It’s dark for well over an hour before I leave the office. Our local in Soho, The Spice of Life, seems a lot busier than usual with jovial office workers – even on a cold Monday night – as I pop in and wait for the worst of the rush hour crowds to ease before squeezing onto the Central Line to go home. When I get in and turn on the TV, there seems to be a film on about a chimney sweep in Victorian times. This strikes me as odd as it doesn’t appear in the TV listings, until I realise that it is just a very long and extravagant advert from Sainsburys. Final confirmation, just in case it was needed, that Christmas is well and truly just round the corner.
But there’s a fly in the ointment dampening the onset of the festive mood… John Lewis, Sainsburys, Argos et al are having to share airtime with the jibber jabber of countless politicians because for the first time since 1923 there will be a general election in December.
Now, since I was born in the ‘70s, I can only really associate elections with May or June, when the days are getting longer and you have that positive feeling that summer is on the way. Surely December is for Christmas and all things festive, after which you shuffle about miserably in the cold, dark and wet for a few months until it’s time for the clocks to go forward again? But since we need one to sort out the deadlock we are stuck in (don’t hold your breath people – my prediction is more deadlock after 12th December) I thought I’d give my ever-cynical take on how an election is a bit like a badly run new business campaign.
Gripe 1. Quantity
“A dog is for life, not for Christmas”
Successful lead generation requires an ongoing pipeline. Do you ever get the feeling as a voter that you are ignored for years at a time? All of a sudden, an election is announced and you are inundated by politicians of all parties. Door drops, digital marketing, face to face canvassing, TV ads… the list goes on. To run a good new business campaign, you need to keep all your prospects on your radar throughout the year. That doesn’t mean bombard all of them all the time, but it does mean a structured system of contact management based on each prospect’s individual circumstances to maximise your chances of winning new business from them.
Gripe 2. Quality
“You promised me a Rolls Royce but gave me a Reliant Robin. With no engine in it.”
Over-promising and under-delivering is something that the electorate has come to expect, regardless of who is in power. I’m sure their intentions were good at some point, but time, resources and finances are limited in the real world. Be realistic about what is likely to be achieved when and for how much. In terms of a business development campaign, it is unlikely that every meeting will result in a win or that an agency who is offering 5 new business meeting a month for a grand will be any good, despite what they might tell you. It’s certainly possible that you might get lucky at one point, but you need to look at the long game. Experienced, professional new business staff are not cheap if they are any good. On top of this you need a decent, ever-increasing pipeline of accurate contact data to target your prospects from, at the right kind of companies to match your experience and abilities and with sufficient marketing budgets. Not to mention a robust system of managing all this information so that it can be utilised most effectively. Whilst we all love a bargain, there are a whole range of factors when running a new business campaign where prioritising quality over cost will result in a better ROI in the long run.
Gripe 3. Direction
“Business likes certainty – why are we going all over the place?”
How often have you heard a party come up with a policy one minute before backtracking completely the next and confusing all the voters in the process? Yes, of course things of change and businesses need to adapt. But managing your new business strategy requires logical thought. Focus on your strengths, abilities and market opportunities. Be consistent in your outgoing lead generation campaigns, rather than bouncing in and out of them like a grasshopper with a particularly short attention span. There should be input from your new business team as to the market issues that your potential customers are facing – after all, these are the people who will be speaking to a whole host of them week in week out. Think of this feedback along the same lines of a minister being advised of current public opinion. The difference being that you should now have the skills required to steer your campaign with the agility of a finely tuned speedboat rather than a rudderless oil tanker heading towards an iceberg.
Bah humbug everyone!