Isolated as I am, hiding away from the virus like the rest of us, I have had a lot of time to see my inbox flooded with a tsunami of seemingly mindless targeted communications, mostly from the politicos, asking for support (read: ‘money’ and votes, usually in reverse order).
As a data-driven marketer from the BI age (Before Internet), I’m witnessing all the now tired old tricks being employed by political marketers. Like all marketers, they need to get their prospect’s attention, and they are using techniques and bait we’ve employed since forever.
But am I the only one to wonder if this promotional money is being well spent? Haven’t lots of recipients like me become so tired of the switch-sell headlines that no volume of mail, electronic and/or snail (if there is still a postal service when you read this) will make me do anything other than activate the spam filter, hit the ‘delete’ button, or try to get my dog to take it to the recyclable trash bin. Isn’t this causing a serious combination of boredom and disbelief, a pollution which will negatively impact our commercial efforts?
Professional marketers are trained to waste as little promotional money as possible. We know the albeit slightly tarnished ‘Golden Rule’ of measurable marketing: it doesn’t matter how much you spend in promotion as long as the cost of each response is lower than the allowable – the amount you have determined that you can afford to spend for each response. That’s hardly rocket science. Given the more than 75 political campaign emails I get each day, I can’t help but wonder if the political marketers even know (or care) about that golden rule or even what they are doing.
If we look at the total campaign spend of $407.8 million (2017 to date) and assume that at least as much again will be spent between now and Nov. 3, it comes to about $5.33 per registered voter. Government statistics tell us that roughly 40% of the 153.1 million registered voters identify themselves as ‘independents’. If we assume that neither party needs to ‘preach to their ‘base’ choir’ and allocates all this expenditure to the independents, it means that the estimated spend on each is a substantial $13.32.
For that, barring the social distancing required by the pandemic, each could be invited for a beer at a local pub to get the ‘vote for me’ pitch in detail from a volunteer. Or with this money, Uber might give them a free ride to the polling place.
My parents drilled into me, before crossing any railroad tracks, I must “Stop!’, ‘Look!’ and ‘Listen!’ This imperious subject line instruction to “read before deleting” may stop some folks from reaching for the delete button before reading, but it will hardly make most stop, look, and listen instead. It’s hard to imagine the cost of each response, if there are any. It’s hardly money well spent.
Neither is this.
It may indeed be ‘the honest truth’ but that the sender can’t decide whether I am ‘Peter’ or ‘friend’, so sends me both, raises my skepticism shield. So does this message from Nancy Pelosi.
If you can believe that she or the other side’s politicians won’t be asking for money, you are a good prospect to purchase the Brooklyn Bridge or the Statue of Liberty from the slouch-hatted character on the corner if he offers them to you.
In the political sphere (as in many others), hyperbole is definitely the flavor of the year. If like many of us, we are working from home, perhaps we feel we have to yell louder to be heard over the noise of the children, even to be heard at all.
Will these subject lines get through to you, stop you in your tracks?
Are any of these sufficiently believable and compelling to overcome the huge, bigly, great, incredible, and tremendous temptation to ignore them and many like them?
Only time and big investments in post-election testing are likely to give us the answer.