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June 12, 2006

Gov. Warner's Expensive Party -- Brilliant

-- by Dave Johnson

Friday night Gov. Warner threw a very expensive party for YearlyKos attendees. Some people wonder if it reflects poorly on his judgement, that he lavishly throws money around. I think this may have been a very effective use of marketing dollars and a very sharp strategic move. Think about it this way: if Gov. Warner has now established himself in the front of the pack, and grabbed onto a great big piece of the mindshare of the blogosphere, for only $70,000 (or whatever it cost), then GOOD FOR HIM - it shows he knows how to reach the audiences he needs to reach, when he needs to reach them. It's called "marketing." If there's anything the Democrats need it's marketing know-how, and if it means we get to eat free sushi, all the better.

Ice sculpture at Governor Warner's party for YearlyKos attendees

Compare this to the cost and effort that would be required to achieve the same results using other means. How DO you get the attention of the blogoshpere? Do you set up local or regional meetings with bloggers? Think of the travel costs, time and staff that would take. Then there's the fact that he would have to fight tooth and nail with all the other candidates along that road.

With one well-timed event, Warner established mindshare - he got it done, he's on our map.

But wait, there's more!

He didn't just help himself. At the same time, by lending his own credibility to the emerging blogosphere he validated its importance to the American political process. His act said to the political structure, "This is important, I am taking it very seriously." By so doing, he helped strengthen a communications channel that the Democratic Party desperately needs - and that the eventual Democratic nominee will need. Strengthening the blogosphere? Works for me.

But wait, there's more!

Governor Warner has not just established himself with the blogosphere. By placing himself as a top blogosphere contender, he has positioned himself as a top contender, period. Let me explain. In my marketing life I always worked for "little guy" companies - small companies up against major established, entrenched competitors like Microsoft or Sony. So I developed what I a call "leapfrog" marketing, or "parallel channel" marketing strategy.

Suppose you want to introduce a product into the Microsoft Windows market. Getting noticed and establishing your brand is an extremely expensive - and time consuming - proposition. Throwing a huge $100,000 event at a major trade show doesn't even get you noticed, it's just expected. It hurts you if you don't do it, but doesn't help you much when you do. And then advertising and brand building is going to cost you millions, takes time, and you will still be barely noticed amidst the noise.

But maybe someone else is reaching the target audiences. Suppose you introduce a Linux version of your product first. Doing this, you are marketing into a parallel channel that has much lower marketing costs. But, in reality, much of your marketing activities are reaching the same audiences. The computer press, IT management, opinion leaders, sophisticated users, and many other target segments also pay attention to the Linux market so the result is that you are establishing mindshare in the Windows market. And there is an amplification not available in the Windows market. The Linux market is not saturated with products, so there is great demand. By introducing a serious product you leapfrog past the saturation obstacle of the Windows market.

So, as I said, by establishing himself as a leader of the pack of candidates in the blogosphere he is increasing his stature with the national political press and opinion leaders at the same time, because they are also paying close attention to the blogosphere as a leading indicator of public opinion.

So upon reflection, I think Governor Warner has pulled off a brilliant maneuver all the way around. By making himself important to the blogs, and at the same time increasing the importance of the blogs to the national political process, he is making himself a front-runner. At the same time, by increasing the credibility of the blogs now, he is strengthening their power and effectiveness as a channel for use by the eventual nominee.

- - -

By the way - I'm not endorsing Warner here. As I said before,

"So I'm going to be taking a really serious look at Gov. Warner, and blogging about him. I want to know more about his positions on issues. ... I suggest that you pay attention to this guy - you will like him."
So the guy is a good marketer and strategist -- that's good for our side. And obviously he's a great salesman -- that's also good for our side.

I have no idea if Governor Warner is the right person to trust with the leadership of the country. I don't yet know if he wants to bring Medicare-for-All (single-payer health care), for example, or understands the threat to democracy we face from the fanatical cult-right and the theocrats. It's early, we'll find out. Some of us had a good and frank session with him yesterday (yes I'll write about it), and we need to digest what he said. And maybe he needs to digest what some of us said.

I think an important role of "the bloggers" in the process is to look at the candidates, ignore the (necessary) fluff and posturing and compromises, and decide if this is the right candidate for the good of the country. The political power structure isn't doing that. The press isn't doing that anymore, and we're about doing it a different way anyway even if they were. So it's left to citizen journalists to step up to the plate and fill that vacuum.

Others posting on this: Salon, Commonwealth Conservative, Booman Tribute, Jawa Report, emptywheel, skippy.

Posted by Dave Johnson at June 12, 2006 8:19 AM

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