Election 2012: The Great NLP Marketing Test

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Back in the 1960's, two professors at U.C. Berkeley, Richard Bandler and John Grinder, invented a new discipline: the Science of How People Think and Communicate. They called it Neuro Linguistic Programming.

It was considered esoteric and few in marketing or business paid much attention to it until Anthony Robbins came along and made it palatable and usable for the masses in "Unlimited Power" back in the mid 1980's.

One major discovery to come from NLP, as it is popularly known, is the various learning modalities in which people process, give, receive, and store information. These modalities are sensory channels or pathways through which individuals communicate and learn: Visually (via pictures/diagrams and reading), Auditory (by listening), or Kinesthetically (experiential or being shown).

Many of us suffered through teachers standing in front of a room rambling on in a monotone voice and occasionally using the chalk board. No wonder my grades suffered! Wish my folks were alive so I could use that excuse on them.

Some of my earliest memories were of playing board games with Dad, who would have to read the instructions and explain and show me how the game worked, although I was reading at a very early age. This indicated all the way back then that I learned best kinesthetically. Newt Becker helped me pass the CPA Exam by showing me how...

Today, my wife prepares her 4th grade lessons involving students in every way possible, so she can most effectively get her message into their little brains.

NLP says communication (and learning) consists of 3 basic ways:

  • Visually - about 38% of communicating the message
  • Auditory - about 7% of communication
  • Kinesthetically - about 55% of communication

Thus, 93% of our communication is non-verbal, but rather how we speak, look and act not the words we say.

Of course, marketers and Madison Avenue glommed unto NLP to most effectively pitch their products

Visual people tend to pay a great deal of attention to how they look, how their offices and home are decorated. Auditory people listen to CD's or podcasts on the way to work, and say things like, "I hear what you are saying." Kinesthetic people are best sold by demonstrating your product; this is one reason social marketing works so effectively where people are paid to go to bars, parties and events and share their latest phone, electronic gizmo or makeup.

Thinking back to 2008, Mr. Obama looked and acted the part of political healer and post-partisan president of all of us. Other than Hope and Change, what did he say? And what did it mean? Mr. Obama was brilliantly marketed (there was an Obama Channel, the Obama song, the Obama logo, his "cool" clothing, his simple message repeatedly consistently, etc.).

The Obama campaign has thus far consisted of saying bad things about Messrs. Romney and Ryan (7% of communication). To most independents, President Obama has little track to run on considering the state of the economy (results and things people can see or 93% of communication), the threat of a nuclear middle east and 16% or the adult electorate either unemployed or underemployed or have simply given up on looking for work.

Where I live there are so many vacant store fronts that it reminds me of the Depression my Dad spoke of. Think of the optics of 5,000 people showing up for a few hundred jobs at a McDonalds job fair, or even the Occupy Wall Street movement where thousands of people wanted to know where the jobs were.

Therefore, 2012 will be a great test of the NLP discipline. Will Mr. Obama's commercials and words saying bad things about his competitors and their plans win out or will visuals of a boring, but presidential-looking Mr. Romney and a lifetime of experience and successes sway the voting masses? Will the results of Mr. Obama's first term matter, or sweet sounding words of what his future of America holds? (Keep your nasty emails to yourself; I am an apolitical observer and marketing consultant).

Allan S. Boress, CPA, FCPA is the author of 12 published books on marketing, selling and managing the business development process for CPAs. He has consulted with over 500 professional firm and trained over 200,000 professionals since 1980. His "I-Hate-Selling" methodology is available at www.ihateselling.com


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