Low engagement is your fault

Gigh employee enagement reaps profits

High employee engagement is easier to achieve than you think, a fast track option to improve productivity, reduce costs, improve customer experience, and make your workplace a happier one.

6 steps (see below) are all it takes to find the yellow brick road to:

  • high employee engagement,
  • high levels of productivity,
  • killer culture that delivers higher customer satisfaction, greater efficiencies, less costs and ultimately knockout return on investment on shareholders’ funds, and
  • happiness, success, satisfaction, fulfilment, self-actualization for everybody involved in the organisation.
Low engagement is unproductive, unfulfilling and unprofitable – a lose/lose/lose for ALL stakeholders.

Low Engagement is a Failing not a Reality

If you have low employee engagement in your company, from a handful of employees to 50,000 or more employees, it’s the leader’s fault!

Employee engagement Has been analysed, re analysed, investigated, researched and assessed over and over and over again for two decades but, instead of addressing the core problem, operational people have been attacking the symptoms and not solving the problem.

Engagement is very simple.

The two main reasons why employee engagement becomes sub optimal.

The major reason absolutely, unquestionably, is employees not getting along with their immediate supervisor.

This can be solved by creating an environment that encourages and promotes camaraderie between supervisor and his team. Supervisors do not deliberately set out to offend people. Almost all of the time it’s because they’re frustrated, ill-equipped unappreciated, unfulfilled, somehow lacking in support that they need to do their job properly.

So, the problem falls not with the supervisors not getting along with their employees but with the leaders who are not empowering the supervisors to get along with their employees.

…and where does this come from?

Each comes from the key reason that research has identified to be the second most important reason or cause for employee engagement: Absence of a purpose, mission, vision, identity, intent or values!

If you fix your MEVPIV, you fix everything !

I don’t want to hear any more complaints from any high -level executives, boards of directors, c-suite VP’s, complaining about employee engagement when the tools are readily available at their fingertips .

If any organisation, from government to NFP,  suffers low employee engagement among employees, it’s all because the boss isn’t taking charge of MEVPIV.

That’s the core reason. The whole reason. And the fixable solution.

If you’ve just inherited knew leadership of an organisation that has low employee engagement don’t try and cover it up with surveys and promises, recognition and rewards can increase silos, inefficiencies, dissonance and internal politics… tactics come later – micro-problems can be fixed later. Right now, will you have to concentrate on the six variables of the MEVPIV.

If you want help implementing a MEVPIV, let me know and I’ll point you in the right direction.

Regardless, if you agree, disagree or can embellish, I welcome comments below… .

5 Ways To beat any Covid-19 Threat to Your Business.

Business opportunity in the Covid era

Trained marketers understand that marketing is more than advertising and promotion: That it is the management of exchange; and to manage exchange, trained marketers know they have to adapt to environmental change .

In strategic marketing terms, Covid-19 is very simply a change in the business environment in which we manage exchange (in which we market our goods and services). Those who refuse to accept this will perish. Those who willingly adapt will prosper!

Prospering in a Covid-19 market

The 8P’s of Marketing STILL apply in the Covid-era.


You may or may not have to :

  • Re-think pricing,
  • Alter or find new channels of distribution,
  • Develop or alter your offerings in terms of product or service,
  • Make changes in processes,
  • Modify the way you manage people,
  • Review message, media and investment in marketing communications and promotion,

Strategically, you will definitely need to:

  1. Accurate identify the new segments that Covid-19 has created in your market
  2. Identify the new segments and which of these are attractive to you
  3. Repositioning and target these new, attractive segments
  4. Monitor competitive activity
  5. Abandon “old” ways.

Operationally focussed decision-makers and untrained marketers will desperately claw for marketing communications and promotional hacks, hoping these will eb enough of an  answer because they have worked in the past. They may or may not test new media, but sheer good fortune may be enough to survive.

Many will likely bemoan the situation, blaming Covid-19 for downturn in sales rather than their ability to adjust and capitalise on a new set of circumstances.

Covid could be landmark opportunity for many different companies for Trained Marketers with Smart Leaders

Trained marketers know that a SWATT from a SWOT .

Trained marketers know that they have to review and respond to the PESTLEED that applies to their organisation .

Smart leaders realise that they have to change and change now because the environment has changed.

Smart leaders will be looking at their MEVPIV.


Smart leaders will be looking at their resources and be matching these to capabilities and market opportunities… reviewing what business they are in and what business they should be in.

It Really All Comes Down to Leadership

  • Leadership is required to engage and align the teams .
  • Leadership is required to reorganise and refocus the organisation.
  • Leadership is required to maintain morale 2 exercise initiative to embrace innovation.

So, when good leaders and properly trained marketers work synergistically with each other, there is always a silver lining to a grey cloud.

Feel free to comment. It would be interesting if anybody who can tell us a story of how they’ve adapted and changed, could respond.

Do Airlines Qantas & Virgin DESERVE any Help?

The ONLY people that Qantas & Virgin SHOULD be sacking are the incumbent Board of Directors!

The lack of strategic competence demonstrated by the Board and executive management of Qantas and Virgin is NOT new.

American Rail ignored change in the demand for transport when cars went into mass production: Instead of adapting, they threw their hands up and said “bail us out!”, too. The buggy whip industry shook its head in dismay and began sacking staff and winding down.

Closer to home, Australian car manufacturing industry kept making cars people didn’t want (did anyone ever own a P76?) in the face of diminishing sales it universally closed up shop when a glaringly attractive industry in electric car manufacturing was staring them in the face! HAD they possessed the least amount of strategic foresight and competetence they CPULD have been producing electric cars at the very kernel begibning of Tesla’s reighn.

Sadly teh promisnanc eof oeprtaional corporat ecancer, and teh absence of strategic talent, in all eth examples above, dominated.

The Biggest Mistake in Business for the Last 100 years?

The 21st Century’s Most Costly Business Mistake?

Probably the most expensive mistake of the 21st century is perceiving marketing as meaning advertising and promotion.

How the business-world came to close itself off from the science of marketing strategy, the vast and rich knowledge base that makes profitable businesses spark and explode, is a matter of debate…

What has created a world that doesn’t understand the meaning of the word, Marketing?

Is it tertiary marketing education devoid of real world worth, now that academics have significantly displaced practitioners in teaching?

Is it because the efficiency of the medium that is the internet is so profound that the aggressive snake-oil hawking of digital promoters, describing themselves as marketers, without understanding anything beyond rudimentary marketing communications tactics?

Is it because the leaders of sophisticated marketing organisations are hording the knowledge because it represents such potent and potentially sustainable competitive advantage for them if they keep it to themselves?

Is it because the marketing professional has fought off mandatory accreditation and control… so that anyone can say they are a marketer without challenge?

Or could it be that middle management and senior executives who have lobbied so hard to rise above their peers in corporate organisations, shout down anyone with knowledge that might interfere with their planned career progression?

Is this due to the fact that over 50% of business executives working in marketing lack ANY tertiary qualifications in the discipline?

Where Did Marketing Go Off the Tracks?

Perhaps, in the ‘80s, if the marketing professional has screamed “wrong” when the term, “direct marketing” was incorrectly coined to describe direct response advertising, the nonsensical term, “content marketing” may not have be adopted and a more accurate phrase to describe “online publicity promotion” might have formed? The same goes for “search engine marketing” which really is “prioritization of search engine ranking”. (At least somebody tried when they coined the phrase “Search Engine Optimization”.)

Poor lay people are left in a soup of confusion daily when terms sprout such as “Influencer Marketing” which is simply utilization of group opinion leaders to disperse information utilization  in context with the multi-stage mass communication model.

Whatever the causes, the cost is incalculable!

How much damage is done when people are unaware that they must balance the 8P’s of marketing scientifically if they are to protect their companies from sub-optimal profits?

How destructive is it when quality executives are appointed to roles they THINK they can handle when they are simply ill-equipped with inadequate training and knowledge to make strategic marketing decisions?

How profound are the losses as the commercial world graciously accepts the dominoes that are retail chains collapsing world-wide, without even questioning that these occurrences might be a clue that the leadership models in business are faulty?

How corrosive is it when employees simply leave their jobs in frustration because their corporate guidelines are soiled by silos, blurred by secret agenda, eroded by office politics, undermined by poor morale?

How much worse does this make frustrated middle management as they vent on their own staff because they are fighting a losing battle with the same demons they are creating because of complacent leadership and corporate governance?

Even though Gartner, Inc,  have made $4B a year reminding us that employee engagement has been consistently around 25% of all employees since they began surveying it in 2002, where is evidence of quality internal marketing?

History will tell a sorry tale.

How they will giggle in decades to come when the historians recall the anecdotes of 21st century  business people ignoring the lessons of history only to repeat the mistakes.

Students of Marketing in the future may shake their heads in disbelief when they discover that the body of real knowledge was not in universities, but secreted away in the coffers of just a few large companies and consultancies, remaining virtually known except to only to a few outsiders.

Incidentally, on the topic of academia worth and value to the business world…

Is Academia Failing Society BIG-TIME?

For years I’ve have complained that the focus of Universities on “publish or perish” instead of “teach well and share knowledge” is a big mistake.

So, I couldn’t help capturing this post when I found it on the web recently…

Who cares about your PhD thesis?

Colin Riegels, Doctoral candidate: Law, University of Oxford

There is an old joke about this: only five people will ever read your doctoral thesis.

  •     You
  •     Your supervisor
  •     Your two examiners
  •     Your unlucky spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend who has to act as unpaid proof-reader for you

In 99.9% of cases, nobody else will ever read it or care what it says.

When I arrived at Oxford I went to the archives and checked out a number of completed doctoral theses in my field so I could read them and get a flavour of what they are meant to be like. In every single case except for one, I was the first person ever to check them out. And, in each case, they weren’t randos – I picked those ones because they were names that I recognised as people who went on to enjoy success in the field.

By the time I read this post, it had 203,900 views and been liked or shared over 6,100 times! Academia KNOWS its failings yet academia are ignoring (laughing at!) what most certainly will be its downfall!

I imagine historians of the future will share my disdain of unoriginal, regurgitated marketing theory being submitted as justification for their existence by the incumbent  pure academics in power now, representing a fake body of knowledge,  thrown up as a smoke screen to disguise it profound absence of advancement; too crammed with irrelevant and unusable findings  that the “publish or perish” mandate has forced them to create.

Why You Cannot Afford Silos between Sales & Marketing


What Factors Make Sales People Successful?

I recently shared a Linked In comment, and in my keynote presentations and workshops discuss, a large & intense formal commercial study of selling skills, that showed only two significantly important factors determine a sales person’s success…

  1. How hard salespeople work (calls, preparation, & face-to-face time in front of a prospect or customer, no ‘brass-plating’, procrastination, or poor time-management), and…
  2. The distribution of speaking time between seller & buyer (the greater the percentage of time the buyer spends speaking, the greater the salesperson’s sales success, relative to team peers’ success).

As a throw-away I mentioned that increased average productivity across the whole team of salespeople occurs if they have access to, and understand, properly identified market segments but I probably DDN’T emphasize the point enough that If a company really understands its market segments and responds accordingly, then all the salesperson really has to do is take orders… the selling is already done before the sales meeting.

What Factors Interfere with Sales People being Successful?

Multi-national corporations, in the main, already know a about the world-wide crisis in employee engagement: With only 24% of Australian workers engaged, and with 202% productivity gains to be had from the 76% unengaged, employee engagement & organisational alignment has become TOP priority, particularly in the wake of Millennials displaying even greater need for engagement, than generations past.

An issue that doesn’t receive enough attention is that 18% of any workforce is made up of “disengaged” employees – ones that deliberately want to “sink the ship”. and THAT is seriously lose sales and detrimental to future opportunity!

If silos are known to exist, any decent leader should be tearing them down, YESTERDAY!

But how often do we hear about disconnects between Sales & Marketing teams?

I’m betting silos between research and other departments even interfere with distribution of segment identification and recognition… that information isn’t shared, synergy is lost, and sales results end up being suboptimal across hundreds of industries.

It is an easy bet for me, I have uncovered plenty of situations just like this over my consulting career, from doing marketing audits, deficiency analysis and even in competition analysis… through to ‘war-stories’ from delegates to my workshops who confess this goes on far too often.

Often the problem stems from CEO’s who are too busy with distractions… too complacent towards improving productivity, too cynical to believe that a small investment in correction will deliver a significant ROI, or just fearful that they might be “exposed” as less than 100% competent.

How Badly Do YOU think Silos Interfere with Sales People being Successful?

I’d be interested in any comments, observations, cases in hand, or thoughts readers have as to silos, sales productivity and leadership, relevant to these thoughts.

By the way, I use an approach that has helped FMCG, transport & big pharma grow corporate profits by as much as $250M p.a. that can be used to help all sorts of businesses… If you want to have a peek, check out: http://bit.ly/OpAudit

Culture: The Easy Path to Employee Engagement and Business Success?

What is the importance of writing a mission statement for businesses? How can an effective mission statement be created? What are some of the elements that should be included in a mission statement?

All successful organisations grow out of healthy culture. With or without attention, culture is going to grow, so cultivating the culture you want means you have to set reflect of the needs, wants and expectations of your leadership. You channel culture when you set your mission AND your ethos, your vision, your purpose, your intent and your values.

These are the strategic guidelines that are the very foundation for all your business operations, for decision making, for the correct implementation of initiative, and the behaviours that you expect of both you and your employees that you want your organisations to present to the world, your customers, your stakeholders, and every one your organisations “touches”.

The acronym, MEVPIV, which stands for Mission, Ethos, Vision, Purpose, Intent and Values, ultimately determines the behaviour, decisions, attitudes, opinions, and personality of your whole organisation.

Don’t have one or have one you can’t recite, or don’t even know? Every day you’re losing money and you’re a vague, inconsistent, and unreliable entity: Some might suggest a temporary one!

If you have one, and senior management doesn’t live by it… you’re suffering the ABCs of corporate cancer (arrogance, bureaucracy and complacency)

If you have a good MEVPIV, you have:

· High levels of productivity

· High employee engagement

· High customer retention

· Above average profit-to-sales ratios

· Low staff turnover

· Health return on shareholders’ funds

· Growing brand equity

· Clear concise implementable plans that almost always exceed expectations.

By the way, if you’re concerned about the number of meetings or the duration of those meetings, a good MEVPIV will reduce BOTH by about 70%.

It’s not quite the whole answer to the secret of business success, but a good MEVPIV is definitely the beginning.

Care to comment?

The Leigh Cowan Rap

Oh, Leigh Cowan, with skills so rare,
A speaker who’s beyond compare.
He talks of corporate governance with flair,
And captures every audience with care.

His presentation skills are second to none,
And communication is his number one.
He keeps you engaged, he’s never dull,
With his leadership and public speaking skills so full.

He travels near and far for seminars and conventions,
Bringing his message with great intention.
He’s always well-prepared with research so sound,
Audiences need and want him to be found.

Participation is encouraged, with hands-on learning, too,
Making corporate events, an experience brand new.
For corporate training, he’s a true master,
Bringing marketing strategy that’s even faster.

So if you’re seeking someone motivational and inspiring,
Look no further, Leigh Cowan is what you’re desiring.
A speaker who’s simply one of the best,
You’ll agree, once you book him and put him to the test!

(A bit of fun … should I put this to music? )

Power Pill for all Business Leaders and aspiring entrepreneurs…

“What should successful entrepreneurs focus on to ensure the long-term success of their business?”

A good MEVPIV is the answer! It should outline what the company hopes to accomplish and provide a guide for decision-making.

When creating a MEVPIV, successful entrepreneurs should focus on the following:

  1. Clarity: Your MEVPIV should be clear and concise, and convey your company’s purpose in no more than two short sentences.
  2. Authenticity: Your MEVPIV should create the “setting” for your company’s goals and strategy development: It MUST be authentic and genuine.
  3. Inspiration: Your MEVPIV should be inspiring and motivating, and should lead to greater fulfilment and satisfaction from their work, so our company’s employees and stakeholders see the value they bring to the world through their efforts.
  4. Differentiation: Your MEVPIV should demonstrate how your company stands out from its competitors, highlighting what makes it special.
  5. Sustainability: Your MEVPIV should be focused on long-term sustainability, rather than short-term gains.

By focusing on these key factors, successful entrepreneurs can create a set of strategic and operational guidelines that will optimise their company’s decision-making and help it achieve its goals.

Complaints – the best kind of market research

Complaints can perform as the best kind of market research in improving long-term business prosperity.

Complaints are great market research because they tell you when you are off your game. What’s better is they often tell you how to get back onto target and to best satisfy your prime audience and win market share.

What is also valuable is the identification of consistent vs. rare problem areas in the organisation, with indicators of employee engagement, insufficient resourcing, channel partner difficulties, production or distribution imperfections, pricing disparity, and competitive threats.

Those people who ignore or don’t take seriously complaints from customers:

  • are destined to achieve negative brand equity end corrosive word-of-mouth damage
  • are likely to be slow to change and fall into disrepute.
  • will miss golden opportunities while suffering decaying employee engagement
  • are liable to need to find a new job sooner or later.

In larger organisations, complaints can be simply not recorded, sometimes trashed, deliberately buried, ignorantly discounted, classified as ‘negativity” or misinterpreted.

Middle management with an over-developed operation focus will sometimes adopt a policy of “you can’t listen to the customer all the time”, “the executive team already know”, “the boss doesn’t care”, “there are plenty of fish in the sea” and the ever fatal, “don’t talk to me about strategy, just get out there and sell.”

Remembering that

  1. Amazon grew to be the world’s biggest company in only two decades with the philosophy, of “obsession with the customer”
  2. Research has repeatedly proven it costs 5 times as much to get a new customer as t does to keep an existing one
  3. 90% of customers who have a complaint swiftly and fairly dealt with will stay loyal to the brand
  4. The ABCs of Corporate Cancer (arrogance, bureaucracy and complacency) are attributed to most corporate downfalls…

… there is a good case for close scrutiny and analysis of complaints.

Leaders who genuinely want to follow in the path of Amazon might be keen to investigate “Deficiency Analysis” as a genuine research option…. Or at least review unfiltered complaints (internal and external) routinely.

Please comment.

Reinhardt versus Netball Australia – they’re both wrong

What is stupid stoush this argument is!

Shame on the marketing people at Hancock Prospecting

To begin with, clearly, no one working for Gina Rinehart has any understanding of when and how to sponsor and who and what to sponsor and the marketing return on investment from sponsorship.

In the interests of shareholders sponsoring netball Australia by Hancock prospecting is really dumb! Marketing professionals know that sponsorship dollars should always be directed towards relevant and logical organisations that reflect the MEVPIV of the sponsoring organization. It is a stretch to suggest Hancock prospecting has a target audience in netballers. A proposal suggesting sponsoring netball, when there are alternatives worthy of sponsorship, where the relationship between sponsor and recipient is more obviously rational and connected, indicates poor strategic thinking.

Sponsorship is a long-term commitment! A sponsor only gains benefits after five years of collaborative relationship-building between recipient and sponsor. Commercially, less than five years’ sponsorship is a total waste of money! This means Hancock prospecting really was looking at years of high-cost outgoing to an audience that appears to possess negative regard for the company! If I was Gina, I’d be reviewing her marketing team’s worth and quickly finding genuine professionals to replace them!

Shame on the Players & Netball Australia management

Seriously, if someone offered you $15 MILLION dollars, and all it meant was wearing a shirt with their logo on it, would you think twice? Where was that money going? An evil cause? I don’t think so!

This decision has cost little kids, volunteers, other patrons, and the whole sport dearly.

Those players who feel so lofty in their roles that they feel they have a right to overrule their governing body at such a high cost should take a hard look at themselves.

Call me a cranky old man, but all parties should have their skulls banged together! 😉

The Root of All Wrong in Business?

Almost daily, the world sees errors and weaknesses across multiple industries and globally “successful” companies.


Nokia (they still think they did everything right when they actually did everything wrong), BP’s Deepwater Horizon (failure to invest in adequate maintenance care), Volkswagen (emissions scandal), the United Nations (widespread misconduct, incompetence and misuse of funds), the Foxconn suicides (driving employees to suicide), Libor scandal (international scheme in which several global banks illegally manipulated interest rates for profit), FIFA (broad racketeering), Qantas (self-cannibalizing its brand equity for short term gain).

The list seems endless… Apple, Facebook, Uber, Kobe Steel, Enron, Lehman Brothers

Objectively, every single case is due to the absence of genuine strategic acumen hatched in poor corporate governance.

A glimmer of hope can sometimes be seen when larger organisations display some strategic excellence by playing “the long game”, (“Oh, what a feeling!”) but in the main, the top-tier executive teams of every established automotive company in the world are hampered by an imbalance between operational and strategic know-how.


Think about it this way… Firefighters who demonstrate superior fire-fighting talent and effort, get promoted and promoted to eventually end up on the board of a fire department. But people who know how to PREVENT fires from happening in the first place, perform a more subtle role, most likely a more important one in terms of long-term benefit, but don’t get the recognition that warrants ultimate seniority… so they are relegated to 2nd-tier positions.

Even though they know better, their firefighting (operational) bosses don’t have those prevention/planning/big-picture experience, training, and skills.

In innocent ignorance and with imperfect knowledge they thwart MANY PROPOSED optimal business decisions because they don’t like them, don’t understand them, or don’t have enough knowledge to trust they will work.

This is what happens in almost every established organisation in the world… and explains why we see corporations and organisations come asunder. Warren Buffett described this as “the ABCs of corporate cancer” … Arrogance, Bureaucracy and Complacency… but only because he is too polite to use the word, “ignorance”.


An acquaintance of mine, an extremely competent operational executive, CEO of one of the world’s most successful companies, once said to me, “You know, Leigh, before I met you, I didn’t even know marketing was a science… I thought it was just smoke and mirrors, advertising and promotion, and mostly BS!”

In the ignorance of understanding that marketing is the holistic and integrated management of exchange, he and thousands of other leaders of hefty organisations around the world, have been devoid of adequate education in a discipline that is vital to organisational immortality…

Our firm conducted a study of IPOs over three years during the ‘00s to find a direct link between the performance of newly listed companies and their commercial success:

  1. Those who had at least one director with formal marketing qualifications (a degree in Marketing or an MBA) all exhibited a share price above the issue price.
  2. Every company analysed, which did NOT have a board member who possessed a formal marketing qualification, exhibited a lower share price than the issue price, or they had already folded.

If you think “marketing” is just “advertising and promotion”, it might be worth opening your mind to a different perspective…

(* From my popular e-book, “Managerial Marketing in the Real World” which you can download from https://bookboon.com/en/managerial-marketing-in-the-real-world-ebook)

Have Great Wall Motors Australia made a Mistake?

Would YOU buy a GWM vehicle?

While “vegging” at home this weekend, I dropped in front of the TV for a few hours and was inundated with a number of GWM advertisements.

As someone currently in the market for an SUV, I would be considered a target audience prospect, yet the ad did nothing to attract me to the brand.

But, it wasn’t the advertising that failed:

  • The copy and the creative of the advertising were just as appealing as any other brand, possibly more so.
  • The medium and the media plan were right – they reached the right target with adequate frequency

The advertisement did strengthen my resolve to exclude the brand from my first round of potential choices… Hardly what should have been the outcome!

Why is the current GWM advertising campaign so wrong

I only know second-hand rumour and commentary, unsubstantiated slurs and derogatory beliefs of others brandished about in cavalier conversations from peer group members that may or may not have garnered their opinions from reliable facts.

But what I suspect is “where there’s smoke, there’s fire”. I’ve heard accusations of the cars being poor quality… Someone once told me Great Wall cars had bumper systems which were loaded with asbestos. I’ve repeatedly heard reference to Chinese-produced products as being cheap and badly designed, and GWM has no track record of which I am aware warrants trust in their brand.

This is bad marketing management. The senior marketing people at Great Wall Motors Australia MUST know these sentiments exist. Great Wall Motors Australia MUST have done some market research and realised the buyer readiness hurdle of brand trust they face. Great Wall Motors Australia MUST have at least one conjoint study that identifies the perceptual brand equity associated with Chinese-produced products and brands… yet their expensive advertising investment has not addressed and brand-building effort… Great Wall Motors Australia didn’t give me one reason to challenge my fears or beliefs, establish a desire or any believable competitive advantage, or generate any rational or emotional motive for me to explore their offering any further.

Given I have a 46-year history of trading with China, starting with the Canton Trade Fair in 1976 to training Chinese executive leaders in advanced branding, product development, and marketing management up until Covid, I know Chinese strengths and weaknesses in commerce.

  • The Chinese psyche just doesn’t “get” western consumer behaviour. Sometimes they don’t even recognise their own!
  • Chinese are not alone when it comes to being prone to allocating strategic marketing decision-making to people of their own culture rather than those who share the same culture as their target market.
  • Many multi-national organisations maintain loyalty to operational executives, escalating them to lofty strategic roles which these operational folk are simply not adequately trained to handle.

My prediction?

Great Wall Motors Australia will flounder and fail… likely to withdraw from the Australian market, leaving behind a low resale value, an absence of parts and service, and a brand very few will remember within a decade.

Qantas brand equity is all but dead

Is Alan Joyce the grim reaper harvesting short-term profit at the cost of Qantas’ soul?

The board of directors of Qantas should be tarred and feathered and run out of town! For too many years they have allowed their badly chosen CEO to feast on the brand equity that Qantas once had so that, now, there is little, if any of it, left.

Today, I read a Sydney Morning Herald article where Qantas was described as, “our penny-pinching national carrier”… What a disgrace!

Over my 50 years of flying domestically and internationally, to and in over 70 countries, to every continent except Antarctica, frequently due to business and personal lust for travel, first-class business and economy, short-haul, long-haul, from Ryan Air, old planes in areas of post, war-torn and dictatorial disaster, through industrial disputes, fuel crises, and cultural mismatch, I have talked with hundreds if not thousands of world travellers, people that once were happily prepared to pay a premium due to the respect they had for the Qantas brand: No more!

Only NOW is Qantas realising frequent flyers may not be as frequent. How slow can they be?

The truth be known that the Sydney-Melbourne air route is recognised as one of the top three most profitable airline legs in the world…  That Qantas has all but destroyed its international presence, while milking the poor domestic Australian traveller, by price gouging this particular leg, using its infrastructure monopoly reinforced with the JetStar subsidiary.

And it’s all because we have a board of directors whose apparent sole purpose is to scrape the maximum immediate annual profit: That’s the immature and short-sighted stupidity of infants!

The Board members anonymously hide, allowing what appears to be a strong hand, pursuing short-term motives, for his own selfish gain. It may be that Joyce is doing what he’s told, meeting assessment and performance criteria… It may be that he is manipulating the board to maximise the performance component of his salary package and his personal financial position … It may be that he is driven by a personal hidden agenda to simply destroy the Qantas brand and leave it in ruins…

But whatever the goal, whatever the motive, the board is the group of executives who are criminally negligent in allowing this to happen! They’re not pulling on the reins of this horse at all they are letting the whip kill the beast, regardless of the future.

What defies all logic is the shareholders who continue to vote for and support the incumbent board members! What is ludicrous is that the major shareholders are not demanding the board remove Alan Joyce and replace the senior executive team with a competent one that can save, restore or replace the destroyed, crumbling mess that was once a brand so proudly a part of The Australian persona!

What amazes observers is that there is a complete absence of corporate social responsibility, a complete absence of cultural ethics, the complete absence of long-game thinking in strategic planning, and a complete absence of the understanding of brand equity!

The wise among us can see the ultimate destiny if Qantas isn’t saved soon… so why can’t the Board?

Employee Engagement SOLVED!

60+% of employees are unengaged: 34% because they don’t know or understand their employer’s mission & vision, and 50% they don’t like their boss! But is this because of a lack of clarity of purpose? C-suite executives can skyrocket employee productivity easily when they improve employee engagement.

There’s a process, using professional market research techniques, that uncovers key employee (and other stakeholders) engagement triggers.

Setting formal corporate governance guidelines, the MEVPIV/OSATTA process facilitates decision-making so leaders can build a sincere, concise and inspiring MEVPIV that naturally endears growth of sustainable, positive corporate culture and nurtures significant improvements in employee engagement.

With an agreed MEVPIV in place, there is MORE cooperation, constructive initiative, focus, collaboration and harmony in the workplace.

With an agreed MEVPIV in place, there is LESS siloing, resistance to change, negativity, complacency, and minimal disharmony in the workplace.

With an agreed MEVPIV in place, It is easy to determine objectives, the strategies that satisfy those objectives, actions necessary, tactics that should be put into place, tasks that fulfil those tactics, and clarity of assessment, feedback and control of the whole implementation process your OSATTA).

(* From my latest e-book, “How to Build Outstanding Corporate Strategy” which you can download from https://bookboon.com/en/how-to-build-outstanding-corporate-strategy-ebook

With an agreed MEVPIV in place, there are fewer meetings, but the meetings you do have a more efficient to the point, constructive, and productive.

Quantitative studies have demonstrated increases in productivity of over 30%, increases in EBIT of 12 to 23%, and engagement employee engagement rates of over 50%.

Sticking points, portholes, and landmines to be wary of

  • Ignoring key stakeholders
  • Arguing over the semantics of the MEVPIV
  • Copying someone else is MEVPIV
  • Agreeing to something you don’t genuinely and sincerely believe in, and are willing to passionately uphold and support
  • Communicating the MEVPIV to all stakeholders the “right” way so it becomes both an enticing and engaging exercise.

Here is a MEVPIV for my followers to use. Those who are keen to know more should message me on LinkedIn and those who don’t follow should send me a friend request.

Are You Making this Fundamental Business Mistake?

What Makes Businesses Fail?

Are you shooting yourself in the foot by not understanding the word marketing?

This image is what too many people think is the length and breadth of marketing responsibilities… How wrong could they be?

Marketing communications is only 1/8 of the big picture!

It can be argued that every single business failure can be attributed to a limited understanding of marketing and the perception that it is simply marketing communications.

Marketing communications cannot (alone) determine the success of an organisation. Marketing communications can only polish and refine the holistic and coordinated management of all the elements of the marketing mix, building upon those characteristics, embellishing those characteristics, elaborating on those characteristics, and presenting those characteristics in such a way as to optimise potential willingness to purchase in the mind of the customer.

The basis of “The Marketing Concept” – the driving force that nurtured Amazon!

So, what is marketing?

The American marketing institute has a reasonable definition, and they’re not alone, but there are poor definitions throughout the Internet often used by snake oil salespeople trying to get you to buy their advertising and promotional services.

If someone uses the word marketing as a synonym for advertising, promotions or selling, you can bet your bottom-dollar they are inviting you to enter into a win-lose situation where they do the winning.

The truth is the finesse and talent of managing marketing is a function of all sorts of activities that requires skills of a team, not just one person, because there are too many disciplines for any single person to be master of within a lifetime.

Not only that, but there are a plethora of skills needed to manage and coordinate this factors properly…

Everything to do with completing the customer experience is a function of marketing

The key step, part of marketing is the leadership that creates a culture where the full team can operate optimally and deliver the best possible results. This presents a situation where a diverse variety of skills experience and knowledge are required in every element of the marketing mix.

Use this model, to build your “utopian” marketing team.

A balance between administrative, operational, managerial, and strategic abilities needs to be in place for the best possible marketing decisions to be made.

This potential needs to be harnessed… as set of strategic guidelines has to be in place to “channel” that power.

Leaders must empower their teams with a perfect understanding of the rules of the game…So that everybody is on the same page and pulling in the same direction.

All stakeholders need to be engaged in joining to propagate the marketing offer and hey comprehensive approach to developing marketing planning needs to be embraced to ensure that all the parameters and aspects of the management of exchange actually occur.

The last element also essential is that strategic planning includes understanding of the whole industry, the competitive environment, uncontrollable factors, and sensitivities to change in any of these factors so that contingencies can be managed without pain.

Remember, nothing works without employee engagement

Maybe, just maybe, the simple answers aren’t that simple?

If you’d like to creep further down the rabbit hole, “take the red pill” so to speak, my fourth book on this topic, “How to Build Outstanding Corporate Strategy” is a succinct and helpful manual, which you can download from https://bookboon.com/en/how-to-build-outstanding-corporate-strategy-ebook

How Did Amazon Outshine Apple?

Amazing Amazon vs. Awful Apple?

Just selling books online, in a world where “nobody [supposedly] reads books anymore”, with no distinct or obvious difference in its products, Amazon rose to the biggest company in the world in less than half the time it took Apple, who possessed a distinct, potent, protected competitive advantage with its products.

Despite a powerfully competitive product, Apple floundered, coming close to extinction, before it found its rhythm… while Amazon appeared to move consistently from strength to strength.


Amazon had something even more powerful than a unique product…

This is the introduction to my latest book, “How to Build Outstanding Corporate Strategy”, which helps senior executives fast track improvements in their leadership, operational efficiency & productivity.

My publisher tells me is now online at…


You can get it FREE if you sign up or pay a nominal $8 for a copy.

Some of my followers already have read one or more of my books… I think this is the best yet, but I’d REALLY appreciate feedback and comments when/if you read it. 

Written for multi-nationals but JUST as relevant for SMEs, this is a succinct method for optimising corporate business performance

Nothing worse than watching a business go down the drain?

What happens when the company you invest in starts to go sour?

Broken Business Opportunity

It’s quite common practice for people with money to be approached by those lacking funds but hawking a great business idea.

Ideally, this idea bears fruit and, as an investor who bankrolled that business idea, you are richly and appropriately rewarded.

However, on occasion, things don’t go that well… and there’s nothing more gut-wrenching than watching your expectation wash down the drain, along with a hefty investment.

But it doesn’t have to! There is another option… and that is to discover why the business isn’t functioning well and making a profit. If you can find out why the business isn’t performing, then you can decide to cut your losses and run without the fear of losing potential profit.

If the business can succeed with a few manageable and achievable adjustments, by identifying the problem is able to be solved, inefficiencies can then be rectified so the business will meet or exceed your most positive expectations.

This process is called Deficiency Analysis. It’s kind of like an “Undercover Boss” project without the boss getting his hands dirty. The advantages are there’s no production crew and film crew on site and behind the camera to distract and interfere with finding out the real truths. In fact, it is amazingly inexpensive, very quick, and exceedingly accurate and not only will it discover inefficiencies in your organisation that can be removed repaired or replaced but also it typically generates new opportunities in both the operational and strategic space that would otherwise remain uncovered for years, if not forever.

Followers of the Undercover Boss TV series will recognise that that many of the bosses find the culture of the organisation is not as they perceive it to be, that processes are not as efficient as they are perceived to be, that training and supervision of employees is not undertaken as it is meant to happen, and that the organisations sticking points are far from where the boss thought the performance standards were positioned.

The most rewarding aspect of Deficiency Analysis is not pointing the finger, allocating blame, or identifying bad stuff. The genuinely valuable part of the process is removing inefficiencies, finding the road to success, and the sustainable riches that follow!

True deficiency analysis can only be implemented by the most talented of staff stroke consultants stroke facilitators stroke analysts. It’s like a secret shopper who’s been supercharged with counselling skills therapist skills, analyst skills and behavioralist skills… but when you’ve got the right person undertaking a Deficiency Analysis, positive outcomes are virtually guaranteed.

The limiting factor of Deficiency Analysis is that it must happen sooner rather than later. If the business is already devoid of funds, and unable to dip into its war chest and patch the holes, then it’s already probably on its way to liquidation. However, it is a corporate governance requirement that directors on an organisation’s board be conversant enough with the state of the organisation to commission a deficiency analysis early enough.

It can be interpreted as a sign of lack of diligence by board members if Deficiency Analysis isn’t employed when the early warning signs become evident. Hence, Deficiency Analysis should be a topic of discussion whenever a company appears to be struggling or when executive leadership complains that they can’t make it work. Had Nokia, Blockbuster, Kodak, Xerox, HIH, One.Tel possessed a board that embraced Deficiency Analysis, they may all still be the thriving businesses that they had become in their prime, even today.

Readers who want to know more might want to review… http://www.launchengineering.com/Deficiency-Analysis.htm

How “Marketing” Can Be Easy

How “Marketing” Got Easy for Me…

After 13 years of study – doing just about every subject the UNSW Marketing School had to offer between ’74 and ’87, People might have thought I “knew it all”.


I knew I didn’t… but guessed I had a few more tools in my bag of tricks than the standard Marketing graduate.


Curiously, it was the knowledge that I possessed that allowed me to identify my weaknesses, which led me on the path of a plethora of on-going short courses and selected specialised training… ultimately to my post-grad diploma.


What really Changed the Difficulty from 6/7 down to 2 out of 10


All that aside, my world-record breaking successes came after I discovered the power of good market research. I nailed success after success … from private enterprise to government, in I.T, to FMCG, regardless of whnether the challenge was from a guerrilla position or as market leader, by melding good market research with proven marketing “science”.


The single most powerful short cut to success was, then and still is now, Market Segmentation.


When you think about it, knowing what someone wants, and giving it to them, is a pretty obvious way to working out how to ensure commercial success. While thinking up a “good idea” and then trying to flog it to an unreceptive audience is pretty silly.


Good salesmen know this instinctually… That’s why studies have shown that the best sales people are the ones that ask the most questions.


But has the short-cut been lost in the heat of digital?


In the heat of A/B and multivariate testing, digital response rate analysis, and deep dive promotional analytics, investment seems to be focussed on wins of 1, 3 or 5% improvements rather than double triple or quadruple growth jumps.


At a recent FMCG conference where I presented of strategies FMCG manufacturers to prosper in a difficult environment, I was shocked to find less than 10% of the delegates had commissioned a segmentation study in the past three years… many hadn’t had one for over 7 years, and some even claimed to not ever knowing if their company or brand had one at all!


In the hay-day of FMCG marketing excellence, an annual segmentation study, some brand attitudinal work and a conjoint analysis or two were the basis of all decision-making… now it is gut feeling and guesswork of the dark ages… and look at the consequences.


B2C marketers can do better!


There is an appalling global complacency in B2C marketing that defies logic. We know that consumers change. That segments change. That change is inevitable.


Industry leaders such as Jack Welch express sentiments like,” Change before you have to” and “If the market changes faster than you do, you’re dead!”.


But Marketing Managers are NOT acting… they’re reacting, and that’s not fun… for Marketing Teams, customers or shareholders.


For example, a cardboard cut-out of Coco the Monkey has been on the back of Coco Pops breakfast cereal for over 55 years! Really? Is that responsive to consumer change or chronic ignorance and complacency by Kellogg’s? Are bigger boxes of cereal (that don’t fit into pantry shelves) at low prices (I assume to drive volume) demonstrative of excellence in Marketing? Hardly!


Is Information being Analysed and Acted Upon?


Which brings me to my last point.  With Marketing people so operationally focused, is enough effort going into strategic thought and planning?


I’ve witnessed great companies who routinely buy research that simply doesn’t even get looked at, let alone responded to… Data reports that go unread… Customer complaints, feedback and suggestions that are dismissed at the most junior level, (potential “gems” that no-one  reads or considers)… trade partner suggestions that get filed, unread, or dismissed arbitrarily… heavy user changes requests are ignored… Product Development without the benefit or consideration of a Conjoint study.

My firm. Leadership Empowerment, has done analysis on information already in the hands of clients, that they simply have not used, and once we have analysed and made recommendations, has made or saved millions while increasing annual profit levels by 20% or more – JUST because we bothered to analyse it!


As a marketing strategist and business advisor, my greatest challenge is two-fold…

  1. Get businesses to embrace market research, and
  2. Discipline businesses to respond to what their customers reveal they want.

I know… because in my first 15 years in Marketing Management, the greatest lesson I ever received was from a mentor who challenged me when I wanted to short change market research spends… When I said, “I can’t afford it” he responded, “You cannot afford NOT to have it!”


I am lucky, I listened. I hope anyone who reads this post listens too.

5 Absolute Truths of Pricing

For decade upon decade, across multiple industries, pricing has been the most ignored, poor brother, underutilised discipline, with the least amount of access to professional advice, of any of the components of the 8P’s of marketing.

  1. The notion of price elasticity is as nonsensical as believing every customer is a cookie-cutter copy of each other.
  2. Trust comes when exchange is fair. A buyer assesses value based on the total product not the core product
  3. Pricing strategy cannot bet set in a silo, it must be holistically coordinated with all the elements of the marketing mix.
  4. Price is the variable that a buyer considers when you give them nothing else to think about.
  5. Dropping your price to get the sale often works against you: It creates doubt, undoes trust, and converts a win/win into a lose/lose.
The highest possible return on marketing investment comes from when ALL the 8P’s are “balanced” and in harmony with each other… If your #pricing isn’t right, then your marketing isn’t right!

* From my popular e-book, “Advanced Strategic Pricing” which you can download from https://bookboon.com/en/advanced-strategic-pricing-ebook

Better than the Boston matrix?

Searching for an "ah-ha!" moment
Strategic Product Portfolio analysis The Boston matrix helped slingshot the Boston Consulting Group to the top of marketing consultancies four decades ago. At the time, it was considered revolutionary as marketing science was just taking a foothold, because it provided clarity to theorists and practitioners alike. Boston_Matrix_slide However, over the years, challenges have been made to marketing theory, particularly as pure academics have taken control in the academic hierarchies while practitioners have observed widening gaps between marketing theory and the real world. A small minority of marketing practitioners who also advanced academic exposure are not only aware of this, but often to capitalise upon it, while the abandonment of the PIMS (Profit Impact of Marketing Strategies) database and the movement of industry knowledge and methodology from the schools of academia to the vaults of a large national international consultancies has only widened the gap between academic hypothesis and commercial truths. When undertaking strategic planning and writing marketing governance and strategy for clients, we use a tool it’s appropriate to situations needing a practical and real understanding of the complexities of “real-world” business. If you’re looking for an analysis tool that is functionally helpful in your product portfolio planning the one at the top of this article might resonate with you… The real issue is that there are multiple reasons, beyond the level of investment and level in return, that might affect decision-making in terms of the way you balance your product portfolio. This model takes into account all the 8 P’s of Marketing, including the 8th P being the PESTLEED (Politics, Economics, Socio-cultural, Technological, Legal-compliance, Environmental, Ethical, Demographic). A mandatory inclusion are the needs and wants of the organisation, which we describe as the MEVPIV (Mission, Ethos, Vision, Purpose, Identity/Intent, Values).
Marketing strategy manipulates ALL the factors required for exchange to best match the needs and wants of the organisation with the needs and wants of the target audience.
If anyone wants to know more or discuss these models, why not drop a comment below?