/ Conservatives, Liberals and the Art of Simplicity

Conservatives have mastered the art of framing issues in a way that moves people to act, and liberals keep trying to get a dead horse to giddyup. Here’s how conservatives manage to frame ideas people may want to buy.

Conservatives view the decision-making process as simple. They believe consumers need to know that the choice is easy. When conservatives view the issue of healthcare, they offer one big choice: Say “No” to the government controlling your healthcare decisions. The audience gets it. They don’t have to spend too much time studying the nuances of our healthcare industry.

By giving the consumer a simple choice, the conservative frame inspires hope. It tells the audience: this issue is easy to solve if we act now. It’s no coincidence that the book Gross National Happiness found that conservatives are happier than liberals. They are given a more customer-friendly lens to view issues.

Here’s how liberals sometimes fail to sell their ideas.

Liberals view the decision-making process as complex. They believe consumers need to know all the information before making such a complex decision. To persuade the consumer, they offer a cluttered list of benefits, features and attributes. Healthcare reform is about Joe who was just laid off. It’s also about the Mom-and-Pop shop that can’t afford rising insurance rates. But, it’s also about saving our economy. And, let’s not forget that too much fast food can cause diabetes.

The liberal frame tells the audience: the issue is more complex than you could ever imagine. The audience is paralyzed by too much information and choice. More importantly, they don’t feel like such a complex issue can ever be solved, so why engage?

I’m not arguing that consumers are too dumb to grasp a complex issue, but they are busy and saturated with marketing messages. They want a brilliant, but simple choice.

Smart brands and communications strategists get this. They wade through exhaustive research, arguments and counterarguments to find the marketing gem — a brilliant, simple choice. And when they find that precious gem and offer it to consumers, they make the choice effortless.

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