OBAMA & MARKETING YOUR PRACTICE (Nov. 5, 2008)

Marketers are offering many lessons from Tuesday's election of Barack Obama.

Al Reis of Advertising Age says, "Obama owns the 'change' idea in voters' minds." And while Hillary Clinton and John McCain argued that they could do "change" better than Obama, being better never works in marketing, according to Reis. What works? Being different.

"The Obama campaign has a lot to teach the advertising community," Reis shares, and the campaign's success also has three clear lessons for financial advisors.

1. Simplicity. "Based on my experience, in the boardrooms of corporate America 'change' is an idea that is too simple to sell. Corporate executives are looking for advertising concepts that are 'clever.' For all the money being spent, corporate executives want something they couldn't have thought of themselves," explains Reis.

"Some ... slogans might be clever, some might be inspiring and some might be descriptive of the company's product line, but none will ever drive the company's business in the way that "change" drove the Obama campaign. They're not simple enough."

For advisors, this type of simplicity might relate best to financial issues through the use of words like protection, retirement, security, income, support, stability, dependability or advice.

2. Consistency. Companies try to "communicate" when they should really be trying instead to "position," the expert says.

"The only thing that works today is the BMW approach. Consistency, consistency, consistency -- over decades, if not longer."

Advisors should be able to share their performance and practice history with clients in a way that gets this consistence across. Testimonials from clients, referrals and team members can help.

3. Relevance. "By his relentless focus on change, Obama shifted the political battlefield," says Reis.

"As one marketing executive said: 'I look at it as something that we can all learn from as marketers. To see what he's done, to be able to create a social network [via the Internet] and do it in a way where it's created the tools to let people get engaged very easily. It's very easy for people to participate.' "

So, even though the markets are going crazy and the phone may be ringing off the hook, advisors need to make themselves, their team members, their opinions and their advice readily available. Using online tools, snail mail, lunch meetings, seminars, webcasts and other means should all be a part of such a plan.

Such strategies will made an advisor stand out as different, exactly what the average investor is eagerly looking for today.

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