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What Businesses Can Learn from the Obama Presidential Campaign


For his 2012 re-election, President Obama raised a billion dollars for his campaign. This has sparked a need within business to learn how Obama accomplished this task and won his re-election. The line between business and politics is thin and blurry. The methods used in both are increasingly similar, making political campaigning and business practices one in the same. So what can businesses learn from President Obama? Quite a lot actually.

Staffing is Key

In business your business is only as good as those you employ. Politics are no different. The first thing Obama did when ramping up for his campaign was hiring the best. In a call to David Axelrod, Obama asked “Who are the young geniuses? We want to find out if we can hire them.” Obama could have easily gone with the well-known campaign staff who would get the job done, yet instead, he chose new blood that would bring a fresh perspective in today’s marketing structure.

As campaigning strategies of the past are now null and void, a new strategy was needed to reach out in ways that society now receives their information. Through social media and online outreach, political campaigning is the same as any other advertising campaign. To reach the most supporters, you must reach them through their preferred outlets. For that, Obama needed staff that understood today’s marketing methods and can achieve the success through online marketing he wanted.

Building Relationships

The past of political and advertising campaigns was merely to talk at their target demographics to introduce an idea or product. Today, social networking, blogs, and forums have caused messages to be socialized. Rather than talking at the audience, marketing requires talking with the audience. By sparking debate, answering questions and gaining support, your message or product has an increased chance of succeeding. Today’s society is more inclined to gather data and review products and services rather than impulse buying. This creates a need to build relationships with your customers or supporters, rather than throw an idea out there and hope it sticks.

Presidential Obama

Obama saw the need to reach out and converse with the public, organizations, and fundraisers. The campaign used many different outlets to not just send their message out, but to spark conversation. Erica Sackin, the digital outreach lead, saw the overlap between traditional  journalists, online constituents, and those in between. By reaching out to progressive bloggers, people on Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook, they built relationships to those with an influential online presence. However, the main focus of the outreach was not just get the message out, but to build relationships and dialogue that would spark more influence to the readers and followers of these influential outlets.

As marketers know the importance of online presence, many fail to develop the flow or process to use it properly. In the beginning of the online marketing strategy, simply creating an online presence, advertisements, and plastering your product online was enough. Now conversing with those who hold the higher online influence and gaining their support is as important as your sale. Today’s consumers hold a higher value within those who have proven themselves as an authoritative entity within a given market, rather than responding instantly to an advertisement or commercial. Building relationships with the right online outlet should be the focus of all businesses.

Proper Use of Adaptive Marketing

Technology and social outreach has made leaps and bounds during Obama’s previous term as President. Therefore, his new campaign needed to use the evolved technology to create a process for adaptive marketing. You may have run across several different polls, Tweets, Facebook updates, etc, during or after a debate or speech that enticed you to comment. This data was quickly used to gauge responses to what was said, what sentence had the greatest impact and whether or not a speech needed to be tweaked. Those portions that worked were almost instantly included in online video ads and later moved to TV broadcasting.

Adaptive marketing allows instant changes to marketing outlets, advertising, and messages based on public  reaction. For business this can include anything from a product review, to a new commercial or online advertisement. As adaptive marketing increases in use, more companies should be creating a method for gathering data and personalizing advertising strategies based on your demographics reaction to each current marketing method.

Whether you are pining for supporters, gathering donors for a non-profit, or attempting to launch a new product, the line between politics and business is becoming less prevalent. By taking a lesson from Obama’s re-election, businesses can learn how social media, building relationships and utilizing adaptive marketing can increase and personalize campaigns based on consumer response and social needs.

Jena Daniels is a marketing blogger for big business. If you are interested in learning more about today’s  marketing strategies, Pepperdine University offers courses to increase your knowledge.

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