Using Facebook Ads to make your brand part of everyday life

If you’ve been turning your nose up at the idea of advertising on Facebook, you’re missing out on a fantastic opportunity. It may not exactly be ‘old school’ – even by internet standards – but Facebook Ads have a way of integrating themselves into your customer’s daily lives in an unobtrusive way that puts them just a click away from buying or signing up to your service.

Facebook is now used by 1.59 billion people across the world: if you can’t find your audience here, they likely don’t exist. What’s more Facebook Ads are easier to create than pretty much any other form of advertising. This doesn’t mean you don’t need to put a great deal of thought into the preparation process – the usual questions about the who, the how and the why of your campaign – but it does mean that if you run a small business, it’s something you can handle by yourself.

Ready to take the plunge? Log in to your Facebook account, click on the little arrow in the top right hand corner of the screen, select Create Ads, and you’re ready to go.

Facebook will now confront you with a range of marketing objectives to choose from, such as ‘Brand awareness’ or ‘Product catalogue sales’. You’ve already decided why you’re running this campaign, so this is where you let Facebook help you choose the best template to adapt to your needs.

Let them know where you are, the currency you work in, and your time zone, and everything you need will be tailored to your situation. All of which sets you up for the interesting part: defining your target audience.

The more specific you can be, the better. Facebook lets you narrow things down by age, gender, and location, but of course the real power comes with the ‘demographics, interests, or behaviours’ – because, of course, Facebook knows all of this about everyone! Think of other brands, products and services that are like yours, and pastimes for which your product might be needed. For example, if you’re selling custom-made bicycles, you could target people who ‘Like’ Ruff Cycles and cycling as an interest, and probably narrow the area down to just your town, county or country – depending how far you are willing to send your product.

Next, you make your budget decisions. Facebook ads can start at a dollar a day, and it’s worth starting with a few dollars at a time for your first couple of campaigns while you figure out how to get the best results from your settings. You can choose a target daily spend, or an overall budget that will be spent customer by customer until it runs out.

Designing the ad itself is quite straightforward. You need an image or a video to base it around, so it is ideal if you have some professionally captured footage of your product or service. However, if you just want to get things done quickly and simply, you can instead use one of Facebook’s stock images. Add a headline to grab users’ attention and a line of text describing what you’re offering. Facebook will help you with the final touch: a ‘call to action’ button that clicks through to your website, shop, or mailing list.

That’s it – you’re ready to launch! Facebook Ad Reports are a simple way of tracking the success of your first advertisement, so you know what to tinker with the second time around. You should see results in no time. In the meantime, here’s a simple 5-step guide to getting your first ad up and running – it is a lot easier, and a lot more effective, than you think.

G. John Cole is a digital nomad and freelance writer. Specialising in leadership, digital media and personal growth, his passions include world cinema and biscuits. A native Englishman, he is always on the move, but can most commonly be spotted in Norway, the UK and the Balkans.

Image: Pexels

5 Classic Marketing Mediums That Still Work in 2017

Life has changed drastically over the last several years, yet human beings have stayed inherently the same as they were thousands of years ago. The same things stimulate and excite our brain as they did when we were cavemen.

In a time where we have 24/7 news websites and free information literally at our fingertips, why do a lot of people still go out and buy magazines and newspapers? When every company’s information can be Googled and thoroughly researched online, why do we often peruse brochures, hold onto cards or attach flyers to our fridge?

We do this because, just as we always have, we bond and respond to physical stimuli.

1. Branded Products

The easiest way to to place your brand directly into people’s hands is through promotional items. There are an infinite number of product choices and designs you can use to advertise your company, so think carefully about the demographic of your customers and what items they are most likely to appreciate and utilise for many years.

There are quality products such as mouse pads, usb sticks, mugs and many more that are not only practical but double as great advertising. There are products you can use around your own and your clients offices, products suitable for tradesmen, chefs and more. Whoever your target clients are, there’s a product you can brand to suit them.

2. Competitions

Nothing rounds up enthusiasm like a good competition.

Asking people to share your company website for example, or to refer a friend, are great ways to drum up more business whilst creating positive hype for your brand. If you think carefully about the marketing of your competitions and incorporate a sales pitch for the product you’re presenting, you’ll not only draw in new customers, you’ll create a desire for the product or service you’re offering.

3. Direct mail

Traditional forms of advertising like business cards, banners, stickers and brochures are the staples of advertising. They can be as informative as you like and targeted directly into your client’s hands. People are more likely to peruse information that is presented to them on paper so it’s still a valuable marketing tool.

Direct mail has proven easier to mentally process, and companies test better for brand recall when handed a paper copy as opposed to online. The reader has a hard copy they can keep, share, and browse over and over again.

4. Sales

Using marketing techniques such as sales, rewards programs, discounts for bulk orders and coupons will not only draw in more clients immediately, they are a great way to create lasting impressions and form business relationships. Creating a sense of urgency is a common marketing tool to draw in attention, because psychologically it works.

5. Self Expression

Use your own knowledge, skills and enthusiasm to sell your company.

Offer workshops on business, cross sell with other services, attend trade shows to promote your business or offer to talk on radio about your area of expertise. Not only will this create an opportunity for you to discuss your business, it is also an opportunity to learn.

Depending on your style of business and marketability, things like company logos, slogans, advertising jingles, even company mascots are a great way of endearing customers to your brand.

Whatever field you’re in there’s many styles of marketing to best promote your business. Taking a multi faceted approach and employing as many tactics as you can afford to, will ensure your name imprints on the customer’s mind. With a bit of creativity, passion and carefully targeted campaigns you can snowball your brand name into something that grows for many years to come.

Rebecca Harris is a writer living in Melbourne with expertise in creating witty, insightful and engaging content.  Her articles have been published widely and she is a prolific contributor on social media platforms.

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Restoring Derelict Spaces to Lease-Ready Condition

Restoring Derelict Spaces to Lease-Ready Condition

This is a guest post from Sarah Smith.

Savvy investors know that there is a lot of potential in converting abandoned or derelict spaces into lease-ready properties. Below are five (5) tips on converting a vacant spot into a high-revenue lease property.

1. Pop-Ups

This refers to taking a small vacant space and converting it into a restaurant or shop. These are great for:

  • Trial marketing a new brand, product, or testing out a new region
  • Selling seasonable items (e.g. Christmas, Halloween, etc)
  • Adding a bricks-and-mortar location to an existing online business
  • Showroom space
  • Establishing a permanent location for items previously sold at crafts fairs or festivals

2. Advertising and Marketing

It only takes a little imagination to realize that an empty shop window makes for a great spot to place advertising and marketing.

Likewise, blank walls on the side of a building can be a tremendously good location to place large ads or marketing messages. Blank walls and large open spaces are also wonderful locations for projection advertising and mixed media marketing messages.

3. Build a Pod

Vacant and underused office space is now becoming extremely popular as part of the “pod” or collaborative working space concept. Many small businesses refer to the acronym POD, Phone, Office, & Desk, being the minimal space necessary in order to work. Short-term leases and flexible arrangements can take a vacant office space and turn it into a cash cow.

4. Virtual Shop-Fronts

One of the most exciting new technologies to re-use spaces creatively is the idea of a 3-D virtual shop front. When applied to a vacant lot or empty space, a detailed 3-D image can be rendered, perfect for prospective clients who may be imagining how their business can make use of the location.

Besides just being appealing to prospective clients, virtual shop fronts are also useful in making abandoned or derelict properties look occupied, adding aesthetic appeal to the neighborhood and helping to minimize visual deterrents to leasing the property.

5. Re-Purposing Venues

Many of today’s largest companies are looking for ways to stealthily guerilla market to certain demographics. You can take advantage of this by working with these companies to re-purpose abandoned properties as pop-up venues for their latest marketing idea or branded activity.

Another way to create revenue from blighted areas is to work in conjunction with local authorities to host festivals, fairs, and other celebrations. By adding pop-up attractions to your property, you can increase foot traffic to the area, benefiting local businesses and attracting potential long-term clients.

Successful event planners are always looking for new and exciting venues to stage their activities. Whether repurposed for a fashion show, art exhibition, festival, or music concert, your previously low-value property may be able to command a high price.

Sarah is a small business owner, and is currently learning about marketing, using the internet. Aside from working on her own business, she likes to use social media, and read travel books.

How You Can Use Signage To Brand Your Business


This is a guest post from Sarah Smith.

Business owners know that they can’t attract customers if those customers don’t know that they exist. That is why they rent buildings in high traffic areas and pay large sums to place ads where people are likely to see them.

There are many ways that companies can get the word out, and with all the hype around online and social media marketing it would be easy for companies to overlook how important proper signage can be to the success of a company’s marketing strategy.

Let’s look at the link between branding and signage and list some reasons why clever signage can be an effective way to advertise your business.

Signage Can Be Simple, Affordable and Memorable

Even if someone doesn’t know what your company sells or what service it provides, he or she will recognize your brand if your signage is memorable enough. In many cases, people who see an attractive sign will want to learn more about the business behind it and what it does. Social media users may be willing to share your sign just because it looks cool and they want as many people to see it as possible. Ultimately, you are going to increase awareness for your brand, which will help to increase sales and revenue for your company.

Signage Can Be Simple, Affordable and Memorable

Signs Can Be Placed Anywhere

The best part about a sign is that you can put it almost anywhere. You could put a sign in your car window, on local bulletin boards or on a fence outside your property. If you want to reach a wider audience, you could even consider putting a sign on a public building or another area that is open to the public and which receives a large volume of foot traffic. For instance, you could put a sign on a light pole at a busy intersection.

Signs Can Be Placed Anywhere

Attract Customers From Miles Around

A brightly colored sign that is placed several hundred feet in the air can attract customers from miles around. To make it even more attractive, you could use neon lights or have it light up at night or at times that it may be harder to see. Depending on where the sign is located, you could include on it the closest highway exit to your location and the company’s web address and phone number. Doing this can allow potential customers to find your store, connect with you online or contact you by phone.

Attract Customers From Miles Around

Fence Signage Could Be Part of Your Marketing Plan

Large farms or public parks may have advertising space available on fences that surround the property or gated fences that people have to walk through to gain entry. The sign doesn’t need to be anything fancy, and a handmade sign can often be just as effective as a fence sign crafted by SiteSmart or something created using design software. If you are a startup founder looking to connect with your target audience, a handmade sign might also be seen as more authentic and fun.

Taking the time to create an effective sign can increase brand awareness, which can ultimately boost sales volume and revenues. The best part about signage is that you can be as creative as you want to be, and anyone in your company can help with the project. Signage can be an effective way to promote your business, and it is worth keeping this in mind when developing your branding and marketing strategy.

Sarah is a small business owner, and is currently learning about marketing, using the internet. Aside from working on her own business, she likes to use social media, and read travel books. Follow Sarah on Twitter.

The Psychology Behind Marketing Online Education

Psychology Behind Marketing Online Education

This is a guest post from Sarah Smith.

How do people decide which online university will meet their needs?

What drives a student to choose one option over another — especially when both schools have little name recognition?

No one decides on an online education based on a single advertisement or one aspect of a website. Instead, a multitude of psychological factors work together.

Every student is different, bringing personal priorities to the selection process. That said, it is possible to use psychology to decode the common factors. By understanding the thought process that goes into a student’s choices, an online program can grow its enrollment faster.

Let’s look at some of the key factors:

1. The Feeling a School Will “Work With You”

One of history’s most famous psychoanalysts, Sigmund Freud, posited that people are driven to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Prospective students want the “pleasure” of a great education and the opportunities it affords, but also wish to avoid the “pain” of failing!

Schools aimed at working adults should evince a compassionate, caring manner to make the threat of failure seem distant.

2. Social Proof as Evidence of a School’s Intentions

“Social proof” is a key concept in neuro-marketing, the fusion of neurology, psychology and marketing. To overcome their doubts about a course of action, most people prefer to see that others like them have succeeded before.

Testimonials associated with clear, smiling photos of a variety of students can be motivational.

3. The Right Visual Cues

Online schools can offer a variety of programs, from the humanities and social sciences to vocational programs. When visuals are congruent with a college’s offerings, students will be more inspired to commit.

Blue, gold, and gray are associated with “prestigious” subjects in the humanities, while red, white and green evoke the practical.

4. A Sense of Urgency or Scarcity

Deciding to go to college can be a leap of faith, especially for those who have not been in school for a long time. A sense of urgency can shake them up and compel them to take action.

Establishing and communicating clear deadlines for enrollment, along with a path to speak directly to an admissions counselor is likely to improve conversion.

5. Anticipatory Activity

Anticipatory activity” is a perspective-taking process people adopt when they want to modify their social role. For example, a student who wishes to graduate from college with good grades will usually try to adopt habits they think are associated with that success.

When a college website is written from a future-oriented perspective, with rich details relating to a student’s future success, it can help activate this process, and so would-be students may become more confident that enrolling is the right course of action.

All these tools rely on one central factor: understanding your audience.

Someone who wishes to achieve a degree in philosophy may be very different from someone who wants real estate training online. Although, if you visit NREL’s website (a company that provides online real estate courses for NSW) you’ll see many of the above techniques.

Although each student is different, they all fall into demographic categories that can be used to develop a detailed understanding of the “average” visitor. The better you understand that group, the more effectively you can tailor your site experience to their needs.

Sarah is a small business owner, and is currently learning about marketing using the internet. Aside from working on her own business, she likes to use social media, and read travel books.

Say Something

Often we can be scared to open our mouths and say something.

Expressions like “empty vessels make the most noise” and a pervasive social fear of rejection can make it difficult to open up.

Why is this the case?

Schools, universities and families typically work best when there is an open flow of communication. But on a day to day basis, and in the workplace, it can often seem best to say as little as possible.

The issue is that, as social animals, and whether we like it or not, we are constantly engaged in relationships with other people and the power dynamics that inevitably ensue.

If you are a junior employee with views on what your company should be doing, then calling the CEO to tell them may certainly get the CEO’s attention but it may also mark you as a trouble maker and hasten your exit from the firm.

There is always a power dynamic in play (and people who tell you differently are probably playing power games with you).

Speaking without thinking or sending an email which doesn’t convey a clear story backed by supporting data means that your communication is probably “criticism or noise” rather than being a meaningful contribution to the conversation.

The challenge then is not the speaking up part; the challenge is to first do the necessary research and thinking which can be used to foster a constructive dialogue.

You need to say something, but what?

Have you done your research?

Christmas Tidings

Two lessons we might learn from Christmas

For many of us, especially expectant young children, Christmas is a day of high expectations.  It can often fall short of the mark.

Santa may have brought you an Xbox when you had desperately wanted a Playstation. Or perhaps you got a new Samsung tablet, when you were busting for the new iPad instead.

It can be painful when reality falls dismally short of our idealized vision of the future.

The cynic might respond simply that these are “first world problems”, but the issue is not quite that simple. Disappointment, at times, is felt by all of us.

With expectations high, and disappointment almost inevitable, it seems like as good a time as any to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas, and what it might teach us about business.

We have two thoughts to share with you.

The first one is about gratitude. You won’t always get dealt the cards you wanted.

Santa may have brought you some gifts, but they may not have been the ones you really wanted. Disappointment naturally follows from expecting more than you were given. You set the bar quite high, in your own mind, and Santa failed to deliver.

A different response to the same situation would be to feel gratitude, thankful for whatever you have. While nice presents are always wonderful, you set no expectations of receiving anything from anyone, and so even the small gifts that you received can be made to feel wonderful.

We have never heard the word “gratitude” used in a business context, but it has some surprising implications. Take for example Clay Christensen‘s famous research on disruptive innovation in which he looked at the ability of inferior new market entrants (e.g. mini mills in the steel industry) to displace powerful and well established incumbents (e.g. the integrated steel mills).

Clay explained it this way. The process of disruption is made possible because the large incumbent firms are pretty much always happy to sacrifice the bottom of the market, with its lower margins, in order to pursue even higher returns upmarket. By abandoning the bottom of the market, the new entrants are able to gain a foothold from which they can move upmarket, eventually displacing the formerly powerful firms that had dominated the industry.

The large players have high profit expectations and, as a result, are not grateful for low margin business. They are happy to abandon it. The new entrants, in contrast, are delighted with these scraps of work, since small profits are better than nothing.

Looking at it this way, we can see that lack of gratitude for the opportunity to serve the bottom of the market appears to be a factor that contributed to the bankruptcy of integrated steel mills in the 1990’s and 2000’s.

Christmas is a time to remember the value of gratitude.

It is also, as it happens, a time to remember the value of giving.

You may have received lousy gifts: business socks, jelly beans, or a gift voucher. The spirit of Christmas, though, is about giving gifts, not receiving them.

For many years this seemed to us to be a very strange custom. Receiving presents is obviously nice, and so why the focus on giving?

The lesson, it now occurs to us, is that giving allows us to strengthen our relationships with the people we care about.

At Christmas time, we give gifts and send messages of good will to family and friends. These gifts and heart felt communications help to bring us closer together.

Generosity, though, is not just a feel good notion that should be reserved for Christmas, it is also an important ingredient for sustaining and growing profitable businesses.

Every year, major brands spend billions of dollars to communicate with us. Nike reminds us that victory and success are possible, “Just do it!”. McDonald’s sends us messages of happiness and love, “I’m lovin’ it!”. And Coca Cola reminds us that the holidays are coming.

Marketing is often misunderstood and misused to spam people about new products and price discounts. Successful businesses have realized though that people don’t just buy products, they buy products from brands with whom they have an ongoing relationship. They buy products from brands that they know and trust.

Throughout the year, as they do every year, successful brands will find ways to reach out to the people they care about, to make connections, and to keep the relationship alive.

Merry Christmas! May you have a prosperous year ahead!

Loyalty Games

If you are there for them, they will be there for you

WHEN it comes to marketing, you have a choice.

Chase new customers, or care for the ones you already have.

Buy a million dollar Superbowl ad, or do the hard work of creating remarkable products for the people who care.

Pursue the glittering promise of untold wealth by trying to please everyone, or focus on delighting the loyal few.

It’s hard to do both.

In the old days, before the Interweb, it was common to reward customers for their loyalty with points, exclusive discounts and upgrades.

Digital hasn’t changed this, but it does offer new opportunities for social engagement, data analytics and making things fun using online games.

Our friend John Persico is leading the charge to help us transition into a new and exciting digital future with the 2014 Loyalty and Gamification World Championships, a free online competition that will test and develop your skills and understanding of gamification and loyalty marketing.

Round 1 kicks off on July 12 (you can register here).

Pushing The Boundary

Are you excited, nervous or a little bit scared?

Your comfort zone, as the name suggests, is a comfortable place.

It feels safe and secure to be there, because you’ve been there many times before.

Nothing unexpected is likely to happen. Nothing you haven’t seen before. And certainly nothing out of the ordinary.

But ordinary is not what you’re aiming for, is it?

Pushing the boundary is exciting and scary because the outcome depends on your thoughts and your actions right now.

Lead the way, and others will follow.

You could change everything.

Facebook Marketing: Should You Use It?

Veritasium concludes that advertising your page on Facebook is a waste of money

VERITASIUM is a popular educational science channel on YouTube, created by Derek Muller, which tries to uncover misconceptions about science.

While not technically “science”, Veritasium has released an interesting and insightful video about the worth of Facebook marketing. In short, Facebook marketing appears to be a waste of money.

Muller provides evidence that the overwhelming share of Facebook likes are fake. He paid Facebook to promote Veritasium’s page, and got more likes. However, he also found that around 75% of new likes came from Egypt, India, The Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. The portion of likes from these “click farm” countries that engaged with Veritasium’s Facebook page (either by sharing, liking or commenting on posts) was less than 1%. This compared extremely poorly with the engagement levels coming from Western countries, which usually exceeded 25%.

Muller is saying two things. Firstly, it appears that most Facebook likes are fake. And secondly, it appears that fake likes are very unlikely to engage with new content. This is not overly surprising, but is it a problem?

Apparently, yes.

Due to the way that Facebook distributes information, fake Facebook likes are less than worthless. When you create a post, Facebook will distribute it to a small fraction of the people who like your page in order to gauge their reaction. If they engage with it (by sharing, liking or commenting), then Facebook will distribute the post to more of your likes and maybe even to their friends. However, if you have a large number of fake likes, then Facebook’s initial distribution will go out to less real fans and therefore receive less engagement. As a result, you are likely to reach a much smaller number of people.

This is counter-intuitive, but it makes sense, and has significant implications for marketers. It means that advertising your page on Facebook could do you more harm than good. Making it harder for you to reach true fans, and harder for them to spread the word.

Give and Take

But mostly give

Give and Take

You are probably familiar with “gains from trade”. The notion that society is based on give and take. You help me, I reciprocate, and together we benefit.

The idea is a powerful one and forms the basis of the free market economy.

The invisible hand of market forces, as Adam Smith put it, enables market participants to work for their own benefit, and make society better off in the process. The profit motive fuels competition, from buyers and sellers, resulting in better products and lower prices.

But what if you help me, and I can’t reciprocate? What if you have the capacity to give, and we don’t have the ability to repay you right now?

You write a blog post that helps us, and we’ve never met you. You sing a song that makes us smile, and we never thank you. You write an ebook which changes our world view, and you gave it away for free.

Welcome to the Information Age and the Gift Economy, where the cost of helping one more person is now zero. It’s now easier than ever to give, if you choose to do so.

The problem with this new state of the world is that it requires new thinking.

The people who benefit most from your work may not be the ones who are able to pay you for it. In the world of tech startups, B-School Professors call these people “users”. On one level, this helps to distinguish them from paying customers. But words are powerful things. On another level, this term is used to pigeon-hole. These people can’t reciprocate. They can’t uphold their side of the implied social contract. These people are “users”.

This is old thinking, and the term offends us. You would do much better to think of people who benefit freely from your work as friends.

In a world where you have the capacity to give, and the cost of sharing with one more person is zero, what are you waiting for?

You can’t wait for permission, because nobody will give it to you. And you can’t wait to be paid, because there is no money.

But by giving generously, and creating something remarkable, you can earn the permission to do it again. All the while turning strangers into friends and, if you’re lucky, turning friends into customers, and customers into loyal customers.

It’s a process, and it starts with giving.

Who Is Your Customer?

Know Your Customer 3

When you try to please everyone, you please nobody

There was a recent incident in Australia where Aldi, a German supermarket, decided to pull a product from its shelves after receiving racism complaints.

The product in question was a t-shirt with the slogan, “Australia EST 1788”. The shirts were produced for Australia Day 2014, which will be celebrated on January 26th, Sunday week.

Before we consider Aldi’s lack of strategic nous, let’s first take a look at the slogan, the meaning behind it, and why some people think it’s racist.

The Background

The slogan “Australia EST 1788” is intended to celebrate Australia Day, and refers to the year in which the British first asserted sovereignty over the bits of land we now know as Australia.

Australia Day commemorates the day, in 1788, on which Captain Arthur Phillip rowed ashore in Sydney Cove and took possession of the land in the name of Kind George III with the view to establishing a penal colony. This was the first time that the British had sought to claim sovereignty over what was, at the time, known as “New Holland”. Legally speaking, the Federation of Australia did not actually come into existence until 1901, when the respective British colonies of Australia banded together and united under the constitution, but let’s not get technical.

The claims of racism appear to arise due to the way in which the British established sovereignty. Although there were Indigenous people inhabiting the Australian continent in 1788, the British never signed a treaty with them (unlike in New Zealand where the British signed a treaty with the Maoris). The Aborigines were a nomadic or semi-nomadic people and did not possess a European style government, nor have an identifiable leader with whom the British could sign a treaty. With no treaty in place, the British colonies and the Australian federal government after them continued to deny native title to the land under a doctrine known as Terra Nullius; in effect claiming that prior to 1788 the Australian continent was “land belonging to no one”.

While this was certainly a very unequal and regrettable state of affairs, and took many years to rectify, native title was finally recognised by the High Court in 1992 in the landmark Mabo Case.

For some, the historical quirks of how the British came to establish sovereignty make the statement “Australia EST 1788” a racist slogan. And there will always be vocal personalities, like Nathan Brennan, Nareen Young and Matt Mason, who will be quick to suggest that this is the case.

But for the vast majority of Australians, modern Australia is an idea worth celebrating. The Australian attitudes of mateship, a fair go, irreverence for established authority, and a common understanding that Australia is a lucky country all, in one way or another, trace their roots back to its beginnings, in 1788.


It is worth noting, however, that there are good fair dinkum reasons why the slogan “Australia EST 1788” may be problematic, but it has nothing to do with racism. It has to do with the unhelpful rise of an unjustified and excessive Australian nationalism over recent years.

University of Canberra Assistant Professor Robin Tennant-Wood told SMH that “the annual celebrations [have] grown to include a “yobbo element” of excessive drinking and targeting racial minorities as nationalism increased following events such as the Cronulla riots.” Tennant-Woods was further quoted as saying, “We see this particularly in young people, draped in the Australian flag and using it as an excuse to target people who don’t look like them … Nationalism is dangerous at best and it can be downright horrible if it gets out of control.”

The traditional Australian attitudes of mateship and irreverence for established authority are placed in direct conflict with the new and problematic shows of nationalism that Tennant-Woods is talking about.

Feeling lucky to be Australian is one thing, and should be encouraged, but feeling proud and noble and better than others just because they happen to have been born elsewhere is quite another matter entirely.

And so, while it has nothing to do with racism, per se, if slogans like “Australia EST 1788” are being used by beach bogans and Australian rednecks to justify excessive shows of nationalism and drunken hooliganism, then Aldi’s decision to pull the t-shirts may, on balance, have been a good one for Australia.

Aldi’s Strategic Blunder

But I digress.

Aldi and other department stores, like Big W, made a strategic decision to support Australia Day 2014 by selling certain celebratory Australia Day products, like the t-shirt we have been discussing above.

Given that most people in Australia are not political activists, career academics, beach bogans, or rednecks, Aldi’s decision to sell the t-shirt seems to have been a pretty reasonable one. Australia Day marks the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, and the slogan references this historical event in a kind of cheeky way which makes Australia sound more like a product or a company, “Australia EST 1788”.

The vast majority of Australians would have been happy to consider buying the t-shirt without a second thought, and certainly without any thoughts of racism or excessive nationalism.

But, you can’t please everyone.

A small vocal minority of political activists and arm-chair critics decided that they didn’t like the slogan. They assumed it was racist. Racism, after all, is as good a reason as any to get angry about something.

And so, on Aldi’s own admission, “[t]he decision to remove the Australia Est 1788 design from [its product] range was taken following comments by a limited number of concerned customers.”

To avoid offending the vocal minority, Aldi removed a product that was never designed for them in the first place.

By retreating from the situation, Aldi implicitly confirms the accusations made against it and, at the same time, reduces its ability to profit from the Australia Day celebrations.

Aldi did make efforts to apologise for its actions stating, “Aldi Australia wants its customers to know it puts the community and their wishes first.” But the apology begs the question, which customers and which community does Aldi put first?

By trying to be all things to all people, Aldi has disappointed everyone. It has simultaneously been cast as a racist and disappointed a large number of ordinary, fun loving, law abiding Australians who would have been happy enough to buy its Australia Day t-shirt, and enjoy a cool beer by the pool.

A loss for Aldi, a dubious result for Australia, and as one Twitter commentator put it:

Know Your Customer

Some People Will Get it

And Some Won’t

FOR those of you who missed it, we made a small typo on the previous post. Instead of writing “weigh your options” we wrote “way your options”. Kind of embarrassing … especially given the painstaking hours that we spend trying to make each post perfect.

Thankfully, many of you were good enough to point out the mistake.

Tim Jeffries, an experienced Sydney-based consultant who focuses on Process Improvement and Business Strategy, sent us the following helpful message:

Some people will get it 2

Tim’s comment was brief and to the point. Tim is a valuable member of the community.

Compare this with an email we received from Sam L.

Some people will get it 4

Sam’s point is well taken, we should have been more careful not to make msiatkes. We will also be much more careful in future to distinguish between words like “two”, “too”, and “to”, “their” and “there”, and “here” and “hear”.

Sam, we are sorry to see you go. That being said, your belief that the Consulting Blog somehow derives a large part of its value from a slavish focus on correct spelling and punctuation suggests that you probably didn’t belong here in the first place.

The Consulting Blog is built on three pillars only: a commitment to insightful ideas, appealing design, and a “life is great” philosophy. The overarching belief is that together we can change everything!

Some people will get it. And some won’t.

Competitive Response

CanadaCo, the largest discount retailer in Canada, currently holds the dominant market share in the industry. USCo, the largest discount retailer in the United States, has decided to expand into Canada by purchasing CanadaCo’s competition. How should the CEO of CanadaCo respond?

WHEN considering a case that requires a competitive response, first take a look at the action which forced the company to respond.

In the example above, we should test the hypothesis that USCo has a cost advantage due to economies of scale. This advantage would allow USCo to provide lower prices to Canadian consumers compared with CanadaCo. As a result, USCo’s entry into the Canadian market would probably cause our client to lose market share.

Without a full understanding of the facts, a response could be determined prematurely, neglecting vital characteristics of the case. What other factors would you ask about?

If I were presented with the case above, I would ask questions specifically pertaining to the differences between the Canadian market and the US market in order to determine the magnitude of USCo’s advantage.

Once the situation has been fully fleshed out, the next step would be to recommend a course of action. CandaCo could opt to do nothing, or respond in one or more of the following ways:

  1. Change its pricing strategy,
  2. Hire top executives away from USCo,
  3. Acquire or merge with a competing company,
  4. Rouse customer loyalty through rewards programs and customer service,
  5. Mimic USCo’s new product offering,
  6. Market CanadaCo’s products and build brand awareness.

Competitive Response

Let’s assume USCo is relatively unknown in Canada and will incur costs resulting from challenges in establishing a Canadian distribution network, but not enough to cause costs to rise to CanadaCo’s level.

The solution I would propose is that CanadaCo should focus on reputation. Unfortunately, attempting a price war with USCo would appear to be futile, and so I believe the best response would be to attempt to retain existing customers by developing CanadaCo’s customer loyalty program and by focusing on customer service.

How would you respond?

Strategy and framework adapted from Case In Point, a case interview preparation book written by Marc P. Cosentino. Case scenario is a derivation from a practice case provided by The Boston Consulting Group.

[For more information on consulting concepts and frameworks, please download “The Little Blue Consulting Handbook“.]

Dick Smith: The Power of Viral Marketing

Happy Australia Day to Dick Smith, a true blue Aussie legend

TODAY is Australia Day, a day to spend time with the family, stand around the barbecue, and go for a swim at the local pool or nearest beach.

However, while most Australian’s are doing what Australian’s do best, one Aussie veteran is promoting a new range of Australian owned products to support Australian farmers, and is donating 100% of the profits to charity.

Dick Smith’s cheeky sense of humour is unashamedly pro-Australian, and the ad campaign has already gone viral on Youtube!

But hold on a second, you might be thinking, this ad is nothing more than a cheap gimmick.  Well, putting that thought to one side, you need to remember that Dick Smith is 68 years old.  Through this Australia Day marketing campaign, he is using viral marketing (i.e. word of mouth and the power of the internet) more effectively than most entrepreneurs half his age.

Food for thought?

How are you using word of mouth to promote your brand?

The Transmutability of Desire

Desire can change from one object to another

YOU are most likely familiar with the marketing adage, “Sex sells”.

The concept is a fairly simple one. Sex is a topic of interest because humans have a biological and instinctive desire to reproduce. This hard-wired desire is exploited by marketers to attract people’s attention and, at the same time, market whatever they are selling.

An interesting feature of sex in advertising is that there is often no relationship between the images used (e.g. a buxom young woman) and the product being sold (e.g. an energy drink).

If there is no logical connection between the images and the product, then how does sex actually help sell the product?

There are two ways to think about the influential power of sex in advertising.

1. Gaining attention

Provocative images attract attention. This helps marketers sell products because it is difficult to sell a product that everyone ignores. That being said, just because people see an advertisement doesn’t mean that they will be convinced to buy the product.

Getting attention is only the first step.

2. Arousing desire

Using sex in advertising can help to stimulate desire in the minds of consumers. You might think of desire as a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen. A man who sees a picture of a buxom young woman might desire what he sees.

For women, attraction is often based on different criteria like commitment, trust and social status. And so, an advertisement aimed at women might look like the one on the left.

The question is, if a marketer can stimulate desire for one thing (e.g. romance on horseback), how does that help the marketer create desire for something completely unrelated (e.g. Ralph Lauren perfume)?

Making a person desire one object can lead them to desire another unrelated object due to the principle of “desire transmutation”. Desire exists in the mind of consumers. Products themselves are not inherently desirable. You only have to look at Apple products from the 80’s to see that products which people believed were desirable at the time are no longer desirable. Each time Apple launches a new product, the Apple marketing machine (and previously the influence of the great Steve Jobs) swings into full gear to fan the flames of desire in the minds of its loyal customers.

Since desire is a state of mind, once a marketer creates desire in the mind of a consumer, this desire can easily be changed from one object to another, from one product to the next. This is the principle of desire transmutation. And it explains why the desire for a buxom young woman can sell energy drinks, and the desire for romance on horseback can sell expensive perfume.

Seth Godin

Seth who?

SETH Godin is an American marketing guru born in 1960 in Mount Vernon, New York. Seth is an entrepreneur, author, public speaker and agent of change. Seth is widely regarded as America’s greatest marketer.

Seth is always starting new initiatives, some of his more remarkable contributions are highlighted below.


Yoyodyne, his first internet company, pioneered the use of permission marketing to reach customers online, and was sold to Yahoo! in 1998 for US$30 million.

Seth’s latest company, founded in 2005, is called Squidoo. Squidoo is a community website which allows anyone to build a page (known as a ‘lens’) about any topic they are passion about. The site raises money for charity (pays royalties to its members) and is currently ranked 120th in the US (by traffic) by


Seth writes the world’s most popular marketing blog. You can read it here.


Seth has written thirteen books, all of which have been best sellers. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything. His most recent book is called Poke the Box, a call to action about the initiative you’re taking in your life. You can learn more about Seth’s books by browsing his books here and reading some of the Amazon book reviews.

Free Downloads

Here are some manifestos, ebooks and other PDFs that Seth has gifted to us for free.

  1. Poke the Box: The Workbook – This work book asks one basic question, “What would our world look like if more people started projects, made a ruckus, and took more risks?”
  2. Unleashing the Ideavirus: Read and Share – This manifesto answers the question “how do we get attention to ask for permission from the consumer”?
  3. Money for Nothing (and your clicks for free) – Three Secrets to Web Traffic
  4. The Bootstrapper’s Bible – There’s never been a better time to start a business with no money
  5. Brainwashed – Seven ways to reinvent yourself
  6. Knock Knock – Seth Godin’s Incomplete Guide to building a website that works
  7. Who’s There – Seth Godin’s Incomplete Guide to Blogs and the New Web
  8. What Matters Now – Big ideas from Seth and others
  9. Flipping the Funnel – Giving your fans to power to speak up
  10. Seven Type Rules for Amateur Designers
  11. On the future of the music business


You can view lots of Seth’s talks but clicking the “Seth Godin” hot tag in the Consulting Forum.

Are you doing something remarkable?

Loyal customers provide repeat business.  Do something remarkable, and they will spread the word

CUSTOMER loyalty is an important asset for any business for two reasons. Firstly, loyal customers will give you repeat business, to quote Tom Peters “all business success rests on something labelled a sale”. Secondly, and more importantly, loyal customers are the people who spread the good news about your business. Loyal customers are the passionate and unpaid marketers who provide authentic testimony to the quality of your goods and services. Walt Disney captured this idea of customer loyalty when he said, “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.

If a business can create something remarkable (e.g. beautifully designed products, superior service, or an uplifting experience) then its loyal customers will spread the word. In today’s competitive marketplace, a business that “does everything right” is a business that is merely “meeting expectations”, and Seth Godin identifies a number of reasons why word of mouth sometimes just doesn’t happen. If you can exceed expectations, dazzle and delight your customers with how much you really care then this will be worth talking about.

Speaking of the need to be remarkable, the McKinsey Quarterly recently sent me an email which is worth mentioning. Apparently, there has been a security breach at the The Quarterly and some customer details have been compromised.  While this could be a source of major embarrassment, McKinsey have turned the security breach into an opportunity to build customer loyalty.  The Quarterly’s email (set out below in full) demonstrates 3 things:

  1. McKinsey places the interests of its readers ahead of their own reputation;
  2. McKinsey takes confidentiality very seriously (much-needed marketing after the Rajat Gupta scandal); and
  3. McKinsey will apologise if it has made a mistake.

Here are the contents of the email I received from Rik Kirkland, Senior Managing Editor of McKinsey & Company:

Important information from McKinsey Quarterly

We have been informed by our e-mail service provider, Epsilon, that your e-mail address was exposed by unauthorized entry into their system. Epsilon sends e-mails on our behalf to McKinsey Quarterly users who have opted to receive e-mail communications from us.

We have been assured by Epsilon that the only information that was obtained was your first name, last name and e-mail address and that the files that were accessed did not include any other information. We are actively working to confirm this. We do not store any credit card numbers, social security numbers, or other personally identifiable information of our users, so we can assure you that no such information was accessed.

Please note, it is possible you may receive spam e-mail messages as a result. We want to urge you to be cautious when opening links or attachments from unknown third parties. Also know that McKinsey Quarterly will not send you e-mails asking for your credit card number, social security number or other personally identifiable information. So if you are ever asked for this information, you can be confident it is not from McKinsey.

We regret this has taken place and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. We take your privacy very seriously, and we will continue to work diligently to protect your personal information.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact McKinsey Quarterly at [email protected] For any media inquiries, please contact Humphrey Rolleston at +1-212-415-5321.

Rik Kirkland
Senior Managing Editor
McKinsey & Company

Four P’s Marketing Framework

A useful framework for evaluating the marketing strategy for a product

Four P Marketing

THE Four P’s consists of:

  1. price ;
  2. product ;
  3. position/place; and
  4. promotion .

1. Price

The pricing strategy employed by a firm for a particular good or service will have a significant effect on profit.

There are many different pricing strategies that can be employed in different combinations, including:

  1. Price differentiation – setting a different price for the same product in different segments of the market. First degree price discrimination involves charging each customer a different price. To do this, the seller must be able to observe each customers willingness to pay, this is very difficult to do in practice. Second degree price discrimination involves varying the price according to quantity sold. Third degree price discrimination involves varying the price by location or market segment. For example, charging discounted prices for students.
  2. Dynamic pricing – a form of first degree price discrimination, dynamic pricing is a flexible pricing mechanism that allows online companies to adjust the price of identical goods to correspond to a customer’s willingness to pay. This is made possible by using data gathered from a customer including where they live, what they buy, and how much they have spent on past purchases.
  3. Predatory pricing – aggressive pricing intended to undercut competitors and drive them out of the market.
  4. Limit pricing – a low price charged by a monopolist in order to discourage entry into the market by other firms.
  5. Using a loss leader – a loss leader is a product sold at a low price to stimulate other profitable sales. For example, the 30 cent soft serve cone at McDonalds.
  6. Penetration pricing – the price is set low in order to gain market share.
  7. Marginal cost pricing – the practice of setting the price of a product equal to the cost of producing one extra unit of output.
  8. Market-orientated pricing – setting a price based upon analysis of the targeted market.
  9. Psychological pricing – pricing designed to have a positive psychological impact. For example, selling a product at $3.95 instead of $4.
  10. Skimming – charging a high price to gain a high profit, at the expense of achieving high sales volume. This strategy is usually employed to recoup the initial investment cost in research and development, commonly used in electronic markets when a new product range is released.
  11. Premium pricing – involves keeping the price of a good or service artificially high in order to encourage a favorable perception among buyers.
  12. Target pricing – a method of pricing whereby the selling price of a product is calculated to produce a particular rate of return on investment.
  13. Seasonal pricing – adjusting the price depending on seasonal demand.
  14. Cost-plus pricing – a very basic pricing strategy where a firm sets price equal to unit cost of production plus a margin for profit.

2. Product

Product differentiation is a source of competitive advantage. Product differentiation is the process of describing the differences between a good or service in order to demonstrate the unique aspects of the good or service and create an impression of value in the mind of the consumer.

The major sources of product differentiation include:

  1. Vertical differentiation –where products differ in their quality. For example, BMW and Hyundai.
  2. Horizontal differentiation – where products differ in features that cannot be ordered. For example, different flavours of ice-cream.
  3. Availability – where products are available at different times (e.g. seasonal fruits) and locations (e.g. location of an ice-cream store near the beach). See section 3, “Position/Place”.
  4. Perception – branding, sales, and promotion can be used to distinguish a product in the market. See section 4, “Promotion”.

Successful product differentiation leads to monopolistic competition. In a monopolistically competitive market consumers perceive that there are non-price differences between products. As a result, even though there are a large number of producers, each producer has a degree of control over price.

3. Position/Place

The physical location of a good or service can be a source of competitive advantage. For example, imagine we have two ice-cream stores. One ice-cream store (Store A) opens next to a popular tourist beach, and one ice-cream store opens in the backstreets of a quiet suburb (Store B). We expect that Store A will be able to charge a higher price and sell more ice-cream than Store B, other things being equal.

4. Promotion

Promotion is used to enhance the perception of a good or service in the minds of consumers. A promotion will draw peoples attention to any features of a product that people might find attractive including its quality, specialised features, availability, brand name, or image.

Promotion can be carried out in various ways including:

  1. advertising (developing brand awareness);
  2. publicity (sponsoring a sports team);
  3. public relations (donating to charity);
  4. celebrity appearances;
  5. door to door sales;
  6. price discounting (see section 1, “Price”); and
  7. quantity discounting (two for one offers, bundling).

[For more information on consulting concepts and frameworks, please download “The Little Blue Consulting Handbook“.]