As much as I think Gary Johnson would be an awesome guy to hang out with, I wish we had more of a statesman to represent the first real attempt at putting a Libertarian in the White House!
Why do I say that?
There is so much dissatisfaction with both parties, not to mention the loathing felt by most people towards those parties’ choices for candidates, that we are seeing huge masses of people looking for a viable third party option.
However, it’s not enough to “not be Clinton or Trump”; if people are going to switch from one of the two mainstream parties and vote Libertarian in November, they’re going to need some damn good, coherent, and easy to remember policies. They’re going to need to know who Johnson and Weld are, and why they should be handed the keys to the White House.
This means that both men will have to stop just appealing primarily to a Libertarian audience and find a way to excite Republicans and Democrats. The question is, how? How can Gary Johnson and Bill Weld convince enough voters to make the switch?
Studies have shown that, in the business world, it costs 5 times more to bring in a new customer than it does to keep an existing one! This is because it takes extensive effort to first find and then present your company’s value to new customers.
The first step in customer acquisition is showing how the product or service is going to improve the life of the customer. The next step is to gain credibility in the customer’s mind! Businesses do this by constantly reminding you that they exist! How many times have you seen a Budweiser commercial? Does ‘ba da ba ba ba’ followed by “I’m lovin it!” mean anything to you? The more easily you recognize a brand, the more likely you are to pick it over a competing brand when given the choice; even if the alternative brand sometimes costs less or could potentially suit your needs better.
According to AdAge.com companies like McDonald’s and Budweiser spent over $1 billion on advertising in 2012. And don’t forget, you are also reminded of them every time you’re driving and see another set of golden arches, or sit down at a restaurant with Bud coasters.
Why do I bring all this up?
Because it is important to understand what the Libertarian Party is up against in this election! Trump and Clinton are Budweiser and MacDonald’s! Hillary Clinton alone has raised almost $335 million to spend on her campaign! She is able to advertise and promote her brand with almost the same kind of spending as General Electric, the multinational Fortune 500 conglomerate!
So where does Gary Johnson even begin?
Well, I would say a lot more of this won’t hurt:
To win over a customer, you need to ensure there are a few key steps in place. These steps are not necessarily in order of importance, but you will need them all in place before your customer is going to be willing to try your product!
1. Find out what they want.
In this case your customer is the voting public, the current Democrats and Republicans. It’s the Libertarian Party’s responsibility to find out why are they voting? What’s causing so many to vote for Donald Trump and why is it that has so many members of the party are abstaining from supporting him? How about Bernie supporters (aka the Occupy crowd)? What message would cause them to rethink, or even just overlook their biases about capitalism and libertarianism? How about Democrats? Why are they voting for Hillary Clinton and why do so many dislike her? Once you’ve figured out what it is your customer is looking for you need to…
2. Show them how you can solve their problem.
How can the Libertarian Party platform be the solution to the reasons why usual card-carrying Republicans and Democrats are abandoning their candidates?
3. You need to build credibility.
The people want to know that you are knowledgeable about whatever problem they are currently experiencing and that you are capable of providing a solution. You need to prove to them that the risk they are about to take, by choosing you, is the best option they have, that the reward for them is so great that it’s worth changing course.
So with that in mind, Gary Johnson, as an observer and an average layperson, I have a few suggestions:
Make your message simple and clear.
Make it something that will appeal to the layman who has a life of his or her own to worry about but wants to make sure they’ve chosen the best candidate to represent their concerns.
Make it memorable.
Use those despicable soundbites! People remember what triggered their emotions, so it needs to make people laugh, cry, or worry that there will be a significant loss in their personal lives if you are not the president.
Stop talking about how you personally smoke weed!
It’s okay to advocate for it, but the more you say you use it the more you marginalize yourself! Firstly, you have yet to build credibility with the average American, until you do, this behavior will seem more like a character flaw than anything else. People want their president to be capable of the momentous task that is the presidency. They need to be assured that whoever holds that office is able to be strong, wise, and basically be their superman! You need to be the one who will defend the constitution and the country; not be busy smoking bowls in the Oval Office! I know you said you won’t do any kind of drugs in the White House, but the mental picture for the average voter is still the president with a bong on the Resolute Desk!
Talk about the issues that are important for the country! Ron Paul caught the hearts and minds of the now libertarian core when he stood against the status quo with a genuine concern for what were (and still are) extremely pressing issues! He changed the entire conversation and framed future Republican debates with the need for fiscal reform.
We need conversations like that again. We need someone to talk about freedom, to talk about fiscal responsibility, and to talk about the need to stay out of the regime change game and move toward liberty.
If you can explain how more liberty would affect the lives of average Americans: how it would affect the farmer, the LGBT person, the police officer, the single mother, and the business owner, you will at the very least leave a lasting impact on the minds of a nation.