Well, the longest federal election campaign in modern history is over! After 10 years in power, the governing Conservatives have been relegated to official opposition status and the Liberals rose from third-party status to a majority government, surfing on a red tide that was looking for change.
The results have created a bit of uncertainty, both in the oil and gas sector and with the markets in general. On the plus side, markets like stability, and the majority government will allow for this over the next four years.
On the negative side, no one really knows what this new government means to the oil and gas sector. Still reeling from the NDP electoral victory in Alberta earlier this year – created by vote splitting between the two right leaning parties – the industry must now take a hard look at all possible outcomes and be prepared for all of them moving forward.
Upon reviewing what the Liberals publicly stated about their positions on our industry, it is clear that, really, nothing is clear. Aside from stating that they would launch an immediate review of Canada’s regulatory process for oil and gas projects, they really took no strong position on anything else, including various pipeline initiatives.
Those of us who have been around the industry long enough are still haunted by the energy policies by Trudeau the elder. And that leaves us concerned about the decisions that will be made by Trudeau the younger. At this stage, all we can do is hope that history does not repeat itself and that our Prime Minister-elect understands that the oil and gas industry is the key economic driver of the country’s economy.
But enough of what is now water under the bridge. We are left having to play with the cards we been dealt.
And the purpose of this article is not to lament the results of the election, which were achieved through a democratic process open to all Canadian citizens.
Rather, it is my intention to use this election as an example of the importance of marketing and to ensure that you are delivering an appropriate message to your target audience.
Let’s review what happened with the 3 major parties and look at what worked and what didn’t work for them:
The NDP started with strength in the polls, focusing their message on the “anybody but Harper” movement. They also stood on their usual policies, appealing to their core supporters. Riding high on the fact that they had formed the official opposition in the previous parliament, their leader dismissed the Liberals as a force and focused their energies on igniting the movement to unseat the Conservatives. Of course, they saw their support crumble in the face of the Liberal momentum and failed to adapt their message, repeating the same mantra.
The Liberals, on the other hand, started the campaign polling in the third position. They faced an uphill battle, needing to convince the electorate that Justin Trudeau wasn’t too young to govern. Their campaign team worked hard not only to reverse this perception, but also to train their leader to stick to a script, disallowing the potential of inappropriate remarks and faux pas’s as had been made in the past. They also rallied the troops to shore up the impression that the party had the strength and the experience to help their inexperienced leader to govern. Once this foundation had been built, they very successfully executed their strategy and took full advantage of the movement for change. They were singularly effective in taking what started as a rumble of discontent and turning it into a roar.
And now we come to the Conservatives. It was indeed their election to lose.
Historically, Canadians are somewhat creatures of habit. We have a habit of electing governments and keeping them in power for a few years before we kick them to the curb. We tend to like the stability of our governments for a period of time. But every party and every politician, including our leaders, have a “best before date”. Without a crisis at hand, or renewed and refreshed messages from the party, the electorate tends to become impatient with hearing the same message. And this was the problem with the conservative campaign – at least in my view.
Now, I don’t come to this conclusion lightly. Although over the years I’ve become a jaded politico, I was a part of one of our largest grassroots movements in the 90s, worked closely with Stephen Harper in his original riding of Calgary West over several years, and was campaign manager for a very successful election campaign in 1993.
In my personal opinion, given the global economic times and certain security issues, the Conservatives were spot on with what the issues of the election should have been about: the economy and security of our nation. Of course, these are the same issues that have been prevalent since 2006, and are the very issues that helped the Conservatives when their majority in 2011. And, of course, there was no reason to doubt that these issues were still at the forefront and should have delivered at least a Conservative minority government in this most recent election.
Well folks, here is the tie-in to marketing!
The key message the Conservatives were intent on delivering was that the global economic crisis was still in play, our oil and gas prices had tumbled creating economic woes in Canada, and we must remain diligent to protect our country against terrorism.
But they failed miserably at delivering this message. And why?
I have repeatedly stated in many of my articles and interviews that the key to effective marketing is to ensure that you are delivering your message in an appropriate fashion to your target market.
Marketing is indeed a science. It starts with a strategy; a strategy that is well-planned, well thought out and well executed. From the strategy, various campaigns are structured and carried out. These campaigns should be thoughtful and creative, and appeal to the emotions as well as the intellect of the intended recipient.
The failure of the Conservatives’ election campaign had nothing to do with the message they were imparting. At the end of the day, it was all about finding new, creative, inclusive ways to appeal to their target market-the Canadian electorate.
Don’t make the same mistake in your business as the Conservatives made on their campaign. Review your strategy. Review your intent. Review your message. Be sure of your target audience. And never, ever, be afraid to bring someone in with fresh ideas or an outside perspective.
Keep fresh, stay relevant, continue to market, and you will be successful.
If you’re ready to take the next step and make your business more profitable, call me directly at 403-879-4297 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nancy Boisvert is the President and Marketing Director at Agapi Marketing & Consulting Ltd. For more marketing tips, please visit her online at www.agapimarketing.com
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