I have decided to stand for election as a Director of the Hasting Co-op. But am I anti Co-op? The answer is “no”, I am very supportive of the organisation, but I disagree with some of the decisions made over the last few years. Overall I think it’s sad to see the diminished size and health of the business compared to the vibrant and growing organisation it should be.
I just don’t get it. Increasingly, my mobile beeps to advise that a message has arrived. Sometime later, I attempt to access my message bank but sadly – it’s not that type of message. It’s one of the other type (no pun intended), it’s a SMS or text message, exactly the type that I’ve managed to live without … until now, that is. Had I paid any attention to my mobile’s tune, I would have noticed that it was an SMS, but you know, I don’t pay that much attention to inbound mobile messages of any kind for that matter. Simply because they have a habit of interrupting when I’m concentrating on a more profitable task.
The mobile phone seems to have a self proclaimed sense of urgency, allowing a caller to jump the queue whenever they choose. This sits at odds with me, because I regard my phone as a tool for me to speak to others when I want, not the reverse. Call it a form of narcissist time management, but it allows me generally get the things done in the order I want rather than have my days dictated to me by others.
Email was a time waster too, but not any longer, now I have turned off the chimes and those neat little screen alerts. Try turning these alerts off, and I guarantee within two months your computer productivity will improve by a marked degree, or I’m a monkey’s uncle.
Vicki Byram (Port Central) left abruptly early in the month, something to do with staff reductions. What’s happening to shopping centre wars? Being surpassed by club wars, that’s what. My money is on Port City Bowling Club now that astute Jordan Humphries has arrived from the Macquarie Hotel Group.
He’s had more jobs than hot dinners, so where is David Miedling off to now that he’s left the local Bank of Queensland, who are searching for a new franchisee.
Thanks to the kind supporters who voted for Adams Marketing in the Business Awards. After some thought I chose not to accept the nominations, as I’d rather spend the time working on our clients’ projects. Looking through the finalists, I note that many, if not most, have been there the last few years.
They have been awfully quiet at Sovereign Hills lately, so what’s going on? There is a new rumour every week, most of them unrepeatable here, yet after all the hoopla and hubris since 2006, the present silence is most out of character. The website is a treasure trove of clever images, inventive statements (my favourite is the self reference: “fully connected, knowledge-based ‘Fibre Town’”), and out of date milestones such as the display village, ‘due for commencement in the first half of 2009’. You never know … some of these might actually come to fruition one day. We called for an update, but at the time of going to press Robert Yendell had not returned our call.
Better get used to it; a 20 metre pylon sign, bearing those Golden Arches on Ocean Drive, is not far away. C’mon, get real … an arterial road without a fast food joint was never a long term proposition, but are you ready for the next Ocean Drive shock? How soon before a score of billboards appear? Inside 3 years, is the latest.
Brett Gilbert is back in business operating Gilberts Law from 66 Lord St. Now before you cynically say, “Not another lawyer”, think carefully about the value the profession adds … but don’t take too long, Christmas is not far away.
Did you hear about the lawyer fuming with impatience because the golf group ahead of him were ponderously slow?
After complaining to the club captain, he learns that the slow group are in fact blind. Unappeased, the lawyer tells the official, “That’s great they can play, but since time is money, why don’t you get them to play at night?”
It was great to see the release of the preliminary findings of the Residential Development Council’s ‘Australia on the Move’ report. This estimated that Port Macquarie’s population will increase by 35% to 58,888 by 2027, placing Port as one of Australia’s top 20 growth centres. The implications are clear: a larger market will attract more competition, but mostly from the national chain and franchise players.
CEinternet has drawn quite a loyal following in business since it was launched at NorthPower’s turboweb in the late 90s. However, the business will be purchased by ONEtelecom, an Australian based wholesale internet services provider, who has provided internet services to CEinternet since 2007. The transfer of internet services will happen from 15 August 2009. Is this a sign of the future for Country Energy retail business?
Did anyone ever watch the late night business TV show The Apprentice? I loved it for the drama and real life competitiveness it displayed, even if Donald Trump was overly ruthless at times. The good news is that Network Nine have commissioned a local version, signing Mark Bouris, the former Wizard Home Loans Chief as the boss, for screening later this year.
“There was a path into this global financial crisis, and I guarantee there is a way out for us. And when we do come out the other side, it’s very important you’re able to put the foot on the accelerator and get going at full speed and not have to start the engine again.” Michael Luscombe, CEO Woolworths recently discussing Woolworth’s increased marketing investment with the Fin Review.
Good to see that Wauchope will have some supermarket competition now that the existing monopoly has been smashed by the Land & Environment court, who recently validated local approval of the development application initially granted last year. The new supermarket brand is yet to be determined, but look out for some relief in 2010.
It’s been a phenomenal second quarter for free TV networks, with viewers tuning in to home-grown shows in massive numbers. Programs like MasterChef, Packed to the Rafters, Thank God You’re Here, State of Origin footy, Underbelly and Talkin ‘Bout Your Generation have consistently attracted huge audiences during the period – all averaging a combined audience of at least 2 million viewers. The quarterly review of the television ratings (1 April to 30 June) also reveals more people tuning in to free TV, especially during the evenings. The second quarter saw average audiences grow 6.1 per cent in regional areas, with increases recorded across all major demographics. Good news for advertisers concerned about the impact of Austar on overall viewing numbers.
McGrath Real Estate has carved out an enviable but profitable niche in the premium end of the Sydney market and are set to repeat that success here now that Todd & Greg Bates formerly of LJ Hooker have established an office here. Good luck boys.
The young Lawyer was invited to his boss’ house one evening for dinner. The associate wandered through the grand house, awestruck by the majesty of the design, the perfection of the stylish interiors, and the beauty of the original artworks.
As he stood there gazing at the impeccable ocean view, his boss comes over and puts an arm around his shoulder, “I know what you’re thinking and, yes, it’s possible that if you work long and hard, day in and day out, six days a week … I could buy another one!”
Did anyone notice that Lighthouse Beach Plaza (Emerald Downs Shopping Centre) is up for sale? Comprising 5235 m² and car parking for 202 vehicles. The best bit is that Coles have 15 years plus 2 x 10 year options in place. Net income of $1.087 million, which means with a net yield of 7%, the centre is yours for around $15.5 million (good for the super fund if you are a banker). Call Luke Harris at Jones Lang LaSalle on 9220 8499.
Fresh from international waters comes the latest carrier market shares – Qantas declines to 23.1%, followed by Singapore Airlines at 10.1% then Air New Zealand on 9.2% and Emirates fourth at 7.3%, about to be passed by Jet Star on 7.2%. Closer to home, I wonder how much share Virgin have taken from Qantaslink on the Sydney run?
We have been reading and listening to the gathering storm that our Federal Government is soon to impose on the restaurant industry. Basically, the Industrial Relations Commission will bring in a new award unifying State & Federal awards imposing the same pay and conditions applied to hotel employers.
The Restaurant & Caterers’ Association says that employees that once earned standard evening rates will earn new penalty rates. Nothing will change, except they’ll be 20% more expensive. With net margins of around 3%, absorbing the extra costs is out of the question, and price increases might be the only other unpalatable solution. Fellow columnist Lou Perri is right to be upset. If you share his disappointment, write to the Small Business Minister, Craig Emerson at Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600 or Rob Oakeshott.
Did you know that nearly 50% of new businesses fail in the first year? Research shows that to succeed, proficiency across three core areas is mandatory: marketing & sales (surprise), product knowledge and finance. The trouble is that no one is an expert across these three skills, and that’s where the Start UP program is assisting emerging businesses graduate from the conception to commercialisation. Generously funded by North Coast TAFE, The NSW Business Chamber and Council, This program matches aspiring owners with mentors who provide free advice based on their years of experience. The scheme is co-ordinated by the mercurial Grant Burtenshaw: call 6584 0910.
In 2008, a comprehensive research study involving a large representative sample of the Australian population was conducted to learn consumer preferences when receiving promotional communications.
Conducted by Open Mind Research Group, the research covers 12 media channels, including television, newspapers, magazines, radio, addressed mail, unaddressed mail, email and online, across 19 industries, including banking, superannuation, telecommunications, travel & leisure, fashion, hardware and more.
The results are something that no marketer can afford to miss, showing that addressed mail was the most preferred channel for the majority of marketing communication tasks. Remember when we all thought that the fax and email would be the demise of the humble snail mail?
It hasn’t happened – largely, I suspect, because we feel mildly important when a personalised letter is received. Interestingly, television has fallen from 44% to 15% as the favourite channel for new product announcements.
An Architect, a Property Developer and a Lawyer were discussing whether it was better to have a spouse or a lover. The Architect said he enjoyed time with his spouse, building a solid foundation for an enduring relationship. The Property Developer said he enjoyed time with his lover because of the passion he found there. The Lawyer said, “I prefer to have both.”
“Both?” Lawyer: “Yeah, if you have both a spouse and a lover, they will each assume you are spending time with the other, and you can go to the office and get some work done.”
In times when there are fewer sales opportunities, leading organisations ruthlessly analyse their marketing mix to identify and eliminate weaknesses that might create purchase obstacles.
If your sales have slowed, one of the first areas to scrutinise might well be pricing. How you compare with competitors will determine your value perception for new customers, but will existing customers notice?
You bet your hat they will, and you are mad if you think otherwise. Part of ensuring your pricing is right is to see it from a customer’s point of view … and how can you do this if you’re not sure what your competitor is charging?
What’s happening in advertising?
If you thought it was all doom and gloom, you’d be wrong. The latest date from the Commercial Economic Advisory Service indicates that for the six months ending 31 December 2008, compared to the prior year all advertising increased 1.2%, with the big movers being Pay TV and online advertising up 25% and 11% respectively. Regional TV (11% of all advertising, declined 1.2%) and magazines declined just 1%.
Overall this is good news, and I think the next 6 months will be very interesting. Certainly Pay TV is doing well, as is the CEO of Austar, John Porter who has increased his pay to $5.2 million up 43%.
Has anyone been watching the Gruen Transfer on ABC 1? In its second season and still good value, but so is ‘Mad Men’, a highly involving profile of advertising in the 60s in New York appearing on Thursday via SBS.
One of my favourite reads is the Fin Boss magazine, and this month I was inspired by two articles … here’s why.
In a profile about consumer spending, Catherine Fox talks to the GM of David Jones apparel, cosmetics, accessories and footwear.
We learn that despite the plummeting economic indicators, the latest model Chloe handbag has been among the quickest sellers this season. It’s price: $3,000!
While there would not be sufficient lawyers’ wives in Port Macquarie to sustain a local stockist, the model still applies. Consumers are buying premium products if the mix is right.
In the same article, the boss of Industrie clothing, Nick Kelly says it’s time to marry caution with opportunity. “I think discounting is a flawed strategy … now is not the time to reduce marketing, because the easiest time to increase market share is when my competitors back off.” True words indeed.
What do leading marketers have in common when it comes to selling in tougher times?
1. Be realistic, with lower growth targets but maintain marketing support.
2. Don’t rely on price promotions for volume, as discounting will only damage profits – especially when competitors follow.
Our Council is claiming a satisfaction rating of 61% resulting from a survey of ratepayers late last year. While this seems a depressingly low figure, in one sense it is encouraging that surveys are undertaken.
For what good, you may well ask. With their financial situation it’s not like Council are in any shape to assist local businesses. Developers beware … higher contribution charges are on the way.
Locally, Alan Anderson has reached a milestone recently with his 60th birthday. Well done Ando – you don’t look anywhere near that age. Add 10 and you’re closer!
A young couple about to get married were killed in a tragic car accident and asked St Peter in heaven if he could arrange for them to be married.
Many years later they returned to St Peter and said, “You know, we thought we’d be happy. But now we have so many irreconcilable differences that we need to end our marriage and sort things out. Is there any way we can get divorced?” Are you kidding?” said St Peter. “It took me 100 years to get a Priest up here to marry you. l’ll never get a Lawyer.”
Chris and Leesa Harris … now the new management team at Quayside apartments in Short St, in addition to Luxe. Fantastic news that people who understand our tourism sector so well are giving excellent service a new delivery point.
It seems that I’m not the only one weary of the incessant reporting of bad financial news. Most folks I talk to agree that the story has been done to death and the financial media need to move on. (After all, if punters bought equities before 2005, they’ll still be in front).
So it was with great pleasure that I read in the Fin Review (31 Jan P.25) that two respected analysts are forecasting that Feb will see shares hit rock bottom. Who are these prophets? David Hunt, who has accurately predicted every major peak and trough for the last 15 months. David was reported as saying that by the end of February the last of the bearish sentiment were the final sellers out of the market. Jake Ernstein, the respected American analyst also expected the market to tank soon, adding that this will represent the best time ever to buy equities.
Getting close to customers is essential, but keeping your best performing staff on staff is equally important for service providers, manufacturing, retail – just about anyone. According to a local survey, staffing issues, and in particular trying to find replacements, rate among the biggest challenges faced by owners. Recognising the role staff can play in delivering the brand promise, several astute owners have locked their high performing managers into attractive but long term performance based contracts.
Good to see Active Tree Services doing so well. Local head honcho Mark ‘Elvis’ Thomas tells me the firm is now a national operation, with further growth planned. Thanks for the lift into town from a soggy airport.
A report from the marketing pages of the SMH details a study which claims that the most important senses when building brands are the sense of sound followed by sight followed by smell followed by sight, according to researcher Martin Lindsrom. Lindstrom in his best selling book ‘Buyology’, summarises the irony that most brand communication only appeals to the sense of sight.
The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging to scan consumer’ brains while they were exposed to Johnsons Baby Powder, the smell of Play-Doh, Coca Cola, the sound of a Nokia phone and the sound of a computer.
At a charity fundraiser, a volunteer worker noticed that the most successful lawyer in the whole town hadn’t made a contribution, so the volunteer thought, “Why not call him up?”
“Sir, according to our research you haven’t made a contribution. Would you like to do so?”
The lawyer responds, “A contribution? Does your research show that I have an invalid mother who requires expensive surgery once a year just to stay alive? “
The worker is feeling a bit embarrassed and says, “Well, no sir, I’m…”
“Does your research show that my sister’s husband was killed in a car accident? She has three kids and no means of support!”
The worker is feeling quite embarrassed at this point. “I’m terribly sorry…”
“Does your research show that my brother broke his neck on the job and now requires a full time nurse to have any kind of normal life?”
The worker is completely humiliated at this point. “I am sorry sir, please forgive me…”
“The gall of you people! I don’t give them anything, so why should you be any different?”
The former Administrator believes that artists in general and graphic artists in particular have a bright future according to a Council review of the creative services industry.
This stands a chance of being an accurate prediction if demand for graphic services rises, but there are two constraints worth recognising. Firstly, professional graphic artists need to be paid between $80 – $100 per hour for design work reflecting their training and expertise. Sure, you can get artwork done cheaply from the newspaper or the printer, but chances are it won’t be much chop (unless it’s Ben from Snap, of course!)
Secondly, perhaps the biggest obstacle is that many businesses think they can undertake design work themselves and save money by using off the shelf software like Corel or Publisher. Yes, they might save a few dollars, but what value do they put on their image? Isn’t it better to let an expert do the work and look professional rather than the poor cousin?
Our local Council can play a lead role in this context by awarding more graphic work to locals, especially for high profile projects like the Glasshouse and tourism work. The benefits will be design of an equal standard but at less cost, and of course the income stays here. How about it Andrew Roach?
During January I couldn’t help notice how busy the CBD was, creating a curious scenario: happy retailers and accommodation operators. So what will happen now that the many holiday makers have returned home? As I said last month, the media love to play on the negative to frighten the naive.
Accountants lap this up, using every excuse to reduce marketing expenditure thereby actually assisting businesses to shrink. Fortunately, most business owners are savvy enough to know that the best way to avoid a sales decline is by not allowing them to happen, and prepare plans accordingly.
What do the experts say is the best generic marketing strategy for ‘09? You all know my favourite marketing machine is Maccas, led by Helen Farquhar. Helen says in a recent industry journal: “Get closer to your customers and find ways to deliver better value, and that’s not just lowering prices.“
In the same article Todd Sampson of Leo Burnett correctly advises us to ignore the bad news and work on things within your sphere of influence. Peter Wiltshire, Sales Director of Nine makes a sanguine point when he says that it’s critical this year to lead sales staff by showing them how to sell to more demanding clients. Dave McNeil, Marketing Director at Unilever, says, “Don’t think discounting is adding value and continue marketing investment, but more wisely.” The implications from the leaders are clear: growth is there if you want it.
Speaking of a large business ‘growing places’, I caught up with Larry Collins, the new CEO at Port City Bowling Club over lunch the other day. It was refreshing to hear about the club’s growth in members and sales in recent months, largely due to a creative new activity plan and better member communications. Well done Larry.
Did anyone see the SMH Domain feature on Port Macquarie apartments on Saturday 10 January? The developers of high rise apartments such as The Point, Coast, Focus surely did and they loved it, but the sales that followed even more. Such is the power of free editorial. You won’t always get coverage like this, but with a carefully scripted media release and a creative twist, you just might capture an editor’s attention.
I can’t help but notice that every retailer seems to be ‘on sale’ now, judging by the advertising we see and hear. But as GoLo, who have gone into receivership will tell you, there is more to successful retailing than conducting ‘sales’.
Next month we hope to have some details of the new tourism campaign “Come out of your shell”, from CumminsNitro, the Sydney based winner of the recent pitch.
Good luck to Tony Cox, who joins Byrnes Lawyers up in the Galleria Building in William Street. Did you hear about the two lawyers in the bank, when suddenly armed robbers burst in. Several of the robbers take the money from the tellers and others start fleecing the customers. While this is going on, one lawyer thrusts something into the other lawyer’s hand. Without looking down, the second lawyer says, “What’s this”? To which the first lawyer replies, “It’s that $200 I owe you.”