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What's a KISS in Politics?

“Impact of the use of data in elections is over-hyped. Data analytics and machine learning are not a game-changer in the Indian elections” You have to trust a statement when it comes straight from the horse’s mouth. The above statement is not mine, but of Prashant Kishore, who is credited with using data to craft the Victories of PM Narendra Modi, and the former JD (U)-RJD Combine in Bihar.  

In Strategic Marketing, we use data to identify distinctive Market Segments. In modern day elections, Data collected through online sources like Facebook is often used to prepare the Psychographic profile of Voters. However, can we depend on such data? And is such minute interpretation of data necessary to understand the Voter Behavior? KISS is an old acronym in management which means Keep It Simple Stupid. In this article, I’ll explain how KISS approach is extremely important in Politics, and why Politicians shouldn’t get swayed away by the new age half-cook data analysts. I have deliberately used the word half-cook because these half-cooks often fail to add the most important ingredient i.e. correct interpretation of marketing fundamentals.And does KISS mean the same in Politics? 

What’s the role of a Political Leader? Probably the unanimous answer is “To serve the people”. If Political leaders understand this simple answer, they don’t need any minute and complex data interpretation. Marketing, defined in most simple terms is the process of identifying the problems, and to provide strong solutions to these problems in a manner better than all your competitors, within the given resources and constraints. The three elements in my definition are “Identification of Problems”, “Strong Solutions which are better than your Competitors”, and “within the given resources and constraints”. By following this simple marketing approach (described below in detail), Politicians and Political Parties can create a forceful impact, which is likely to be much bigger than the complex data and machine approach.   

So, the first task of a Political leader is to identify some of the strongest problems of his constituency or constituencies. Following are the two simple techniques to identify the problems as well as their strength:

  1. For local problems, scan the local and state level newspapers. For National problems, watch the archives of electronic media channels. Media sources form the opinion of the people. Reactions on social media are a direct resultant of opinions formed through media sources.
  2. In a Business, Sales Force is in direct contact with the customers. Their feedback forms the basis for formulating marketing strategies.  Similarly, in Politics, Political Parties should encourage platforms through which Booth Level workers can express their honest views without fear and prejudice.

The above two sources are enough to identify the stronger problems. Minute detailing through Social Media and Online data can always lead to creation of many complex sub-segments which may be difficult to serve efficiently. The better and simple solution is to do segmentation on the basis of strength and nature of people’s problems. Further sub-sets may be created based on key individual strengths of Political Parties and Political Leaders. Flexible approach should be adopted at this stage as the life cycle of some of the problems is real short, and the impact sometimes is sharp and strong. Thus, opportunities and threats should always be linked with time.

Once the problems have been identified, the task is to offer the solutions to these problems better than your competitors. A few years ago, Politicians aimed to be seen as the ones who give solutions better than the competitors. Whether they actually deliver on such promises was often not the key. However, the times are changing. People are becoming more informed and educated. Politicians can’t survive for long on false promises. Not only your promises should be creative as well as realistic, but should also be delivered in a time bound manner. Political Parties and Politicians should appoint dedicated teams who deliver and monitor these solutions in a time bound manner at the grass root level.

The third element in my simple definition of Marketing is “within the given resources and constraints”. It’s an era of customer delight. If your competitor offers false dreams, expose him. Simple criticism won’t do. And countering him by promising a bigger set of lies is a bad solution. Explain to the people in simple and logical terms as to how the Lies of your competitors are far from reality, and how your promises, even if less grand than your competitors, are realistic and achievable within the given resources and time. In competitive scenarios, Marketers look for Strong Differentiators to counter their competitors. Good differentiators are the one who create a unique and strong position in the minds of the customers. Can “Honesty” be the strongest differentiator in Politics? My suggestion to Politicians is to try “Honesty” in the most honest manner. This can become your biggest strength as there is a serious deficiency of Honest Politicians. Get an honest feedback (without any fear and prejudice) from your most trusted voters if you disagree with this statement.

I would also like to visit the definition of Opposition in this article. Is the role of opposition only to criticize the Party or Candidate in Power? That’s a mistake which most of the Politicians in opposition do. Criticism without providing solutions is a negative approach. It can ignite anger towards the party in Power, but if you want to convert that anger into your Votes in the next elections, you should be seen as the Party or Person who can give realistic solutions to people’s problems. If you keep making your humble efforts to solve problems even if in Opposition, your image will grow manifolds among the people of your Constituency. The end result is likely to be increased Vote share in next elections. Stronger the problems, and stronger the solutions you offer while still in opposition, bigger will be your vote share in next elections.

It’s an old saying “Too Many Cooks spoil the Broth”. Too much data is equally dangerous. When basic and authentic data is available virtually free through the sources discussed above, why go for a data, whose source is unethical, whose authenticity is always doubtful because people’s likes and dislikes can change quickly, and whose application may or may not produce the results. Concluding the above, what does KISS mean in Politics? Politicians are smart, not stupid. My suggested acronym for KISS in Politics is Keep It Simple &Sincere. In this era of technology, where people are well informed, future elections may well be fought on Sincerity Factor.

Author of this Post Kujnish Vashisht is a leading Strategic Marketing Consultant, Start-ups Consultant, and a Practitioner of Chanakyaneeti. He is an Author of three successful books on Marketing and Sales. He can be contacted at 91-9779883347, 91-9878904347, expedient33@gmail.com

Copyright: Kujnish Vashisht, www.chanakyaneeti.com

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