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And The President Responded

By , November 21, 2012

A few days ago, I received an interesting letter in the mail. It came in a crisp, watermarked envelope. There was a bold seal embossed on the front. And the letter inside was signed by President Barack Obama.

Why would the President of the United Stated of America send me a personal letter? Simple – I asked him to.

A few weeks ago, in the midst of what proved to be a very heated presidential election campaign, I wrote letters to both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, asking them what they planned on doing to help small business owners in the coming four years. This week, I received a detailed response from President Obama. It arrived in the form of a lengthy three page letter, directly addressing my concerns and clearly detailing what his plans are to help America’s small businesses grow bigger.

Now before I go any further, keep one thing in mind – this article is not intended to focus on the candidates or their political views. Rather, it’s to highlight the important lessons that can be learned from the way Barack Obama ran his campaign, and ultimately, underscore the main reason why he was re-elected. And to show how the letter I received is proof of that. Here goes.

In the wake of Obama’s post-election victory, Time Magazine summed up the campaign’s winning factor: personalization.

Instead of focusing primarily on big media to reach multiple people at once, Obama’s grassroots campaign strategy focused on targeting one voter at a time. Volunteers took a more personal approach by manning offices across each state and county to connect with voters, knocking on doors and making heavy use of social media platforms like Facebook to engage undecided voters and shore up support.

Romney’s campaign seemed to look at the broader picture and set out to get votes in bulk. The one-on-one approach embraced by Obama was clearly not a strong part of the equation – so much so, that Romney heavily outspent Obama on traditional TV and radio ads in the hopes of mass marketing his message. And when the Romney campaign did attempt to reach voters in a more personalized manner, their messaging often seemed serious, distant and not very personal.

Case in point: I received numerous email blasts from both campaigns. While they were both written well, the emails from Obama’s campaign were penned in a personal, one-on-one tone that made me feel like I was the only person in the world receiving it. In fact, his campaign manager, Jim Messina, signed off each time with the word “Messina” – like I was a good ol’ buddy of his for years.

At the day’s end, it proved to be a tight race – but to many Americans, Mitt Romney appeared to be out of touch and just couldn’t give off that genuine, personal feeling that his opponent did.

So where does this leave us?

As business owners, it shows us the importance of communicating with customers in a truly personal way. Here are a few Ptex Practical Pointers to demonstrate how that can be accomplished.

Find Your Clients: Half of the targeted swing-state voters had no listed phone number because they owned unlisted cellular phones. The Obama campaign created a Facebook app that allowed supporters to upload their friend lists; the campaign then contacted these friends with materials that were recommended by people they knew personally. Copy this concept by encouraging clients to tell their friends about you, in person or via social media.

Get A Commitment: Volunteers asked would-be voters to sign an informal commitment to vote – on a small card with President Obama’s picture on it. This small, voluntary agreement amplified the likelihood that the person would follow through and vote. Try to get your clients to commit to something small, like signing up for a loyalty program to strengthen their allegiance.

Diversify Your Message: Don’t place your faith in only one type of marketing method to get your message across. Be sure to spread your name through as many different channels as possible. Romney placed a huge bet on TV and radio ads – but Obama realized that other mediums had to be utilized as well, and used them to his full advantage.

In all, there’s a lot to learn from this past presidential campaign.

But it really boils down to one simple thing: keeping things personal. And after receiving a highly-detailed, three page letter from the President of the United States meticulously addressing the concerns of a small business owner from Brooklyn named Meny Hoffman, that valuable lesson remains more obvious than ever.
Happy Thanksgiving,

Meny Hoffman
P.S. Yes, I realize that the actual letter-writing was probably done by a White House assistant, but that does not detract from the effect one bit.

P.P.S. Want to see the entire three page letter written by President Obama? Just reply to this email and I’ll send you a PDF copy to read for yourself.

Meny Hoffman

Meny Hoffman is the Chief Executive Officer of Ptex Group, an Inc. 500/5000-ranked marketing and business services firm headquartered in Brooklyn, NY.

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