Publication Date 29/07/2011         Volume. 3 No. 7   
Information to Pharmacists

Editorial

From the desk of the editor

Welcome to the August 2011 edition of i2P- Information to Pharmacists.
Direct distribution by pharmaceutical manufacturers is back in the news once more.
This disruptive attack on an efficient community pharmacy business model must be checked before it gets too far out of hand.
Neil Retallick discusses some of the issues as does Mark Coleman in the Pharmedia section of i2P.
Read and see what you can do to help.

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Marketing Focus: Here's looking at you, kid!

Barry Urquhart

articles by this author...

Barry Urquhart, Managing Director of Marketing Focus, Perth. Barry is an internationally recognised conference keynote speaker, facilitator of strategic planning workshops and marketing business coach.
Contact Barry: TEL:61 8 9257 1777 - EMAIL: urquhart@marketingfocus.net.au -
WEB: www.marketingfocus.net.au

AUSTRALIA'S OWN SILICON VALLEY

"Wealth....Innovation. Creativity. Originality. Dynamism. Growth. Capital. Technology."

Silicon Valley is both a name and locality known throughout the world and is synonymous with each of the above listed attributes. It means and is perceived to be many things to many people.
Since the 1960's Silicon Valley has been the birthplace of many scenario changes, iconic products, services, concepts and business entities. In itself it is a magnet which attracts some of the world's brightest, most enterprising, free thinking and driven entrepreneurs.
The Federal and State governments, in Washington DC and California, have welcomed, encouraged and supported investment in countless large and small, established and start-up businesses to enable them to blossom and to create wealth, employment, education and opportunities.
Financial injections and tax relief/incentives have been provided in abundance.
Everyone, it seems, is a winner.

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In Australia, we have our own Silicon Valley equivalent. It is a 1.6 square kilometre region in West Perth, Western Australia. This is the home of countless "greenfield" and start-up companies whose collective market capitalisations have been estimated to have grown from some $1 billion to exceeding $5 billion in the past three years, notwithstanding the Global Financial Crisis and its widespread cascading adverse financial consequences.

The West Perth postcode, 6005, is the address for small-cap mining companies and related service providers. Each is encountering impediments in their respective pursuits for growth and wealth creation. 

The Australian Labor Federal government has been active in endeavouring to introduce the suppressing Mining Rent Resource Tax, Carbon Tax, and to reintroduce of union-oriented workforce relations, legislation and regulations. Wayne Swan, arguably Australia's first-ever financially illiterate treasurer (some will contend the holder of that mantle is John Kerin, the short-term failed treasurer for the Whitlam Labor Federal government, 1972-75) has introduced to the business mindset the notion that super profits are those that exceed 6 or 7% per annum.

Sadly, the Australian Silicon Valley equivalent is destined to remain a micro-chip unless and until there is a significant universal change of attitudes in the corridors of power in Canberra and in all State government chambers.

Let me declare my confidence for the future of individual mining and exploration companies. We have been fortunate to facilitate and contribute to a number of strategic development and strategic planning workshops within the sector. Without exception, opportunities have been identified and are being realised. The regrettable thing is that such strategies, tactics and achievements have had to be accomplished within a considerable set of government imposed constraints, filters and market limitations. 

Barry Urquhart

Marketing Focus

"SERVICE SUCKS"

Very confronting!

The phrase "service sucks" will be offensive to some and endorsed by many Australian, New Zealand and British consumers and corporate clients.

Recent statistics released by the regulatory authority which oversees the Australian telecommunications industry reveal that formal complaints against telecommunications companies are at record high levels. However, the numbers do not reflect or provide an accurate insight on the reality. Less than 5% of Australian consumers ever lodge formal (written or verbal) complaints. 

Little wonder then that Perth-based entrepreneur Hamish McSporran has established the Facebook and Twitter pages "Perth Service Sucks". Friends of both pages share their poor service experiences.

Sadly, but reflecting reality, the number of friends to both stations exceed those of the Facebook page established by Marketing Focus: "Customer Service Bouquets". Our intent was to provide a channel for people to share good and great service experiences. To some the low numbers will suggest failure. We believe they reflect the facts and the site is therefore successful.

The prevailing global, national and local marketplaces are hosts of rampant price discounting, commoditised product and value offerings, reduced in-store inventories and lower staff members.

Customer service, for those leaders who truly are customer-driven, perceptive, sensitive and responsive, is the cornerstone for creating, maintaining and developing non-price competitive advantage, enhanced sales performance and customer/client loyalty.

In the stark transparency of a price-sensitive, intensively competitive marketplace it is becoming more and more apparent that an overwhelming percentage of the current training in customer service, though well-,intentioned, is totally inadequate. 

Too many trainers and Human Resource Managers rely on books, processes, procedure manuals and conditioned rote-learned methods to impart the mechanisms of interpersonal relations and thus a delivery of standard, bland styles of customer service.

Neither they nor the trainees address and learn why service is all-important, why consumers act the way they do or expect what is not being delivered.

The most exciting aspect of the reactions to the conference keynote address and the customised interactive workshop, titled, "Service That Sells, Transforming the Customer Experience" is participants' awakening about the scope for individualising service standards and optimising personal, group and entity-wide performance standards.

Perhaps Hamish is right. Perth service sucks. But that need not be the case for yours.

 ARTICLE TEXT: "HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU, KID"

"Here's looking at you, kid"

Opportunity is staring you in the face.  Are you looking?  More importantly, are you comprehending and identifying the boundless scope for development right now?  Look no further than your main competitor.  It is he, she or they who provide insights on how best to formulate and implement new initiatives into uncontested and attractive areas.

It is not too harsh to declare that many competitive entities are burdened by inertia, price discounting, cost cutting moves - including inventory and staff reductions, offers of give-a-ways and the repetition of boring, predictable campaigns.  The widespread distressed state of business is often caused or exacerbated by the actions of business owners and executives.  Sadly, staff-members are quick to identify and copy inappropriate behavioural and strategy traits.

Since 1988, Australia's Woolworths supermarket network has progressively developed from being in supermarkets, to retailing, to supply chain management and now they are leading the charge to relationship marketing.

The current philosophy will enable the group of companies to capitalise on the customer relationships which have been established and to cross-promote and sell-in to the other non-competitive service and product providers.

Coles is currently winning the supermarket battle. Sadly, it still lags in its evolutionary development and will continue to be profit constrained.

Many book retailers can and should reject the proposition that book shops will soon be replaced by on-line book sellers.

For those astute book retailers who have looked the competitive forces in the face, it is evident that the real threat is from those bookshops which have an appealing, informative and functional on-line presence with an easy-to-navigate website. 

The attributes of "local" presence and "personal" customer service are strong and sustainable competitive advantages.

KNOW THY COMPETITOR

Now is the time to embrace the philosophy of being a contrarian.  That is, doing what the others aren't.  It involves risks, which cannot be eliminated but can be managed.  It will require confidence in one's own ability and capacity and the need to invest in those qualities.

In short, it's time to "dare to be different". 

Conformity within a product range or industry sector leads to non-differentiated commoditisation and overall mediocrity.  It can be safe and non-threatening, but hardly inspiring or profitable. 

Entrepreneurs, game changing business leaders and elite sportspeople live on the edge.  It is exhilarating, adrenalin pumping and, yes, often exhausting.  The rewards are immense and the demands for optimal performance-exacting.  In each instance, consistently high performers study closely and know intimately the practices, policies, styles and preparation regimes of those whom they want and need to beat if they are to fulfil their own dreams, ideals and goals.

They then diligently formulate, document and implement their own, differentiated strategies. 

DISPEL THE 1% BELIEF

Sporting coaches of old and business coaches or mentors have long espoused their beliefs in the "one percents".  That is, the little things that "champions", cum winners, do constantly to gain and maintain an advantage. 

The contemporary global community in which we all live and operate from seldom recognises and rewards 1% variance.  For example, mining company chairpersons and chief executives tend to be well versed and qualified in finance and geology.  With the current price levels for iron ore, uranium and energy (in its various forms) those skill sets have contributed marginally to the record profits being enjoyed by the many operating mines and the operators of those raw commodities holdings.

Interesting to most and disturbing to some, the Chinese who represent the largest market for Australian ores and energy, are seeking more and more investments in Australia resource entities.  The buying criteria are not solely gross profit sums and Price: Equity ratios. The Chinese government and investors are seeking continuity of supply and security of supply.

Therefore, astute mining industry leaders and aspiring leaders will, should and indeed, must look their competitors and peers in the face and then determine largely unrecognised avenues for advantage and exploitation.

For example, how would Lindsay Fox of Linfox Logistics and Paul Little from Toll Holdings - two of Australia's and the world's leading authorities on supply chain management - operate and develop Australian mining companies?

Neither would, I am sure, be constrained by any suggestion of a series of "one percenters". In looking competitors in the face, one should also determine what business are they or should they be in. The appropriate answer may not be obvious.

Perhaps, we all need to dispel the seemingly underlying beliefs in and adherence to the "traditional", the "established" and the proven ways of doing business and being in business, if one wishes to stay in business. 

A good start to identifying which is the best avenue for enhancement is to look in the mirror and to recite the words: - 

"Here's looking at you, kid."

THE AUTHOR

Barry Urquhart, Managing Director of Marketing Focus, Perth is a former lecturer in Management and Marketing at the Curtin University of Technology. 

He is an internationally recognised facilitator of interactive strategic planning workshops and conference keynote speaking.

Tel:               041 983 5555

Email:           Urquhart@marketingfocus.net.au

Website:       www.marketingfocus.net.au

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