Marketing Focus – Essays on Management & Marketing

A little gratuitous advice to the Australian Prime Minster, Malcolm Turnbull:

Schedule this year’s Federal election for September, or better still, October.

At this time the Australian economy and commerce do not need a 5-to 6-week distraction that will impact on productivity, momentum and cash-flow.
The later the better, is only a compromise.

Now is not the time for political leaders to be pusillanimous … For the back-benchers, and for former Rugby League playing and Tasmanian Senate cross-benchers, that means timid.

Australia, its economy, commerce and the world need leadership, assertiveness and a recognition that government works best when it stands back and allows business to do what it does best … which is business.

Now that would be politically correct!

Barry Urquhart


The explicit threat by the Australian Prime Minister of a double dissolution of both houses of Federal Parliament, should the Upper House (the Senate) not pass legislation on the re-introduction of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, will be ineffective.

Unlike soluble Aspirin, it will not relieve the pain.

An election for the full Senate will lower the voting threshold for election from 14% to 7%. In each constituency that is a virtual guaranteed entrée for the Greens.

Most politicians simply don’t get it. They look at above and below the line … voting.  Business people look at the line …. the bottom line.

Some politicians are concerned about preferential voting. Business leaders’ preference is for delayed voting, to enable them to get on with the job of creating jobs and wealth for all.

Fact: You can’t legislate or regulate for success.

In our modern, open society voting patterns are not cast in concrete. They will, however, be cast in favour of those who do not intrude, impede or falter. That is, small government and a smaller public sector.


Business concepts, like most things in life, move on.

In the contemporary digital marketplace the underlying principles of the following statements are redundant:

Big, Bigger, Biggest

Fast, Faster, Fastest

Cheap, Cheaper, Cheapest

Each is lineal in nature and bears little relevance to the virtual world in which we operate.

Relative measures are arbitrary, they lack relevance, in most instances, just like:

Old, Older, Oldest

What does it mean, and who really cares?

Middle age is, seemingly, a loose, meaningless label.

Likewise, top-floor corner window offices, Personal Assistants, large inventories, extensive (read: expensive) logistical networks and huge workforces.

Embracing and applying the concept of the virtual reality obsolete scarcity and introduces the scope and opportunities of abundance. As a consequence, fixed overhead costs are minimised, productivity enhanced and profitability is accelerated. High-rise buildings in city business districts will soon be the exception.

The principles are simple. Concerns about an overpopulated world, poverty, and the inability to feed people can be addressed and redressed by focus, and a little literal rather than lateral thinking.

Follow the logical process and progress. Earth has a plentiful supply of water. Sadly, most of it is non-potable.

Concentrated, integrated and successful efforts to purify water will have significant, quantifiable outcomes, without the need to build more lineal dams.

First, health will improve and global life expectancies will lengthen. As a result, family sizes (often the product of fears of high infant death rates) will reduce.

Secondly, the ecology will be enhanced, deserts will contract, food production will increase, with the attendant lessening levels of societal stress, tension and anxiety.

Most significantly, a lack of potable water – the greatest pending threat of war – will literally be sunk.

Similarly, widespread fears of the use of fossil fuels to power and provide for the increasing demands for power are being addressed and redressed in a meaningful and tangible way. Innovative and creative developments in batteries and energy storage are effecting exponential growth in energy production and its efficient use. The deficiencies and inadequacies of most renewable energy sources are being resolved.

Gargantuan power plants and extensive ugly transmission systems will progressively be another page of history in the evolution of humans, society and commerce.

The tangible, that is “things”, is becoming increasingly redundant.

Offices and Personal Assistants are cases in point. Less and less business is being transacted in offices. Virtual Assistants, whose presence is best measured and appreciated in output and productivity, are an evolving force.

At Marketing Focus, one telephone call received on the landline is a good day. One client meeting a week in our premises is novel.

My Personal Assistant is, for most hours of the working week, a virtual assistant.  Melanie Llewellyn is available, responsive, efficient and effective. She also contracts to others, including clients.

Physical presence and lineal progression are obsolete concepts.

Explore the possibility and don’t be constrained by geological measures. Convenience in the virtual world is a click away.

Take up the challenge, and start the process by communicating with Melanie. It may be a great learning experience. The choice of channel is yours:

Melanie Llewellyn – Virtual Assistant
T:         0418 824 359


Big Data, big deal!

Countless businesses have been overwhelmed, indeed swamped, with information as a direct consequence of implementing the process and capacity of Big Data.

Invaluable insights on the perceptions, preferences, buying patterns and essential characteristics of individuals, families and groupings have been retrieved.

In the main they remain uncollated, awaiting analysis and astute deployment and application.

How ironic. So much information, and so little intelligence.


The marketplace feedback is disturbing, and damning.

A recent extensive national survey of consumers concluded that some 72% of recipients of customised, personalised correspondence – determined and influenced by data from their own past transactions – deleted or did not read the literature pieces.

Design, layout and graphics were, seemingly, not key contributors to such consumer indifference and non-responsiveness.

It seems that many contemporary consumers now determine whom they will interact with, buy from and be loyal to, and the manner in which they will do so.

In short, company initiated advertising, promotional texts and communication are, to many, considered to be unsolicited, and often, unwelcome intrusions

That is little removed from the unenviable stigma of junk mail.


Much of the prevailing attitudes and non-responsiveness to customised, big data – are the consequence of past experiences with mass-produced, non-discriminatory bulk-mail and emails.

The underlying marketing issue is categorisation, not packaging. Many marketing, selling, promotion, sales and service initiatives suffer from commodisation.  Therefore, individual contacts with existing, prospective and past customers and clients tend to suffer from “not being opened” – rejected – rather than being read, and comprehended and then rejected. Read: Selective Perception and Reception.


Even finely packaged offers on products, services and brands which are conspicuous in the past buying patterns of individuals have at best, a mere 50% prospect of a positive response from targeted consumers.

The importance of time, and timing does not appear to be recognised and respected by some business leaders and their marketers. Great, appealing, financially attractive and compelling value-offerings can pretty much lack relevance, if the timing is not right.

Different strokes for different folks.

Big Data alone is not the answer, just like quantitative research findings. They provide overviews on statistical patterns and address the questions about what and how.

The worth of quantitative research is optimised when it is complemented, and typically pre-empted by attitudinal research. That latter methodology probes, and provides insights on the questions about why.

That is why demographic profiles of targeted audiences only provide part-answers. Psycho-graphic profiles are multi-dimensional, insightful and, potentially, incredibly powerful. Big Data typically lacks the latter’s data inputs and insights.


Among the key findings of the major research study into Big Data- initiated communications, many females expressed concern that their important and fundamental role as the primary buying agent was not recognised. That is, the differentiation between being the customer and the consumer.

Some 58% of menswear is sold to women. Not for them to wear, but for use by significant males in their lives, be they sons, partners, relatives or friends.

Yet there’s a conspicuous absence of females in a large percentage of menswear advertising, merchandising, promotional and point-of-purchase literature.

The power of families extends well beyond “the hand that rocks the cradle”.


The prevailing under-performance of many Big Data- based business development initiatives does not imply or conclude that all entities should turn away from, or reject the principles and practice of data collection, analysis and use.

It does, however, highlight the imperative of recruiting and retaining people who have the skills, experience and training to effectively convert the raw information into valuable intelligence.

Like social media, Big Data is, and should be utilised to complement and accelerate existing channels to and between targeted customers.

A discerning touch is what separates the attractive and profitable latent potential from the current poor and marginal returns which are being experienced ….-and not enjoyed by all the participants.

It’s all in the execution. Get it wrong, and it will kill you.


Barry Urquhart, Marketing Focus is an internationally respected business strategist, consumer behaviour analyst and conference keynote speaker.

Barry Urquhart
Marketing Focus
M:      041 983 5555
T:       08 9257 1777
Visit:  Facebook   LinkedIn


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