zaterdag 4 april 2009

embrace what you preach: Michelle Obama vs Balkenende

Amazing footage about the Obama family in Europe. Not only does the President receive kisses from French women, 'mom' Michelle gives every pupil a hug after a speech in a London high school. It's the emotional flip-side from being president 2 0.

one more time: Obamanomics

Imagine Balkenende (Dutch prime minister and known for talking about high moral values and for acting in public a little bit stiff) standing before a classroom and telling: you should always try to have A grades. Always work hard. Never skipp a class. I adore being smart, and so should you. I'm the example that by working hard, you can achieve anything. I bet that the video about that speech will be a smash hit on You Tube, but not for the right reasons. It's a conservative, old school old style message which will only be welcomed by an older conservative audience.

It's not a technique, it's an emotion

But it's exactly the same message that Michelle Obama delivered to a school audience in London. What she added was that she was able to achieve success because she was surrounded by strong and caring women, family, neighbours, friends who encouraged her. The Obama's always have message and emotions in sync. And the bottom line is: if you want to connect, exchange and dialogue with the people in your network (can you name someone who has a greater emotional network on earth than Obama?) your emotions should be genuine. If you can't, don't talk. So the first lady embraces all the students. I don't think it was preconceived, look at the reaction of security in this footage.

Web 2 0: don't forget it's about emotions

In this connecting world, you follow and you are followed. You can't say one thing one day and the opposite the next, without your network reacting on that. For better or for worse, you should be genuine. You should be honest (yes, admit if you're wrong and tell why and how. People may forgive you). And you should be transparant. that's true for people and it's even more true for companies. Have a look at Glassdoor.com. When employees get a platform where they can post their salary and their opinion about management, how can you still think that you as a marketeer can 'build' the image of your company? Who will people believe? Your smart recruitment ad or the opinion of people who work there?

Persona vs persons

Web usability gurus talk about 'persona': different profiles with specific demographic, needs and interests characteristics. These 'persona' don't really exist, they are just constructions to help website architects to design flows and content for real persons who more or less behave like these persona, to find their way throughout the site. Typically, persona are constructed by market research.

The key difference between persona and real persons is that persons are real. It's as simple as that. And you can't connect to constructions. It's fake vs real. Companies should stop to behave like persona and act like persons. Building a brand is constructing a 'persona' of yourself. And if that profile you are constructing has no connection with what you do and what you sell, you become fake. Exit your company, exit your brand and exit your connectivity.

Your brand is a commitment to what you're selling

I don't think that marketeers are powerless or useless, even if consumers determine how you are perceived as a brand. You still have to compose the promise of what you're going to offer, and communicate about that. I'm going to give you access to all information for free (Google), I'm going to make it possible for you to connect with other people regardless of time or distance (Facebook), I'm going to give you products that exceed each time your expectations and are so beautiful designed that your friends will be jealous (Apple). A commitment is an emotion, an act of will. If you stay consistent with that, people will connect to you. And they will be willing to pay in one way or another, as long as you keep your promise. Even if your promise is free of charge (Google is free of charge, but you are willing to look at the ads and you are willing to pay for a high-speed on line connection. In one way or another, you pay for free).

Back to the Obama's. And a bit of Hillary too.

I like Mrs. Clinton. Read her biography. Hoped at some point that she would get the nomination and become president. I think she's a very smart woman. But look at her waving like a scarecrow, not really knowing how to react spontaneously to the genuine enthusiasm of French people (remember, the French, those people who said no to the US about going to war in Iraq). She's not only discovering what life is about in Obama world. She's discovering as well why she lost the elections.

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