Marketing Lessons From The Obama Campaign

Regardless of your political affiliation, one can’t help but admire the Obama campaign’s relentless and successful marketing strategy. In the next few months, marketers of all stripes will be scrutinizing what worked and what missed the mark. As marketers, we can all learn more about our craft by studying this recent election cycle. In the following, let’s examine  how some of these lessons can be applied to green marketing strategies. 

1. A social strategy: As in the 2008 election, social media was just as – and probably more important -- to both candidates’ strategies. Many of us woke up on Election Day to find a flurry of posts on Facebook from friends announcing that they had voted curtesy of an “I Voted” app that Facebook installed. Was it lost on anyone that the newly re-elected President used Twitter to make his first communication once it was clear that he had won? In a now iconic image of the President embracing First Lady Michelle – it was a message heard and seen around the world. For the green marketer, it’s a reminder that social media continues to be a vital communications tool – but also a reminder that social media continues to evolve and that we must evolve with it. Understand the current channels, be flexible to embrace new channels that emerge (hello, Pinterest!) and remember that a picture speaks 1,000 words. 

2. Consistent messaging: In the eyes of the majority of the public, Mitt Romney was perceived as flip-flopping on positions and lacking a clear vision. Being inconsistent ultimately eroded public confidence, and may well have cost him the election. The lesson for green marketers is that you can’t authentically be for something after you’ve been against something. It means that clear, authentic and consistent messaging should be ever present – from the sustainability reports to internal memos and blog postings on the company website. Much like the voting public, sustainability stakeholders are hungry for transparency. 

3. Data is hot: “Knowledge is power” has never rung so true since Nate Silver stunned pundits by near perfectly predicting the election’s outcome. As Ad Age noted, Obama’s team “built the largest data team in political history to integrate data gleaned via social media and the web with offline data, such as shopping information and voter-file data.” Marketers have long embraced and lived by data, and for now, the public is in shocked agreement. Sustainability reports are treasure troves of information not only for external stakeholders, but also for internal decision-makers. Now is a good time to take a close look at what you’re measuring, how it’s being captured and of course, take a long, candid look at the results.

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