National’s SME policy

The New Zealand National Party manifesto just published with some pledges to help the small business sector. We know we are important to the economy – but this really shows clarity of purpose and thinking, which I disagree with.

Read the full document

Get people back to work

Kiwisaver by New Zealand Government

One of their proposals is to provide New Zealanders who have lost their job with up to $30,000 in capital to put towards a new business idea through a BusinessStart package. Sounds good.

But won’t this be focused on people who may not be right for self-employment or business ownership? Where’s the filter?

The proposal states $1,000 for getting a business plan together…. but I think the Business Start package is going to create a raft of new revenue streams for accountants (who are not business advisors) writing those business plans. Just like the gravy train of Regional Business Partner advisors [disclosure I’m one of them].

Fund through Kiwisaver

A second layer of the programme allows folks to use their savings to fund the new business. Accessing Kiwisaver money to start a business should be contingent on there being an age sliding scale of kiwisaver deposits – this could let people spend their pension on a business which won’t fly and will leave them worse off at retirement…. And then who’s responsible?

The third layer is $10k of tax credits once profitable. This is interesting but may postpone business failure – but is a low risk strategy from a Government.

Lastly they want the fund managers of Kiwisaver funds to invest as if they were angel investors. Kiwisaver providers are not experts in private equity – so don’t let them invest their funds into areas they know little about (well – really they are OUR funds as it’s OUR savings).  I worry about this because it puts retirement savings at risk for folks like me whose savings go into other people’s businesses.

What do you think?

churchill, union jack flags,

The new Covid – a battle not the whole war

The announcement of a renewed Covid lockdown to Level 3 in Auckland – which affects me and many of my clients seems to be a mixture of ‘here we go round the mulberry bush’ and ‘once more into the breach, dear Friends.’

I can’t decide if it’s Shakespeare or a child’s nursery tale.

Be obedient and diligent

I was reminded this week by Trish Love that Churchill didn’t know how many battles it would take to win a war.  And neither do we.

She wrote

In 1939 nobody knew how long the war was going to last.  But, they did know there would be more than one major battle to finish it.  At every stage, Churchill and others had to navigate with the then current set of circumstances.  They did so with courage and steel resolve.  Our Covid-19 situation is not dissimilar.  It will only be with hindsight that we find its’ full impact and duration.  

If from the future looking back, you were to know that we are currently entering the very early stages of a second major “battle”, what would you do differently if you had that benefit of hindsight?  Consciously consider this now, because we have been told that further lock-downs are a case of when, not if.  Plan for your business needs from the perspective of many potential major economic battles occurring in this war.  Work with us to do so, it is crucial to have external help on your team.  Nobody can do this alone.

And what if, this were to be only the second major economic battle of many, over the next few years?  What if we had 7-8 further lock-downs heading their way towards us?  You might need to change what you do, by further investing in some areas of your business, but ration other areas.  The rationing may need to be on your discretionary spending, subject to your business needs.  

Covid is our modern day battleground.

Our goal is survival, thrive if possible, and adapt and renew.

All big ‘asks’ for a business community under pressure.

What we learned already

From the last lockdown we all learned fast. Take a look back at the recession marketing video articles I wrote if you need a refresher.

  • Use what we learned already
  • Look out for each other – help, offer, support
  • Don’t be ashamed to ask for help
  • And consider Scenario Planning as a tool for your future outlook
Vaughan Winiata and Rebecca Caroe video

Looking for marketing answers

The uncertainty and change facing us is a new challenge.  I have been doing short mini videos through the lockdown.  They were designed to give fast tips for action.

Now I’m hosting longer form discussions with a locals who are smart thinkers and smart do-ers.

I want to know what the Government is doing for SMEs.  And so I booked two interviews.  One with a business owner and one with a member of the Small Business Council working with MBIE.  What they told me shows how far we have to go and the sort of resources YOU can expect to get in the form of support for your business future.

SMEs and public policy

First up is Vaughan Winiata – we are talking about small medium enterprises in New Zealand.

New Zealand businesses are facing an uncertain future.

  • What is the SME landscape
  • What skillsets are needed to advance an SME business?
  • Bridge-building to Wellington policy makers
  • What are your Top 3 things you would like Stuart Nash Minister for Small Business to address in the $20 Billion budget set aside for assistance for SMEs


Andy Hamilton is on the Small Business Council

Andy and I talk tips and tricks for business owners facing challenges.

  • The landscape of SME business owners and how they are faring in Lockdown
  • Have you worked in a recession before or not?
  • Can New Zealand go digital?
  • Should all firms be direct to consumer DTC?
  • Which model of capitalism do we want? Stakeholders are more than shareholders – they include customers, suppliers and staff
  • Small Business Council and working to improve business life for SMEs


Rose and thorne, bra donation, essential workers, Covid19, Lockdown marketing,

Brand repositioning post-Covid19

Are you trying to understand how your marketing needs to change?

This article sets out the themes which you can use in your own firm to help discern the new rules, the new landscape and the new markets we are now trading in.

The new marketing reality

Nothing is clear.  This is obvious.

But that’s hardly helpful for us marketing people who need to keep on creating campaigns, keep on filling funnels and keep on pushing our recovery efforts after lockdown.

Signs are emerging about what consumers are interested in and where they will look favourably on brands.

I am regularly scanning the world looking for examples and inspiration of what can be done and how you can do it for your brand.

What consumers value

Top home-stay business Look After Me surveyed their audiences and found a distinct shift in sentiment.

Instead of favouring flying on holiday, most now prefer car travel; most prefer to book with local companies to “keep money in the NZ economy”, and most now prioritise accommodation “cleanliness” over price, comfort and wifi provision.

Financial and economic news website, asked its readers what they value.  The answers were clear from the start – every single segment of reader who was surveyed came back with similar views.  Two quotes suffice

Your people have a better understanding of fringe issues, more reliably, than any other NZ news outlet. Your reporting on these peripheral matters shows incredible strength. And that makes the world better.

With the woeful quality of NZ journalism it’s my only trusted source of financial news.

ACTION: do a survey now

Understand the new priorities

Clues about the new priorities can be found from a range of commentators.  Some have been “banging this drum” for a while, others are interpreting new data.

I look to global trends as well as industry-specific experts when trying to find a pattern worth following.

Mark Carney, Central Banker, says the “The economy must yield to human values“.  By this I interpret that people matter over profit and that the capitalist model of pursuing profit over all other goals is being challenged.

Retail specialist Mary Portas calls it the “Kindness Economy”.

She realised that kindness isn’t weak but strong: a foundation from which to grow a business that has truth, integrity, longevity and commerciality. As we move away from a time of rabid consumerism and ‘peak stuff,’ Mary believes we are entering a new type of economy. One built on kindness and a Triple Bottom Line: people, planet and profit – in that order. And business who organise themselves around this kinder way of behaving, will be the ones that win.

And Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist, interprets apparently polarising reactions to the same situation in terms of “moral intuitions and values”. In this way, relaxing lockdown provokes both protests against restriction of liberty from social distancing and protests about growing exposure to harm by going back to work. Both can be understood from underlying moral values.

In the context of Brexit and the lockdown, he found

Remainers placed more emphasis on the value of care and the need to minimise harm, whereas leavers placed more emphasis on the value of personal liberty. When evaluating an action or a policy, remainers would ask “will this cause harm?”, whereas leavers would be inclined to ask “will something restrict our freedom?”.

The moral values of your brand now matter.  The alignment and prioritisation of your internal teams across departments will be different now. Your emphasis on the planetary community needs to be interpreted into both the bottom line and operational mores.

ACTION: Review your CRM and sales / marketing alignment

What will “value” mean?

This is tough and will definitely evolve as fear of infection subsides and rises with waves of the pandemic.  In New Zealand now we are feeling relatively safe – lockdown is in Level 2 and we are back at school and work.  Compare our situation to Brazil or New York and value will be very different.

Here are some themes which may emerge – to what extent does your brand and business subscribe to these?

  • Local resilience > global efficiency
  • High corporate debt > riskiness of underlying equity
  • Will the state continue to be engaged within private commerce?
  • Is resilience > risk now?
  • How are tail risks managed?
  • We all understand the fear of unemployment now.
  • The price of everything = the value of everything, including global heating.
  • Economic dynamism and efficiency ≠ solidarity, fairness, responsibility and compassion
What is the new Maslow hierarchy?

Values and needs are realigning.

Now that we fully realise the deep inter-dependency of our global community, will this change our prioritisation about health, wellbeing, global supply chains and personal independence (doing what I want) compared to communal dependence (doing what WE need)?

Can we learn to trust experts again?

Will our approach to climate change (surely the biggest existential threat to our way of life) be adjusted to reflect these new values and to form a new consensus on priorities compared to risks?

What did your company do during Covid-19?

Writing the history of this period can wait for now.

Yet I am certain that the judgements will fall on brands and the public perception of where they were before and after the emergency passes will be based on “people” outcomes not “profit” outcomes.

I bet Greg Foran wishes he was still at Walmart and hiring thousands of new workers rather than at Air New Zealand and laying them off.

This will have the resonance of “what did you do in the War?” and whether you judge the outcome to be “good” or “bad” will depend to a large part on the consumer’s view of whether you were a hoarder or a generous giver; whether you laid off staff, furloughed or retained staff; whether you hoarded resources or paid over the odds to acquire over others or whether you generously supported others.

Adjust brand positioning

Once you know what values your consumers now have you can start customisation to respond to this new priority.

Rose and thorne, bra donation, essential workers, Covid19, Lockdown marketing,

Rose and Thorne donate bras to essential workers

Some of these will be short-term and related to Covid19 and Lockdown – like Rose and Thorne’s Gift-a-Bra to an essential worker.

How important are these people? Very.  How much do we value them?  A lot.  And how many do we know? Lots.

This is great marketing because it is a classic member-get-member programme aligned to the issue of the day.

theme holiday, covid19, marketing in lockdown,

Brand repositioning post-Covid19


Look After Me have taken a lead by redesigning holidays into packages that theme around hobbies and interests, that are local and have quality marks for locally owned businesses with high cleanliness scores.

Smart.  Easy to understand.  Aligned.

There’s a Recession too

And of course the recession is already creating new winners and losers.  Take a browse through the Emergency Business Forum questions business owners are asking and their own perceptions of “need” and the consistent themes emerge

  • growth of online ecommerce or at a minimum a website
  • how do we reach our customers
  • fresh marketing ideas
  • finding distributors and stockists
  • learning about digital media
  • how to get customers to switch to online
  • why word of mouth doesn’t cut it any more
  • migrating from in person to online
  • starting a customer database

Part of me groans when reading these; part of me rejoices.

Blending the practical with the strategic is going to be critical in giving quality guidance and up-skilling.  Yet the problem lies as much with medium as small businesses.  Speedy decision making is easy for the owner-operator and will not be so easy to apply to enterprise.


click stream, analysis, email click

Click Analysis to raise ROI

Take a look at your most recent email marketing campaign and review where people clicks and how many people clicked on each link.

I found that we were getting a lot of clicks in an unexpected place and we were able to correct that in our next campaign iteration. I also recommend a chrome extension which will help you appraise your website clicks.

Watch more Recession Marketing videos

and find the top 6 actions for marketing strategy for a recession.

Marketing for short planning horizons

Messaging for marketing campaigns during Covid19

We realise the super-short time horizon that we can work on.

Plan for the immediate future. Do campaigns that work within a 1 week time horizon.

Look at Superdrug’s campaign – be kinder and make smarter choices for our planet and the relationships between brands and customers. Be cautious and careful about making predictions.

Klaviyo, retail, US checks

Will consumer spend recover after Lockdown?

When will consumer spending get back to pre-Covid19 levels?

It’s a gigantic question with huge implications for marketing and the world economy.  Early clues are coming out and if you know where to look, you will be able to improve your marketing planning.

Frontline consumer research

This week I saw two research reports which start to show clues about how different retail sectors are responding.

The first is from Datamine – an analytics firm – who took credit card transaction data and disaggregated it by spend type to create a year on year comparison of how New Zealanders are buying.

Datamine, retail spend, NZ consumers, Covid19

Total online retail spend NZ Feb-Apr 2020

It also provides a breakdown by sector – comparing year on year as well as online versus total spend.  Supermarkets and Liquor stores make particularly good reading.

US stimulus cheque spending

Getting insight into how US consumers are using their Government-provided stimulus cheques has come from Klaviyo – this is interesting as it separates “essentials” for households from “New Essentials” which Lockdown has emphasised such as electronics, home improvement and toys/hobbies as well as online entertainment companies.

Klaviyo, retail, US checks

US stimulus check spend on retail


Do your own research

I’ve done micro-polls on Facebook, and detailed audience surveys from subscribers to website browsers during this recession.

Do your own and use it to interpret this public research into the context of your brand and audience.


lockdown customer survey

Customer survey during lockdown

Continuing our series on lockdown marketing tips – how about doing a survey of your customers?

  • One goal
  • Few questions
  • Allow freeform answers as well as picklists
  • Make a valuable offer at the end.


Rush into eCommerce during Lockdown

Today’s first quick marketing tip is about Competitor analysis – find out what your competitors are doing to market at this time

Open a search window and type your brand name vs.

Wait and see what auto complete suggests.

Then do it again for the suggested name. I did the Warehouse vs and it suggested Kmart. Then I did Kmart vs…

Set up your online shop

Getting online for ecommerce is happening for many brands due to the lockdown.

Ensure that your proposal suits your current need, the speed you need to roll it out and the ability of your marketing team to execute.

The video explains why.