Thursday, 8 October 2009

Will the Patient Take the Medicine?

George Osborne gave some people a bit of bad news this week. Public sector workers will be a bit miffed at the pay freeze and many people will be concerned at the idea of having to work for longer before retirement.

But as many commentators have pointed out, George's announcements have only notionally shaved tiny amounts off the deficit that Labour have created.

So how will people feel when they start to grasp the extent to which an incoming Conservative government will have to cut spending and understand the sort of impact it will have on them?

I think this is an issue in which presentation is absolutely key. For any sales or marketing person it's a classic 'Hurt and Rescue' scenario.

To successfully sell a proposition using Hurt and Rescue, you need to describe the hurt in detail so that your customer really, really focuses on the pain it is causing and really understands the depth of it. Only when your efforts to focus the customer on the hurt reach an absolute agonising, tortuous peak should you deliver the Rescue to the grateful punter. Try and deliver it before they understand and feel the Hurt and they simply will not want the Rescue.

Across the UK people are being told by the media that the recession is, if not over, then over the worst. In Labour parlance - 'things can only get better.'

How can that be true? As a result of the 'stimulus' policies of the last 12 months, the worst effects of a potential total collapse of the financial system were avoided, but we now have a monstrous debt and a huge dent in tax revenues and an economy, which after 12 years of failed policies is 'not fit for the purpose' of recovery.

So the challenge for the Conservatives will be to get the size and scale of the problem deeply and widely rooted in the minds of the electorate because in reality the full negative effects of the Labour Debt Disaster will not be felt by people until after the election - it's a challenge of mental persuasion because the physical effects have been staved off by an injection of borrowed cash.

If the Conservatives don't acheive this then they could still win but probably by a small majority and their ability to push through the measures needed would be severely hampered - so Britain would be very, very sick for a very, very long time.

If, in the next 9 months, the Conservatives get it right and the people grasp the problem and really understand it's severity then they will gratefully welcome the medicine that will help them get better. Fail, and the Conservatives will simply be offering a bitter pill that few will want to swallow.


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