Obama's Lesson for IT, Marketers


Obama campaign pushes text messaging before his acceptance speech, once again highlighting his team's tech- and marketing-savvy. Are CIOs, marketers paying attention? As my talented colleague Ed Cone pointed out last year, the 2008 presidential race truly is the first Internet campaign.

But it's bigger than that: there are big lessons to be learned by CIOs, marketers and business executives from Obama's tech prowess.

Witness last night in Denver, as Obama prepared to give his acceptance speech before 84,000 or so fans:

''We're going to do some work,'' Obama's Colorado director Ray Rivera announced, calling on the crowd to pull out their phones and send a message to the Obama text code. With some nimbly and others clumsily thumbing, the map lit up with the home states of the message senders.

The call to action inspired 62-year-old Connie Zuckschwerdt, a Michigan delegate from Corunna, to send her first text message. But it took the help of the Blackberry-wielding delegate next to her to get it done.

''That's it. ... Push send,'' said Kathy McAttee, 41, a delegate from DeWitt, Mich. ''You just sent your first text message. Yay!''

An hour later, Rivera announced 30,000 messages had been received by the campaign.

But the seemingly light-hearted, fun overture had an ulterior motive: to register more people so the campaign could solicit funds from them. And now they're on the e-mail list.

Talk about the new generation of direct marketing.

Obama has become a brand—a brand with millions of enthusiasts. The campaign's intense outreach through e-mail, text messaging and social networking have made sure people engage in it and stick with it.

Now, the question is, can brand marketers and CIOs figure out how to mimic that for their products/services?


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