Do Presidential Debates Really Matter? Or Do Your Customers Really Know What They Want?

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After watching the presidential debate last night, while watching one of the commentators discuss post debate polling and if it really matters, he mentioned that when you ask the people during election season whether they like or dislike negative ads, almost all say they hate them. Yet, after voting, when they are asked why they voted the way they did, they usually cite information they heard during negative ads. This commentator seemed to indicate that negative ads work well.

Here is the real question. Do americans really care about the economy or do they care about who they feel can relate to them and their needs best? CNN did polling post the debate of 33 republicans and 33 democrats that are undecided and asked them a series of questions regarding the debate, the election in general, and who they like better, and who can fix the economy, etc… Almost 20% more people on every single question about the economy said Romney understands jobs, the economy and how to fix it much better than Obama. Yet, when asked which politician they actually like better as a person, almost 20% more people chose Obama over Romney.

Pretty much every political commentator believes that the real hot button issue that will decide this election is The Economy. Yet, Obama and Romney are basically neck and neck in most polls about who undecided voters will vote for.

Here is my personal opinion about how voters really feel about the election and the candidates. I think most Americans distrust all Politicians, and when they vote, unless they always vote with their party, they are really trying to choose the lesser of two evils. I don’t think individuals really believe that who gets elected makes that much of a difference on a micro level in determining their current financial situation. I think that Likeability, and Honesty are the two most important factors, and where the politicians stand on the issues, and the promises they all make are basically taken with a grain of salt.

I think enough testing and marketing know how has proven long ago that what People Admit They Want or sometimes Even Think They Want takes a backseat to How They FEEL, and WHO MAKES THEM FEEL MORE ACCEPTED AND UNDERSTOOD.

I noticed on Reddit this morning that a fellow names Thomas Cook, the namesake of a travel agency got a free trip to Paris from a competitor due to his pain and suffering of being associated with the travel agency of his namesake. While this was obviously a publicity stunt, or a smart marketing team taking advantage of a clear opportunity, it got millions of people to see and possibly patronize the travel agency that gave him a free trip.

I bet if you asked consumers about how they choose a travel agency most will say it boils down to cost and customer service. This free trip though sells a different message. It sells the fantasy of getting something for nothing. It sells the idea that maybe you will get a free trip to paris one day. Over 5200 people have upvoted this story on Reddit and I doubt the trip cost the agency more than a few thousand dollars or even less if they are savvy with miles, etc… I bet consumers will chose this company even if they could get a cheaper trip elsewhere just on the off chance that they will give them a free trip. Just the fantasy of it creates a massive level of likeability.

Here is the simple truth about Voters and the Election. Deep down inside we know the politicians are catering to a specific audience, and using canned responses and soundbites… Deep down many of us realize that government policies while they might affect us in the long run, hardly matter to me, right this minute. Can Obama or Romney really reduced the cost of Gas tomorrow? I doubt anyone believes that. Can they really make sure you get a job our of college? Doubtful…

But, the cost of voting is not that great. It’s free, and there is tons of peer pressure to do your part. What do people really care about? Who will they really vote for?

The Politician that Sells the FANTASY that they will improve my personal and current life situation. That Your Life Will Change and Improve If You Elect This Guy. This was exactly what both Romney and Obama Pushed…

Romney Pushed that the last four years didn’t work, so if you want change, vote for me. Obama pushed that the policies of Romney are like Bush which got us into this mess.

That’s why grassroots is so important, thats why personal connections are so important… It sells the Fantasy that the President will be your friend, and you will become famous, etc…Obama sold quite well that message or being accessibly and likeable. Romney sold the Fantasy that he will improve the economy, and gas will go down to under 2 bucks if you vote for him… Now the Questions is, Which Fantasy is More Powerful and Easier to Delude yourself into believing?

Heres the true marketing lesson… Don’t Sell Features or Even Benefits sell Fantasies, and you will Win Big.


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About David Melamed

David Melamed is the Founder of Tenfold Traffic, a search and content marketing agency with over $50,000,000 of paid search experience and battle tested results in content development, premium content promotion and distribution, Link Profile Analysis, Multinational/Multilingual PPC and SEO, and Direct Response Copywriting.


  1. Personally, in regards to Australia politics, I can’t stand watching debates. I would much prefer the candidates and their parties actually go out and make an effort in the country than just come up for retorts for their opposition. That’s what would get my vote in the end, considering in the last few years neither of the main parties has actually done anything constructive other than screwing over the country’s budget. But enough about my political rant, I do get where you’re coming from in this article. If you sell a fantasy, you can find a side of a customer that would usually skip over you, because the imagination of a customer can actually do a lot of marketing for you if you go about it the right way.

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