It’s politics season.

Labour are just coming to the end of their conference, and Chief!Ed gave what was by all accounts a barnstormer of a speech.

I’m not going to get into my politics here. I’ve got them, and one day I might talk about them. But not now.

Now I want to talk about this paragraph, taken not from the speech but from James Landale’s analysis of it:

But that said, Mr Miliband did go some way to tackling one of the questions that have been hanging above his head: could voters imagine him as prime minister? Today he gave an outstanding speech, without notes or text, a performance that was assured and confident, engaging and near-faultlessly delivered.

I’m not sure what I would look for in a prime minister. Ability to negotiate is probably useful – that’s pretty much what politics is. Some grasp of economics would be pretty handy right now.

Ability to remember long speeches and then… well, speech, is probably not very high up the list. But that seems to be what everyone’s looking for.

Why’s this?

Mostly because what everyone’s looking for is someone who looks the part. If they can’t imagine him as prime minister, they don’t vote for him. Whether or not he can actually do the job is irrelevant – we don’t get to find that out until after he’s in office, and it’s not like we can take him back to the shop for a refund.

What matters, then, is the presentation. The marketing. Right now, Labour are in opposition, so they’re out to sell. That means they need a product that can be sold. But it doesn’t have to do everything – or anything – they said it would on the box… it just has to look like it can.

And exactly the same is true if you’re selling something, online or off. The product does not make sales. The marketing makes sales. The only thing the product affects is the refund rate. (Of course, since your customers can get a refund, that doesn’t mean you get to disregard it completely. Just sayin’)