September 8, 2008

Generalizing the layered messaging model

In my introductory post on layered messaging, I laid out two basic templates for enterprise IT messaging. But consider, if you would, the following

General layered marketing template

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February 22, 2008

How Hillary Clinton can still differentiate herself from Barack Obama on foreign policy

Obviously, these are difficult times for the Clinton campaign, and Barack Obama is the most likely Democratic nominee for president. His messaging strategy, so far successful, has in essence been:

  1. Pitch “change” as a top-level message.
  2. Claim that being a pro-change outsider is more conducive to getting things done than being an experienced insider.
  3. Adopt similar policy positions to his rivals, so as to reduce the chance for differentiation there.
  4. Show that he’s not “too much” of an outsider, by collecting insiders’ endorsements.
  5. Claim that primary electoral success demonstrates both that he’s likely to have general election success in the fall and also that he’s likely to lead effectively once elected.

So Clinton desperately needs to differentiate herself from Obama, beneficially, more than she already has. But how? Read more

January 12, 2008

Seth Godin on dealing with influencers and listening to the market

From a Seth Godin interview conducted by the SEO-oriented Eric Enge:

They need to find the thirty bloggers matter, and months before they need them, give to them. Post comments, link to them, talk to them, engage them as a member of the community, and then when they roll something out those bloggers trust you. An example is Boing Boing, which is one of the three most popular blogs in the world, and there is a piece of software that just came out that helps you track appointments and stuff like that.

Cory Doctorow wrote a rave review of it yesterday on Boing Boing. Why did he do that? Because they showed up an hour ahead in time and begged him? No, because he’s known the founder for a long time, and the founder actually asked him a lot of advice about how to make the software better, and he gave it to them. So, he has a sense of relationship and ownership, so when the software comes out, of course he is going to say something about it. That time investment, and that respect is an asset that people at a traditional company might not have earned.

Certainly the company/analyst relationship fits into that paradigm.

Godin went on to take a related point to an extreme:

The thing that’s going to be hard for a lot of people is it represents a shift in power, that the reason most people become marketers is because it is fun to be in charge. It’s fun to put on a show; it is fun to have influence that comes from money. What we are seeing in the new marketing is that the opposite is true. People who are succeeding tend to be the ones with no money, because having no money makes you humble and being humble makes you work with the marketplace better.

But while extreme, that’s not entirely wrong. For example, the technology industry has advanced to the point that large firms have huge economies of scale, and startups keep succeeding even so. (E.g., see my coverage of Netezza or Qliktech.) And this year’s presidential campaign has, so far, been friendly to insurgent candidates such as Mike Huckabee, Barack Obama, a rebounding John McCain, or even Ron Paul.

January 9, 2008

Updating my marketing prescriptions for the Clinton campaign

The competitive landscape in the 2008 Democratic presidential campaign has changed significantly since Tuesday morning. What does this do to the marketing strategy I suggested for Hillary Clinton a mere 24 hours ago? Let’s see. Read more

January 9, 2008

How Hillary Clinton regained authenticity

A huge fraction of what I do as a marketing consultant is advise on how to be credible. In consumer marketing – including politics – analysis often focuses on the closely related factor of authenticity instead. Hillary Clinton’s stunning New Hampshire win is in large part being attributed to a sudden recapture of authenticity.

I agree with that top-level analysis. Specifically, I think there were four main factors driving the sudden change in Clinton’s image. Read more

January 9, 2008

Obama’s polls/results gap may show the opposite of what people think it does

Barack Obama did much worse in the New Hampshire primary than polls suggested he would. As the night unfolded, analysts started relating this to similar events in other races featuring black candidates, such as Tom Bradley’s and Doug Wilder’s campaigns for the governorships of California and Virginia respectively. Evidently, Americans are more eager to be perceived as voting for an African-American than they are to actually vote for one.

If that interpretation is correct, and I think it is, there are two major ways of explaining the phenomenon.

  1. Hidden racism – people are ashamed to admit to being racists, but in the secrecy of the voting booth let their true feelings show.
  2. The virtue of supporting a minority – people are eager to be perceived as pro-diversity.  But in the secrecy of the voting booth they pick the candidate they really want, with race being set aside.

Theory #1 is the conventional wisdom, but a key piece of evidence supports Theory #2 instead. Read more

January 8, 2008

An interesting but flawed process critique of the Clinton campaign

Over on DailyKos, webranding gives an interesting reason for Hillary Clinton’s marketing problems: He says bad decisions were inevitable because Mark Penn is both head pollster and head strategist — i.e., both the message crafter and the message tester. That is, webranding argues it was foreordained that polls would validate the strategy Mark Penn already decided on.

Implicit in this critique is the idea that one should test messages via polling. Now, up to a point I agree that’s a great idea. But political campaigns aren’t just about pitching to people’s preconceptions — they’re also about changing people’s minds. Read more

January 8, 2008

The classic marketing mistake Hillary Clinton now needs to avoid

I’m writing this Tuesday morning. It is widely expected that Hillary Clinton will get shellacked in the New Hampshire primary, and her campaign is searching for a strategy with which to rebound.

The temptation will be to make a classic marketing error: Excessive focus. And if they fall into that trap, they will lose.

If Hillary Clinton is to win the Democratic nomination, her campaign now has to simultaneously follow all (or at least most) of the following strategies:

January 8, 2008

John Edwards’ marketing problem

As I noted in a prior post, John Edwards’s main message now is “I offer change, just like Barack Obama.” This elicits an obvious response, namely “Great, buddy. So why should we select you when Obama is also available?”

This was an easier question to answer when “everybody knew” that Obama was too young and unqualified to be taken wholly seriously. But those days are behind us. Besides, having twice the Senatorial experience of your opponent isn’t all that impressive when you have six years and he has three. Certainly Edwards will get some support because he has a Southern accent, isn’t known to ever have snorted cocaine, and – dare I say it – is white. But those factors don’t seem to be enough for Edwards to prevail.

So what can Edwards do, other than wait around and hope to get lucky from an Obama gaffe? Read more

January 8, 2008

Hillary Clinton is ideally positioned to run on women’s rights in 2008. (And not just because she’s female.)

In a previous post, I argued that Hillary Clinton’s primary opportunity for differentiation –- specifically, versus her two main rivals, who are also smart, liberal lawyer-senators — lies in being female and Bill Clinton’s wife. I further suggested that she’s extremely well-qualified to be an icon of 2008 women’s rights, which could let her pursue this strategy to great advantage. Here’s what I meant.
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