Obama as Marketer of the Year?

At a recent meeting of the Association of National Advertisers, Barack Obama was named Marketer of the Year, edging out Apple and Zappos. Does he deserve this distinction? I believe so.

Before I share the three things that other marketers should learn from candidate Obama, let me be fully transparent. This is a marketing blog, not a political blog. In my Facebook profile, I admit that I am more conservative in my political beliefs than I am liberal. And while I may not agree with all of Senator Obama’s political leanings, I must admire candidate Obama’s marketing strategy. In today’s digital marketing era, he got three things right that other marketers should emulate.

1. Have a clear and consistent value proposition – candidate Obama has a remarkable sense for the needs of the market. He understands their frustration with the current political and economic environment and has distilled his value proposition into a simple and very clear concept – Change. He realized the market wanted “change” more than experience. Senator Clinton misjudged the market need. Senator McCain was late to realize what she didn’t. He has failed to clarify his value proposition, vacillating from experience to judgment to maverick to who knows what this week. Candidate Obama has been clear and consistent with a simple message that resonates with the market, and it seems to be working.

2. Integrate calls to action in your brand message. Whether it’s a call to visit the campaign web site, a request to join the movement’s mailing list or an urging to make a donation, candidate Obama integrates calls to action with his brand message. He engages his constituents early and often. He doesn’t just want to move the opinion polls (brand ratings) to get votes on election day, he wants to move the market into action today. This has resulted in what appears to be a better organized ground game at the local level and millions of brand advocates working on his behalf. Marketers could do a better job of not just waiting for the moment of truth, but engaging their markets with appropriate calls to action earlier in the buying process.

3. Utilize digital media effectively. It may have been the generational difference in his key constituency or his astute marketing team, but candidate Obama has really integrated digital media in his campaign well. His website is very effective at both communicating his message and enrolling his supporters. He provides easy methods to leverage social media sites on his behalf. He actively captures email addresses and communicates frequently with the list. He has integrated electronic donations and e-commerce into his marketing mix. He even used mobile texting to announce his VP candidate. Marketers who are still on the sidelines about digital as the core of their marketing efforts should take a closer look at this candidate’s success.

So does the Obama campaign for change deserve to be the Marketer of the Year? Let me know what you think.