Alistair Darling’s latest budget was brilliant – at least that’s what you think if your name is Gordon Brown. The body language at the Dispatch Box yesterday was remarkable. As soon as the Right Honourable Member for Edinburgh South West had delivered his budget speech, his boss from Number 10 Downing Street was all smiles and happiness. He even touched the Chancellor several times, whispering in his ear at the same time. Alistair Darling had the smug look of a teenage boy who had at long-last pleased his father.
And that’s the point. It seems that this budget was mostly delivered to just one person – Gordon Brown. It was a budget designed to impress his boss. “Look Daddy, did I do the right thing?”. Alistair Darling was speaking to his buddy, rather than the rest of us.
It is, of course, the budget speech that Gordon Brown always wanted to deliver himself – a 50% tax rate for the “rich” – but his boss, Tony Blair, just wouldn’t let him do it. Now, Gordon’s protege has done what he always wanted. Whoopee…!
But hang on a minute….I thought we were in an economic downturn. Aren’t businesses going to the wall every day? Don’t we have the highest number of people out of work for more than 25 years? Isn’t the country up to its eyeballs in debt? True enough – and, no doubt, the man who delivered the second shortest budget speech on record yesterday will say that his plans do allow us all to recover in the future. The problem is, no-one seems to believe him – except Gordon.
Wherever you look today online, or in the newspapers, the budget gets the big thumbs down. So what was going on yesterday? Two things are clear. Firstly, Alistair Darling appeared to be pandering to Gordon Brown in such a way that whatever happens in the next election he knows his boss will look after him. Secondly, they were trying to box the Conservatives into a corner. If the Tories oppose the 50% tax rate, the Labour Party would have considerable ammunition at the next election, claiming the opposition won’t be able to raise the money to get us out of the economic mire.
And therein lies the problem for many web site owners, strangely enough. The budget speech had two audiences – Gordon Brown and the Conservative Party leadership. The rest of us were forgotten – bit part players in the nation’s economic woes. A budget for the people it certainly wasn’t.
Like many web sites, the budget speech yesterday was focusing on the wrong audience. By trying to please Gordon and stuff the Tories, the budget failed to engage the British public – except for the millions of us left speechless by the disastrous figures revealed. Similarly, many web sites also focus on the wrong audience. Big business web sites often are produced internally with an eye to the boss, rather than the customers. Small business web sites are frequently produced with no real description of the audience in mind.
Focus your online presence on your real audience – the people you really want to attract and engage. Millions of web sites fail to succeed because they try to please everyone. Focus, focus, focus – make sure your web site targets your precise audience, rather than “everyone”.
Luckily, you can test to see if your web site is appropriately focused – specifically on your customers – by taking the “WeWe” test. Use the Customer Focus Calulator at FutureNow to see if your web site comes up to scratch. It will guide you in the right direction – perhaps the next Chancellor should run their budget speech through it first.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+