1. “GO JUMP”
A common implicit and explicit response to the challenge extended to conference delegates and business workshop participants that they “Dare to be different, and to take a risk”.
I will accept the advice.
In the early hours of Thursday, 5 April, I will take my first, and probably last, 14,000 feet tandem parachute jump.
As I descend towards the scenic and soft beach sands of Jurien Bay, on the central coastline of Western Australia, I will be coming closer (that afternoon) to delivering the conference keynote address to some 120 elected and appointed local government officers from the Wheatbelt region of the state.
The symbolism is pointed.
Sometimes your actions need to make a statement.
Individually and collectively the conference delegates want insights and overviews on what they can do, and need to do, to attract more global, interstate and intrastate tourists, start-up business entrepreneurs and investors to their respective communities, and how best to retain existing residents and local enterprises.
The findings of extensive and intensive background research have been enlightening, encouraging and inspirational. Opportunities abound, for those who are prepared to think, talk and to act differently, and to take a risk.
Guarantees are in short supply.
I look forward to the challenge of the tandem parachute jump and of delivering the customised keynote presentation.
I extend the challenge to all.
The experience will doubtless be fresh, fulfilling and rewarding.
So, carpe diem, that is, seize the day, not the handrail.
Let go. Allow the wind to be beneath your wings. Soar high.
And above all, engender confidence.
2. UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES
Federal opposition leader Bill Shorten (Australian Labor Party) has been exposed to a striking marketing, branding and communications lesson.
Targeted audiences can seldom, if ever, be isolated.
Therefore, discrete determination of influence and consequences is difficult, and most likely under-estimated at best, and more likely, strikingly inaccurate.
The policy decision by the Bill Shorten-led ALP to withdraw the franking tax advantages of retirees, self-funded superannuants in particular, was widely identified in the electorate as indicative of a “class warfare” being waged or intended by a left-leaning parliamentary team.
Estimates by Bill Shorten, his opposition treasury spokesman and other front-bench politicians that the proposal would impact less than 1% of superannuants, or 200,000 people, missed a key point.
Those individuals and couples are typically loved and revered members of extended family, social, community and sporting networks.
The words inheritance and benefactors come readily to mind.
Moreover, they do not represent the past.
They, indeed are the embodiment of the fututure.
3. NO SECOND CHANCES
Some advertising lacks credence and respect for the structure and syntax of the English language.
The consequences impact on the integrity and value of the advertising brand name.
Take for example the repeated bold statement:
“We won’t be beaten on price”
The next sentence projects a suggestion of hypocrisy, untruth or even disbelief.
“If you find a lower price on an identical advertised product we will beat it by 10%.”
Hence, the second proposition contradicts the first.
Accordingly, the worth of the statement, the company, product, service or application is discounted, if not totally debased. Quality-control does seem to be lacking in many marketing campaigns and endeavours.
If the statement, we won’t be beaten on price, is worth making, it should not be compromised or qualified. Truth (in advertising) is or should be an absolute.
Half-truths and white-lies reflect poorly on the perpetrator.
Similarly, increasing the perceived compensation from 10% to “we’ll repay 110% of the difference” is morally susceptible or bankrupt.
It is relying on the innumeracy of the consumers.
That is a fact of life. But it should not be taken advantage of by marketers and advertisers.
The goals for all advertising need to be refined and defined: Truth in advertising. Absolutely.
4. PRIORITY GOAL-ACCESS
No matter which way you look at it, a primary goal and a key performance indicator for most, if not all businesses is the need to achieve, sustain, defend and enjoy access to those who represent primary, secondary and tertiary target audiences. Fragmenting market segments impedes communication, understanding and access.
Decentralising and outsourcing supply chains may achieve the intention of lowering costs, reducing infrastructure and simplifying processes.
But, often, a sad consequence is the loss of insights, gleaned from on-going, deep and meaningful access, and interaction. Access requires resources (people, systems, infrastructure, capital, space and time), and it needs administration, monitoring and support.
Ironically, in the modern digital society, personal, professional and business isolation is growing rapidly.
So too is depression, dependence and a widespread sense of exposure and vulnerability.
By nature, humans are social beings.
Most seek out, enjoy and grow from access to, and interaction with others.
In short, we need to continually expose ourselves.
It’s hard to dress-up that statement.
With the best, and highest moral intent, striving to attain and retain access is commendable.
It can, and inevitably does lead to other things, business, revenues, and profits included.
5. DIFFERENT MARKETS DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES
It’s always good to remove oneself from a local marketplace and to look back, and into the prevailing business landscape.
It provides for a 360-degree global perspective, which offers insights.
Being trapped on a treadmill makes little sense, – or progress.
Compounding the issues are explicit and implicit references to one being indispensable, which is a disturbing perspective in itself.
Personal centrality, like trekking on a treadmill, narrows markets and limits opportunity.
Travel has much to be commended.
It is a great educational tool, facilitator and accelerator.
Upward of 8 billion people on earth do, see, believe, express and act differently.
Exposure to them broadens perspectives, markets and opportunities.
It also promotes better understanding and tolerance.
Concepts like right, wrong, better and lesser become tempered and qualified.
Different assumes another state, with value-judgements being side-lined.
Thinking, perceiving, believing and doing different introduces new, choice, and options.
It stands, in stark contrast to repetition, which in commerce can, and often does, lead to literal death.
When physical travel is beyond immediate reach, inviting and introducing new perspectives to new products, services and applications provide scope to options, competitive advantage and value.
Developing new perspectives is energising, but not exhausting.
It avoids commoditisation and stimulates insights.
6. ENHANCE THE VALUE OF BUSINESS PARTNERSHIPS AND RELATIONSHIPS
It’s time to recalibrate the purpose, nature and measure of worth for business relationships and strategic alliance partnerships.
Indeed, the review must extend to supply contracts, collaborative marketing initiatives and networking activities.
There is increasing awareness that such connections are effecting little, no or declining mutually beneficial outcomes.
The direct and indirect costs are formidable.
Individual self-interest and territorialism are significant common barriers, impediments and filters to the original idealistic objectives of team and joint endeavours.
The subsequent and recurring investments of time, money, people and resources are recording little tangible, quantifiable and monitorable benefits.
PROFITS ARE NOT THE PURPOSE
Pursuit of immediate, now profits misses a key strategic outcome.
Profit is not the purpose of business.
It is a consequence.
Fundamentally, all activities in commerce should, or must be to the benefit, advantage and reward of existing, prospective and, yes, to past customers and clients.
Value is the countervailing force to cost.
When value exceeds cost satisfaction, repeat and referral business, loyalty and sustainable competitive advantage are natural outflows and consequences.
Subsequent increased incomes are often recorded, received and, for some, banked.
Therefore, deliberating, determining, defining, articulating and sharing the value that one intends to bring into a relationship, no matter its scale, nature or complexity, are imperative, and are effective and key accelerating elements.
That’s right, a focus on the input, not the take-out of an existing or intended connection.
It’s refreshingly different … and of interest to others.
ACCOUNT FOR EVERYTHING
Accountants are an interesting breed.
They enjoy a privileged position in commerce.
The power, authority and influence they exercise, particularly with many owners of small to medium sized enterprises are daunting, if not alarming.
They are, in many instances, the first and the last point of reference for important, significant and substantial decisions.
In recent times, with an economy that is challenged, confronted by headwinds and typified by rampant, widespread discounting, squeezed margins, contracting discretionary expenditure, accounting practices are themselves being subjected to review – and accountability.
Increasingly, the discipline and its practitioners are being identified as a cost, rather than a revenue-generating factor.
Perhaps expectedly, the first agenda item for many accountant-client meetings is their fee total, and how best to lower such.
Introduction of lower-standard bookkeeping services is well intentioned, but misguided.
The real issue is value.
References to cost are symptomatic of the underlying concern.
Complementary services, including financial planning, insurance consultancy, estate planning and legal services, are typically recognised by clients to be primarily for the advantage of the accountant rather than themselves.
Likewise, the conduct of client events addressed by providers of accountancy software packages, at the conclusion of which attendees are invited and encouraged to contemplate the outlay, and investment in expensive packages are widely identified to be offensive and inappropriate.
Discount offers do not temper the negative resultant emotions.
I have been retained by a number of astute accountancy practices to address existing and prospective clients on how they can best increase their revenues, enhance and sustain their competitiveness.
Strict parameters ensure no so sales squeeze to buy professional services at the conclusion.
Value is derived from investment in the relationship, to the advantage of the client.
It works … – for both parties – in the immediate, intermediate and longer term.
Requests and demands for suppliers to contribute to, or pay for cooperative advertising, featured point-of-purchase displays, product sampling exhibitions and the like, are often repetitive, costly and ineffective.
There is a better way.
The challenge is, to find it.
We have enjoyed the experience of providing insights on consumer and client perceptions, preferences, purchasing criteria and buying patterns which enable, and empower, the participating partnering entities to capitalise on their own creativity, innovativeness and entrepreneurship.
I think it’s called, win-win.
The inordinate number of hours which are committed, and usually wasted, in attending business networking events is breathtaking.
It is difficult to justify spending time with 100 other business people, each of whom is seeking to increase their revenue sources.
Few, if any, ever register and attend such gatherings with the intention of investing or effecting expenditure.
It is important to evaluate the worth of such activities.
They need not necessarily be summarily dismissed. However, they are an opportunity – cost.
Alternative pursuits exist.
There is value in consistently identifying, respecting and quantifying the opportunities that are forsaken by attending such networking events.
Convenors, coordinators and facilitators are usually ranked highly among those who profit most.
In communication, I learn most, and benefit best when I listen … – to the other people.
In research, I ask concise, targeted questions and gain invaluable insights … – from other people.
At conferences, I’m inspired most by the interactive workshops I facilitate following a keynote address, – by the participants. There is a lot to learn, earn and spurn from the benefits, advantages and rewards, which are directed to, and enjoyed by others in relationships, alliances and partnerships.
Barry Urquhart of Marketing Focus is an internationally respected business strategist, consumer behaviour analyst and conference keynote speaker.
M: 041 983 5555
T: 08 9257 1777
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