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President-Elect Barack Obama

If you live anywhere on this planet, you’ve surely heard the news that the next President of the U.S.A. will be Barack Obama. The long presidential campaign that seemed as though it would never come to an end is finally over. First it was the democrats among themselves dueling it out, and then it was the red and blue states each vying for the upper hand, but no-one, not the news media, and not the political pundits, predicted two years ago, when he first announced his candidacy, the stunning victory Barack Obama managed to secure.

In this Special Edition, I will review some invaluable lessons we can learn from Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

First and foremost is the initial move the Obama campaign made in establishing who their target audience is, and structuring their campaign around that target audience. Rather than trying to be all things to all people, and trying to reach 100% of the U.S. population, the focus was on the target audience and how to get 100% of those votes. That meant finding out what their preferred channel of communication is and using it consistently, and later, intense drives to get those voters to the polls — or as we’d say in business parlance: closing the sale.

Most importantly, they created a message and stuck with it from start to finish, and connected with people in the way people wanted to connect, making sure nobody was left out in this high-tech era of a ubiquitous internet and blackberry addicts.

Planning for success.

If you followed the Obama/Biden campaign, you’ll have noticed how well they had everything prepared. From preparing a massive arena to celebrate his victory weeks in advance, to the Thank You page for the winning ticket for their website (which was up the moment results were in), victory was written into the script — everything was planned, prepared, and in place for an eventual win.

Sticking to the message.

The Obama campaign started off with the message “Yes we Can – Change we Need” and stuck with that from day one. They used it throughout the primaries to defeat Hillary Clinton, and stayed with the message when they needed to defeat John McCain. Even when situations changed, issues changed and events around the world changed, the message stayed the same; expanded of course to address the issues at hand, but consistent all throughout.

Connecting with people their way.

The Obama campaign recognized the importance of introducing the voting process to the millions of young American who had never before voted. Their researchers established that the days of placing backyard signs were long over. In today’s day and age, young people are hooked on the internet, cell phones and social networking. The Obama campaign adopted those mediums very successfully. Some analysts say it’s what won him the elections. While McCain went on record stating that he didn’t know how to use e-mail, the Obama campaign was making millions of dollars from their website and getting millions of people to follow their message.

Here are some of the modern tools the Obama Campaign used quite successfully:

Website:

barackobama.com outclassed johnmccain.com by far. The Obama site was way friendlier and by far more informational.

Blog

Blog Unlike a website which is more formal and stilted, a blog is an informal, personal, and casual way to get in touch with people. It’s a simple way to get your message out in a friendly, conversational way, and no business or organization should be without a blog of their own.

My.BarackObama.com

A tool that allowed supporters to create their own webpage which highlighted local events, gave contact information of undecided voters in the local neighborhood, and provided a space for personal blogging. My.BarackObama had over a million members, exponentially increasing exposure of the Barack Obama “brand”.

YouTube

In the not too distant past, the only option for showing a visual message was buying ad space. Enter YouTube circa 2008. The Obama campaign uploaded 1,823 videos and at last count had 135,543 subscribers and followers. Contrast that with the McCain campaign which uploaded only 330 videos during the same period.

Obama even added a “donate now” link on his YouTube profile, which is a novel idea, and something I’ve never seen before.

MySpace

Myspace.com is a social networking website offering an interactive, user-submitted network of friends, personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, music and more. In the narrow field of popular social networking sites, MySpace attracts the lion’s share of the teenage demographic.

Among other things, Obama’s MySpace page lists the colleges he went to which would interest teenagers who would soon be attending college themselves, but not his professional resume which is less relevant to a teenage audience.

LinkedIn

Obama posted a brief summary of his agenda and his full resume on this networking site for business owners and professionals. Linkedin.com offers members a way to broadcast a brief business or professional profile, find acquaintances and potential colleagues, and connect with other professionals.

Facebook

Facebook.com is a social networking site similar to MySpace. The website is popular with college students and has a slightly more conservative member base. Obama amassed more than 3 million Facebook supporters!

Twitter

One of the newest of social networking tools, twitter allows members to update ‘followers’ throughout the day with small blurbs of information called ‘tweets’ which are sent to followers’ cell phones. Barack Obama had more than 130,000 Twitter followers.

SMS

Text messages were used throughout the Obama campaign to broadcast messages. There were general text messages, and targeted ones adapted to different states and cities with localized messages creating a customized, more personal missive.

I don’t think you’re planning to run for office, but I know you are running your business, and the take-away from all of this is as follows: we need to stay focused, on message, and make sure we connect with our target audience the way they want to be communicated with.

Onward and upward,

Meny Hoffman

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