Stopped at a red light in the cab ride to New York’s Penn Station this morning, a line of homeless people waiting for warm coffee and donuts chanted “Obaaaaama, Obaaaaama, Obaaaama.” Was the breakfast a gift from the Obama campaign to the folks of New York? Nope. Just another sign of the strong word-of-mouth marketing campaign Barack Obama has continued to lead in this year’s Presidential election.
Given the savvy viral marketing effort – social networking, text messages, etc. - that the Obama campaign has run, it’s no surprise Obama has dominated the word-of-mouth marketing space since bursting onto the scene. From the Democratic National Convention in Denver, CO to the day before the final election tomorrow, the Obama word-of-mouth marketing campaign has seeped into supporters (and opponents) everyday activity – and from what the surveys reveal early on, it seems like it’s working.
The success of Obama’s word-of-mouth marketing lies in the strategic decision of making it personal. Whether it be a viral Facebook message or personalized e-mails to registered voters, Obama campaigners know how to connect and make people feel part of a team. As we saw last week with the Phillies clinching of the World Series title, Philadelphia’s loyalty to their sports teams is unprecedented. And like those die-hard Phils fans, Obama’s supporters are no different. They’re spreading his message for change with the passion and enthusiasm of diehard Phillies’ fans. Every Obama supporter who chants his name on the streets (as witnessed by yours truly this morning) is just as important – if not more – than the million-dollar ad campaigns we’ve seen these past few months.
While McCain and Palin are busy putting out fires from the media maelstrom the coverage of McCain’s running mate has created, Obama’s campaign has been able to create evangelists of all sorts, spreading his message and garnering support in ways that traditional advertising and marketing cannot always accomplish.
As marketers, we can all learn a little something from the efficacy of word-of-mouth marketing that Obama’s campaign seems to have tied down. Not every situation calls for billboard, TV, radio and print. Philly, no doubt, knows the importance of creating loyal fans in their sports teams, and it’s safe to say that word-of-mouth marketing has never been a problem for the garrulous Philadelphians. Let’s see if Obama’s team succeeds as strongly.