Marketing Microsoft

Marketing Lessons from the Obama Campaign

Microsoft partners can learn some valuable marketing lessons from Obama's campaign successes. Here's a list of eight that you can pu tot use now.

President Barack Obama's $700 million campaign budget dwarfed the marketing budget of even the biggest Microsoft partner company. But partners can pick up plenty of marketing lessons by examining what Obama did well during his 21-month presidential campaign.

1. Stick with a strategy. While his opponents kept changing direction, Obama had a clear strategy from the start: Leverage his community-organizing experience to build grassroots support. He stuck by this winning strategy even when things got bumpy in the primaries.

I've watched many Microsoft partners repeatedly change their business-development strategies-usually before the strategy being replaced even had a chance to succeed.

2. View positioning as critical. Obama and his campaign understood early on that he needed to position himself as the candidate who could bring about the change that many Americans believed was needed. He also needed to help position his opponents as representing more of the same. He succeeded on both counts. With thousands of Microsoft partners worldwide, you must similarly communicate why your company is the best choice.

3. Ask for e-mail addresses. E-mail is among the fastest and least expensive ways to deliver your marketing messages. Obama's campaign requested e-mail addresses at every opportunity. As a Microsoft partner, you need to do the same with every prospect and customer.

4. Recognize that database-driven direct marketing gets results. Obama started building a database of prospective voters early on. Then he communicated with them regularly, helping move them from awareness to consideration to voting for him. You, too, need to market to a well-targeted database of prospective customers right away.

5. Tell prospects what's in it for them. People who visited barackobama.com or listened to his speeches heard Obama talk less about himself and more about the benefits they'd gain from electing him president. His campaign made offers or calls-to-action to prospective voters as well. Partners should take a similar approach, communicating benefits and offering calls-to-action designed to appeal to prospects for various stages in the buying process.

6. Make it easy to respond and engage. The Obama team made it so easy for prospective supporters to engage that much of the nearly $750 million that the campaign raised was donated $25 at a time. Allow prospective customers to learn more about your company in the way they prefer.

7. Use both traditional and new media. The Obama campaign understood today's need to use both traditional media, like TV, radio and print, and new media, such as e-mail, blogs, twitter, Facebook, texting and IM, to get the message through. Know what media your prospects are using.

8. Remember that shorter isn't always better. Obama's campaign understood that effective communication sometimes requires more than a slogan or sound bite. As a result, people who visited barackobama.com could find both top-line and in-depth information on topics. Besides running 30-second broadcast spots, Obama ran a prime-time TV infomercial.

Many partners believe that everybody prefers shorter content. Not so. For best results, use long but easy-to-skim copy that appeals both to readers who skim and to those who want all the details before taking the next step.

It remains to be seen how well Obama will actually deliver on his pre-election promises. But the bottom line is that his campaign's marketing strategies succeeded at changing the course of American history. Using similar strategies can help Microsoft partners change their own business trajectories as well.

About the Author

M.H. "Mac" McIntosh has been providing marketing and sales consulting services for Microsoft and many of its partners for more than seven years. More than 1,000 Microsoft Partners across the United States and Canada have attended his Marketing Boot Camps and Marketing for Leads (tm) live and Web seminars. You can contact Mac via www.sales-lead-experts.com.