British males of a certain age have fond memories of the
actress Joanna Lumley from the 1970s television series The New
Yet even her most ardent fans could not have predicted that
she would become a major force in British politics as a campaigner of behalf of
the Gurkhas, the famously
brave Nepalese soldiers in British service.
Nor could they have foreseen how the conduct of her campaign
has some useful lessons for all of us in business:
1 Be relentless. The Gurkhas are renowned
for their ferocity, and the campaign for their residency rights in the UK follows
their example: it refuses to let the administration get away with anything; the
immediate response to every setback is a new attack, and every success is
followed up at once, so that obstructive politicians and bureaucrats are given
no time to regroup. A defining image is of Miss Lumley ambushing a hapless
Minister of State when they happened to find themselves in the same building. The same total commitment is the key to marketing.
2 Unpleasant things are best said pleasantly.
Miss Lumley is always nicely spoken, even when she is saying nasty things, and
she is calm in her tone, even when she is passionate. These are signs of
strength. Those who lose control, shout a lot, and abuse others are weaklings.
It is also helps you to get your way if you give the other party the
opportunity to surrender with dignity. If you back someone into a corner, you
can expect him to prove difficult.
3 Simplify. Making something sound more
complicated does not make it sound more convincing. Miss Lumley’s ability to sum up a
complex legal case in two minutes and thirty three seconds has more impact than
a long speech by an expensive lawyer.
4 Be clear about what you want. Those who
know what they want to get out of any situation will always dominate those who
do not. Clear objectives are the key to seizing the initiative and keeping it.
5 Beauty and charm are tangible assets. The
Gurkhas, for all their many virtues, are not celebrities and are not generally
considered aesthetically pleasing – such things should not matter, but matter
they do, especially in the superficial 21st Century West, which is
why Miss Lumley is the face and the voice of the campaign.