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What the Presidential Campaign Can Teach Us About Magazine Ad Sales

A likeability lesson.

Josh Gordon By Josh Gordon
03/03/2008 -16:53 PM

Hillary Clinton, behind in delegates and the polls for the Democratic Presidential nomination, is taking the offensive. Shown here taking to task a Barack Obama campaign brochure she claims spreads misinformation about her health care program. How will voters react?

Voters will react as they always do; ignoring criticism about people they like and embracing it against people they don't.

It is easy to forget that few American Presidents were more widely criticized than Ronald Reagan, but it all just slid off the likable "Teflon President" without a scratch. The minimally-funded Swift Boat attacks of the 2004 Presidential election stuck to John Kerry like glue who many demonized having criticized American Vietnam policy, and seemingly to many, the troops as well.

Hilary's case will stick not on merit, but on how likable voters perceive her Vs. Obama to be. Judging by how well her campaign's "plagiarism" criticism stuck last week I would guess not well.

On your next sales call, you may think that being likable is not so important. After all, we now sell in the measurable world of digital media. Aren't results more important than everything?

Think again. On the surface your clients are rational business people, but when criticism flys people are more likely to evaluate on the emotional side. They will ask, "Do I like them? Do I trust them?" The next time something goes wrong (and something always does), how much sticks to you will depend on how well-liked you and your organization are.


Josh Gordon By Josh Gordon -- Josh Gordon is president of Smarter Media where he works with publishers to maximize their online and print revenue through training, consulting, and representation.

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