Monday, March 16, 2015


Politics is a lot about perceptions – creating them and defending or dispelling them. So too is marketing. Politicians can learn a lot from marketting to sell their message.

Marketting should make selling easier. Through the creation of awareness, enhancing the customer experience with the product or service, ensuring the associations are positive all in the hope of creating customer loyalty.

How one goes about doing the above will depend on the product or company’s position in the market.

In the classical book Marketing Warfare by Al Ries & Jack Trout they identify four positions in the marketing environment – the leader, the challenger, the flanker and the guerrilla. So the trick is to know your place in this hierarchy, important because it would make no sense to use the leader’s marketting tactics when you occupy the guerrilla position.

Basically if you own the leadership position in an industry in addition to innovating you have to watch the challenger, replicating or executing better any new initiatives they may come up with. If you are a challenger you should be looking to turn the leader’s strengths into weakness as part of a strategy to unseat them from the top. If you are the flanker you should only contest for space in the areas where the leader and challenger are uninterested.  The guerrilla is a variation of the same theme, identifying a niche market and exploiting and even dominating it.

Of course these positions are not static, changing as the competition goes along, depending on the ambitions and execution of their respective strategies by the players.

"Also given the different strategies the players employ in the market, their respective calibration of what constitutes victory will, out of necessity, differ...

It would be instructional to learn from the history of the NRM.

In the wilderness of Luwero they fought as guerrillas. Understanding their limitations in terms of human and material capacity they were keen not to engage the UNLA in any frontal battles. Hitting and running, not offering a stationary target. Building their capacity painstakingly slowly while losing as little of their hard earned capacity as possible. Victory at it’s bare minimum was that you were still alive the next day.

They graduated to flankers taking over uncontested territory in western Uganda. Victory here was that they could protect these marginal areas from government attacks.  They eventually challenged for the prize by turning the UNLA’s strength, their heavy armaments and fixed positions into weakness, attacking on many fronts, using speedy and lithe mobile units to which UNLA was slow to react.

When in power and as the leader, beyond casting their net every which way they can in formulating policy, they have not been averse to adopting opposition proposals as their own and even spreading dissension in the “enemy” camp on the odd occasion.

Going by this segmentation it is futile to bunch the opposition together. That being said the individual parties have not been clear to the public what their unique selling proposition is and even worse they are not clear about their positioning in the grand scheme of things.

That is a problem.

"You will be doomed to failure if your party should be pandering to a niche audience and yet you are posturing like a mass party. Or for lack of resources a party, which should be looking for uncontested ground is challenging for the political leadership of the country...

Of course, it is one thing what parties tell the electorate and a totally different thing what they are truly capable of.

This is an important discussion because ten years after the return to multiparty democracy it is safe to say, the opposition parties have not made progress, in fact they have already ceded ground.

It’s this lack of strategic clarity that is dooming them to worse than the perennial bridesmaids of Ugandan politics.

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