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July 13, 2012


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C.C. Chapman

WELL said David and of course any leader could learn from this conversation and I hope they do rather then starting a political debate.

Once again, great job on newsjacking.

David Meerman Scott

Thanks C.C. And as you will have seen, I also managed to squeeze in a reference to Content Marketing!

Jared Proctor

Smart analogy, David. I'm amazed how smart people/companies forget what made them successful. They reach the "top" and stop pushing. Marketing is viewed as a revenue suck, unworthy of resources or attention. "I can't measure ROI and if it can't be quantified, it's not worth it."

But with digital media becoming more ubiquitous, attention spans and product cycles are shortening. This makes effective storytelling that much more important. And if you stall-- trying to quantify this--you perish (or don't get re-elected).

David Meerman Scott

Well said, Jared. Many thanks for jumping in!

Eric Wholley

I like how you explicitly put your observations in a business and marketing context. Politics - particularly the top national office - is many things, not the least of which is very high profile.

That gives us a wonderful opportunity to have a steady stream of marketing and communications lessons that we each can apply to our marketing practices and decision-making.

It's within that same technical perspective that I share my own sentiment - it's a shame that Obama, who right from the start, blew us all away with his campaign's command of social media, mobile marketing, and tribe-building [especially has his camp successfully integrated those tactics with live events very early-on], fell so short in the ways you outlined.

Evidently, product isn't everything. Perception is - and a president should know that.

Great post, as always!

Colin Warwick

Thanks, David. I have to agree. Obama was a great communicator in the 2008 election, but it seems we got radio silence after election day. He was the same person on November 4, 2008 as November 5, 2008, so what do you think happened? What would cause a communication break down like that?

Alice Chen

Great article, David. I learned a lot about communication. Thanks for the information.


Communication is an integral key whether your in politics or in marketing and I'm just glad that you were able to emphasize its significance in our Society. Great post!

David Meerman Scott

Eric - Thanks for stopping by! How have you been? It has been a while. Yes, it is a shame that the president didn't continue his awesome communications once he was in the job. But at least we know that he recognizes the fault.

Colin - I think it was just as he said in his answer. Like many CEOs, he thought his job was to focus on policy only and not to communicate.

Alice & Andre - Many thanks for taking the time to comment.

Beverly Jernigan

Any CEO would have been fired by now if they had done as dismal of job as Obama and not just for his communication style, but failure to do the job for which he was hired.


ALL Obama did was communicate.

It's ironic that he chose to say his job was "...to tell a STORY to the American people". What he forgot was that his primary job was to tell the American people the TRUTH.

If he would have spent less time force feeding Americans an ideological story, and more time just telling the truth, no one would be questioning his ability to communicate with the American people. He is every bit as eloquent as he is duplicitous, but his eloquence faded as his deception became more apparent.

I think the better lesson to take home from his presidency is one of substance over style when it comes to communication...and nothing is more substantive than the truth.


Those of us who support Obama have pulled our collective hair out at his messaging. Here and there he tells a story that clicks and resonates. Most of the time he sounds wonky and academic, and his points don't quite hit the mark the way they could.

The clamor on the left for him to shift his messaging appeared to fall on deaf ears. For a basic business analogy: No business, no matter how successful, can ever afford to ignore its customers.

Apple--the richest company on earth--is a case in point: yesterday it decided to rejoin the EPEAT green standards program, after a hue and cry across the spectrum when it pulled out about a week ago. The company even admitted its mistake in a letter to the public: http://bit.ly/PVHB5j

We send messages with words; we also send messages with actions. My take-home: always listen to those who are affected by what you say and do, and especially to those who support you.

John Kratz

Very astute commentary. Keen insight in many of the posted comments.
I give Obama credit for at least knowing his storytelling is not resonating.
( I do not plan on voting for him)
One definition of story is "facts wrapped in emotion." People buy based on emotions and justify those decisions with logic and reason! As one of my mentors used to say:
"Logic and reason rides in on the horse of emotion!"
In my humble opinion neither party has decent storytelling integrated in their messaging.
My prediction: Who ever crafts the best story architecture around the economy and healthcare reform will win the next election.

Lisa Hirsh

David, your post doesn’t differentiate between communication and product.

President Obama tells plenty of stories that clearly articulate what he believes and go beyond policy wonk monologues.

Marketing has to tell a good story, but it ultimately has to help sell more products or services. Buyers go beyond marketers’ stories to decide if the actual product is excellent, solves their problems, saves or makes money, and improves their organization.

Marketers absolutely should craft great stories and content marketing. However, if the buyer doesn’t need or like the product, or believes it’s inferior or doesn't solve his/her problems or make life better, the story will not always sell the product, regardless. This is especially true in our bad economy.

It’s not just the message and how it’s told. It’s not just the buyer’s perception of the product. It’s also the effectiveness and quality of the product, if the buyer likes, wants or needs it, and if the product generates good results.

President Obama’s buyers are American citizens. His products/services are his administration’s ideologies and policies. Many of his buyers are intelligent and understand exactly what he’s selling.

To an increasing number of Americans – the buyers, who matter most - the real failure isn’t President Obama’s story telling, or how he communicates, or how he defines his failures. To them, President Obama’s failures are his ideas, policies and solutions and the results they create.

President Obama was better on the campaign trail because as a candidate he wasn’t shipping tangible product. Now he does have a product, and a marketing problem, because he’s trying to move a product many people don’t like or want.


Thanks for the video, I will repost as my blog post. Markets are conversations. We need to do it everyday.

I am reading a book for How to Hug Your Customer by Jack Mitchell. Jack tells us that we need to have conversation with our customers regardless what position you hold in a company. CEO, CFO, GM, Executive, etc. The whole company need to have great communication with customers.


I would add one more lesson to your original 10 Marketing lessons - do not let others take control of your message.


I guess it's true that whether you're a blogger, CEO, or the president of the United States, communication is one of the most important things. I expected much more from Obama communication-wise as president as a candidate who was great at articulation and storyelling. Just like Colin Warwick asked, what happened between November 4 and 5 2008?

It will be interesting to watch this election and see whose communication skills shine. I think that telling a compelling story will be the most enticing element to get voters to the booths. Right now, it's anyone's ball game.

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