Voter apathy is challenge enough without bad DM

There are a seemingly never ending supply of studies that tell us the British public is more phlegmatic than at any point in history about politics, politicians and the party political back and forth in parliament and the media. 

Russell Parsons

This apathy will likely be illustrated in no uncertain terms in May when Members of the European Parliament are likely to be sent to Brussels with record low endorsements.

The disillusionment is also borne out by a lack of people putting their money where there mouth is and donating through membership subs or other means. For Labour in particular this is an issue particularly given Ed Milliband’s plans to reform the way the Labour party is funded. The Tories, despite the steady flow of donations from the super-rich, are not immune.

Such challenges require thoughtful marketing, which is not always evident.

Exhibit A. The Conservative Party has launched an online and email campaign soliciting donations. So far, so standard direct response campaign.

Thing is, the point of any call to action is that A. It is generally a singular action being sought, and B. the desired action is clear and the outcome resonates with supporters.

Not many of those boxes are ticked with the Tories’ latest effort.

The campaign details the Conservatives’ “long-term economic plan” and asks people to show their support for the plan by parting with £5 of their hard earned.

Click on “donate now” and you are told that your donation contributes to the funding of various modes of direct marketing – leaflets, personalised letters, telephone canvassing and, randomly, “welcome packs to new home owners”. 

Or to put another way, give us a fiver and we will increase the volume of junk mail and nuisance calls. Not a compelling proposition.

Furthermore, it does appear those donating are being recruited for future ammunition for the Tories to lob at Labour come the 2015 General Election.

Donors and would-be donors are presented with an ad using boxing match imagery that reads “In the blue corner, the Conservatives – reliant on the support of individuals like you” and “In the red corner, Labour, reliant on union funding”.

Putting aside questions of credibility because of the millions handed to the Tories by wealthy donors in the past, the dig serves to muddy the message.

As I say, direct marketing needs to have a clear call to action as well as a compelling and understandable outcome. ‘Donate to support our economic plan, help us fund more direct marketing and help demonstrate that we are not funded by the evil union empire’ leaves several of those boxes unticked.

All three main parties are facing a huge challenge sparking any level of enthusiasm. Their marketing needs to be a whole lot better than this to get anywhere near meeting this challenge.      

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