Poltical Marketing Mistakes

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Political Marketing Mistakes: Lesson Drawn from the Malaysian Political Competition Mahmod Sabri Haron Marketing Department School of Management Universiti Sains Malaysia msabri@usm.my

Khairiah Salwa Mokhtar Political Science Department School of Distance Education Universiti Sains Malaysia khairiah@usm.my

Abstract The Malaysian political parties have no choice but to adapt themselves with the changing political climate which requires a new set of mindset and strategies to strive in the future. The application of political marketing and its requirements are deemed timely and crucial to improve election performance. Its underlying philosophy could necessitate political parties in gaining a better insight of their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in positioning themselves including the candidates. The philosophy as well acts as a stimulus for exploring and analyzing mistakes made by both parties and candidates. Employing a qualitative method of research, this study attempts to examine these mistakes using the most recent Malaysia’s general election and by-election results. The findings indicate a misjudgment of market intelligence of the political parties that leads to considerable number of misunderstanding in gaining market intelligence, disseminating market intelligence, and reaction to market intelligence. The study also proposes a number of limitations and avenues for future related research. Keywords: Marketing Mistakes, Political Marketing, Market Intelligence, Lesson Drawing


Copyright PSA 2010

Introduction / Background Mistakes are made but can be rectified. Mistakes can also be learned and benchmarked to sustain and improve performance. Hartley (1995: 315) once says that “no one is immune from mistakes; success does not guarantee continued success”. Generally speaking, all firms, organizations or political parties experience mistakes or failures. Even successful organizations experience mistakes before striving for success. Mistakes are unavoidable especially in a dynamic environment with uncontrollable or unpredictable factors exist including competition. Competition arises when two parties, at least, are involved and each attempts to champion or overcome the other. Along the way, they experience mistakes that illustrate their weaknesses as well as strengths, thus, turn the opportunities and threats to their benefits. This process leads to a learning curve exercise where lesson drawing is inevitable. Benchmarking or lesson drawing from other policies or experience either at home or abroad is common practice in many public organizations (Szulanski & Jenson, 2008). It is a process to find improvement opportunities and search for best practices that lead to better or even excellent performance (Mokhtar & Haron 2007). The Study Mistakes are made all the time. In this regard, political parties have no exception. They experience this phenomenon particularly in the area of political marketing. Aspects like marketing philosophy, marketing research (market intelligence), market positioning, image branding and communication are some of the crucial areas that never fail to prevail. However, research using this approach of political marketing mistakes is scarce particularly in Asia and especially Malaysia. This study aims to bridge the void. It attempts to examine the political marketing mistakes engaged by political parties and candidates. It elaborates selected case studies based on the most recent Malaysia’s general election and by-elections results in order to illustrate the phenomenon. The use of inappropriate application of marketing tools is highlighted so as to allow lesson drawings and benchmarking purposes. The above research aim can be broken down into three specific objectives as follow: 1) to examine four specific mistakes made by political parties and candidates in the most recent Malaysia’s general election and byelections; 2) to verify the political marketing mistakes based on...
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