October 20, 2009

There Was No You In Olympics

Who would have thought that savvy Barack Obama would make such an obvious mistake?

We've admired the way in which the US President has made politics more inclusive again, so naturally we were surprised when he and Michelle ignored one of the basic rules of marketing and missed the 'you' in Olympics during their recent pitch to the IOC in Copenhagen.

The always-engaging Denny Hatch writes in his Business Common Sense that "the president and first lady went to Copenhagen and gave little speeches about themselves. She used the first person singular pronoun in some form or other 34 times in 16 paragraphs. He used it 23 times in 13 paragraphs."

Now I don't know enough about the cut and thrust of Olympic Committee voting to be sure that the Obamas' failure to put the 'you' into their pitch was the tipping point but it certainly can't have helped matters and may explain why voters resisted their legendary charms and dumped Chicago out on the first count.

Hatch quotes Seattle guru as saying, "The prospect doesn't give a damn about you, your company or your product. All that matters is, 'What's in it for me?'"

The Obamas wasted a lot of time telling the Committee what was in it for the Obamas and missed the opportunity that the Brazilian President seized with both hands to make it all about what bringing the Games to Rio would mean both to the Olympic movement and to the world.

Now Obama has shown his ability to learn from mistakes in the past, so is unlikely to make it all about 'me' in the future, but reading about his gaffe sent me scurrying to check whether my own recent messages to prospects made it all about them or - perhaps fatally - all about me.

Over To You (yes, you!): Have you been subjected to a pitch lately that's been all about the seller and only incidentally about you?

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