(By Kenn Gividen, LPIN 2004 Gubernatorial Candidate)
Some call it “guerilla marketing.”
It’s out-of-the-mainstream marketing that energizes your core efforts with little or no expense. Most anyone can do; even if those who are strapped for time.
Like a myriad of tiny snowflakes that combine to make a blizzard, guerilla marketing strategies can interact to comprise a powerful presence with a significant positive outcome.
Different strategies work for different organizations. So what guerilla marketing strategies can Libertarians use?
Here are ten suggestions:
1. Post comments on web sites and blogs.
The power of this strategy is harnessed by the Chicago-based advocacy group Latino Policy Forum. That organization claims a list of 3,000 people who are asked to post comments on various web sites and blogs as needs arise. Other agenda-driven organizations have similar programs. Libertarians should do the same.
Most major newspapers allow readers to post comments at the end of on-line articles. Short, concise and to-the-point comments are effective. Keep in mind you don’t have to engage in a protracted debate with everyone who challenges your views. Most readers are bright enough to see through the abject nonsense of retractors.
When using this strategy, keep the following in mind:
- Focus on newspapers (or blogs) that are widely read to maximize your efforts.
- Use the term “libertarian” in your comments. And do so responsibly. What you say and how you say it reflects on all libertarians.
- Consider using an alias.
- Organizing a “comment bomb” or “online flash mob” with other Libertarians can also be effective. This is accomplished when you ask dozens of Libertarian friends to post comments on a specific article. Most newspapers and blogs will appreciate the added attention.
2. Write very short letters to local newspapers
While there’s nothing wrong with submitting lengthy op-ed articles to your local newspapers, short and poignant letters to the editor often fare better.
Short letters containing one to five sentences are more likely to be read than longer submissions. They also have a better chance of being published. Consider it a wise time investment. Would you prefer to spend one hour writing a 700-word article that may never get published? Or would you rather invest five minutes forming a simple thought that will be read by, perhaps, thousands?
Keep in mind that your two inches of space on the Letters to the Editor page would, if purchased as an advertisement, cost a ton of money. Newspapers with broad circulations can command over $100 per column inch. Consider your letter a financial contribution to the libertarian cause. And it didn’t cost you a dime.
Note, also, that virtually every newspaper welcomes e-mail letters. They don’t like attachments. When you compose your letter via e-mail, simply place it in the body of the message. Include your real name, address and phone number.
3. Use a bumper sticker
Notice, if you will, “sticker” is singular; not “bumper stickers,” plural.
Imagine Jeff Foxworthy saying, “If you’ve ever been pulled over for having too many bumper stickers, you may be a Libertarian.”
Many people, myself included, view bumper stickers as tacky; both literally and figuratively. But they are an effective use of your time.
Consider the two minutes it takes to attach a sticker to you bumper. Compare that to the months or years it will remain on your vehicle; seen by hundreds if not thousands of motorists.
The ideal bumper sticker contains one to three words. It is attractive and easy to read from a distance. Apply this rule of thumb: If it takes longer than a fraction of a second to read the sticker, don’t use it.
Bumper stickers fail to be effective if they are so “wordy” that no one cares to read them. Such stickers also tend to contain small print, making them nearly impossible to read and, in some cases, encouraging tailgating as the driver behind stresses to read the message.
Consider taping your sticker to the inside of your rear window. It will be more visible and will not be eroded by weather. If you choose this strategy, you can print your own “sticker” on your home computer. Use upper and lower case letters in an arial font. Make the letters big and bold. Keep the size to 11″ x 4.25″ max. Print on light card stock or heavy paper.
And, above all, drive courteously.
4. Speak up
I call them “conversational inserts.” They are short, polite and non-offensive spoken thoughts intended to impress others with libertarian ideals.
You may hear others talking about abusive government or exorbitant taxes. Rather than rudely ranting about your iron-clad solutions, offer a basic one-liner. One of my favorites is, “That’s why God made Libertarians.”
Engaging in heated debate is a waste of time and energy. It creates resistance, not acceptance, of your views. Imagine, for example, if someone tried to force-feed you your favorite food. You would most certainly resist even though you like the food. Likewise, everyone resists being force-fed arguments; even if those arguments are water-tight. Have you ever walked away from an argument, and felt positive towards your verbal sparring partner, or had your mind changed? Most of the time, a lengthy argument with an acquaintance breeds contempt.
Though personally controversial, the noted philosopher Sam Harris weighed in on this subject. “You almost never get the pleasure of seeing that you won the argument in real time,” he quipped. “People just don’t like to publicly change their minds. They change their minds in private.”
Don’t try to win arguments. Try, instead, to instill friendly thoughts for future consideration.
5. Post and puff on Facebook
Posting links to Libertarian articles is a simple way to raise awareness. After you make a post, be sure to add a comment. Few of your Facebook friends will bother to open the link and read the article. Many, however, will read your comment.
When other Libertarians post on Facebook, puff their posts. That is, draw positive attention to them. There are several obvious ways to do this. You can “like” their posts. You can make supportive comments. You can repost their posts. doing this helps increase the amount of “impressions” this post will have. That’s a fancy way of saying that more eyeballs will see it because it’s more “popular.”
If your local or state party have facebooks, share the link to the facebook page on your wall. Also, suggest friends to join the page. It’s located right below the page’s profile picture.
Consider posting links to articles on Libertarian blogs. This not only places the articles in front of your friends, but it may also may help the host blog’s search engine rating.
6. Be friendly
Personal appeal consists primarily of personality and appearance. It is a powerful part of any marketing system.
Making a positive personal impression on those around us is a passive yet effective tool for advancing Libertarianism. Eventually the bank teller, co-worker or UPS driver will associate you with the Libertarian movement. If you are viewed as friendly, your libertarian values will also be viewed as friendly.
Remember that 1) first impressions are lasting and 2) people will “buy” you before they buy your product.
Use breath mints.
7. Be sociable
Consider joining affinity groups such as a church, lodge or professional organization.
Don’t be over zealous in communicating your Libertarian views. I refer to such folks as “living spam.” Not only will you be counter-productive, but your motive for group participation will be questioned.
8. Write complimentary letters
Write letters to businesses thanking them for their services.
I once wrote a letter to the Post Office praising the employees for unusual kindness and above average service. My letter was posted in the lobby. It stayed there for several weeks.
Business owners and managers are inundated with complaints. They seldom receive compliments. When they do, they take notice. Some will post your letters for all to see.
A complimentary letter, for example, may thank the manager at a restaurant for superior service and great food. You letter should be short and genuine. Casually mention your libertarian values in the letter. A sample phrase would be, “As a Libertarian I support competition and you certainly out performed your competitors.”
If you serve in an official Libertarian capacity, use your official designation. For example you will sign your letter as “Cordially, John Doe, Chair,
Libertarian Party of Rand County.”
9. Attend government functions.
School board meetings, city council meetings, county council meetings, etc., are ideal opportunities to amplify simple questions or comments to your community via the local media.
When determining which meetings to attend, consider this question: Will the media be there? A “Yes” answer to that question signals an opportunity to advance libertarian perspectives and, occasionally, the Libertarian Party.
When you attend politely ask relevant questions. The media may report your concern and will often single you out at the close of the meeting to get your name, affiliation and to clarify your views.
Be sure to behave professionally and dress appropriately. Donning a chicken suit is not advised.
Don’t be surprised if you are the only other citizen there. Local officials rarely see people that aren’t elected or work for their body of government. When they do, you can have a surprisingly positive effect on them.