People don’t buy products — they buy solutions to problems. No matter if those problems are external or internal in nature, everyone is in the market for a way to overcome their challenges. When a solution may not be obvious, customers at least want to know someone can offer them a plan to find one.
While typically I reserve this advice for private sector clients, it’s also a useful trope for politicians and government leaders. One of the best ways to ease the frustration of voters is to offer them a plan of action aimed at their most pressing problems. This is one of the most important lessons I share with my students in Florida State’s Masters of Applied American Politics and Policy program.
The premise of my class is this: the fundamental principles of marketing and politics are the same. I teach my class about private sector sales, marketing, and advertising strategies and together we apply them to real world political campaign problems. An essential part of the class is learning how to package products( candidates and policies) as the solution to problems. No matter the scenario, students know they must offer their audience a plan. It’s a particularly useful strategy in today’s frustrating world.
We live in a time where many of our societal challenges feel daunting. There’s always a lot of talk about the problems facing our nation, state, and community, but solutions feel limited. In this scenario, voters are more hungry than ever for a plan.
I think our local voters in Tallahassee are also eager to know there are plans being made to tackle our big challenges. Even if our local government may not have a silver bullet in hand, people want to know there is action being taken. Between social media chatter, community gatherings, and other everyday conversations I hear people vent their frustration on a wide range of issues facing our community.
Folks are frustrated when someone experiencing homelessness disrupts their business. They are tired of reading about another shooting or senseless loss of life. They want to find a new home they can afford. While none of these problems have easy solutions, our leaders can at least relieve these frustrations by offering a clear plan of action.
Even if those actions may only offer gradual improvement, people feel comforted knowing that there’s a plan in place. Think of how often companies go out of their way to clearly communicate how their products and services help transform the lives of their customers. A plan is a great vessel for instilling that confidence.
I have a tremendous amount of respect for our local government leaders here in Tallahassee. It takes a lot to serve our community in this capacity. While many of our neighbors are frustrated with our challenges, I think they too have a respect for those who are in the fight trying to tackle them. The best way for our leaders to keep earning that respect and ease voter frustrations is to give them a plan.
As our local governments begin deliberating this year’s budgets and other pressing policy issues, I hope they’ll consider how their choices fit into a larger plan for our community. Whether you’re a government body or a small business it’s also important to remember that plans can’t just be on paper. Nobody will buy your plan of action if they don’t know it exists or see you working through it. Make a plan, share it, and report back on the progress. It’s a powerful way to combat frustration.