The recent party conferences are the last before the election. As such, they are the closest we get to a ‘formal’ pitch for the (our) business and it is interesting to see how good practice contributed to their success!
1. Understanding the key decision criteria.
Decisions tend not to relate to lots of policy content, but to the answers to more emotive issues, well expressed by Polly Toynbee. “..What kind of people are you and do I like your leader? Do you lift the spirit with hope for a better world? What’ s the difference between you”?
Labour came across as a loose knit group of individuals with differences less well concealed. The Conservatives, as anticipated, had a dodgy Boris moment but placing him at the start of proceedings lessened its impact. The serried ranks seated behind Cameron, whilst somewhat reminiscent of a Red Square parade, reinforced sense of team.
3. Individual performances.
For Labour only Mandelson stood out. (post dated Sept 30th). Boris was charismatic and entertaining, but it was the newly mature, restrained and ‘sober, honest, unflambuoyant’ performances of Osborne and Cameron which made the telling impact. Brown was same old.
4. Core theme.
Labour didn’t have one, the Conservatives did. “Brown launched a battering ram of policies, so many that his arguments were obscured. In contrast Cameron’s case was clear…” (Independent) Most commentators reflected his core message, ” there is such a thing as society but it’s not the same as the state”.
This in the newly friendly Sun, ” The Tory leader’s body language sent out a clear message: ‘I mean business’. Smiles were rare and he used few hand gestures. He was relaxed throughout and made good eye contact. His body language supported the serious tone, saying, ‘ I have grown as a leader’. It helped him come across more effectively than Mr Brown did”.
6. Use of visual aids!
Both parties exploited the wives. Personally, I preferred Mrs Brown’s unabashed flaunting of topend design to the demure M&S numbers of Mrs Cameron (whose own bags retail for around £950). Quentin Letts on Cameron, “I suppose this was a manipulation of the wife every bit as blatant as Gordon Brown wheeling out Sarah…”
A final thought. It is never much fun pitching as the incumbent. The decision is, probably, going against you. To combat this it is no good defending the past. You must promise a better future. You will have to pitch more powerfully than the opponents. You will need to introduce new blood into the team and its leadership!!