September 25, 2008

How NOT to Market a $700 Billion Bailout Package

Price Tag: $700 Billion

What You Get: Unclear

This is not a great way to market a $700 billion bailout package. Wall Street is in turmoil. Much of Paulson's bailout proposal has merit based on what I learned about Economics at Stanford University.

BUT, how the proposal was communicated to the average person on the street was terrible.

Here are several tips for how this bailout could have been marketed differently:

1) CHOOSE YOUR WORDS CAREFULLY. Don't call it a bailout. Bailout implies the average person is paying for someone else's mistake. That's not a benefit to most people regardless of the price.  Something like a "Credit Availability Program" (made that up off the top of my head) would be much better…which leads me to my next point.

2) EXPLAIN THE BENEFIT. You have to explain to your audience what they get for their money. As it relates to the "Credit Availability Program", something like this would make sense:

"We're going to invest up to $700 billion to make sure credit continues to be available to American consumers and businesses.

Without the availability of credit in our economy, many parts of our economy would grind to a halt. Without car loans, the US auto industry would shrink in half overnight. If your employer's customers can no longer use credit cards, fewer will buy–leading to layoffs."

3) CREDIBILITY. In President Bush's prime time address, he explained what the bailout would mean to the average person. He warned of the major negative impact it would have on the economy if the bailout package did not pass. BUT, the problem is even though he is right (this time), few people believed him. He had already blown his credibility on the whole Weapons of Mass Destruction argument for the Iraq war.

The fact that he's actually right this time, is almost irrelevant.  Let's face it economics is a pretty abstract topic. There's nothing to see, hear, or touch–it's just an idea. When you're in the business of selling an economic program, all you're really doing is selling an idea.

When it comes to selling an idea, the "sale" starts with selling yourself–first.  Then if your audience believes in you, they will consider what you have to offer with an open mind.

Incidentally, this is why I originally developed the Bookmercial as a way to give myself (and now clients) a serious credibility boost in sales and marketing activities. I've found my own Bookmercial to be a very effective tool in establishing credibility with the media and with prospective clients.

In the case example above, even if you did the first two steps: 1) Choose your words carefully, and 2) Explain the benefit, without credibility your effectiveness gets blunted.

Spread the Word!

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Filed under Marketing Credibility, Marketing Fundamentals by Victor Cheng

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