Presidential elections, salesmen and human needs
People make emotional choices to support the people, ideas and products sold to them.
From a British point of view I followed the US presidential election closely, not only because it has an indirect impact on my life, but from a marketing and psychology point of view. Like all the world, Britain was watching closely, and all apart from Israel was favouring Obama. In a London school in Britain children held their own election with a landslide victory for Obama 132 votes to 21 votes.
Today, Obama wins a second four years in office, and he achieved this against the flow of history where in the last 40 years nobody gained a second term of office at the level of unemployment USA is suffering. USA is in pain, jobs were the main concern of voters, and though the unemployment level was moving in the right direction from a high of near 10%, it had still dropped to a painful high level of 7.9%, nobody in 40 years won a second term with unemployment above 7.4%.
The revolutionary enthusiasm of four years before was long gone, replaced with fear and pain. Romney had a chance to take the Presidency but as a salesman he was poor, and his pitch was not one that Americans (or the world) wanted to hear. Romney to me had the sales pitch of a used car salesman with an irritating smirk in his smile. Obama defaulted to his intellectually impersonal character, which lacked compassion or passion, which worked against him in the first debate. Romney’s obsession with battleships, China and Iran failed to identify that most Americans care nothing for what goes on outside of USA, it was jobs and the economy they cared about. Then a random event offered Obama an opportunity that money could not buy, Hurricane Sandy allowed Obama the opportunity to look President-like in a crisis for a few critical days, whilst knocking Romney out of the public eye, reversing the momentum Romney was building in the polls.
So why did it all go wrong for Romney and right for Obama?
The need in all living things are: to live, to grow, to create (reproduce). In humanity these needs equate in a voter as security, liberty and opportunity. The feeling of security comes from having a job, home, food, shelter, family and community; but an ailing economy and unemployment impacts security significantly. The feeling of liberty is to be able to satisfy your daily needs with no restrictions such as on movement, speech, marriage. The feeling of opportunity revolves around the American Dream of being able to rise from poverty to prosperity through hard work without restriction based on race, religion or other barrier.
No matter what you are selling – yourself, your product, your ideas – if you are addressing the three human needs of security, liberty and opportunity, you are onto a winner. As a salesman you have eight qualities that will emotionally convince people in what you sell: passion; compassion; vision; strength; honesty; confidence; knowledge; focus. To be Presidential all these eight qualities are important, but also are vital in the salesperson. Lack of these qualities makes a salesperson appear hollow, dishonest and shifty.
Passion is contagious, if you care about what you sell, people will care about what you are selling. Compassion makes a salesperson human, and elicits a feeling of security that the salesperson cares about those they are selling to. Vision is a mental image that is appealing and shared by salesperson and customer. Everyone dreams of security, liberty and opportunity and thus a successful vision appeals directly to those needs. Without the appearance of honesty people will have no faith or confidence in either salesperson or anything they sell, however good the promise. Confidence like passion is contagious, thus a confident salesperson, means a customer will be confident in whatever is being sold, the reverse is a feeling of anxiety and lack of security in salesperson and what they sell. Knowledge is self-evident, which gives the customer confidence that if problems arise they have someone to turn to in a crisis. People by default have limited attention spans with attention being captured by multiple confusing messages, so focus keeps the mind of the customer on the key answers to their needs, which may in the presidential election be jobs, not battleships.
Of all needs the need of security is the highest need of humanity, with liberty and opportunity activating once the first need is addressed. Look at babies when they first need to know that mother is there for them before they venture off to explore the unknown world. Despite the pain the familiarity of Obama created security, whilst Romney was an unknown, and anything unknown immediately creates anxiety and insecurity. Romney was handicapped from the start by being unknown, and from then on he did nothing but increase the unease of the people he was selling to. The need for security that Obama created, but Romney failed to achieve, won Obama the presidential election.