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By Jeff Beer, Canadian Business Magazine

Kathleen Wynne is standing at the podium, beaming out at 2,000 Ontario Liberal party delegates gathered inside Maple Leaf Gardens. After a three-ballot convention contest, she has just become the province’s new premier, and she wants to thank a few people.

Wynne gives a heartfelt thanks to her campaign team and her spouse, Jane Rounthwaite. Then she calls out her eldest son.

“Christopher, who is my tech support—Christopher, thank you so much. I actually have no idea what he does, but he does it really, really well with a great team of young people!”

Three days earlier at the back of a storefront campaign headquarters, Chris Cowperthwaite sits at a fold-out table next to boxes overflowing with Wynne T-shirts. He doesn’t share his mom’s last name, but the friendly eyes behind the glasses and wide easy smile are unmistakable.

Soon after Wynne declared her candidacy last November, Cowperthwaite pulled in Geoff Sharpe, a digital strategist at communications firm Navigator Ltd., on the recommendation of a friend. Sharpe recruited Taylor Scollon, a digital strategist at Counsel Public Affairs, who was in Virginia volunteering for the 2012 Obama campaign. They built and designed Wynnne’s website and social-media presence in less than two days.

Their efforts helped Wynne attract the most donors and most new members, including a full third of those enrolled online….

….Coletto says there is strong debate within political-science circles about whether democracy and government should be separate and unique from business and marketing. But really, that was decided long ago. Consumers now demand customization, interaction and dialogue from the brands they interact with, and those demands are now a part of our politics.

“Time and again, the candidates who are more market-oriented will be more successful simply because they are better at responding to voters’ needs,” says Coletto. “You can’t just be product or sales oriented anymore. It’s not enough to say, ‘We’ve got an idea, you should buy it.’ You now have to design your political product and service to match what the consumer wants.”

Read the full article here

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