This week we analyzed the “The Ground Game” in political campaigns. The readings from Alexander and Neilson discuss the sociological implications of the ground game throughout several different campaigns. A major point of both the readings was how the ground game was effective because it brought a human component to a political campaign. The attempt to bring human contact to a political campaign via the ground game, as opposed to the often cacophonous air war, is very similar to how marketers target their audience in what is known as the customer journey. By hypothetically applying the ground game to elements of the customer journey, it can highlight how an emotional connection to a person or brand is effective in shifting voters from merely being aware of something or someone to an active advocate.
Political campaigning and advertising are very similar in their approach to bringing the masses to support them. Even though both spheres have cultural undercurrents of shadiness and deception, they both use practiced, sociological methods to increase support for their respective candidate or product. These methods of politicians spreading information is paralleled in the world of advertising with a model for the way a typical consumer thinks about a product or brand. What’s known as the customer journey loop similarly matches the way voters come to know and understand a political candidate. The steps a customer must traverse in their relationship with a brand consists of an awareness of a brand, then interest of it, then consideration of purchase, eventual purchase, and finally advocacy of the brand. Political and advertising campaigns target people and voters in very similar ways.
In the attempts of campaigns to rally support to their cause, they target people based on different points on the customer journey. The air game would fall on the awareness and consideration points of the customer journey. The internet’s mass accessibility allows for politicians to spread their ideas to millions of people. The air game is not without its drawbacks. The lack of a human element often leaves voters on the consideration point of the customer journey and it often takes an emotional connection to push them into the purchase and advocacy stage of the campaign. The purchase, in this instance, would mean voting for a candidate. The most effective method that either sphere can use to achieve this goal is through accomplishing an emotional relationship with the people they are trying to win over. The goal of an emotional connection is no simple feat. Despite the technological age’s ability to quickly disperse information to millions of people instantaneously, often times the mass diffusion can come off very detached and disengaging. While it’s widely disputed over how best to achieve the desired emotional engagement, it is still accepted that the ones that manage to strike and emotional chord with its intended audience are the most successful. It is the idea dispersion of both advertising and political campaigns that brings consumers to the consideration point of the customer journey, but it is the one two punch of awareness and an emotional connection that lead people to the advocacy necessary for a successful campaign.