Is Phil Angelides a better marketer than you are...?

Angelides, a democratic candidate for governor of California, is in the same position that his opponents are, he needs to find a way to reach the millions of young voters in his state. But at the urging of a young staffer, Angelides did something a bit unusual for a politician, much less a 52 year-old father of 3. He created a MySpace page.
Angelides' reaction when the move was suggested? "I'm like any other 52-year-old-guy, I said, 'What's MySpace?''.
In this case, MySpace is an invaluable tool for Angelides to reach young voters in his home state. A quick glance of the comments from his 'friends', which are now over 1200, shows the strategy is paying off big-time. Teens and twentysomethings frequently comment that Phil has their vote, and that they are telling all their friends to vote for Angelides as well.
This is what happens when you JOIN the community you are marketing to.
Angelides could have taken the traditional marketing paths to reaching young voters, he could have held youth rallys, voters registration drives, maybe sponsored a few concerts. But that's old-school. In today's Web 2.0 marketing world, you have to be a member of the same community that you are trying to reach. You have to use the same tools that your target community uses. You have to come to them, because THEY have the marketing leverage, not you.
While Angelides' opponents will no doubt employ many of the above tactics, hoping that the young voters will come to THEM, Angelides is interacting with these voters in THEIR space. Every day.
Because this is what the community expects. They now have more marketing control than ever before, and they know it. If companies aren't willing to share that control with customers, they will find ones that will. It's about being smart enough to understand where the community is headed, and then clearing a path for them. They will get to their destination regardless, we as marketers can either help them, or act shocked when they arrive at a point that we never saw coming.
Listening isn't the key. Understanding is. Understanding comes from communication, and communication starts when we are in a place that makes the interaction convenient for the customer. That place is their community.
Phil Angelides understands this. Do you?

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image of Mack Collier

Mack Collier is a social-media strategist based in Alabama. He helps companies build programs and initiatives that let them better connect with their customers and advocates. His podcast, The Fan-Damn-Tastic Marketing Show, discusses ways that brands can turn customers into fans. His first book, Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans, was published in April 2013 by McGraw-Hill.

Twitter: @MackCollier

LinkedIn: Mack Collier