Were you surprised by the results of Brexit? I sure was. My poetic colleague Simon Goddard wrote to me in an email on Friday that “The sun is out in Winchester but there is so much doom and gloom it might as well be pouring with rain. Strange days ahead.”
This vote was an outright shock for everyone. What seemed like a bad joke just last week has become the reality today. But what does it actually mean for digital marketers? How is this division going to make an impact on the marketing industry as a whole? And what can we learn from the successes and failures of Brexit and how is it related to marketing campaigns? It is time to face the music and try to understand what consequences we face and try to make the most of this sticky situation.
Here are the 4 lessons that I think we as marketers should take from Brexit:
Brexit Marketing Lesson #1: Millennials Don’t Rule The World, Yet
It cannot be denied that this decision will affect the younger generations and those to follow. But how influential were they in the decision process?
The facts are that according to the poll results, 73% of 18 to 24-year-olds were in favor of a Remain vote, whereas as just 27% supported Brexit. On the other spectrum, 40% of pensioners were in favor of Remain and 60% were in favor of Brexit.
So what happened? Simple, Leave supporters admitted that they did not think their vote would count. As a result, the youthful Remain voice was drowned out because their turnout wasn’t high enough. They have said, if they had it to do all over again, they would have voted to Remain. Yet, the underlying problem here was that Millennials didn’t know that the Leave vote would win.
To me, this seems like a huge marketing failure. It is not enough to educate your audiences on a given situation, it is crucial to also encourage them to take action. The Remain campaign clearly lacked a clear Call-to-Action. If they were to learn from us digital marketers, they would have made sure people not only knew what is best for them but also taken the next step.
Where did marketers go wrong here?
- Marketers forgot about the older generation aka “baby boomers”
- Campaign did not have a clear CTA to get Millennials to the polls
- The older generation had the motivation to vote but not the education
- The younger generation had the education but not the motivation to go and vote
Brexit Marketing Lesson #2: Buyer’s Remorse Can Risk Your Entire Campaign
Buyer’s Remorse is the feeling of regret following a purchase. This is usually following a large purchase or investment. The buyer is left feeling guilty and a sense of being taken advantage of by the seller.
So too with the British voters.
As it turned out, hours after the poll closure Britons started to frantically Google the meaning of EU. You can see a desperate attempt from Britons to try to assess what just happened. Did they make a mistake? Should they have taken measures to better inform themselves before the vote? Could it be that the Remain campaigns were not educational enough to explain the consequences of those decisions? Or that not enough information was provided? With buyer’s remorse when you buy into a campaign and it didn’t live up to your expectations it’s the marketer’s job to clean up their mess and restore trust in the brand.
There are going to continue to be a lot of angry Britons. Now is the time for politicians to acknowledge that their customers are upset act accordingly.
Brexit Marketing Lesson #3: Emotions, Not Facts
According to TubeMogul, 69% of the British public did not see an online video for Vote Remain. Of the remaining 31% percent who did see it the general consensus was that messages were irrelevant or didn’t speak directly to them. The problem with the Remain campaign was that it lacked a clear cut message that people could relate to. According to Matthew Dybwad, the head of political and public affairs for TubeMogul, “too often, campaign media buyers don’t always fully understand the power of digital to change the narrative”. The Remain campaign focused more on the dry benefits of staying in the EU. It also relied on politicians like Tony Blair with questionable popularity to represent their campaign.
On the flip side, the Leave Campaign provided voters with a clearer and more emotional connection. This ended up being more influential than the simply rational approach of staying in the EU. The people representing the Leave campaign utilized the power of words creating a message that everyone could relate to. This is an important lesson marketers can learn when deciding on the motivator of a campaign as well as choosing the right people to represent your brand. An emotional message would always work better than dry, rational facts.
Brexit Marketing Lesson #4: Technology Has No Boundaries
Although Brexit is wrecking havoc among the markets, thankfully the digital marketing industry is not expected to be affected. The latest data by PwC predicts that by next year the Entertainment and Media sector in the UK will be the largest in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. By 2020, these industries will be valued over 669 billion pounds, surpassing even Germany. Though there may be some changes that are expected to be positive.
We live in a global world. A startup in Australia can invent something that would end up being used by companies in the US or UK. So whether England was to remain in the EU or not, marketers’ access to technology would not have been harmed. When choosing your marketing technology, you shouldn’t go about checking the history of the country of its origin, but rather does this technology suit your strategy and needs of your team.
So What Does the Future Hold?
Daniel Hannan, a European Parliament member who actually lost his job as a result of the referendum, urged voters to vote to leave the EU. His message can be a beacon to marketers in order to send a strong and reassuring message. As he says, “we need not to look at a fantasy European Union” but to look at the one that “has taken shape right under our noses“. If we were never with the EU to begin with, the choice would have been a no-brainer. Would we in our right mind consider joining them? We would have to be crazy to do so. “Over the last 10 years, every continent has grown except Antarctica and Europe. If you count the cruise ships even Antarctica is growing”. Let this be your new message – take a positive approach to move forward.
The best thing that marketers can do now is to start looking for possibilities to grow their brands post-Brexit. This is also an opportunity for marketers to unleash their creativity and prove their worth globally. The UK has always been known for their inventive strengths. Now, more than ever it’s time to prove this.
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