Greetings from the driest continent on Earth.
No, not Australia … Antarctica.
The scenery and setting are inspiring.
A different dimension of serenity is experienced, enabling one to clear the mind and to shorten the focus, devoid of the ubiquitous distractions of the contemporary digital world.
I am onboard the ship Sea Adventure, among a host of Australian entrepreneurs. John Battley of Globetrotter Travel leads a contingent of Western Australian entrepreneurs. They are driven to discover, explore, enjoy and be rewarded with new experiences, perceptions and opportunities.
Gratifyingly, I have been provided the opportunity to facilitate interactive workshops with the prime objectives of identifying, isolating, analysing and developing opportunities which reside within the broad concepts and issues of global warming, sustainability, nanotechnology, energy efficiency and disruptive entrepreneurism.
It is a challenging, rewarding and invigorating brief, my first on Antarctica, which is the seventh continent on which I have undertaken speaking and facilitation projects.
The nature of the initiative is anything but a retreat. The drive-forward is full-on, and the intent is to establish a number of trading entities and to bring to market appropriate products, services and applications.
The activities undertaken within the Antarctic Circle, both onboard and on land will be continued with a series of periodic interactive workshops, promoted by John Battley. Most will be conducted in Perth.
Today, we fly out from Antarctica, bound for Santiago, Chile, before returning to Sydney and then to Perth, arriving on Sunday, 8 February.
I look forward to sharing with you the lessons that have been enjoyed.
AUSTRALIA HIT BY EPIDEMIC
Seemingly, Australian businesses are being impacted by an epidemic. It, and its manifestations, are insidious. Costs can be, and are being measured in monetary, morale, confidence, cohesion and productivity terms. Resources and a resolute attitude are required to be committed to counter the impact and consequences.
Put simply, there is a “rash” of claims about bullying, discrimination and harassment. Many are baseless, spurious or, at best, questionable.
Unsolicited and unexpected contact from an external advocacy group is disconcerting and disorienting. A lot of time, energy and resources can be, and are likely to be allocated to such issues, with the little prospect of a positive return. An offer for mediating a settlement can, initially, seem tempting.
Inevitably, there appears to be an underlying demand for financial compensation. Cases known to ourselves range from $12,000 to $45,000.
The prospect is a two-day hearing in a Federal Court, at an estimated cost for both the claimant and for the defendant of $10,000 per day. The need to justify the claim is a daunting and, often, a sobering proposal for the former. Some claimants are, reportedly, serial activists.
Some are cases of extortion, which should, and must, be met with a resolute attitude. Rewarding poor behaviour and attitudes in respect to such claims and contentions is not recommended.
The causal factors for such widespread actions are difficult, if not impossible to identify, isolate and to analyse. It does not appear to be gender, generational or socio-economic strata based. Disturbingly, no-one or no entity appears to be immune to this epidemic. Both male and female leaders in the private and public sectors continue to experience the epidemic.
If – and when – it happens to you, remember you are not alone. Seek counsel, share experiences, be honest, resolute, fair and equitable. Staring down bluff and bluster may be the most appropriate response.
For those staff and team members who are committed, positive, loyal and are contributing to corporate goals, do recognise, respect, celebrate, support, endorse and reward them, for they represent value, integrity and the future of business.
BEWARE OF DISTRACTIONS
Do I have your full attention? … If not, I’ll wait until such time as I do.
Distracted audiences explain, in part, the widespread instances of ineffective, incomplete communication. It is difficult enough to effect clear and complete comprehension when we can listen and think some 23 times faster than others can speak. Little wonder that, at best, we “hear”, recognise, comprehend or respond to around every six words.
Alas, a fascinating insight into misunderstandings. Now don’t let me be misunderstood. We are all distracted at times, often by our own devices. Multi-tasking is not a natural human state … well- particularly for males, some will contend.
The old marketing adage:share of mind equals share of market has been updated to: share of mind equals share of message.
Technology and technological advances are wonderful things, their benefits are multi-fold. However, a narrow focus on technology can be a limiting factor in effective marketing and selling. Emotion still reigns supreme in influencing purchase decisions. Technology is seldom – if ever – the emotional component of a set of buying criteria. It may be a means to an end, but not the complete story.
In the modern, dynamic and challenging digital era it is reassuring to know that size and power alone are not the key contributors to success. The future will be greatly influenced, and to some extent, determined by the concept of nanotechnology.
Charles Darwin, the following quote is ascribed to a man of great foresight: It is not the strongest nor the most intelligent who will survive, but those who are most responsive to change.
The footnote message is simply a means to avoid being distracted.
BE CAREFUL, AND SENSITIVE…
Differentiation is an important concept in marketing.
So too are segmentation and categorisation.
However, each can have a limited, and in some instances, a limiting role to play.
Like most things, the initial principles and applications are being progressively superseded and rendered obsolete.
It is a common phenomenon in the current dynamic, digital marketplace.
Intimate knowledge of one’s customers and clients is a marketing imperative.
Evolution, sophistication and information (data) explosion have been instrumental in the eclipsing of many previously sound management, marketing, selling, service and interpersonal relationship practices, including market segmentation.
The study of demographics is a case in point.
Today, access to information on the age, sex, occupation, education standards and residence of existing, prospective and past clients and customers is, today, inadequate.
A more comprehensive, multi-dimensional profile improves the capacity for effective target marketing. It in turns enables, and influences, the determination, nature and content of communication. However, care and sensitivity is needed to avoid inadvertently precluding potential prime customers and clients.
It is prudent to be aware that many chronologically older individuals pursue and enjoy young lifestyles. The use of social media and e-commerce channels among consumers aged 50 years and older is more pronounced than thought by many. Similarly, an increasing number of younger consumers are discovering, exploring and enjoying music and fashion from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s decades. Look no further than the surging sales of vinyl records and vintage style stereograms. Old is new!
To ensure effectiveness in all marketing endeavours it is now important to avoid overly simplistic market segmentation, categorisation and stereotyping. Each can, and does, impact on sales generation, revenue stimulation, as well as the establishment and maintenance of sustainable, profitable relationships.
Overt and often unintended nuances in written, spoken and visual communication alienate potentially prime and profitable target audiences. Existing and prospective relationships are fractured because of what are received and perceived to be, slightss, offensive statements and inappropriate premises inherent in key messages. It is indeed a complex world in which we operate. Financial planners may well ponder what the label ”High-Net Worth” individuals really means. Does it mean the same to prospective clients who have funds to invest, but don’t feel they qualify to be included in the category “High-Net Worth”? Many messages will be needlessly lost.
Marketing campaigns and strategic plans can readily miss out on customers based on shallow, often historic and traditional images, profiles and stereotypes.
Talk-back radio is a fine example. The typical audience demographic centres on the age distribution of 55 years- plus. However, the often unrecognised potential which exists with the 30-year-old and younger consumer group, represent immense, untapped potential.
A similar case is the emphasis by advertisers who are keen to connect with the “high-spending” 25 to 54-year-old age groupings on free-to-air television channels. The innate contentions are simply too black-and-white for communities that live, operate and buy in differing shades of grey.
Technology, innovation, digital enhancements, social media and the internet have individually and collectively, fragmented communication channels and consumer groupings. Micro-focusing on market segments can inadvertently fail to recognise value and miss out on a host of prospective new customers, clients and spheres of influence.
The value of all business philosophies and practices is largely determined and influenced by measures of relevance in marketing. It is as important to broaden the relevance of the messages and promises of benefits and advantages of products, services, entities and people as it is to be precise and to focus on the narrower target-marketing of all endeavours.
Therefore, when undertaking market segmentation, categorisation and stereotyping do so with care and sensitivity.
Barry Urquhart, Managing Director of Marketing Focus, is a business strategist, consumer behaviour analysts, marketing consultant, author and international conference keynote speaker.
Mobile: 041 983 5555
Telephone: 08 9257 1777
Visit: Facebook, LinkedIn