Political campaigns fascinate me. I pay close attention to races to learn from their marketing triumphs and mistakes and to apply my education to help our clients.

Brands can learn a great deal from political races. Like all businesses today, what’s needed in Politics today is not more marketing, but better marketing that surrounds a brand/candidate that has integrity, character and proof of performance.

All things being equal, having and spending more money on a campaign in all likelihood should help you win any race hands-down, but with a better brand promise and proof of past performance, politicians like any brand can whip a big spender with performance flaws.

The California Governor race one I’m watching closely. Meg Whitman spent a Republican primary record of $74 per vote ($71 million) to beat rival billionaire Steve Poizner ($63 per vote – $24 million) by nearly 40%. OK fine.

However, in a recent poll, Whitman is behind Jerry Brown by six percentage points – 49% to 44%.  Before her housekeeper scandal, she was running a bit behind Brown who’s running a frugal campaign (Brown only spent 50 cents per vote in the Democratic primary). The campaign looks to be a tossup.

If you want to increase your odds at winning a political campaign or any brand building effort you must:

  1. Have character, integrity, authenticity, transparency
  2. Create a meaningful cause (e.g., O’Bama’s “Change”) and act on it
  3. Stay on message and be consistent over time (e.g., O’Bama’s “Change”)
  4. Recognize that “all politics is local” – build a grassroots campaign – be committed to your true identity
  5. Work hard for your voters/customers, listen to them and deliver on your promises
  6. Be a savvy cost effective Internet marketer to give your constituents the tools to easily spread your good word – trust the power of networks
  7. Have a laser focus on current, but also emerging needs – there’s always a common need (e.g., jobs), but unique needs as well per segment/s
  8. If you commit to one message, make it an exceptionally strong emotional one like consumer brands do with cars etc. Certainly you need to appeal to both the rational and emotional side of people, but emotional is always stronger
  9. Communicate hope, promise and possibilities
  10. Be a Servant Leader and treat voters (customers) as customers