What can brands learn from the recent General Election?

Right, the General Election is over and no matter who you voted for, as marketeers we can all use it to our benefit.

So what did we learn that’s relevant?

Repeating your message doesn’t mean you’re driving it home

Strong and stable leadership.

If we heard it once, we heard it a thousand times. It became Theresa May’s answer to almost any question. However, what the Conservative Party failed to grasp with this mantra is that it offers no hope. There is no promise of a better life. Yes, they did try to make it relevant to people by adding, IN THE NATIONAL INTEREST. But to the average person in the street, they rarely think about the national interest. They’re far more concerned with simpler, more fundamental issues, like are their wages going to go up? Will the issue of immigration be tackled? What’s going to happen with Brexit and will the NHS be saved?

So no matter how many times this phrase was repeated, it had no emotional engagement.

And that’s the key.

When you’re looking at your marketing strategy and subsequent messages, make sure that they have emotional engagement. More, give people something to wish for. As Orson Welles said “Don’t give them what they want. Give them what they never dreamed of.”

Choose the channel that’s right for you

What was interesting about this election was the shift from traditional media towards social media.

This new battleground was filled with videos paid for by the leading parties that were viewed millions of times on Facebook. A Conservative attack advert featuring snippets from Jeremy Corbyn speeches was watched more than 7m times.

According to data from Who Targets Me? analysed by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ), the last few days of the election showed that the parties attempted to reach specific constituencies with tailored messages. For example, the Conservatives issued adverts to Facebook users in constituencies with nuclear industries – such as Derby and Chester – with a message that Corbyn and Labour “would put nuclear jobs at risk”.

Who Targets Me? and the BIJ identified at least 1,036 unique political adverts issued by the Liberal Democrats and Tim Farron, the leader of the party, 314 by the Conservatives and Theresa May, and 241 by Labour and Corbyn.

From this simple statistic you could conclude that the Liberal Democrats were at least dominant in Facebook.

However, research by Enders Analysis found that most shared news and opinion on social media was pro-Labour. It also showed that Facebook was the primary digital advertising platform for the Conservatives and Labour, but added that only half of the UK electorate are active users.

And here’s the crux.

While the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats wanted to use Facebook and logic dictated that they were right to do so, they didn’t make the inroads that were needed.

Rather than continuing with this heavy spend, they should have looked at where their supporters were and should have targeted these.

Let Labour spend their budget dominating Facebook where they would only ever reach at the most, 50% of the electorate, instead they could have saturated another channel.

The problem was logic and past experience told them that they should use Facebook, and their strategists weren’t flexible enough to change and go where there was less competition. Don’t make the same mistake.

Try the reliable channels, but also review them on a regular basis to make sure that they’re performing as they should. Then, if the statistics tell you that a channel is under-performing, adapt and try something different. After all, at this point you’ve nothing to lose.

Be memorable, for all the right reasons

Unusually for a political election campaign, there was no single standout creative execution for any of the parties this year. Rather, all the memorable moments came from two sources. Either politicians making fools of themselves in interviews, or it was activists and the politically engaged creating their own content. And this for me was a missed opportunity. No one party truly realised that their most effective marketing tool were their fans. Now, more so than ever is the time for harnessing the power and the reach or your fans and having the confidence to allow them to create on your behalf.