Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Marketing Lessons From the Brown-Coakley Contest

Martha Coakley lost her Senate race for one simple reason - she didn't inspire loyalty & passion. Full disclosure, I am a registered Democrat, and so are many of my friends and family. But I also know many Independents and Republicans.

During the short run of the Massachusetts special election, Scott Brown supporters displayed aggressive passion. They were actively soliciting votes on Twitter, disarming negative publicity on Facebook, even debating Brown's strengths in lunch rooms everywhere. These were the actions of driven voters.

Contrast that to the "Coakley Supporters" I know. They were making statements like "don't let Scott Brown win" and "Coakley is better than the alternative." Did Coakley have her share of passionate supporters - of course. What she forgot was that core staff needed to inspire tens of thousands more Democrats to come to the polls. She took for granted the "blueness" of Massachusetts and underestimated Brown's ability to rally the troops.

Convincing people not to like Scott Brown was not only ineffective for Coakley, but it is never enough. Coakley lost her Senate bid for the same reason John Kerry lost the Presidential race in 2004. Being Anti-Bush was not enough to bring Democrats to the polls, to call their friends and debate the merits of their candidate, to proudly tweet their endorsement.

Last night while I sat picturing Ted Kennedy rolling over in his grave as Scott Brown made his acceptance speech, I was shaken by the reality that marketing campaigns are much the same as political campaigns.
  • Tearing down your competitor isn't enough. You must have a product or service people want to buy.
  • Good customer service & strong communications will go viral. So will bad service.
  • Your "customers" are the strongest testament you can offer. If you're customers aren't willing to endorse you, who will?
  • Don't take your customers for granted -if you want them to attend an event, download an offer or buy more product, you need to convince them to act.
Not a believer - look at the almost cult-like following of Apple, Ben & Jerry's and Coke benefit from. Across demographics, product & service categories and even geography - one principal holds true - customer loyalty drives bottom line results.

So when you go to build your 2010 marketing plans, don't forget the lessons Martha Coakley & Scott Brown taught us well. Loyalty matters, and you have to work for it each and every day.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2010: Try Something New, Acceptance

I admit it, in year's past my new year's resolutions have been quite cliche. Exercise more, eat less, get control of my credit card debt. While important goals, I was destined to fail at each of them because I treated them like an annual mission, rather than lifestyle choices that needed to seep into my every day routine.

Every January, I started off with noble intentions. I replaced my office trail mix with a bag of carrots, bought new work out clothes (the old ones didn't fit), and spent hours justifying why my new plan had to wait one more week. Safely guarded under winter sweaters getting a bikini ready body just never made it to the top of my list. As for getting rid of debt...well, I'd start right after paying off those holiday bills.

Three years ago I put a stake in the ground that my new year's resolutions were going to change. I was going to stop setting lofty goals and instead simply commit to being open to new things. The first year, I took a cake decorating class. This has turned into a wonderful hobby.

The year after that I took my first yoga class. Two years later, while less disciplined, it is still a valuable stress reliever and strength builder that I love.

Last year, I committed to writing a blog. While that took some time to get off and running, I'm pleased that blogging has become a habit I truly enjoy.

Reading this you might get the impression everything I tried worked out fabulously. Let me set the record straight that for every fun success, were several failures. For example, I vowed for every fiction book I read, I'd select a biography/autobiography to enjoy. I'm sorry to report that was a dismal failure. I still have two unfinished books sitting on my bedside from the first month of that effort.

And I'll spare you the sad tale of my attempt to cross country ski. Let's just say I'm not a natural!

This year I'm trying something new again, but I'm taking a different approach. This year - I'm cutting myself slack. I'm going to accept the extra ten pounds I've gained. I'm going to accept that Saturday's are about grocery shopping, and I'm going to accept that I need some me time.

Acceptance might not be a traditional new year's resolution, but who said tradition was the only way to go? As far as I'm concerned, 2010 is off to a great start.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying settle. I'm still going to take a knitting class. I'm still going to set new goals for my team at work. But I'm going to accept who I am and appreciate what I have each and every day. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to enjoy the successes even more this way.