Main Street Is Sexy, Nexus Is Not: Reasons Affiliates Should Rebrand The Argument
We’re losing. Another state, Illinois, drops legislation that threatens the lives of affiliate marketers. Who’s next? Texas? My state of Ohio? Then another, and another. Do you see this being stopped? I don’t.
Here’s why we’re losing. Because not enough people either:
A. Know about it
B. Understand it
C. Care about it
That’s the truth. If you don’t get people to care enough, especially in your own industry, you don’t get enough support and you can’t win.
So why are we losing then? We’re losing this battle because of branding, or lack thereof. Because we haven’t chosen the right words to frame our message.
The “Nexus Bill”? The “Ad Tax”?
To be clear I applaud every single person or organization who has been out there fighting for this. You have done an amazing job and I’m proud to see so many of you, many friends of mine who I admire, going out there and putting time, effort and money in. You rule. But I don’t see this being stopped until we change the game. So ear me out.
I’d like to call out author Frank Luntz here now and his experience rebranding the term “estate tax”. From Wikipedia…
James L. Martin, chairman of the conservative 60 Plus Association, described Luntz’s role as being that of pollster and popularizer of the phrase “death tax”.
Martin gained an important ally in GOP pollster Frank Luntz, whose polling revealed that “death tax” sparked voter resentment in a way that “inheritance tax” and “estate tax” couldn’t match. After all, who wouldn’t be opposed to a “tax on death”?
Luntz shared his findings with Republicans and included the phrase in the GOP’s Contract with America. Luntz went so far as to recommend in a memo to GOP lawmakers that they stage press conferences “at your local mortuary” to dramatize the issue. “I believe this backdrop will clearly resonate with your constituents,” he wrote. “Death is something the American people understand.”
Apparently, he’s right. Spurred by Luntz, Republicans have employed the term “death tax” so aggressively that it has entered the popular lexicon. Nonpartisan venues like newspapers and magazines have begun to use it in a neutral context–a coup for abolitionists like Martin.
Where’s our staged mortuary? Where is our stunt to get attention? What have we presented to our politicians and associates that they easily understand?
Want another example? More from Frank’s page…
Additionally in his January 9, 2007, interview on Fresh Air, Luntz discussed his use of the term, “energy exploration” (oil drilling). His research on the matter involved showing people a picture of current oil drilling and asking if in the picture it “looks like exploration or drilling.” He said that 90 percent of the people he spoke to said it looked like exploring. “Therefore I’d argue that it is a more appropriate way to communicate.”
He went on to say “if the public says after looking at the pictures, that doesn’t look like my definition of drillingâ€”it looks like my definition of exploringâ€”then don’t you think we should be calling it what people see it to be, rather than adding a political aspect to it all?”
Terry Gross responded: “Should we be calling it what it actually is, as opposed to what somebody thinks it might be? The difference between exploration and actually getting out the oilâ€”they’re two different things, aren’t they?”
Which sounds better? Depends on the side your on and your specific agenda, right?
Estate tax is boring and nobody cared. But the Death Tax was an immediate lightening point. If you’re in favor of drilling, then softening the phrase “oil drilling” to an audience by calling it “energy exploration” is probably a good thing for your branding strategy. The same way that environmentalists rebranded “global warming” to “climate change”.
I’ve been saying this to close friends in the industry for a long time now but nobody wants to listen.
Take a look at the Alliance of Main Street Fairness’ website. They have put emotion front and center. The first thing you see when you arrive on their site is a face of someone who is supposedly being hurt by online only retailers. Go to the Performance Marketing Association’s website and what you see is a compass.
The AMSF has pushed front and center the nostalgic image of “main street” and “fairness”. Then they hammered home that nostalgia with video testimony after video testimony from frightened small business owners. This creates emotion. It creates fear and empathy for their supposed plight. The AMSF makes it easy to get involved.
Our side is still talking about the “Ad Tax” or “Nexus Tax” and it’s boring. There’s nothing emotional about it. There’s nothing that grabs you by the face and makes you want to either scream in joy or scream in horror. Emotions create reactions, and reactions are exactly what we need right now before it’s too late. If it’s not already.
Actually, I do think there is still time. But only if we all stop right now and rebrand this legislation and meme. Frankly, I don’t see any other way. The snowball is rolling and growing.
So, what are we gonna call it? It’s in our hands to reframe the discussion. To rebrand it in our favor. This is ALL about branding now. Maybe someone should call Frank Luntz?