Whether a Democrat or a Republican; whether you supported Obama or Romney; whether you’re elated, concerned, or despondent about the future of the US (20 states even filed petitions to secede from the Union), you have to recognize that the Obama campaign did what it had to do in terms of mobilizing volunteers, raising millions through micro-donations, and getting out the vote. so what are the lessons you can take from this effort to help make friends and influence customers in support of your brand?
Secrets to Making Friends and Influencing Customers
Yesterday, the New York Times unveiled how a “Dream Team” of social scientists worked behind the scenes, directing efforts to counter rumors (like those surrounding Obama’s birthplace) and position Romney in the best light for Democrats. Even Sarah Palin, remember, the ninny from the 2008 campaign who could “see Russia from Alaska” in defense of her international expertise, said a big factor in the election was that Obama came out early to define Romney for potential voters.
The Dream Team consisted of renowned psychologists, behavior economists, and — wait for it — marketing professionals, including Robert Cialdini, who’s work on influence I’ve mentioned many times on this blog.
How did the Dream Team deliver the vote?
Political campaigns commonly use political insiders — campaign directors, political consultants, and gurus — to direct campaign strategy. Research was limited to a few focus groups that determined the campaign platform.
Obama’s campaign represented a polar shift from this strategy.
The Obama campaign used Dream Team research to guide every aspect of political strategy. For instance, Fiske, a Princeton psychologist, reflected that people vote based on just 2 dimensions — warmth and competence. She suggested the campaign stress these 2 elements throughout their messaging — both in advertising and in the demeanor of the candidate at public appearances. And, the research suggests a tactic for defining the competition as incompetent (which as difficult with Romney) and cold — and he played right into their hands by acting cold and stiff in public and making comments, such as the 47% freeloaders, that reinforced that positioning.
Cialdini’s contribution was used in scripting door-to-door campaign canvassing by volunteers in swing states. A master in the art of persuasion, Cialdini recommended asking potential voters to sign a pledge to vote on Nov. 6 — a card replete with Obama’s picture. The motivation is to vote so you remain consistent with your commitment, which is very powerful. The subtle message is vote Obama since his image is tied with this commitment.
Campaign workers also highlighted that your neighbors planned to vote and offered support for Obama, since people feel compelled to follow societal norms of behavior. Cialdini effectively used a similar tactic in a recent effort to get consumers to conserve energy.
Working with potential voters to create a voting plan and aid in providing transportation also proved crucial in getting out the vote.
How you can use the insights of the Dream Team
to make friends and influence customers
Political campaigns involve selling the candidate and defining opposition in terms unacceptable for voters. Business involves selling your brand and portraying competitors as unacceptable to consumers. Hence, the same tactics should work for both. In fact, big businesses have used these tactics for decades to gain customers and political campaigns are relative newcomers to the dance.
But, many mid-sized and small businesses don’t know about the weapons of influence and how to effectively wield them to make friends and influence customers.
So, here are some ideas to help you make friends and influence customers.
- use recommendations and reviews in your communications to apply subtle pressure to buy and to indicate the acceptability of such behavior
- outline a plan for consuming your brand — or portray the execution of such plans in your advertising
- ask consumers for a small favor, then follow with a request for purchase
- give them something they value. This creates an obligation to reciprocate that can only be resolved by helping your brand. This, in fact, is a major premise behind successful social media marketing and an great reason for creating a blog or other tool for helping consumers.
- become likable — personify your brand as someone consumers will like
- imply that only a lucky few will get your brand. Scarcity creates a motivation to buy.
- gain authority. Much like Fiske’s belief that voters prefer competence, consumers believe an authority and prefer to purchase brands they believe are an authority.
Hausman and Associates
Hausman and Associates publishes Hausman Marketing Letter and the monthly email newsletter of the same name. We also provide cost-effective marketing and social media through our virtual agency concept. We welcome new clients and would happily provide a proposal to show you how we can make your marketing SIZZLE.