32 Sobbing in unison

Everyone has gone crazy. Car horns punch the air. A mood of delirious expectation and hope has filled the streets and the tiny kitchens of the country. People nod at strangers and gather round massive screens in public squares that transmit rapid flickering images against a relentless soundtrack of drum and bass. This is just the build-up. And we are already overwhelmed, willingly, by World Cup Fever.

Of course, someone in Darlington will claim they prefer watching Bargain Hunt, but the rest of the population… we will do nothing to resist the wave of collective fanaticism that a football tournament allows us, three times a decade at most.

It doesn’t matter who wins. It’s the chance to come together that we crave. This is the function that sport performs, the opportunity to act out a collectivist culture, instead of the individualism that marks our usual days.

Come on En-ger-land!
If England go out in the quarter-finals, we don’t really care – just as long as we can stand together, with flabby booze-streaked faces, arms round each other’s shoulders, sobbing in unison as our penalties go pinging over the bar and Germany’s dent the net. The reason we want to get to the Final on 11 July is not particularly to lift the trophy, it’s just to keep the moment going.

They are rare, these moments of mutual understanding, when we are certain of our communal identity. We haven’t this good a time since Diana died.

Media morons
As far as the media are concerned, it doesn’t matter at all which event draws us together. Consider the mawkish perpetuation of the Cumbria tragedy ten days after the event. There’s no actual news to report any more. Hasn’t been since day two. So what we get instead from the journos and cameras still desperately camped in the town is intrusion into people’s personal grief. Despite the polite requests of the locals to be left alone, what our breakfast news relentlessly supplies is voyeuristic, prurient non-news and banal interviews in search of a reason for us all to cry.

Content is secondary. The priority is to engineer a collective emotion and then milk it for days on end.

How does this relate to winning work in business?
Well, it’s a good reminder of what not to do. Competitive pitching and bidding requires content that’s specific and full of quantifiable benefit, not generalities and gestural puff. The fourth of my eight tips on winning bids is one of the most important. It’s the need to prove your firm commitment to the project the client has put to tender, not the one you didn’t win last month.

Customise and personalise
Clients are offering you a business opportunity. If the best you can be bothered to offer them in return is a generic response because it’s quicker than investing time in thinking about their job, don’t be surprised when you lose. Everyone can smell a cut and paste a mile off.

Name names. Be project-specific. Say you not the client. Talk about them before you blah on about yourselves. Be personal. Prove you care.

Not like this:
We provide our clients with the highest standards of quality on all our projects. We have a strong track record of working with existing design teams in an integrated manner, to predict and mitigate quality issues. Processes of consultation will be undertaken with the client’s consultants and involve key stakeholders on this current scheme.

Like this:
West Frampton is a scheme that Pike City Council needs to be proud of. Working with your design team of Ashfield and Dyke – and also local stakeholders such as the West Frampton Residents’ Association and the Butterfield Cooperative – will let us respond to your local issues, with a clear understanding of what quality means to you.

Nielsen Dinwoodie
business messages people remember


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