Candidates, parties must bring their platforms to new platforms, says industry expert
Toronto (MMD Newswire) July 17, 2012 -- It's the Internet Age, but an amazing number of US politicians have apparently not received the memo. They are failing to take full advantage of the online platforms now available, and as a result are imperiling their own political campaigns and careers. So says marketing expert Teran Dale, president of Teran Dale Marketing, who observes that politicians from all parties and at all levels, from federal to municipal, are sabotaging their campaigns with a weak or poorly executed online presence. And with the US general election rapidly approaching - November 6 is really just around the corner - many candidates are going to end up on the Endangered Politicians list, Dale believes.
For some cynical voters, Dale's declaration of endangerment might sound like a setup for a good punch line. But Dale, who appreciates a good political joke or cartoon as much as the next person (as indicated by the cartoon on his political marketing site at www.TeranDaleMarketing.com/political-marketing), is serious. "As long as we have a political system in this country, we need politicians to get things done," he says, "and there are good people running for office who truly want to serve their constituents and make a difference." Unfortunately, he says, the good pols as well as the bad ones will ultimately fail if they don't adopt the new models of success.
The Endangered Politician
The problem is not that politicians are complete strangers to the Internet; after all, most of them have at least a rudimentary Web site. But when it comes to running a dazzling online campaign, most fall far short. "The unpleasant truth," says Dale, "is that most political marketing campaigns are not set up for success." He says this is true of political parties and action groups as well as individual candidates.
Success, Dale believes, begins with the candidate or party entering the conversation that constituents have already begun in their own minds, and are passionately engaged in with each other. The Internet has provided many creative and easy ways for politicians to engage, but the task can seem a little overwhelming to a novice. Perhaps this is why so few pols haven't really gotten their feet wet in this area.
"Frankly," says Dale, "I don't see any of the parties, or many of the candidates, using social media/Internet properties to discuss their platform with their constituents. Yet the people of America are searching every minute, every hour, every day on the Internet for what their political candidates stand for, and what they are going to do make America better going forward." Moreover, the voting public is more plugged in than ever, what with desktop and laptop computers, tablets, and smartphones. Many people practically live online.
The model for online campaign success is already out there, Dale asserts. Whatever one's opinion may be about President Barack Obama, there is no doubt he ran a strong and successful Internet campaign in 2008 and was arguably the first major political candidate to do so. "Yet to my surprise," Dale says, "most people running for office or re-election are not using the major Internet platforms such as Google, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Bing and Yahoo to their advantage. If they are using it they are doing a very poor job, because they're simply not entering the conversations their constituents are having.
"And because most politicians are not using these powerful online platforms to help them secure victory on election day," continues Dale, "this puts their political careers squarely on the 'endangered' list."
He acknowledges that many politicians, particularly those "of a certain age," aren't all that Internet-savvy. They know they need a Web site, and they have a passing familiarity with Facebook and possibly Twitter, and they may have watched videos on YouTube. Yet they are at a loss when it comes to adopting these tools for their own campaigns and using them to full advantage.
But it is really not all that difficult to break into these platforms, Dales says. One doesn't have to be a geek or a tech nerd to build a powerful online and social media presence. "People running for office or re-election can make significant headway in communicating their stand on the issues, letting their voice be heard, drumming up more votes, and increasing donations to their campaign - and they can do all of this in 10 minutes or less," claims Dale.
"It's all about raising awareness and increasing credibility," he says, adding that his team can help politicians reach their constituents more effectively by using PPC, SEO and social media to achieve their goals. Though headquartered in Toronto, Teran Dale Marketing has several US offices, and his team has its hand firmly on the pulse of the American political conversation.
Dale himself is an old hand at online marketing, having consulted with the pioneers and top gurus in Google Adwords, and having created and managed Pay Per Click campaigns for companies such as Capital One, Canon, and eTrade Financial. He has also directed and managed paid search for every conceivable area of business-to-business and business-to-consumer enterprises. His expertise includes mom-and-pop, brick and mortar, and department stores, as well as Internet marketers. He says the same tools he uses for Internet marketing and retail clients are equally effective in political campaigns.
"We've all heard the saying, 'Adapt or die,'" says Dale. "It's as true in politics as it is in any other endeavor. If politicians do not pay heed to the digital arena, their political career will be on the endangered list and could very well become extinct in the near future. On the other hand, they can ensure a healthy future - and can exponentially increase their chances for victory on November 6, and beyond - if they take advantage of the tools and expertise that are readily available."
For more information visit www.TeranDaleMarketing.com/political-marketing