Marketing skills for leaders, managers and HR: Observe Obama

I’m writing this to get your attention and give you some ideas about “marketing” to your own people. I mean, the people that can affect the success of your company, be they employees including management, Board, community, suppliers, outsourced entities, etc.

Parts of this blog post are excerpted from an article that originally appeared as part one of a two-part series in Steve Harrison’s Book Marketing Update print newsletter. Steve and his brother Bill are successful information marketers, who are also successful at staying on that higher ground that I so appreciate. I’m not an author yet, but when I am they will be the guys I will turn to for help.

My comments are in italics.

No matter which candidate you like (or dislike) in the current presidential race, one thing is obvious: Barack Obama is one heck of a marketer.

I will refrain from stating my political viewpoints here. This post is about using marketing skills to motivate.

Note that Obama is not selling a product (although he has made millions off his books). He is selling credibility; he seeks people to believe in him. Mostly his message is about change. McCain also is promoting change, but given that he is of the same part currently in leadership, it is a hard message to convey. There are a couple of take-aways here: First now may be the time in your organization to start an initiative. Stir things up to get onto a better track. Second, McCain is vastly different than the current leadership but many people aren’t well aware of that. A change initiative in your organization may be best spearheaded by someone who has not been “the leadership” of the past. This doesn’t mean you need to change your leadership. Consider who might be a natural leader who is not currently in the executive suite.

Think about it. Back in 2003, who would have thought back then that today the Democratic nominee for the highest office in the land would be someone who has yet to even serve a full term in the Senate?

See my comment above: for YOUR organization’s transition, consider who might be right to lead the charge.

He’s never been a mayor, governor or corporate executive. He’s never served in the military. He’s never led a large organization. He’s never drafted a landmark piece of legislation. Prior to now, he’d never run a national campaign. And he even admits to having used marijuana and cocaine!

The person leading your performance improvement (and/or risk management) initiative needs to be respected as a leader but may NOT have to be experienced in the subject of the initiative to be effective. They need to be competent. They do not have to be the most accomplished. Make sure he or she has very good support.

Of Steve’s “marketing” lessons, this one is most appropriate for us: Get feedback and act on it.

Most authors write a book and say, “I’m finished.”

Sound anything like a consulting firm report to you?!

But that’s not what Obama did. He did what Million Dollar Authors do. He knew once his manuscript was finished his real job had only just begun. Obama sent several dozen drafts of his second book “The Audacity of Hope” to friends, media, and legislators and followed up with them and asked them for feedback.

My recommendation is to incorporate many points of feedback, and use a format that is easily re-iterated or adjusted for that feedback. Not only do people want to have a voice, people knowing they are listened to can do wonders for your ability to get what you expect. Also, words (feedback, analysis, footnotes, etc.) helps makes sense of numbers; we all need this to make the best decisions and take the best actions.

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