Business, Leadership

Why We Love Barak Obama and Feel So Disconnected from John McCain

On September 25th, 1960 Richard Nixon was leading in the race for President.  His opponent, John Kennedy was young and inexperienced and after several radio broadcast debates Nixon was the clear frontrunner. 

Nixon2_2On September 26th, 1960 everything changed.  That night 70 million U.S. viewers tuned in to watch the first ever televised presidential debate. Even though nothing in the candidates message had changed, extensive polling of the television audience showed Kennedy to be the winner of the debate by a very large margin. 

What was the difference?  Kennedy embraced the new medium of the day, Nixon did not.    Kennedy loved the camera, and the camera loved him.  Nixon refused to wear make-up and the hot lights had him sweating before the debate even began.  One observer noted, ‚ÄúThere was no mistaking the distinction between the ease with which JFK related to the living rooms of America and the sense of desperateness that Nixon's intensity gave off.‚Äù

We‚Äôre seeing the same thing happen today.  Barak Obama has embraced new media.  He announced his VP choice to millions of Americans via text message before he told the traditional media and each and every one of them felt like they got something special, that they were an insider.  Those folks can say they knew before CNN…you can bet he‚Äôs got their vote.  He has more followers on Twitter than any other user (over 70,000).   He takes his message directly to the nation, often completely bypassing the middle-man of traditional media. He‚Äôs even been reported to exchange personal emails and text messages.  ‚ÄúHis people‚Äù feel more connected to him than any other candidate, ever.

Obama gets it.  He understands that new media is a conversation, a tool used for two-way communication.  He‚Äôs a guy we can relate to, that‚Äôs accessible and we‚Äôd feel comfortable having a cup of coffee with (this isn‚Äôt about my personal politics but my observations about who‚Äôs embracing new marketing effectively).

McCain on the other hand seems to miss it completely.  His web site looks like something from a Mad Magazine spoof and he‚Äôs noticeably absent from most of the social networking sites.  I have no idea what McCain is up to these days, but thanks to twitter I know which cities Obama has been visiting.

When it comes to election day the Obama campaign will have built an incredible ‚Äúget out the vote‚Äù machine and I think it will win him the election.  On that day, what would the McCain campaign give to have millions of people who had given their permission for him to drop them a personal note via text message reminding them that it was time to vote?

11/06/2008 – Update: Here's an interesting post election post – Obama vs. McCain Social Media Scorecard

Business, Leadership

The Two Conversations

New marketing is all about conversations…not the ‚Äúconversation‚Äù where you the marketer shout out your message to as many people as possible, but the conversation where your customers are talking to their contacts about your company.

The first conversation is the conversation that’s happening some place else. 

Right now, if you have any market saturation at all, people are talking about your company.  They may be saying good things…or bad.  The question is do you know where the conversations are happening and, when appropriate, are you taking part in them?

The IT guy for a client of mine (a well known author) recently sent me a report showing all the references he‚Äôd been able to track that referenced my client over a two week period.  This included twitters, blog posts and news reports.  In 14 days there had been over 100 ‚Äúconversations‚Äù that referenced my client or his work.  Now, the question is what, if anything, should they be doing with that information.

My recommendation is whenever possible you should engage in the conversation.  If someone writes a blog posts and mentions your product, why not leave them a comment, thanking them for the mention and give them a coupon for a discount on the their next order (or perhaps a free download).  If someone is complaining about your company (check out the search results on twitter for AT&T), why not take the opportunity to pro-actively engage them and provide excellent customer service before they even ask (the whole world is watching).  Rather than dealing with negative comments once someone gets frustrated enough to reach out to you, why not take part in the conversation where its already happening.

The second conversation is the conversation that probably isn‚Äôt happening yet, but should be.  Its the conversation that you host. 

Who better to connect your customers than you, their point of contact. If your customers naturally gather around your product in the real world why not help facilitate that happening in the virtual world?  Threadless gets this…so does Amazon. 

I make purchasing decisions every day and very seldom, if ever, are they influenced by traditional media.  When I‚Äôm wondering if I should buy a book that‚Äôs been recommended to me, do I go to the New York Times book reviews?  Nope, I‚Äôve never read one.  What I do is look on Amazon at the book reviews to see what their customers have to say. 

You may be thinking, yeah, but Jon you‚Äôre on the bleeding edge of early adopters…true, but think about what influences your buying decisions.  Chances are the number one thing is word of mouth.  The same is true for your customers.  Why not create a place for them to connect with each other and prospective customers?  If you’re in the simple accounting software business, why not create the online destination for people to gather and ask each other their accounting questions?  Don’t try to control the conversation but do take part in it.  What you’ll earn is permission to talk to them about what you have to offer. 

Are you taking part in the two conversations?