exposure does not equal success

I’ve often said (and blogged here) that politics is nothing more than marketing.

The district adjacent to my own just wrapped up a special election to fill a vacated state senate seat. The race was between an ambulance chasing lawyer who is a common fixture in media in the area — and another lawyer who may or may not chase ambulances but does not promote it if he does.

The ambulance chaser already had ultimate top-of-mind name awareness in the market. No matter where you live, you can probably name 2 or 3 lawyers in your market/city who have advertised their practice to this level with wall-to-wall TV spots, full page advertising, wasting money with big listings in the Yellow Pages, etc. They’ve marketed themselves to minor celebrity status. If you saw them in the mall, you’d poke the person next to you and say “hey, it’s that lawyer from the commercials”.

The ambulance chaser heavily advertised his candidacy for the senate seat with the same gusto that he marketed his law practice. I have no concrete proof, but it also seemed the frequency of his law practice ads increased during the campaign as well. All of his marketing (both campaign and law practice) was well produced and well designed by professional agencies.

The other lawyer was known in the area, but didn’t have the “minor celebrity” status of his opponent. He didn’t spend a lot of money on the campaign (in fact, he was massivley outspent by the other candidate). The marketing that he did wasn’t as well produced. He wasn’t as comfortable on camera as the other guy. And last night, he won the race.

As with all politics, there were other factors at work here (weather issues may have affected turnout, there were some skeletons in the loser’s political closet, etc), but there are two marketing thoughts that come out of this:
1)You can’t advertise your way to success
Marketing just points people to a product. It doesn’t make the sale. All the marketing in the world won’t sell a product that people don’t want to buy.

2)You can advertise too much
Those 2 or 3 lawyers in your market who are mall celebrities? You probably also see them as parodies. Market yourself enough that you keep top-of-mind awareness, but not so much that it becomes annoying.

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