THE ABCD OF POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS IN KENYA
There are new entrants into politics for every election year. The veterans understand the game but many green horns get burned very quickly and live to hate politics. I have observed the political landscape and here are some things aspirants should consider.
A political campaign is no different from a sales and marketing campaign
Good marketers understand that brand (image) is everything
Good trade executioners know that volumes depend on VISIBILITY, PENETRATION and ACQUISITION
Visibility is about how often the customer or voter gets in contact with the politicians image
Penetration is about the reach of the politician in terms of networks and heart to heart connections
Acquisition has to do with actual closing of deal; the numbers of actual people verified as supporters
Political Branding in Kenya is party, economic, cultural, religious and track record based
Political party choice is everything because parties define people’s persuasion on many things
Economic branding has to do with whether you portray yourself as a big hearted Mr. Money Bags or as simple humble man who understands the problems of the poor.
Culturally, the political strategy has to take into account racial, ethnic, clan and family considerations. For instance in villages, a clan segmentation of villages can help one gain acceptance quickly
Cultural rites e.g. rites of passage offer opportunities to engage people in what touches their hearts
Religious platforms offer free opportunities to engage crowds; all that is required is to lace political ambition with religious speak
There is no politics without money; in the end some voters only vote for the person whose money they ate
Politics is about power play and power may be wrestled over issues but it may also be forcefully taken. A good aspirant knows how to stamp his or her authority and show his or her might in the face of opponents and their supporters
Brokers are an important cog in the political wheel; these people often understand how to turn the political knobs. However, brokers can also render an aspirant bankrupt and if not, they shield the candidate from reaching and interacting with the people.
Rigging in Kenya is an art most politicians have to muster. Elections are rigged through registration of voters, through buying of voters, through disrupting voting process, through tallying anomalies and sometimes through blatant announcing of wrong candidate as the winner.
If going for a higher office like MP, Governor, Senator or President, managing aspirants is the greatest headache. Choose to work with aspirants that carry their weight. Many aspirants are fleeced by other aspirants. If going for governor, why should you be the one financing MP aspirants? Why should an MP be financing MCA aspirants? They are all candidates seeking office, right? It pays to work with a team of aspirants and not dependents.
Finally, everything will depend on your team, how you manage the team, how the team interacts with the people. A smart politician will create a very lean but astute technical team while bringing on board as many volunteers as possible. The team needs clear message, clear structures and channels of engagement.