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Lessons for Bankers from the Indian General Elections

02 June 2014  |  2919 views  |  0

Finally, the dust has settled!  About 550 million adult Indians have chosen a decisive government with absolute majority, and that too for the first time in about 30 years. The world’s largest democracy has demonstrated the power of ballot. Throughout the campaign, many shortcomings related to the wining party such as lower human development in a few ruling states, communal precedence, anti poor actions were brought to voters’ notice. However, voters weren’t influenced and voted for the winning party to give it a resounding victory. This election is hailed as a well-orchestrated event and is an ideal case for professional scrutiny.  This win amid lot of complexity holds few lessons for many banking CXOs in terms of brand building and new product development.

  1. Set a vision:  The campaign was built around the vision of “272+  seats”
  2. Offer aspirational product: The PM nominee was projected as the messiah of development, who can bring in rapid economic growth--an alluring proposition in a gloomy economic environment.
  3. Be disruptive – leverage technology:   The winning party adopted “out-of-the-box” approach by using 3D hologram technology that helped its PM nominee’s voice being heard across India. The use of social media complemented the traditional voter outreach activity and helped in faster two-way communication. The video conference interactions across India were also an instant hit among voters.
  4. Leverage a centralized marketing function - offer consistent messaging across all business lines:  All the voter outreach messages were sent out from a central hub. The messages centered on the PM nominee and his vision of development and his message on inclusiveness of Indians. It remained consistent across all regions of India until the end of the campaign. Merchandise such as T-shirts, mugs, mask, caps, stationary and even personalized pen drives with pictures of the PM nominee were distributed to gain mind share.
  5. Be social and local in business – have 360-degree outreach program for immediate ROI: The PM nominee communicated with various age-group and sections of the voters through print, television, and social media.  The PM nominee of the winning party could immediately communicate with about 20 million voters – his followers on Twitter and Facebook, most of them young and first time voters.  The PM nominee addressed about 2000 in-person and through virtual rallies. In parallel, ground-level workers and volunteers were asked to gather real time feedback on the acceptance of the messages being sent out .The campaign was highly localized and in all speeches regional issues were highlighted and most of it had the local flavor.
  6. Be a fierce protector of your brand: Whenever competitors were targeting the PM nominee or the party, the counter response was almost in real time through social and visual media.
  7. Reach out to the unbanked and leapfrog the competition:  The winning team could leverage 3D Hologram technology through superior logistics and ensured that the message of PM nominee of the winning party spread to the interiors of India, where traditional media was absent. They could cover 100 million more voters through this outreach program.  This approach completely outfoxed the competing parties.
  8. Groom multi-layered leadership for optimum results:  The wishes and aspirations of each region were different. The winning party was able to portray a second level leadership to complement the PM nominee, at each state and union territory for better accountability and acceptance.
  9. Expand base through strategic partnerships: India is a socially diverse country. The voting preferences are mostly based on religion, language, and caste. Therefore, the winning party strategized to form partnership to achieve their vision. The winning party had base only in West and Central India. To gain universal acceptance, it collaborated with many regional political outfits.  For the first time in the history of Indian election 30 parties, including the main winning party combined fight elections under a common PM nominee.
  10. Feedback channel should always be open:  The voter outreach did not end even after the new PM was sworn in.  A new portal was created, where every citizen could give direct feedback to the new PM. In addition, within days of government formation all ministers of the new government have been advised to connect with citizens through Facebook and Twitter.

I personally feel there is a big takeaway for bankers. The strategy adopted by the winning party offers a recipe of successful product rollout, through brand building, harnessing the power of multiple stakeholders across multiple departments, through technology and customer-centric outreach.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity.

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