9 Lessons to Learn From Narendra Modi's Election Campaign
The decisive victory of Narendra Modi in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections has arguably been a watershed in the Indian political landscape. There is more to this victory than meets the eye. Behind Modi's win lies his discerning entrepreneurial instinct similar to that of the leader of a growing business aiming to achieve big. Although politics and business are two different fields, Modi's journey to the Parliament offers a great analogy for businesses to be drawn in order to succeed.
The 2014 election campaign turned out to be an unprecedented one that outreached people’s expectation in terms of energy, innovation and focus on two aspects - good governance and growth. The ‘Modi Wave’ swept the entire nation in its saffron revolution with high hopes to turn the dream of ‘India Shining’ into a reality. One of the positive aspects of 2014 elections was the staggering number of 150 million first-time voters (out of 815 million voters) who were resolute for bringing the change. A strategically planned election campaign worked day in and day out to create brand NaMo. Modi’s extensive marketing and branding techniques, effective use of social media, strong communication strategy, understanding target audiences and the manner in which the entire process was undertaken were simply impeccable.
As a result, Modi’s election campaign strategy makes a great case study for entrepreneurs and business schools alike. Top Indian management and business schools like IIMs, ISB and XLRI are already planning to introduce lessons on Narendra Modi’s huge electoral success, his leadership style and innovative marketing strategies.
Modi vs the Rest
It was for the first time in the history of Indian elections that a larger than life image was created out of a leader. Each marketing and campaigning strategy was so meticulously planned that it removed all hurdles for Narendra Modi. From RSS pracharak to India’s PM – Modi’s meteoric rise is all about passion, commitment and innovation with a vision to excel.
Despite its deep roots in politics, Congress failed to foresee, adapt and respond to the changes happening around. In other words, it lacked the agility of a small enterprise that continuously seeks ways to rebuild and reinvent itself with the passing time. This implies that any business can fail if it is not willing to embrace change and fight competition. Lack of strong leadership, communication gap within the party, and moreover, party’s failure in understanding public sentiments lead to the downfall of Congress.
Although AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal’s ideologies created a political stir in the nation, he failed to harness this force in his election campaign. Just like in business, leaders need to first build a strong organisational base and give it a direction before heading for higher goals. In businesses too, company’s goal must get the upper hand against individual goals to ensure long-term growth and sustainability.
Modi first did the task of building a strong team by placing right people at right places. He then aligned each party worker with a common goal and being the face of the party, he decided to lead from the front. Modi made BJP workers feel that their individual contribution is important for the party’s growth. The chemistry between the leader and foot-soldiers was commendable. For voters, the message – ‘We are marching for New Delhi’ – was loud and clear.
It is evident that in business too leaders have to first deliver before declaring themselves numero-uno in their fields; they should ensure perfect alignment and strong communication between the management and employees by fostering the team spirit and maintaining the clarity of goals. Senior leaders should work in co-ordination with young generation to stay ahead of the time. They should be willing to take risks, explore new opportunities and focus on building an innovation culture within. And if required, leaders should also be ready to work on the grassroots level. A brand is the face of an organisation. Hence, its leaders should invest in their people first to build a sustainable brand.
Modi Ki Paathshala...
Modi has the qualities of a strong leader, a great visionary, a stellar organiser, a meticulous planner and a true strategist who created a big mass mobilisation by building a huge organisational bandwidth.
Here are some lessons from Narendra Modi’s election campaign:
1. Start Early & Set Clear Goals: Although BJP started its election campaigning almost a year before, Modi started using social media as early as 2009, and this gave him a huge advantage. From the beginning, he made his intentions to become India’s next PM clear. Modi’s clarity of thoughts and early start paved the way for his success.
2. Follow ‘Small is Big’ Policy: Break your final target into a set of small targets. Modi first built Gujarat as a sustainable development model and then projected his work to win public backing for his PM candidature. He gradually built his goodwill and maintained very strong and cordial relations with domestic and international business communities, governments,
3. Make Communication Effective: To back his campaign, Modi created some of the most popular slogans like Janta maaf nahi karegi, Ab ki baar Modi sarkaar and Ache din aane wale hain, which caught voters’ attention. The slogans reached every nook and corner of the country. Modi effectively utilised all marketing channels like social media, videos, newspaper and TV ads, and distributed merchandise to people and business groups. He even crowdsourced valuable inputs and ideas sent by volunteers that became the part of his speeches during rallies.
4. Use Technology Effectively: Effective use of technology was one of the defining features of Modi’s campaign. The knowledge of how to use different kinds of technologies to address different audiences helped him connect better with people. His 3D rallies, Chai Pe Charcha, Mission 272+ and the use of Google Hangouts and Google remarketing for more mature audience did wonders. Modi addressed 440 rallies in around 5,800 locations stretched over 3 lakh km including the 3D Bharat Vijay Rallies. The parallel running online campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and messages, slogans via Whatsapp further strengthened his reach.
5. Do SWOT Analysis of Your Competitors: Modi is well-known for attacking his enemies at their weak spots. He knew whom to attack, how to attack and for what. He regularly attacked Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi in order to expose the weakness of UPA government. He was very well aware of his opponent’s strengths, weakness and he knew how to make them work in his favour.
6. Align Team Members With a Common Goal: In business, you need people who fall in line with your goal. Unity and teamwork should be preferred over individual competence. Modi aligned the entire team with a common goal. Unlike Congress and AAP, BJP decided to cash-in on the Modi wave and made good governance and development as the focal point of the entire campaign.
7. Retain Start-up Culture: Modi’s campaign showcased the hunger for growth. He lived by the notion – think big, grow fast. Within eight months, he was successfully able to sell his model of good governance to people. A number of vibrant and dedicated teams of Karyakartaas worked relentlessly with an effective communication network in a simple and planned manner to build Modi brand. To bring in the agility of a start-up in a corporate set-up, businesses have to do away with complex organisation structure, lack of communication among team members and opaque policies.
8. Gather Resources to Scale Up: It is important for a business have critical resources such as enough operating capital and a team with entrepreneurial spirit. Modi built a regiment of digital marketing and advertising experts that turned Modi into a brand. The entire media planning was handled by media buying agency Madison, whereas creative strategy was undertaken by advertising veterans Prasoon Joshi and Piyush Pandey. There were also a lot of people from educated class, such as accountants and MBAs, who worked as volunteers for Modi’s success.
9. Be Ready to Face Opposition: Despite opposition from some key BJP leaders, Congress, AAP and other regional parties, Modi kept his differences backstage and focused on winning the elections. Right from the start-up to growth stage and beyond, it is obvious to come across with elements that hinder your business growth. But as a business owner, you have to rise above all and tread the path that you think is right for your business. However, it is important for you to know that what you are doing will eventually be beneficial for all – company, employees, customers and the society.
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