According to CTV news, a recent Forum poll shows Rob Ford in a three-way tie in Toronto’s next mayoral race. If you're like me, you wonder how he does it.
Whatever you believe on how much we should stake on a politician’s personal life, we can all agree we would be out of business if we publicly behaved like Rob Ford. At best, our buyers would deem us unreliable. At worst, they’d shun us.
And while to the rest of the world Ford’s re-election campaign seems doomed, his buyers stick by him.
Certainly, some Torontonians fiercely agree with Rob Ford’s political leanings, but his politics are like product features. Even if you love them, you need to trust their maker.
Imagine you buy a piece of software for your company. You're the decision maker. Your boss and co-workers all know it. One day the whole system crashes.
Boss: Did you buy this new software? Did you know the support team smokes crack and says crazy things to people? We have an emergency!
You: Yes, I did know, but the software saved us some money. And usually it does what we want.
Boss: Oh yeah, okay. That makes sense. Good job.
That last part is hard to grasp.
This is not about politics or product features.
But what really struck me in the book was Doolittle’s recount of Ford’s ten years as city councilor. In that time, Ford built the loyalty he now cashes in on.
Aren’t you dying to know how he did it? You should be. Once you wipe away the slime, his strategies are pretty smart.
- Open and fearless invitations to engage. As a councilor, Ford handed out his business card and cell number to anyone Toronto.
Think of the calls he welcomed on his cell phone--old ladies missing cats; nonexistent, suspicious smells; city trucks driving by too often; needed Stop signs; unneeded Stop signs; too much plowing; too little plowing; strange puddles; dog poop on the lawn, sidewalk, and street; he stole my plant; she stole my plant; that new restaurant is too loud; they park near my lawn; and neighbors barking over everything from fence lines to holiday decorations to music.
He responded to calls by showing up at complainants homes with city workers. He took them seriously. He showed loyalty first.
The next time you wonder if you should send a no-reply email or request people to ask questions over social media, remember Rob Ford handing out his personal number for 10 years.
- Laser focus on his buyers. Every industry has cultural norms. Maybe your industry still considers social media silly. Or every piece of information you release is bartered with your prospects for an email address. You feel like you could do better for your buyers, but some things just aren’t done.Back when Ford handed out his phone number, other city councilors had assistants taking calls. Eventually, citizens from other districts starting calling Ford. His reputations grew. Other councilors sneered at him. But he wasn’t stealing their business. He was getting stuff done when they weren’t.
- He patiently moved to his endgame. According to Doolittle, Ford wrote every phone call down and stashed the records in big boxes. He waited ten years to use them. When it came time to run for mayor, his team pulled out the boxes and made calls.Ford could have done a lot with those names. But he waited. I am not suggesting you hold all of your leads for ten years. You’d be out of business. But Ford knew his endgame. And he knew when to play his cards. When you produce content, know your big goals. Every blog post, white paper, slideshare, case study, etc should be leveraged until you are ready to pounce.
If you’d like to know more about how unsavory characters can help your marketing, I’m reading Pablo Escobar’s biography right now. I’ll get back to you on this blog if I sift out anything worth sharing.