In the lead up to the election, campaigning is on everyone’s mind, from Malcolm Turnbull to Tony Abbott and even Bill Shorten has decided to get on the band wagon. And at a national level, its easy to assume that politicians are always campaigning, because they are so visible thanks to those media followers, photographers and their squillions of dollars.
At a local member level, we see a stark difference. I have lived in a lot of different electorates in my life, and as such I have noticed that most local members want you to elect them based on the 2 or 3 weeks every couple of year they spend being visible in your community, showing off what they could do for you, in the hope to pull the wool over your eyes regarding their commitment. I’ve never bought into it, because it is exactly that – a bit of a sham, a con, a façade if you will of community engagement.
What all that preamble is designed to do is paint a picture of how different one Mr Geoff Lee is in this race to the election finish line. As a member of the Parramatta electorate, I see Mr Lee in person on average of 6 times a year, I get his marketing materials at least another 4 times a year and I hear about his interactions with people like Mike Baird and the events that he is involved in in his local community another handful of times. Let’s say, once a month, every month, I notice his existence, not just once every four years. And that is because the man never stops campaigning. It doesn’t matter if its an election year, it doesn’t matter if theres no one around to see him campaigning in the dead of winter outside the train station, it doesn’t matter how many people ignore his flyers, he is always giving it a go, he is always out in the face of his electorate and that means that the members of his electorate recognise him (despite the bang-up job his graphic designer has done of photoshopping his face – seriously guys, put down the brushes and step away).
Now I am not a Facebook follower, I’m not a fan-girl, I don’t follow the guy around the suburbs noticing where he goes and what he’s doing. But I still know what Geoff Lee is up to. He utilises both old and new media incredibly well, with a strong social media presence combined with physical appearances at local events and traditional canvassing of the community. He loves a hand out at the station, he loves a letterbox drop calendar, and he loves a meet and greet with the local community at the Parramatta Town Hall. But he (and his team obviously) are just as dedicated to his social media presence, showing old Geoff at Parramasala, showing him taking Mike Baird on a locals tour of Parramatta and really showing us what he is doing to engage our community, and bring our issues to a higher level.
He is literally the only local member that I could name off the top of my head, of anywhere I have ever lived. Because he is everywhere I am. And here in lies the lesson for businesses.
When business times are tough, whether it’s a recession or the loss of a major contract, the instinctive reaction for most businesses is to pull their head into their shell, cut all spending and hope to weather the storm. Most companies will stop their marketing (which is seen as a cost center and an extreme outgoing cost – more on that later) and hope that the this cut will stop them from going down the gurgler. However, this kind of reaction creates a vicious cycle – how can anyone purchase your products or services if they don’t know who you are?! And how will they know who you are if you don’t ever talk about yourself and don’t promote yourself? Loyalty is one thing, but when you stop being all the places that your community is, that is when you open yourself up to your competitors taking your place, or your community deciding that they didn’t really need you after all.
For my mind, businesses are far better to take a leaf out of Geoff’s book. Be consistent with your marketing, be committed to your community, work on your marketing every day consistently, and avoid the peaks and troughs that don’t drive the recognition and trust of your target customers. Whether it’s through using new media, using old media, handing out brownies or meeting with people with more influence than you have, you have got to pick your strategy and stick to it, year in, year out, rain, hail or shine. That is how you drive recognition and brand trust, that is how you build a loyal following (whether that is online or offline) and how you become a brand that personifies your community.
So next time you are thinking about your marketing, decide who you want to want to be as a brand. Do you want to be a Geoff Lee, with his impact and presence and instant recognisability; or do you want to be a nameless, faceless local member, that your community doesn’t really care about.
If you need some help with new media, old media or anything in between, I want to help you become a Geoff Lee in your industry. Drop me a line any way you like, and lets have a chat about how you too can get some instant recognisability.
If you like what you’ve read, I would love you to share it with your friends – sharing is caring right? So copy the link or click one of the buttons below.
*All images sourced from Geoff Lee’s Facebook page. See what I mean about community engagement?!