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What Car Dealers Can Learn from Obama's Campaign.


Consider who Obama was going up against; a Veteran, a Maverick, the old trusty Ford that has been turning it's wheels for a long time.

To me it resembles the dealer down the road that has been around for over 30 years, sorta doing the same thing over and over. They're not a bad dealer, maybe family owned, their reputation is average to above but their customer base has slowly dwindled. Their marketing and lack of consistency no longer speaks to today's consumer.

America has changed over the last 12 months. For the first time in our History we are about to have our first Black President. A true symbol of shift and adjustment across our land.

We have seen a shift in our business as well. This shift has been taking place for some time now. And of course with the economic status, we have seen a deeper change over the last 8-10 months.

As maybe a lesson for dealers (us); Is there anything we can learn from a Presidential Campaign that will mold into the history books.

1. Have a Clear and Simple Message.

Obama's message was clear and precise. "Change". He treasured the weakness of his opponent/s and voiced a message [slogan] that resonated with the majority. A simple message for simple Americans, a message that we all wanted to hear.

2. Keep Consistent

Obama was consistent with his message and process. He found his message early and stayed true to it, never letting off. There was no going back to the drawing board in a relentless search for the magic bullet.

3. Brand Yourself (like a rockstar)

Obama's logo, slogan, understanding of social media and technology were considered flawless. Obama become a brand while also becoming an effective force across America. His brand and persona helped fuel his strategy.

4. Perfect your Marketing Mix

Obama and his campaign team was able to fully leverage every avenue of marketing. From traditional to online marketing, his consistent message was heard abroad. They had a true understanding of Web 2.0 and was able to touch, embrace and engage voters across America using social-media channels.

5. Build Raving Fans

Using the tools of Web 2.0, Obama was able to build a pure fan base across all 50 states. This empowered him to plant and mobilize raving fans in amongst the competition. He harnessed the power of today's online social word of mouth, recognizing it's impact of immenseness.

Dig deep into underlying characteristics that has fueled Obamas success. He was able to create a passionate audience by speaking, engaging and listening to the people. He had a process, a message that became apart of his "brand" and image.

What is your dealers message, what is your dealers brand, are you truly engaging with your customers?

I didn't vote for Obama, but I have a full understanding why so many Americans did and now that he is going to be our President he has my full support (unless he effs it up of course).

Your thoughts..

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Comment by Mark Dubis on December 6, 2008 at 8:52am
Many of Jeff's comments are also applicable to the Detroit Three as well as to dealerships. The Detroit OEM's lost their focus of who their customers was, what their customer wanted, and stopped innovating. All items that led to major loss in market share.

A local dealer here in the Cleveland area has commercials on TV telling consumers to buy American Cars. He talks about our economic issues and that buying a vehicle from GM, Ford or Chrysler will help our country. Obviously he has lost touch with his customers and what motivates them to buy.

The reality in the market is that consumers view an Accord made in Marysville, OH, a Toyota Camry made in Kentucky, an Altima made in Tennessee and a Subaru made in Indiana as American vehicles made by American workers. Consumers want value for their dollar and a quality product. Other than a small segment of Baby Boomers, the American public doesn't care where a product is made. If they perceive a product is priced right, has the right cache or is what they want. . . they will buy it.

Domestic dealers currently have the best product and highest quality vehicles ever produced by the Detroit 3, but because they have not responded to what their customers really want and haven't honed a clear marketing strategy they are not making the consideration list of many auto shoppers. If they can find a way to get consumers in the door to test drive Chevy Malibu's, Ford Fusion's and Lincoln MKS's they will sell more vehicles.

Dealers, industry experts, writers and others have been saying for years that if you build "cooler" more "hip" and appealing vehicles, American consumers will start buying them. Until then I will continue saying my prayers every day that GM, Ford and Chrysler find a way to survive, smarten up and start listening to the people. It worked for Barack it can work for them.
Comment by Ralph Paglia on November 10, 2008 at 6:16am
I agree with both Jeff and Kim... Not only was Barack Obama's marketing campaign at the top of the game, but he managed to transform his message from a promotional icon to the full status of a genuine "Movement". I have always been politically inclined towards fiscal conservativeness and am more Libertarian in ideals than Republican, but on Tuesday evening I went with my wife to the Orpheum Theater in Flagstaff, AZ to attend an election night big-screen event, which was sponsored by the Barack Obama campaign... In a state he knew he would lose. The event was over the top, the place was standing room only and when CNN made their projection that Obama had won the presidency, the celebration made the best NADA parties look mild in comparison... It was impossible not to get caught up in all the fervor, and before I knew it, my wife and I were grabbed by an Obama activist and she was soon standing to the right of Congresswoman Anne Kirkpatrick as a speech was being made... I placed myself just out of camera shot behind the big screen next to the stage and was happy to be taking photos from back stage and not be seen by all my Republican dealer friends in AZ!!!

Anyways, I also agree with Jeff in giving my wholehearted support to our new president, and I am actually very pleased that Obama was elected... My primary concern is the economy and that we start selling more cars and trucks again, and I believe Obama is very focused. Like Obama, I NEVER agreed with the decision to invade Iraq for financial reasons, unless we would have taken oil in exchange for the costs of liberating the Iraqi people. In my opinion, the record federal budget deficits and the money we all spent paying for the onvasion and occupation of a country that had NEVER been even the remotest threat to the USA was a contributing factor to our current economic debacle... And, if WMD's were ever actually a good reason to invade a country, how come we haven't plundered North Korea or Iran? It seems to me that electing Obama also puts the rest of the world on notice that the USA understands the fiscal and political foolishness of the Bush era and we now intend to chart a different course... Yes we can!

Anyways, here's a poster done by an Obama campaign volunteer, that is amongst hundreds like it... ALSO, in case you haven't noticed, the Obama campaign won the 2008 Marketing Campaign of the Year Award by Advertising Age and Creativity Magazines, published by the same company that publishes Automotive News.


Here's a few from Elizabeth and Ralph's great adventure on Election night 2008:






Comment by Kim Clouse on November 9, 2008 at 9:12pm
It was the best marketing campaign in history. Very well structured and calculated.

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