A class of MBA students at The University of Memphis is using modern marketing research tools to learn about a unique target group - the U.S. Congress.
Marketing, by its simplest definition, involves creating exchanges. One party has something to offer; the other is in need of something. People engaged in marketing make sure the exchange happens.
In today's business environment, companies do business in one or more of a variety of markets. Some companies market to consumers. Others are engaged in industrial marketing. Many companies are engaged in financial marketing, working to sell their strengths to stockholders or to sources of capital. And, many companies today are engaged in political marketing.
Political marketing, a term that sparks discomfort among some companies and most elected officials, is a fact of business life in the 1990s. Decisions made in Washington affect companies today in many ways, perhaps more so than ever before. And, many companies today are using political marketing in an effort to influence those decisions.
This spring, 15 graduate students at The University of Memphis are studying political marketing as part of the University's Master's in Business Administration (MBA) program. Using electronic and traditional research methods, they have been collecting information and devising strategies to help a group of businesses package certain "products" they can offer in exchange for benefits members of Congress have available. The class is not theoretical; it is an exercise in reality.
Products to exchange
The term "political marketing" denotes exchanges in political markets. What companies have to offer in the exchange are a variety of products that political officials want and need, including:
* Campaign financing funds. Direct corporate contributions are prohibited, but PACs, corporate bundlings of individual contributions, and the like are not.
* Information and expertise. The job on Capitol Hill is complex, and legislators need quality information to be able to make informed decisions.…