Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How to get your product elected…

By Mark Helfen

If you can fog a mirror, you can’t miss the election going on. Ads, news reports, speeches, and all the other campaign stuff form a deluge – much more so in so called “swing” states than here in California.

So what does that have to do with marketing and selling technology products?  Maybe quite a bit, according to the speaker at this month’s (October 8) SVForum MarketingSIG, Giovanni Rodriguez. His presentation is titled Social Technology and the Presidential Election: An Insider's Perspective.

Rodriguez is co-founder and CEO of SocialXDesign, a consultancy focused on “social business” and consumer engagement. Social business isn’t social media – meaning tools like Facebook or Twitter, but rather connection and engagement with customers, users, and citizens.

His background includes time as Chief Marketing Officer at Broadvision, a stint with Deloitte consulting, and founding his current company. SocialXDesign works with technology businesses, retail, and also government, including the current White House, where he works with the “Office of Public Engagement,” in getting Hispanic and Asian to be more closely engaged with the administration. Thus his well-informed position in seeing the similarities and connections between how political campaigns and marketing campaigns are alike.

Rodriguez said he will describe the strategies of both the Obama and Romney campaigns, and use them to explain what works well and what doesn’t work. The lessons that are learned can be applied to technology and other product marketing.

Both politics and marketing are most successful when you connect with people, usually in person. Finding people who will speak on your behalf – surrogates in his parlance – can multiply your marketing efforts. This is not fundamentally technological, though tools like Facebook can help the effort, and keep your network communicating. In his work with the White House, he formed groups that met in person, as a core of broader engagement.

Social media by itself “is not the stuff that wins.” An effective marketing program needs to invest in actual humans – in meeting potential customers, and in training employees on how to market your products.

“You need to invest in your people to carry your message.”

The fundamentals of marketing still matter, and the two presidential campaigns can serve as object lessons. Because of the high stakes, the large amount of money spent, and the pressure of limited time they can serve as crucibles, quickly and intensively testing different marketing ideas over a limited time to see what works.

So come by, and see how you can get your products elected.


Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant.

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