Nancy Pelosi
Marketing Tips & Tricks

Presentation of Bailout Plan Defies Cardinal Rule of Marketing

By Gretel Going

September 30, 2008

When Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that Congress had devised a 100-page bailout plan on Sunday evening, she made one grave mistake that no doubt made savvy marketers everywhere cringe: Pelosi, caught up in talking about the steps taken by Congress (her company), forgot to talk about how the plan would benefit mainstream Americans (consumers). And as such, Americans weren’t sold on the plan. This isn’t surprising.

Of course, Pelosi was not alone in this. She was one of many messengers who didn’t deliver an effective message as to how this would help the average American (Paulson and Bush being two others that immediately come to mind). In fact, while the plan may indeed be a necessary evil, the first person to give us any details as to how it would directly affect us was Jim Cramer on The Today Show Monday morning.

Consumers don’t want to hear a glory rant about your capabilities or the nitty gritty details of your CEO’s past accomplishments, nor do they want to read a 100-page description of your services; they want to know how you can help them:

How can you solve my problem? What resources are you offering me? You’ve given me no reason to trust you yet, so why should I ? Even more, sometimes the consumer doesn’t even know what his/her problem is. That’s something you’ll also need to define. In the case of Pelosi and congress, they did neither.

What could Pelosi and the rest of congress learn from smart marketers next time they want the public to support a new bill (or anything else they say for that matter)?

If you only talk about yourself, no one will listen.
Joe Pulizzi over at the Junta42 blog explains it like this: So many times businesses want to talk about their products and services, or position one of their executives as an expert. That’s all fine and good, but if your communications do not meet the informational needs of the individual, they’ll be ignored.

You must tell your story and it must be authentic.Story Worldwide
I’m not sure what Pelosi meant when she declared the following, but to me it seemed highly ironic if not a complete lie. Here’s what she said: “Our message to Wall Street is this: the party is over. The era of golden parachutes for high-flying Wall Street operators is over. No longer will the US taxpayer bail out the recklessness of Wall Street. The taxpayers who bear the risk in this recovery must share in the upside as the economy recovers.”

Here’s what I heard: “We’re bailing out Wall Street which sends a clear-as-day message that we’re not going to bail out Wall Street.”

Huh? My mind translates assertions such as this in one of two ways: True. Not true. And I highly doubt I’m alone on this. Why waste your breath? Why not use the same amount of time to tell us something relevant about the plan?

When pitching new business, you have to cater to the fears and problems of your prospect.
Tom Searcy, who teaches his SMB clients how to land disproportionately larger accounts, could give Pelosi a lesson on how to deliver her message a whole lot more effectively by first figuring out what fears the American public has in relation to this plan and an economic downturn, and second, how this plan could quell those fears. Problem solved.

Bottom line: if politicians weren’t so busy talking about themselves, they could probably learn a lot from what their constituencies are saying.

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