In the future, there will be no female leaders.

There will just be leaders.

Sheryl Sandberg (Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead)

Gender equality should be discouraged

I happen to believe gender equality is something we should discourage. I believe this not because I don’t recognise the equal value of women; it’s because I do.

In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders. Sheryl Sandberg

I feel the mere concept of gender equality ignores the fundamental reality that woman and men aren’t equal; as much as apples and pears aren’t equal. Both have different qualities, both are different. Being equal is fruitless, because their comparative differences do not affect their value. Both are important, both are delightful in different contexts, but fundamentally – they are different. And I believe we must recognise this when we evaluate the proposition of gender equality.

I believe we must strive to recognise, acknowledge, embrace, accept and encourage the different qualities that all individuals present, regardless of their gender. Regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, income status, nationality, horoscope or whether or not they follow Justin Bieber on Twitter. I believe we should judge others by the substance they offer this world and by the human beings they are. I believe our potential is great because of the unique value we bring to the world. We should focus on the quality and merit of alternate leadership styles as they naturally exist, and reject the distorted gender lens we currently view leadership through.There are no significant differences in the leadership styles of men and women

Sheryl Sandberg once said that in the future there will be no female leaders; there will just be leaders. And I believe this is the future we should be striving for.

The modern leader

The traditional onus on presenting leadership as a list of carefully defined qualities (like strategic, analytical, and performance-oriented), no longer seem relevant in the modern workplace. Traditional leadership styles, as described by Max Weber in 1947, were constructed based on the belief that power is bestowed on the leader. Only, 1947 was a long time ago, and this seemingly outdated style of top-down management is being steadily replaced by more collaborative leadership approaches that empowers employees and blurs the lines between the manager and the managed.

The ideals of modern leadership have been founded on the construct of individuality that is sometimes imperfectly expressed. Modern leaders are encouraged to strive for authenticity over perfection. I believe that a modern leader has a strong vision, a clear understanding of their why, and is able to communicate that purpose to their tribe. For a transformational leader in the modern day, their why sets them apart; it’s what makes them effective, it’s what defines them as a leader.

A modern leader must consistently promote innovation, which crucially involves the creation of an environment in which this may flourish. Modern leaders must encourage the effective integration of technology, provide quality and personalised professional development opportunities, and crucially, have an open mind. A mind, removed of limits, boundaries and traditional constraints that were once a commonality of successful managers in last century’s business operating system. The theory of followship posits that leaders cannot demand people follow, but must engage people. The ability to engage – to transform, these are characteristics of a modern leader.

Androgynous leadership

You might have noticed these qualities, qualities I feel are essential for transformational leadership potential – are gender neutral. They are simply characteristics that all humans have the capacity to present. This is how we must view leadership – leadership must be androgynous.

This sentiment was confirmed by Anne Grethe Solberg’s doctoral thesis which proved something that I have believed for many years. There are no significant differences in the leadership styles of men and women.

Solberg’s research, which has studied groups of both genders, revealed women’s and men’s leadership styles are only marginally different. The study confirmed that leadership style is independent from biological gender.

An androgynous leadership style was found to be the most effective for fostering a climate that encouraged innovation. The conditions for a productive climate for innovation requires setting clear, common objectives and visions, creating a sense of security for participants in the working group, facilitating the construction of ideas and creativity, and managing tasks and deliverables. Although, it seems that androgynous managers are in the minority, with roughly 22% of the managers who were studied belonging to this category. Yet interestingly, they were more or less equally distributed between male and female managers.

Boardroom dynamics

However, it is worth noting that while leadership value in the modern age is unrelated to gender; it would be short-sighted to assume that gender has no influence on the environmental and interpersonal dynamic in which leaders exist and communicate. In a 2006 study, Solberg and Huse concluded that boardroom dynamics are not neutral to gender, and that gender influences cognition as well as behaviour of leaders. I recognise the implication of this finding, because while I believe leadership ability and style has little to do with one’s gender, I acknowledge the significant impact of female presence in boardroom dynamics.

Thus gender simultaneously matters and is irrelevant. Research on gender and management in Finland revealed that women in top management are, in effect, simultaneously required to be different from and similar to men, and men still remain the uncontested, taken-for-granted norm in business life. This “gender paradox” has resulted in a vicious circle where any significant large-scale entry of women into corporate boards becomes elusive.

Research continues to remind us that across the globe, female participation seriously lags men, in particular in business leadership positions; and it’s hard to believe that over 80 percent of the most competent individuals, however defined, are men.

For the organisations that exclude women from leadership positions (knowingly or unknowingly), are certain to lose out on half of the talent pool, and the profitability and innovation that diversity brings. In addition, according to a study by researchers at UBC’s Sauder School of Business, the more women on a corporate board, the less likely a company will pay for its acquisitions. Cindy Padnos, an Entrepreneur and venture capitalist produced a white paper on the topic which found that women-operated, venture-backed high tech companies average 12 percent higher annual revenues. They also use on average one-third less capital than male counterparts’ start-ups.

Male-Female ratio

Industry won’t be the only benefactors of closing the gap, as Goldman Sachs JBWere Investment Research report proved that better ratios between male and female employment rates would have important implications for the Australian economy. They have estimated that closing this gap would boost the level of Australian GDP by 11%, which translates to a potential increase of $25 billion. Extending the analysis for other major nations suggest that US GDP could be boosted by as much as 10%, Eurozone GDP by 14% and Japanese GDP by 21%.

Solberg believes that in order to benefit from the alleged gender differences, organisations will need to develop a new type of culture of communication that is inclusive, if not encouraging of, heterogeneous groups. At the core, we must work towards a reality where across all organisations we take into account that people are different – regardless of biological gender. Organisations will have to cultivate the difference, and reduce the current barriers which have led to the disproportionate representation of gender in leadership roles.

Janet George, managing director of Accenture Technology Labs in San Jose;

“Women are different. How we think is different. Women are much more detail oriented,” George said. “This diversity can be a huge strength in meetings, team collaboration, and how a company develops partnerships.”

Powerful women become the norm

We need to strive to acknowledge and leverage the qualities that make us unique. Only in order to do this, we require an obvious collective cultural mind shift to overcome the apparent dichotomy between women’s history and gender history, and between oppression and agency. We need to encourage a dialogue with the feminist and postfeminist intellectual work; to debate between generations the interpretation and transformation of historiographical categories, – essential to progression. Yet, such a debate will not be fully realised if future agendas do not include, as a fundamental point, a new academic-scientific leadership where young female scholars are the main actors.

Real change will come when powerful women are less of an exception and as more women continue to enter the business arena, the landscape of leadership will continue to be significantly influenced by their presence. Yet, true equality will not – cannot be facilitated by the current, poorly developed perspective of ‘gender quotas’. Legislative measures that facilitate quotas to increase the number of women on corporate boards are preventing equality in its true nature to exist, because gender stereotypes contain status beliefs that associate greater status worthiness and competence with men than women, something which is emblematic of a struggle for a paradigm shift in notions of gender equality.

The discourse of competence rejects gender-based quotas because it is not possible to simultaneously be competent and a “quota woman.” Gender quotas by definition and in practice; undermine the individual value of a leader. Proponents of quotas seek to replace the classic liberal notion of equal opportunities with the notion of equality of result. In today’s business environment, such strategies do more damage than they do progress the gender inequality in leadership cause.

In order to move forward, our collective position on what equality means must be redefined. Equality must not be paired with any other discriminatory domination, gender equality, racial equality, sexuality equality – because all of those causes, while fundamentally driven by the inequality they represent, loose the focus on the core issue, which must stand on its own in every facet that it is experienced. Equality, regardless of the context of which it has been suppressed.

The day we stop referring to “female leaders” and instead refer to “inspirational” or “transformational” leaders – regardless of their gender – is when we will experience true equality. We must consciously reject the occasions where leaders are categorised and recognised by anything other than the leadership qualities they possess.

I argue that female leaders should no longer exist.

photo credit: European Parliament via photopin cc

Charlie Caruso

Charlie Caruso is the founder and CEO of PuggleFM, an online radio and podcasting station created especially for parents and children. Since its inception, PuggleFM has found audiences in the US, Europe, across Australia and Asia looking for an alternative to commercial radio. Charlie, 25, is the 2013 winner of the Australian Excellence Awards Women in Business category; a finalist in New Business and Young Entrepreneur categories in the Small Business Champion Awards 2013.

Charlie has a background studying international business and Mandarin at Murdoch University. Always interested in business, she started her first enterprise when she was 16. Charlie is also available for speaking appearances bookings through Voxy Lady Speakers;

In terms of revenue created and the value in experience for customers, gifts are an important part of the world economy, yet are we giving the gift of gifting to our customers?

It’s an interesting thought, and one I feel that is largely underexploited by many small businesses as a great way to diversity and repositioning your product or service offerings.

Guilt: the gift that keeps on giving. Erma Bombeck Tweet this

Sure beauty salons and restaurants and a host of other industries have been onto this for years, but I don’t believe we have utilised gift giving to its full potential.

Your current business and services chosen as gifts represent more than ordinary ‘everyday’ purchases because of their symbolic meaning when they are associated with important life events such as birthdays, mothers’ days, weddings, engagements, graduations, births (divorces being the bizarre new trend in this space) and the list goes on.

These are significant life events that sadly (for culture, not small businesses) is recognised with consumerist and materialistic values, and due to our excessive western behaviour, we no longer want the “standard gift”. Consumers expect the best gift, the most thoughtful gift, the most clever, considerate (not always expensive, but that helps) to show off how much of a wonderful wife/husband/sister/daughter/friend we are. And because the internet has bestowed us with the convenience and choice like never before, we are under even more pressure to think outside the box for great gift ideas.the internet has bestowed us with the convenience and choice like never before, we are under even more pressure to think outside the box for great gift ideas

A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer. Lucius Annaeus Seneca – Tweet this
And it is here where the untapped potential lies. Give your customers the option to buy your products or services as a gift for their loved ones, that is specially packaged to remind them just how clever they are and how valuable and unique the gift is….simple.

…Or not you might say? Perhaps you don’t offer anything you could package as a gift?

A gift, with a kind countenance, is a double present.Thomas Fuller – Tweet this

I most certainly agree there are some instances where this will be the case, and the funeral industry is the first such scenario that first comes to mind. For my company, PuggleFM, where we offer podcasts and music for free, it is almost impossible for PuggleFM to gift wrap the services in which we offer parents when they are for free in the first place.

Still, there are many businesses with untapped gift giving potential that remains to be fully exploited to its full potential. If I were a business networking company for women, a membership as a gift voucher might be a nice thought for a friend or family member who has just started their own business.

Thinking of a unique “congratulations on your 2nd/3rd/I’ve lost count baby” that’s sure to impress your girlfriend and all in attendance at those highly competitive baby shows? Why not gift a voucher for cleaning for a month, or a mobile massage, or a mobile hair colour/cut and treatment?

A good friend of yours has just got engaged? Need a gift? Why not a voucher for a professional concierge service to help arrange all that dreaded changing your name paperwork (if she is changing her name) or help with the wedding planning and stationary in general?

Gift purchases represent 10% of all retail purchases in North America and over $100 billion is spent annually on gifts in the US (Laroche, et al. 2000).

This combined with the results of a recent study which the variety-seeking trait* extends to gifting, as subjects with this trait consider a wider range of product categories when buying gifts for others (Tilottama, Ratneshawer and Desai 2004), gives a wonderful opportunity for small businesses throughout a wide range of industries the ability to access the untapped potential in the gift of giving gifts. Your challenge ladies and gentlemen has been set, it’s not up to you to accept it!

Chance happens to all, but to turn chance to account is the gift of few. Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton – Tweet this

*variety seeking trait: a personality-driven trait quite similar to Optimum Stimulation Level of which there are several different types;

1. Exploratory purchase behaviour (e.g. switching brands to experience new and possibly better alternatives).

2. Vicarious exploration (e.g. where the consumer secured information about a new or different alternative and then contemplates or even daydreams about it).

3. Use-innovativeness (e.g. where the consumer uses an already adopted product in a new or novel way) (Schiffman 2011)

Works Cited

Laroche, Michel, Gad Saad, Elizabeth Browne, Mark Cleveland, and Kim Chankon. Determinents of in-store information search strategies pertaining to a Christmas gift purchase. 2000.

Schiffman, Leon, Aron O’Cass, Angela Paladino, Steven D’Alessandro, David Bednall. Consumer Behaviour 5th ed. Sydney: Pearson Australia, 2011.

Tilottama, G., S. Ratneshawer, and Kalpesh K. Desai. “Do unto others as you would do unto yourself: Variety Seeking motives in gift giving.” Advances in consumer Research, 2004: 22-23.

Charlie Caruso

Charlie Caruso is the founder and CEO of PuggleFM, an online radio and podcasting station created especially for parents and children. Since its inception, PuggleFM has found audiences in the US, Europe, across Australia and Asia looking for an alternative to commercial radio. Charlie, 25, is the 2013 winner of the Australian Excellence Awards Women in Business category; a finalist in New Business and Young Entrepreneur categories in the Small Business Champion Awards 2013.

Additionally Charlie is a current finalist in the WAITTA Achiever category for her contribution to ICT in WA. Charlie has a background studying international business and Mandarin at Murdoch University. Always interested in business, she started her first enterprise when she was 16. Charlie is also available for speaking appearances bookings through Voxy Lady Speakers;

Featured image:Thomas Hawk

Why Every Small Business Should Write Their Own Creative Brief – Each Year

If you own and operate your own business, then you know how easy it is to get caught up in the daily operations. There is, and never will be anyone else who can do things quiet as well as you, or who has the same drive or passion….clearly.

However, the risk we run when we get too engaged with daily operations is losing sight of our strategic direction. Without setting ourselves goals and taking our fogged glasses of now and again, it is much harder to view the business with an objective outlook, which can be potentially risky.

On recently reviewing the makeup of my own Creative Briefing, I quickly realised the benefit of actually personally partaking in this process, as a valuable tool for formalising a business’s direction for the year ahead. Creative Brief you say, that’s what marketing consultants are for? Sure they are, and you would assume they are good at it. However, I argue that despite this, and especially if you do not have the kind of capital that can allow for Advertising or Brand agencies to prepare such a brief for you, actually going through the process yourself is very cleansing , rewarding and a valuable exercise for both you and your venture.

A Creative Brief (CB) is usually an informal agreement between a client and an advertising agency, which details what the advertising campaign, is intended to accomplish

For those of you who aren’t sure what a Creative Brief is, I’m going to tell you. A Creative Brief (CB) is usually an informal agreement between a client and an advertising agency, which details what the advertising campaign, is intended to accomplish. Well that’s the formal definition anyway. I also see it as a valuable opportunity to re-focus and be re-invigorated about your business and what you are trying to achieve. I’m sure that you will be inspired and produce brilliant ideas that you might have not discovered had you not partaken in the exercise.

So how do you draft up your own Creative Brief (CB)?

Great question – a Creative Brief is usually comprised of twelve key components. Before you start, set aside a morning free from distractions, close down Outlook (or your email account), turn off your phone(s), get comfortable with a healthy snack and some water and make sure you have lots of note paper or a large whiteboard ready to scribble (like I do and it’s brilliant!).

  1. Background. What is the background of my business? This question requires a brief explanation of what your business is about, and if I gave you $50,000, to spend on advertising, how would you like your business to be advertised as? For example, do you have a new product you might like to promote, have your sales figures declined or flat lined and you need a little sales boost, have you had an onslaught of competition recently and you need to remind your customers why you’re a much better option, or have you improved your products or services and need to promote its new features? Think about this year, what improvements developments have occurred in your business and have you done enough to promote these. Include that information here. Additionally you should include an analysis of the competitive environment here as this is a fundamental aspect of your business that you need to be constantly researching and integrating as part of your overall business strategy. Your competitive environment is changing all the time, being complacent about this can be a risk to your businesses sustainability.
  2. Objectives. What are your objectives this year? I recommend you take this time to formulate your business goals for this year and insert them here. So let’s assume you have this new product that you spent most of last year developing, of which you have decided your end of year goal is to sell 10,000 of them online and 5,000 of them in store and this will give you the return you had hoped for. Great, this is a good objective. However, there should be many, and its important to set the year’s objectives early, so at the end of the year you can look back and objectively evaluate your efforts in how your business performed in that year. This is invaluable insight, and only takes a small amount of your time to actually formulate and commit to them.
  3. Strategy. What is the strategy of my business this year? In the traditional sense, this section of a (CB) would provide copywriters an understanding of how their creative work fits into the overall marketing strategy. According to Chitty, Valos and Shrimp[i], the strategy statement many indicate that a new brand is to be launched during summer using a beach as the background to the action. However, for the purposes of drafting a (CB) in the sense that I am suggesting, instead I propose you think about your business’s strategy as the plan of action for achieving your business objectives, but from a creative or marketing perspective. If you have just established a new product that you might want to push, the strategy should be centred around your earlier defined goal and how you plan on achieving it. Examples might be a competition or give away or other social media competitions, having bloggers from Social Callout review and post about your new product to their followers, go to industry events, the list goes on. And this isn’t just for products, services too. Same applies for each and every business; you just need to apply the concept to your business and the strategy you envisage to reach this year’s business goals.
  4. Tasks. What are my tasks for this year? So this really stems on from whatever strategy you have just come up with in the previous paragraph, but where you can break it down further into bite sized pieces. The Strategy paragraph allowed for you to devise a broad plan to achieve the Objectives you set earlier, and let’s say you decided to post your product on Social Callout, do an online competition where of which you plan to promote on your social media platforms, as well as try to enter in a few product awards in the hope of getting some free PR. Now you must further delineate the tasks that will be involved in executing the strategy. For example, you will need to get some professional photos taken of the product, whether you ask a friend, do it yourself or pay a professional – they are all tasks to be added to your to do list. If you don’t have a healthy social media following, then it will be harder to achieve your sales targets, so perhaps another task might be to increase your engagement levels and following on social media (which will mean develop a social media marketing campaign). I’m assuming you follow me now and understand what to include in this section.
  5. Positioning. What is your business or brand positioning strategy for this year? Ok, so positioning is the practise of promoting your business or brands key feature or image, as you want is to be represented in the eyes of your customers. So let’s say your new product is similar to others out there, sold by your competitors, however, you’re the only brand that is approved by the Cancer Council. This is your unique selling proposition (UPS), and as this is what separates you from everyone else, this should be your positioning strategy, and thus be incorporated into all your advertising and marketing efforts. Your positioning strategy is not one that usually changes with each new business development, although it is common for businesses to change their positioning strategies if required, however, your positioning should be the feature that sets you apart. Define that and think about how you can integrate that statement into the strategy you defined earlier. For example, once you have the product photography done, perhaps you should hire a graphic designed to create a positioning stamp that identifies your (UPS), of which you can include in the image, as well as on all your product packaging and website, and pamphlets etc.
  6. Target audience. Who is your target audience for this strategy? I would assume you have already established a clear understanding of who your target audience (TA) is. That’s good. If you haven’t, may I suggest you do that. But your overall business (TA) might not be suited for the strategy you have just created. For example, let’s say your business (TA) are women, aged between 35 and 60, with mid to high incomes, that look for organic products and care about protecting your skin. For the purposes of my point here, let’s say this new product you have developed, caters to these women, but has a functional carry case that is great for busy women on the go. The broad definition of your overall (TA) should be further segmented, and you should think about targeting working women in the corporate world. Further segmenting your (TA) to match your strategy is essential, because it enables you to design the look of your products image to specifically appeal to the (TA) most likely to consume this new product of yours, and thus your effort vs. sales ratio can improve greatly.
  7. Target audience’s existing attitudes and values. What does your (TA) currently feel/think about the advertised product? Now this is an important consideration, that is most definitely present in all traditional Creative Briefs (CB)’s, but I feel is still relevant for this version. You might not be able to partake in extensive market research, unlike a typical advertising agency would, however, you should still brain storm this point, as it will definitely affect how you brand this product. Think about finding people in your extended friends and family network (which is so much easier to do now with social media), and see if you could possible coerce say 10 or 15 women who fit your strategies target segment, and ask if they would mind joining your focus group. This would allow you to send them different versions of your product image designs to see which ones they like better, with brief and un-annoying emails every now and again to consult them and see if you are on the right track. Only engage your focus group if you have developed options and don’t abuse the power or they might get annoyed at having 10 emails a week asking their thoughts on your latest wall paper in your office (but I know you wouldn’t do that). Otherwise you can pay people to take surveys, or get a consultant in to help you, but I don’t think this is required for this. The real point is gaining an understanding of how this segment might feel about your product. For example, do they consume this kind of product regularly (you can find out), if they do, what products are they buying and why (you can find out), would they be interested in receiving a free sample (again, you can find out), or say do they feel insulted that they might be accosted to use this product (let’s say it’s an anti-aging cream, they might want a discrete approach taken as they might not want to be seen as being vain or feeling “aged”). Understanding the attitudes and values of your target audience is as essential as understanding that they are.
  8. What do I want the target audience to think/feel about the advertised product? I think this one speaks for itself, and it doesn’t require my description on its value or how it fits in with this exercise.
  9. What actions do you want the Target Audience to take after being exposed to the product? Well, I would assume this is clear for most of you- clearly you want them to buy it and tell all their friends. Sure – but you can break this down a little better in a way that is slightly more useful to our overall aims here. Would you like them to go to your website to enter the competition, of which you plan to allure them to then buy your product? If so, highlight the competition element in your advertising images. But your (TA) might not be the type for competitions, so perhaps you want them to sign up to your E-Newsletter to receive their free sample? Think about the exact actions you might want them to take, and make sure you include this element into the branded imagery for your new product.
  10. What is your single-minded proposition for this year’s campaign? This proposition, or positioning statement directs the creative idea; it should be the most differentiating and motivating message about your brand that can be delivered to your target audience (Chitty, et al. 2012). Nike Just Do It is an example, you might want something like “forget anti-aging, [insert your brand name] is pro-youth” or say “ {Insert your brand name here} is the only choice by the Cancer Council – why don’t you make it yours” etc. Have some fun with it but keep it simple and relevant to all the other aspects you have brainstormed during this exercise.
  11. Why should your Target Audience believe this proposition? Think about the credibility and believability of your proposition, if the Cancel Council really DOES endorse your product (and obviously you can’t claim they do if they don’t) then perhaps ask to use their logo in your advertisements. Think about what you can do to back up your claims and make it credible.
  12. How should I speak to my Target Audience during this campaign? Think about all the platforms and options you might have in communicating this year’s business strategy, keeping in mind the channels that your Target Audience is exposed to. If its Corporate women, then think LinkedIn, The Australian, perhaps sponsor a women’s networking lunch or allow free samples to be given to those attending a women in business seminar. In the traditional sense of a (CB), this section would comprise more about the crucial feelings or thoughts that are evoked by the marketing campaign, and I think that is a relevant consideration for this exercise too. So also think about a short statement that describes how the advertising of your new product is trying to make women feel – e.g. empowered? Beautiful? Have a think about the emotional response you are aiming for an make sure it checks in with all of which you have worked on during this process.

So that’s a lot to take in, and is a slightly unique form of a typical Creative Brief, however I genuinely believe that there is a huge amount of value in going through the motions of this “creative” process, regardless of whether you consult your marketing work out to a professional, whether you intend to spend any money in advertising or the promotion of your brand, products or services. My point simply is, it is healthy and high beneficial to go through the exercise of reviewing your business objectives, strategies, to evaluate what it is that separates you from the pack and formulating a way that allows you to exploit your business’s best features in the eyes of those important people of yours, your customers. Whether or not you actually executive this plan, I believe is irrelevant, as the benefit is in taking the time to step outside the hectic world of daily operations and objectively assess the way you communicate and are perceived by the outside world.

Charlie Caruso

Charlie Caruso is the Founder and CEO of PuggleFM, an online radio station and podcast hub for parents around the world. PuggleFM’s episodes regularly feature in the top 10 on iTunes and have gained a reputation for being trustworthy and credible sources of news and information for families.


Chitty, William, Nigel Barker, Michael Valos, and Terence A. Shrimp. Integrated Marketing Communications. Melbourne: Cengage Learning, 2012.

Featured image: Credit

You can spot those who have done a marketing degree (or part thereof) a mile away – the giveaway is their use of irrelevant marketing jargon like “point of difference” and “call to action”. These words are used to fool those who don’t have a similar degree into thinking they know more then we do, but those who actually understand marketing and how it can benefit your organisation will be able to explain it without using these words. For those who haven’t done a commerce, marketing or business degree, sometimes disseminating the difference between the major forms of marketing communications can be tricky. In my post I will attempt to explain the core forms of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) without the use of spin.

So what IS marketing exactly? Well, as defined by my trusted University textbook, marketing consists of the marketing mix strategies that organisations develop to transfer value, through exchange, to their customers (Chitty, Barker, Valos, & Shrimp, 2012). Translated, it’s what you use when you want to send your customers a message about how great your organisation is and why they need to direct their consumerism-driven cravings your way to buy your product/service.

Marketing communications is a critical aspect of a company’s overall marketing mission and a major determinant of its success in a market (Chitty, Barker, Valos, & Shrimp, 2012). But you already knew that right?

So what are the major forms of marketing communications?

  1. Advertising – a form of static, mass communication in form of an image, audio or visual message. Organisations develop their message, produce it on their desired medium (this would be mail outs, TV advert, radio advert, magazine or newspaper print advert, and replicate that same message/image/visual/audio numerous times to the consumer. These are considered non-personal because the organisation is simultaneously communicating with multiple receivers (perhaps millions), rather than a specific person or a small group, and they cannot guarantee who exactly will view the advertisement, e.g. a billboard advertisement, while it can be viewed by a higher number of people, there is no guarantee that a certain target demographic will view it or respond to it. This form of marketing is useful for organisations like fast food chains where they target most demographics, thus in this case mass communication is more useful than direct marketing. Advertising is designed to accomplish communication objectives, such as creating brand awareness and additionally to influence consumer attitudes toward the brand/product/service. It is useful for brand/product awareness but its effectiveness can be fickle and there are not guarantees to be a sale conversion from advertising.
  2. Direct marketing – the use of several types of media to reach consumers and encourage them to purchase or take some form of immediate response, and unlike advertising, it’s an interactive process rather than being a one way form of communication. Database marketing is an integral part of direct marketing because it provides companies with information that allows them to profile their customers and to establish long-term relationships. An example of direct marketing would also be using sponsored advertisements on Facebook where organisations can choose the demographics of those the sponsored ad is targeted to. This tends to be a more effective method to generate sales conversion as your organisation is typically targeting those they know have a high interest in the product or service and who have a higher chance of buying.
  3. Sales promotions – this refers to all marketing activities that attempt to directly stimulate buyer action or an immediate sale. Examples of Consumer Orientated sales promotions include using price reductions, free samples, contests/sweepstakes, coupons and rebates in an effort to encourage consumers to buy. Consumer promotions are important as they offer a solution to accomplish goals that advertising by itself cannot achieve. Sales promotions can be extremely valuable, and if designed and delivered correctly, can be a great way to build year-over-year and month-over-month revenue growth.
  4. Sponsorship Marketing – the practice of promoting the interests of a company and its brand by associating the company and its brands with a specific event. This form of marketing can be extremely valuable for some organisations, and less so for others. It’s a matter of finding the right fit for the brand and the event, and essentially what that boils down to is whether or not their target demographic is interested in the event, and therefore will be exposed to the brand by association with the event, and for the event organisers, potential revenue OR assistance with supplies, promotion, equipment, staff etc.
  5. Marketing public relations (MPR) – like advertising, MPR involves non-personal brand exposure, but unlike advertising, it is not paid for. This can be a good and a VERY bad thing. When it’s good, MPR consists of favourable news items or editorial comments about an organisation’s product or services that receive free print space or broadcast time because a journalist considers the content newsworthy, however, in order to be credible, the report must remain unbiased and ‘not paid for’ by the company receiving the publicity (despite most glossy magazines who actively ignore this point). However, as the coverage or ‘PR’ is constructed without the interjection of the organisation, if the message or organisation itself if misconstrued or taken out of context could potentially be very damaging to the brand, and the public’s perception of it, which could prove extremely costly to rectify.
  6. Personal Selling – this strategy is based on person-to-person communication, where the salesperson informs, educates and persuades prospective buyers to purchase the company’s products or services. One key advantage personal selling has over other promotional methods is that it is a two-way form of communication. Many non-personal forms of promotion, such as a radio advertisement, are inflexible, at least in the short-term, and cannot be easily adjusted to address audience questions. The interactive nature of personal selling also makes it the most effective promotional method for building relationships with customers, particularly in the business-to-business market. This is especially important for companies that either sell expensive products or sell lower cost but high volume products (i.e., buyer must purchase in large quantities) that rely heavily on customers making repeat purchases. Many people know that sales success often requires the marketer to develop and maintain strong relationships with members of the purchasing company, and personal selling can offer a great method to achieve that.
  7. Point-of-Purchase communications – this includes in-store displays, posters, signs and other materials that are designed to influence consumer buying decisions at the point of purchase. This form of marketing can be really powerful for those who are selling tangible products that aren’t too bulky and are mass produced. In order for it to be effective, the organisation must first determine where their target market shops, and if it’s online, that’s ok too, advertise on the websites your target market frequents. If your target shoppers only venture to the stores to go food shopping, place your items there or wherever it is you determine is the places your consumers frequent.

The effectiveness of IMC involves using different types of communication medium and in order for it to be beneficial to your organisation, one must understand the brands’ marketing environment, target market, their behaviours in order to integrate the assorted communication media to effectively influence the consumer’s decision making. Hopefully this article has provided you with a quick rundown on the basics of marketing, which might allow you to better understand what is being talked about at the next meeting on marketing.

My advice, go for the mixed bag, select the lollies appropriate for you and your product or service, don’t select only one kind of lolly and make sure you understand your customers’ tastes before you invest in ANY lolly assortment, make sure they complement one another!

Charlotte Caruso

Charlotte Caruso is an energetic and emerging force currently taking on media industry, and she has not allowed her age or busy family hold her back.

Charlotte originally launched her university career by studying Media, Journalism and PR at Murdoch University, before deciding that media wasn’t really her thing, as the thought of having some editor tell her what was “news” and the notion to be restricted by what she could cover was not the career for her.

Charlotte has gained valuable business knowledge from her International Business Studies (Major in Chinese Business) and from working her way up from temp receptionist to company administrator of an International conglomerate by age 18, where she regularly travelled overseas, presenting to boards and directors of multinational firms in Malaysia. Additionally Charlotte gained invaluable business knowledge by working alongside Executive Director Mark V. Caruso of Allied Gold Limited, whereby Mr. Caruso mentored her and provided her with key insight into the international corporate world.

However, Charlotte’s thirst for knowledge and strong desire to inform and educate those around her about important matters seemed to have caught up with her when in 2011, exacerbated by the standards of radio content in Western Australia, she founded PuggleFM, an online radio station for families. PuggleFM streams music internationally, has an impressive international following and currently 11 podcast channels, covering a wide range of topics for parents, all of which are available on iTunes. Since its 2011 inception, PuggleFM has experienced impressive growth, and has witnessed a 100% growth in website hits since its July 2012 launch.

Charlotte also formed the Incorporated NFP organization, Puggle Pals and IMPACT (Invested Members Protecting All Children Together) which was established to provide important educational and health messages to the public, and support those emerging talent who are similarly dedicated in doing so, by establishing the Puggle Potential Awards in 2013, for young, aspirant journalists committed to the same goals as Puggle Pals Inc.

In February 2013, Charlotte was a finalist in the Australian Excellence Awards – Women in Business division, as well as being nominated for Telstra Women Awards, and is a regular contributor for award winning business blog Leaders in Heels.

Credit image: cuorhome

If you’re a business owner, or hold a senior management position, you understand the devastating impact of losing key, senior employees. Those on whom you rely day in and day out, those who make your days less stressful. When the going is tough, the ones who are working back late, just as dedicated as you. Sure they’re are hard to find, but we all have them, or have had them, or are currently looking for their replacement.

So how will God be feeling on the news of the Pope’s resignation this week, (I wonder what his redundancy package would be?). We rely on senior staff to carry out our missions, provide services and meet our organisation’s goals, so we need to think about what would happen to those services or our ability to fulfill our mission if a key staff member left.

Workplace trends

Have you or your organisation thought seriously about succession planning, or are you hoping they will have the stamina to be able to work until they’re 85 years, even the POPE is struggling at that age! Another reason to focus on succession planning is the changing realities of workplaces. The impending retirement of the baby boomers is expected to have a major impact on workforce capacity. Teresa Howe in “Succession Planning and Management” identified other emerging truths about the workforce in Canada, however these trends are being witnessed worldwide:

    • Vacancies in senior or key positions are occurring in numerous organisations simultaneously and demographics indicate there are statistically fewer people available to fill them
    • Baby boomer retirements are on the rise just at the time when the economy is growing and increasing the demand for senior management expertise
    • There is no emerging group of potential employees on the horizon as in past generations (i.e. baby boomers, women entering the workforce, large waves of immigration)
    • Many organisations eliminated middle manager positions during restructuring in the 1980s and 1990s and no longer have this group as a source to fill senior level vacancies
    • Younger managers interested in moving up do not have the skills and experience required because they have not been adequately mentored. Middle managers, who would normally perform this type of coaching role, were eliminated.

How to manage the transition period

How do business owners, senior management or boards cope with the sudden loss of key figures in their business? Here are my pointers for making the transition period that little less traumatic.

1. Ensure you keep a strong relationship with your key players. Take a vested interest in their lives, and don’t just ‘pretend’ to, actually keep tabs of birthdays, anniversary dates, what is happening in their lives. If your key players feel a close connection with you, they are less likely to be poached from competitors, and even if they are, there more likely to tell you about it first (hopefully so you can persuade them to stay on).

Someone to tell it to is one of the fundamental needs of human beings. ~Miles Franklin

Additionally, if you know them well enough, you will gain valuable insights into what may be affecting them in their lives, which will provide you with the knowledge to ensure you can keep them happy. An example, if Captain Invincible is complaining about his wife nagging him about the holiday she has always wanted to go on, work with your HR team for this to happen.

Taking the time to do helpful and unnecessary acts of kindness goes a long way for employee loyalty, and you SHOULD go this extra mile for those who continually perform and are invaluable to you. The cost of NOT doing this could be a lot more than you’re willing to part with. Another example could be having the knowledge that SuperHRlady is moving house, and arranging for one of the company trucks to assist her with the move. This would make a tremendous impact on their lives, through a small contribution on your behalf. But you can only do this if you have a regular, genuine, close, professional relationship with them.

A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money. John Ruskin

2. Ensure your company has a strong and up-to-date succession plan. God only knows people do retire. Even at 85, we have to let them go sometimes! To prevent the retirement of OperationsMan from being a stressful, traumatic event, ensure this transition is planned for.With careful planning and preparation, organisations can manage the changes that result from a generational transfer of leadership as well as the ongoing changes that occur regularly when key employees leave an organisation.

Although the type and extent of planning will be different, organisations both large and small need to have some sort of succession plan. Effective succession planning supports organisational stability and sustainability by ensuring there is an established process to meet staffing requirements. Boards and executive directors can demonstrate leadership by having the strategies and processes in place to ensure that these transitions occur smoothly, with little disruption to the company. With careful planning and preparation, organisations can manage the changes that result from a generational transfer of leadership as well as the ongoing changes that occur regularly

The lesson is that, No. 1, this management has to be at the highest class possible. No. 2, they have to have a succession plan. Al-Waleed bin Talal

3. Don’t assume everyone is content. Especially not the important ones – ASK. Provide them with a challenging, rewarding environment. Don’t assume they are satisfied with the same things they were 5 years ago, regularly checking in with them on a professional basis as well as a personal basis. Ask them if they feel challenged, or would like a new challenge, if their training is sufficient, understanding the answers to these questions is vital to be able to retain quality personnel.

Assumptions are the termites of relationships. Henry Winkler

4. Understand their market value. If your key players are as valuable as you know they are, the chances are, they know it too, and so do your competitors. It’s always hard to find great people, but even harder to keep them. When other organisations lose their key people from retirement, head hunting, mergers, whatever it may be, when push comes to shove, they will play every trick in the book to attract your people away from you, and towards them. It’s always hard to find great people, but even harder to keep them

Head hunting will always occur, the only way you can prevent significant loss from this is to ensure that you have the strong personal and professional relationship as I mentioned above, ensure they are satisfied with their job (again, as above), and make sure their financial rewards match or exceed that of competitors. That’s not to say you should pay your people more in case they are head hunted, but pay them well enough not to jump at the first offer they get. Make sure you keep abreast of the HR news of your competitors, know when they are on the lookout, and understand what they might be offering to your staff.

If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles. Sun Tzu

5. Think outside the box when it comes to retaining the value and knowledge of the departed. People retire, people leave. That’s ok if they were terrible, but damaging if they were key players. A way to curtail the loss of these significant people is to ensure when they do leave, you retain a strong positive relationship with them.

This might be hard as the urge to be resentful if a key player abandons ships might be strong, however, they might hate their new post and want to come back, and it’s valuable to ensure there is an allowance for that. Also, keeping things friendly with past key influencers can allow for the opportunity for the knowledge of these Super Employees to continually benefit your organization.

Invite your ex-SuperPeople to Golfing Days, to social events, and have your young and aspirant upcoming super stars mingle with them, ask them questions, there is no preventing your retired Super-Strategy-Man from giving your newbies all the tips of the trade on the golf course, retired or not. The key is to think outside the box about how you can still utilise their knowledge and experience, even without them being on the pay run.

Retirement means no pressure, no stress, no heartache… unless you play golf. Gene Perret

Hopefully some of these points can act as food for thought for you and your organisation, and allow you to better plan for succession and key personnel retention.

Charlotte Caruso

Founder & CEO of PuggleFM

The extraordinary growth of the Chinese economy since 1980 has revolutionised what we had previously understood about industrialisation and economic growth. This has not been by chance, and I am not alone in thinking that their culture and the influence of Confucianism has played a large role in their story.

Having recently submitted a research paper on the Chinese economy, I have had the pleasure of investigating and reading extensively about the characteristics of Chinese culture and its current effects on global business culture. As Confucius said;

“If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself.” Confucius

Bearing these wise words in mind, I have drawn up what I believe are 5 characteristics of Chinese business ideology that I feel would be useful for imitation:

1. The way they perceive a ‘crisis’

Crisis in the Chinese language (pictured) literally translates to a combination of Danger and Opportunity. Every ‘crisis’ poses a potential opportunity to the Chinese, only if that ‘danger’ is managed properly. This mentality has made Chinese thinking positive and flexible, providing an appetite for change and opportunity.

The Chinese similarly believe that when everything is going well, one must plan for the worst case scenario. This is not to say that you should be prepared to fail, far from it. What the Chinese believe is that when you find success, you have much more to lose, and that in order to prevent future failure, one must effectively evaluate worst case scenario planning to ensure a business is adequately prepared for any “crisis”.

Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure. Confucius

2. The importance of “Guanxi”

“Guanxi” literally means “relationships”, and interpersonal relationships in Chinese business is extremely valuable, as Guanxi has been stated to be their ‘second currency’.

The Chinese business mentality is very much one of “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” In essence, this translates to exchanging favours, which are expected to be done regularly and voluntarily. What underpins this ideology is the concept of respect within a business context. Respect between all with whom you conduct business with should be something we imitate from the Chinese business culture, as Confucius said;

Without feelings of respect, what is there to distinguish men from beasts? Confucius

3. Strategy and Preparation

The significance of strategy in Chinese business cannot be fully understood without knowledge of the pride the Chinese have in their military history. To summarise, strategy to the Chinese is like chaos is to children, it’s in their nature. While the concept and usefulness of strategy has not been lost on Western businesses, the question remains as to how much attention we truly give it.

Is ‘strategy’ just a buzz word, a New Year ideology soon lost in the madness of trying to run your business, or is every business move you make coming straight from your business strategy? It’s something worth considering.

If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people. Confucius

If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading. Lao Tz

4. Re-evaluating what success really means

The idea that a collective board of a major corporation could review their annual financial reports, see a small profit margin and say “hey, it’s not a loss, well done everyone, no need to do any more than we’re doing”; could appear lunacy from the Western business culture perspective. But, such perspectives toward profit and success are prolific within the Chinese business context.

The Confucian discipline, Mencius, made it abundantly clear that it was immoral of rulers to concentrate on profits for their respective states, thus ethics was deeply incorporated into business activities. Consequently, as business behavior was encouraged to be governed by the ethical principles, it has held that righteousness outweighs profits. Removing the solitary goal of profit margins, and instead embracing the fact that the bottom line, so long as it’s not loss, is not the main aim of the game is a valued concept.

Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.Confucius

5. What Confucius said…

Confucianism and its role in Chinese business culture cannot be understated. Confucianism has been the most profound and significant thought system in traditional Chinese culture and for centuries has influenced China’s economy, politics, and business culture. Without going into too much more detail than simply stating Confucius was an extraordinarily wise man whose words, even to this day, can prove very valuable to businesspeople around the world, I will end this article with a collection of what I feel are very useful words that I hope you find value in, for your business.

When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps. Confucius

Instead of being concerned that you have no office, be concerned to think how you may fit yourself for office. Instead of being concerned that you are not known, seek to be worthy of being known. Confucius

The superior man makes the difficulty to be overcome his first interest; success only comes later.Confucius

Read our ultimate guide on choosing the right management style to every situation.

Top image: Steve Webel