The victory of the Euroskeptical camp in the referendum to decide whether the UK stays in the EU has been described as shocking by many commentators. And maybe it is. But beyond the talk of it being a “miracle-of-a- nightmare” as pro-EU activists tag it, are there any real lessons we can learn from it?
Alas, there is. Even if Cameron and the EU’s big wigs don’t want to believe it. Picture Boris Johnson, former London mayor and figurehead of the “Leave Campaign” as a salesman, trying to convince his potential customers to buy his product (in this case, the UK exiting the EU). How did he convince them to buy, despite the fact that critics labelled his product as not being good enough for use (or toxic- if you consider that the “Vote Leave” campaign was described as “misleading” and “xenophobic”)? Here are some reasons Mr Johnson would probably give for his success in selling his product.
- Passion for the product: This is something that you should have, and reflect. The push for an exit from the EU by Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independent Party, was much derided. But it was based on a view that a lot of people could identify as genuine. He had held and expressed this opinion for several years, and it became something with which he was identified. Being seen to be passionate helps to convince potential customers that you believe in your product and that they can too.
- Determine your sales demographic, and hit your targets: The “Vote Leave” campaign got its strategy map well laid out. Sections of the United Kingdom which decided the vote in favour of the EU were those which had suffered economically from European competition (the deprived North East) or were concerned about the impact of EU-sanctioned immigration on their locality (the East). Knowing the sections of the population to which your product appeals and targeting them effectively, as the Euroskeptics did, is key to hitting your sales mark.
- Exploit the prevailing mood and opinion to your advantage: You should know where the wind of opinion is blowing, and what the current trends are in your industry. If you do not, you may be wrong-footed- as the Europhiles were. Use popular media to promote the brand you are pushing. Tailor campaigns to suit the sector you are targeting, but do so with an understanding of what is in vogue.
- Emphasise the benefits of using the product: The British public was torn between the need for greater economic and political independence and the advantages enjoyed by the UK because of its membership of the EU. What was required to sway opinions, either way, was a convincing argument for the benefits of taking the decision they would. This was what the pro-exit camp did (in the eyes of 52 percent of the ‘market’). Following this example would at least tip the balance in favour of your product being bought.
- Don’t wait for the tide to “turn in favour of reason”. Go all out for it: The pro-EU camp has expressed disappointment about the failure of reason to win. You don’t have to end up like that. Having a positive opinion about your product is not a good reason to think that others will find it valuable. Put all you can into making your positive view reflect on the way you go about convincing your target market that they really need the product. “Reason” may win in the end, but just be sure that it is your potential customer’s version of it that you have. Or transform.