Successful advocacy and messaging campaigns magnify your strengths and emphasize how your strengths set you apart from your competition (your, ahem, differentiator…but we digress).
That brings us to Elizabeth Warren’s widely panned Presidential campaign kickoff video.
Let’s unpack the first 30 seconds or so, because that’s about all the time you get to make an impression on social media these days.
We are off to a good start. Warren is in her kitchen, alone with the camera. She’s thanking the viewer for joining her and asks us to “hold on a sec.” Interesting. She has our attention.
“I’m gonna get me a beer.”
Aaaand it runs off the tracks in a hurry.
“Hey! Come over! My husband Bruce is now in here. Ummm, you want a beer?”
Whoa. Say what?
“No, I’m gonna pass on the beer for now.”
OUCH! Her husband doesn’t even want to drink a beer with her. Maybe because he really didn’t want a beer. More likely, he was alarmed by the question because he can count on one finger the number of times Professor Warren has asked him to join her for a beer in the kitchen. The whole interaction is obviously staged, painfully forced, and completely out of character.
Here’s the lesson: Don’t try to make a trait you don’t possess your differentiator.
Elizabeth Warren is a lot of things, but she isn’t the gal or guy who is going to win the Democratic primary for president because she’s fun to drink a beer with. Likability is not her differentiator.
Warren has earned a reputation as a strong, no-nonsense woman who isn’t afraid of anything or anyone and will stand up and fight for what she believes. Whether you like her or not, you better respect her. THAT is her differentiator.
And it’s a differentiator that could (and might still if this episode didn’t irreparably damage her chances – remember “Oops!”?) take her a long way in a crowded 2020 primary. The Democratic base is aching for a fighter to take it to the President. They’re steaming. They want to, well, open up a can on Donald Trump.
Instead of trying to produce their own version of Beto’s now-famous cooking show, maybe Warren’s advisers should have channeled something a little stronger (sans cutoff t-shirt and pouring Natural Light all over herself):
Imagine it this way.
“Hi everyone. Thanks for joining me tonight. Hang on a sec…”
“…Bruce, grab me a beer.”
“Honey, sit down, let me tell you how we’re gonna put a stop to Donald Trump.”