As George W said in a press conference yesterday, the Republicans got a thumping. But I don’t think it’s a big stretch to say it was really Bush who got the thumping. The problem was he wasn’t running for reelection, so the voters had to take their unhappiness out on the nearest link – other Republicans.
What marketing lessons can we take away from this? There are probably plenty, but I’ll take a stab at a few:
Your Biggest Enemy Is You
After George W won reelection in 2004 by a whopping 3% of the popular vote, he declared, "I’ve been given a lot of political capital, and I intend to spend it." We need to be very careful about how we interpret our success and our relationship with our customers.
Don’t Stop Listening To Your Customers
After 9/11, Bush said to the nation, "I hear you." After the election, he said, "I hear you." What happened in between? Apparently, the voters think he wasn’t listening. That’s a big mistake.
Keep Your Promises
After 9/11, Bush declared war on Osama Bin-Laden. When he switched focus to Saddam Hussein and Iraq, a lot of people were unhappy. That’s another big mistake.
Don’t Start Believing Your Press Releases
Despite the unhappiness of the American people toward the war in Iraq, Bush believed his way was the only path to take. His mantra, "We’re staying the course," showed an unwillingness to consider he might be wrong.
I could probably list a few others, but I’d probably run the danger of crossing into a political discussion. I’m not interested in that. I’m just trying to look at any marketing lessons we can pick up from a President who went from a 90% approval rating just after 9/11 to 38% just before the recent elections.
What lessons do you think we might learn?