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Education, education, education

I’m someone who likes to learn. If I haven’t learned something today, by the time I want to go to bed, I’ll probably go and get a dictionary and learn a new word. So everything I watch, I like to take a small piece of wisdom from, and that includes the General Election that we’ve just had.

What can we learn from the election? Sadly, for me, I’m writing this before the polls have opened, and don’t have the luxury of knowing who won. So I haven’t learned that yet. Of course, that may not be entirely clear even as you read this. Gord, Dave and Nick may well be horsetrading a hung parliament.

Whatever is the case, we will certainly learn more about who will govern us, and how, in the weeks and months to come than we did during the campaign. There was very little of a policy nature on show to use to differentiate the parties.

Indeed, what would be a normal marketing tactic - explaining your points of difference from your key competitors - is clearly seen as dangerous in politics. A cynic might comment that the national policy needs to be as broad and vague as possible to allow local policy to change from doorstep to doorstep enabling more votes to be captured. Thank god I’m not a cynic. Honest I’m not.

So, if we can’t learn about differentiation from this election, what of marketing or communication value can we take out? Well, turn your mike off before you slag someone off for a start.

But there’s also the success of the TV debates. These rather formulaic, and obviously stage-managed occasions still managed to capture the public imagination. The debates roughly doubled the TV ratings at the times they were shown. They may even have engaged the disinterested and disenfranchised to the point of actually voting. Now that would be a success.

They show rather neatly that it is possible to engage interest in dull, complex subjects by being open and engaging in dialogue.

There’s a message here for construction. Don’t hide behind your planning applications, or your site hoardings. Get out there into the community, speak to them at their places of congregation, engage with them on their ground and you may find them much more amenable, and open to a chat, as opposed to shouting and bearing placards.

If it makes Nick Clegg look electable, it must be powerful.

Ross Sturley is Principal of Chart Lane, and a committee member for the Chartered Institute of Marketing Construction Interest Group (CIMCIG), who, btw, have no political affiliation.

Any opinions expressed in this article are those of the author etc etc. If you think the election might have mad a difference – check out the CIMCIG event on the Housing sector on May 11 – which will include some stuff about how the election might have changed it.