Australia Should Prepare for Electric Shock Treatment

As a nation, it’s time to seize emerging opportunities. Or sleepwalk into oblivion.

To Australia’s north, 1.5 million new electric vehicles (NEV) have just rolled out of Chinese production. China makes more cars and more electric cars than any other country.

With a population of 1.4 billion people, China’s objective isn’t so much to let everyone have a car, but to enable everyone to have access to mobility when they need it. Strategically, this makes sense.

According to an April 4th article in The Economist, China is also the largest producer of batteries. Moreover, emissions rules in western Europe are tightening. Britain and France have said they see no role for cars powered only by internal combustion after 2040.

Shanghai The Bund. (Photo credit: Danielle Spinks)

In Shanghai, a city with a greater population than Australia (26 million), there are 6 million cars. To counter the traffic congestion, There are strict quotas on the number of license platesthat can be issued each year. It has a lottery-style system where a winner gets the chance to buy a plate. You have a 0.2% chance of winning.

To alleviate exhaust pollution, median strips planted with trees and flowering shrubs, each with distinctive white paint around the bottom to prevent from boring insects. In Beijing, to ease both congestion and pollution, there is road space rationing. According to the last digits of a license plate, a car owner needs to use public transport one day a week. With unparalleled levels of data and surveillance, owners who contravene the restriction are fined every three hours.

After having spent time in both Beijing and Shanghai recently, I have to say the traffic congestion was not as bad as Sydney.

Beijing congestion? (Photo credit: Danielle Spinks)

The goal is not car ownership, it’s access to mobility

In Australia, we have seen the uptake of new services like Car Next Door and GoGet. These ride-sharing services mean that car owners can make money from their vehicles when they are not in use. It also makes accessing a vehicle simpler and more affordable to the many inner-city residents who do not have access to parking spaces or may not want the cost of registration and insurance.

A much larger proportion of cars in China are used by more than one party, either as a taxi or as rise-sharing vehicles than they are in the West.

Didi Chuxing is the largest ride-sharing company in the world. It dwarfs the size of Uber, with over 550 million registered users. According to an April 4th article in the Economist, Alibaba and Tencent are both investors in Didi Chuxing, which has now spread into South-East Asia and will soon roll into India and Europe.

These technology juggernauts are also investing in cars. Plans are afoot for Didi Chuxing to build autonomous robotaxis. Autonomous taxis surely would rely on a strong Artificial Intelligence industry. Fortunately, along with green vehicles and electric cars, the AI industry is listed as one of the sectors for advancement in the Made in China 2025 Policy.

Chinese city, Hangzhou, at night (photo credit: Danielle Spinks)

Made In China 2025

The Policy is a ten-year blueprint for industrial development in China. Released in 2015, the aim is to move China up the value chain and thereby reduce wage inequality and aid development.

Guangdong is a case where this is already evident. Martin Jacques describes it is once the place that made “cheap, mass-produced goods for the world,” it is seeking to move up the value ladder and into the services economy.

“Shenzhen and Guangzhou, like many cities in Guangdong, now look well maintained and prosperous, a far cry from the former days when they resembled China’s wild west.”

Jacques attributes the turning point to May-June 2010 strikes that saw massive wage increases. The strikes affected factories including Honda and Foxconn, the electronics manufacturer which employed 270,000 people. He writes, “It can no longer sustain its competitive advantage. Labour has become too expensive, too demanding, the expectations of its people transformed.”

One US Think Tank called the Made in China 2025 policy as “an existential threat to US technological leadership.”

The ten sectors listed in the policy for advancement up the value ladder including artificial intelligence, rail, green vehicles.

“The combined challenge of electrification and autonomy is stretching Western incumbents enough that some, maybe many, will snap.”

Country Strategies

It is hard to see why there is resistance on Australia’s part when there is such clear environmental need, technological simplification, and global demand. One wonders whether it is a lack of strategic thinking or over-reliance on income from old money — fuel excise. As at October last year, this was 41 cents for every litre of unleaded petrol and diesel. In total, it generates $10 billion, or thereabouts, per year.

China is not the first country to have a national strategy which states a clear vision and the methods to achieve it. The Meiji Restoration saw Japan embark on a process of rapid modernisation after 1868.

Terrified of Western invasion, Japan systematically went about researching all the systems and processes used in industry around the world. It cherry-picked the systems and methods it thought were the best. The navy based on Britain’s. Germany for railways. France for education. It then emulated these systems but infused them with distinctly Japanese characteristics.

Japan went from being vulnerable and isolated to becoming the second largest economy in the world. It happened with a speed described by Martin Jacques as “a remarkable historical phenomenon.”

Why a country strategy matters

It’s easy to see how technology, artificial intelligence, and car manufacturing can have shared benefits and symbiosis. Cooperation will help each sector thrive, and create a new gamut of sub-sectors. China has shown leadership in this regard.

China’s mandate to sell 4.6 million new electric vehicles (NEV) has had a ripple effect around the world. It has banned the sale of internal-combustion engine cars after 2040. Already, General Motors (GM) plans to have 20 models of NEV by 2030. Ford also has initiatives underway to compete.

With clarity of direction, businesses must rise to the challenge to remain competitive. This is the nature of business. But countries need to do the same.

Surely there are intelligent ways Australia could create fruitful scenarios from the emerging macroeconomic picture. It could choose to adopt and modify other good systems from around the world. New Zealand could be modelled upon for its broadband, for example, or indigenous relations.

Adapting other systems saves us reinvention. However, we need not borrow from anyone else. Australia could clear the slate and start from scratch. Made In Australia 2025 Strategy.

What does a strategy do?

A strategy allows us to think about what we want in the future. What is the vision? What would Australia look like in 2030, ideally? We look within to see our strengths. We look outside to see opportunities and threats.

Good strategy uses Strengths to take advantage of Opportunities. Australia has abundant sunlight, a vast and mostly uninhabited interior, which could be used to harness solar energy. There are 25,760 metres of coastland. This could be used to generate wave energy.

Coal is near complete obsolescence. Most developed countries have signed agreements that coal will not be part of their energy mix in one to two decades.

Australia has a strategic choice: to see and seize the powerful opportunities around it. Or to preserve the status quo and keep doing what it’s doing — sleepwalking into oblivion.

How to Better Use Social Media For Business

Each of these networks has its own special strengths and purposes. Choose the ones that are right for you and fit how much time you have.

As in life, it is better to be positive than negative. Be full of generosity when you see things that you like.


Still the gorilla of social media, Facebook has a considerable user base globally. That may be the understatement of the century. According to an Evan Osnos article in The New Yorker, the user base is not only unprecedented in the history of American enterprise, but the 2.2 billion people who log in at least once a month is equivalent in size to Christianity. The article also claims that its precision advertising model, “earns Facebook for ad revenue in a year than all American newspapers combined.”

In Australia, a whopping proportion of us are active users. When you cut out the very young and the very old, you can appreciate the numbers. If there is one place you are going to be, it should be Facebook, no matter what kind of business you are in.

Facebook TIPS:

  • The more interactions your post gets, the more people will see it
  • Use Facebook Insights to see who is engaging and what posts are popular (or not)
  • If you have images online to share, link to the URL (except for video)
  • Interact with other pages
  • Upload video here natively. Facebook competes with Google, which owns YouTube


If you dislike Facebook, for whatever reason, you might be interested in Minds.

Minds is a social network that currently has 200,000 monthly users and is growing fast. It boasts an easy-to-use interface and regular engagement tools. It allows users to earn ‘tokens’ for their time on site and engagement.


Twitter is used by journalists everywhere, bloggers, opinion leaders, politicians, et al. It is perfect for making quick connections and finding people with specific interests. Permissions, opt-outs, and the SPAM and CANSPAM and various national email legislation don’t apply, which makes it very easy and fast to form new contacts. Also effective as a customer service tool or to announce important breaking events such as service interruptions that will affect people.

Twitter Tips:

  • Twitter is excellent as a Search tool (you don’t even need to post). You can find events and popular #hashtags for your industry
  • By all means, piggyback off national and State event/awareness days. They have well-publicised event #hashtags for relevant conversations you can segue into
  • Try to get noticed/retweeted by the key influencers in your area
  • Repeat your tweets 2 or 3 times, spreading them a few hours apart
  • Add a few images for each tweet

Google+ No More

Well, Google Plus would have been my next recommendation. But Google killed it off this September 2018 after a large data breach with its API.


These are more personal and visual accounts and about sharing slices of life. For a business, it’s best to have a personal angle by enlisting someone to make the updates based on their experiences at work (staff/CEO/whoever). Lufthansa, for example, uses pilot photos of places through the cockpit window.

Instagram Tips:

  • Remember, companies don’t Instagram, people Instagram.
  • Use 5 to 10-word captions for images
  • Use hashtags
  • Look at what’s popular


This is the network for the highest quality content. Allows you to position yourself for competence and expertise.

LinkedIn Tips:

  • Posts can be 500 to 1,000 words
  • Integrate Slideshare for your presentations
  • Integrate issuu for your reports and booklets
  • Customise the ‘connection’ request
  • Get staff to share them on their profiles so they show up to a proper audience size.
  • Participate in Groups (if you can find a relevant group to you).


This is a very aesthetic network.

Pinterest Tips:

  • Pin professional photos.
  • No hashtags

Integrate Blogging and Social Media

Almost everyone seems to be doing this now, but this is the recipe I think works best.

  1. After writing your post, get a quality image from a stock site like that is royalty free.
  2. Have social share buttons (to everything) on every blog post.
  3. Send multiple Tweets (at least 3) linking to your article.
  4. Add a photo and link to your Facebook Page.
  5. If it is super newsworthy, submit a version to a media release distribution agency like MediaNet.
  6. Publish on Medium through ‘Import Story’.
  7. Create a 500 words synopsis and publish on LinkedIn and Google+.
  8. Turn your bullet point articles into slideshows with Slideshare.
  9. Turn your SlideShare presentations into videos for YouTube.
  10. Email your list a heads-up with the link.
  11. If you still have time, do some Guest Blogging for other sites.


I hope that gives you a great toolkit. Remember, you have limited time and resources, so pick what you can achieve and schedule in some time each week for your social media.

Photo by from Pexels

How to Get Huge Publicity on a Shoestring


Ican honestly say, the person I have learnt the most from in the real world of public relations and publicity has been Joan Stewart, the Publicity Hound. I say this having spent years studying and practising my profession. I did a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and Media; a Diploma in Journalism and a Masters Degree in Marketing. Stewart is the real deal. Her advice doesn’t contradict any of my formal training and she doesn’t blur boundaries of integrity.

Joan Stewart is a veteran newspaper journalist and editor who has mentored thousands of small business owners, marketers, publicists, authors, nonprofits, speakers, and PR people to succeed in the online environment.

I’ve been a devout follower since I was introduced to her website at a copywriting course in 2007. In those years, I have bought many of her information products and they have been tremendously helpful for myself and the organisations that I have worked for.

Joan Stewart is way ahead of the trend curve, and a lot of her information she has given away for free. There is a free email subscription link on her website. You will get great information from every one of her email newsletters.

Those who are budget-strapped can get thousands of dollars in free publicity with simple tricks from Joan Stewart, the Publicity Hound. Even if you have a staff of one, Joan’s products will show you how to make your news releases, media kits, articles and news releases do double and triple duty. She’ll show you how to identify story ideas within your nonprofit that the media will be tripping over themselves to cover. This is the best website I’ve ever seen on publicity for nonprofits or for anyone with a restrictive budget.

I am a proud affiliate of Joan Stewart, and owe much of my knowledge to her excellent tutelage over the past ten years. We have never met but I consider her a friend, of sorts.

Thanks Joan. Looking forward to many more fine products.

How to write a more effective media release

The Media Release Formula

Who. What. When. Where. Why and How. I learned it 20 years ago. Still the formula, right? Sure, but you’re probably boring people. There are often better alternatives.

Occasionally I like to use a bold hairy quite right up front for instant drama and impact. Like this:
“More infant wombats with easily curable illnesses will die unless State government immediately starts upgrading facilities at Wandin Valley Animal Hospital,” said Simon Bowen, the Hospital Director yesterday.
With more tech, entrepreneurs everywhere and a sharing economy, a new ‘story-telling’ formula has emerged. I am indebted here to the enduringly helpful Joan Stewart, who credits Ann Wylie for the X, Y, Z, A formula.
“It looks like this: X (users) who have struggled with Y (problem) will now be able to Z (benefit), thanks to A (product or service).”
It reads like this:
Commuters who now spend an hour each day driving from Sunrise Beach to Osage Beach will soon be able to make the trip in 15 minutes, thanks to a new bridge that the ABC Company will build this summer.
The right formula depends on what the release is about and to whom it is being sent. Remember not all reporters report news the same way.
If there is a different angle for a different audience, right a different release.

What NOT to include in a Media Release

There are plenty of people who still think a Media Release is a multipage advertisement for a product or service or announcement.

It’s not.

A Media Release is closer to an Article.  At least, it should have an angle of interest to a publication that will serve their readership.

Try to help journalists meet their difficult deadlines by providing ready copy (text) they can lift straight out.

That includes strong quotes, with clear and accurate attribution, and a balance of sources.

Don’t use adjectives. The media release is completely impersonal. More often than not, it should have a ‘newsy’ objective feel.

You are not launching a much-needed fantastic or exciting event. You are launching an event. Include your adjectives if you have to) in a direct quote from a person.

A new XYZ event will open on DATE to coincide with ABC. “This is an exciting and much-needed event,” said XXX from YYY. “It’s fantastic the level of support we’ve had.”

Don’t bury the lead. Get to the point immediately. Use the ‘pyramid. The most important information should be right up front. Editors and journalists will edit for space by cutting from the bottom up.

Don’t harass writers and editors by sending a teaser email and then asking them to contact you. They’re busy. Send them your info in the body of an email. Give them whatever they need to run a piece. If there are pictures available, let them know. Avoid sending attachments as they may not get opened due to antivirus protocols in many media organisations.

Hope that helps. If you have any further pointers, please feel free to share them here.

How to Innovate If You’re a Service Business


Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, recently announced a new $1.1 billion investment to foster the country’s business-based research, development and innovation.

And well might he should, because Australia has a real innovation problem.

We are ranked 17th in the world on the Global Innovation Index.

A recent CPA survey of 3,000 small businesses across Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, China and New Zealand found that 93% of Asian small businesses used social media. In Australia, only half do.

Forty percent of Australian businesses do online sales. Across Asia, it is 83%. Only 5% of Australian businesses plan to release a new product, process or service that’s new in the market in the next year. In Indonesia, it is nearly half of all businesses.

Where’s the Innovation Fund Money Going?

The billion dollars is going into many areas, such as cybersecurity, and tax exemptions for both ‘angel investors’ and Mum and Dad investors in STEM startups (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).

Bankruptcy laws will be relaxed to reduce the default period from three years down to one. This way startups can fail fast, learn, get moving again.

I wish I were at school again because there’s money for students in years 5 and 7 will study coding, computer languages and machine thinking.

Eighty percent of Australia’s GDP comes from services.  How do you innovate if you’re a service?

Here are three ideas.

1. How can you Add Convenience?

Selling something on eBay? It’s always a bugbear working out size, height, depth, weight. Or you can just say ‘Pick-up Only’ and miss a lot of the best customers.

The rise of eBay saw Pack n Send services. They make it convenient to buy and sell online.

How can you add convenience to your customer?

2. What Service Extensions can you Provide?

There’s a mechanical workshop in Mittagong NSW that not only performs thorough, reasonably-priced car servicing, they wash, vacuum the car afterwards.

Big deal, you may say, but plenty of their customers come to get a service when they just want their car washed!

If you’re an Internet ISP, why not offer free domain name with each hosting plan. Domains cost only a few dollars and it’s a loss-leader that could be a real point of difference, especially for a novice market.

3. Productise your Service

Can you write an instruction book based on your experience?

Load it on your website as a free download, or sell it, to show your authority.

Create instruction videos for clients. Show off the website instructions. Demonstrate the stretching techniques so your personal training clients don’t forget.

There are lots of ways you can innovate when you’re a service. Many companion services and partnerships you can formulate to add value (and price) to your services.

Branding Nonprofits – Case Study of ‘The Salvos’


Nonprofits face many difficulties when branding. Some of these are unique as the value proposition for a nonprofit is unique to that sector. It is a social exchange with an intangible, higher-order reward as its value proposition. The key issues are values and vision, trust and transparency, organisational culture and structure. Continue reading

Ten Practical Neuromarketing Insights You Can Use Right Now

In 1999, researchers did a simple wine purchase experiment inside a supermarket.


Near a display of French wines and German wines, the researchers played French music one day, and German music on the alternate days. They did this for two weeks. Guess what happened?

You’re right! On the days French music was played, the store sold three times more French wine than German. On the days German music was played, the store sold three times more German wine.

No surprises there, I guess. Except that—

They also asked every shopper who bought a bottle of French or German wine this survey question:

“What factors influenced you to buy the French / German wine?”

Only one person in 44 chose the music as having any effect!

The study just goes to show two things.

Key Learning 1: Obviously, music can influence purchase decisions and mood, so you should start using it in your servicescape. I don’t mean tune the room into commercial radio or some garbage, be selective and set the tone. Good music can vivify and enhance purchase spend, but bad music can make you feel angry or annoyed. In fact, every time Fleetwood Mac comes on the radio station of my local Vinnies, it’s time to leave. Likewise, my favourite cafe at the moment (Esca in Glebe Point Rd) often plays St Germain in the mornings when I grab my takeaway soy flat white. It’s music I play at home and it makes me feel relaxed and happy. Want a cookie with that? Sure.

Key Learning 2: There is a big difference between people’s behaviour and their understanding of that behaviour. From this, we can even postulate that asking people questions, even in depth interviews, will give you flawed data every time. There is a whole world that exists in the brain that is below our awareness levels. Talking about why we do things just doesn’t cut it. People cannot tell you what they think. Not that they don’t want to, they can’t. So with that in mind, if you think something could work, try it. Forget asking customers. Just introduce it and judge from the results.

Happy Faces

Although subliminal advertising is not legal in Australia, research has shown that flashes of happy faces can generate up to triple the price for a mystery drink. The real-world self-service vending machine study also showed that people changed their consumption behaviour after the happy flashes (drinking more). Those who saw the unhappy faces, even though they could not consciously detect them, drank less.

Key Learning 3: Positive, genuinely happy staff is gold dust. Happy staff equals happy customers equals higher profits.

Key Learning 4: Both the music study and the subliminal faces study both go to show that a positive environment and positive feelings, no matter how small, have an impact on consumers sense of value. Want to be perceived as offering more value? Be more positive. Smile and set a happy scene.

Eye Tracking

Although big businesses spend big money on eye tracking, we can learn from their research.

Eye movements are a reliable indicator of attention. If you have the budget, it’s a useful measure for things like:

  • advertising design
  • web design
  • store design
  • packaging design

Some companies seek permission to get into your webcam so they can track your eyes on a beta website, for example.

Observe Closely

Key Learning 5: Watch people. Watch what they look at. Observe. Did you notice that customers often find trouble locating the pasta sauce? Move it. You can quite easily and inexpensively do observational research to see if your store design is working well, or simply use (and watch) people testing your website or looking at mockups of different window, poster, or newspaper ad designs. Do your A/B split tests.

Logo Positions

By the way, eye tracking reveals that if a logo is used on the bottom of the ad, many people won’t see it. You may want to watermark it right through the centre instead, or incorporate the branding more creatively within the body of the ad. If there’s a big Helena Christensen flashing cleavage in the centre of the ad, people will remember the model, but they won’t necessarily connect her with the brand name at the bottom right hand corner. Same can be said for calls to action. Why do they have to be at the bottom?

Use Faces

Key Learning 6: The most compelling thing a human being can look at is the face of another human being. Especially the eyes. Both genders will also look at things like cleavage, however. People are curious. Use people in your marketing material wherever you can. Faces capture attention.

Arousal Methods

When people are emotionally aroused (in whatever capacity), changes in the sympathetic nervous system are automatic.

This can include pupil dilation, increased heart rate, breath, sweat glands.

The emotional arousal is primitive. We are either attracted or want to withdraw from the stimulus.

Physiological tests of pupils, sweat glands, heart rate, and breathing can indicate arousal, but can’t indicate whether the arousal is positive or negative.

Key Learning 7: A simple skin conductor test on the palm of a hand can reveal any arousal to a stimulus such as a picture of a food product, or an advertisement, but it won’t tell you if they like it or not. So is that information in itself something you can act on? All marketing research needs to yield information upon which you can base a decision. In my opinion, physiological tests of heart, pupils, sweat, and breath are unlikely to be of benefit most of the time.

Facial Recognition

There is software that detects whether a person, even with a somewhat neutral expression, is happy or sad.

Companies have used this in doing user experience (UX) tests for websites.

Key Learning 8: What the face reveals can be accurately decoded by software, but it can also be understood by any curious and perceptive human being. Look at the expressions on their faces. Sure you can video record your store, but why would you. Plus, it’s a privacy thing. Just get in there and mingle. Try looking at clients and customers when you are explaining that technical process or the different packages you offer.  Do they fade away in boredom at certain points? Do there eyes go into deep focus? Do they look scared when you start talking fees and charges and scales of member benefits? Do they outright tell you they didn’t understand? Dumb it down then, folks. If you can’t explain something in simple terms, then you don’t understand it well enough.Or, if your customers don’t understand it easily, it’s too complicated.

Confusion is death. It’s a copywriting mantra, but same goes for a web design. If the user can’t get to what they’re seeking quickly, they will usually leave your website within a matter of seconds. Forever.

Do your customers look happy? Do they express delight? If you have a physical presence, there are so many ways you can setup people to have a positive emotion. Christmas tree with donated presents? A train set? Mood lighting? Classic TV programming? Scent? Comfortable chairs?

Online – increase the size of your web font. Make it easy to read, not gimmicky. Follow my mantra; if in doubt, Open Sans. Make buttons bigger and colourful. Make a change and watch your customers faces before and after. You might want to check out the Designing Servicescapes article for good ideas.

Brain Signals

The marketing concept of value lives in the brain. When people make decisions, brand memories serve as neural connections. Strong connections are better for the brand. An unknown brand will have few memories and be able to generate only the weakest neural connections.

Based on brand memories, value signals will be sent to the front of the brain where decisions are made. The strongest value signal wins.

Electroencephalography (EEG) scans have been able to reveal a more accurate price point for university students’ on-campus cups of latte macchiato than questionnaire results found.

Key Learning 9: If you can’t afford EEG to set a price point for maximum demand and profitability, consider using a real world test of different price points and look at the elasticity of your demand. Then use regression techniques with Excel or similar software to make forecasts.

A study that used functional magnetic resonance imaging machine (fMRI) has revealed that the brain activity processing value signals can often be different to what a person says, even when they aren’t lying. Brain chemistry doesn’t lie. Read about this classic neuromarketing experiment that used MRI and the startling power of brand effects.

Key Learning 10: The cultural power of a strong brand is not contested. Brands insinuate into the nervous system. Cultural information and memories impact our perceived value and our decision-making. Only the ignorant would say that a brand has no value because it’s intangible.

So the last key learning is this: make good memories. It doesn’t matter what your budget is, provide clear branding images that are consistent with style, typeface and colour schemes. Good brands tell a good story. They create good experiences. It’s all pretty common sense, I guess. But common sense is not common practice. Make every customer experience a good new memory and you’re on your way to building some good cultural capital. If it’s an emotional experience, like the arts can deliver, that memory may just may serve you well in someone’s decision-making process twenty years from now.


Phil Harris, “Neuromarketing” Presentation at Australian Marketing Institute, Sydney, April 2014. Check out Nurobrand’s website if you are looking to introduce neuromarketing metrics into your organistion.
North, Adrian C.; Hargreaves, David J.; McKendrick, Jennifer “The influence of in-store music on wine selections.”Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 84(2), Apr 1999, 271-276

May 26, 2005Face Value: Hidden Smiles Influence Consumption And Judgment: Psychology Studies Confirm Unfelt Emotion Can Alter Consequential Behavior”




How to Add Value to your E-Business

If marketing is the interface between an organization and the marketplace, the value exchange is the driver of business.

‘Value’. You hear it time and again. Value proposition, value creation, adding value…let me take a moment to just repeat a key point–

Value exchange is the driver of business.

Value can be roughly defined as the advantage that a buyer (or user if there is no transaction) perceives that they gain from you. This could be the perception of worth that a user feels they get from your product (or service or information) minus the price and effort.

In order to create, communicate and deliver value to customers, we need to locate where value can be added or unlocked all the way along the supply chain to the customer and then into after-sales support and customer service.

In this sense, Marketing Departments are, and should be, disappearing because marketing is located in each of its parts: logistics, inputs, business development, operations, communications and customer service, and is the sum of the whole.

Regis McKenna famously wrote that “Marketing is everything and everything is marketing.”

Understand what ‘Value’ means to your customers

In order to deliver value, we must first understand what Value means to your customers. It may not be the price alone. Other factors to research when developing a Customer Persona could include:

  • time
  • ease
  • convenience
  • speed
  • access
  • customization
  • physical contact with a person
  • sense of trust and security

In fact, looking at this list, where do the four Ps of marketing fit? What happened to Product, Price, Place and Promotion? Is this redundant now?

Not really. We just have a broader variety of things to think about.


Products can include information, or a service, anything we can provide in exchange for something of value to us (money, information, an audience).


Pricing now far more flexible and complicated than in years past. Products and services may be free (Dropbox, Gmail), or scaled in some way(personal, professional, enterprise), or even time-based (variable pricing for booking of tickets due to demand).

Placement / Distribution

Considerations for E-Business are much broader now. Do we have one central fulfillment centre or a network of regional centres?


It is far less acceptable to consumers to be bombarded with email marketing than it is to deluge them with television commercials. This is in part because the media are different. Television is a passive medium, the Internet is an active one. The emphasis is on ‘inbound marketing’ rather than outbound.

Authors Kalyanam and McIntyre believe that a better formula consists of 11 factors to consider.

11 Ingredients to Add a Unique Recipe Value

Product – in all of their guises mentioned above including information, music, audio, eBooks, services, and so on.

Placement- consider affiliates, other supply chain partners

Pricing – free, tiered, subscriber model, micro-payments

Promotion – online ads, sponsor links, email, public relations

Personalisation – customization, individualization, collaborative filtering

Privacy – e.g. state your policy and conformity to the relevant SPAM Act.

Customer Service – FAQ, help desks, Email, Chat rooms.

Community – chat rooms, user ratings, reviews

Website – navigation, ease of use and usefulness, user experience (UX), user interface (UI).

Security – SET, SSL

Sales Promotion – e-coupons, offers, bundling.

Do you find this helpful as an E-Marketer or is the 4 or 7Ps just as effective?



Kalyanam, K & McIntyre, S. (2002) “The e-marketing mix: A contribution to the e-tailing wars”,

Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Vol. 30, No. 4, pp. 487-499.

McKenna, R (1991), “Marketing is Everything,” Harvard Business Review, January, 1991.




How to Create A Content Marketing Strategy

‘Content Marketing Strategy’ is a phrase I’m seeing everywhere. Why? Because it represents a shift in collective thinking and marketing planning around social and digital environments.

Essentially, the concept is not new, but the setting is increasingly online. The worldwide web has given birth to concepts such as ‘keyword strategy’, search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM; usually meaning ‘paid search’).

‘Content’ tends to refer to things like blogs, infographics, videos, articles, games, photos, and so on, that are shared from a website through social networks and to email lists. The point is to drive people through the sales funnel and decision-making process towards a conversion of some kind.

Here, I will take a more holistic approach and include offline as well as online communications under the umbrella term ‘content’.

Content is King

Now there’s a phrase that’s been bandied around to near death. But it’s true. Content is king because search engines like Google like fresh content and they like it to be original (no ‘curated’ content scraped from other places). That means you have to produce new material regularly and it should be packed (but not stuffed) with keywords relating to your business or industry.

We usually start with text (as in a blog or article) because this is the opportunity to explain a point using words, which are searchable and indexable by search engine robots, as opposed to images and artwork, which generally are not indexable (except the metadata e.g. alt text for images). A base, say 500-word, blog post or article can and should be repurposed and reinvented into an infographic, a media release, video, photos, etc, in order to communicate the single message in multiple ways.  All of these seemingly random and disparate pieces of creative can be orchestrated into a strategic and effective drive to a pre-determined outcome.

But first things first.

What is a Content Marketing?

Content can be anything that helps you inform, entertain, engage, remind, alleviate confusion, solve a problem, redress myths, educate, and otherwise enhance trust, credibility and salience of your offering in the mind of your target audiences.

It sounds like it applies to consumer goods, but in fact, the same concept also applies to services and nonprofit organisations.

The whole idea of Content Marketing Strategy is simply a different way of formulating an Integrated Marketing Communications plan that addresses each of your target markets (or stakeholders in the case of a charity or nonprofit) and each of their predictable stages of awareness, understanding, interest, trial, post-trial evaluation and loyalty.

If our aim is to get a group up the ladder to loyalty, we need to step them up through awareness, understanding, interest, before we can encourage them to try our offering and entreat their loyalty.

Like any good Integrated Marketing Communications campaign, we need to start with the end in mind. Here is a roadmap for creating a Content Marketing Strategy.

1. What are your Corporate Objectives?

Here you can’t be vague. We are not talking lofty, unmeasurable vision statements. We need clear hard SMART objectives.

Think Dollars. Units. Numbers. Percentages. With Deadlines. Achieve or Fail measurable black and white stuff. What’s the use of having a goal if you don’t know whether or not you’ve achieved it. Keep in mind that we are not only talking about customer and profitability goals but that of the organisation as a whole. I subscribe to the philosophy that your organisation actually has six markets.

Six Markets

In the examples above, you will notice that the corporate objectives related to more than just Customers.

It is useful to keep in mind that an organisation never has just one market, they have around six. There are six important stakeholders that need to be serviced at any time.

This is not exactly the same as the original ‘six markets’ model created by Christopher, Payne and Ballantyne (1991), but I think my version is simpler and easier to use. (Referrers and Influencers get subsumed into Partners and Suppliers).

  • Existing customers
  • New customers
  • Internal (Staff and Boards)
  • Partners & Suppliers
  • Media
  • Government

SMART Objectives


  • “To sell 1,000 Harley Davidson motorcycles by June 30, 2014.”
  • “To achieve dealer satisfaction of 80% or greater by December 31, 2013.”
  • “To achieve staff satisfaction levels of 90% by 31 December 2013.”
  • “To buy two new parts suppliers for  cost reduction before June 30 2014.”

These objectives Specific, Measurable, Aligned (with the corporate objective), Realistic, Targeted, Time-bound.It looks easy, but it’s not and it’s surprising how many organisations don’t have SMART goals.

Common Mistakes:

“To become an opinion leader in our industry” (How do you know when you’ve become an opinion leader? Instead: “To write one article about the industry for our website every week” (SMART)

I say again, Visions Statements can and should be lofty, emotive and inspiring. Objectives need to be SMART. It’s best not to have too many. Ideally, you won’t have more than five.

That said, Content Marketing Strategy starts with our SMART Goals.

2. Communication Objectives

Next, we need to attach Communication Objectives to each of our Corporate Objectives.


  • Corporate Objective: “To sell 1,000 Harley Davidson motorcycles to riders aged 22-35 by June 30, 2014.”

In order to reach this goal, we need to accomplish a few things.

  1. We need to create AWARENESS. We need to communicate that the motorcycles exist to our target market.
  2. We need to position the motorcycle brand so that it is INTERESTING to the market. The communications need to appeal and engage the sub-cultural sensibilities and drives of our market and be coded to activate recognition as ‘one of them’. We need to communicate the safety, stylishness, fuel-efficiency, or self-image appeal to our target – whichever is the key discriminating feature for our market.
  3. We need to encourage the market to TRY (e.g. test ride) the motorcycle. We need to communicate where, how and why they will love the experience.
  4. We then need to be given incentives to PURCHASE the motorcycle. We also need to remind them they have made an excellent decision and to enhance LOYALTY.  Ideally, this loyalty will be expressed through REPEAT PURCHASE and RECOMMENDATION.

Each of these communications objectives needs to be expressed in SMART terms.

You can probably think of a number of techniques to achieve these communication objectives. Posters in urban areas? Postcards in selected cool venues? Stylish, counter-cultural imagery? The Harley Davidson Club? The Harley tattoo peeking out from the corporate woman’s chest? Yuck, but you get the picture. These ideas should now be brainstormed.

3. Brainstorm your Strategies

For each of your Communication Objectives, we now need to brainstorm our tactics. We won’t be able to do all of them, we just want to start with a healthy list. Then we select just the ones that will be the most effective and efficient.



  • Facebook Advertising
  • Motorcycle shops
  • Motorcycle mechanics
  • Media Release


  • Video
  • Postcards
  • Hot images


  • Direct Mail offer
  • Advertisement


  • Extended guarantees and warranties
  • Testimonial from users
  • Sales incentive (10% discount)


  • Fuel vouchers
  • Harley Club ‘The Subversives’ Online community forum
  • Free servicing for a year
  • Magazine subscription

4. Selecting Channels and Tools

When we talk about Communications, we are talking about the promotional mix. Remember, that communications can be two-way and many of your tools can be used to get input from your markets and their feedback. Talk to them, not at them. These days, there are so many tools and channels you can use for every element of the promotional mix, many of them online. Choose which tools you think will most effectively and efficiently engage your target audience.This mix consists of ADSPP:

  • Advertising (e.g. Google AdWords, AdRoll, social media ads like Facebook, LinkedIn sponsored Inmail, Twitter Ads, other social network ads, newspaper ads, magazine ads, journal ads)
  • Direct mail (e.g. email, postcards, letters to past customers)
  • Sales promotion (e.g. discounts, incentives and offers)
  • Public Relations (e.g. media releases, articles, blogs, fact sheets, Twitter, Vimeo, YouTube)
  • Publicity (e.g. stunts, public contests, fundraising rides, Pinterest, influencer marketing)
  • Personal Selling (e.g. salespeople, field staff, testimonials, peer-to-peer endorsements)

A social network can traverse the gamut of the promotional mix. You just need to marry a network with an objective. For example, creating a YouTube video will create awareness as a quasi-form of advertising, but it also can be a form of publicity.

We may need to be working on concurrent communication objectives. For example, we’ll be monitoring and supporting our Loyals at the same time we groom our prospects into their first Harley purchase.

Mapping out the Schedule

When we have decided our shortlist, we have our strategy that fulfils our communications objectives.

We have used a very simple example. For an Organisation’s Content Marketing Strategy, this would include not just sales but other markets and the communication objectives of each.

If the plan gets overambitious and out-of-control

With six markets and all these different customer segments and different stages of the awareness, understanding and buying cycle, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. A couple of tricks to help you pull it back together are these:

A. You must make trade-offs.

It’s about effectiveness and efficiency, so less is more. You can’t be everything to everyone, so pick your mark. What are the priorities? Every organisation must make decisions and trade-offs. If you’re trying to target three segments and three stages, just focus on one segment and get the recipe right. Or delegate to different segment managers if you have them. If you don’t, consider the benefits of aligning the organisation with its objectives and restructure work roles and teams if necessary.

B. Set up for Self-service

Your website is the font of all corporate knowledge, so pack as much info here as you can. Just make it engaging and easy to find.

For example, the Media market could be satisfied by putting a Media Kit on your website with Staff Profiles and photos, Fact Sheets about services and values, your organisation’s story, a contact list, and an archive of Media Releases. Then, as part of your ongoing communications, you could @directmessage journalists by Twitter with relevant messages and links.

C. Seed the Vanguard

Even though I compressed these in my own Six Markets model, don’t get me wrong. Your ‘Influencers’ and ‘Referral markets’ are key. An analogy is an infantry to the SAS. The infantry is on-the-ground soldiers who seek out the enemy on foot to kill and capture them. The SAS (Commandos) are also on foot, but they will seek to do maximum disastrous impact with the greatest efficiency. Instead of picking off individual soldiers in a firefight, they’ll ambush and blow-up the truck that is providing food, water and munitions to those soldiers.

Your influencers are the early adopters of your technology or the key groups that your market listens to. If you want to convince GPs to do something, convince the right person at the AMA. If you want to sell millions of custom-designed jewellery, get Cate Blanchette to wear some. This way we don’t need to convince one million, just one.

5. Use a Simple Calendar or Template

The last thing we need to do is use a calendar or template to schedule our activities. It should be clear to understand and accessible to everyone. I like to keep a simple Excel spreadsheet that’s colour-coded. Each activity should be delegated to a person or team. Here is a basic example of a SMART Marketing Calendar

Added 25 April 2018: Another excellent article about how to create a documented content marketing strategy is available at NewsCred.

Remember, the basis of most of your content will always be an article, blog or web page, even if it’s in the form of the FAQ. From here we can repurpose that content into multiple items that will inform, interest, appeal to, engage, build trust and entice trial and purchase of our offering.


Small Business. Super-sized Brand

There are a lot of components that make a brand. In order to make a powerful and durable brand, you have to put in the work. It’s not design work, not initially.

But it boils down to your vision and your understanding of your customer and your knowledge of the market and the other players in your arena.

Let’s start with Vision

So what is vision?

It’s the thing that initially filled you with inspiration to start your business. Continue reading

Cultural Differences & International Business

Australian businesses need to be mindful of more than the marketing mix overseas. Culture is either the great impediment or facilitator. Here are some very basic tips of how to begin considering the cultural aspect. Continue reading

Social Networking Crucial to SEO Strategy

A few years ago, we gave our clients a five minute warning order when Google released its Panda algorithms. If you weren’t socially networked, you needed to get your shoes on. Now the time has come. If you consider yourself an expert or opinion leader, you need to move on social networking. Now! Continue reading

Five Ways to Compete through Service

The world’s economy has changed over the millennium. It began as Agricultural, became Industrial, now a knowledge revolution has seen it become the age of the Services (or tertiary) sector. Continue reading

9 ways to stop losing money from your service business

If you run a real estate office, a medical service, or any kind of consulting or other service business, you have challenges that are simply not the same as product-pushing businesses. Most of the marketing literature focuses on product businesses and volumes of widgets to push, so do small business textbooks. Given that over 70% of Australia’s economy is now in services, this makes no sense.

I’m sure there are more, but here are my 9 ways you can stop losing money and start pulling in more.

The Four Key Service Differences

Service businesses have different characteristics. They are intangible, inseparable from the service provider, perishable, and variable. Each of these aspects means they are loaded with ways of losing revenue.



  • You cannot patent protect a service.
  • It’s difficult to communicate or display the features and benefits.
  • They are difficult to price.


So what can you do?

1. ‘Tangibilise’ the intangible. Provide physical cues. How?

  • Your website is a clue to your service and service quality. Make sure it is easy to navigate, clear to understand, fast to load, frequently updated.
  • Use video (e.g. if you are a doona cleaning service, show the process).

Use Strong Organisational Imagery

Services brands need strong organisational imagery. Brand is critical.

Your physical office / customer space. This is known as “the servicescape”. Elements that can express trustworthiness and quality include:

  • signage
  • staff uniforms
  • cleanliness
  • customer safety
  • lighting, fixtures and fittings
  • corporate identity / brand consistency.
Last but not least, word of mouth is more important for services than a physical product.
Use testimonials, especially from opinion leaders. Also consider rewarding customers for their referrals.


Services are generally consumed simultaneously while they are being delivered. The customer is almost always involved. For example, I can’t get a haircut without physically showing up.

This poses another set of problems.


As a customer, I see the poster on the wall of a haircut I like and the model is holding up two fingers. I may like that long and tousled look and say, “I’ll have a Number Two, please.”

Then the hairdresser starts shearing off clumps with an electric razor! My mistake.

If the customer makes an error, misunderstands the process, requests the wrong thing, hits the wrong button, they are going to have a bad experience.

If I am in the salon and I see somebody else make the Number Two mistake, I will be upset and also have a bad experience. Similarly, if I am in the salon and a mother comes in with a child that won’t stop screaming, I will also not enjoy getting my haircut.

Lastly, the salon may be in a place not convenient for me to get to.


To mitigate some of these risks

2. select your staff carefully and train them well

“A Number Two involves me shaving your hair to millimetres.  It should look fantastic, but  is quite a change. Are you sure you want me to do this?”

This would have averted the disaster.

3. Customer management strategies

If the lovely Pauline usually is accompanied by tantrum-prone Dylan, set up a special Mum’s Afternoon where a staff member entertains the kids with stories or games. Alternatively, get in a few colouring books and crayons or toys and set up a kids corner to stop them getting bored and disrupting others.

  • More sites?

If it is feasible, you can either do an at-home service or even be available in another more convenient area one or more times per week.


All people have good days and bad days. One day they may be chatty, the next sullen and withdrawn, the next cranky. Or tired.

Services vary with every user experience. Quality is particularly hard to control.


4. Standardisation / Customisation

There are two options: Standardisation or customisation.

Stndardisation is a one size fits all approach and has a lot of merit. It is much easier to product procedures and checklists if everyone gets the same and you excel at providing it.

Customise the service

On the other hand, you could consider customisation of all services and give staff higher training and also freedom to judge and give input with the customer to provide the best solution.

One benefit of this can be higher staff satisfaction translates to higher customer satisfaction. However, you need to select and train your staff well. Not everybody may have the interpersonal skills required, such as empathy, listening skills, communications skills or expertise.


If my holiday house does not get booked for a weekend because of wet weather, I can’t rent it twice the following weekend. That ‘service’ is gone.


Demand can be greater than available staff (or resources) or greater than the optimal level.

Or it can be Lower.

And it will vary.


5. Creative pricing

If the restaurant is packed at dinner time, give an Early Diner’s discount to even the load on kitchen staff. Or a late dinner bonus drink.

Reservations Although not fool proof, some expectation and scheduling of customers should help.

6. Complementary Services

If my hairdresser doesn’t take bookings because of the extra hassle, he may provide me with a complementary service, such as an espresso with a delicious chocolate cookie. For $10. This way I am happy to wait, and he is making another revenue stream.

7. Non-peak activities

When the salon is not busy, my hairdresser might use the shampoo apprentice to deliver some flyers about the new hair care range to nearby homes or businesses.

8. Customer participation

If your demand overwhelms your supply, you could consider involving your customers more. To save on staffing costs, many ‘family eateries’ have self-service salad bars and drinks bars.

Japanese ‘kaiten zushi’ (or sushi-go-round) does this. You pick up the food that appeals as it passes you on the conveyer belt. Some Australian steakhouses encourage patrons to ‘cook it the way you like’, as do some Korean Kim Chee eateries.

9. Third parties

If my hairdresser decided he really needed to have scheduled appointments, he may decide to use a third party to manage the phone calls and send a confirmation text message one day prior.

Outsourcing to third parties will ensure irksome admin jobs are out of the way and done well. This will allow you to focus on your key skill.

I hope this gives you some new ideas for managing your service business.

IKEA – Strategy in a Nutshell

IKEA’s founder, Ingvar Kamprad, died in January 2018, aged 91. After starting from the humble Swedish beginnings, his entrepreneurial flare led to a multibillion-dollar global empire. Did you know the name Kamprad is a variant of Comrade? His passing marks a good time to review the strategy of IKEA. How radically it differed from other furniture businesses at the time of its conception makes for a good strategic case study.

Customer Profile

The customer profile is the global middle-class. They are interested in items such as bookcases, side tables, storage units. They are aspirational. They are delighted by the value but also the philosophy of style and good design and frugality. Spending amounts are very similar around the world. Continue reading