Marketing Focus – Extreme Discounts? – Not Necessarily

For most existing businesses, the key to enhanced performance lies in the following statement:
Challenge decisions, rather than make challenging decisions.
Too often poor and sub-optimal decisions are recognised as such by those within entities – but are never challenged.
They are simply tolerated and the consequences are borne… with a shrug of the shoulders.

Increasingly, leaders and managers are being implored to tolerate the mistakes of others and seldom, if ever, are they encouraged to invite subordinates to challenge and to reject decisions.
To achieve a sense of balance, at all times the reasons for qualifying the decisions must be enunciated, be reasonable and relevant.
Self-evidently, the world, the economy and commerce are not perfect.  Nor are the decisions which are constantly being made.  We need to accept good decisions and recognise that “right” decisions may be illusionary.  Right implies “perfect”.
Every problem and issue in business, as it is in life, has multiple solutions and options.  Choosing that which is most appropriate, optimal or consistent with the prevailing culture, values and belief requires all people to be charged with the authority, and have the confidence to:
Challenge decisions.

Businesses lose …when there are insufficient touch-points …with customers, clients, spheres of influence, suppliers and associates.
“One-on-one” relationships have been and should be replaced with “one-on-many”.
Too often, revenue, loyalty and referrals walk out the door when employees and team members do.
Given the mobility of the current workforce and commerce in general, businesses, revenue streams and cash-flows are exposed and vulnerable.

A disciplined and integrated philosophy and strategy of all customers and clients interacting with two, three or more team members is advisable, sound business practice.  Indeed, it should be an imperative.
“Now” consumers expect and demand instant gratification. That includes prompt, on-going and personal contacts, responses and service.
Remember:  The customer you know is the customer who grows.
Foster, promote and insist on multiple touch-points.
Also, beware the myth that on-line, digital contact points suffice. 
They should at all times complement, – not replace – personal touch-points.
Customer service is enhanced and optimised with “personal”.
Among consumers and corporate executives who are seeking products and services in which they have no established or acceptable relationship, an average 4–7 touch-points are typically used in the search routine.
A preferred, efficient, effective and highly productive alternative response is to seek out, establish, develop and maintain 4–7 internal touch-points that will promote positive, loyal relationships and whose value can be measured in terms of revenue, margins, profits, repeat business and referrals.
Interesting.  A touch-point that goes to the heart of the business.
Businesses, selling, advertising and marketing are driven by many factors, often based on, and determined by, corporate cultures.
Those components are, in essence, a projection of the very personality of a company, a brand, product and service.
Recognising, respecting and adhering to those core values and attributes will establish, sustain and differentiate market presence, create expectations by team members, customers and clients.  They are instrumental in quantifying value.
In recent times, with the evolution of technology, digital advancements, big data and the introduction of algorithms in systems development, the definition of corporate cultures, values and beliefs is less conspicuous, defined and adhered to.
Personal value judgements have been overridden by parameters concluded, applied and monitored by mathematical algorithms.
It is a little like palm oil and fats in the serving of fast food.  They enhance taste, but do not respect waistlines, weight and health. So too – just like communications, decisions, rankings and communications that are based on obscure algorithms.  They are impersonal, statistics-based and incapable of recognising and responding to nuances, facial expressions and many verbal cues.
I look forward to the first premises that display the sign:
“Algorithms Not Served Here”
The promise and allure of personal individualised service will doubtless be a winner.
One of the necessities, if not essentials, of the prevailing marketplace is to ensure that team members are driven to enact and achieve a favourable outcome.
Execution of business activities is difficult at any time.  Getting verbal commitments is a lot easier than getting people to actually act.
In many instances, individuals, groups and departments have the capability to fulfil the set tasks.  However, the recent extended period of economic “boom-time” has bred an attitude of comfort.  People simply feel contented, unwilling or not accepting the need for, or the scope to, improve performance.
Those who have the knowledge and experience to achieve, seldom do so without the strength of character, to stretch themselves and their goals.
The true art of contemporary leadership is to go beyond merely accepting that team members do what they are capable of.  The fundamental aspect of leadership is to ensure that they enjoy doing it.
Therefore, the task at hand for many is to refresh enthusiasm.
At the time of constrained spending, it is a sobering realisation to acknowledge that every business which opens its doors is spending, -not necessarily with you.
A key trigger-point is the perennial pursuit of value.  Providing extra value without the need to buy more can establish and foster longer-term, mutually beneficial relationships.
“Improved fuel efficiency”, “cost-effectiveness”, “enhances productivity” are the mantra-phrases for currently successful, growing businesses.  Social consciousness issues like “green-power”, “sustainability” and “emission reduction” are very compatible, compelling topics.
Product and service innovation and change are being swamped by a rush to refresh, and to renew the presence, the positioning and the attitudes of companies and their people.
Comfortable, tired businesses, products and teams are faltering and failing.
The key ingredients of success now centre on “Refresh and Renew”.
Jill, Melanie and Barry Urquhart extend to you our very best and personal wishes for a great festive season.
Enjoy the time with family and friends, and do keep in touch.
Time-effective and cost-saving teleconference presentations are an increasing part of the schedule of Barry Urquhart.
Participants are typically in their own offices.  The 1 hour audio addresses are complemented with on-line graphics, which are transmitted to computer screens.
Interactive segments are encouraged, and programmed into the agendas.
The sessions are customised and extensively researched.
For some sectors these events attract Professional Development training credits.
Among those who have utilised this inexpensive on-line, real-time service are financial planning networks, insurance broking groups, mortgage brokers, real estate agencies, franchise businesses and branded products supply chains.
For further details, contact Barry Urquhart on 041 983 5555.

First, think of the consequences.
“Extreme discounts” do attract widespread attention, can generate increased sales and revenue in the short-term and therefore, for specific time-periods, have the capacity to redirect traffic flows.
But the tactic is fraught with potential intermediate-to-long-term brand damage consequences.  Questions about profit margins and value are understandably raised in the minds of many existing, prospective and past customers, along with those in the media and other spheres-of-influence.
This is particularly so for commodities like retail petrol, which too many is a non-emotional grudge purchase.  Responding customers will take advantage of $1.00 a litre petrol prices, as recently offered in metropolitan Adelaide (in contrast to the prevailing $1.51 per litre standard retail price), but the prospect for repeat business and loyalty is scant.
For the right reasons, and for appropriate events, “extreme discounts” are effective in exposing companies, premises, products, services, periods, brands and models to a broad cross-section of new prospective clients and customers.  They can be pertinent for the introduction – or for the deletion – of brands, models, colours and the like.
Compensating full profit-margin offers and transactions are, or should be, integral aspects of the total strategy and value package.  Remember, someone must pay the piper.
‘Extreme Discounts” can promote and establish high profiles for business, product and service names.
However, when poorly executed and too-frequently conducted, the brand can be, and often will be, inextricably associated with and be positioned by reference to the offer of extreme discounts.
Cash-flows will rapidly recede and dry up between “extreme” events.
The parallels with an over-reliance on the conduct of “sale” events are ominous.

Among the first advocates and adherents of “extreme discounting” were the department stores.
Featured among the post-Christmas sales offerings were a limited number of $50.00 television sets, refrigerators, lounge settings and dining room suites.
Only a very few of the teeming thousands of consumers awaiting opening hours for those ”door-buster” bargains went home happy and fulfilled.  For most it was an unrewarding experience, with long-term adverse relationship and reputation consequences.
Moreover, for the department stores, it did little to enhance their images, appeal and economic viability.
Electronic appliance retailers learnt similar lessons, – to their own detriment.
It is important that the integrity of the brand name, be it company, product, service or premises, be respected and protected.  Therefore, it is best that extreme discounts be associated with the positioned against special and date-specific events.  When seasons are too long the possible flow-on consequences are too great.
These events can include generic occasions like “Cyber Monday” (late November) or Halloween.  This tactic will ensure that there is minimal or no carry-over from the expectations and images of huge price reductions.
“Dare to be different” is a challenge accepted by many.  “Pushing the envelope” is another philosophical stance which can and often does lead to innovation, creativity and change.  Both are relevant to the concept of extreme discounting, but do need to be applied with some degree of reserve.
A key lesson often learnt and widely forgotten during the past decade is that the measure of “extreme” is relative rather than absolute.
Prior to the turn of the century discounts of 15% and 20% were considered substantial and attractive.  New, disruptive policies that were introduced changed the focus from post-Christmas sales, to pre-Christmas savings of up to 50%.
It did have an impact among consumers, not the least of which was educating consumers to expect, and then to demand 40%, 50% or 60% incentives.  Once such inducements would have once been considered extreme.  Not anymore.  “Extreme” means 70% or more.  Where does it end?
Being extreme can, and does have, extreme outcomes … often not all are positive.

Barry Urquhart
Marketing Focus
M:      041 983 5555

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