Winning the Two-Week Sale (Craig Douglass On Consumers)

by Craig Douglass  on Monday, Nov. 5, 2018 12:00 am   3 min read

Have you taken advantage of the special two-seek sale going on? Political consumers have. It’s the sale sponsored by our democracy. And if you’re not participating, you’re missing out!

The sale used to be a one-day sale. But with the advent of early voting, the sales period was extended. In Arkansas, at least, it’s now two weeks. Welcome to the midterms.

Some consumer marketers believe in at least five strategies governing an effective sale or sales technique: determination, understanding, customer empathy, problem-solving and emotional leverage. Effective politicians should get those, too. Or at least their consultants should.

Determination provides to the client or, in our case, the voter, information necessary to make an informed choice.

Understanding clarifies determination by discovering what the customer wants, or what’s in it for them.

Customer empathy simply means sensing the customer’s emotional state, and meeting him or her where they are.

Problem-solving is about flipping a problem to a solution, and telling a story or stories that illustrate the point.

And emotional leverage is a strategy that is based on achieving trust, then turning that trust into permission to pursue the desired outcome. The sale. The vote.

So where are we?

Seems to me the midterm sale that ends for most on Tuesday may be focused on emotional leverage, to the exclusion of the other steps in the process. Or, more appropriately, with the inclusion of the other steps, but all in service to leverage. And isn’t that what winning is all about? Or should we use vanquishing instead of winning?

Remember what Vince Lombardi was quoted as saying, “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing!” Well, come to find out, he really didn’t say that. What the Packers coach said was, “Winning isn’t everything. The will to win is the only thing.” The person who said the “everything” quote was believed to be former UCLA football coach Red Sanders. Sanders was also said to have said, “Winning isn’t a matter of life and death. It’s more important than that.”

As political consumers, we should ask ourselves, are we really going through an exercise where facts, appreciation, compassion, certainty and confidence are being used to inform and enlighten? Haven’t seen a candidate or a political party to yet use those tenets as a pathway to success. Have you?

What I do know, or think I know, is that a willingness to participate in the process — to sell or to be sold to — goes a long way in at least wanting to make an informed choice. Or, in our retail parlance, a purchasing decision on the day of the sale.

So, why do we do what we do?

Most voting or purchasing decisions are based on emotions. We should all get that. Marketers do. But understanding what underlies those emotions gives reason, although sometimes without meaning. Let’s call it justification.

Reminds me of a copy line developed a number of years ago that was born out of consumer research about a particular new product: “You want it, because you need it.” The audience to whom that notion was directed bought it. A successful campaign. And sale after sale after sale.

At this writing, participation in this year’s multi-week midterm sale has been high. Store traffic is heavy. One need only look at our own experience here in central Arkansas. Or in Texas or Georgia or Florida. On the first day of early voting in Dallas County, Texas, for instance, early voting was up 325 percent. In all of the 2014 midterms, more than 22 million Americans cast early votes. Through Thursday a week ago, 11 million had cast early votes nationwide, with over 10 days left before actual election day on Nov. 6.

The sale is over soon. And when it is, we’ll see if the inventories have been liquidated. At least a majority of them. That’s what it takes to win!

Craig Douglass of Little Rock is a communications and research consultant and serves as executive director of the Regional Recycling District. Email him at



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