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Birth of a Salesman: Pitching Social Security (washingtonpost.com):
"But some of the country's most celebrated hawkers marvel at Bush's gift for selling. They rave about how he connects and inspires. With exclamation points!"
Interesting. I'm not a marketing genius by any stretch but it seems to me that the two political parties take opposite approaches to their policy goals.
The Republicans set about to create a demand for their product.
The Democrats set about to meet what they see as a demand.
So it seems that Bush will pull some policy agenda out of his ass, like say, attacking Iraq, that nobody thought was even on the radar and set about selling that policy to the Americans with his marketing team.
War on Iraq : Now Solves 20% More Terror Than Previous War on Afghanistan!!!
The Democrats on the other hand seem to look at what their constituents want and fashion an agenda to emcompass as many of those wants as possible.
I've learned a thing or two about salesmanship since getting my current job. Much of what gets sold is driven by need. People come into a store looking for a product. They generally know what they want and may just need a little help finding it. That's a very small part what I do. What I get judged on is my ability to create a demand for the products that the company wishes to sell once the customer comes in the door. I have to create a demand for a good or a service where none existed. And it works. People leave the store with more than what they meant to buy. Part of it comes from raising awareness of a need that they didn't know existed. The rest is creating a demand for a product that they might not even want.
The "best" salesman will not only get you to buy more than you want, but you'll shake their hand and thank them for doing so.
I've worked with such guys, and its an amazing sight to see. I'm not so good at it. I lack the natural charisma to really make people fall in love with me on the spot and put their trust in my words. I have to win people over with my knowledge.
I expect that if I can explain the benefits of a product best, answer any questions the customer has and assuage any doubts about the purchase I can win someone's trust and they'll give me the benefit of the doubt as I present them with add-on sales.
I only go so far as to explain the benefits of a good or service. I leave it up to them to decide if they want to buy it or not. This means that I can only ever be an average salesman, but I'm ok with that. I don't place much self worth in what I do to make money.
I gauge my self worth mainly by the number of comments I get on this blog.
I've been thinking for a long while that Bush is the pitchman for a set of policy goals that have already been sketched out by others. You see the very latest in marketing strategies employed to sell the president's agenda items. They work very hard to control the message. They repeat, repeat, repeat. And they work very hard to tie their proposals into a greater sense of your own identity.
Much of salesmanship is creating a story. Here's how this product is going to make your life better. Here's how it fits into the image that you've created for yourself. Its not unlike how Apple pushes the iPod as the essential accessory to a hip lifestyle. Not unlike how truckmakers try to integrate their brand into the image of "toughness" and "manhood".
A recent Saturn ad campaign suggested in one commercial that buying a sensible SUV was like becoming your father. The message: "You're a good parent now. See how you take your kids to little league!" was a bit obnoxious even for a car commercial. The other commercial, the one with the young girl, equated the car buying decision with finding the right man. "I'm happy now, I've got a man and Saturn!".
I find it fascinating and highly disturbing that politics and consumer marketing have found such common ground. Being a Democrat or a Republican is no longer just a matter of picking the party that best represents your interests, its about brand loyalty. You've probably heard that old saying, that goes "If at 18 you are not a Democrat you don't have a heart, If at 30 you are not Republican you don't have a brain."
I would add that if your loyal to either party you're just a rube waiting to be taken. I often wonder why more people aren't registered Independent.
For the record, I am.
Voting for a Republican does not make you more grown up, voting for a Democrat does not make you more compassionate, and buying a iPod doesn't make you any cooler (Case in point, I have an iPod, I am still as uncool as ever!). They're all just decisions that should be driven, not by some blind loyalty to brand or party, but by your own need.
That's the way I see it at least.
When I hear Bush speak or I see him on an interview I can't help but see a salesman trying to trick people with feel good language like "ownership society" and "personal accounts". I see such attempts to manipulate people on par with the little fake sticky note that was attached to a recent offer for internet service. It said "Hey, this offer ends soon, you better hurry - Terry"
Or my other favorite, a five dollar check, that when cashed, would enroll me in a program that would "reward" me with 2% back on a new credit card. I could "earn" up to $1000.
Oh wow.. I can't wait, to chuck that junk into the trash.
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