Did the Tories win the General Election by astute marketing?
The usual flurry of polls predicted a hung parliament, but it turns out Conservative Central Office had a much firmer grasp on statistics. Following the marketer's rulebook, they had segmented the market, identified their target voters (those likely to switch allegiance in marginal seats) and focussed their powers of persuasion on these select few.
"The Conservative campaign, borrowing micro-targeting techniques from the US, was so sophisticated that in the final week the party was having multiple contacts via Facebook, phone and on the doorstep with individual voters who had been identified as likely to switch from the Liberal Democrats or choose the Tories over Labour."Archetypal product marketing, which in an age of social media seems the logical election choice. Facebook and Twitter streams were alive with personal opinions in the month before this election, making it easy for an astute campaign manager to select and nurture both individuals and opinion-formers.
Which begs the question, why weren't all parties doing the same?
Why did most decide to deliver leaflets to every household, running up huge bills and wasting mountains of paper in the hope that the few who mattered might actually bother not only to read and digest every morsel, but be sufficiently persuaded to vote on that basis?
Loose advertisements stuffed in newspapers and magazines are a sign to me of a lazy business. I throw them out without a glance almost on principle: we both know that I could find this information for myself if I actually wanted it. And let's just not talk about charities sending unwanted gifts to guilt me into making a donation.
But had I been an 'undecided' voter, I would probably have welcomed an individual approach from relevant parties, a chance to probe them on areas of confusion and seek proof of passion and principles. Heck, a sincere apology for a recognised failing might have been enough to secure a wavering vote.
With lives now shared so broadly online, we might at least reap the benefits. Go ahead, Facebook. Sell my politics. Let's see which parties think I am worth approaching next time around. Or perhaps I will just feel left out and spoil my vote in a fit of pique.
Either way, I'd prefer that to the denture and incontinence companies to whom you have clearly sold my details.
Oh but wait, those weren't properly targeted either.