Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Loves your bum...

This has got some momentum. I don't know when they first started saying "Quilton loves your bum" but it's clever.

Early in my life studying marketing i would often quip:

"I don't care - I'd even sell toilet paper if it meant I could be doing marketing"

There's someone here who clearly went through with that.

So that's the personality of the Quilton brand - loves your bum. As good a personality as any.

So, a clever ad creative probably came up with that, but it's the marketing manager who keeps the personality alive. So, when they make a minor packaging change (continuous innovation) they call it a "love handle". A product contribution to the brand personality.

And a question to you. How well would this personality transfer to countries outside of Australia? Which countries, perhaps. Segments within other countries?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Career advice to a marketing student

I get nervous giving advice. Who the hell am I to tell people what to do? I'm not a case study in building a successful career. But I have watched certain things work, and I believe a few things are necessary conditions. Entry points.

Hi, I'm doing the marketing course and i was wondering about what kind of classes should i do to get a job in advertisement?

And my response:

Hi. Big question. Too big for me to answer here. Most importantly: 
  • View everything you see in life through a marketing lens
  • Be curious about everything and keep investigating until you have an answer that satisfies you
  • Have some public presence that shows you are doing the two things I mentioned above. Perhaps write a blog such as
  • Take opportunities to do interesting things whenever they present – even if it doesn’t look like it will pay
  • Be prepared for things to not work. Water runs downhill, and when it meets an obstacle it finds a way around it. So too it should be with your career plan.

I don’t have a magic formula of things to study that’ll get you into advertising and marketing, but the things above will start to get you near the playing field.


Poor poor pitiful me

I love the 1970s US country rock. This beautiful lady was on my radio with this song in my early teen years. An upbeat song about a morbid topic - her last thoughts before she will succeed at a suicide. This is not a true story - Linda Ronstadt is still alive. All of the bad experiences she had with men.

"Oh these boys won't let me be, lord have mercy on me. Woe is me"

Purity of any emotion can be beautiful. Apparently even so with the emotion of self pity.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Students: Get your global brain on!

I will be starting, soon, with a bunch of students in International Business. One of my challenges was to think about global issues:

The global environment is an important backdrop for all of us trying to do business. Three global events that have implications for Australian businesses. They are:
·         The Greek default and European Union austerity demands
·         The slowdown in China and the crisis in Chinese investor confidence
·         Australia’s relationship with Indonesia, most recently shown as a reduction in live cattle import quota.
The question you need to answer is:

“Of the three global challenges involving Europe, China and Indonesia which do you believe has the greatest importance to Australian businesses?”

I'm looking forward to the arguments. Back in 2012 I was thinking about at least one of the issues.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A fun whiteboard, for a nerd.

I'm sworn off of research PhD supervision - it's bad for me. The field just attracts the worst type of people and then I have to share their space.

But I have enjoyed that one of my bosses had an MBA student who wanted to research SME drivers of cloud adoption, and we created this fun whiteboard.

The inner nerd in me is having a little fun, on a miserable day where skydiving is out of the question.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Response rates for a satisfaction survey

A nice system where the respondent enters a code from the receipt, does the survey and then gets a validation code for a free burger.

A lot of messing around that might give you more "deal prone" respondents, but a nice technique, still.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Lemons at 50c each?!

Are you kidding me? Have you looked outside? If there was any sensible relationship to what's in season, they'd be 50 cents a kilo.

Oddly I'd just picked a half a dozen before i went to the supermarket for something else.
Still, people who live glasshouses..

I pay money for applesauce and sometimes ice. I hear that's not economic "rational man".

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Keeping the customer happy: Well played City Holden

After a really shabby early experience, the dealer guys at City Holden did brilliantly.

You don't need to know the specifics but Holden (big brother) couldn't get a thing right and the dealer guys (City Holden) were absolute stars.

Yeh perhaps all part of the "good cop / bad cop" deal but whatever. Life's a game of perceptions.
And now the dealer guys are contacting me. This is how I read this:

"Big Brother will be calling soon. If you have a problem, bring it up with us before you go trashing us to them"

I think that's fair. But it doesn't matter. I'll be singing the praises of City Holden. I don't ever wanna buy a car from anyone else.

When talking renewables you must also talk numbers

It's ok to have good intentions but the need to be funded. So, the generation price for Solar is $190/MWh or about 20c per KWh, and according to the chart at the bottom the Australian buy price is about 50c (AU after conversion from US). If we were to increase our proportion of renewables we will send electricity prices through the roof.

I'n not saying we shouldn't but we need to go in with our eyes open. And not be surprised when old people start dying (more) because they can't afford to heat their homes.

DISCLAIMER: This is a quick and dirty analysis - I haven't cross referenced either of these posts but they do accord with what I've already heard. Face validity at least.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Dead flowers: Revenge served cold

My kids hate this song. It was about four years ago when i was having some people problems that I used this song as an anthem. My kids got sick of hearing it. In the car, on the guitar - too often. On repeat - too much.

I used it to cling to sanity. And I still like the message. The people who have caused me my biggest problems have a good life. And I think they always will.

I can't expect Karma to do the work to make the world right. The world is just not fair.
But just as when you're playing in a footy team that is getting beaten by 50 goals, all you can do is play your own position. Make sure that your player gets as few kicks as possible.

So in life, my job is to not make the world a worse place. I watch a business take in young, enthusiastic, intelligent and impressionable people and within three years convert them to self serving and amoral.

There was a time where I believed I could tread that path. But I got squeamish - I couldn't handle destroying innocent people just because they didn't suit my plans. There is such a thing as right and wrong. I still managed to do many things I regret before I woke up to myself.

But back to dead flowers. With my problem people - they may continue to serve me trouble and my job is to simply deal with it. One day I might be putting roses on their grave - or vice versa - but life is way too short to climb to the top over bleeding bodies.

But my problem people? I manage to avoid them. They have a good life, and so do I. I certainly wish bad things for many of them, but I refuse to dwell on it. Life will be whatever it is.

"Professional Victim" comment - not for Facebook

Posting these things on FB gets too noisy. I have become weary of how quickly we are to take offense, or to blame racism, sexism, ageism or some other external factor for the fact that we simply sucked at something, even if briefly.

I'm getting a taste of the downside of age related preferential treatment in one of the things I do, but for now I haven't woven it into my life story or sense of self. Still, if I'd had years of gender based downside, I might. Don't know.

The FB post I didn't make:

"Bronwyn Bishop should lose her spot as speaker. But whatever happens she'll go through the wringer. I'll be interested to see whether she trots out the whole "no man in this position would have to go through what I did". I doubt she will, because whatever she may be, she's not a professional victim."

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The food court: Where positioning becomes free for all

I've known shopping centre managers in the past. One of their biggest challenges is turf battles between traders in the food court. The chinese shop selling hot chips, the fish and chip shop selling cappuccino.

So at the airport food court the idea of positioning falls away in the face of the hordes, all looking for food. Sumo Salad sells toasties, Krispy Creme sells croissants and coffee, Maccas have an offer.

Sure, positioning is something worth thinking about. But points of parity are important.

Third party room service: of course!

Of course. I'm here in Pyrmont/Darling Harbour where there is plenty of accommodation. But not all hotels wish to be running a kitchen until 11.30pm.

Of course a clever businessperson would be able to take care of that. I'm sure it's not new, it's just that now is the first time I've noticed.

Friday, July 17, 2015

My inner nerd is impressed: A mean plot for categorical data.

I love x-y scatterplots. They allow me to visualise the relationship between two variables. But they had a drawback. When you're trying to understand how two seven-point scales interact, they are silly looking.

An x-y plot with two seven point scales is essentially something like 49 dots. Sure each dot has a different weight but visually not very helpful.

First pickup today, then. Stephen Prendergast suggested what we call a "mean plot" which summarises it perfectly.

I could do it from scratch but I like the way Stephen says he can send me some SPSS syntax for it.
Oh, and then I just learnt the benefits of saving factor scores on a factor analysis as opposed to creating a new variable from the mean of the relevant items.

Yes, the data nerd in me is having a lot of fun.

A trip away, but through new eyes

In the 12 years I spent on staff for universities I became bewildered by the way they play the travel game. Staff would have a budget (back in my day a big one) to pay for travel/accom/registration for conferences and training. And it became the game to spend the money before the end of the year.

All very nice, but it was a structured junket in about 80% of cases. For sure there's networking and professional development, but I've just watch a staff member use four years of that investment and move to another employer. She needed to - her current employer had no idea how good she was and she spent all her time dealing with white ants.

So it's refreshing for me to be doing a professional development course on my own terms. Sure, most of my money still comes from working for universities, but I send an invoice and they pay. And I manage everything else.

There is none of this patriarchal "where are you going?" stuff, and I'm paying for it out of (pre-tax) income that could've bought a TV or a new dishwasher. Which is fine.

I really like my clients - universities, SMEs, a market research company and a skydiving school. I hope things keep going well with them. I've been saying no to other work but with these guys I have enough work, enough money and have had enough freedom to rack up 600 skydives as well as an instructor rating and a national record. That's me on the bottom left below:

and in the centre circle here:

And one of the conditions of my current self employment is that I have to fund my own professional development trips. That's pretty darn cool, too. Let's see what this Australian Market and Social Research Society Winter School "Multivariate Data Analysis" course has for me.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

I don't mind that Google knows that much about me

Nice little message on my phone. Reminding me that i have a flight at 2pm and that it'll probably take me an hour to get to the airport in time.

Yes i know it's easy to get all uptight about how much they know but this is fine by me.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ok, time to get serious again..

I've managed to goof off a little in the last few weeks. Early June, after coming back from the Australian National Record Bigway Skydive in the US I was still crazy busy with marking exams and a range of admin, but not a lot of standing in front of students. Two weeks from now I have a whole heap of semester 2 students starting again. International Business, Market Research, Marketing Applications, Special Projects, Industry Placements and Internships, as well as some amazing MBA Marketing Management Students.

I get nervous because it's a team effort. The student has to want to learn, but by goodness I need to have the systems in place that will allow them to. To my students - however it is that we're working together this semester - let's go get 'em..

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Live exports to Indonesia are slashed

Indonesia's drastic reduction of live imports from Australia is due to three things: Natural Variation, Relationship and Food Security concerns. Blame is down to randomness, Abbott and Rudd/Gillard respectively.

This is a huge call and requires some unpacking, but that's how I see it. But overall it's about a fraught relationship; one that successive governments from Howard, onwards, have been unable to manage.

Monday, July 13, 2015

A bird and a cold morning

As I sit here (still) marking papers I have a buddy with me.. And I'm glad I remember the most important lesson about birds and cold weather. Keep them fed. They die, most definitely, otherwise.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Successful delivery: A nice new car

I hope I get to provide the run-down, but between the dealer and the company they have created one very, very, very happy customer.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Exam marking only starts once I've done my students' housekeeping

#1 crap job of exam marking. Do you really want to be the student that forces me to go through your paper and write in red on the front? First world problems I know, but a really easy pickup for the student.

City Holden: The dealer steps in to save the day

My new Barina is on the never never. But it doesn't matter so much now as the dealer had given me a nice SUV for as long as it takes.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Ramadan: I respect that

Going without. It has a sort of nobility about it. Christian Lent had something to do with Jesus spending 40 days in the desert - didn't it? I'm sorry that I don't know the roots of Ramadan but the holy month involves fasting from sunup to sundown.

I must say that my most valuable reflections came when I was physically deprived; walking Kokoda, on a Skydive instructor bootcamp, on a skydive record, walkibg Kokoda. I seriously worked some shit out. Sure, my challenges are first world problems but that's all I've got..

My friend in a work situation will start talking about what annoys her and then interrupt herself - "I'm fasting, I'd rather not talk about that any more". My friend is reminded to aim to be pure, and a little physical deprivation is a small help to that.

I have had some muslim friends say "yes I'll see that person tonight at the breaking of the fast". And eid, at the end of Ramadan, is huge.

Yeh. I respect this stuff. I love to see people who believe in stuff do what they believe in.

At home, you're still a nobody

No truer words spoken. I was at a mass today - I'm not Catholic but many of my family are.

A special occasion - a one year memorial for Mum's death. Sylvia wanted to do it and i was happy to go.

The gospel was interesting. Jesus went back to preach at Nazareth, his home town. Story has it that just the week before he'd cured a woman of disease and raised another from the dead.

Yet in the Synagogue in his home town they were saying "who the hell is he?".

And so, it doesn't matter how many goals you kick outside the house, inside your own home you'll always be considered a dick.

Domestic violence - some facts

I put this up on Facebook, but immediately took it down. I wasn't trying to force an opinion on anyone. But I was interested, given Phil Hughes recently being killed by his son, what the numbers really are. And the prevailing picture of women being disproportionately murdered by their husbands is real.

50:50 would be the natural fall - proportionate
100:0 would be it's always the man killing the woman

And the number is... 73:27

I didn't need the FB fight. But here's what the post would've looked like:

Interesting. The gender split on "intimate partner homicides" is real, but not as wide as I thought. It's not 100% of time the man kills the woman, more like 70% which is still very real. And men are over represented in total homicides 366-175.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sales is often about eating the odd shit sandwich

I currently have a general manager of Adelaide's top Holden dealer (2014) calling me daily. Breaking promises every time because his people are lying to him.

I hate being the customer in that situation, and it's my own stupid fault for so enthusiastically ordering a car. Thinking Holden would be as efficient at filling the order as I was at giving it.

But to his credit, John Rankin makes the calls, sends the emails picks the phone up. Soul destroying. Most times you have nothing to tell the customer; when you have something to say, it's bad news.

I've had a bit of that in my time. The company keeps serving you shit sandwiches and you just keep munching through them.

Pay up on this year's stupid tax, Cullen

Every year I get to pay up for some stupid things I've done. A few years ago I ignored a water leak and a car engine running hot. Tax = $5000 new engine.

I had never had ambulance cover then a life threatening accident at Murray Bridge. $1500 stupid tax.

Recently I listened to a car salesperson who told me a new vehicle was nearly off the boat and acted decisively in signing a contract. Even after six weeks of delays I still deposited $15000 into the dealer's account.

When will I learn? I could've just not signed six weeks ago. What, on the hearsay of a salesperson?

Walking around with $15,000 of cash in the last week of the financial year gives me way more options than waiting for their most recent dubious promise of a delivery date.

I don't think I'll ever buy a Holden again. I like the dealer - it's a shame they have the word "Holden" in their name.

Will "Holden" be able to keep their brand alive?

I decided to move on from my old Barina. It's ten years old and the car has been great. So good, in fact, that as soon as I knew one was on the water I put the deposit down for a delivery they told me would be before the end of May.

I see, now, that I am dealing with a local sales agent of the US giant General Motors. One of Holden's biggest challenges will be to retain some goodwill for the brand now that (understandably) they can't be manufacturing here in Australia.

Now they are playing exactly the same game as Volkswagen, Honda and the other 58 or so. They are assembling vehicles overseas and importing them here to Australia. Their total value creation is about moving vehicles - on time, in full and error free.  

I'll come back to you and tell you how they went for me.