Red Zebra Business Centre -Management Memos
April, 2009. Making Measurably More For Your Business Since 1985!

It all depends on how you look at it!

Max Williams, Principal Consultant

Recent data for retail sales suggest that there has been an increase in retail trade in February - the latest month for which data is available. If true, that is a clear indication that the Government's Economic Stimulus Package is working. That would be wonderful.

On the other hand, cooler heads are suggesting that it is too early to tell, and we need a few more months before the verdict is in. At the same time, increases in support for unemployed workers and increases in the projected rate of unemployment indicate an economy in steep decline.

Two major drivers of the Australian economy, the car industry and the building and construction industries, are pulling in opposite directions. The car industry is down by 15%, much better that n in some other countries notably the US and Japan, but still operating with considerable spare capacity. Reports from the housing industry show a significant shortfall in housing supply, but major building projects have been deferred or cancelled.

The confusion over where we're going is partially resolved by the newspaper article referred to in this edition of ?Management Memos' - an article which shows two parts of Australia - one doing well and one doing it hard! Our own consulting practice shows a range of results. Some clients are doing very well, and some are working hard to fend off red ink. It's hard to see a pattern to this - quite obviously there are many factors.

Here at 'Management Memos' we have been advocating for several months that this is the time to take very seriously the challenge of strong and effective (although it must be affordable) marketing.

In other words, whether the times are good or bad for you right now, there is a strategic advantage in driving your business harder - And there are some suggestions for doing it.

Meanwhile, tough as things are (or might get), enforcement of workplace laws continue to be actively pursued. Here are two recent instances of workplace investigations into non-compliance by employers.

  • Federal Workplace Ombudsman inspectors checked the books of 386 businesses at Southland Shopping Centre, Dandenong Plaza and nearby industrial areas and Chadstone Shopping Centre. More than 20 per cent of businesses randomly audited at these major Melbourne shopping centres were found to be breaching workplace laws.

    The audits, conducted between September and November last year, revealed that 82 employers - 21 per cent - were failing to comply with their legal obligations under workplace legislation.

  • And in New South Wales, a Wagga retail business is back-paying more than 100 staff a total of almost $90,000 after an investigation by the Federal Workplace Ombudsman found it was underpaying the workers.

It appears that both instances were treated as 'inadvertent', and no penalties were applied.

All this reinforces the need to apply far better than 'normal' management skills in the present times. Fortunately, help is available.

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Five Free Offers


imes have been great for the last nineteen years! We've been too BUSY to spend time on marketing. Now, times are tough. We're too BUSY to spend time on marketing. Doh! That's why 'The Red Zebra' advice to clients is to make a consistent marketing effort, month-in, month-out. It's so vitally important. An ongoing marketing program keeps your business moving ahead through good and bad times.

5 Special March Offers - end Thursday April 9
(at 11.59pm your local time. See Details)

Right now, Australia is having both good and bad times! An article in The Sunday Age, April 5, 2009, "Downturn or upturn? It depends on where you live".

Click Here to see the article showing two Australias - still!

For some, these aren't merely "bad" times. They are, in Dickens words, "the worst of times." Which is why it's so important to stop hunkering down and get out there in front of prospects with a strong marketing effort.

For the others, times are looking good - but there is still the threat of bad times ahead!

Here are five ideas to enhance your marketing to make money  - whether the sun is shining or not!.

1 Now is the perfect time to build market share

Right now, many of your competitors are cutting advertising and climbing into their bomb shelters.

Which means if your marketing continues, and increases in effectiveness, you can take business from your competitors. And keep it.

They say that when the stock market crashes and "blood is in the streets," that's the time to buy. Well, when your competitors are asleep at the switch, that's the perfect time to heat up your marketing!

2  Create innovative offers that appeal to cash-strapped prospects

Any offer that can help your prospective clients save money these days, is a guaranteed winner.

Can you bundle several products or services together? Can you offer them at a reduced price? Great! Do it - your competitors probably won't!

Can you come up with a 'killer' offer that's time- limited? It'll get sales going right now!

Any time you spend thinking about creating a fresh and compelling offer is time well spent. The propositions you make to customers can mean the difference between success or failure. Depending on the offer, differences in response of 25, 50, 100 percent and more are commonplace.

3  Think about using postal mail in your communications mix

Yes. Email is cheaper than postal mail but that doesn't mean email always pays off at the back end. Here are three reasons to consider using real direct mail as part of your marketing program:

Direct mail gives you the space you need to tell your whole story. If you write a compelling letter, readers will stay with you. They will NOT stick with you in an e-mail.

In direct mail, you can use emotion. In your letter or flyer you can inspire, frighten, cajole, convince, make cogent arguments, and motivate. Readers just don't want that in an e-mail. They want you to tell them the facts and get out.

In direct mail you can include different pieces that you can hold in your hand. A colourful flyer, a testimonial sheet filled with raves, objective product reviews, you name it. You never know what's going to capture a reader's interest or attention. With an email you get pixels on the screen and nothing more.

4  Try using "dimensional offers" that cut through the clutter

In the jargon of direct mail copywriters, a dimensional mailing is a package that actually has something stuffed inside it (i.e. it has three dimensions). Often, by adding an attention-getter, you can be sure your package will get opened.
For example, a while ago, a mailing piece to "get-an-appointment"  was sent to mid-size companies right through Australian east coast capital cities. It contained a dollar coin taped to the top right hand corner. The caption?
"Don't waste one more dollar on ineffective marketing."
A bit corny? Too right! Effective? Extraordinarily. The letters got opened and the company received literally dozens of appointments.

5  Don't forget - Use the telephone to follow-up

Direct mail, personalised mail, mail-outs, micro-marketing, or whatever else you call it, can stir up interest - but it rarely gets a sale or an appointment by itself. Typically, a response rate of 1% is accepted as 'OK'.

With telephone follow-up, response rate increase significantly.  Some clients have reported 5% response rates to mail campaigns with telephone follow-up.

Such campaigns can be difficult to set up in a busy operation. But with help it works gang-busters. Remember, there is help available for resource strapped businesses - it's at The Red Zebra!

5 Special March Offers - end Thursday April 9

  • Click this link to see each offer and register your interest
  • We will contact you to make the required arrangements to provide the service completely free to you.
  • Only one service of the five listed above is available free to each respondent or associated business
  • A service will be provided free at only one location where there are multiple locations for the enterprise
  • Services will be provided in each state, regional location, or New Zealand as soon as practicable, consistent with our regular commitments
  • These offers expire at 11.59pm local time Thursday April 9 2009. (Almost midnight Maundy Thursday, the beginning of Easter.)

McNicol Williams Management & Marketing Services is a Small Business Advisor listed with the Small Business Victoria, and has presented The Red Zebra program under its auspices. This listing requires that the first hour's consultation is always free. So when we say these offers are free, we mean free!

If you'd like to find out more about getting more powerful marketing right now, talk to us, or ask us a question here! Remember, there's no charge or obligation.

This same offer applies in New Zealand. Click Here!