businesswoman offerring hand

Now is The Time to Start Lobbying

While the Prime Minister set a new record for the length of an election campaign, she also opened a long innings for business and other organisations to influence the way political policies are being developed for the electorate.

Business now has the opportunity move within a defined timeframe bounded by dates, and the important one being 14 September.

If business and community organisations want to make the difference they will need to get into the political parties themselves and those behind the scenes who are now feverously developing policies to take to the electorate.

The Liberal Party has already provided a broad approach to what it is seeking to do in government. But there is a lot of detailed work yet to be developed before the voters get a clear picture on what they will be voting come election day.

The core to any lobbying strategy now must be one of  ‘structured, election-focused engagement’.

Organisations must look at what they want and how this can be made appealing to the voter, or make a significant change to an industry, research, development etc. They also need to understand the difference between lobbying and influencing the parties, the cultural factors and the power of certain individuals exercising policy research.

They also must focus on how they are going to influence key backroom party members – those setting the policies – along with the politicians themselves, including new members, especially those in marginal seats. It is important to remember that at least 13 current members of parliament will not be standing for the next election.

 To achieve a satisfactory outcome, industry must have a combination of well developed understand of party politics, top priorities that appeal to the broader public (i.e. catches a vote) and then drill this down to a communication campaign that embraces the ‘foot work’. This is were the real work is done, selling the importance of your initiative through face-to-face meetings, media exposure, champions to your cause (i.e. third parties) and letters of support from industry and community groups. In addition, their ‘story’ needs to have a impact at a local level as much as at a macro economic level.

The outcome of the selling is to seek letters of commitment on key issues at national, state and territory branch levels. Although arguments are often mounted that politicians go back on their word on certain issues when they are in government (e.g. Julia Gillard with carbon tax), there is sufficient historical evidence that holding politicians accountable to their commitments far outweighs the alternative.

Robert Masters

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The Insights of Customer Data

By John Kananghinis, Director

One of the most regular B2C refrains is “how do I get to more customers?” Take that back a step and the question turns into  “where are my potential customers?”

Quality data analysis combined with consumer insights will provide the answers to both of the above questions and, very often, the competitive advantage that will drive success.

The critical first step for any established B2C enterprise is to maintain customer data integrity. If that has not been done then you must clean the customer data to create the sound foundation for further analysis.

Following that, there are numerous research and social demographic tools that can profile the existing customer base and draw conclusions as to where more customers can be found.  It is also possible to establish competitive market penetration and therefore target areas rich in prospects but low in market share.

However the raw information alone is often not enough to fully understand consumer behaviour. Specific experience in your industry and/or market sector may be necessary to add the overlay of customer and prospect purchase behaviour, product and service expectations, purchase cycles and social and business interactions.

What makes this a truly three-dimensional chessboard is the overlay of market segment expansion in terms of product or service offered and social mobility over the short to mid-term.

The propensity for niche exploitation in B2C will drive marketers to look for consumer profiles outside their existing customer base. Combine that with the social mobility of targeted customers and there may be implications for both product offering and physical retail location.

Depending on the product or service offered, further complexity can be added by the opportunity and cost of locating in the midst of a high value target area or choosing to position on identified customer transit routes.

ICG regularly assist clients with this task. Such work has resulted in greater ROI for the marketing and communication dollar and, most importantly, more customers for our customers.

Sourcing the information and demographic analysis is not especially difficult. Careful selection of a suitable supplier is, of course, essential. Similar care is required for the preparatory step of cleaning and analysing current customer data. What is then required is to draw on market and customer insights to ask the right questions in order to get the correct answers. 

JK

 

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Tesla v The Times (or should that be ‘Tesla with The Times’?)

By Sarah Carnovale, New Media Strategist

The current battle between electric motor car start-up Tesla and newspaper behemoth the New York Times is a powerful case study in twenty-first century reputation management.

Here’s a quick summary: Times reviewer John Broder put out a review of Tesla’s Model S car that didn’t show the vehicle in the best light, and Tesla CEO (and PayPal founder) Elon Musk responded with a line-by-line rebuttal on Tesla’s website via its blog, and also via its social media pages in Facebook and Twitter.

The exchange has now descended in to a media war with no end in sight, but this is secondary to the main issue – Tesla’s reputation management was successful and efficient.

New media (blogging, Facebook, Twitter etc) spoke directly to Tesla’s electric vehicle loving base. The story was then picked up by traditional news agencies and flowed down to newspaper, tv and radio.

New media went crazy and it didn’t take long for traditional media to follow.

Moving with the times (nee new media response) gave Tesla the upper hand in a dirty fight against a seasoned campaigner and protected, possibly even enhanced, its reputation in the meantime.

Once upon a time, this could never have happened so quickly and fluently.

In a live interview on internet news site Huff Post Live, former Obama Whitehouse Communications Director Anita Dunn said “There are a lot of different ways to communicate to people, and in the modern world of communication you use as many platforms as you can productively to speak to as many audiences as you can productively.”

Tesla’s harnessing of new media embodies Ms Dunn’s philosophy to great and lasting effect.

Today, reputation management has never been easier. An organisation that seeks to better itself in the eyes of the public needs to open its doors and welcome in the potential buyer, invested stakeholder, interested passer-by, and the apathetic sceptic with the same web-based smile and welcoming grin.

Harnessing your organisation’s online presence via a website and social media gives organisations the opportunity to market, defend and communicate directly with the world at large.

Your organisation’s brand is invaluable and the digital era allows for brand protection and reputation management more than ever before. There are a few simple steps your organisation can take to ensure its digitally ready and enabled to meet and greet reputational challenges that unexpectedly come your way.

Website

When was the last time you checked your organisation website for readability and ease of accessibility to information? Have you considered having your website checked by a company outsider?

As a company matures so too does its priorities, and more importantly so does the priorities of its customers and stakeholders. Your organisation’s website is the first port of call for people wanting to know about your business and it should display your offerings in the best possible light.

Integrating a web content and structure review system will ensure that your organisation is ready to meet the challenges and welcome the successes of today and tomorrow.

Blogging

Does your organisation have a blog? Do the people of your organisation contribute to it? Are they giving a voice and personality to your organisation?

A company blog, with contributions from people at all levels of the tree breathes life in to the online platform, increases trust in your organisation via emotional connectivity, and gives a pathway to ‘right-of-reply’ in the event that your organisation ever needs to defend itself, as was the case with Tesla.

Facebook/Twitter

Facebook is a two-way communication website, an open door to your organisation where you can post photos, competitions, customer feedback, and links back to your organisation’s website. Twitter is the conversation, the signpost on the highway to point people to where you need them to go to market a point of view or product.

Social media tools in general are great for pushing the marketability of your company in positive times, and provide a platform and a proactive voice when you most need it.

New media is not an island

Reputation management is a consolidation of efforts across traditional and digital mediums. Whilst new media is way to speak with target audiences and supporters, traditional media (such as newspaper, radio) is the vehicle to reach mass audiences.

Tesla’s new media commandeering will ensure its brand and integrity remain intact long after the New York Times battle had faded into memory. It’s important for us to remember that the same tools are available and ready at our fingertips.

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julia gillard and tony abbot

Election 2013 – The Certainty of Stalling Progress

 

With the PM announcing what amounts to an eight month election campaign on the grounds of “certainty” the only sure outcome of the political gamble is that real policy making, economic reform and necessary infrastructure development will stall until after the election.

In an election environment the government will be trying to bolster the traditional Labor base whilst also attempting to attract Green votes carried by social and environmental issues.

In the meanwhile any proposals for necessary economic reform or major infrastructure improvement, by either side, will be attacked by a myriad of counter arguments. The result being that, unless the campaign becomes an obvious walkover for the opposition, business will be unsure of exactly what will happen on September 14. In such a hyper politically charged atmosphere, business will most likely put off major investment decisions.

The PM is gambling on Tony Abbot and the Coalition falling over themselves, for which there is ample opportunity. She is also ensuring that all leadership speculation, on either side, is now at an end as each team delivers the loyalty necessary for a campaign. 

In the mean time, the battle for the crucial seats in western Sydney (which is to the Australian Federal Election as Ohio is to the American Presidential Election) will see the Labor social engineers come out in force. Will this work in an increasingly aspirational Australia? On the other hand, will Tony Abbott be able to overcome his lack of personal connection with large sections of the electorate?  We shall see!

The Federal/State divide is also likely to create policy and administrative sclerosis during such an extended campaign.

With all the major States in Coalition hands the blame game that has been running for some time will only intensify.  In support of their coalition colleagues, the State Governments of QLD, NSW, VIC and WA have every reason to frustrate anything Federal Labor proposes.

As a political move the PM may have caught her opponents on the hop, but she has also given them ample time to marshal their arguments and resources. Sadly, the impact of all of this on the Australian economy may well be to slow growth as we have experienced on previous occasions.

Real certainty in this whole process could come if both sides agreed to put a referendum to the nation on September 14 for fixed four-year terms. At least then we may get three out of four years of meaningful government rather than the current maximum of 2 out of 3.