Brand or Die!

A Small Business Survival Guide

If Obama was my client...

  • Posted: 3:30 PM
  • |
  • Author: Mikal J. Caldwell

Sometimes I like to imagine that certain people or companies in certain situations are clients of mine. My latest project is our current POTUS, Barak Obama.

He entered office riding super-high approval ratings and something of a mandate from those that elected him. Since then, he's run head-first into the realities of politics in Washington. He's remained true to his major campaign promises to promote economic recovery and reform health care. Unfortunately, he's taken some hits on both fronts and his approval numbers are no longer in the clouds. His political adversaries smell blood in the water and have gone on the attack, and support among his friends is getting shaky.

As I see it, this is a classic brand and marketing problem. The problem isn't the product. Most Americans say they want health care reform and overwhelmingly want economic recovery. The problem is brand and marketing related. Which is why (in my imagination) the White House called me. I'll let you know what I told him, because the same advice I gave him works for any business facing opposition or a highly competitive market.

So I said, "Barry." (That's what I call him, cause we're close like that)

"Barry, you're letting the competition define your brand. It's what Apple was doing to Microsoft with the 'I'm a Mac, I'm a PC' campaign. They're saying everything your plans are and are not, but you're not spending enough time saying what they are. Selling against competition isn't about tearing down the other company or product. The most effective competitive selling is in amplifying your unique qualities that are in stark contrast with your competition and letting the customer make the comparison themselves."

"Barry, what you need to do is start framing the discussion yourself. You have lots of positive things to show from your stimulus and your healthcare proposals. You need to be much clearer and more agressing in making sure they get front and center. And while you're at it, make sure you obey the first law of sales and marketing: What's In It For Me. Find out what your customers need, what's important to them, and make sure you clearly communicate your product's benefits in ways that are meaningful to your target customer."

"Last thing, you have the advantage of holding a majority of the market share. If you're the 800 pound gorilla in the room, then start throwing your weight around. Make as much noise as you can and make your side of the argument so loud that it's all your customers hear."

So he thanked me for my service to the country and then swore me to secrecy.

So don't tell anyone....

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