Midnight Ride of William Dawes?

- clarke - Marketing

In Middle School History class you learned the story of Paul Revere: the brave midnight rider who rode from Boston to Lexington to warn of the impending British invasion (long before the Beatles). What many people don't know is that he wasn't the only rider that night, nor was he the most successful. But thanks to his simple marketing, Revere lives on in history and William Dawes does not.

On April 18th, 1775, William Dawes was instructed to ride the Southern route to Lexington to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams that the British were coming. He left Boston just before the British sealed off all routes and even though he had a slower horse and a longer, more strenuous route, he arrived less than half an hour after Revere.

After arriving in Lexington, Revere, Dawes, and a third long-forgotten rider by the name of Samuel Prescott took off for Concord to further spread the word. On the way they were stopped by a troop of British soldiers. The three separated, with Prescott being the only midnight rider to make it to Concord. Dawes was able to outwit the British and retreat on foot, while Revere was captured and held temporarily.

Paul Revere has since been celebrated through museum space, bronze statues and guided tours. In comparison, William Dawes has a mere traffic island in Cambridge, MA to commemorate his achievements. So why was Paul Revere celebrated as the sole hero of that fateful night, when it was obviously a group effort? Simply put, Revere was a better marketer. He rallied people during his ride by going from town to town and warning "the regulars are coming out!" Henry Wadsworth Longfellow got wind of Revere's ride and wrote the legendary poem Paul Revere's Ride, which is still actively studied in schools and universities across the country. The subsequent fanfare that resulted, commonly known today as viral or guerilla marketing, portrayed Revere to the public as THE midnight rider.

You don't need a world famous poet in order to convey a message - but you do need a plan and some guidance. Even if you have the best product on the market, it's of no value unless you can effectively communicate its worth to consumers. William Dawes or Paul Revere - Which midnight rider will you be?