12Jun 6 Marketing Lessons From Theresa May’s Election Campaign
So, the election’s over… well, for now anyway! It’s certainly been an interesting one, and regardless of the result (or lack of one!), what are the lessons for business?
Well, last year I wrote about the marketing lessons from Donald Trump and my fear that he’d read my book – I think it’s safe to say that Theresa May hasn’t! And before you say ‘yes, but Andy, she won’, the business analogy for me is that this is like a business that was totally dominating its marketplace with very little competition, but has just lost big chunks of that market, and has created a lot of uncertainty…. for themselves and for their ‘customers’.
So, here goes, with marketing lessons from Theresa May – we could even call them ‘Mayketing’ Lessons!
Mayketing Lesson 1: Never Take Your Customers For Granted
I can’t help thinking that like many business leaders, Teresa May and her team assumed that their customers would simply come back just like before…. and not all of them did! Was this them being too much in their ‘comfort zone’ or simply arrogance? Whatever, it gave the impression to some that she didn’t care.
Question: How do you make your customers feel valued?
Mayketing Lesson 2: Be Clear About Your ‘Offer’
3D Businesses establish a ‘Dramatic Difference‘ – that’s ‘an unmatchable bundle of products, services, skills, methods and practices that differentiate a business from its competitors’ and there didn’t seem to be one. ‘Dramatic Differences’ don’t happen by chance and 3D Businesses proactively develop their ‘Dramatic Difference‘ in the areas that their customers say are important! They do not put time and effort into telling everyone how bad their competitors are, which is what appeared to be Theresa’s approach.
This might be linked to lesson 1, but the lack of a real vision that people could ‘buy in to’ (apart from bringing back fox hunting!) and a willingness to chop and change things quickly and easily gave the impression that things hadn’t been thought through. There seemed to be a lack of a clear offer to customers, and some would argue that this offer changed too often. It reminded me of Woolworths in its final years – there was a fondness about the ‘brand’ but you weren’t quite sure what it was there for!
Question: What’s your ‘Dramatic Difference’ and how do you ‘Demonstrate’ it?
Mayketing Lesson 3: Identify And Target Customer Opportunities
‘Segmentation’ is a key element of effective marketing and this is about identifying opportunities within specific customer groups, establishing what they need, and tailoring the right messages to them. 3D Businesses have a clear focus on the sorts of customers they want to work with and focus their sales and marketing efforts and resources on these customers! They identify and ‘choose’ the customers they want to work with, and differentiate themselves in their chosen markets. This election saw a record 1.05 million 18 to 24 year-olds register to vote during the campaign, and it looks as if The Conservatives did not recognise the potential power of this group – Jeremy Corbyn’s team definitely did and as a result, won over two-thirds of those new voters.
Question: Who are your ‘target’ customers… are there any specific groups that offer potential opportunities for you?
Mayketing Lesson 4: The Old Methods Don’t Necessarily Work
Very much linked to this is the fact that the vast majority of these young voters do not read the Daily Mail, Daily Express or The Sun, so as a result, the messages that came from these sources fell on many deaf ears. In fact, the research shows that many of the social media outputs often highlighted and derided the ‘headlines’ they produced. The Labour Party actively used social media to target the younger generation – for example, a one minute Facebook video ‘Tory Britain 2030’ which painted a very scary picture of what that could look like attracted over 7.5 million views.
A great example of focusing on these ‘niche markets’ and tailoring the messages to them was the targeting of the younger generation via ‘Grime’ artists like ‘Stormzy’ (look him up you ‘old uns’!) who actively encouraged young voters to get out there and vote.
Now, I’m not suggesting that Theresa should have been ‘down there with the kids’, but they did seem to be focusing their marketing efforts just on the ‘traditional’ ways – and clearly, the ‘traditional’ methods were still powerful with the more ‘traditional’ voters (customers), but it’s all about getting the ‘mix’ right!
Question: How do you focus your marketing efforts on the ‘right’ customers in a way that works for them?
Mayketing Lesson 5: People Buy From People They Like And Trust
Politics, whether we like it or not, is not just about policies – it’s also very much about people and ‘personality’. Like business, we buy from people and businesses that we like and trust and 3D Businesses consciously proactively build ‘trust’ with their customers and prospective customers by what they say and what they do. Theresa May told us on many, many occasions that there would not be an election and then surprised us (and many of her colleagues apparently) by saying there was! I can’t help thinking this is a bit like Ronseal saying ‘Actually, we’ve changed our minds, it doesn’t really do what it says on the tin’!
She then had lots of opportunities to ‘Demonstrate‘ who she is and what she stands for, and apart from us knowing that she doesn’t put the bins out, and she once very naughtily walked through a wheat field, we didn’t really get to understand what she actually stood for. For someone who really made herself personally the prime focus of the campaign, I can’t help thinking that she didn’t get this across at all. If she was the ‘Dramatic Difference‘, she failed to ‘Demonstrate‘ it.
Corbyn, admittedly starting from a very low position, seemed far more effective at doing this – to be fair, with expectations from many being very low, it was perhaps easier for him to exceed them! (Not unlike a newcomer to a market that’s challenging the dominant player).
Question: How do you build and reinforce ‘trust’ with your customers and prospects?
Mayketing Lesson 6: Show Up!
Actions speak louder than words, and Theresa May’s unwillingness to appear in the ‘debates’ appeared to reinforce all the things above to many (particularly those who weren’t too sure about her). It could have been a great opportunity to differentiate herself and explain what she really stood for, but she ‘opted out’ and as a result created great opportunities for her opponents.
It’s all about ‘being there’ – when and where your customers expect to see you.
Question: How do you reinforce who you are and what you stand for?
In conclusion… our definition of marketing is ‘Proactively finding, attracting and keeping the customers you want while maximising your profits’ and although Theresa May wasn’t focused on ‘maximising profits’, she was (or should have been) focused on ‘achieving votes and seats’. She seemed to get that wrong.
As a result, she’s got to now focus on building a team of committed, motivated and effective people – that might be another blog post in the future: ‘Mayximising’ Team Performance!
In the meantime, I’m sending a copy of my book to Number 10 (quickly, as I don’t want Boris to read it!)
What are you doing to ensure that you are ‘marketing’, not ‘mayketing’?