Throughout the election, I’d planned on writing a post on marketing lessons but didn’t get around to it. Now that the election is over, this kind of analysis abounds, so rather than repeat it, I’ll offer this quick round up of some of the best, interspersed with my own commentary.
Steve Harrison of MillionDollarAuthorClub offers these six lessons which include not letting lack of credentials hold you back and For new grads fresh out of law school or lawyers who’ve never seen the inside of a courtroom, this messages ought to resonate.
So how did Obama manage to convince the public to give him a chance when he didn’t have the experience to back him up? First, he (like Sarah Palin) applied a principle known as repackaging or repurposing. Though neither had direct executive experience, or had spent much time in Washington D.C., they both managed to make a compelling case for why their experience in other contexts mattered. For Obama, his background as a community organizer enabled him to demonstrate an ability to lead and a committment to public service. For Palin, her executive experience as the governor of even a small state allowed her to portray herself as a seasoned decisionmaker, accustomed to being in charge. Even if you’re just out of law school, or spent the past five years reviewing documents, you likely have some experience that you can repackage. You could, for example, cite your law school experience working in a clinic to reassure that you’re comfortable dealing with clients and accustomed with their needs. If you’ve spent your time cite checking as the low man on a team of five other lawyers, you could explain that you’ve gained familiarity with how large firms work, which is why you’ll be so effective fighting against them. We are all an amalgamation of our past experiences, and you never know where something you’ve done in the distant past can make you more appealing to a client.
Strategic guru Seth Godin gives another great run down of lessons in this post. Godin’s post is actually one of the best I’ve seen because he doesn’t trash the McCain marketing machine, but rather, shows some of the campaign’s decisions as a risky venture that it couldn’t pull off. For example, Godin argues that in selecting Palin as a VP candidate, McCain tried to co-opt the conservative base of the party (or as Godin puts it, the Rove/Bush Tribe but the effort failed, raising the question of whether marketers should try to co-opt someone else’s tribe or create their own.
That’s another question that lawyers face. Do you reach out to new constituencies – e.g., by providing unbundled low cost legal services to clients who can’t afford more or targeting younger people who’ve never used a lawyer before. Or do you try to co-opt disatisfied clients — for example, targetting clients who’ve always preferred large firms by educating them about the benefits of independent practices.
Godin also explains why the attack ads launched against Obama didn’t work in this cycle: because “the tribe that Obama built identified with him. Attacking him was like attacking them.” That lesson — the idea of turning customers into loyal, raving fans, is also important for marketing your practice, because when clients love you, they’ll send you referrals.
Feel free to send your thoughts on the marketing lessons that you learned from the Election 2008.