Learnings from the Obama campaign

When I was listening to Ronnie Cho speak at the HBO docu event, I couldn’t help but see basic marketing and organizational principles flash before my eyes.

When asked about the impact of the internet on the ultimate success of Obama campaign, Ronnie Cho, former Obama campaign staffer and now a director in the Obama administration agreed that the internet was indeed a powerful tool for the campaign.  It enabled staffers to get the word out to the communities about what was happening, when and where throughout the campaign.  But, he cautioned, by far the most valuable and critical component to the campaign’s success were the real live volunteers who knocked on doors and talked to people on the phone.  And those events that were published on the internet?  The campaign staffers knew that they had to follow through and hold the events.  They needed to deliver on their promises.  They knew they needed to win over their constituency one person at a time.

So how do you do that? 

Very basically, three requirements:  a great product, marketing, and evangelists.

Assuming you have the great product, what then?  Do what the Obama campaign – and now administration – did: 

  • Go to your potential constituent/customer – reach out to them where they spend their time (multichannel marketing)
  • Communicate a consistent message (branding)
  • Establish a relationship (direct marketing)
  • Engage with them, let them know what you will do for them in exchange for their support
  • Deliver on your promise
  • Follow up and work hard to maintain that relationship

Ronnie’s emphasis on the power of their volunteers couldn’t be more true.  It was the hard work and passion of their volunteers that created the excitement – the momentum.  That groundswell that moved throughout the country.

Having a great marketing campaign and strategy is not enough.  You need a great workforce to carry out the steps above.  How do you create a workforce of evangelists?  Every single person in the organization needs to

  • understand the vision
  • believe in the vision
  • be willing to work hard for that vision
  • be able to communicate that vision to others
  • act with integrity

Only evangelists should interact with your potential constituents.  Anything less diminishes their experience and the chances of garnering their support now or possibly in the future.

What do you think?

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