Budgets recently brought down in both Australia and New Zealand indicate a mixture of solid economic outlooks, coupled with some warning signs.  In the wrap, business can do well, but it pays to be both creative and careful.  For all businesses, this sharply increases the focus on marketing, with successful marketers doing well from the growth. Less effective marketers will lose ground in a tighter, more competitive market..

Government spending in New Zealand and tax cuts in Australia both mean continued growth in demand.  A slowing economy in New Zealand and interest rate rises in Australia, both mean that private spending will be more carefully considered.  Competition is likely to be tougher in the year ahead.

Discretionary spending will be reduced.  Growth will go to those who generate a bigger share of a flat market.  New window coverings, other home improvements, and a new bullbar for the 4X4 will need an even stronger reason to buy in this present (2006-07) environment.

The key to success here is having a marketing mix that is right for the times, and carefully balanced so that its effect is fully maximised.  "Marketing mix" is more than just advertising.  Have you got the product range fine tuned to what your most profitable customers want?  Is your price pointing flexible, responsive and carefully pitched?  How about delivery times?

A slow delivery time wiped out one business we have known. In response to a recommendation that he reduce his delivery time from two weeks to four days, this very successful past client simply shrugged off the advice because, as he said, "everyone else is delivering in two weeks - that's quite acceptable".  Two years later he was gone - beaten by faster deliveries.  You see, it pays to ruthlessly examine every part of your sales offer!

Advertising plays a crucial role in getting this marketing mix right.  That does not mean spending yourself into bankruptcy on advertising.  It does mean advertising constructively to meet your sales budget.

Getting this balance right is best done with some outside help.  There is a lot of help to be had - just be careful who you trust.  Here's the test.  Have you had an increase in sales activity (not just sales value), and has your net profit increased faster than sales?  If the answer to both is "Yes!", congratulations.  You have got it right!

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Any advice, information or comment contained in this document is general in nature, and should not be relied on as the basis for any specific commercial, business, employment, or financial decision. Specific advice should always be obtained for each individual circumstance. Accordingly any advice, information or comment contained herein is for general guidance only.