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WHERE IS THE POINT OF PURCHASE?

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I have been involved in promoting school levies and bond issues here in Ohio over the years, the most recent one in the town where I live (Dover). Marketing school issues decided at the ballot box is a laborious endeavor that involves lots of volunteers and communication of information to “consumers” a/k/a voters, taxpayers and students.

Asking people to “buy” an issue is not unlike asking them to buy a product in a store. John F Kennedy’s father famously remarked:“We’re going to sell Jack like soap flakes.”In a store, we ask shoppers to trade money for the benefit of a good or service offered. For a school issue, we ask people to tax themselves to benefit their community. That’s not an easy sell!

For our Dover ballot issue, we have aggressively used social media tools but we’ve also used more conventional tools: letters to the editor, civic group talks, yard banners, window placards, brochures, newspaper ads, radio interviews, endorsement videos and traditional get-out-the-vote tactics.

Winning at the ballot box isn’t unlike winning in the store aisle. We use the marketing tools best suited to reach our intended audiences. For this ballot issue, it’s been Facebook as people make up their minds on how to vote. The point of purchase for voters may be in the voting booth but more often the decision is made at the kitchen table, at the water cooler, among friends or out in the community. For most consumer goods, however, the point-of-purchase remains in the store.