It is a defining term.
The two major corrections in share markets around the world in the first 9 days of February were timely reminders that a haemostatic process is innate and applicable to many aspects of commerce, society, politics, life and ecology.
Correction does not equate to, or imply that there is a correct status.
Too many variables, values and perceptions are in play to determine a single, static, ideal, proper or correct state.
Marketplace dynamics ensure a constant state of flux. Correction can, and often does develop into volatility.
Changes in consumer, public, political and corporate confidence are manifestations and consequences of that nature.
Be prepared and expectant.
For those in business, three fundamental principles apply.One. It is not appropriate to sit in value-judgement of, or nostalgically reflect upon any given state, or “correction”.
Accept, recognise, respect and respond to the marketplace’s prevailing status.Two. Embrace and apply the true nature of being customer-driven and marketing focused.
Opportunities reside in all circumstances.
Three. Apply the essentials of disciplined, structured and documented strategic plans – that is review, refine and extend. Currency is imperative.
That underscores the importance of all effective strategic plans having a goal to plan. Too few do.
The process, like living and learning is a life-long need and commitment.
It puts into perspective and central focus purpose. Opportunism is a natural by-product.
And finally, the virtue of liquidity will come to the fore. It provides for time, choice and a measure of freedom.
In short, at times of marketplace corrections and volatility, liquid funds are empowering and valuable variables, if not assets.
Accordingly, in such instances fewer businesses and products go to water.
2. CHANNELLED MESSAGING
Reach out, connect and, engage: Three essential and fundamental steps in establishing relationships, influencing consumer decision-making and projecting one’s own image.
The modern digital marketplace confers multiple channels. Indeed, possibly too many, to the extent that market segmentation has degenerated into market fragmentation.
Moreover, exposure-time to communications is often measured in low-order single- digit seconds.
Thus, first impressions count, – but don’t last.
Impact, relevance and resonance are therefore aspirational imperatives, yet are seldom achieved.
Access to, and the utilisation of the various channels reflect on a recognition of, and investment in capacity.
That inevitably means capital outlays. It also represents immense potential … often unrealised or fulfilled.
Why then – seemingly, and consistently, – is so little consideration given to capabilities?
In the rush to get the message out, the importance of context is often overlooked.
The primary focus seems to centre on self-interested content – products, if you will.
Presenters are selected on product knowledge; presentation skills are peripheral. (Big mistake).
Use of substandard Skype, videos and webinars is accepted, tolerated and utilised.
What’s the rush?
First impressions count.
Last impressions last, but many are not positive.
Quality control in production, logistics and assembly is typically a high-order key performance indicator.
The featured units look good, function well and represent great value.
It’s sad that so many sit forlornly on displays, rapidly aging and being devalued.
With such a compelling story and proposition, why is it difficult, if not seemingly possible, to get “cut-through”?
Well, it could be, and probably is, an absence of quality-control being applied to the channels, including Skype, webinars and videos.
Demanding high quality presentation is not necessarily vanity.
In many instances it is that the selected channels and presenters are not fitting or consistent with the desired image of the specific product, services, entities and brand names which needs to be addressed.
Less rush, selective choice of channels and a discerning use of presenters are, individually and collectively, investments in value, integrity and competitive advantage.
They may involve a little more time, but then again, in the current digital marketplace there are no short-cuts.
3. MONEY-BACK IS NO GUARANTEE
“Quaint” is not the response that businesses would hope for when reintroducing “money-back guarantees”.
And yet that is the essential consensus among modern, contemporary consumers and clients.
Nostalgic, redundant, outdated and very 1960s are other common references.
Sensitivity to, and awareness of consumer rights, the presence of regulatory authorities like Consumer Affairs, and the potential power of social media comments, with the attendant capacity to inflict brand-damage, reflect the evolving litigious nature of the prevailing marketplace.
Implied rights, and the expectations of consistent quality reflect that the power pendulum is well in favour of consumers.
Indeed, offers of a money-back guarantee can be a double negative (without the advantage of the sum-product being positive).
That is best explained by the suggestion, or prospect of the product, service or application, not meeting expectations and the necessity (and inconvenience) of product return, time involved, opportunity costs and the unresolved need for the customer having to seek out and purchase a replacement, substitute or alternative.
The consequential stain on the brand names of the business, product and service will reflect poorly on quality and value.
Some things, it seems, are best left in the past and considered to be “quaint”.
Moreover, a money-back guarantee may be totally inappropriate.
For example, a struggling Asia-based international passenger airline would gain little advantage, competitive edge or traction with a money-back guarantee.
Money, or its return, can’t buy and secure some things … safety, security and well-being included.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Making, and consistently delivering a promise, without compromise or qualification, have recognisable value. Fulfilling the ideals of “peace-of-mind” purchasing.
No considerations for product returns, like that effected in 2017 by Kawasaki with a range of four-wheel, all-terrain vehicles, should be implicit, explicit or experienced.
Happiness will be widespread among consumers, prospects, and selling staff members when there is no need to offer such incentives or reassurances. I guarantee it.
4. IF ONLY I KNEW … TO NEVER SAY NO TO NEW
Nothing in business is sacred, or protected. It is appropriate that nostalgia has little role to play in current operations, planning and analysis.
Good ol’ customer service will, and does fail in the contemporary marketplace.
Likewise, successful past marketing campaigns – which are often the very foundations of the current presence of a company, brand, product, service or application – need to be kept there … in the past.
Their relevance and currency are at best marginal.
It is understandable that many business leaders and owners are perturbed by the rapid and accelerating rate of change.
Evolution is typically slow, progressive and somewhat predictable.
For some, revolution is simply evolution on steroids. Time horizons are concertinaed, risk factors increased, error rates ditto, margins are squeezed, outgoings tend to expand and profits are trimmed.
Intrusions by global competitors, disruptors and alternative platforms compound the issues and challenges.
WHAT A DRAG
Revision, refinement and amendments to existing strategic plans, tactics, philosophies and goals tend to be the norm.
Adaptations to past and current practices are often constrained by the thought and action processes of the past.
A torn, wet and saturated trailing main-sail makes even an elite, tech-driven 12-metre yacht uncompetitive.
There are simply some things that technology cannot overcome.
NEW, NO OR KNEW
Customers, clients and the marketplace in general value and reward that which is new.
Removal of any presence, shackles or a taint of the past frees up competitive positioning.
Old is never new again.
Lessons from the past are valuable, and should be valued.
They provide an alternative prism through which all new concepts and proposals should be viewed, analysed and implemented.
Thus, grey hair and experience have much to contribute, and to complement the raw enthusiasm, energy and urgency of younger team members.
Optimum potential can be most readily identified and charted with the introduction of new, dynamic and moveable business models.
There is no scope for half-measures. Jumping a puddle or brook by halves is fraught with danger, possible injury and adverse consequences.
Most refreshing, is the fact that given the framework of a new business model, there are no precedents or lingering lessons.
New rules and lures are being conceived, written and understood in the here-and- now.
In many respects the most resilient, successful and progressive management teams will be those which are prepared to make the jump from a new base, which begins with zero.
5. THE DEATH OF SHOPPING CENTRES
Shades of Mark Twain. The reported death of shopping centres is, somewhat, premature.
It’s a catch-all, generalised statement that is selectively true in small parts.
Perhaps the premise (orientation?) of the statement is questionable.
Rather, we have entered an era in which the rebirth of shopping centres is self-evident, and growing.
Allocated capital expenditure totals are impressive.
External upgrades and remodelling of tenancy mixes are only parts of the total story.
It is inevitable that the sprawling metropolitan areas of Australian cities will be subjected to redevelopment, centred on increased density.
Infrastructure, mass public transport in particular, will be a pillar of the new concepts and planning visions.
Therefore, one can confidently project the construction of multi-storey, integrated complexes with the lower floors being occupied by retail outlets complemented by commercial tenancies on the first or second floors, and the higher premises being residential.
That’s right, primary, target audiences will be living and working on-site.
Retail tenancy mixes will be refined to include alfresco dining, complementing existing fast service food halls.
Service precincts, featuring health, insurance and business support facilities will become commonplace.
Our mobile society will be acknowledged, with the introduction of new motor vehicle dealerships, finance agencies and yes, collection points for goods, services and applications which have been purchased on-line.
Click and collect, together with multi-channel marketing will be alive, well and operating in a shopping centre near you.
Indeed, many of the transactions undertaken in bricks and mortar premises will be concluded, and paid for, on-line.
Alas, the buying, delivery, possession and utilisation phases of the purchase process will be delineated, differentiated and integrated.
Progression from convenience to access will be part of the transformation.
THE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
Many public statements about the shopping experience are, in reality, shallow references about enhanced ambiences.
Few detail, or give extended consideration to engagement with and by the customers.
Most important will be the need for, a character of a seamless experience.
In short, there should be no boundaries.
Integration will be fundamental.
Shopping centre lessors and managing agents will need to be true collaborators (read: strategic alliance partners) with retailers.
That will include a remodelling of tenancy, and rental agreements.
Mutual respect, benefits and rewards will be the essence of sustainable relationships.
Doubtless, some agreements will founder.
Personalisation and differentiation will, in the near, intermediate and longer terms become virtues.
Commoditisation, evident in almost identical tenancy mixes between larger shopping centres, will impinge on development and consumer loyalty, ultimately leading to the demise of an increasing number of tier 2-sized complexes.
Rebirthing is an exciting prospect – for shopping centre owners, managing agents, retailers and consumers.
Barry Urquhart of Marketing Focus is an internationally respected business strategist, consumer behaviour analyst and conference keynote speaker.Barry Urquhart
M: 041 983 5555
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