Choose ‘Em Or Lose ‘Em! A Marketing Lesson From Margaret Thatcher!


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This is an interesting one for me! On the eve of her funeral I thought I’d share a lesson in marketing from Baroness Thatcher no less!

Let me state from the start that this is not a political ‘rant’. However, I should declare a ‘slight interest’ as someone who worked down Dinnington colliery in the 1980?s and whose family lived and breathed (literally!) the steel industry, I am not defending her, and never could. In fact, I was very much opposed to her at the time – when there was a march against her, I was on it!

But, as time moves on, there is an opportunity to reflect, and it’s clear that she made a significant impact on the country, both good and bad. I even think that there’s a lesson in marketing in there for businesses!

So what’s the marketing lesson? Well, our definition of ‘marketing’ is “finding, attracting and keeping the customers you want while maximsing your profits”. It means targeting the right customers, providing something they want, doing it better than your competitors, and maximising your financial returns by getting them to come back for more.

As leader of the conservative party in the 1970?s and 80?s Margaret Hilda Thatcher had a clear focus on the sort of ‘customers’ she wanted to work for (and crucially, those she didn’t) and ‘positioned’ herself accordingly.

What she didn’t try to do was to be ‘all things to all people’ – You knew exactly what she stood for (and on who she stood – oops, a bit of politics there!) and everything she did reinforced that. The result was clearly ‘raving fans’ and obviously many opposers, but the number of ‘raving fans’ was enough to win her 3 elections.

And that’s the key lesson…. 3D businesses ‘Choose ‘Em Or Lose ‘Em’! They focus on specifically targeted types of customers and are happy to say ‘no’ to those they don’t want to work with. They ‘position’ themselves and understand that they don’t have to be loved by everyone. For example I suspect that there are lots of Waitrose customers who never go to Netto, and vice versa – the point being that their ‘offer’ is targeted at specific customer types (saying that, I do have to point out that they don’t create hardship for those other customers who don’t want to ‘buy from’ (read ‘vote for’) them, but that’s a different matter!)

3D businesses also ‘deliver consistently’ and it’s clear that Margaret Thatcher ‘delivered’ and fullfiled her ‘brand promises’ consistently. Again, it was not something that was beneficial for all, but something that all businesses can learn from – what are your ‘brand promises’ and do you ‘deliver’… consistently?

So, Margaret Thatcher as ‘marketing guru’? I think not, but clearly someone with a focused message to a specific group of people and this quote highlights her approach… “Don’t follow the crowd, let the crowd follow you.”

That applies to businesses and their approach to customers – get ahead of your competitors by being clear about what you stand for, focusing on specific customer groups and delivering what they want….. but a word of warning, please don’t go round closing coal mines, steelworks and abandoning whole communities – please do it for some good (sorry, couldn’t help that bit!)

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Andy Hanselman
Hi there! I help businesses and their people create competitive advantage by 'Thinking in 3D'! That means being 'Dramatically and Demonstrably Different'! I research, speak about, write about and work with businesses to help them maximise their sales and marketing, their customer service and their customer relationships.


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