Friday, December 28, 2012

It’s a blue, blue ocean

Do me a favor, if you like this please pass it along. There’s a great deal of infighting in the GOP and we must do all we can to lay it to rest and get everyone fighting the real opponents, which is not each other, but a Democratic party bound and determined to change us rather than Washington DC. The solution to the GOP’s problem is pretty simple from my perspective, I just wonder if the leadership of our party is just too old and jaded to see it. We need people to start looking outside the box and our reluctance to look for answers outside the same group of people who lost us the McCain race and now the Romney race with their focus on moderating the party which clearly isn’t working, we’ve done it twice now and it’s not working. The one race where we let the base do it it’s way was the 2010 race, and yes Sharon Angel and Christine O’Donnell lost but the reality is that in 2010 the GOP promised the world something different from the Bush/McCain years and guess what, all in all we won, so when outside the box thinking prevailed we did pretty well.
 John Boehner is clearly now in panic mode, punishing conservatives by removing them from key posts while he looks for any excuse to cave in to the President, when in fact they were given the House in 2010 and again in 2012 with a clear mandate: STOP OBAMA. That we didn’t win the Senate or the Presidency doesn’t change the fact that this is what people want, Obama stopped, but also us, gridlock. Instead of panic we need focus.

 Meanwhile every strategist in the world is panicked about the Hispanic vote, which voted pretty close to how it always votes. This election cycle showed little change, except fewer people turned out to vote and Obama turned out his base, (and no one else) and Romney failed to turn out his, 3 million fewer Republicans voted in 2012 than in 2008. We lost the election by fewer than 3 million votes and now the GOP’s strategy is to pander to traditionally democratic voters rather than trying to figure out why their own base failed to show up? Sure that makes all kinds of sense… Not.  There is, as a point of fact, a recent marketing example which shows us that trying to bite into your opponent’s base consumer (or voter in our case) won’t work at all.

 The turn of the century was marked with the launch of Sony’s PS2 and Microsoft’s X-Box, meanwhile Nintendo was in serious decline. They had made a major tactical error in refusing to move from the limited but familiar cartridge format to the new CD format with the N64 which cost them several key developers. The N64 was therefore buried in shovelware and kids games. Rightfully, Nintendo was branded as the game system for “kiddie gamers,” it was a label the marketing department of Nintendo hoped to eschew with their new powerful console called the GameCube. Gamecube came part of the way on the CD format just as Sony and Microsoft embraced the newer DVD technology, Nintendo gave us mini-discs, but despite that limitation the hardware was quite impressive. Go back and play Resident Evil, 0, and 4 if you don’t believe me, those games are impressive even by today’s standards! Nintendo reached out to several key developers to get products that were M rated on their new system. Nintendo got many M rated games, Metal Gear, Eternal Darkness, Geist just to name a few, but the image still stuck and the Gamecube failed to take off as they clung desperately to trying to win over Sony and Microsoft gamers. It didn’t work. Nintendo sold some 25 million units, Sony went on to eclipse 100 million units and I can’t remember what X-Box sold, but I do know it was more than what Nintendo did.

 Did Nintendo blame it’s base consumer? Did they call them radicals, extremists or nut cases? Did Nintendo remove them from key positions within the House that Mario built. No, not at all. Nintendo is nothing if not an outside the box thinker who learns from their mistakes.

   Enter the brilliant marketing strategist Reggie Fils Aime current President of NOA and one of those “Evil” 1%ers. Reggie was inspired by the book Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne and consequently looked at the video game market and saw a “blue ocean,” realizing Sony had sold some 100 million plus units Reggie saw some 5.9 billion consumers in the world who were gamers and just didn’t know it yet. The competition could therefore be ignored, in a manner of speaking.

 He put forward the notion that the consumer were like fish, and Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft were sharks all fighting over the same school of fish over and over in a red ocean feeding frenzie, and Sony and Microsoft had gotten the better share of this school of fish, as such Nintendo was starving. Therefore Nintendo needed to take what fish it did have and lead it away from the Microsoft/Sony bloodbath into safer, bluer waters where they could find new schools of fish that had been previously untapped. In other words they would target people who didn’t traditionally play games and add those consumers to their base.

 Nintendo would put forward the new Nintendo Wii, a system designed to appeal to their base, but was simple enough to understand that anyone could pick up and play, they also marketed the unit at a price point substantially lower than it’d traditional competitors, though the system was not as technologically advanced being only slightly more powerful than the GameCube, and lacking High Definition capabilities. Yet the discount market price tag and the unique and simplistic user interface turned many heads who had never turned before. Their brilliant “Wii would like to play” ad series featured two Japanese business men going door to door to introduce the new system to the neighborhood...

...they went to women, elderly folks, many other demos who were not traditionally considered a part of the gaming market, and then showed them playing with friends and neighbors of all ages and demos. The message was clear, “Wii are a place where everyone can play.” And it worked. Grandma might not appreaciate Mortal Kombat, but she loved Wii Sports! But Nintendo still had Zelda and Mario around to keep it’s base happy. The GOP needs an ad campaign like this, hip, friendly, even funny, but showing a genuine outreach to a whole new audience.

 The end result of this strategy is that Nintendo ended up selling almost 100 million units this generation while the other two managed some 60-70 million units. In creating a new market for itself Nintendo left Sony and Microsoft alone to fight it out in a bloody red ocean while trying to play catch up. It’s not that their sales are bad, but both employed the exact same strategy, more horse power and a larger price tag, and hoped it would keep them in power for the next 40 years and they were wrong.

 The GOP is now where Nintendo was when they launched GameCube and like Nintendo, they are looking at the Democrat’s fish and saying, “I want some of those fish!” But 3 million fewer registered Republican fish showed up to the 2012 feeding frenzy than what showed up in 2008, had they we’d have won and yet there is no talk of outreach to those people, many of whom are Tea Partiers and Libertarians who are upset with the rather brutal primary we put ourselves through, especially since many states saw the moderate establishment go to extremes to get rid of the aforementioned groups in the name of moderating the GOP. No state can provide a stronger example of the establishment rejecting its own base and its grass roots activists and volunteers than in Utah.  The GOP establishment is convinced that by being abusive toward it’s grass roots and joining the Democrats in name calling that it can win over the press, but that isn’t realistic. Democrats, in the meantime, love their base and cater to their every whim no matter how crazy. The GOP Grass Roots, meanwhile, seems fit to return the hostilities toward the moderate establishment, and the circular firing squad tactics of the GOP has got to stop, but that's another blog... oh wait every blog I've written the last two years!

 But I digress. 
 The GOP, unlike Nintendo who recognized the need to go find new fish, or voters in our case, is instead bound and determined to get rid of us so that they can try to portray themselves as Democrat lite to try and appeal to traditionally Democrat voters. It won’t work. Democrats won’t give up their base (Occupy Wall Street) either, they loved them even while they burnt down Oakland, CA. The GOP would be better off trying to repair relations with its base and then looking at one more number, the total number of folks who are eligible to vote but don’t. There are at least 100 million of those fish out there in this big blue ocean. Just as Nintendo recognized that they will never get the Sony and Microsoft fish the GOP needs to recognize they will never get the Democrat’s fish, especially when the DNC treats (and pays) it’s grass roots base as well as it does and the GOP establishment ought to consider family counseling at this point with as abusive as the factions have become toward each other.  Sure that base is made up with a lot of folks angry with the GOP’s failings over the last decade, the Bush years, the 2006 and 2008 and now 2012 cycles and the constant capitulation to the Democrats, yes they will want some people replaced (as they replaced Bob Bennett), and yes on occasion they will find a Sharon Angle who embarrasses the devil out of all of us, but then there is Mike Lee, Marco Rubio, and even moderate Scott Brown who recently lost re-election yes, but never could have won in the first place had it not been for those oh so “evil extremists” base conservatives the GOP establishment hates so much.
 But I digress again. In summary, if we keep fighting with the Democrats over thier voters we will end up seeing our shark killed in a red ocean. Why not just ignore the Democrats and find other fish? It's a blue, blue ocean out there! Let's go fishing!

SIDELINE:  I have to address something real quick that is annoying the hell out of me. Todd Akins was not a Tea Party guy, people keep saying he was but this is a lie. He beat two Tea Partiers, John Brunner and Sarah Steelman, to the nomination and then as the establishment candidate ran that race into the ground. Akin was an incumbent Congressman elected back in 2001 representing MO’s 2nd congressional district so this guy had been around for a while. It’s worth pointing out that there is an anti-incumbent element to the tea party so quit blaming them for that loss. Akin was not their guy, and when the GOP establishment pulled out of supporting him the Tea Party was already long gone that race was already a lost cause.  Both factions need to be more careful with thier nominees.

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