Obama and Clinton: “We’re so glad it’s over”

The Democratic Presidential candidates (and for that matter, McCain) are so very glad that it’s finally over.

The pain of weekly battles on the television, in front of huge crowds and in living rooms all over the country is mercifully, finally over.

No, silly, not the Democratic primary elections. That’s still going on.

I’m talking about American Idol.

Wednesday night, David Cook was announced as the American Idol winner.

The 21st century Donny Osmond, David Archuleta, is the American Idol runner-up.

Clearly not the kinds of guys to ignore opportunity, Archuleta and Cook are now immortalized by new Guitar Hero commercials that educates a new generation about the classic Risky Business Tom Cruise Bob Seger underwear lip sync scene.

Archuleta’s Guitar Hero act:

Yet amid the red carpet celebrity love fest at the Nokia Theater, amazingly, there are lessons for the small business owner.

Several of them, in fact.

A lesson about the power of social media

Is 96 million American Idol votes cast in 24 hours social enough for you?

That’s only 4 million less than the total number of votes cast for the Bush vs. Kerry Presidential election in 2000, and it’s 9 million more than voted in the 1996 Clinton vs. Dole Presidential election.

A few more startling numbers:

  • More people voted for American Idol winner David Cook than voted for Bill Clinton in 1996.
  • More people voted for David Cook than voted for either George Bush *or* Al Gore in 2000.
  • More people voted for runner-up David Archuleta than voted for Bob Dole in 1996.

Social media is personal (note the title of the blog).

A lesson about involvement.

Find a way to involve your customers more deeply in your business.

Simon may get to chew up wanna-be American Idols and spit them out – but the voters with their text messages, toll-free calls and web votes are the ones who were brilliantly kept involved by the show’s marketing and structure/design.

Of course, there’s a lesson about the lack of vision of the music industry, except for 3 months on a TV show where customers get to make a choice about what to listen to next and where the show (business) goes next.

We’ve talked about iTunes rise to #1 in retail music sales (CD or online), and how they’ve knocked off Amazon, Best Buy and even Wal-Mart. A website and a music player software sells more music than 4000+ big box stores.

Same lesson. Involvement is personal.

American Idol works because of involvement. Choice. Interaction. And…The psychology behind making a superstar (or at least, a hero) out of a nobody/underdog.

Where’s the choice for your clients?

How are you providing your clientèle with choice, convenience, interaction and control over the experience they have when doing business with you? I don’t mean give them the keys, but you can give them a far more interactive experience without losing the control every small business owner wants.

Study the methods used by American Idol. Celebrity. Interaction. Technology. Choice. Convenience (3 ways to vote – at least).

96 million people, 1/3rd of the United States population just spent 3 months scheduling their evenings around 1 TV show, living and dying 2 nights a week (sometimes more) with American Idol. Can’t get much more personal than that.

How are you going to get their attention today?

On Thursday, American Idol will be the subject du jour at corporate water coolers, bars, blogs and elsewhere.

I’ll bet Barack and Hillary are really looking forward to Friday.