Photograph from behind the president's chair of President Obama chairing a meeting at the oval office.

‘This seat is taken’ – a clever caption combined with a creative photograph – this image (plus caption) went viral during President Obama’s last campaign.

Recruit The Best People

When president Obama invited Teddy Goff to be his Digital Director, Obama took a big step towards becoming America’s next president.  Goff is the best in the business.

Have a Great Product

Equally, Goff only backed this horse, since he knew he had a great product (Obama) to market. Being a great digital marketer won’t work if you got a lousy product.

Combine Analytics With Creative Thinking

Interestingly Goff and his team spent a lot of time on analytics and segmenting and targeting messages as you’d expect. They spent even more time on creative thinking creatively about how to keep the information fatigued audience excited and invigorated sufficiently to (a) vote (b) encourage a friend to vote (c) perhaps get involved in the campaign. For more on Engagement see the Ladder of Engagement (Smith & Zook 2016, Marketing Communications). Here’s Teddy talking to me about all of the above.


Use Big Data

Everything they did was informed by data.  This helped Goff et al to give their followers a better experience. To serve their supporters with the best experience possible.

With literally, millions of volunteers on the ground. Goff: “We wanted to use the stuff that people were telling us about. So if someone clicks on this email rather than that one, it’s probably because they are a little bit more interested in this, rather than that.” They consequently would segment and target relevant content that matched the precise interests of people with similar interests (segments).  It’s not rocket science. Goff’s team used the knowledge they gathered from digital behaviour to infer broaden patterns e.g. ‘does it seem that people who care about veterans are more likely to vote for the president?’

So the same principle was applied to offline e.g. millions of volunteers knocking on doors, understanding what were the key issues and interests of undecided voters, helped campaigners to have more relevant conversations. This campaign had to integrate offline with online. For more on integrated marketing communications see the end of this post.

Target Multiple Self Referencing Sub Cultures with Distinct Value Propositions

Ok let’s call it multiple niche marketing! Think about what people care about and the dimensions around which they want to self-organise (group together). Goff and his team tried to create a platform which helped people to organise themselves around particular interests in particular areas e.g. women, interested in a certain issue, all from a certain state. And “let them form connections that they cared about rather than force them into relationships that might not be as meaningful to them.” says  Goff.

Use The Magic Marketing Formula

This is what I call the ‘Magic Marketing Formula. IRD.

  • Identify Needs
  • Reflect those needs (through ads, social media or any comms tool)
  • Deliver (a reasonable product or service

Once a customer’s (voter’s) need (topic or issue) is identified, it can be reflected by either presenting solutions to that issue or by helping people to set up groups dedicated to this particular issue. This information can be collected from door-to-door conversations or even from digital body language (or click behaviour which is revealed by, for example, spending more time on certain pages/topics/issues than others).

Social media, and facebook in particular, generated 34 million Obama fans who in turn were connected with  98% of the facebook population of the USA. They could reach almost everyone, whereas no other media could do this.

Be Relevant – Target Different Segments With Different Messages

Goff’s team worked hard to break their audiences into dozens of discrete segments – so they could target more relevant messages to each group. They also never sat back. They kept trying to keep the connection, keep the engagement, keep the relationship with individuals. Look at the subject lines (headlines) in this fascinating graphic from NY Mag

List of Obama's subject lines used in his emails

Subject lines form Obama’s emails worked hard to keep the relationship engaging and friendly

Treat Your Staff Well

You might have noticed Teddy saying earlier (in the first video) that their primary focus in this campaign was on their supporters. Many of these were volunteers. Many of the rest could at least spread the word. As they say in business: ‘Happy Employees = Happy Customers = Happy Shareholders’, well you could argue the same principle applies here too.

Or perhaps there are alternative tactics such as Democrat, Hilary Clinton secretly funding, Republican, Donald Trump?

A SOSTAC® Summary Of The Election Campaign

SOSTAC Planning System starts with Situation Analysis and moves to Objectives to Strategy to Tactics to Action and to Control (which feeds back into next period's Situation Analysis)

PR Smith’s SOSTAC(r) Planning System

Situation Analysis: Team Obama used Data Analytics & Big Data to analyse the situation in great detail. In fact, all ‘decisions were data driven. Key issues are analysed and identified. Key phrases are analysed and identified so they can be used (or reflected) during the campaign. undecided voters were analysed and their key issues identified.

Objectives: Clear objectives were broken down from quarterly goals, to monthly goals, to weekly goals and daily goals.

Strategy: Most of the strategic components of TOPPP SITE were used. President Obama was positioned as an agent of change. [Positioning] Interestingly Teddy’s team focussed primarily on supporters. Segmenting them and serving them very carefully with relevant content. [Targeting]. Engaging them with regular relevant content. Engaging them by empowering them to set up and run their own clusters [Engagement]. He ensured he had a developed, credible product (Obama) before attempting to raise visibility [Sequence]. When he needed to raise visibility, he prioritised social media since it could reach parts of America that traditional media simply could not [Tactical Tools]. He used analytics and big data (all their ‘decisions were driven by data’) [Process]. Offline was integrated with online events and activities e.g. The President dining with 3 dollar voters was an offline event but when video recorded, it generated a lot of coverage online via social media [Integration].

Tactics: This the details of strategy, e.g. the marketing mix. At the heart of this is the product. Obama was a good product.In fact Teddy Goff recommendation to young people in marketing is to ensure you have a good product before doing any marketing. All the other elements of the mix needed to be managed carefully.

Action: This is the details of tactics. How to ensure continual excellent execution, day in, day out. This can be a work culture (so treat staff well) e.g. a relentless A/B culture continually testing and improving to find what works half a percentage better, and then optimising on what works best. it can also include checklists, procedures, training & motivation plus internal communications to ensure excellent execution.

Control: The objectives set earlier were  broken down and measured continually. A team was allocated to monitor and report on key variables on a daily basis e.g. any blips in sentiment analysis (an aggregate score of the mood of the American nation with reference to the presidential candidates) would have been spotted and brought to the attention of the campaign team.

For more on SOSTAC® Planning System and Certified SOSTAC® Planners see

See How Trump Won

See The Dark Arts Of Marketing – Breaking Down Society to Create a New Culture – Using Data & IRD

For more on Integrated Marketing Communications, The Ladder Of Engagement, Social Media , Marketing Content, Big Data, Segmentation, the Magic Marketing Formula and how to write the perfect plan see Marketing Communications, by myself and Ze Zook. 3d_hi res blank bkground_

The 3 Things You Can Learn From Jeb Bush’s Disaster by Chris Matyszczyk

1. Understand Your Customer and Your Competitor

Bush seemed to grasp neither. He, like many other professional politicians, had no idea why Donald Trump was so popular. He therefore had no idea how to compete. Should he ignore him? Should he try and fight him toe-to-toe? Should he appeal to his essential reasonableness? In the end, Bush fell between all stools. He had no feel for a market that was fueled by anger at the system, rather than at any specific issue or policy. He came as off as slightly bemused and unable to cope alone. Trump was right. When you have to bring your mom and your brother on stage, you’ve lost confidence in yourself.


2. Develop Credibility Before Raising Visibility

‘They’re learning this one in Silicon Valley too. They think that all they need to do is raise a ton of money from gullible VCs and everything will be fine. Bush seemed to have the largest coffers. However, the more money was coughed up, the more the candidate stumbled. Until he was humbled. In the end, it’s the person and the idea that is tested. It isn’t the scale of finance behind them. Bush was too nervous in front of the camera and had no idea how to handle the fact that his brother had been something of a controversial figure when he was president. Strategy and execution are more important than money.’


3. The Logo Matters.

One of Bush’s very first steps was to attempt to hide his Bushness. Instead, he released a logo that was garlanded with an exclamation point. Jeb! That exclamation point was everything Jeb Bush isn’t — except for perhaps slightly old-fashioned. The logo came from the past. The Republican electorate is worried about the future. The logo suggested tradition, when people were sick of politicians’ tradition of doing nothing while lining their own pockets. The logo shouted, whereas Jeb Bush twitched and bristled. Your branding should reflect you. Yes, like Donald Trump’s gold faucets.

Note: The headlines have been changed but the rest of the content is directly form Chris Matyszczyk

See more on How Target Marketing using up to 200 variables Can Save Money & Boost Results.

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