How The Remain Campaign Has Got Its Marketing WrongAnyone who watched the EU Referendum debate on ITV last night will have seen exactly how singular the Remain camp's argument is. Faced with any question - whether about immigration, defence, the NHS or unemployment - David Cameron's answer was the same, "The best way to tackle (problem x) is to have a strong economy and the way to ensure we have one is to stay in the EU".

And therein lies the problem...

 

More at stake than just money

The Remain campaign has failed to understand its audience and has not identified what that audience wants. Instead, it has ploughed ahead with pushing out the message it always wanted to push out: "As individuals, we will all have more money if we vote to remain in the EU".

Before the campaign got underway, this must have seemed like a sensible approach. Surely, everyone cares about how much money they have in their wallet. Why not make that the driver?

As the referendum draws nearer and the media coverage gets ever more intense, it is clear that in fact the audience cares about more than just money. What is more, it is equally clear that the audience can see the inherent fault in the Remain campaign's argument.

 

Standard answers to different questions

To explain what we mean, let us take a look at three questions that voters are asking and the stock Remain campaign answer to each:

 

Q: There is too much traffic on the road - my communte takes 3x as long as it used to. This is due to population growth. How can we tackle this?

A: The best way to tackle it is by having a strong economy, which being in the EU will ensure.

 

Q: My child's school has had to increase its intake because of demand for places which is impacting the children's education - what can we do about this?

A: The best way to tackle it is by having a strong economy, which being in the EU will ensure.

 

Q: I am concerned about national security - given the freedom of movement within the EU and the recent attacks in France and Belgium - how do we stay safe?

A: The best way to tackle it is by having a strong economy, which being in the EU will ensure.

 

From a marketing point of view, there are three huge errors being committed here.

 

Ignoring public concerns

 

The first is that the Remain campaign is overtly failing to listen to its audience. It is not that the campaign's leaders have trouble understanding the questions, what they are showing the audience is that they are ignoring them quite wilfully. This lack of care and concern for its audience has become apparent to voters and they have said as much, yet still the Remain campaign ignores them.

The second is the lack of flexibility. Once forecasts and straw polls started to indicate that the campaign was waning, it should have been possible to change emphasis and redefine both the message and its delivery. The campaign seems to be stuck on autopilot with no off switch.

The third is the point we alluded to above - the inherent flaw in the argument.

If the answer to the housing shortage is membership of the EU, and we have been in the EU (EC) since 1973, surely there could not be a housing shortage. In fact, the answer to any of today's problems cannot be the status quo, otherwise those problems would not exist.

For the Remain campaign to ignore the concerns of its audience and to plough on with its singular message regardless of the changes taking place around it, is simply poor marketing. 

In marketing terms, the Remain camp is fiddling while (the Treaty of) Rome burns.