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Real You: “You betcha” folksy plays well with some of us in the heartland

Posted on | October 3, 2008 | No Comments

By Kaira Sturdivant Rouda    

     But not all of us. You knew it was my duty as a citizen, and as Friday’s eBrand columnist, to comment on the most-watched Vice Presidential debate of all time, right? Well, not only am I your Friday columnist, I’m also writing to you from Comfortable Columbus, in the center of the state of Ohio where swarms of the “elite liberal media” descended to gage, often in real time, our thoughts and feelings about the debate. On CNN alone, we had Soledad O’Brien in Columbus at The Ohio State University with a couple dozen undecided Ohio voters. We were able to watch their feelings about the debate—note feelings—by gender for all 90 minutes. Meanwhile, deep in the heart of Ohio, Carol Costello drank beer with a group of “Joe Six Pack” voters and interviewed them after the debate. One of them, a woman in her mid-50s, said to Costello: “I just love the way Sarah Palin looks. She just shined up there, and she can relate to us. We could sit down and have a beer with her.”    

     And that particular woman from that particular small town in Ohio does want a folksy soccer/hockey mom she can relate to in the Vice President’s office. And that is great. But please, all of you big brands and small marketing to the women in Ohio and across the heartland, please don’t think she speaks for all of us. The women of Ohio, just like the women in the rest of the heartland, aren’t a monolithic voting block, nor are they a monolithic purchasing block. But, to take a nod from the feelings monitored by last night’s debate, we do like to be asked about our feelings. We do want brands—and candidates—to speak to those emotions. Our particular emotions. Get to know us as micro-niches, and you’ll win our hearts. Think of all of us in the heartland as Joe Six Pack—or Josephine Six Pack—and you’ll turn us off for life.    

     This brings me to People magazine’s recent article about Gossip Girl and its characters. The costume designer was interviewed and asked how he developed wardrobe for the different characters on the show. He used design boards displaying the types of clothes each character would wear, brands they’d like, accessories, colors and the like. 

 Character Brand Boards

     Why is this interesting? Because it’s building a story and a brand for each character, just as you should be doing for your brand as it goes to market. What does your best customer wear? Where does she shop? Does she drink beer? Does she even watch TV? How does she sound? Does she say “gotcha”?     

     No matter what you thought of the debate last night, you’re probably thinking about it at least a little bit. Sarah Palin knows who she’s marketing to, and last night she appealed directly to her. As Palin said to Joe Biden: “I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I’m going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record also.”    

     And at least in one small town, with one woman who lives there, it seemed to work.   

Kaira Sturdivant Rouda is the creator of Real Living, the first women-focused real estate brand. She has more than 20 years of experience marketing to women and is the author of Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs. To learn more, visit and join the community or check out her blog.      


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