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Monday, December 08, 2008

5 Marketing Lessons From Social Media & The Elections - Part 4

originally uploaded by misschloeemily.
Amazing what marketing lessons a successful presidential election campaign can teach us, particularly when the winner has been willing to use new tools and integrate them effectively with more traditional ones.

Chief amongst those lessons is the value of having a sound marketing plan in place where all of the strategic elements work in coordinated fashion to deliver the desired result. In other words, marketing works.

Good marketing ensures a consistent and convincing message - here about change - that generates contagious enthusiasm with distinct calls to action [contribute, register, vote, organize...]. Good marketing applies not just to politics, but also to business and the retail experience.

I'm not the only one to find marketing lessons in these events. In fact, I suggest you check out Rohit Bhargava [see below], David Meerman Scott [see Ten marketing lessons from the Barack Obama Presidential campaign], Henry Lambert [see Obama’s Lesson’s For Marketing], Meron Bravo [see Wednesday Jabber: Market Like A Poll Star!], Kim Cornwall Malseed [see 6 B2B Marketing Tips Courtesy of McCain & Obama] and Aarti Shah's 11/5/08 PRWeek article titled "Obama's savvy comms propel him to victory."

As I read through them [which I strongly recommend that you do, too], I noticed that they seemed to fall into 5 'uber' categories.  So, without further ado, I share with you 5 marketing lessons from social media & the elections - mashed from the articles above and my own observations.

1. A strong and consistent brand matters.

The Obama campaign developed a visual brand for itself, something more typical of a consumer product than of a politician.  The brand successfully evoked themes of hope and change and in a "shareable" format.

In How Obama's Brand Helped Him To Win The Election, Rohit Bhargava states that among the campaign's marketing lessons, "strongest is the power of having a strong AND shareable brand. Obama's logo and brand identity were consistently used across all his communications, but also treated with a flexibility that would drive many holders of a brand identity completely mad. Instead of taking a closed approach to his brand identity, the Obama campaign let people remix the brand for their own uses." He includes two graphics he created to illustrate the range of interpretations created - amazingly varied, but also powerfully consistent.

The brand cleary and simply articulated what the campaign wanted people to believe.

Other considerations:  be different and stand for something big.  Be prepared to be flexible.

2. Embrace different means for reaching your audience. Be where they are.

This is where social media comes into play as we transition away from conventional top down communication in favor of interactive communication. Social media and the new rules of marketing are essential. Embrace citizen journalism.  

Definitely take advantage of multi-channel marketing/PR strategy [i.e.,fully integrate all of your marketing].  Face-to-face interaction is effective and valuable.

3. It's about your customers, not you.

Many observations fall into this category.  No surprise, most result from the transition away from top down to interaction.  

Build your following from the ground up.  Put your fans first. Embrace the little people, too. Think long term relationship with your customers rather than a one-time transaction. Marketing is about relationship building vs. a hierarchical/corporate approach. Find commonality. Be committed to change, to improvement for the greater good and the good of your customer base.

Converse don't dictate.  People don't like tele-marketing. People don't care about products and services, instead they care about themselves and about solving their problems. When someone becomes a customer, s/he wants to talk about it.  

Figure out a way to help your supporters help you. Offer partnership for your audience. Embrace behavioral economics.

Listen. Listen some more.  Listen so you understand which issues are relevant and what's at stake. Don't wear out your audience. Stay connected.

4. Optimism is infinitely more powerful than negativity [and more contagious].

Negativity doesn't sell, so be optimistic.

5. The brand is only as good as the people who form the organization.

This one gets to authenticity and reinforces the consistency of the overall campaign:  be genuinely likeable; plan, organize and delegate well; surround yourself with passionate, committed people; find smart, trustworthy people to advise and help you; demonstrate knowledge and ability; show discipline, determination and hard work; don't obsess over the competition, and take time for your family.

I'll leave you with the following image.  It particularly appeals to me when combined with Diva Marketing Toby Bloomberg's characterization of social media as a living room into which you welcome friends for a conversation.  It comes from the slideshare presentation on Henry Lambert's post.

Imagine your brand as host or hostess who welcomes, makes introductions and keeps the conversation alive -- brand as the soul of hospitality, totally focused on his or her visitors, and eager to nurture a long term relationship...

And, then, apply the lessons above.

What do you think?

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