Note: The following piece was originally posted on my regular Forbes.com blog, but was removed because it was deemed too far afield from my regular marketing beat. So by request I am posting it here.
Gary Johnson and Bill Weld, the Libertarian ticket for President Of The United States, have a real chance to win according to Forbes contributor and pollster, John Zogby, in his excellent piece, "Do Not Dismiss Gary Johnson And The Libertarians." Zogby's thesis is that the Libertarian platform of less government and fiscal conservatism could play well to millennials.
I think he's right, but with one more nuanced "ingredient" this Libertarian ticket could dynamically set themselves apart and mobilize millennials to actively and excitedly support them.
And that ingredient is this: inspire them with what millennials will be able to do under a Johnson/Weld administration versus making it all about what Johnson/Weld will do for millennials. In short, make the "freedom" they speak of meaningful and personal to millennials.
Trump And Clinton Are All About Trump And Clinton
Listening to Trump and Clinton speak, you'd think the American people had nothing to do with our country. That our fate is 100% in the hands of the next president.
Trump will build a wall, export Muslims, re-negotiate all the trade deals.
Clinton will double down on Obamacare, give America a raise, and fix the high costs of education.
OK, as either candidate inflicts his or her will onto our country, what's the average American's role in all this?
Johnson/Weld Make Half The Case
Here's an ad that's making the social rounds right now, launched just a few days ago:
Not bad. It's clear about who these men are, what they've done, and what they believe is right for our country.
The contrast with Trump and Hillary is great because it takes what many think is good about Democrats (socially liberal) and good about Republicans (fiscal discipline) and melds them together into one ticket. That alone, to Zogby's point in his article, may be enough to lure Millennials -- particularly the socially liberal part coupled with their general distaste for Clinton and Trump.
But, as a marketer, I don't think ads like this one will be enough. There is a bigger opportunity.
Inspire Americans To Be More Of Who They Are. That's Freedom.
The opportunity for a Johnson/Weld ticket is to continue to say and be all the things in the video above, but then turn it into a call-to-action to all Americans. Involve Americans intimately in your calling. Prove to us that without us, the presidency is worthless.
Better yet, inspire us to be more of who we all are.
In other videos on the campaign site Johnson says he believes we should "Live and let live." He talks about dreams, freedom and liberty. But he doesn't connect that last dot to make words like "dreams" and "liberty" and "freedom" less of an abstraction and more meaningful to Americans.
And that last dot is this: The more freedom Americans experience, the more we can self-actualize. The more Americans can individually self-actualize the better the country will be as a whole. More innovation, more consumption, more everything, because we'll all be free to be.
And what is the one thing we know about millennials (and really any generation that age)? They want their lives to have meaning and purpose.
Only Libertarians Can Say This
Until Republicans "get out of your bedroom," as Weld put it to Stephen Colbert recently, they can be as fiscally disciplined as they want and millennials probably won't buy it.
And until Democrats stop spending money like its not theirs, millennials probably won't buy that either.
For Libertarians to position themselves as both "socially liberal" and "fiscally disciplined" is already a winning platform, purely from marketing white-space exercise's perspective. It hearkens back to one famous Democrat, Jack Kennedy, who said, "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country."
But if this team -- Johnson and Weld -- can make the case to millennials that this campaign is not about the president nor the presidency (nor the egos that go with it), and that it's about a platform that helps the American people thrive through freedom, then not only will the Johnson/Weld ticket win.
We all will.