Today’s post is about Nicole Seah. It is about how Nicole Seah is not just a true blue Singaporean: she is also a highly skilled marketer when it comes strategic messaging. Her speech is strategic because of the way it is structured, and how she manages to address the pain points of diverse groups of Singaporeans in such a short period of time. Since it takes one to know one, I am going to deconstruct Nicole Seah’s speech for you today in the capacity of a trained Public Relations practitioner. For the convenience of analysis, I’ve cut out Nicole Seah’s portion for you:
Transcript of Nicole Seah’s Full Speech:
Nicole Seah As A True-Blue Marketer #1: Pretty Well-Defined Buyer’s Persona
a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. When creating your buyer’s persona, consider including customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better.
Basically, once personas are identified, marketers can then speak directly to this one imagined person in all their messaging, such as in speech or via copies. In the above short speech, three groups of personas are apparent:
- Persona #1: (Young) Singaporeans who “have fallen through the cracks”
This group refers to Singaporeans who are fresh graduates and working in the gig-economy. And yes, this group seems likely to be heavily impacted by the COVID-19 situation and the prolonged negative impacts that comes with it. I’ve written excessively about the COVID-19 job situation and referenced heavily to raw data, so you may take a look here.
This group of people is likely to feel somewhat betrayed and stressed out during this COVID-19 period, because they don’t know what’s coming next.
- Persona #2. Singaporeans who faced and are facing severe cashflow issues due to COVID-19
The keyword here is Singaporeans who are facing currently severe CASHFLOW issues. Therefore, they might even be typically classified as asset rich, but this cashflow issue is potentially killing them NOW.
As a result, they are often very desperate and worried people who are working very hard now to find ways to ease the cash flow issue, or risk going bankrupt.
- Persona #3: Voters of East Coast GRC
This group of people are Singaporeans who can vote and live in the East Coast GRC. They are probably facing some sort of ethical dilemma now. Such as,
- “Am I screwing things up for all Singaporeans if I vote Singapore’s potential next prime minister Heng Swee Keat out?” or
- “Am I screwing things up for all Singaporeans if I don’t vote qualified opposition party candidates like Nicole Seah in?”
What does the respective detailed buyer’s persona tell you about her? It tells you that she and her team have done their homework in East Coast GRC and beyond. Why? Because it is impossible to come up with such accurate buyer’s personas if the politician hasn’t spoken to say, at least 200 people. As marketers, we know that it is important to have a large sample size to accurately profile the groups of people we intend to influence.
Don’t believe me? Watch this video of Nicole Seah and hear it in her own words:
Also, you definitely don’t get to hear extensive news of type #2 of the buyer’s persona focusing on their cashflow issues in the mainstream media for example. Usually, if you see persona type #2 in the mainstream media, it will be about them being resilient and doing their best to cope with the current (often emphasised “temporary” hardships).
Now– what if I put to you that the cashflow issue won’t be less than 6 months, and is likely to continue into 2021 and 2022? That changes your perspective and interpretation of the narrative, doesn’t it?
Nicole Seah As A True Blue Marketer #2: A Highly Articulate Breakdown of Pain Points & Remedies
Now, it is not sufficient to list out your buyer’s persona, we also have to articulate the pain points and offer compelling remedies.
To Group #1: The Singaporeans who have fallen through the cracks
- Concern #1a: Imagine graduating into an economy when you have to fight with so many other graduates who also have no experience. All you are probably praying for is for any employer to give you a chance. What will you do??!
- Concern #1b: Or, imagine working in the gig economy, and suddenly having your COVID-19 income drop to zero. You still have to pay rent in Singapore, which is a recurring monthly fixed cost due to the contract. What can you do, and how can the government help?!
Proposed remedy: To concerns #1 and #2, Nicole Seah highlighted flaws in the current education system which might deny children from lower income families of opportunities to receive a good education at tertiary institutions. She also highlighted the need for academia to be more in touch with industry, so that whatever that is learnt in school can give graduates a competitive edge when they graduate. This line of argument is consistent with what Dr Jamus Lim preaches– that there is something broken in the education system.
To Group #2: Singaporeans who faced and are facing severe cashflow issues due to COVID-19
- Main Concern: “How long will my cash flow issue last? Will I need to declare bankruptcy eventually? Is my savings sufficient to tide my family through?”
Nicole probably refers to the SIRS scheme here. It is probably true that many distressed people starving for cashflow might find it frustrating because the application procedure considers how rich they were in the past (I hear that FY2019 tax payment submissions were used, i.e. it refers to FY2018 income), when everything probably came crashing down overnight.
In other words, I can be earning >$100,000 for my FY2019 filed income, AND can be earning a grand total of 0 per month from April 2020, due to the effect of COVID-19. While this happens, I can still own one private property that is worth above the stated criteria. And if that happens, I probably won’t get help from SIRS even though this is a very serious cashflow issue I’m currently facing, which might potentially make me bankrupt.
COVID-19 does not expose problems in assets. Instead, it exposes problems with cashflow. To find out if a political candidate really walked the ground or not, you can simply consider whether they mentioned the cashflow issue or not. You can be asset-rich and currently be in deep trouble due to lack of cashflow.
Proposed Remedy: She reassures this group that Worker’s Party will do their best and do more to get more money into the hands of working class Singaporeans, and to entrepreneurs, specific to ease this cashflow problem. We all know that rent is a huge recurring issue for enterpreneurs even in the upcoming months.
She also pointed out that the Worker’s Party had been consistently raising these issues in parliament already. In my personal opinion, such reassurances are very important because it shows empathy and that they are speaking up for the various personas they represent.
To Group #3: Voters of East Coast GRC
Main Concern: East Coast GRC members face an ethical dilemma– Voting either ways will likely evoke guilt in the voter. If they vote for DPM Heng Swee Keat’s team, then they are voting a very qualified Nicole Seah’s team out. If they vote for Nicole Seah, then they are voting a very experienced DPM Heng’s team out.
Remedy: Nicole Seah appeals here to larger values of fairness and balance to her voters in East Coast GRC. You can see this particular messaging coming very strongly at the end of her speech. And after listening to her speech, I’m personally convinced.
BTW, i’m not still not sure what larger values PAP stand for. PAP’s slogan is “our lives, our jobs, our future”. And indeed, the problem with this slogan is WHO IS “OUR”, hahaha. There are no well-defined personas, very different from Nicole Seah’s speech! From a PR perspective, I certainly don’t think this is a wise slogan because there are clearly so many fractions in Singapore society now, further exposed by COVID-19!
I also like the fact that she ended off with one benefit specific to East Coast GRC votes– that they can have both WP politicians representing them in parliament, and also most likely, all five PAP grassroots advisors. I think this is awesome! PAP candidates are pretty experienced, and it will be so cool if they can check on the performance of WP representing East Coast folks in parliament.
Another interesting consideration: It’s only 5 years, correct? If you guys don’t like Nicole Seah’s team, then vote them out after five years lor. And frankly speaking, if Singapore sort of loses a potential prime minister because you guys vote for Nicole Seah and her team, then there is something wrong with the system especially if there is no close replacement for a role as important as the Prime Minister’s.
Also, why would you want to support a political system that some say, might come crashing down if a potential PM is voted out? To me that narrative is not convincing at all. If that can happen, then it means that the political system is rather fragile, isn’t it. Just take a moment to think about this. It might be wise to vote for qualified opposition party candidates who make our political system more robust!
Nicole Seah As A True Blue Marketer #3: Appealing To Hope, Not Fear
I really, really like how most speeches by the Worker’s Party focus very much on hope and not fear, in this campaign. You can even see this visually, in photographs (such as the above) which Nicole is in. We get the feeling that she is in politics because she wants to create a better Singapore. This inspires Singaporeans to think about what sort of Singapore they want for their kids and for the next generation.
Actually, you can see this through the candidate’s body language also. Candidates representing Worker’s Party seem to have a stronger “why” as to why they want to be a politician in an opposition party. They seem to speak from their hearts, as opposed to fearing that they might say something out of line with the official narrative.
Via Nicole Seah’s speech, we can see a strong appeal to the goodness and humanity in her electorate. QUOTE:
“…And we also hope that you will not want a super majority in parliament that goes unchecked. A vote for the Worker’s Party is a vote for fairness and balance.”Note that she could have used a language of fear, such as “If you don’t vote for us, Singapore is going to die.” (or something similar lol). She did not. It was a choice. 🙂
Traditionally I’ve voted for PAP, because Minister Khaw Boon Wan (who’s now retired, bless your heart Sir!) was such an amazing MP representing my area in Sembawang GRC. When he was representing us, he also did regular walkabouts and house-to-house visits. People in Minister Khaw’s area actually DO know and DO like him very much.
Worker’s Party does have very good candidates these round. For Sengkang people, you have Dr Jamus Lim at least as one viable candidate, who speaks up for the middle class too, by championing for a rebalancing of share of labour income, and a smaller income gap discrepancy.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Once again, I’m doing this post so that you can appreciate Nicole Seah’s potential to be an eloquent and strategic MP from an opposition party who can represent us in parliament, if only if the people at East Coast give her a chance.
As a disclaimer, I am not a Worker’s Party member, and neither do I know anybody in Worker’s Party. For the record, I can’t even vote for Worker’s Party because they are not standing in Sembawang GRC!! I am simply FOR Singapore, and I do strongly believe in having more qualified politicians from opposition parties representing us in parliament. Diversity in views and ideologies can only give us a more robust and antifragile decision making process, and I would like to urge Singaporeans to vote more qualified candidates from opposition parties in.
Of course PAP folks will argue that there is diversity already within PAP. I beg to differ– just look at this excellent resource: #GE2020: A 5-minute tour of parliamentary votes in the past 10 years. Bro, seems to me that there’s indeed a blank cheque leh.
There is also an ongoing fear, for example, that if Singaporeans vote for opposition party candidates for the sake of having “more diverse views”, then we are f*cking up outselves should there be a freak result. I beg to differ. Contrary to this narrative, I think there are few qualified opposition party candidates this round, probably less than 4 GRCs and 2 SMC. I personally don’t think Singaporeans will vote for unfamiliar parties with suspicious candidates. That’s it, LOL!
The key phrase here is “qualified opposition party candidates”. It is likely that PAP will win by a landslide again. This is because not all constituencies have qualified opposition party candidates. In constituencies with strong PAP and weak opposition candidates, of course Singaporeans will vote the stronger PAP team in and rightly so! So our focus as voters here should be how we can increase the chances of getting these 4GRCs and 2 SMCs into parliament, assuming that your goal is aligned with mine– to have more qualified politicians representing truly diverse voices and ideas in parliament. It is wise to move towards a parliamentary system that is more robust.