It’s been ages since I last posted – mea culpa. I do stand by my opinion that one should only contribute something to the wealth of information on the internet when one has something of value to say. This is a long one, but bear with me – there is a “teachable moment” at the end!
As a South African, we have just been to the polls, voting for our candidates and parties at national and provincial levels. We had a relatively short wait to cast our vote, only having to queue for about an hour and it was during this time that I noted a number of missed marketing opportunities, and some fundamental mistakes that we could all learn from.
My first is a bit of a personal gripe: as a woman, I really like to have access to toilet paper and soap when I go to that place which we will not name! Our voting station was out of these two little essentials and I thought it would have been such a great opportunity for the political parties to collectively have branded sachets of liquid soap and branded serviettes available in the facilities – no discrimination, all parties given the opportunity to supply branded items in equal amounts so that voters could choose to wipe and wash with the colours of their choice. Who know, I might have sprinkled my vote around a little more (couldn’t resist that!).
While we were waiting, it would have been fabulous to have been able to sit in chairs that were branded with party logo’s. When I look at some of the aerial photographs of lines of voters at some of the rural voting stations, stretching for hundreds of metres with no shade, I am sure that these voters would have appreciated the chance to rest their feet – regardless of who provided the means to do so.
During our wait, I thought it would have been an awesome opportunity for a local up-and-coming band to launch themselves to a bored and captive audience. Better still, what about creating edu-tainment opportunities to make going to the polls a more compelling exercise. Our country is starved for education, and I – for one – would be delighted to hold my workshop (Market Your Business Without Spending A Cent) for all those entrepreneurs who might have stood in the queues. What a wasted opportunity for free education – and wouldn’t it make the incumbent government look good?!?
Finally, when we neared the entrance to the station, there were two queues. We knew that there was a special queue to fast-track the elderly, pregnant women, people with physical infirmities and so on. However, there were also a number of young and perfectly able-bodied people standing in this queue, which created a lot of muttering among those of us who’d been standing for a long time. A couple of people walked over to the officials, clearly annoyed by this situation, only to be told rather rudely that the young, able-bodied voters were merely casting a national vote as they were out of their constituency. Don’t you think a simply set of signs would have solved a lot of unnecessary confusion, muttering and ill-temper? One sign to say: pensioners, people with special needs and people casting only national votes, and the other sign saying: National and Provincial voters queue here.
However, the lack of signage and the problems that it caused didn’t end there. Once we got inside, there were various stations. First, our ID documents had to be checked against the national voter’s roll. There were two people doing this. They had split the voter’s roll between them – one with A – M and the other with N – Z. Now, my surname begins with H. I was hailed by the chap who had the N – Z’s. It took him AGES to figure out that H didn’t fit between the letters N and Z and I had to go back to the end of the queue that had formed in front of the girl with the A – M section. It would have been so simple to put up a sign so that voters could go straight to the correct section.
So that was “Station 1”. The next station was to have our fingers inked with an indelible ink. There were no clear directions or signs that could have said: “Station 2: Inking”. The same applied for the next step, which was to have our ID books stamped and so on.
I know that this is a long post, but the point that I want to drive home is that we miss SO many opportunities to brand and market ourselves and our businesses effectively. I’m certainly going to work on my signage immediately. I’ve also just been approved as a lecturer at the University of Pretoria on their Neuroscience of Coaching programme and I am going to make sure that I use every opportunity possible to convey my branding. Let’s remain aware to what’s going on around us and make sure that we grab any and every opportunity to brand, brand, brand and market, market, market!