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Tuesday
Jul062010

Marketing Your Point of View

Having a point of view isn't a problem. It's what you do about it that matters.

There is nothing wrong with individuals, corporations and interest groups expressing their points of view as part of public debate over an issue. In fact, it's not helpful to withhold points of view that can enrich a debate or add facts that shape or temper legislation or regulations.

If you have something important to say, then jump in and say it. If you don't tell your side of the story, it may not be considered. Worse, your story could be told by opponents, with their spin on your facts.

Think of expressing your opinion on a public issue as niche marketing. You are aiming your message at a discreet audience – Congress, state legislators, a group of local elected officials. All basic rules of marketing apply.

In marketing a product or service, a point of view is critical to differentiating your brand. It's no different in public affairs. If you say the same thing as ten or a hundred others, why should anyone bother to listen? Have something fresh to say and say it in a fresh way.

You need to do your homework, then design communications that connect with your target audience. Elected officials aren't well known for reading lengthy explanations, so craft a simple, compelling key message.

Lawmakers hear lots of appeals from lots of people, so find a good hook or story to catch their attention, followed by a simple explanation of what you think should be done. Better yet, find a way to show them what you mean.

Don't press your luck. Stick with one key message, because that's all they will remember anyway.

Just because you say something once doesn't mean the whole world hears you. Underscore your message with what marketers call "relentless focus." Seek out ways to reinforce your message, such as letters to the editor, an op-ed piece or a supportive comment from a credible source.

Selling an idea isn't much different than selling a product. You need to claim a piece of mental real estate in the brain of your target audience with a good argument, well presented.

So quit fretting about whether to enter the fray. Sharpen your idea and how you express it, then share your point of view with the world. There never has been or ever will be a surplus of good ideas.

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