Yesterday while waiting for the train I was approached by not one, but two local politicians looking to get my attention. They came at me with their brightly colored pamphlets and perfect smiles trying to sell me their image. This isn’t a new phenomenom, the politicians and their groupies hang out at the train station quite often in an attempt to garner more support.
I can’t help but notice how ineffective it is.
I don’t want a salesman, I want real connection. I don’t want you to only hang out when it’s election season, I want you there to speak with the people when elections aren’t on anyone’s mind. I don’t want your shiny pamphlets, I want your real concern. Don’t come at me with your sales material, come at me as a real human being. Don’t sell to me. Engage with me.
I wonder what would happen if a real politician did this. If they stopped annoying everyone and actually cared about the people. I don’t want to just hear your platform, I want to hear what it means to me. How are you going to help give our community the tools it needs to build strong citizens? If you’re not going to take the time to build a relationship with me, then I’m not going to bother to give you my attention. I’ll tune you out. I’ll smile and nod, and then put you in that ‘noise’ category of my brain.
This is where my political apathy comes from. To win my support, you have to be something different. To win my respect and devotion you have to be something really different. You have to stand for something innovative. Running the same blasphemous TV spots during the nightly news isn’t going to win my sympathy. Do something bold, be a different kind of politician. Be a different kind of human being.
The words of a great marketing professor I had in college come to mind. He told me that if you can’t answer these three questions, you’re doomed for failure:
- Who are you?
- Why are you different?
- Why should I care?
As I walked to board my train I shot a glance at the trash bin. Layering its inside I saw the discarded pamphlets that had only been received minutes earlier. I couldn’t help but think to myself how these politicians are failing to answer these most basic questions; how they are failing to connect with their people.