Unlike in 2015, Corbyn’s victory in the recent Labour leadership contest, announced on Saturday, came as no surprise.
In this year’s contest, he was no longer the rank outsider but firm favourite, ending any parallels with the football club Leicester City, whose surprise victory in the Premier League last season looks increasingly like a one off.
So it’s rare for an outsider to win, rarer still to establish themselves as the favourite in future contests. On the basis that if someone is doing something better than the competition, they are doing something different to them, it’s likely there are lessons to learn from Corbyn’s success.
For B2B brands, aspects of Corbyn’s campaign can be replicated. And, despite his impressive victory, there are flaws in his approach that should be avoided.
Corbyn lacks polish. He’s not a great orator, delivering speeches clumsily, and his interviews contain his unfiltered, honest views rather than calculated responses based on what’s politically sensible. While that might sound laudable, his claim that he was, “about a seven, seven and a half “, on wanting Britain to remain in the EU seems misguided in the wake of the Brexit vote, presuming he was genuinely hopeful of a Remain vote.
And yet, and yet. For his legions of fans, this is simply evidence that this is a politician untainted by the dark arts of spin. A politician that can be trusted – someone offering “straight talking, honest politics “.
For B2B brands, there’s an opportunity to identify what it is that makes your product or service unique, consider the extent to which you truly believe it can make a difference to the way other businesses operate, and authentically and honestly communicate this.
That means not chasing after every passing fad – if businesses aren’t aware of the importance of your offering, commission some research to prove your case. And, if you’ve got research that reveals businesses are missing a trick, that’s a story.
Corbyn soared to victory in 2015 through a distinctive offering: unambiguously against austerity and the Tory Welfare Reform and Work Bill. His three opponents, conversely, could be portrayed as promising little more than different shades of the same offer.
For B2B brands, it’s important to consider what’s truly unique about your product or service and to shout about this.
Corbyn’s team have been very effective at mobilising his support via social media. They’ve identified the social channels where his supporters are based and target them with frequent, shareable content that encourages these supporters to help amplify his message.
B2B brands should be doing the same – LinkedIn is likely to be key, but it’s worth researching other platforms and experimenting with different kinds of content. Whether thought leadership articles, videos, discussions or infographics, it’s important to look at what’s shareable, what’s building engagement and what’s driving traffic.
Despite his recent successes, Corbyn also provides B2B businesses with lessons in what not to do. His current polling simply isn’t good enough. Sure, he’s able to mobilise 300,000 supporters, but it’s likely he’ll need to secure more than 10 million votes to win a general election. He needs to broaden his support and ensure he’s not simply preaching to the converted.
Similarly, B2B brands can’t rest on their laurels. It’s great to have a committed and engaged audience, but it’s always worth considering why other businesses have chosen a competitor over you, or simply aren’t even considering the products or services offered by any business in your sector.
Of course, diversifying your appeal shouldn’t come at the expense of alienating your core base or compromising your authenticity.
Instead, skilled communications involves reaching out to the undecided while maintaining your voice.
Herein lies the route to success, whether in business or in politics. Drop us a line if you want to talk about getting it right. We’re always happy to discuss winning ideas.