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Marketing the Message

Please forgive me, but this was written in November of 2008, but is still true today. It tells of how marketing can make the difference of failure and success in a presidential election. I hope you will head the lessons learned in your marketing plans. So, like it or not, marketing your message is really, really, important.  

Now that I have had a little time to digest what just happened in this historic Presidential race, I cannot help but notice how much marketing and messaging played in selecting our 44th President. I am not saying that the organizational skills, enthusiasm, and funding did not help. They most certainly did. But what was the catalyst that got all that good stuff going for Barack Obama? It was marketing and messaging.

Maybe the best candidate did not win. Maybe McCain was more qualified, had more experience, and was more centrist. But it was Obama who was better able to determine what Americans perceived of this abilities than McCain. The difference was that Senator McCain never told you how choosing him would make your life better, where Mr. Obama was able to market himself as someone who had your best interest at heart. It did not matter if it was true or not, what was important was whether you believed it or not. 

Another interesting fact is that the messaging was different too. McCain was about telling you how bad off you would be choosing Obama, but not how good you would be choosing him. Obama stated that you are already bad off, and by choosing him, your life would be better. Also, Obama was selling you hope, freedom, and change. Were McCain was selling fear.

As part of the messaging, Senator Obama never mentioned that he was a leader, but he did mention that he had leadership qualities: he listens, evaluations, assesses, decides, and acts. Senator McCain on the other hand talked about how he is a maverick. This messaging is very confusing if he was looking to be a leader, as everyone knows, mavericks usually make poor leaders as the like going it alone, rarely consider the concerns of other people, do not listen well, and take unusually high risks.

Finally, any good marketing plan as a call to action or a strategy to follow. Over my many years of observing people, I have found that in times of stress or crisis, people tend to follow a person with a plan. Senator Obama talked about his plans (not if he could deliver them, but about them); where Senator McCain had no plans of his own, but also talked about Obama's plans. Essentially ceding the fact that he had no plan.

In small words, this election was not about ideology, or race, or religion, or age, but about who executed the best marketing campaign. That my friends goes hands down to President elect Obama.


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