Get the word right. Fusion, not confusion, is the future for most sectors, products, services and entities.
Fusion is a concept – not a miss-spelling or a mispronunciation. Its relevance transcends sectors, product types and service categories. Its contemporary application is a back-wash from over-use and often misuse of market segmentation, which ultimately led to market fragmentation.
Micro-managing and endeavouring to consider nano-segments of populations are often unviable and ill-advised. Having the ability to discriminate and delineate discrete nuclear sub-groupings of existing and prospective customers is not enough justification.
The evolution of market-segmentation witnessed changes in focus, from demographic profiles (age, occupation, income, gender etc) to psychographics, which centred more on lifestyle pursuits and self-images.
Time–series analyses consistently highlight the fact that tightly profiled primary target audiences – centred on demographics or psychographs, and occasionally a combination of them – seldom represent more than 40% of actual customers and clients.
It is clear that many individuals and entities that do not “fit” the profile, aspire to do so, or related best to those who did.
Perceptions and self-images can - and regularly do - overwhelm reality. Thus, the statement:
                        The consumers’ perceptions
                        are the marketers’ realities
Look no further than the number and percentage of all-wheel-drive sports utility vehicles which never leave the bitumen, clog the freeways and create gridlock on the streets around schools at twice of each weekday.
In recent times many businesses and sectors have fallen victim to well-intentioned broadening of product/service mixes, as a means to generate additional revenue.
Incompatible customer profiles, needs, buying routines and purchase criteria have been significant filters and blockages to such endeavours.

Superficial analyses have not enabled appropriate delineation of underlying circumstances which determine and contribute to commercial success.
For example, the purchase of domestic floor coverings is typically taken at differing times and on distinct bases. Renovation is a complex web of decisions, purchases and endeavours: only those who truly know their customers can identify the distinctive nature of such.
Endeavours to integrate – fuse, if you will – newsagencies and pharmacies have in the main suffered similar outcomes. Increasing visitation rates to retail pharmacies or related operations do not ensure increased revenue in that discrete product mix.
Pet product retailers and veterinary surgeries are exploring related initiatives, with mixed and often imbalanced results, in which win–win is not a constant.
Many restaurants and cafes have enjoyed success with fusion cuisines. They tend to avoid attempts to integrate and coordinate differing ethnic-based food-types. Indian, Chinese, Italian and Swedish is an interesting mix, but by nature is not fusion. To many consumers it is not a mouth-watering temptation.
Fusion, it seems, is at its best when it is an influence, not an ingredient or component of a mixed offering.
Consistency between signage, branding, ambience and menu is important. It may be unique, a hybrid and a reflection of the rich mosaic of life, society - and the globe.
Purity and consistency are idealisms from the past, but probably never realisable or existent.
The increasing presence of key influences, stimulates interests, establishes expectations and contributes to positive, enjoyable experiences: differentiates. All these are significant factors to stimulate returned patronage.
In many respects marketers who seek to effect “cut-through”, resonance and relevance to discrete market segments endeavour to exclude certain consumer groups and sectors, as a means to achieve optimal performance.
Doubtless, the segmentation process precludes many opportunities, be they related to targeted audiences, product/service ranges and communication texts and channels.
Conversely, fusion tends to be more inclusive, embracing and capitalising upon prospects with secondary and tertiary factors. In short, an absence of delineation which is definitively “black” or “white” promotes the reality and prospects of that which resides in the broader continuum of grey.
In the prevailing marketplace it seems acceptable, indeed possibly preferable, to be operating “under the influence”. It puts a differing hue to being considered a conviction marketer.
Confused? Hopefully not. Just starting on the journey to a fusion future.


It’s an all-too-familiar tale.

Mass retrenchments, closure of premises, product withdrawals, corporate restructures and, yes, mergers, acquisitions and liquidations.

The increasing trend and pace of shortening lifecycles for businesses, products and services reflect growing intrusion, impact and consequences of rapid change, disruption and innovation.

A recent public announcement by Telstra, Australia’s largest telecommunication corporation, grabbed international media headlines. It was to retrench some 8,000 staff members (around 25% of its workforce) and would split its structure. That caught the attention of millions and carried explicit and implicit messages to business leaders and owners – no-one or thing is immune to the evolving forces of the future.


Telstra’s circumstances should not be reviewed in isolation.  They are symptoms of encroaching realities for many sectors, professions and entities.

Disturbingly, the manifestations, consequences and ubiquitous presence of dynamic change are not being recognised, respected and planned for.

Public references to “shock”, “unforeseen” and “unexpected” are sad indictments of inadequacies of the visions and analyses of both internal and external leaders and experts.

Ongoing, periodic objective assessments, audits and forensic strategic analyses should be mandatory and programmed.  They will not avoid the challenges of change, but will provide time for allocation of resources and priorities to address and redress their direct, indirect and cascading impacts.

Many supposed business and strategic plans have an orientation or sole focus on the future.  Some detail contemporary, comparative analyses. Often overlooked is the past, and the genesis of the entity, its product/service range and that of the sector in which it operates, and to those to whom it seeks to serve.  Therein lie many questions and countless answers.


Beyond the narrow focus of Telstra is a telling story.

Telstra in its own right is worthy of contemplation.  It has lost its dominating and monopolizing presence.

Selling off, and losing control of one’s supply chain is fraught with danger and has intermediate to long-term adverse consequences.  The “cash-rush” from the sale of its copper-based network to NBN (National Broadband Network) was not reflected in enhanced dividend payments to shareholders, or in the share price.

Indeed, the share value and, thus, the market capitalization of the corporation have more than halved during the two years to June 2018.

Telstra, which was consistently ranked (by capital-worth) in the top eight publicly listed companies on the ASX (Australian Stock Exchange) is no longer among the top 10.

Disposal of the former large revenue and profit generating Yellow Pages, appeared to have little impact on operations or value.

The roots of the Telstra family-tree appear to run deep.  A landline telephone network, copper wires, “Yellow Pages” and, yes, call-centres.  Each is reflective, and tied to the past.


The prospects for growth, resilience and reasserted competitive advantage for Telstra appear to centre on new and substantial pillars, being:

  • Foxtel

The corporation’s substantial shareholding in the on-line channels of Foxtel provides scope for penetration and access, making the categorization of being a telecommunications company somewhat redundant.

  • Content

    The leverage point of its Foxtel investment will inevitably be the rich rewards possible with the content that is produced and transmitted, rather than the transmission channels themselves: like Netflix

  • 5G

    It is conceivable, and reasonable, to forecast that the embracement and utilization of 5G technology will, to some considerable extent, make the NBN network obsolete, inadequate and relatively inefficient and expensive.

    So much for the projected investment of around $30 billion (currently $58 billion, and still counting) without the advantage and evaluations of a cost/benefit analysis by a Labor Party Senator and party powerbroker.  It seems the political party power was misplaced and poorly applied, and the numbers weren’t counted.


The lessons learnt from the Telstra scenario have widespread relevance, with significant structural and societal implications.  Look no further than the six largest corporations by market capitalization listed on the ASX.

Four are banks.  In 2017 Westpac celebrated its 200th year of continuous trade.

BHP, the recently rebranded “The Big Australian” is there.

So too is CSL, the former government-operated Commonwealth Serum Laboratory, which is the youngest, at 102 years old! It is also the best performing and has been the fastest growing of the six, since its public listing in 1996.

Collective ageless beauty? I think not.  It’s a cause for concern.

The contrast with the six largest public listed USA corporations is striking: Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Twitter and Google.

None were operating in 1985.  Four had not been established in the year 2000, and each has in recent times stated they do not need banks or banking to transact business.  They have their own payment systems.

And then there is Alibaba from China, which has similar attitudes and capabilities.


The restructuring, downsizing and thinning of Telstra is, it seems, a frontrunner for what will happen to the big four banks in Australia.

BHP is on the front-foot.  It is rapidly embracing technology, artificial intelligence and automation.

Shareholders will be gladdened with the prospects for increases in production, reductions in staff numbers, enhanced revenues, margins, profits, dividends and share prices.

Who’s looking back to the past? Hopefully, no one, other than to appreciate the path taken.


Casual or heightened interest in the Telstra, banking and mining industry case studies are insufficient for many public and private, big and small corporations, firms, partnerships and networks.

Detached observations need to be upgraded with disciplined, structured, committed and well-resourced engagement.

In recent times I have enjoyed the challenges, insights and positive outcomes from facilitating detailed strategic analyses and business development workshops for lawyers, accountants, dentists, pharmacists, engineers and veterinary surgeons.

A new dawn is awakening for each discipline.

The future has arrived and it’s spelled:


It’s time for all commerce to extract the digit.

Barry Urquhart

Business Strategist

Marketing Focus

Mobile:     041 983 5555


Landline: 08 9257 1777


There are no guarantees. Money-back offers have been marginalised, if not neutralised. They currently offer little prospect of generating additional revenue, placating consumer anxiety, stimulating preferences and developing or sustaining relationships. To some they are considered “quaint”.

Their peak usage and effectiveness of such were attained in the 1980s, when consumers were less informed about quality, performance standards and were particularly less aware of, and inclined to exercise, consumer rights and entitlement provisions.


Macy’s department stores in the United States of America were explicit, concise and unqualified in their promise:

            Satisfaction guaranteed. Period.

There were no limits, compromises or necessity to justify, and to submit written substantiations of claims. 

Recognition of, and respect for the life-time value of a customer dictated delivering the promise … - without question.

This practical, simple policy which genuinely empowered Macy’s service providers with the authority to provide satisfaction, and fulfilled a basic aspirational consumer goal, being:


 It was a distinguishing and powerful point of difference, and competitive advantage.

Competitors were hesitant to duplicate the offer, fearful of the cost and expectant of abuse by consumers.

To an overwhelming percentage and absolute number of Macy’s customers the money-back guarantee was appreciated, respected and valued. Abuse of the privilege was isolated and very occasional.


Over time other retail networks introduced, promoted and adhered to the ideals, led by Costco, Target, Nordstrom and Kohl’s.

Increasingly, consumer expectations changed and reached higher planes.

A competitive advantage was transformed into a basic essential. Not to do so precluded one from the prospective shopping list.

Many business laggards still suffer from a loss of opportunity, revenue, profits, repeat and referral business, as well as loyalty, - unaware or alive to the importance and centrality of explicit and implicit guarantees.


Major motor vehicle manufacturers (for a long time) offered limited warranties related to the purchase of new cars.

Local dealerships extended similar, restricted assurances with the sale of used vehicles.

In the former instance, the deal was typically valid for 12 months or 12,000 kilometres – whichever lapsed first. For used vehicles the offer was three months or 3,000 kilometres. Measured peace-of-mind. 

In the current marketplace seven-year, unrestricted-kilometre guarantees – with capped service costings – are not unusual. For a significant percentage of consumers that represents a risk-free proposition, with the resale value of the vehicle is written down to nothing. Hence, any price paid is a bonus.

It makes for easier, - not necessarily easy, - decision making.


Contemporary consumers tend to be better informed, more discerning, demanding, price-sensitive and aware of their rights (and prepared to exercise them) than ever before.

Accordingly, guarantees are often considered to be a given. That is, implicit.

No one wants to, or indeed does read the fine print of (sales/supply) contracts.

Access to, and a preparedness to share experiences on social media have tipped the scales of balance and justice in favour of the customer. Guaranteed.


One particular Asia-based international airline would find it difficult to win favour and increased custom by extending a money-back guarantee.

Two high-profile instances, in which hundreds of passenger lives were lost, are indelibly imprinted into the minds of people around the world.

That makes guarantees non-negotiable and, possibly, inappropriate.

Safety is sine qua non (second to none).

The calendar year 2017 recorded the lowest global number of paying passenger casualties. It was not a perfect record, but did reinforce the high expectations about safety by intending and actual airline passengers.

Consequently, Qantas has lost any competitive advantage based on its safety record, and the endorsement of actors Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman in the movie Rain Man.

Sometimes things don’t need to be promised or guaranteed, - just delivered.

 Barry Urquhart

Marketing Strategist

Marketing Focus

M:        041 983 5555




Customer service skills are easy. But in many instances they are impeded and compromised by inadequate, superficial and narrowly focused corporate cultures.

Well scripted mission statements, philosophies and visions, that abound on display on office walls, are insufficient and often misleading. They seldom detail and articulate the underlying driving force (which makes things happen).

As a consequence, considerable resources and funds are channelled to processes that reduce costs and seek to enhance internal efficiency … at the cost of customer and client satisfaction.

Under – and unutilised customer skills often remain, unrecognised, not valued, not supported and not implemented, by a lack of delegated authority. This is to the detriment of unfulfilled customer advantages, benefits and rewards.

RESULT:        The importance of customer service is appreciated, but remains unrealised, to the dismay of front-line service providers and recipients.


In many ways, customer and client satisfaction is determined by, and measured against expectations and initial experiences encountered before personal interactions with key service providers. Pre-programmed, automatic telephone systems, which often do not provide the option of immediate access to personal service professionals remain a source of annoyance, frustration, dismay and dissatisfaction.

It is difficult to recover from heightened anxiety, frustration and annoyance. Neutralising such emotions may be deemed to be a commendable milestone – but it is a long way short of satisfaction, delight and exuberance.

A case in point is the declaration by Centrelink that wait-times on the telephone line had been reduced substantially … to around 17 minutes.

Against the benchmark of service excellence being achieved when incoming calls are answered within three rings (that’s 9 seconds), it is little wonder that the public at large is left speechless, and fuming.

Department stores, particularly those in Australia, are reporting losses in sales, revenue, profits, market share and customers.

In recent times, senior management and Boards of Directors have declared commitments to a number of customer-focused endeavours, numbered among which are training in customer services.

Such utterances fall short, well short. As do the number of available and accessible service providers.

The consensus consumer perception for the Australian department store sector is that it is difficult to find staff members.

So having highly trained, qualified team members, who possess great product knowledge count for little if they are insufficient in numbers and can’t readily be found “on the shop floor”.

REFLECT:       Excellent skills, contrasted by inadequate culture compromise customer service standards.

Successful leaders of the largest Australian mining company, BHP, do not need to be engineers or geologists.  Similarly, being an IT wonk is not an essential pre-requisite to take the mantle of chief executive for Apple.

However, there is a universal need for all senior executive and non-executive ranks to be alive to the need for, and nature of customer service delivery.

Financial spreadsheets do not necessarily measure relevant performance standards.

REFLECT:       Context and ambience are as important as content to achieve satisfaction, and peace-of-mind.


The manner, and speed in which product returns, quality issues and service deficiencies are addressed and resolved are key indicators of the degree to which a positive service corporate culture prevails, and is applied by all.

A need to refer matters to another person or department mars the experience of a disenchanted customer, and possible long-term business advocate.

Delegated authority improves morale, contributes to staff loyalty, stabilises team compositions and reassures customers that they are dealing with people who are willing, and have the capacity to resolve issues to their satisfaction.


For some, follow-up to customers who have just outlaid considerable funds to do business is expensive, time-consuming and does not necessarily generate additional referrals and revenue. Moreover, unease is common among some entities that are reluctant to expose themselves to inviting expressions of dissatisfaction from customers.

Some things are better to know first-hand. Third-hand endorsements and complaints are difficult to manage, counter, contain or to negate.

Open, two-way communication is a key characteristic to sustaining positive relationships, client satisfaction and to achieving loyalty.


Customer service initiatives are commendable, and particularly relevant at this time. Each should be universally embraced and applied.  With service excellence there is no place to hide.

However, big budget allocations alone are not enough.

Training undertaken by team members should, indeed, must, involve senior management and Board members. Active participation is positive. At the very least, training participants will feel rewarded, and be reassured that they have been heard when at the conclusion of the program they are able to deliver personal presentations of considered and determined action plans to senior executives and non-executives. It’s the very least one would expect of a customer-focused/driven/centric/first entity.

 Barry Urquhart

Conference Keynote Speaker

Marketing Focus

M:        041 983 5555




Ah, the ebbs and flow of commerce. In recent times there has been a noticeable migration from dedicated on-line business channels to the acquisition, commencement and implementation of traditional bricks and mortar premises.

At the forefront is Amazon, with its acquisition of the retail network Whole Foods, and its 450 + outlets in some 43 states of the United States of America. It is also studying the possible takeover of the Toys R Us retail network in the USA.

The physical presence complements the global, easy and immediate on-line access to over 500,000 differing products, services, applications, brands and models. Each outlet provides convenience for customers to collect, review and select desired and intended purchase items. It is an extension of the increasingly popular, click and collect service.

Moreover, the physical ambience is conducive to optimising the potential for impulse and spontaneous primary and complementary purchases, which are typically not capitalised in on-line transactions. Virtual reality does have its limitations.

Omni-channels, when functioning as horizontal cross-over opportunities and not as vertical silos, facilitate the capacity to increase up-sell and cross-sell revenue to the satisfaction of customers.


It is increasingly evident that an effective, efficient on-line presence is an imperative to open the door. Bricks and mortar stores enable prompt sales closures. Moreover, personal interactions, relationships and loyalty are natural extensions.

Individually and collectively, they simplify, expedite and encourage subsequent repeat sales and return visits. Search routines are typically narrowed, brand name recognition and preferences are heightened, and competitive advantage established, sustained and developed.


The complementary nature and benefits of on-line and bricks ‘n’ mortar presence is most pronounced in business-to-business dealings.

Time-poor, and often under-resourced executives value simplified and enhanced access to on-line information, when it is enriched and supported by personalised one-on-one interactions.

The latter context enables recognition and appreciation of the nuances which are innate to verbal communication. That promotes a sense of understanding and care – which differentiates companies, products, services, applications and individuals from the commoditisation that typifies contemporary on-line and digital commerce.

Increasingly, senior corporate executives and marketers are accepting, and utilising on-line channels as a tool to reach out, connect and engage with existing, prospective and past clients and customers.

For an overwhelming majority of the 2.4 million trading entities in Australia, it is not a stand-alone, viable business model.

Considerable time, money and resources have been dedicated to its development, introduction and implementation.

Often, that capacity is not matched with the capabilities (necessary skills) that are necessary to optimise performance. Sub-standard and variable performance levels typically result in the dissatisfaction of clients and customers, and to the financial pain of business owners, managers and shareholders.


The many lessons from the ill-fated Second Board of the Australian Stock Exchange from the 1980s seem to have been forgotten. In that instance, a key learning was that a single product does not a company make.

Newly listed public entities rapidly closed. So too did the Second Board. Likewise, a dedicated solus on-line presence can be, and often is, an expensive non-competitive business model. Old habits persist, and die hard. Put simply, many people simply like doing business with other people, in preference to algorithms, artificial intelligence and technology.

Customer service does cost. Labour costs in Australia can be high. However, a lack of customer service costs more. Business failure is one key measure.


And so it is, that a growing ground-swell of opinion is evolving in which on-line channels are recognised as being imperative initiatives to optimise efficiency, open-up communication, and to provide access to information.

Effectiveness is most readily attained, sustained and valued by consumers with investments in physical presences, people in particular.


Decisions to discontinue the operation of dual on-line and physical channels as “too expensive” may well prove to be a false economy.

A focus on one to the exclusion of the other will, in all probability, preclude a business from countless opportunities. Thus, sales, reviews and profits will be constrained.

Difficult and different times demand a fresh, if not a refreshed model … in the virtual and in the reality.

Barry Urquhart

Marketing Strategist

Marketing Focus

M:        041 983 5555

T:         9257 1777





It’s time to recalibrate the purpose, nature and measure of worth for business relationships and strategic alliance partnerships.

Indeed, the review must extend to supply contracts, collaborative marketing initiatives and networking activities.

There is increasing awareness that such connections are effecting little, no or declining mutually beneficial outcomes. The direct and indirect costs are formidable.  

Individual self-interest and territorialism are significant common barriers, impediments and filters to the original idealistic objectives of team and joint endeavours.

The subsequent and recurring investments of time, money, people and resources are recording little tangible, quantifiable and monitorable benefits.


Pursuit of immediate, now profits misses a key strategic outcome.  

Profit is not the purpose of business. It is a consequence.

Fundamentally, all activities in commerce should, or must be to the benefit, advantage and reward of existing, prospective and, yes, to past customers and clients.

Value is the countervailing force to cost. When value exceeds cost satisfaction, repeat and referral business, loyalty and sustainable competitive advantage are natural outflows and consequences.

Subsequent increased incomes are often recorded, received and, for some, banked.

Therefore, deliberating, determining, defining, articulating and sharing the value that one intends to bring into a relationship, no matter its scale, nature or complexity, are imperative, and are effective and key accelerating elements.

That’s right, a focus on the input, not the take-out of an existing or intended connection. It’s refreshingly different … and of interest to others.


Accountants are an interesting breed. They enjoy a privileged position in commerce. The power, authority and influence they exercise, particularly with many owners of small to medium sized enterprises are daunting, if not alarming.

They are, in many instances, the first and the last point of reference for important, significant and substantial decisions.

In recent times, with an economy that is challenged, confronted by headwinds and typified by rampant, widespread discounting, squeezed margins, contracting discretionary expenditure, accounting practices are themselves being subjected to review - and accountability.

Increasingly, the discipline and its practitioners are being identified as a cost, rather than a revenue-generating factor.

Perhaps expectedly, the first agenda item for many accountant-client meetings is their fee total, and how best to lower such.

Introduction of lower-standard bookkeeping services is well intentioned, but misguided. The real issue is value. References to cost are symptomatic of the underlying concern.

Complementary services, including financial planning, insurance consultancy, estate planning and legal services, are typically recognised by clients to be primarily for the advantage of the accountant rather than themselves.

Likewise, the conduct of client events addressed by providers of accountancy software packages, at the conclusion of which attendees are invited and encouraged to contemplate the outlay, and investment in expensive packages are widely identified to be offensive and inappropriate. Discount offers do not temper the negative resultant emotions.

I have been retained by a number of astute accountancy practices to address existing and prospective clients on how they can best increase their revenues, enhance and sustain their competitiveness.

Strict parameters ensure no so sales squeeze to buy professional services at the conclusion.

Value is derived from investment in the relationship, to the advantage of the client. It works … - for both parties - in the immediate, intermediate and longer term.


Requests and demands for suppliers to contribute to, or pay for cooperative advertising, featured point-of-purchase displays, product sampling exhibitions and the like, are often repetitive, costly and ineffective.

There is a better way. The challenge is, to find it.

We have enjoyed the experience of providing insights on consumer and client perceptions, preferences, purchasing criteria and buying patterns which enable, and empower, the participating partnering entities to capitalise on their own creativity, innovativeness and entrepreneurship.

I think it’s called, win-win.


The inordinate number of hours which are committed, and usually wasted, in attending business networking events is breathtaking.

It is difficult to justify spending time with 100 other business people, each of whom is seeking to increase their revenue sources.

Few, if any, ever register and attend such gatherings with the intention of investing or effecting expenditure.

It is important to evaluate the worth of such activities. They need not necessarily be summarily dismissed. However, they are an opportunity – cost. Alternative pursuits exist.

There is value in consistently identifying, respecting and quantifying the opportunities that are forsaken by attending such networking events.

Convenors, coordinators and facilitators are usually ranked highly among those who profit most.


In communication, I learn most, and benefit best when I listen … - to the other people.

In research, I ask concise, targeted questions and gain invaluable insights … - from other people.

At conferences, I’m inspired most by the interactive workshops I facilitate following a keynote address, - by the participants.

There is a lot to learn, earn and spurn from the benefits, advantages and rewards, which are directed to, and enjoyed by others in relationships, alliances and partnerships.

Barry Urquhart

Conference Keynote Speaker 

Marketing Focus

M:        041 983 5555

T:         9257 1777




Shades of Mark Twain. The reported death of shopping centres is, somewhat, premature.

It’s a catch-all, generalised statement that is selectively true in small parts. Perhaps the premise (orientation?) of the statement is questionable.

Rather, we have entered an era in which the rebirth of shopping centres is self-evident, and growing.

Allocated capital expenditure totals are impressive. External upgrades and remodelling of tenancy mixes are only parts of the total story.


It is inevitable that the sprawling metropolitan areas of Australian cities will be subjected to redevelopment, centred on increased density. Infrastructure, mass public transport in particular, will be a pillar of the new concepts and planning visions.

Therefore, one can confidently project the construction of multi-storey, integrated complexes with the lower floors being occupied by retail outlets complemented by commercial tenancies on the first or second floors, and the higher premises being residential.

That’s right, primary, target audiences will be living and working on-site. Retail tenancy mixes will be refined to include alfresco dining, complementing existing fast service food halls.

Service precincts, featuring health, insurance and business support facilities will become commonplace.

Our mobile society will be acknowledged, with the introduction of new motor vehicle dealerships, finance agencies and yes, collection points for goods, services and applications which have been purchased on-line. Click and collect, together with multi-channel marketing will be alive, well and operating in a shopping centre near you.

Indeed, many of the transactions undertaken in bricks and mortar premises will be concluded, and paid for, on-line. Alas, the buying, delivery, possession and utilisation phases of the purchase process will be delineated, differentiated and integrated.

Progression from convenience to access will be part of the transformation.


Many public statements about the shopping experience are, in reality, shallow references about enhanced ambiences. Few detail, or give extended consideration to engagement with and by the customers.

Most important will be the need for, a character of a seamless experience. In short, there should be no boundaries.

Integration will be fundamental. Shopping centre lessors and managing agents will need to be true collaborators (read: strategic alliance partners) with retailers. That will include a remodelling of tenancy, and rental agreements. Mutual respect, benefits and rewards will be the essence of sustainable relationships.

Doubtless, some agreements will founder.


Personalisation and differentiation will, in the near, intermediate and longer terms become virtues.

Commoditisation, evident in almost identical tenancy mixes between larger shopping centres, will impinge on development and consumer loyalty, ultimately leading to the demise of an increasing number of tier 2-sized complexes.

Rebirthing is an exciting prospect – for shopping centre owners, managing agents, retailers and consumers.

Barry Urquhart

Facilitator – Strategic Planning Workshops

Marketing Focus

M:        041 983 5555

T:         9257 1777




Amazon is not infallible, it is not invincible and is not necessarily the cheapest.

The Tuesday, 5 December 2017: the launch in Australia of Amazon marketplace highlighted several deficiencies, inadequacies and vulnerabilities.

Access to the site was not readily achievable, comparison-pricing underscored, so that, in some instances, entities that were utilising the Amazon marketplace channel were more expensive than local bricks and mortar retail outlets.

Delivery standards were not nationally or universally consistent.

Doubtless, many first-time prospective customers left the site disappointed, disillusioned and still in need of products, services and applications.


The Amazon marketplace launch in Australia was a limited opening. Amazon Prime and Fulfilment by Amazon (BBA) were not operating, while access was denied to, which operates from the United States of America.

Partial “soft” and rolling launches are fraught with danger. It’s true, you only ever get one opportunity to create the first impression.

Losses of image, reputation, expectations, sales, referrals and recommendations would have been immediate, and considerable.

Winning back the disenchanted will be less rapid.


For many despairing retailers and prophets of doom it was sobering to realise that, notwithstanding the commencement of Amazon operations in Australia, the earth still turned on its axis and the sun rose in the east.

Hope springs eternal. Competitive edge is still possible for big and small businesses which are committed to lifting their standards, updating their business models, reviewing their pricing policies and establishing, and sustaining the enhanced relationships with existing, prospective and past customers – founded on consistent, high-standard personal customer service.


The prospects for, and subsequent reality of losses to new interlopers like Aldi, Costco, numerous fast fashion outlets and Amazon were, and are the consequences of the poor, inconsistent and impersonal service of existing bricks and mortar and on-line businesses.

In each case the decline in sales, failures and appointments of administrators was simply a matter of time.

Consumer annoyance, frustration and intolerance have increased substantially during the past decade. Local and localised Australian entities were insulated, if not protected, by geographic isolation.

That changed significantly with the advent of on-line channels and digital marketing. Convenience was usurped by access.

Range, choice, power extended beyond physical premises, warehouses and inventories.

A slow, under-resourced and inadequately capitalised uptake of an on-line business model, by long-established and recognised traders, simply lowered the barriers, accelerated the entry of global interlopers and disruptors.

Correspondingly, and in part as a consequence of management inaction, for the first time in over 20 years, price eclipsed branding as the third most important criterion in purchase decision making.

Everything, it seems, has changed, necessitating a total audit of marketing, advertising, merchandising, promotions, selling, service, operating, stocking, pricing and staffing.  


Without question, a primary cause of revenue and patronage leakage to new, often global, entrants is the disturbingly regular instances of negative shopping experiences. Allow me to reiterate a quote from the high-impact, dynamic Business Warfare interactive business development workshop:

            We have met the enemy,

            and they is us.

 Attacking, competing with, and beating Amazon will not, and cannot be achieved by focusing on where Amazon is strongest. That is - low prices, a huge range, house- branded products and services, prompt responses and access.

The best, most immediate and scalable opportunity is personal customer service.

On-line interactions lack the emotional experiences that flow from personalised encounters. They tend to be transactional in nature, with relationships being compromised, loyalty and repeat business a forlorn hope, and everything focused on NOW.


Sadly, opportunities are lost because of service myopia. A narrow orientation on direct, immediate transactional interchanges precludes recognition of, and exploitation of seven key elements of service excellence.

Managing expectations is a fundamental pillar of attracting attention, interest, visitations, sales, revenue and repeat business.

Stimulating intrigue is fulfilling to prospective customers and satisfying for businesses.

Communications, punctuality, consistency and continuity are compelling foundations on which to position brand names, products, services and applications. To do so effectively and efficiently, then formulating, documenting, implementing, monitoring, enhancing and maintaining a genuine service culture is imperative.

Service is integral to the DNA of a business. It is not an add-on. Consistent with the culture itself, service is, could be and should be the force that binds individuals, groups and total entities to the ideals, beliefs and values of customer focus.

A key feature of an integrated and cohesive service culture ensures that two biggest deficiencies of many operations do not evolve. It is these that make companies most vulnerable, and typically, un-performing.


So, businesses survive and thrive in the presence of Amazon. Those that do best, lift their sights, standards and disciplines – to the benefit of all.

Services them right!

Barry Urquhart

Conference Keynote Speaker

Service Excellence Facilitation

Customer Service Author

Marketing Focus

M:        041 983 5555

T:         9257 1777



The Great Divide - The United States of America


Market big, sell small. Or is that, macro-marketing and micro-selling?

Globalism and digital marketing have dictated the need, and the advisability, to consider, if not pursue, broad-horizon opportunities.

Physical constraints and focus now limit thinking more than they impinge on operations, marketing and distributions.

Many small and medium sized entities now have the capacity to service interstate, inter-regional and international marketplaces. Capabilities and desires are quite distinct factors, for some.

A recent fleeting, but in-depth study of six city-based marketplaces in North America provided invaluable learning and understanding of the complexity of the contemporary, often contiguous economies. It also enables one to understand why the nation is titled the United States and not, the United Markets of America.

San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia, New York, Memphis and New Orleans are geographically dispersed. The nature, composition, character and status of the respective localised marketplaces are equally different and individualistic. 

That explains in part the market variability in the performance of national and global marketing campaigns between a spectrum of marketplaces.

Today, target audiences are today complex and challenging. Reliance on established, recognised and trusted brands, complemented with substantial multi-channel marketing budgets are inadequate to achieve optimal impact, penetration, sales and profits.

A local, active and interactive presence is imperative. Passive, stand-off philosophies do not resonate with specific consumers.

Hence, the increasing profiling of local flagship outlets for brands like Nespresso, Rolex, Apple and Ralph Lauren.

It is recognition that effective marketing creates latent potential that can be best and most proficiently converted into revenue by the presence of sales by enthusiastic, proud, committed and product-knowledge – savvy sales and service people.


It is often stated that the business of America, is business. Today, it needs to be stimulated, promoted and for deals to be closed.

Marketing, advertising, promotions and merchandising simply open the doors. Throughout the USA there is at present an all-pervasive reluctance to spend. Understandable when one realises that the average income of an American (not the minimum wage), when inflation and consumer price index increments are neutralised, have over the past 40 years increased by a miserable .2%. That is .2% over 40 years, not .2% per annum over a period of 40 years.

Thus, wages-induced wealth creation for the nation has stagnated.

Little wonder the electorate is disenchanted with politicians, political leaders and the public service. Unintended consequences, including the election of Donald Trump as President, are conspicuous.

Those in the evolving economically important millenniums generation will experience living standards marginally below those of the preceding generation. Greatest concern is held for the economic well-being of children who will enter the jobs market and economy in 10 to 20 years’ time.

The rate of economic decline will accelerate.


Infrastructure in the long-established cities, like San Francisco and New York, is aged, and in urgent need of repair, upgrading, renewal and replacement.

Sadly, the state and capital cities of those localities are deep in debt, burdened by the need to repay loans and lacking the prospect for increased revenue, generated by growing incomes.

Growth in local manufacturing is being achieved without the need to invest in new plants and capacity. Recent contractions in output and workforces are being reversed. However, capacity has not been increased and concrete plans for capital investments are scant.

Making America Great Again is a relative, not an absolute statement or goal.


Notwithstanding the barriers, filters and impediments, the USA will continue to produce entrepreneurs, digitally-disruptive entities and rapidly accumulated wealth … - for some. There will be those whose focus will be on thinking big and complementing it with an integrated and committed supply-chain populated with those who act small, and locally.

Opportunities were readily identified in retail, pharmacy, construction, finance, wholesale and accounting services. In addressing and facilitating business development workshops for those in respective disciplines, it was apparent many enthusiastically comprehended and embraced available philosophies, strategies and tactics.

Opportunities seem to be global. Fulfilment is typically local.

Amazon in Australia is a case-in-point.


Seattle, on the West Coast of the USA, in the state of Washington, is the home city for the head-offices of Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Nordstrom, Boeing and Starbucks, among others.

It has a population of some 3 million in the greater metropolitan area.

The presence of Amazon is ubitiquous, but not conspicuous. Its workforce in the city is reported to be 55,000.

An entire city block is occupied by the Amazon campus for training, development and further education. Adjacent are three high-rise buildings which accommodate most of the local Amazon team members.

Noticeably, there are no Amazon signs, logos or uniformed employees.

Macys, the largest department store chain in the world, has occupied an eight-storey building for over 108 years. It has been hit by the marketplace presence of Amazon. In recent times it has sold the top four floors for a total $110 million (US). The purchaser – Amazon. Alas, the perpetrator has become the saviour.

Commercial and residential rents, along with house prices, have spiralled in recent years, to the extent that many aspirant Amazon employees can’t afford to live in the area.

Amazon is currently searching world-wide for an affordable co-head office location. It has received a reported 238 submissions.

The company has traded in, but not from Australia, for more than a decade. Opening its first Fulfilment Centre in Victoria on Thursday, 22 November (Thanksgiving Day in the USA) heralded a new era for consumers and businesses.

A local physical presence will accelerate conversion of the potential, which has been created by its global marketing.

Point made. Lesson learnt.

Barry Urquhart

Business Strategist

Marketing Focus

M:        041 983 5555

T:         9257 1777




Your attention, please.

 Why is it that I can’t get my message through?

Nobody, it seems, is listening, reading, recognising brands, valuing relationships, exhibiting loyalty, referring services or responding.

Consumers and clients seem distracted, uncommitted, inclined to impulsively press the delete button and declare that the communication has never been received.

The ubiquity of social and digital media, catalogues – in print and on-line – doesn’t seem to be registering and resonating with people.

A universal lowering of costs on social, digital and on-line communications has been instrumental in increasing the affordability and volume of mass communications, but to little or no avail. Personal salutations seem marginally effective, at best.

Doing so much, so often to many is a common practice … - and contributing materially to the issue.

Attention has become a goal, commonly out of reach to many. Content is a tactic, and in many instances poorly structured and delivered.

Many marketing practitioners are recalibrating the long-held and shared maxim that, 50% of my advertising works and 50% of it doesn’t. I just don’t know which 50% is which.

An evolving truism centres on an 85-90% rate of ineffective, non-responsive advertising, marketing and promotions. It is – a daunting set of statistics and implications.


Audiences and targeted consumers and clients are increasingly informed, discerning, price-sensitive and highly expectant of both great quality and value.

They seek out, utilise and regularly return to sources which they find credible, verifiable, transparent and, above all, authentic!

To many entities, these expectations cause considerable harm, particularly with the promotion and conduct of webinars. Sadly, the delivery skills of an overwhelming majority of speakers are poor, if not appalling, reflecting badly on companies, products, services and applications.

Enhancing one’s personal presentation skills is only a partial measure to increased relevance and impact.

Sadly, seeming reincarnations of the late Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, abound. Conference, seminar and exhibition stages are regularly inhabited with storytellers dressed in black roll-neck skivvies and black trousers. Talk … about commoditisation! Moreover, that mode of dress does little to attract attention.


Critical self-analysis of content, context and style is always justified, commended and should be complimented.

The filtering, blocking and rejection of much communication is a consequence of stereotypical perceptions, and resultant generalised actions.

Don’t take it personally. In many instances intended recipients don’t filter, block or reject individual communications. Rather, a blanket cover is applied to “another email”, “another blog” and “another text”. Little discrimination is applied in an over-communicated world, or on an over-exploited smartphone, tablet or computer.

To achieve human connection and elicit positive engagement, more focus and effort are needed on attracting attention.

Short attention spans dictate the need to think, formulate and implement headlines. That is, - a concise, enticing and compelling 3 to 5-word statement, challenge, question or proposition.


Consumer and client apathy and indifference pervade.

Enthusing and motivating demotivated and unconnected minds is a difficult, daunting challenge.

Endeavouring to change people may be, and often is, futile. Perhaps one should reflect on the words of Leo Tolstoy:  

            Everyone thinks of changing the world,

but no one thinks of changing himself.

An interesting and significant allure is to encourage and offer real-time personal responses. It is something that around 80% of business clients and 64% of consumers welcome and value.

Increasingly, recipients to countless communications recognise, reject and are offended by impersonal, mass-distributed missives. Personal salutations are conspicuous, transparent, and often, deemed to be offensively-insincere. Accordingly, they do not counter widely-held negative sentiments to- “another email”, “another blog” and “another text”.

In all of this it is well to remember that customer churn is only one bad experience away. Many potential relationships are never established because of communications that lack the vital ingredients which attract attention, resonate and are recognised as being relevant.


Don’t give up. Step up. Sharpen up and gear up.

Disturbingly, many supposed digital and on-line marketing experts are deficient in their ability to attract attention for clients.

They are good at registering with algorithms, which lack dimensions of emotion.

Self-discipline in refining concise headlines, respecting the power of brevity and providing credible, verifiable and authentic personal advantages, benefits and advantages to targeted audiences will progressively be a competitive and rewarding experience.

Having attracted your attention, you can now relax.

Barry Urquhart

Marketing Strategist

Marketing Focus

M:        041 983 5555

T:         9257 1777




You’re on your own.

Well, for business leaders, that’s close to reality. We can’t, and shouldn’t, rely on government, regulators and many commerce associations.

Politicians seeking, then winning, office often do not honour their electoral promises. It is understandable and reasonable for many in business to question whether Prime Ministers, Premiers, Treasurers and Ministers have any honour.

The recent Western Australia state election was a timely and, potentially for large numbers of entities, a costly case study.

Promises of no increases in taxes were broken at the first budget. Increased imposts in payroll and gold taxes/levies were referred by the Premier and Treasurer as being temporary and short term. Interestingly, their time span is longer than the four-year term of an elected government. Can one reasonably conclude that the incumbent state government is temporary and short-term.

Few governments create jobs or wealth. At best, they can facilitate both, primarily by standing back and allowing individual business leaders, entities and networks to get on with the job.

The history of those in business, waiting for elected members to take the lead is littered with broken promises, shattered dreams and unfulfilled expectations.

“Attribution Theory” is alive and well in the political spheres. Politicians are quick to claim to be parents of business success. Failure is an orphan.

Between election campaigns business leaders and owners need to recognise the prevailing, often government-applied, parameters and optimise their productivity and competitive advantages.


On balance, the charter for most regulators is to monitor, administer and enforce compliance and conformity. In short, to maintain and sustain the status quo.

In the prevailing economy that offers little hope or scope for individual growth – unless one is prepared to ‘push the envelope’, to be innovative, creative and disruptive.

Staying tight, ‘holding the line’ and conforming with the prevailing status quo will inevitably lead to ‘going down with the ship’.

Many sectors are drowning in regulations, which contribute little to striving for and enhancing increased productivity, velocity and volume.

The exceptions, those who are thriving – not surviving - are those who dare to be different. They are typically recognisable because they are pilloried for operating outside the norm, the established practices.

Wearing the disdain of established competitors comes with the territory. It is a cost to be borne, one that does not impinge on profits, market acceptance or relevance.

Globally, their identities are established, recognised and supported. The include UBER, Amazon and Facebook. Within Australia they are equally successful, profiled and are strikingly non-competitive (that is, they dominate their sector and targeted audiences).

In each instance, discounting, sales and bargains are not the norm. Lower prices, consistently applied, are. A different, unique, and, often, exclusive business model has been developed and is employed. Look no further than the relative performances of traditional fashion retailers and those who have embraced the ideals, principles and advantages of “fast fashion”: reported profit, success and failure rates are striking. Fast fashion is rewriting business models. It is not a case of making a fast buck. Sustainability will evolve.

The late Sir James McCusker, founder of Town & Country Building Society, now part of ANZ Bank, was quoted in the book “The Jindalee Factor – Insights on Australian Entrepreneurs”:

Rules are for guidance, not obedience.

Sage advice. Rule setting should be assigned equal importance to goal setting. On reflection, winners usually write the rules …- and history.

The alternative is ill-defined, and certainly not self-determined, as: one complies and conforms.


Professional trade and industry associations are under pressure.

Membership losses are common. Value is often difficult to articulate and to quantify.

Astute advocacy by association executives and office-bearers in the political corridors of power can be difficult to relate, or identify as a causal factor, towards increases in revenue, profits and market share.

The profiles of associations’ elected leaders, and the individual entities they represent can be insightful.

Leading, large and established businesses often find advantage and benefit in maintaining the status quo, rationalising such with the term in the common good.

Start-ups, interlopers and disruptors find the implicit glass ceilings unappealing and inappropriate.

Little wonder some choose to go it alone, retain their independence, seek (and often secure) a seat at the table with the political power elite and enjoy media acceptance and visibility, much to the annoyance of peers.

Association executives walk a narrow plank. Satisfying everyone is beyond the capacity of mortals. However, they need to make a statement – clear, concise, telling, and refreshingly honest.

Changes in personnel and culture, rather than by-laws, provide a window of opportunity. Being prepared to confront, challenge and, yes, offend, can be laudable. That approach is most likely to impact positively on the cash-flows and profitability of existing and prospective members – immediately and continuously. They are the key performance indicators (KPI) being implicitly applied by association members.

In a marketplace and economy constrained by the intrusion of politicians with questionable measures of honour, regulators who revel in efficiency, profit-sapping procedures and some association executives who see their primary role to be advocacy, with little regard for improving the lot of individual, or group members, now is the time for business leaders, owners and managers to get on with it and go it alone.

Barry Urquhart

Conference Keynote Speaker

Marketing Focus

M:        041 983 5555

T:         9257 1777



The Hidden Costs of Discounting

Everything costs, including discounts. Price cutting is currently rampant …possibly endemic. The practice seems infectious, if not too rash.

Short-term sales events, bargains and promotional offers have immediate, widespread and lasting impacts on the integrity of brands, and the trust placed in the related value-packaging. As a consequence, full, standard and recommended retail prices are typically forever beyond reach and retrieval.

Customer relationships and loyalty are often casualties of consistent, tactical price discounting.


The intrusion of global fast-fashion outlets like Zara, H&M, UNIQLO and Forever 21, has dictated the need for all in the fashion retailing supply chains to invoke discipline, to strive for greater productivity, velocity and volume, and to trim margins to remain competitive, relevant and compellingly attractive.

Individually and collectively, those initiatives are not discounting prices. Rather, they are the aspects of a new dynamic, customer-focused business model that constitutes a new order.

It is exciting for some, particularly consumers, and burdensome for others.


The underlying premise of discounting is that lower prices will stimulate sufficient interest and increased sales, to more than compensate for the loss of profit that is integral in lowering prices.

It is well to remember that 100% of the discount is taken from the profit margin. Fixed and variable costs remain essentially constant in the short-term.

Disturbingly, few “discounters” undertake forensic analysis of just how much increased turnover is required to compensate for, and to neutralise, the impact on profits of lower prices.

Attendant costs and operational considerations are incurred, including increases in inventory, warehousing and retail space, staff numbers, electricity costs, rentals, insurance premiums, advertising and shrinkage. Understandably, most are bracketed in the variable-cost structure.

As a sweeping generality applied to retailing per se, (with a 30% profit margin) a 10% across-the-board discount will require an increase in turnover of around 296%. That’s right, a near three-fold increase in turnover.

For those who market, seek and retail services, (such as travel agents,) physical inventories are not a key factor in the equations. They require a “modest” 180% average increment in turnover to counter a 10% company-wide discount.

I readily accept and, indeed, can endorse discount propositions …. - once that I’m assured of a 1.8 to 3 times resultant acceleration in turnover. On-going variability in prices result in further costs. That is - the impact on the integrity and trust attributed to the brand. Arguably that can be, and often is, dismissed (or discounted!) as an opportunity cost.

Its presence is not apparent on spreadsheets. However, its manifestations are quantifiable.


Too often, the introduction of a discounting philosophy or policy is the unintended beginning of the end.

A rush to, and a rush of “corrective” contingency plans are the usual consequences.

An appropriate alternative is to recognise, respect and respond to a new prevailing structural order of the industry, sector or category.

Formulating, documenting, implementing, operating and developing a fresh business model are laudable.

Avoiding comparative analyses and lamenting past “buoyant times” is essential.

A clean slate, a zero-datum point, a focus on customers and clients, and an orientation to the future must come first.

It is, arguably, too late to expose the virtues of self-induced obsolescence, given that that mantle has been assumed by economic, competitive and innovative “disruptions”.

Fortunately, in the new order there are no traditions, norms or established rules.

One is left to dictate their one’s own standards, projections and values.

Productivity, velocity and volumes will be the foundation touch-points, the measures of which will be self-determined.


Some fundamentals in commerce are constants. Ignoring them has consequences.

History is littered with case studies of failure which resulted from unabashed, typically aggressively advertised discounting campaigns.

Offering consumers attractive “savings” can mean that little prospect exists to save the company.

Barry Urquhart

Marketing Strategist

Marketing Focus

M:        041 983 5555

T:         9257 1777



Sensory Suggestion - Power Selling

What a wonderful web we (consumers) weave.

 An insightful statement, a challenge for all those who seek to service consumers, and a task to ensure that motivations, needs, wants, perceptions and buying habits are recognised and understood.

Within context, sticking to the knitting is pertinent, albeit with a somewhat refined and refocused application. Widespread current under-performance is and materially influencing reviews of operations, the recalibration of marketing strategies and evaluations of just how little is known and understood of primary, secondary and tertiary targeted consumers and clients.


The importance of emotions and subjective expectations has been long-recognised by marketers.

Price alone is neither a virtue, nor an effective or sustaining magnet for consumer and client visits or, sales, revenues and profits. For example, some 42% of consumers purchasing wine, when hosting guests, have their selection influenced, if not primarily determined by the price range.

A self-declared lack of product knowledge and inability to assess value are instrumental in such people narrowing their choices to an acceptable price range, so that they avoid the embarrassment of offering inappropriate and inadequate wine.

Thus, it is not about price, bargains or discounting, but rather, a perceptive sense or measure of value.

Many Australian wine brands suffer from an absence of or deficiency in the brand marketing of locations such as Champagne, Burgundy and Arras in France.

The wine bottle label text description of the content is important and influential. Imbibers of wine like to talk about the wine, its attributes and qualities. Therefore, references to the taste, smell and the presence of vanilla, orange and leather are catalysts for extended conversations, and reflect positively on the knowledge of the host. Sensory suggestions indeed.

However, the overriding challenge for vignerons, distributors and resellers is to have specific wine brands, categories and bottles put figuratively and literally into the hands of consumers.

It is estimated that more than 85% of the thousands of vineyards scattered throughout Australia do not trade profitably, and are economically unviable.

Making great wines, even good tasting ones, is secondary to stimulating the senses of consumers.


 Marketing honey highlights the importance of sensory suggestions and consumer perceptions.

“Manuka” honey has several laudable aspects, including medicinal benefits, great taste and unique, eucalypt aroma.

New Zealanders are claiming territorial, intellectual property and botanical rights to the product. Shades of the lost opportunities with Kiwi fruit!

Seemingly, little respect has been assigned to the historical probability that the seed pods of the Manuka trees were carried across the Tasman Sea by the prevailing trade-winds.

The sensory suggestions being promoted by Australian honey producers and retailers for Manuka honey are being challenged by New Zealanders.

The basic product, and its composition, have been lost in an emotional, assertive argument which is largely determined, and influenced by sensory and suggestive properties.

It will doubtless be difficult for consumers to discern, sense or distinguish differences in the taste, texture and colour of New Zealand Manuka honey, that emanate from New Zealand, compared to those which are from the eastern states of Australia.

Sensory suggestions will have a key role in the marketing, rather than the legal success related to this product.


Global sales and consumption of beer have been consistently and progressively declining. Craft beers have been the exception. It seems that consumers, Australians and New Zealanders in particular, have developed a taste and appetite for smaller volume craft beers.

National brands including Victoria Bitter, Fosters, XXXX and Swan have suffered waning interest and demand.

Until the 1990s beer tastes in Australia were predominantly regional in nature. The top-selling brands in Queensland were related to Castlemaine, for New South Wales it was Tooheys, South Australians supported West End and Western Australians favoured, among others, Emu.

In more recent times the craft nature of imported Corona, with its conspicuous lemon slice adornment, has enjoyed strong sales and sustained growth.

Similar to coffee and the marketability of individual baristas, craft beers promote, and are accepted as offering unique tasting – sensory appealing – brewer-customised products. Those are the facts...... - - or the prevailing perceptions and sensory suggestions.


The marketing of gluten-free food is another matter entirely. Few senses are stimulated because of the absence of gluten in food, beer and whisky.

Interestingly, sales growth for this sub-category is consistently strong. It seems fashionable, with certain supposed health benefits. The latter point has recently been challenged.

The biggest challenge for coeliacs, who are gluten-intolerant, is to ensure food providers, restaurants in particular, comprehend the nature of the condition and the dramatic consequences when the need for exclusion of any trace of gluten is not adhered to.

Cross-national and cross-cultural interactions have been shown to have unfortunate outcomes.

Enquiries about, and demands for food to not contain flour can be, and have been, misinterpreted to relate to the absence of flower/s.

Removal of floral adornments does not equate the need for an absence of flour in the ingredients.

Phonics can be so deficient, and it is hard to swallow heart-felt apologies because of unintentional misunderstandings.


 Consumer demand, preference, satisfaction and loyalty are products of adroitly applied and reinforced sensory suggestions.

Recipes, ingredients or physical characteristics (beyond labelling and gluten-free offerings) have important, but secondary roles.

The composition and packaging of value, quality and relevance is a complex art-form. It can be founded on, or enhanced by sensory suggestions. 

Barry Urquhart

Conference Keynote Speaker

Marketing Focus

M:        041 983 5555

T:         9257 1777



Cut That Out - Beware Invisibility and Commoditisation

Loud. Consistent. Differentiating. Focused.


Each attribute is an essential element of marketing, to establish and maintain a presence in the prevailing, challenging and somewhat suppressed marketplace. Sadly, constrained and reducing budgets are contributing to a loss of visibility for an increasing number of companies, brand names, products and services.


Being removed from figurative and literal shopping lists pre-emptively lessens the effectiveness, creativity and originality in advertising, marketing, promotions, selling and packaging content.


Ironically, some senior executives do not recognise the fact that when existing, prospective and past clients do not recognise or recall the brand name or its value- proposition, sales and transactions are improbable


Invisibility is not a virtue.


Decisions to cut staff numbers, overheads and advertising can be decisive, and if taken promptly. Often, little consideration and time are given to the consequences, which can be, and typically are, immediate, deep, widespread and lasting.


This scenario is compounded by the presence of multiple like-products, services and applications, each claiming similar features, benefits and advantages – with comparable limited budgets: a boring landscape of sameness.


Making, achieving and projecting a difference, is difficult, if not impossible, with limited resources.


Commoditisation, in which each or all offerings are perceived to be part of a non-differentiated amorphous block, simply exacerbates invisibility (read: non-conspicuous presence) in the marketplace.


Accordingly, the goals set for, and expected of effective marketing sometime become unattainable.


Over-reliance on, and emphasis on single communication channels can multiply the consequences of reductions in advertising expenditure. Social media and on-line advertising present timely case studies. Both are effective among consumers and corporation team members who have entered, or are advanced in the purchase routine, and are seeking specific or targeted information.


For the uncommitted and ill-informed, cuts in newspaper, radio, television and outdoor advertising can, and often do, eliminate or preclude brand names, products and services from any degree of recognition, recall, preference or advocacy (read: invisibility).


In the absence of consistent, regular or periodic exposure to advertising and communications, top-of-mind recall rates can be negligible, – if any – within a 6-week span.


Stop-start advertising effects similar patterns in recall, awareness, preference, and above all, cash-flow! Ouch!




Achieving impact on a limited budget is difficult – not impossible.


A laser-tight focus on activities can effect relative, as against absolute, visibility, impact and differentiation.


Discrete target audiences can be, and at all times should be, identified, analysed and communicated to.


Understanding the media habits and information sources of primary, secondary and tertiary customer groups enables priorities to be assigned, budgets set and allocated, and optimal marketing channels to be utilised.


Thus, with a constrained or limited budget, impact can be achieved and sustained to high-prospect entities, individuals and groups. Leakage and losses among those in the broader marketplace are therefore minimised, and the cost-effectiveness of marketing, advertising, promotion and selling campaigns is enhanced.


Broadening audiences and target markets can be, and ideally should at all times be, achieved by personalised on-sell propositions to customers who have responded positively to the targeted communications. On-selling, recommending and referring are different and later phases of the purchase process than advertising, promotions and merchandising.


Converting satisfied customers to referees, advocates and ambassadors is an art form, utilised by outstanding, high-achieving marketers. It simply takes a disciplined, structured approach, within the construct of relationship marketing.




Secondary and cascading sales are not restricted to, or solely dependent upon the recommendations and introductions effected by purchasers.


Well connected and profiled spheres-of-influence are a diverse collective. Their access to, and influence on differing demographics, psychographics, localities and consumers can, and should, be utilised.


In some instances, that may require conclusion of commercial agreements, with financial considerations, use or access to products, services and applications or recognition in company-based initiated literature. Moreover, dedicated advertising budgets and messages are required.


Marketing mavens are typically few in number, but influential in many purchase decisions. Their seeming insatiable desire to be at the forefront of product knowledge and product-use can be sufficient currency to satisfy the needs of those individuals.


The marketing and communications initiatives of mavens make selling easier.




Thus, once the internal orientation of optimal efficiency and cost-cutting has been achieved, rewards and competitive advantage await those who strive for external effectiveness.


The adroit use and deployment of external resources can and will leverage sales, revenue, productivity and profitability.


Moreover, mentions, references and reflections by spheres-of-influence counter any drift towards invisibility and commoditisation.


In short, a key objective is to become and remain the topic of conversation. Share of mind, does inevitably become share of market. That typically requires a relatively stable schedule of marketing, advertising, public relations, promotions and merchandising. Individually, and collectively, budgets and resources are essential. Retention of them is expensive. But cutting budgets and resources can be more expensive, when measured in terms of losses in marketplace visibility, differentiated market positioning, sales, revenues and profits.


So, think, cut it out, and then think again – in this order.




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


Barry Urquhart

Conference Keynote Speaker

Marketing Focus

M:      041 983 5555



Amzaon - River Of Change

Be aware. Be prepared, but not alarmed.


The impact and consequences of the pending arrival in Australia of Amazon will extend well beyond the expectations of many local business leaders.


A disturbing 72% of owners and managers who participated in a 700 person February, 2017 survey stated they were not concerned about the introduction of Amazon in Australia, and would not be affected by such.


Implicit in such responses were the belief and perception that the product/service range of Amazon has primarily focused on books, compact discs and, more recently, fruit and vegetables.


Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.


There are few businesses in Australia that will not be subjected to changing forces, and thus, demand.


Retail pharmacies, tyre outlets, travel agencies and even Australia Post will need reflect on, and plan for, their “altered future”.


Consumers, including Australians, are already purchasing on Amazon platforms household items, electrical goods, furniture and a host of other merchandise and services.


Indeed, hundreds of Australian businesses, families, couples and individuals have use and will continue to use the Amazon channels to conclude sales, both locally and globally.




The primary target audience for the Amazon Australian initiative will be consumers.


Their positive experiences will change forever expectations, buying routines, brand preferences, pricing structures and delivery demands.


Thus, the competition will be direct and consequential; those business entities that do not meet, and exceed, standards will experience considerable and ongoing sales and revenue leakage.


In short, the prevailing and pervading business models throughout the commerce sector – many of which have their genesis in the 1950s and ‘60s – will quickly become obsolete and redundant.


The fallout from resistance to change will become conspicuous, and costly.




Multi-channel and omni-channel supply lines and communications will be imperative.  High-impact, laser focus, personalised and consistent stories will be key and compelling characteristics.


Around-the-clock access to information, purchases, payment systems and delivery offers will be pre-requisites for sustainable competitiveness, preferences and success.


Enhanced productivity, sales velocity and time-measured responses will rapidly become essential KPIs (key performance indicators). One-touch management practices will extend beyond logistic operations and warehouses. Inventory monitoring and minimisation will enable retention of optimised profit margins.


And prices? They will inevitably fall, to the benefit and delight of consumers. In the United States of America, the evolving presence of Amazon has reportedly been instrumental in Walmart, the largest trading group in the world, lowering retail prices by 9% during the past year.  It is the latter entity’s ambition to be at 15% cheaper than competitors. That is now a “stretch” goal.


Activity is apparent in cost-cutting, renegotiations of supply contracts and heightened accountability of team members for sales performances. The challenge exists, has been accepted, and continues. There will be an awakening of such in Australia among the survivors and thrivers.




Bunnings is, justifiably, a much lauded Australian business. It too will not be quarantined from the force and presence of Amazon.


For example, the Bunning website is largely inert. Consumers can not transact sales, make payments or elicit immediate, direct and personal responses.


Richard Goyder, outgoing Chief Executive of Wesfarmers, owners of Bunnings, recently made a telling statement. He effectively said that Amazon will eat us for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That is a sobering declaration.


It is conceivable and probable that Amazon will identify this as a marketing opportunity. After all, on-line business is its forte.


Supply agreements will be sought, be received and will evolve possibly from hardware buying groups, marketing networks, manufacturers, distributors (many of which will have been denied access to the existing bricks and mortar stores) and, yes, from individual independent hardware operators.


Amazon, like UBER, is a channel, an application and an alluring retail supplier, which has an unbroken 10-year record of increasing sales and share price increments, a market value which exceeds $US400 billion – and has never recorded a profit. All surpluses are reinvested into the business, and its pursuit of continuing growth.


Australian electrical appliance retailers are particularly exposed. In 2017, some 18% of sector sales are on-line. That is the highest of any category in the nation. Consumers are clearly accepting the offers, the brands and the delivery details. The commodisation of many products, models and services has accentuated the importance and appeal of lower prices. Store loyalty becomes a fading memory.




The nature of Amazon and on-line retailing is such that they are accessible to all, at all times.


Businesses operating in regional and rural localities are not protected from intrusion.


Indeed, restricted trading hours in specific areas can be, and have been, the catalyst for local consumers to seek out alternative, available, accessible and responsive supply sources.


Self-interest and the wish for instant gratification generally override considerations for, and the influence of loyalty, relationships and the co-operative spirit.


Business needs to be fought for, and won, consistently and persistently. The key components of value have changed, and are changing. Mobility, accessibility and responsiveness are foremost factors.


Overt personal expressions of gratitude for the businesses remain important, and reinforce the “correctness” of purchase decisions among some people. However, in the contemporary marketplace recall fades rapidly. Even-playing fields abound. Relationships can and do marginally tilt the ground in the favour of some. However, that “tilt” is less pronounced than in the past.


Pragmatism, complemented with a philosophical touch is needed for the new, and prevailing reality.




All is not lost.


Those who rise to the challenge, will re-engage with existing, prospective and past customers and clients, study and analyse the current buying criteria, negotiate new supply agreements with manufacturers, distributors and suppliers, seek out mutually rewarding collaborative initiatives, enhance supply chains, improve distribution services, upgrade premises and invest in the training of team members to elevate customer service standards will present an attractive and compelling value- proposition.


The good times are over. There is no place for complacency, naivety and indifference.


Better times are ahead. With the pending arrival of Amazon ... just go with the flow.




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


Barry Urquhart

Conference Keynote Speaker

Marketing Focus

M:      041 983 5555



Cut Through - Red Tape and Bureaucracy

Take heed.


Cut it out!


Figuratively and literally, we are being drowned in, and burdened by red tape. It’s a drag, in more ways than one.


Sadly, it is often tolerated, indeed, expected and planned for.


Throughout Australia, the more readily identifiable and quantifiable red tape and bureaucracy are estimated to cost $65 billion per annum.


Put into context, that represents about $7,300 per household– four times the annual Medicare levy.




When addressing the disturbing and growing Federal and State governments debts and deficits, politicians, economists, bankers and academics tend to focus on the alternatives of increasing taxes, cutting expenditures and implementing retrenchments.


Little or no consideration is given to eliminating, or substantially eliminating red tape.


Similar circumstances arise in reviews and audits of business activities, with a focus on development, growth and profit enhancement.


An annual total of $65 billion would pay for the expensive NBN (National Broadband Network), which is projected at $49 billion, or offset more than the cost of $43 billion for the proposed second major Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek.


The recently deposed Colin Barnett –led Liberal Party – National alliance Western Australian state government’s total deficit of $33 billion could have been settled twice within a year, with no need to increase contributions from the GST (Goods and Services Tax) receipts. Now that would have been a winner and vote catcher.


The removal of the burdens of red tape and bureaucracy is good for lifestyles and social aspirations.




In many capital cities and localities, aspiring first home buyers have been, or are being, priced out of the market.


Market values continue to spiral and deposit gaps widen, while dreams crumble.


It is estimated that multiple layers of red tape and bureaucracy extend approval and construction times to such an extent that new residence cost increases range from $20,000, to as much as $150,000. Ouch!


Local governments and regulatory authorities have key roles to play, for the benefit of many, in eliminating red tape and bureaucracy.


Compliance and conformity, a shift in corporate culture should be, if not must be, complemented with an emphasis on expediency and acceleration.




A fixation on direct and immediate costs often doesn’t consider the consequential cost burden.


Constructing, extending and widening motorways with one-shift-a-day schedules avoid overtime and penalty rates .... - at a considerable cost.


The productivity, earnings and lifestyles of countless commuters are adversely affected, often because of unnecessary extended construction schedules.


These additional and contingent costs are difficult, if not impossible, to identify and quantify. So, they are often ignored


Threats of slow-downs and work-to-rules suggest that rules are inefficient, inappropriate and in need of replacement.


Creative applications by highly qualified engineers, designers, accountants and project managers, could surely address and redress the impediments and costs of redundant red tape and bureaucracy.




The practice of writing order forms, submitting such for approval, distributing the same to suppliers and then verifying receipt of stock is slow, antiquated and inordinately costly.


On-time, real-time interface between purchase processes, suppliers, and logistic operations is long-established, but not extensively applied.


An increasing number of businesses are getting cut-through (red tape) and enjoying improved margins, greater productivity and bigger profit margins.


Cultural change is necessary, including the removal of requests to “put it in writing”. Why? Those requests create work, feed bureaucracy and contribute little positive output.




There is much to gain in productivity, profits, staff morale and overall lifestyles by reorientating the focus from the economic “headwinds” to the drag of red tape and bureaucracy. The latter’s presence extends well beyond the three tiers of government in Australia. Look no further than the tax laws, and the attendant compliance costs and fees paid to accountants.


In short, look within.



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


Barry Urquhart

Conference Keynote Speaker

Marketing Focus

M:      041 983 5555



An Alternative To Selling Professional Services

A professional dilemma.


The professional services sector is confronting a difficulty. Among the consequences of the mining industry downturn are declines in the need for legal, accounting, engineering, design and a host of other services. It is an issue they share with many other groupings and entities.


Mergers, acquisitions, project starts and growth initiatives are limited, spasmodic – if not rare.


For those existing clients who persist, a common, early and forthright agenda item in meetings is: how can professional fees be reduced.


Identifying prospective new clients is difficult. They are few in number, conservative, defensive and are currently being generously serviced by existing service providers.


Attendance at networking events is, in general terms, fruitless. Rooms are full of like-minded under-utilised professionals who are seeking the ear and attention of the few prospective clients. Feast and famine: so many skills, experts and qualified professionals, with contrasting isolated clients in need of such expertise.




How do you sell professional services? The best possible answer is don’t try. After all, the objective of marketing is to make selling superfluous.


Digital marketers contend the answers lie in the digital spectrum. That’s true in part. But it is only a partial response. A full suite of media channels needs to deployed, integrated and maintained.


Therefore, advertisements and blogs on Google, Twitter, LinkedIn and other options will achieve little, particularly increases in revenue, unless they are part of a integrated, disciplined marketing strategy.




The recent extended 12-year economic boom enjoyed by Australian businesses inevitably led to a widespread sense of complacency.


It was simply too easy to win business, bank the profits and enjoy the consequences.


Over the period, the low barriers of entry to many professions and sectors facilitated and accelerated an ongoing, increasing number of competitors and substitutes. The general attitude was no worries. There was plenty for everyone.


Low barriers of exit were seldom, if ever, considerations. No-one was leaving ... until the on-set of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008, and more recently with the mining industry downturn.


Reality has struck, very hard for many. No one thing, sector or region seems to be immune to the cascading fallout of the retrenchments, profit squeeze, dividend reductions and tightening financial provisions.


Some leading players, consultants and analysts simply did not identify or anticipate the evolving waves of changed market conditions ... builders in particular. Many rejected the evidence which was apparent since February, 2015.


Forward planning was not a priority for NOW marketers seeking revenue from NOW consumers. Instant gratification prevailed.




Significantly, the most resilient entities in a broad cross-section of sectors have been those which had developed, integrated, respected and maintained a recognisable brand name presence.


That alone has contributed appreciably to advertising effectiveness, specifically in the on-line, digital and social media spheres.


The deficiencies in the branding of many entities have become increasingly apparent. Over-reliance on those channels to create, establish and sustain a brand was ambitious, if not naive and hopeful.




Many professional firms, practices and companies maintain client lists which exceed 500, 750 and, sometime, 1000 entities.


A significant majority of those would not know the full extent of the services, skills, expertise and experience possessed by external professional service providers. Accordingly, contracts, revenues and profits are unnecessarily shared and, indeed, compromised.


Anecdotal evidence suggests little use is made, or sought to be made of, the potential which exists within the networks of existing clients.


Seeking recommendations is seldom successful. Asking for, following up and complementing personal introductions are quite different propositions.


Alas, further proof-positive of the need, and scope for marketing, rather than selling of professional services.




Distribution of attractive, glossy and photograph-heavy brochures is seldom successful in generating new clients, revenue and profits.


Readership is sparse. Put simply, at least 98% of the respondents of unsolicited promotional literature are not contemplating such a service, or a change in service providers – at that time.


Sadly, a close analysis and review of many such literature pieces conclude that an overwhelming majority are, in essence, capability statements.


Promotion of qualifications, experience and professional association memberships are not key or compelling messages or temptations. Indeed, most such features are minimal standards that are expected or demanded before being considered. Photographs of senior people and partners do little to enhance the appeal.


Some non-marketing professionals don’t comprehend that in marketing and selling it is not about you. The prism through which most prospective clients view and comprehend is:


What’s in it for me?


Moreover, a significant percentage believe that their circumstances and needs are unique and different. They need to be assured that external professional service providers (1) understand and (2) care.


In short, put the client in the picture, preferably by name, and on the front page.




The art of handing out business cards has been refined.


If only the skills had been developed and extended to having the prospective clients retain and subsequently refer to them.


Many cards lie inert among countless files, which are only occasionally reviewed, then reduced in size and numbers.


Business cards need to project and articulate what the featured person does, rather than the position which is retained.


Full use should be made of both sides of a business card. It may just increase readership.




Detailed below are the progressive steps which are essential to formulating, documenting and implementing and integrated action plan.

  • Determine, and concisely articulate the values, beliefs and drives of the professional firm.
  • Detail and document the innate advantages, benefits and reward typically enjoyed by clients.
  • Discern, and where appropriate specify a market positioning, and image of the firm and its team members, which differentiates and distinguishes it and them from stereotypical perceptions of professionals and peer professionals.
  • Establish, schedule and maintain periodic visits and communications to existing, prospective and past clients – with a strong focus on favourable outcomes for them.
  • Ensure multiple points of contacts are retained to optimise and expedite service quality and responsiveness for clients.
  • Regularly and consistently conduct education sessions, to ensure that all external spheres-of-influence are aware of, comprehend and value the full suite of available services.
  • Identify, and persistently leverage the pool of information, intelligence, expertise and experience that can be deployed to the advantage of clients.
  • Offer, and profile complementary infrastructural and professional support that enhance the presence and productivity of targeted clients.
  • At all times value one’s skills, expertise and training and unapologetically charge for such.
  • Periodically review the basis of applying professional fees, ensuring they are perceived to be fair, equitable and of value to clients.
  • Be positive, enthusiastic and focused. The sentiments are infectious, and beneficial to all.




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


Barry Urquhart

Conference Keynote Speaker

Marketing Focus

M:      041 983 5555




Strong On Capacity - Short On Capability

It’s capability not capacity that matters most. That particularly applies to the digital world. The capacity of its many elements, if and when applied astutely, can be so predictive, targeted, accurate and ....... boring.


Seemingly boundless amounts of information can be collated, analysed, converted into intelligence and deployed to the advantage and benefit of both suppliers and consumers.


However, lateral, non-linear thought seems to be inconsistent with the concept. This raises questions about the degree of recognition of its value, its scope and complementary nature to digital channels.


Commerce will not thrive on algorithms alone. They provide frameworks, identify trends and profile WHAT is contained in the data-base. The essential ingredients of intuitive and analytical thoughts are invaluable in concluding WHY and HOW the raw, clustered information can, and should be applied.




The controlling, monitoring, management and administration of information that is retrieved from digital products, services and applications enable the attainment and maintenance of efficiencies. Such are the nature of the “known knowns”.


However, Big Data, algorithms and the cloud do not have all the answers, nor indeed do they pose all the questions. Much is left unasked and unanswered.


Unfulfilled potential and widespread underperformance are two common consequences. Contributing to such in all things digital are two key factors, being:




The capability statement of many entities which have entered, or are about to enter the digital world reveals a spread of deficiencies. Many skill-sets are inappropriate and/or inadequate.


Put simply, many people – external consultants included – do not have the skills, experience, qualifications, creativity or analytical expertise that are necessary to realise the latent potential.


Familiarisations with processes do not necessarily produce the required insights and outputs.


Likewise, the collection and collation of information are laudable (and should continue), but are in reality, the initial steps in a longer, integrated business journey.


The capacity, expertise and experience to analyse, effectively interpret and to convert the base information into intelligence are rare and greatly valued.


Providing an early-teenage cricketer with a Dave Warner-inspired “super bat” will not guarantee the arrival of a run-making, next-generation Test cricketer. Capacity (the super bat) needs to be complemented with, and utilised by capability.


Regrettably, the immense sums of capital which have been invested by companies, trading entities and associations in retrieving, filing and collating information merely produce a latent power-house capacity, awaiting supporting infra-structure, including human skills.




Sadly, a significant percentage of entities do not have, or have not applied, sufficient resources to effectively utilise and deploy the opportunities and they will therefore never enjoy the consequential advantages, benefits and sustainable competitive advantages.


Evidence of this abounds. Generalised non-specific communication and marketing offers (most of which are irrelevant to individual recipients) are regularly transmitted, distributed and presented. Annoyance among existing and potential customers and clients increases as a result. Therefore, sales conversion ratios remain disturbingly - and expensively – low.


The costs borne extend beyond financial. Reputational and relationship costs can be, and often are, appreciable.


In essence, consumers and clients tend to know (or believe that they know) what they want and need. With digital marketing, so too should service providers. Indeed, arguably, they should know the customers’ needs, drives and aspirations better than the customers know themselves.


Such potential. But alas, forsaken opportunities due to a lack of resources. Many cost-saving operational and Board decisions are false economies. All entities need to invest wisely and generously in capacity and capability.


Barry Urquhart

Business Analyst

Marketing Focus

M:      041 983 5555






The Customers' Journeys

An evolving and new awakening.


The consumer journey to purchasing, utilising, enjoying and benefiting from a product, service, application or experience typically involves up to six phases before direct interaction occurs between individuals in the company and the customers.


Many images, perceptions, expectations and preferences are determined and influenced in this period.


Disturbingly, recognition, respect for, and awareness of the importance of the initial steps to a successful transaction and establishment of a sustaining relationship are spasmodic among many management ranks.




Attention to, and enhancements in the prompt responses to telephone calls (within 3 rings – 9 seconds), recognition of customers entering premises within 5 seconds, the asking of not less than six questions to establish the specifics of need, exhibiting pride in and enthusiasm for the company, its products, services and people, and the methodical and caring manner in which the deal’s value is presented and endorsed - are laudable.


Indeed, the phrase little things mean a lot, is founded on a universal and consistent adherence to these principles. Setting an enjoyable ambience is conducive to ensuring a great, positive customer experience.


However, they will account for little if, from the outset of their purchase journey, a prospective and, - alas, a returning customer - is required to negotiate a series of annoying, frustrating and unnecessary barriers, filters and impediments from the outset of their purchase journey.


The pathway to a sale should never be an obstacle course.




All too often the impediments to an expedient closing of the sale are readily recognisable. Typically, they include:




Window shopping, or browsing, is now usually done on-line. Across a broad spectrum of sectors, products, services and applications, up to 72% of intending buyers seek out and visit websites to collate, retrieve, and then analyse available information to enable the conclusion of informed decisions.


Websites that are not interactive reflect poorly on the business and its offerings. Those which are incompatible to mobile devices are deemed antiquated and indicative of the probable service and experiences that await those who persist with the contact. Smartphones currently total around 61% of operational mobiles, they are utilised in 41% of initial contacts and in 37% of sales and payment processes.


Individually and collectively, these statistics represent an immense leaking of forsaken sales opportunities.




Websites and links which limit contact to electronic interactions imply that the tech-savvy external design consultants do not comprehend and have not responded to the fact that 43% of people seeking to buy or to have access to service use “on-line” chat on their mobile as the preferred communication channel.


A suite of, say seven contact options, without immediate access to a local human may improve internal efficiency. However, effectiveness in the interactions with the external marketplace will be trashed.


An absence of complaints – lodged on-line – is not indicative of service excellence. It may well be that the customers have been lost, without registering their dismay, displeasure and disappointment.




Commerce, marketing, sales and service are founded on opportunism and communication. Denying existing and prospective customers the opportunity to readily and personally communicate with individual service providers is insane.


The business treadmill is getting faster. Customer and client expectations are greater.


A recent national Australian study found that 54% of consumers expected to make six attempts for contact before satisfactorily resolving an issue. In stark contrast, a parallel study among contact centre managers revealed that a majority contended that customers need only make 1 or 2 contacts to have their needs fulfilled.


Just how well do company team members know their customers, and are aware of their recent experiences?


The three greatest and most recurring annoyances nominated by customers and clients in their dealing with supply companies are enlightening:



·       Automated Telephony Systems – 51%

·       Restricted Access to Human Representatives – 37%

·       Wait Times to connect with people – 34%


Ouch! Those facts hurt ..... - particularly on the bottom line.




In the present NOW marketplace, in which value and premiums are placed on timely, full, open and immediate disclosure of key information and intelligence access is imperative.


In the recent past, information was power. Today it is a commodity and retrievable from multiple sources. Inventory levels, supply lead-times, warranty details and performance standards are factors that expedite the sales process.


Indeed, the promotion of such can be, and often is, a distinct competitive advantage.


Sharing such freely is a virtue, because it facilitates the making of informed decisions.




Multi-channel and omni-channel philosophies are not and should not be vertical silos by nature.


Cross- referencing is both supportive and highly productive.


Customers and clients value having the capacity to exercise their personal choice of the means with which means they prefer to conclude a purchase. Over the course of time it is probable that many of those channels will be utilised by the individual customer.




A significant percentage of customers have sacrificed their privacy, through membership of loyalty and relevant programs in the hope for more measured, targeted and customised interactions.


The immense promise of Big Data, with its capacity to collect, retrieve, analyse and selectively convert huge banks of general information into discrete intelligence has seldom been realised.


A lack of resources being allocated to capitalise on this invaluable storehouse is a major contributing factor for the continued distribution of generalised, irrelevant and annoying communications and offers, many of which are meaningless and valueless to recipients.


This distracts from the journey being undertaken, and from the optimally compelling image of the company, its products, services, and people.


It is these hurdles and others that mitigate against subsequent positive interactions which have the capacity to satisfy customer needs, to offer value and to sustain mutually rewarding relationships.




Correcting and remediating the nature, context and content of earlier phases of the consumer’s journey does not discount the importance of effectively installing the product, service or application; initiating and maintaining a regular schedule for communications; ensuring service standards that are at all times optimal; and of making readily available updated information on all developments, innovations and enhancements.


In commerce, as in many aspects of life, the journey is not lineal. It is circular. What comes around goes around ...... - only faster, for those who are astute enough to recognise, understand, monitor, respect and enhance all phases of the customers’ purchase journeys.



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


Barry Urquhart

Conference Keynote Speaker

Marketing Focus

M:      041 983 5555




Don't Promise, - Deliver

Delivering the promise is no longer good enough.


Promises are fulfilled after the purchase transaction has been concluded and the product, service or application is in the possession of the customer, satisfying their needs and providing the advantages, benefits and rewards.


Widespread cynicism in the marketplace devalues or dismisses the expectations that are founded on promises. Delivery is like service excellence. It is not possible to “sell” service. Service is experienced. Only then is it valued. The concept of “delivery” has the same characteristics.


Securing orders, sustaining competitive advantage and effectively positioning the offers in the minds of existing, prospective and past clients require the delivery process to be NOW, in -home or at the required and nominated site.


A dramatic emphasis is being (assigned - correctly) to the specifics of delivery.


Since the genesis of the marketing era in the early 1960s, the virtues of an efficient, effective and respected supply chain have been recognised, deployed and promoted. Transition is now underway from the broader macro perspective of the supply chain to more discrete, measurable, monitorable and manageable delivery systems – that is, at the point-of-service procedures – customer interaction.




Domino’s continues to lead the way, with the introduction of a series of mobile apps, which enable customers to place orders, monitor delivery times and schedule ever -decreasing delivery lead times.


Growth in sales and outlets has been impressive, with the latter being primarily delivery hubs. Consumer store visits are declining in absolute and retail terms.


Imagine the demand potential if greater and complementary efforts were given to the enhancing the products.




For restaurants, cafés or coffee lounges in Australia, it is probable that home deliveries will exceed (in order numbers and value) take-away orders (where customers collect the order and consume the food at home, in the office or preferred site) within two years.


By the year 2021, it is likely that for a significant number of restaurants, cafés and coffee lounges, home deliveries will be the largest component of the business, generating between 35 and 45% of total revenue.


The trend is already evolving and evident in London, New York and an increasing number of contemporary, Western-orientated cities.


Disturbingly, many Australian business owners and managers in the “sector” are not preparing for transition – or revolution. Some will simply be overtaken in the rush.


Interestingly, UBER and numerous logistic companies are introducing home delivery services to their suite of offerings.




The trend to the repackaging, promotion and offering of home-site deliveries will not be limited to food and beverage sectors.


Professional services will be, and can be, at the forefront of the transition. This includes pharmacies, legal practices, accountancy firms and real estate practices.


Customers and clients will genuinely be at the central focus. The concepts of convenience, access and proximity will, necessarily, be recalibrated.


Many existing business models will be made redundant, innovations will be formulated, documented and implemented, requiring new skill- sets and resources.




The transition to, and heightened emphasis on delivery is part of a broader digital marketplace


Convenience and access are no longer limited to geographic factors. Immediacy and “now” centre on the individual consumer, customer or client. Delivering “mass individualisation” is the new business model and challenge. In commerce the centre-of-gravity has shifted.


Capabilities and capacities will remain imperative, but fundamentally they will be the building blocks on which style will differentiate the business, product, service and application; and it will be the style that will determine value.


Consultants will be driven to change the essential question, from:


What business are you in?




How do you deliver?


For those with the right answer, success awaits.


Barry Urquhart

Conference Keynote Speaker

Marketing Focus

M:      041 983 5555