Market Like Obama

In this black history month, I thought it appropriate to write about a successful black marketer who achieved amazing things using the same marketing skills and tools we all have access to. The only difference between Barack Obama and the rest of us is the scale. Read the article to see what strategies you can implement in your business.

Barack Obama Social Media

On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States and was inaugurated on January 20, 2009. However not only was he President he was the first Black President of the United States.

This historic event occurred 45 years after Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” and 40 years after Martin Luther King’s assassination. So, a truly momentous event.

Barack Obama, was elected President for the second time on 6th November 2012 and inaugurated in January 2013

But how did he do it? Read on to find out.

In the first election his campaign manager was David Plouffe. It was the first-time social media had been used to reach an audience who they wanted to vote for a presidential candidate. This helped to humanise Obama and made him accessible to his supporters and donors.

In the second campaign his campaign manager was Jim Messina both campaign managers used social media and email marketing to achieve a successful election for Barack Obama. Social Media allowed Obama to connect with people on a much more personal level. Prior to this TV was the medium used to reach people but social media removed barriers to connection.

David Plouffe says “presidential campaigns are driven in large part by personality, not party. …. President Obama…able to create electoral coalitions unique to …(him)” As a result of social media Barack Obama was seen as a charismatic, likable, and approachable man who happened to be running for President.

Videos of Obama’s speeches gave people an opportunity to see the man who wanted their vote.

I think when you spread the wealth around it’s good for everybody. Barack Obama

Obama’s Campaign used the same marketing principles every successful marketing campaign uses and these are: –

1. You must have an effective website that drives action. Must have an opt in box to capture people’s details.
2. Drive visitors to your website using marketing and advertising – example social media, videos. email marketing.
3. Build and develop relationships with your prospects through email marketing & social media.
4. Expand your reach through mobile, website must be mobile optimised and ads can be targeted specifically to mobile users.
5. These steps work together and implementation is the key to success.

Barack Obama’s strategy has remained almost unchanged since his 2008 election win: –
a) build a database
b) grow social media followers
c) encourage donations
d) build credibility and trust through consistent and sincere communication

Obama Family

Obama’s website was geared to drive email subscriptions and donations with a specific landing page designed to encourage more people to sign up. This was so successful that in his 2008 election campaign he the Barack Obama camp sent out an email to a list of 2 million people…They made $10 million in donations from that SINGLE email, from 130,000 donors.

Obama’s team credited email marketing with the “heavy lifting” that drove his fundraising efforts and saw a switch from a small number of big donors to huge numbers of small donors.

Once people subscribed, Barack Obama used email marketing to build relationships with his subscribers over time. He would share updates on what he had been up to, opinions on various issues and he educated them over time.

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. Barack Obama

His emails were written in the first person, he was speaking directly to the subscriber, this helped to build his credibility and trust with them. At the end of every email the call to action was always the same ‘donate now’. Email marketing was the lynchpin of both campaigns.

Of course, social media also played a significant part in connecting with potential supporters and donors. In the 2008 election Barack Obama had a presence on 16 different social media platforms, and all were promoted on his website. By 2011 he was only using Facebook and Twitter, he also used YouTube to stream his videos and Flickr to host his images.

Using data the campaign managers determined which social media platforms were the most effective. You can do that to using Google Analytics and the analytics on your chosen social media platform.

Social media was fully integrated on his website. Every post on his website was shareable to Facebook and Twitter and Facebook friends could be invited to the website from a sidebar widget.

The Obama campaign saturated Facebook and Twitter with status updates, images and hash tags about the election campaign with comments and interactions coming from people who were watching the election from all over the world. People could participate in the campaign in a way they had never been able to do before.

In 2011 Obama had 20 Million Facebook fans. At the time of writing he has 55 Million Fans. His Twitter following in 2011 was approximately 8 million followers at the time of writing he now has 96 million followers a huge growth compared to Facebook.

During the 2102 campaign Jim Messina used big data to target social media messages precisely at just the right people. A strategy that would later be used by the Conservatives in the 2015 election with the help of Jim Messina.

He used both profiles differently. On Facebook would share updates on his campaign, ask his fans questions, share YouTube videos and drive engagement.

On Twitter, he shared opinions, thoughts and updated them on his campaign. Hashtags were used to participate in conversations.

On neither platform did he ask for donations.

How can you use social media to spread your message whilst also developing a relationship with existing customers and potential customers?

Blogging synergises perfectly with social media, because people are more likely to share a piece of information rather than an entire website.

Obama used blogging to communicate with his visitors and supporters. He shared articles, commentary, YouTube videos and Twitter updates. He was consistent in all his marketing efforts. Every page of his blog had a ‘Donate Now’ button which simplified the donation process.

The success of the campaigns was due to using the trifecta of blogging, social media and email marketing. As a small business owner, you can do this too if you create a marketing plan and strategy, and implement it.

Money is not the only answer, but it makes a difference. Barack Obama

When doing your marketing there are two other activities that will increase your success.

Segmentation – The Obama campaign segmented the website by state so that supporters could stay up to date with what was happening in their state. The main website was used for national messages and the state pages were for state-based messages.

Segmentation drove engagement with supporters who only heard about what related to them which kept them engaged. Segmentation also applies to email, where your subscribers don’t want to receive generic messages only those that they signed up for.

Split-Testing – Even though the website was performing well, they knew that how people reacted to the landing pages was the true test of its effectiveness. The Obama team split-tested various designs of the landing page, measuring which one produced the best results.

Include segmentation and split testing in your marketing activities to increase the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Obama may no longer be President but his popularity has not waned. His personality is so strong that often you will see postings on social media saying how much he is missed this aspect of his personality would have made a big impact on his marketing and cannot be manufactured.

Obama’s marketing skills were evident recently on Twitter when he posted the most liked Tweet EVER! Following a march by white supremacists in Charlottesville

Obama Tweeted a quoted from Nelson Mandela “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…”


Simple but effective just like his Presidential campaigns.

If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress. Barack Obama

The video below is Barack Obama’s 10 Rules for Success watch it for clues as to why his marketing campaigns for President was so successful and why his popularity is so enduring.

, , , , , , , , ,