By Tijjani D. Isah
Sequel to the lifting of ban on electioneering campaign by INEC , ahead of 2023 general elections campaign in line with its scheduled time table , it is expected that the drums will sound louder than witnessed in previous polls as Nigerians have become more conscious of the happenings in their political environment. Political organizations and their candidates would want to win elections, this consequently makes them to work out means through which this can be done. In the process, they are faced with the challenges of choosing the correct and best means to achieve this result.
The idea of a political marketing according to R. A. Gbadeyan in his book ‘Political marketing strategies & Democracy in Nigeria 2011 originated from the writings of writers such as Philip Kotler, Levy, Newman et al. it has been discovered that marketing is no longer restricted to the sales of goods and services alone, but equally extended to the distribution of ideas.
It is pertinent to initially understand what marketing and political marketing is. The American Marketing Association (1995) described marketing as the “process of planning, executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchanges and satisfy individuals and organizational goals”.
On the other hand, the Institute of Marketing (IM) London defines marketing as the “management process that is responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably”.
Kohler (2001) described marketing as a “process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating, offering and freely exchanging products of value with others”.
From these definitions above, they clearly show that marketing involves more than selling of products and services. It equally involves promoting experiences, events, persons, places, organizations, information and ideas.
Therefore, Political marketing on its own is a field that builds on a merger between marketing and politics. It is the application of marketing techniques, strategies and concept to politics in a broad sense.
Marketing looked at the candidate as a product. The same features needed for a product acceptance is what is needed by a political candidate to be accepted.
CHALLENGES FACED BY POLITICAL CANDIDATES & THOSE INTERESTED IN RUNNING.
Lokoja Local Government consists of 10 Wards made up of hilly and riverine areas with dependable people that are playing significant roles in the shaping of political activities in the state and at the National Level. With these qualities, we still find it difficult to sell our candidates very well to the electorates’ as a result self-afflicted reasons or the other.
The following includes the challenges faced by political candidates in Lokoja considering or venturing into politics:
Good candidates are reluctant to participate in politics. They refer to politics as a dirty game, a notion which I don’t believe. In Lokoja, we have men and women of high integrity; they can change this notion and make participation in politics clean. Politics should not be left to the politicians alone and if good people don’t participate they become an accomplice in the misrule of our leaders as experienced in recent time.
Adequate education and exposure equally inhibit individuals to venture into politics. Even though such people emerged in elections, the quality of leadership they exhibit leads to negative reaction to the group or party they belong.
Finance is a major challenge faced by some of our good brothers and sisters Lokoja. Most of them do not have the knowledge of financing their campaigns, thereby resulting to credible and reliable candidates falling on the way. However, it should be noted that money politics in Nigeria is a practice that is very hard to be thrown away, but efforts should be made by all to be limited.
I have observed that lack of internal cohesion; strife and disputes among politicians, in addition to politics of bitterness are among the factors that result to low representation of quality candidates to participate in political activities.
Political godfathers/ Moneybags involvement in the selection of candidates have made it an obstacle to participation of quality individuals in politics.
Equally a challenge is the notion that some intending individuals are not Lokoja based, and so have no right to seek for elective positions. This has denied us worthy individuals that will give us quality representation as they must have excelled in their previous endeavors.
Similarly, discrimination against women and young people has also affected and denied us quality representation in the Local Government despite the passing of the not-young-to rule bill.
TOP MARKETING IDEAS IN PROMOTING AN ELECTION CAMPAIGN.
For a start, we have the above the line and below the line media advert. The cheaper and affordable are the below the line media advert. This will includes newsletters, pamphlets, hand bills, flyers etc. the campaign send these to the electorates on the activities of the candidate, so that more people will get to know the objectives and the goals of the candidate.
Secondly the campaign team needs to get an attractive campaign logo. In business, an effective marketing strategy is to use logos to market the company’s product and services. This is also true for a candidate in an election campaign. The candidate is seen as a product and if a logo is designed for him/her it speak very well about the political agenda. The logo should speak about the candidate political manifestoes and issues through colours, symbols and other elements. In the second republic, the logo of NPN spoke very well about the party and its candidate Shehu Shagari. Because of the economic situation then, the idea of a party bringing revolution in the Agricultural sector to make food available was completely accepted, all because of the logo.
Create a social media page (e.g. Instagram, WhatsApps, FB etc.) and a dedicated website.This should sole be dedicated to the candidate and updated constantly with information – new cover photo, and various activities. The admin of the page should ensure that that it is edited to share and the page searchable. In addition the messages in the page should be tagged to other pages-to be visible to other group of people.
In campaign period, the electorates want to know the latest developments and happenings in the party and the candidate. People want to know where the candidate visited, what statement he has made and contributions made to the community. All these should constantly be updated.
Print t-shirts. As people walk around wearing them they become a walking advertisement of the candidate political agenda and issues. This was exhibited by some political groups recently in Lokoja especially that of the BEST Group.
Greet people on the street. This helps in building rapport and relationship with them. The candidate should try to come out on the street more often, greet, shake hands and click pictures. With a warm smile always, the candidate should go to events, games and visit hospital and where people are bereaved to connect with the people and potential voters.
The candidate should think of giving away some gifts, distribute these items on the street and at events. Ensure each item has the candidate logo as these items are kept by people for a very long time.
Take early start and campaign often to project the candidate as an energetic leader. If you want to draw attention of the electorates to the issues you are raising, start your campaign as early as you can. This will help the candidate as a credible leader who cares for the public and visible to them all the time.
ESSENTIAL TIPS ON HOW TO RUN A POLITICAL CAMPAIGN
The following essential tips will be of importance if a candidate wants to get his/her campaign moving in the right direction. They include:
DON’T RUN, UNLESS YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO WIN. There is a political campaign legend that if you run enough time, you will build name recognition and get elected. In the majority of cases, this is not an accurate assumption. It is the reverse that is true, the more times you run, the less likely you are to win. Most people who run the 2nd or 3rd time do not win. But we should remember that not all of us are Abraham Lincoln. I know of a councilor in Kaduna who was later considered and compensated after he has tried over five times.
KNOW HOW MANY VOTES YOU NEED TO WIN. The
campaign team needs to study the number of votes required to win. In a primary election, the team needs to know the number of delegates to get hold if the election is by delegate. This is what is called vote goal. If it’s a local government election for instance, the campaign team needs to determine the number of Wards, and each polling station in a Ward to win to determine the overall victory for the candidate. By determining and calculating the vote goal, with statistical methods saves the candidate a lot of finance, logistics and other resources.
CREATE A CONTRAST. Politics is a comparative game. Just like marketing where your product competes with that of the competitors, you as a candidate is considered as a product competing with multiple candidates. You need to create a reason for people to choose. In marketing its called USP- Unique selling proposition/point. That is, you need to create a niche for yourself, be different.
RUN FOR THE RIGHT REASON.
Some people don’t even know why they are running/contesting. Don’t run because you want a name or to promote a selfish cause. Serious people run because they want to achieve incredible things and see their community developed.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF ASKING.
I see a lot of candidate campaigning without asking for assistance from the people. It’s not a crime, as a candidate you need to ask for help – money, materials etc. The campaign team can organise funds raising dinner or any other event, which might turn out to be a positive outing for the candidate.
BUDGET FOR THE CAMPAIGN. How much will the campaign cost? Political campaign in Nigeria even in this age of social media cost a lot of money. The campaign team needs to get the real idea of what the campaign will cost.
If you don’t have enough money, and the campaign team thinks their candidate is a marketable product, they can adopt number 5 above.
LISTEN MORE THAN YOU TALK. The campaign managers need to realize that the campaign is not about the candidate, but the voters. The campaigns are the means to get the message to the people, therefore create avenues for the people to talk to the candidate. The campaign should be about delivering result for the community and the candidate is the product/ vehicle for that purpose.
A WRITTEN PLAN IS KEY.
To achieve victory all these points we have stated should be put in a plan. The campaign plan should be a living a breathing documents. That is, it should be constantly consulted and break down into tactics and always kept handy.
According to the INEC Chairman, campaigns and slogans must not be tainted with abusive language directly or indirectly which are likely going to injure religious, ethnic, tribal or sectional feelings.
It is abundantly clear that for any candidate to succeed, the marketing strategies listed above should be deployed. It is necessary for candidate to maximize the people’s support and maintain positive publicity not only in the media but on non-media means which we have cited above.
However, there are certain issues which can work against the effective utilization of these strategies. The political party should adopt dialogue in presenting a marketable candidate that is reliable and credible. The campaign information should be reliable and dependable. The campaign should address issues bothering the community and not personalized. When all these are adhered to, the victory desired by the candidate will be achieved.
TIJJANI D. ISAH MBA Mgt., PGDM, PGDE, HND Mktg, writes from Lokoja.