Blunt Instruments No Longer

The shackles of control are broken.


Past undergraduate students of Economics 101 were lectured (with conviction) that fiscal and monetary policies were blunt instruments, which enabled governments to control, influence and modulate national, state and regional economies. Such contentions have morphed into studies of history.


It's time to hit the re-set button.


Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Glenn Stevens, an eminently qualified economist with access to a plethora of global, national and sectional detailed data, information and intelligence recently conceded that he, the Reserve – and overseas, “The Fed” in the USA, and the Exchequer in Britain – can no longer accurately influence and forecast the marketplace or the consequences of monetary and fiscal initiatives. How refreshingly, open and honest.


It raises questions about the veracity and worth of the predictions and projections of countless economists from banks, professional associations and consultancies, who are inclined to be free with their advice and “insights” in the mass media.


To some, outside the sphere of economists, the only point of consistency among those supposedly authorative resources is that they are always wrong. The only difference is the measure of their inaccuracy.


Such common perceptions may explain, in part, the emerging presence of the new breed, - behavioural economists.


Statistics-based economics identify past happenings and trends. They do not isolate, analyse and explain the why of such reflective realities.


Given the evolving rebalancing of market forces in favour of consumers, and often, major spheres of influence (beyond the realms of government and the public sector) it is understandable that all players are beginning to recognise and respect the imponderables which populate society, the economy and marketplaces.


Sharemarkets are not immune to the new scenario. The number of investors who are reliant on, or influenced by “chartists” – those who record, track and graph trend-lines – is rapidly declining. Increasingly, they agree that -


The future is not a lineal progression of the past.


Perhaps there is now a better understanding of the nature, causes and consequences of the reference by Alan Greenspan, former head of the Federal Reserve in the United States of America to:


Irrational Exuberance


Oh, to retain the exuberance and contain the irrationalism. Imagine an emotion- driven, confidence-influenced marketplace.




There are few, if any “experts” who know the customers, clients, competitors, substitutes, suppliers and spheres of influence as well as business owners and their team members.


Concessions and exceptions can and should be made to those in business who have retreated, battened-down and “tightened the belt”. Likewise, advice of “all-knowing, all-seeing” external experts, - economists and accountants included, - is most relevant to those who are detached from market-players.


Many deliberations and decisions are typically, solely or predominantly based on analyses of the ”Big Picture”, macro-economies if you will. As previously discussed, many of the contentions are spurious at best, and about as relevant as the form-guides - of past events - for horses in the Melbourne Cup, or the records of teams on the recent Rugby Union World Cup – with the exception of the all-powerful All Blacks. Their form centres most on muscle, mental strength and formations (not past performance).




There is a lot of merit in micro-management at this time. Some, if not many things are beyond one's influence and control, including fiscal and monetary instruments.


Most sectional downturns are measured in lower-order single numbers. Therefore, business is still being transacted.


Hence, the appropriate focus and accent should be on how one is to achieve, sustain and progressively grow market-share.


With most competitors and substitutes consciously contracting – inventories, advertising, marketing, workforces and resources - it is not difficult to create and enjoy the future of an enhanced and heightened presence.


Most behaviourist economists will concede that they do not have a measure on consumer confidence. It is considered one of those imponderables that “cloud” the marketplace. In many respects the big picture simply provides the backdrop for personally initiated actions.




There is no single, universal formula for success. The individualism of, and differences between businesses, products, services, economies, marketplaces and target audiences need to be reconsidered and respected.


However, there are certain fundamentals which are sound building blocks, including:


•  Invest in one's presence. This includes:
•  Premises presentation
•  Website locations
•  Product/Service merchandising
•  Team member personal presentations
Consistently, these initiatives generate the most immediate and sustainably positive responses.


•  Develop People
•  Training and development are not discretionary. They are imperatives.


•  Refine and focus inventory
•  New products, services and applications can be, and are magnets.
•  Delete the tired, the obsolete and the irrelevant.


•  Increase and improve communications
•  Integrate a multi-channel positioning.
•  Maintain consistency of message and frequency.
•  Inform, educate and engage existing, prospective and past clients.


•  Launch, relaunch
•  Excite the market place with events that launch all that is new.
•  Provide samples, trials and interactions. Emotional connections stimulate sales.




These proven and, well-established and successful building blocks have scant presence in, and influence of macro-fiscal and monetary initiatives or policies, consequently do not receive much attention.


But they do provide the framework in which you are able to do what you do best .... lead, manage and control your own business.





Barry Urquhart of Marketing Focus is an internationally respected strategic planner, consumer behaviour analyst, author and high impact conference keynote speaker.


Barry Urquhart

Business Strategist

Marketing Focus