation, formulating and implementing policies.

List the various functions of political marketing

● Product functions; pricing functions; Promotion/marketing communication function and distribution function.

Importance of political marketing

Kavanagh states that people are more enlightened, they have realized their importance in the current democratic setting and need to be persuaded and convinced to part with their votes. This situation has stimulated the development of political marketing. Marketing is not a panacea or cure all but a process allowing a more effective and efficient method to design and implement political campaigns. Political parties use marketing instruments in their tactical and strategic electoral campaign activities, they use marketing for fundraising, managing party volunteers, render constituency services and for interacting with lobbying organisations. Marketing offers political parties the ability to address diverse voter concerns and needs through marketing analysis, planning, implementation and control of political and electoral campaigns.

O’Cass believes that political marketing can be useful in assessing the role of party image in electoral choices. Lees-Marshment argues that political marketing analysis could help explain party behaviour and predict its consequences. Thus it has the potential to advance the understanding of political behaviour Butler and Collins (1999) emphasize that political science focuses on institutional relationships and the policy-making process, and thus, political marketing can be useful by focusing on campaign strategy and management. The already existing body of marketing knowledge and technical expertise can also broaden the understanding of political motivation and behaviour. Political marketing can improve the quantity and quality of information flows from electorate to parties and candidates, thus making them more sensitive and responsive to voter’s needs. At the same time, it improves the channels of communication from politicians to the electorate and even more to every specific segment or voters.

Scammell (1995) concludes that political marketing provides a rational way for parties or candidates to behave in conditions of competitive mass democracy. O’Shanghnessy asserts that through the concept of political campaign, political marketing has become “the organizing principle round which . policy was constructed” According to . Smith and Hirst, “political marketing has moved to the era of strategic marketing and thus, it is not just a short-term tactical device mainly for gathering information in the run-up to elections, but a longer term permanent process which aims to ensure continued governance. Through political marketing, analysis is made of behaviour at the beginning through to the end of an electoral cycle (not just the election campaign) and includes the leadership, membership, staff symbols, constitution, activities such as party conferences and policies”. Political marketing is concerned with parties and voters’ shared and mutual interest. Thus, it can be useful by focusing on campaign strategy and management.

Differences Between Political Marketing and Commercial Marketing

Only few members of the society serve as consumers of products of commercial enterprises but all people in the society or general public are consumers of political offerings.

In commercial marketing, a company’s product has to be significantly different from competing product to appeal to the consumers. In political marketing parties and their candidates must demonstrate their credibility and capability for the electorate to assess and vote for them.

Relationship Marketing

One of the core philosophies of marketing is customer focused. Organizations have devised means of customer satisfaction that will not only retain customers but that which will encourage improved customer relationship. Marketing is gradually moving away from transaction based to relationship marketing according to Boone who described transaction based marketing as that which focuses on short term, single exchanges, buyers and seller exchanges and are characterized by limited communication and little or no on-going relationship. The primary goal of transaction- based marketing is to entice a buyer to make a purchase through inducements such as reduced price, convinience, or attractive packaging. On the other hands, relationship marketing is described as the development, growth and maintenance of cost-effective, high-level relationship with individual customers, suppliers, distributors, retailers and other . partners for mutual benefit over time. Marketing as practiced by modern organizations today see customers as equal partners in seller-buyer transactions. By encouraging and motivating customers to maintain a long term relationship with the . organization, whereby the customers will buy on continuous basis, the sales people will have the opportunity to have better understanding of the needs of their customers. In addition, it will lead to the improved product . quality customer service which will enable the organization to increase sales at a reduced marketing cost. Christopher, Payne and Ballantyne identified the objective of relationship marketing as to turn new customers into regularly purchasing clients, and then to progressively move them through being strong supporters of the company and its product, and finally to being active and vocal advocates for the company, thus playing an important role as a referral source.

Stages of Relationship Marketing

Establishing a long term relationship with customers and other businesses can be classified into four stages namely:-

(1) Customer database: Customer database is central to an effective relationship marketing. The customer database enables the organizations to keep record of the buying patterns, develop customer relationship profiles, customize offerings, personalize customer service to suit the needs of targeted groups of customers. Organizations can build their customers database using the combinations of the following sources: – Customer opinion survey, Customers ‘invoice, etc. A well designed database programme will bring about:-

• Identifying level of profitability associated with different categories of customers

• Improved customer retention and referral rates

• Reducing marketing and promotion cost

• Boosting sales volume per customer or targeted customer group

• Calculating the lifetime value of each customer’s business

• Creating a meaningful dialogue that builds relationships and encourages genuine brand loyalty

• Improve good word of mouth about the organizations products and customer services

2) Analysis of customer database with a view to meet differentiated needs of customers

3) Monitoring the relationship: Ensure that promises made are fulfilled with regular feedback from the customers

4) Closeness with customer: Acknowledgement of customer preferences must guide organization’s activities.

Core elements of Relationship Marketing

Relationship marketing is based on promises to delight the customers, it is a network of promises; that is the staff, customers as well as the financial intermediaries relating with the organization.

Making promises:- It is a way of creating an expectation of the nature of product or services the organization intends to offer and its uniqueness from that of the competitors. In other words, these promises communicate what a customer can expect from the offerings of the organization.

Enabling Promises:- Well trained and highly motivated staff must be engaged to allow these promises to be fulfilled. Note also that the organization structure itself must facilitate rather than hinder the provision of quality offerings.

Keeping Promises:- It is at this stage that customers can evaluate the integrity of the organization whether the organization is able to actually keep its promises to the stakeholders. Positive word of month from satisfied customers will also improve organization performance in the market place.

Development of Relationship marketing philosophy for the organization

There three levels of developing relationship marketing philosophy namely:

First Level Focus on Price: Relationship marketing efforts at this stage rely heavily on low pricing and other financial incentives to motivate customers to enter into buying relationships with a seller. The relationship at this level can be said to be least likely to lead to long term relationship. The implication of this is that organizations need to offer more than low price to be able to have long lasting relationship with the customers.

Second level – Social interactions: The second level in relationship marketing is reached when their interaction between the organization and its customers developed on a social level. Customer service and effective communication are the key factors that are used to strengthen the social interactions. Some organizations have records of birthday, wedding anniversary of their customers and identify with them at such occasions.

Third level – Interdependence Partnership: The third level of marketing relationship is the climax between the seller and the buyer. It is a stage where relationships have transformed into structural changes that ensure buyer and seller are true business partners. As both the seller and buyer work together, they become closely united, develop a dependence on each other and the relationship will continue to grow. Building relationship Marketing Strategies: You can use the following strategies to build relationship marketing:

  • Understanding customers’ needs
  • Obtaining feed fedback from customers.
  • Giving technical support where necessary
  • Providing expertise advice to grow the business of the buyers
  • Supporting customers with.resource by making credit facility available where possible, and subsidizing delivery system.
  • Offering high level of service, reliable delivery system, and minimizing defect levels.

Risk reduction: reducing perceived risk of the customers e.g the modality for payment, etc.

List the core elements of relationship marketing

  • Making promises; Enabling Promises and Keeping Promises

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