Fred Thompson; Is He Changing His Tune? And How Does He Compare with Governor Mitt Romney? Before and After NextStage Analysis of Campaign Messaging Styles

[[updating lost posts in prep for Reading Virtual Minds Volume 2: Experience and Expectation]]

Frequent reader and correspondent WindKiller posed a question on the Senator Fred Thompson and the Marketing of a Presidential Hopeful: A NextStage Analysis of the Fred Thompson for President Homepage entry and I responded on that post and in a phone conversation that I’d get back to him on how much is encapsulated in NextStage’s Rich Personae (it’s now our PersonaScope and is included with Membership).

I wanted to do that by tying it to a before and after analysis of Senator Fred Thompson’s campaign site. It’s always fascinating to see how somebody changes their messaging after an announcement.

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The casual observer won’t notice much different between the site as it was on 1 Sept 07 (on the right) and how it appeared on both 5 Sept 07 and 6 Sept 07. That’s a good thing because in politics, it’s the positive and familiar that wins votes.

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This is the 5 Sept 07 homepage. There’s the naturally occuring changes in content that you’d expect on any high traffic site. Both the 1 Sept 07 and the 5 Sept 07 homepages are designed for the V8 Rich Personae.

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This is Senator Fred Thompson’s campaign site on 6 Sept 07. The changes are more obvious to the casual observer and again, you’d expect them to be after a major announcement. What is interesting to me is that the site is now using a V7 Rich Personae. This was the personae used by Governor Mitt Romney. It was Senator Thompson’s use of the V8 Rich Personae and its “You’re doing a good job. Let me show you something that might help you out.” versus Governor Romney’s V7 message’s “You’re doing it wrong, do it my way. It’s better.” that I thought would separate Senator Thompson from the pack.

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Before I forget, the other modification to Senator Thompson’s site is a new “prepage” before you get to what most would consider the real homepage. This is something we saw often during the 2004 campaigns. From a consumer perspective it’s not something I would encourage. This page, encountered before all others, essentially asks the visitor to buy the product before learning if the product is a good match for what ails them. The assumption on Senator Thompson’s staff may be that he’s so well known at this point that anybody coming to the site is coming to join. I’m not so sure. This page, by the way, is designed for a K7 Rich Personae, ie, it has a good, strong, emotional appeal. Just what you’d want if you thought people already knew about you and you wanted them to act in your behalf.

This gets us to what else is encapsulated in NextStage’s Rich Personae. NextStage’s Rich Personae also reveal most prominent messages, strongest messages, messages in the order they appear to the non-conscious mind, … It’s pretty…um…rich.

Also, as you begin to get deeper and deeper into the Rich Personae system, you’ll learn that the strongest message on, for example, a young female V7 is different from a mature, male V7.

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Here, Senator Thompson’s strongest message is “Compare me to others and you will see that I can put us on a path and bring structure to this country. You can count on it.” Governor Mitt Romney’s strongest message is very similar with two significant edits; “[no comparison desired or implied] You will see that I can put us on a path and bring structure to this place. Are you with me, yes or no?” Perhaps Senator Thompson sees Governor Romney as having the audience he wants, hence the deep messaging is the same. The substantive difference between the two sites is that Governor Romney, if he were talking to you, would be saying his message twice as loud as Senator Thompson.

Back in the day when Senator Thompson’s site was designed for a V8 Rich Personae, its message was similar except for the missing introductory call to comparison;”[no comparison desired or implied] You will see that I can put us on a path and bring structure to this place. You can count on it.

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Senator Fred Thompson and the Marketing of a Presidential Hopeful: A NextStage Analysis of the Fred Thompson for President Homepage

[[updating lost posts in prep for Reading Virtual Minds Volume 2: Experience and Expectation]]

(yes, I’m still exploring that SEO/SEM thing)

I’ve been thinking for a while that NextStage should do an analysis of Senator and actor Fred Thompson’s campaign site. What’s been stopping me is that he’s not officially announced he’s running for President and he doesn’t actually have an official campaign site that I know of (remember, I’m remarkably out of the loop on politics). The reason I decided to run an analysis is because I’d heard he was going to make his official announcement sometime this coming week.

I went to VoteSmart.org because they list official campaign sites and found I’mWithFred listed as his official site, so I was off and at it.

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Here is Senator and actor Fred Thompson’s official campaign site homepage as it appears today, 1 Sept 07. We analyzed it using NextStage’s TargetTrack (it’s now included in our Membership package) tool, as we do with all such things.

What got me right off the bat is that this homepage uses a V8 Rich Persona. This got my attention because way back in Feb ’07 we analyzed Governor Mitt Romney’s campaign website and found it had a V7 Rich Persona. One of the most obvious differences between the two is that Governor Romney’s messaging was originally designed for individuals who “…like to talk things over with a knowledgeable person who needs to point out the negative aspects of a decision in order to be taken seriously.” Senator Thompson’s messaging is designed for individuals who “…like to talk things over with an authority figure (real or imagined) who needs to point out the positive aspects of a decision in order to be taken seriously.

This difference is telling in how these two campaigns perceive who their candidate is and what that candidate’s strengths are on a personal (hence “Persona” level).

First, I do note that Governor Romney has changed his messaging style since Feb ’07. With that in mind, Governor Romney originally wanted people to perceive him as someone who could show them the error of their ways and set them on the right path. Senator Thompson is using a very different psychological strategy to gain voters; he wants people to see him as an an experienced person who can help them achieve more.

In more obvious terms it would be phrased this way; Governor Romney was saying to voters, “You’re doing it wrong, do it my way. It’s better.” while Senator Thompson’s message is “You’re doing a good job. Let me show you something that might help you out.”

We’ll be watching to see if Senator Thompson’s messaging changes once he officially starts his campaign.

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