Put the “E” Back in “Election”

How tired are you of the presidential primaries? I gotta tell ya, as proud as I am to be an American, all this campaigning has gone on too long for me. There seem to have been 50 debates and over 100 town meetings. To make matters worse, the “real” campaign has yet to start. We have both national conventions, then the fall election campaigns kicks into high gear.

As much as I disdain the long campaign season, it’s a boon to direct marketing. Campaigners are creating every type of direct-mail piece, poster, placard, and printed insert. Campaigning and the direct marketplace go hand in hand.

Do you groan when you hear a political candidate express great concern over our world’s ecological system and warn of a day of reckoning while sanctioning the printing of millions of direct mailers, brochures, and posters, most of which end up in the trash heap? All this waste of natural resources at a time when we’re told we should change our light bulbs to a more energy-efficient wattage and conserve wherever we can.

The more I’m around campaign machinery and candidates in general, the more I wonder about their intelligence when it comes to electronic communications and the Web. The candidates appear to be clueless about the electorate’s shift to the Internet. There’s no longer an excuse for not seeing that virtually every American family is online. The Internet is the primary informational channel for most voting Americans. Despite all data to the contrary, political machines continue to pour millions of dollars into media that eventually wind up in the recycling bin.

Sure, there are candidates with Internet specialists on their teams who craft supplemental portions of the marketing and media strategies on the Web. Some even realize e-mail communications are a cost-effective means to generate a dialogue with voters.

But at best, the candidates use e-mail to blast in a direct-mail fashion. E-mail’s ability to establish an electronic dialogue with voters is lost on them. No other medium allows candidates to listen to what voters have to say and to respond meaningfully to them.

If my day job didn’t prevent me from running for elected office, I’d run on an e-mail platform. My campaign would leverage an understanding of technology and the incredible opportunity to connect with voters. My first step would be to build an excellent Web site focused on providing content to potential supporters about my track record and belief system relative to the issues of our day. My site preference center would allow voters to ask questions and provide insight on the issues most relevant to them. I would ask voters to sign up for regular communications via dynamically generated newsletters and alerts. My campaign team would monitor reporting from these e-mail units to identify the messaging that receives the most interest, so I could modify my content assembly in real time.

I’d offer all kinds of opportunities for voters to ask questions and continue to provide insight into their most important issues. With the state of the art in e-mail communications, voters would actually experience what it would be like for candidate DiGuido to listen to their concerns and respond with relevant, personalized information.

The campaign would use search and offline marketing to drive awareness of the campaign and its Web site while capturing e-mail addresses and establishing prospective voter issue profiles. This green approach to campaigning would verse candidates in the Internet and e-mail communications.

Isn’t it time elected officials started reaching out and communicating with constituents via the world’s primary communications channel? Let’s declare a moratorium on wasteful campaigning. So many precious natural resources are destroyed for the zillions of promotional campaign pieces printed during the fall election season.

Here’s a news bulletin for all those political dinosaurs with buddies in the printing business: Wake up before it’s too late. E-mail is the communications channel to voters. Forget the bias that older Americans aren’t Internet and e-mail savvy. That’s garbage. To do something for our country and the planet, embrace e-mail and start to build a dialogue with the voting public via their communications channel.

Isn’t it time to put the “e” back in “election”?

Al D.

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