TOP 10 LESSONS FROM THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN

First, the news coming from record company land isn’t good.  Friends of yours have either lost their jobs or are about to (EMI, Sony and now Interscope).  Always nice how these things happen around the holidays, isn’t it.  Show support and help anyone you know if you can.  There will be a lot of really good talent out of work.  Remember change brings opportunity!!!  Speaking of opportunity…

Advertising Age titled their December 15th issue “Book of Tens 2008”.  It covers top ten lists from “stories of the year” to “top tech toys” to “lessons from the Obama campaign”.  Since LiveWorks Newsletter subscribers have read the “Political Marketing” newsletter so many times, I thought it would be fun to use Ad Age’s Top 10 “Lessons From The Obama Campaign” and add a live entertainment twist.  So, here we go…

•1) IT’S THE PRODUCT – Ad Age’s Ken Wheaton (who wrote the piece) says that at the end of the day, “it’s likely that Barack Obama won because he is Barack Obama.”.  Or to put it another way, he doesn’t suck.  If everything is marketing, start with a great product and you are more than half-way there.

•2) KISS – No Gene, not you.  “Keep it simple, stupid” (ok Gene, maybe you).  You have heard this a million times, but always worth repeating.  The Obama campaign’s message was simple and never changed.  As Ken Wheaton wrote, “The product may have been complex, but the branding was simple and consistent.”

•3) DON’T PANIC – Although it is important to be limber in these times of change, it is also imperative to think before acting.  Shooting from the hip could get you shot in your own foot.  When Obama went through the Reverend Wright controversy, he never blinked.

•4) LET OTHERS BUILD BUZZ – Give fans the tools they need to spread the word for you.  Provide them with “all the proper fonts, logos and talking points”… and then sit back and watch it go.  For instance, you can’t get into the “KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas” concerts unless you are a “KROQ street team member”.  Get in the club, and you have access to purchase tickets.  No club membership, no tickets.  This policy gets people to tell their friends and it builds buzz…along with a database for KROQ.

•5) GET OPRAH ON YOUR SIDE – I don’t think there is anything to add here.

•6) PUT ON A SHOW – Ad Age’s list talks of Obama’s nomination acceptance speech at Invesco Field in Denver in front of a crowd of 80,000…then doing it again in Germany and St. Louis.  We all know how to put on a show.  How about putting on a show to announce your show?  I bring up Ringling Bros. circus parade again to you as an example.  We need to be doing more parades.

•7) GET THE MEDIA IN THE TANK – My parents always taught me that if you treat the media with respect, they will do the same for you.  Obama was treated like a rock star by the media.  Think about it, we actually have rock stars.  Now we just need them to be nice to the media.

•8) DON’T FORGET THE BASICS – Ken Wheaton points out that “For all the talk of change, for all the rhetoric about new media, Obama rode to victory the old-fashioned way: He outspent his opponents, and much of it went to TV”.  TV is a visual medium and we in live entertainment just don’t do a good job marketing our products on television.  Time to step it up.

•9) EMBRACE WEB 2.0 – Although the Obama campaign didn’t do much in the way of traditional web advertising, their use of social networking will be studied for years to come.  Figure out how you can start a movement like that online and you are headed down the Yellow Brick Road.

•10) NOTHING – After all that, writer Ken Wheaton points out that a political campaign “has almost nothing in common with a marketing campaign.”  Of course he is right.

I guess the big message here is to have a great product and then do all your homework three times.  As the saying goes, “good luck comes to those that work hard”.

Talk with you soon…

Jim

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