Global forces are at play.  Marketplace reality is becoming more conspicuous.

In essence, Australian products, services, labour, skills, brands, and entities are being repriced, – and not at the discretion of owners, managers and directors.

There is no better example than the recent decision by the multi-national corporation Chevron to import from Scandinavia, over 11,000 kilometres away, iron ore into the Pilbara region area for ballast.

Imagine, iron-ore being imported into the region which boasts the world’s highest volume export total of the commodity (and generating approximately 42% of Australia’s annual export earnings) in competition with a mine just 400 kilometres distant.  Breathtaking!

Australian unions are, figuratively, up in arms about the recruitment overseas of labour and skills.  Little consideration seems to be given by union leaders to skills, efficiencies, effectiveness and costs.

The indicators of the new reality are conspicuous.  There is an abundance of equipment, investors, skills, people and professional service.  Much of it is under-utilised or idle.  Vacant hotel rooms at tourism destinations are further reinforcing evidence.

Australia, like New Zealand is currently increasing its export of skills … a return to the 1960s and the migration of personalities like Clive James, Robert Hughes and Germaine Greer.

Masters of Business Administration (MBAs) have been commoditised.  The formulaic-answers of case-studies appear to have few answers, and fewer insights on the prevailing marketplace.

At times like these Australian farmers shoot the stock, and downsize.  Business people probably don’t need to be quite so dramatic.  However, the underlying philosophies and principles do have currency.  Further respect for, and emphasis on productivity will provide scope for substantial rewards.  Increasing velocity and volume will start the process of creating momentum.

Barry Urquhart
Marketing Focus


One category of investors on stock markets and the broader financial sectors is referred to as chartists.

Chartists monitor and respond to trends, patterns and conspicuous movements in the charts.

However, charts track past trends, which have spurious relevance to the future.  Moreover, they are often poor indicators of potential, with particular deficiencies in timing.

Following is a recent question posed to Hong Kong elementary students, as part of a national test.  It was forwarded to me by Jim Bivoltsis, a long-time associate and a respected financial planner.

Question:   “What is the number of the parking bay occupied by the motor vehicle?”

16 06 68 88 X 98
  • Some chartists will revel in the challenge.  Formulas and ratios will be indentified and utilised to conclude an answer.However, in this instance the answer is to be found in perspectives, not mathematics.Simply look at the facts provided from a different perspective.Try viewing the numbered parking bays by the rotating graphic 180o …. and the answer is 87.Consistent with the underlying philosophy of our keynote presentation and interactive workshop … “Old information looked at from different perspectives creates new information” … I encourage you to take a second look at all aspects of your business and the marketplace.


During the course of 2014 a number of client entities have made a deliberate and concerted re-commitment to their service excellence ideals.

The focus has been on the underlying corporate culture, internal customers and external customers.

We have provided market research findings, delivered customised keynote addresses and facilitated high energy, interactive workshops.

The direct, immediate sustaining outcomes have included enhanced morale, staff member-imposed elevated service standards, better staff retention rates, improved corporate images and greater measures of external customer satisfaction.  It has been a privilege to have been given  the opportunity to contribute.

The entities have included local government, like Dean Unsworth and his team at the Shire of Murray, professional associations and State Government departments.

Consider the established taxi industry.  It is being substantially impacted by the global introduction of the mobile application UBER booking service.  The pending arrival of driverless autonomous motor vehicles will further intrude on income streams and customer groupings.

Consistent, personalised, punctual and sensitive customer service is an effective and efficient counter to these emerging forces.  In Western Australia, Aaron de Rozario and Gerard Healy from the Department of Transport are the living personifications of what it takes.

The four pillars of the cultural values of the department have universal application and have provided a malleable framework for presentations and interactive workshops about service excellence.

They are:

  • Clear Direction
  • Fresh Thinking
  • Excellent Service
  • Great People

Do contemplate each of the four pillars.  Consider their applications to your own activities and among your people.

If we can contribute to your endeavours and to your goals for increased sales, margins, profits and customer satisfaction, do make contact.


Currently, foremost among key performance indicators are, or should be, prompt payments.

Slow payment of outstanding accounts adversely affects cash-flows.  More broadly, the practice has a significant impact on the productivity of local, national and global economies.  The findings of repeated research over a period exceeding one decade reveal and highlight that there is a close correlation between customer satisfaction and punctuality in payment of accounts.

Prompt payment is a much-overlooked aspect of customer service excellence and relationship marketing.  Mutual respect pays handsome psychological and financial dividends.

We have enjoyed the recent experience of addressing staff members and clients on the importance and the nature of providing personalised customer service and value.  The responses and palpable learning outcomes have been encouraging and outstanding.  It’s amazing how a different, -often external-focus on a business, its operations and relationships can stimulate awareness.

In marketing the job is not done until a sale is made.  For the total business, today, the job is not done until the payment is made ….-preferably by a customer with a smile on their face.


So you’re “liked”.  So what?
Many people are just not buying it.

The perennial pursuit in social media of getting maximum numbers of hits and likes seems meaningless in business ….-unless and until such time as they are converted into sales, revenues, profits and dividends.

Getting people to register a “Like” on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin is difficult. Even harder, and less frequently achieved, is to conclude a transaction as a consequence of a “like” being entered.

Raw numbers often cloud the underlying reality.  The art of target marketing is often overlooked in social media.  Volume too often overrides quality.

A “like” may progress a person from being “unaware” to a state of “awareness”.  They may even develop to a sense of “recognition”.  Some of those who “hit” could even elevate their “interest” to that of “seeking out” a name, a brand, product, service, company or individual.

However, before them lie the progressive stages of “trial”, “purchase”, “preference”, “re-purchase”, “refer”, “recommend” and “advocate”.  Ah yes!  The exultant state of being a committed, loyal, expressive and assertive “brand/product service ambassador”.  However, that is some distance from a casual, easy-to-apply register of a hit or “like”.


Increasingly, digital and on-line marketing agencies are negotiating or are being made to negotiate remuneration packages based on performance.

The most appropriate and meaningful key performance indicator is established on conversions to sales, to profit margins, gross or net profits and, in rare instances, to dividend payments.


Many astute business leaders and marketers are happy to accept fewer hits and likes, in favour of higher relative and absolute conversions. You can bank on that!


Against the tide of calls for more and more hits and “Likes” some discerning business leaders are happy to attract less attention in favour of more profits.

In the contemporary marketplace visibility and high rankings on Google, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn do not depend on Search Engine Optimisers (SEOs).

Repeated and conspicuous use of the following marketing words will attract the attention of algorithms embedded in computers, technology software and search engines:

Innovative                Easy
Exciting                    New
Cheap                      Substantial
Quiet                        Yes

Attracting the attention of customers, clients and consumers is quite different to generating patronage and payments.

But the words listed above have become passé.  They have been commoditised by over-use and are considered bland, ineffective and in some instances, insulting by many of the consuming public.

So much for the mantra:

Big, Bigger, Biggest
Good, Better, Best
Cheap, Cheaper, Cheapest
Fast, Faster, Fastest

In the recent past it was a hit. Today, it is a miss.


Put simply, marketers are reverting to the principle of “Ready, Aim, Fire”.  The intent is to limit hits to the ….

In doing so, they are being diligent in avoiding:


Barry Urquhart, of Marketing Focus is a respected business strategist, consumer behaviour analyst and high impact conference keynote speaker.

Barry Urquhart
Marketing Focus
M:      041 983 5555


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