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Market the party more than the presidential candidate

William Y Ansah William Y. Ansah, author; CEO of Origin8

Tue, 10 Mar 2020 Source: William Ansah

Political parties are organizations established like any other business to carry on businesses as going concerns. They need resources, key, is people and amongst them and the most celebrated is the Presidential Candidate.

In doing this, we subtly ignore the fact that the Presidential candidate cannot represent the party forever. He/she always has a time limit but the party like any other business intends to exist into the unforeseeable future.

As a Marketing and PR practitioner, the loud chorus that characterizes the marketability of a presidential candidate is unwarranted. A great party with a strong brand is known by its identity and not the persons acting on its behalf.

In as much as we do market products and/or services, the big question is, Are Presidential Candidates “Products” or “Services.” Secondly,” Are the Presidential Candidates of the various political parties Brands.” Third, is a political party a brand or a product to be marketed?

Robert Kiyosaki in his book Fake, asserted that “Lies are making the poor and middle class poorer.” In biblical terms we say for lack of knowledge my people perish. The misuse and misapplication and the failure of most political parties to recognize their existence as business entities to take the path of business will forever make a lot of their aspirants never see the seat of government. Some we call “transaction parties.”

They come out only during elections, conduct business and end once voting and determination of a presidential candidate is made.

We have what is termed an inception period for any organization. This period requires a lot of drive to push the organization into the path of growth, however, in our case most of these political parties never transition beyond inception. They are never prepared from inception and therefore cannot see growth. You start on a bad note and continue on that same note and expect different results, that’s impossible.

A lot of political parties have been registered in Ghana yet the average Ghanaian can only mention not more than 5 of them when asked at a go – NPP, CPP, PNC, NDC, etc.

Do you know that these acronyms are better known by the electorate than the real full names of the political parties? It has therefore become a norm for any newly registered political party to come up with an acronym. For my curiosity, I tried to find out whether these acronyms are registered with the registrar of companies. The answer is a Big No.

These tell us that for any organization to thrive, you first need to have a Brand identity other than your name though your name can equally stand for your identity. Any new business or political party must let everyone know What they Stand For? Who They Are? What They Do? Why they want to be in power? There are countless of voters who support political parties and not the presidential candidates because they know what the party stand for, what they do, why they want the power among others.

Political parties without these, we say have no brand identities. You need to have a strong identity as any form of organization, then you make people aware of your identity and what it means. The understanding of these will draw support to you.

We should by now understand that most people vote for political parties irrespective of who the candidate is because they believe in what they say and do. Most people love Versace, Adidas, Nike etc but do not know the people behind them, in comparison you don’t know the presidential candidates.

This means a political party as an organization has more work to do to retain power than the presidential candidate. Any political party without strong structures and competent personnel running the various offices may find it difficult to win an election. If we want to practice multi-party democracy, then the political parties must be forced to operate as businesses. Without that there is no competition and that explains the current two-party state in Ghana though people deny it.

In Marketing, we will term the ‘promises’ as strategic plans because these are the things that will make one political party more competitive and attractive to the electorate than the other. These are the things that separates them. These promises must be time bound to help in measurability. As society changes so do the people and their demands. That is why we need political promises to match them against our future desires. Any political party that cannot make promises is like a business without a strategic plan. The plans are all intentions that we hope to achieve at the end of a financial year.

The confusion that most organizations or political parties face in the quest to grow their brand affection is their inability to differentiate between Brand Communication and Marketing Communication.

Most of our political parties in truth are at the brand development stage and not due for marketing. There are a lot of organizations who are not due for marketing because the brand in itself is not ready yet they ask us to market their products and services.

Every person or group of persons who intend to form a political party cannot do so in isolation without understanding business development. A political party must be perceived as a business and not an organization of ideas. No matter the ideas it must be realized and measured.

Political parties should therefore work on the structures and procedures if they intend to stay into the unforeseeable future. The candidate cannot win an election without strong party structures.

Columnist: William Ansah