Magazine article Marketing

Politicians Must Start Talking to the Right People

Magazine article Marketing

Politicians Must Start Talking to the Right People

Article excerpt

Politics has fascinated me ever since, aged ten, I stood as a Conservative candidate at a mock election at my prep school. I can't remember exactly how glorious my rhetoric, excellent my reasoning or inflammatory my oratory were, but I probably won because I had the right constituents. You don't find that many left-wingers at preparatory schools.

Recently I got a greater insight into the real thing: I attended my first party conference. How delightful to see that what I had been told was true! Whoever you talk to is constantly shooting glances over your shoulder to see if there might be somebody more important they could attach themselves to.

At the conference I delivered a little talk about a New Zealand politician I met last year who rose from total obscurity to become a cabinet minister in six years by using a PC and direct mail. All he did was speak about the right things to the right people.

He started as an unknown in a strange constituency -- "a long-haired, bearded carpet-bagger" as he put it -- competing with 17 local worthies for the nomination.

He recorded on his database everything he could discover about the people who would decide who became the candidate -- business interest, political views, families -- and spoke to them at private meetings about the things that they were most concerned about. He won the nomination on the first ballot.

Then he had the unnerving task of beating the sitting member, who happened to be the leader of one of the opposition parties. …

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