I received a political brochure today that was very informative. It educated me about two political competitors, let’s call them Candidate A and Candidate B, both of whom were running for the same Congressional seat in my state.
Candidate A, a young go-getter, decides to do some marketing. He sends out political brochures telling people how bad Candidate B was and why they shouldn’t vote for that guy. The brochure also includes Candidate A’s name and what he stands for. Sounds like a good idea. Unfortunately, the execution was very poor.
Instead of advertising for himself, he advertised for his opponent.
How did that happen? The political brochure, it turns out, ended up being mostly about why Candidate B was bad. Close to 90% of the brochure was about Candidate B, what they believed in, and why those beliefs would turn out bad.
You’ve probably heard of the phrase “all publicity is good publicity.” This is taking it to a whole new level. Instead of learning about Candidate A, the guy who made the brochure, I received a heaping helping of Candidate B and their ideas. The brochure was plastered with Candidate B’s face! I ended up knowing all about Candidate B and what they stood for.
At the end of the brochure, after I had spent several minutes reading about his opponent, Candidate A was kind enough to include a small section about himself and a few bullet points about his beliefs.
This is not how advertising should work.
If you’re going to badmouth your competition, make sure you spend more time talking about yourself than them.
Candidate A never said why his beliefs were good. Instead, he spent most of the brochure talking about why his competitor thought their beliefs were good and then spent even more space refuting their reasoning.
At the end of it all, I remember clearly what Candidate B was all about. I don’t even remember Candidate A’s name. If I had been crunched for time, I probably would have just glanced at the brochure and assumed it was Candidate B that made the effort to reach out. It was his name and his face that was plastered all over the brochure, after all!