Monday, April 25, 2011

Protect the relationship

From the old sales days..

Selling expensive plastic and machines into the Australian export meat and dairy industry was a tough gig. One of my good work friends from the Cryovac (10 years ago) days, Sue Melders, had a crusty old photo of this up.

Along with Rod Davis and Erin Davis, Sue and a guy called Chris Skinner, these people made an unbeatable state sales team in a tough game. Even when you have 200 boning room guys on tally, blaming you for a low paying day. Even when you have production managers threatening you with their annual $2m account if they don't get their stuff (good guys though they are). Even when feelings with your co-workers could become so strained that you'd exchange screaming insults behind closed doors but everyone could hear it.

The objective was always the same. Never EVER give up.

But not really in the way one thinks. For us it was never give up on the relationship. Never say "I'm out, I'm done". In the seven years at Cryovac I only ever lost one 20k relationship as totally irretrievable and that returned two years later when "Monique" left the client company.

It can get as tough and as unpleasant as you like, but I feel it's important to never give up on the relationship. Whenever I've strayed from that principle I've regretted it.

Posted from Blogium for iPhone

The Load Out: Spare a Thought for the Team Behind You

As with and earlier post about Mick Malthouse with "Love the ones you lead", I really like the feelings contained in this song. A guy who loves what he does and is feted for it, but attributes much of the credit to his team. It may or may not be the best long term plan, but truly feeling respect for the ones you work with is a good thing. And I feel it elevates you even further.

"Now the seats are all empty
Let the roadies take the stage..."

"'Cause when it comes to moving me
You guys are the champs
But when that last guitar's been packed away
You know that I still want to play
So just make sure you got it all set to go
Before you come for my piano"

The Load Out / Stay
(by Jackson Browne & Bryan Garofalo)

Now the seats are all empty
Let the roadies take the stage
Pack it up and tear it down
They're the first to come and last to leave
Working for that minimum wage
They'll set it up in another town
Tonight the people were so fine
They waited there in line
And when they got up on their feet they made the show

And that was sweet--
But I can hear the sound
Of slamming doors and folding chairs
And that's a sound they'll never know
Now roll them cases out and lift them amps
Haul them trusses down and get'em up them ramps
'Cause when it comes to moving me
You guys are the champs
But when that last guitar's been packed away
You know that I still want to play
So just make sure you got it all set to go
Before you come for my piano

But the band's on the bus
And they're waiting to go
We've got to drive all night and do a show in Chicago
Or Detroit, I don't know
We do so many shows in a row
And these towns all look the same
We just pass the time in our hotel rooms
And wander 'round backstage
Till those lights come up and we hear that crowd
And we remember why we came

Now we got country and western on the bus
R and B, we got disco in eight tracks and cassettes in stereo
We've got rural scenes & magazines
We've got truckers on the CB
We've got Richard Pryor on the video
We got time to think of the ones we love
While the miles roll away
But the only time that seems too short
Is the time that we get to play

People you've got the power over what we do
You can sit there and wait
Or you can pull us through
Come along, sing the song
You know you can't go wrong
'Cause when that morning sun comes beating down
You're going to wake up in your town
But we'll be scheduled to appear
A thousand miles away from here


Posted from Blogium for iPhone

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Social Media, dive into the element

Don't buy books and don't spend too much time reading blogs if you want to get into social media marketing. As

says, it's like learning a language. Go live in the country.

I had skydiving friends who would say "if sitting in a plane is flying, then sitting in a boat is swimming. Enter the element."

It's not that hard and by retaining a little commonsense it's hard to do too much damage. If you're not in the space you're ceding control of it without a fight.

Posted from Blogium for iPhone

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Cairns night market by day

At 1pm it reminds me of Sim Lim Square at 8am. Eerily peaceful.

Posted from Blogium for iPhone

Reject Loyalty for a Better Deal

I wrote this in Aug last year but it might have got caught up in the whole "deleted blog" episode.

At least in a marketing sense, we pursue customer loyalty because then the customer becomes a/ more profitable - often less price sensitive b/ more forgiving c/ less likely to switch. Great for the marketer but if you're the customer you're likely to get a worse deal. It's in the (unwritten) marketing rule book. Forget what the textbooks all say about we love our customers who love us. Well, we do but we don't necessarily treat them so well.

Many marketers - and most marketing academics - will strenuously disagree with me but in many cases the data is there to back it.

And don't get me started on my view that most of what looks like "loving a brand" - repeat purchase, preference etc - is often due to apathy. That's pretty contentious, too.

Posted from Blogium for iPhone

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Passing off? It happens.

Rarely these days in Australia. But every now and again I see it. I once had a razor that was branded "giLlheny" and of course there's this.

If brand owners have spent millions of dollars building market based assets (brands) then it's an intelligent (if not ethical or legal) decision to trade on it rather than build your own.
Posted from Blogium for iPhone

NOW you're talking their language

On a high volume highway on the way into the Cairns city centre. Speaks for itself, especially with more and more people getting their news and entertainment through sources other than TV.

Nice play by Goa, who are obviously an outdoor media company.

Posted from Blogium for iPhone

Monday, April 18, 2011

Geek Joke but the statement is true..

Friday, April 15, 2011

The dawn of the next idea

Aha. This is the moment, as I am unloading the dishwasher, where I thought of the next clever research area for those of us that are interested in social media and brand management. I can't tell you how much of a relief it is. With a couple of research areas for me that have stalled - for one reason or another - this one has come as a bolt out of the blue. The area is commercially relevant and academically breaks new ground. It leaves those previous ideas for dead.

Yeh yeh I know, greener grass. But this was the moment it came to me, based on a few weeks of mulling over what I saw with Rick Bakas recently at the National Wine Centre.

Quietly stoked about going to Cairns for two weeks

Four months ago I booked a pair of flights to Cairns. I was planning to take my boy to New Guinea, but after the cyclone/floods decided to keep my money in Australia - not that PNG doesn't need it. But as my 13yo boy sits on the cusp of rejecting his dad for seven years (I'll resist it as much as I can) I will get just under two weeks away with him. And my dad lives in Cairns so that'll be nice too.

I fear I'll probably need to flip the lid on the laptop for the first few days to manage the tail of a hurly burly few months. I'm interested to see what awaits me on my return, but these are important moments to take.

I'm pleased that I have an amazing little team of people/colleagues backing me in while I'm away so I think I will be able to just chill for some of the time. I'll keep posts at this blog a little business related; holiday snappies I'll put over at Oz Food Garden.

Posted from Blogium for iPhone

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The great young people I worked with last year

How good is this:

Teagan, Joanne and David
 and afterward?

 and then I think it got a little funny. And I'd gone home...

Photo roll of students we shot with today

At graduation, it was great to meet a whole bunch of people I had taught during the last year:


High point: A proud dad

This is what it's all about.

In the Master of Commerce (Marketing) in my first year I had a student in consumer behaviour that was a pretty clever guy. Lecturers like that. these people become like friends.

At the end of it all, the guy graduated and is now a brand manager in a large consumer goods company. Ka-ching. Nice one David, I'm happy.

A couple of years later I'm teaching a postgraduate marketing comms course and a young guy says "my brother says hi" - now I've stayed in touch with number 1 but I'm very pleased to meet number 2. And number 2 just kills it as well, as does Tiff, his study buddy.

So it's all good. Great guys. A success. Honoured to be at Ramon (younger brother)'s graduation today. Loving it.

While I'm geeking around after the graduation ceremony, getting photos with whomever wants it, a dignified man of about sixty comes to me:

"I don't know whether to bring you flowers or just thank you, but I'm really happy about what you've done for my two sons."

I spotted Ramon on the side and almost interrupted Mr Vincent:

"You have great stock, these guys are great.."

I am the lucky one. To be allowed to know people of this quality fills me with pride. And the graduation day is where it all comes together. I have plenty more stories (lots of photos) but this is great for me.

I hope to be able to continue working with these "top shelf" students I get at UG, PG and MBA level, both here and in Singapore. I enjoy the work and (at least from student feedback) the students don't mind me either.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A productive day without interruptions

I see a highly productive day ahead. An MBA course will be wrapped up, another one written, 2xinternship assessments built, 2 hr lecture written, market research students' questionnaires vetted and hopefully a half dozen internship clients contacted. Then I'll go to a "Faculty of Professions Community of Practice" meeting at 4.30.

Often the greatest productivity comes from not being available for just a little while.

Posted from Blogium for iPhone

Friday, April 8, 2011

Plain cigarette packaging

Oki then, so this one got tweaked and put up at InDaily

I got an email the other day from a journalist that knew me: 

Hi Cullen, I interviewed you ages ago re: adverstising on social media. Hoping you can make some general comments about what affect new plain packaging laws introduced for tobacco products today, will have have on the promotion and possibly the sale of products.With the packet itself being the last place companies can adverstise on what might this mean for them? It would have to be before 2ish sydney time if at all possible.

cheers, Peggy Giakoumelos, Journalist, World News Australia, SBS Radio

< I thought she just wanted an email back, so I braindumped >

Hi, quite some time ago (2009) I had set an exam question for our Marketing Communication Students along these lines.

"Given that the advertising objectives of health authorities involve reducing demand for tobacco products, discuss the steps that have been taken, and those that remain to be taken?"

Essentially this is about "de-marketing" - that marketing communications activities might be managed to Reduce demand in certain product categories.

We teach a fairly standard marketing communications mix - Advertising, PR, Point of Sale, Personal Selling, Direct Marketing, Sales Promotion. These are the traditional tools that allow marketers to communicate their brand information. As you rightly pointed out, almost all of the other traditional communications tools have been constrained before now, leaving really only point of sale. Now I don't know what the legislation is around posters and shelf displays, but I suspect they have already been curtailed.

So packaging is really (aside from personal selling instore) the last bastion of classical communication. Still - it's an empirical question as to how much effect it will have on demand. Since the 80s, cigarettes have showed fairly inelastic demand, both on price and on advertising. That means a reduction in advertising effort for cigarettes does not have as much an effect as for holidays, luxury motor vehicles etc. It's been more like retail fuel; reduce advertising or increase price people will still buy.

But I had always expected plain packaging to be a natural step in the demarketing of tobacco.

But legislation doesn't always keep up with society. Consumer generated media such as Facebook and Twitter have no such constraints yet. I know that consumer advocates of their favourite brand can still create a substantial amount of marketing communication through social media, and I would be surprised if tobacco companies weren't seriously considering how that might work for them.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Banana prices explain year-to-year meat price fluctuations

Just a neat little example of why meat (let's talk about lamb) prices vary from one year to the next. Now I know it feels like prices only move one way - upwards - but they do go up and down more than you think.

- as an aside I can think of two reasons the prices seem to only go up. CPI increases (so we need to think in real terms) and supermarkets profit holding (yes they can be reluctant to pass on savings)

But think about bananas. After the Queensland floods I saw the prices actually go down for a week or two. Why? Lots of banana plants knocked over - damaged plants, the fruit wouldn't store and they needed to clear stock. The equivalent in lamb - a drought, farmers "destocking" and prices going down. Then banana prices went to at least $13 per kg, think mid drought for lamb - no stock. And why the lag coming out of drought - why do lamb prices stay high for a while? Similar to what we're seeing now with bananas - restocking. Those little banana plants are growing, now that they're back to being safe again. Same with the farmers breeding up their lambs to ewing age, supply still low for a while.

My guess - great quality reasonably priced lamb in a year or two.

Posted from Blogium for iPhone

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A nice night out to see Rick Bakas

Cullen Habel, Rebecca Dolan, Chris Matthews and Ervin Sim.

We all work together, and got out to the National Wine Centre to see Rick Bakas who does a lot of social media and wine. He was interesting in the way he spoke about digital curation - that we are all creating a permanent time capsule these days on the web. A product such as wine can benefit from this. Creating a digital record of - say - this vintage can build provenance for your product in another ten years when people are saying "the 2011 vintage was rubbish, nothing good came out of it". Perhaps your wine is the exception, and the reason is sitting there in your blog/twitter. Perhaps you don't have any product from that vintage, and that story still works.

Anyhoo, it was a nice night with a few buds.

By way of explanation - Rebecca is holding a 50yo bottle of Saltram Tawny which was the star of the show. Rebecca has a huge story about it, her father and grandfather made it together and promised to age it 100 years, and it managed to get to 50. You might also like to read a little more about Dolan Family Wines.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Dr Bass and myself

Some would consider him the father of Marketing Science, especially in North America. I had the honour of meeting him in Atlanta at (I think) the 2004 Marketing Science conference. They had run a weekend "conference to honour Frank Bass" and I got to meet all of the legends of US marketing science from the last 50 years. A great point in my life.

Posted from Blogium for iPhone

Friday, April 1, 2011

Interesting, International Month

Many thanks to all the visitors to this blog. Whilst a lot quieter than its previous incarnation, the last month has been a nice one.

As with the screendump left, I have enjoyed visitors from Australia, US, Finland, Canada and a range of other places over the last month.

It's nice of them to come and visit.

Over the last week it's been a little more local with Australia and Sloveniaas the frontrunners, however many less view and the postings have been light.

But wherever you are, thanks for visiting. This month has been a quiet little month but I appreciate you dropping in.