B2B and B2C interaction require different methodologies to maximize influence. What does this mean within the U.S. political arena?
Dear United States and Global Citizens:
As we enter the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election, we face a pressing question (at least those of us in this office):
Are U.S. politics business-to-business or business-to-consumer?
(Let’s, for this purpose of this article, assume that constituents are the consumers of politics.)
An Argument for B2C
Most of us constituent consumers would like to believe our elected officials represent the needs, protection and social welfare of us as individuals – and collectively, the national community. Those of us interested in maintaining (or initiating) global friendliness would like to extend their responsibilities to include serving as respectful ambassadors within an international community.
Indeed, politicians treat us as consumers they hope us to be, with fierce marketing teams, clever (and/or manipulative) campaigns, and lofty promises. They often try to convince us of their services, rather than educate us with their knowledge. They want our support, our following, our advocacy, our votes and our money. (Yes, most of them need a lesson in content marketing.)
Ideally, U.S. politics function on a B2C level, with the interest of maximizing the lives of collective individuals. In reality, they often appear as overeager (and poorly trained) marketers.
An Argument for B2B
What goes on behind the scenes?
Lobby groups have overwhelming congressional power as representatives fight to appease heavy financers and district supporters. Special interest lobbyists do business with congressional aids and eventually work their way to congressmen and women.
Elections (from district to national) are financed primarily by wealthy CEOs and, as of 2010, large businesses and special interest groups, when the Supreme Court ruled the government could not restrict independent political expenditures by corporations and unions. In the words of presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, “Corporations are people, my friend.”
If businesses also play a role within politics and with politicians (who are in the business of managing power), then aren’t we working within a B2B system?
Politics has a great deal to do with business. The way teams of people conspire, compete, and contradict general interests mimics the behavior of business competitors. American politics are often deemed as ideological, polarized, ruthless and greedy – characteristics of our favorite corporations.
Yet, at its core, politics (and politicians) are forced to deal with the fact they manage the welfare of individuals. People are affected by political action and individuals are the ones to cast votes. It may take businesses to help finance election races, but seats are won after individual ballots are counted.
This is idealistic. It is also true.
Why does this matter?
Frankly, it doesn’t. But it gets us thinking 1) about what kind of political systems we are subject to and/or live within and 2) the elements of B2B and B2C communication: how they differ and what their impacts are on divergent audiences.
You better believe the presidential candidate is going to be singing a different tune to a group full of women teachers than to the corporation who funds his or her campaign and wants to have expanded access to oil-rich zones.
In conclusion: U.S. politics are B2B2C.
How’s that for a slogan?
Disclaimer: I worked on Capitol Hill for a California representative for three months in 2008, so I am (clearly) a political expert. I now work for an international startup company, so I am also a business tycoon. I am, thereby, neutral on this subject. (Mostly.)
**This post was originally published on exploreB2b.**