By Leon Gettler >>

IN THE CURRENT CLIMATE of social distancing and lockdowns, businesses need to upgrade their marketing.

Josh Meah, a celebrated New Jersey based marketing specialist, says it might mean reinventing the business model.

For a start, it doesn’t matter what industry it is, whether it’s pub or restaurant, or a shop, or even a law practice, companies need to remodel themselves as e-commerce businesses.

He said recession and depression environments create a need for companies to understand the market drivers of their business and what drives consumer behaviour. 

“Usually that comes down to data, and right now from a digital marketing standpoint, because I do think that’s specially relevant because of social distancing.” Mr Meah told Talking Business.

“In my opinion, all organisations should understand the e-commerce model. That is a novel perspective for a lot of organisations that are used to brick and mortar style relationships, in person-meeting and so on and so forth.

“However, the e-commerce model is based on the premise that if you spend money, you can trace it to its impact.

“The e-commerce model is premised on the ability that you can take a single product and actually identify if you spent X advertising dollars, you will receive Y revenue, not just on a product basis. You’ll be able to trace it back to the all the campaigns that yielded that product outcome.”


Mr Meah said the e-commerce model gives all companies, whether they’re an accounting practice or a restaurant, the capability to track leads.

What generates phone calls, what generates emails or some point of contact, and giving them the ability to evaluate the cost of generating that contact, means they can evaluate the effectiveness of, say, a Google ad campaign.

“That’s what more sophisticated service organisations are doing,” Mr Meah said. “They’re analysing their client base, bringing it all back to their advertising so they can say the amount of revenue generated from this campaign was this.”

He said with lockdowns, many restaurants and food services, had online menus for people to order food and get it delivered. Potentially, it would allow them to increase the conversion rate.

“In fact, you could argue that restaurants are local e-commerce for food,” he said. 


Another strategy is for companies to focus on customers in their client base and figure out who their best customers are, either by surveying them or talking to them directly.

“There is a good chance they have something in common with each other,” Mr Meah said.

“There’s some reason why this demographic of your customer base is resilient in this environment, and once you figure that out, now you have a persona … a concept from which you can develop future campaigns to find similar people,” he said.

Another strategy is email marketing which he says is far more valuable than people realise as the size of a company’s email list can directly translate into revenue.

The key point however is that the cost of increasing an email list is so nominal that if companies can find ways to increase the size and improve the attractiveness of their message, they can find profitable growth regardless of the kind of organisation they are.

This means companies need to look carefully at whatever email toolkits they are using.

Mr Meah said organisations also needed to understand their brand. As opposed to sales, which are purely transactional, branding, on the other hand, is in the service of relationships.

“Companies that invest in brand, are investing in becoming clearer to the market place, becoming more visually coherent, and more trustworthy,” Mr Meah said.

“It’s easier to refer a brand that’s clear and compelling. A brand that has a point of view one you think about more often.”

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at  


By Leon Gettler >>

WHEN RACHEL CALLAN from Flamanko Social Media and Katie Martel from Croft PR took a hit from COVID-19, they launched a ‘Thriving’ initiative to help hundreds of small businesses stay connected, inspired – and thrive no matter how they had been impacted.

The extraordinary part was that Ms Callan is based on the Sunshine Coast and Ms Martel is in Brisbane. They were able to work together and create the project.

They set up a Thriving Through COVID-19 Facebook community of hundreds of small business owners to share their experiences and share tips on getting through the crisis.

The businesses came from all kinds of industries and locations. The list included gin makers, bedding manufacturers, café owners, tourism and holiday accommodation owners, photographers, plumbers, physiotherapists, psychologists and personal trainers. And they came from all over the world … 

Ms Martel said she and Ms Callan worked with a lot of businesses that were in retail, hospitality, bars and clubs which were at the forefront of the first wave of COVID-19 restrictions.

“From the first week onwards, we were doing a lot of crisis management for them and helping them adjust their entire business model and the way they were communicating with their staff,” Ms Martel told Talking Business.

“That was the first week and the second week, pretty much everything turned to lockdown so our businesses were significantly affected. So Rachel and I jumped on the phone and put our heads together about how could support not only our clients but also others in our wider network.

“We figured we should share as much as we knew of what we had already communicated with our clients, help others know they should be communicating but also we were also dealing with the challenges of being mums at home with kids full time,” she said.

“We put our heads together and thought there must be millions of others that are out there going through this. Let’s do what we can to connect us and share our stories, get real about the challenges that we’re all going through and created this group Thriving through COVID.”


Businesses in the group included cafes and cake stores, importers, food and beverage, accountants, business consultants, web development and IT. They came in different sizes.

Some had 20 staff that they had to reduce to one or two people. Others were sole business owners. They looked in from everywhere, ranging from Wellington in New Zealand to Sri Lanka.

Ms Martel said the group had been called Thriving not in terms of cash flow but in terms of mental support to help keep everyone strong.

“There is going to be something on the other side whatever that will be – and the biggest message we’re trying to share is as long as you keep your community strong, no matter what it was before, and you focus on supporting your community in that time through sharing as much information and supporting your clients and target audiences, you’re going to come out well on the other side,” she said.

Ms Callan said one of the common threads through the community was about people taking the opportunity to learn new skills as well.

“Taking the time to pause and think about the areas and projects they weren’t able to get to while they were in the day-to-day grind. Now there is an opportunity to get on top of all those things that were on the to do list for so long,” Ms Callan said,

Ms Martel said that while COVID-19 had impacted on all their businesses, it has also given everyone the opportunity to focus on what’s really important … and why they were in business.

Thriving Through COVID-19 Facebook Group

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at

By Stella Gianotto >>

AUSTRALIA is a country that has demonstrated business innovation time and time again. Many inventions that have changed the world were created here, in our sunburnt country. Some of these inventions include the black box recorder fitted in all aircraft, spray on skin to help burn victims recover, Cochlear implants to assist deaf people to hear again and let’s not forget wi-fi technology (something we couldn’t live without today) created here, by the CSIRO.

In a recent report global management firm, McKinsey & Company wrote about business being resilient and efficient, concluding that a business’ ability to survive will be those who have ‘the ability to absorb a shock and come out of it better than the competition’1. In retail it will be survival of the brands that can adapt and compete.

What does this mean for the retail landscape? 

For the first time ever, the retail landscape around the world has been flat lined. Creating an even playing field for businesses who are agile, will employ the skill set needed and are willing to take the technology risk to innovate through these times.

Cushman and Wakefield have already predicted what new work spaces could look like, ‘using design to nudge behavior’2 and creating work spaces that ‘encourage better hygiene and social distancing’2 but how will that translate to retail environments?

Camilla and Marc are already at the forefront, launching a new e-commerce store replicating their in-store approach by creating a ‘highly personalised experience’ for consumers online. Referring to themselves to as a ‘smart store’3 they have placed their in-store experience into a digital space to for consumers to shop anywhere, anytime, from around the world.

Mark Freeman (Camilla and Marc’s CEO) eloquently stated they have created a "rich brand environment that is built on convenience, first."3

If time zone and geographic location is no longer an entry to buy, what is?

Getting under the skin of consumers, finding a place in their heart, and predicting their behaviours is what new marketing campaigns must achieve. Any market share or equity that a brand claims to own is increasingly under threat by a new breed of consumer that will emerge post COVID-19. Brands who have pioneered these times (like Camilla and Marc) have begun to understand the psyche of their customer.

How did they do this?


By finding ways to create a seamless union using design, data, technology, and consumer behaviour – emerges a powerfully new retail experience online. It is what many digital marketing agencies claim they produce for retailers, through sales funnels and click bait campaigns that (at best) deliver lacklustre results to the business itself, by only selling heavily discounted merchandise.

The small, yet savvy retail player can now be on an international stage, ready to compete in the worldwide stakes that is fast becoming the new ‘super’ market as we will know it.

We’re already seeing local advertisers such as NB Streams remind us in their current advertising campaign, ‘’The supermarket is where your customers are' – a hard punch in the face reminder, to many retailers, on where to find their customers.

A new breed of consumer will arise from this pandemic, one that we have not seen the behaviours of since the ‘Golden Age’ of economic recovery post World War Two.

Its why Aussie retailers need to lift their game, and fast. This is the ‘Steven Bradbury at the 1994 Winter Olympics kind of moment’ for Australia. Retailers have trained for this their entire lives and with major international competitors falling over, now is our chance to bring home the GOLD!!

We are already seeing large multi-chain super stores like Woolworths and Kmart re-appropriating suburban stores into online fulfillment centres to cater for the increased online shopping, with many more to follow.



If we follow Camilla and Marc’s lead, a new breed of retail environments will emerge becoming a beefed-up concept store rich in brand experiences for the consumer.

Retail outlets will no longer be filled with sales assistants, they will be filled with experts at building customer relations, your sales assistants and store managers will become pseudo brand ambassadors defining the consumers brand experience online and offline.

Brand ambassadors will be key in unlocking within your consumer, the passionate brand enthusiast, cementing them as a customer for life and, more importantly, an advocate of your brand.

We may think that COVID-19 is what disrupted the world of retail, but the reality is that consumer demand has been disrupting the retail landscape for some time. COVID-19 simply helped to sanitise the space.

The consumer breed now emerging has been affected physically, emotionally, psychologically and impacted economically. As a result, they want ‘convenient, fast, efficient, first class, engagement, consultancy and advice’ delivered in the comfort of their own home.

The barrier to entry for retailers has been substantially reduced. Geographic location and time zone are no longer the barrier and consumer’s experience has evolved into a cross generational and cross cultural one.

No longer are bricks and mortar the definition of retail success.


If retailers take the time to understand the new breed of consumer, they will start to see a new currency to trade with – data. It has been around for decades however it is only recently that the world is understanding how to adopt the use of data creatively into the customer experience, within a new business model called ‘Clicks and Mortar’.

The ‘Clicks and Mortar’ business model offers consumers the opportunity to play with the product, to touch, smell and taste it in a way they cannot do online. Consumers still want to be able see a product in person (at their choosing) and have a deep enriching experience with the brand even before they buy it.

If retailers can achieve this, they will create ‘a retail platform which links the offline and online worlds using data to improve in-store experience’. 4

There is a reason why high-end retailers offer exclusive shopping events with drinks, canapes and goodie bags, why some banks have turned into night clubs with DJs and why fashion stores have turned into walk through coffee shops.

Think Nike with their NikeID technology, where you can completely customise a shoe after you have been in store to try one on. Or Zara, using basic augmented reality to show you how a garment fits and moves, all shared on social media before you even buy the product.

Today, data tells us that consumers want self service facilitated by the retailer offering advice, support, customisation on demand and an ‘in-store’ experience as part of the sales process. Retailers who know how to use data throughout the customers experience will emerge as powerhouse brands in retail.

Perhaps the word ‘retail’ defined as ‘the sale of goods to ultimate consumers’5 needs re-definition from the ‘act of selling’ to the ‘art of connecting or engaging with the consumer’ – but how long will it take for retail brands to realise this?

A return to good old-fashioned customer service, by genuinely fostering a relationship with the consumer first and using data and technology to predict future buying behaviour is the face of the new retail landscape we will see in the coming months and years.


About Stella Gianotto

Stella Gianotto is a multi-award-winning global branding expert who is passionate about building brands for a purpose, profit or a legacy. As a business owner, Ms Gianotto has traded through the Global Financial Crisis, going on to build six- and seven-figure businesses in creative industries. She's helped hundreds of business thrive during these times and knows what it takes to survive an economic downturn. Her industry awards and presence has led to media appearances and written contribution to several books, Marketing Brands Made Easy, Social Media Marketing: Write Up Your Tweet and Well Spun: Big PR and Social Media Ideas for Small Business





3. 3.







By Leon Gettler >>

HOW DO the big brands market themselves to millennials when the younger generation no longer watches TV or listens to radio?

They have to do it through social media. More particularly, they have to find so-called ‘influencers’ – users who have established a lot of credibility in a specific industry, have access to a huge audience, and who can persuade others to act based on their recommendations.

This is why Domenic Carosa set up CrowdMedia. Now based in Amsterdam, the Australian company, which is listed on the ASX, markets through technology — predominantly to millennials, predominantly using platforms like social media, including YouTube and Instagram.

“You only need to walk down the street these days to see that millennials specifically are spending more time staring into their mobile phones,” CrowdMedia CEO Domenic Carosa told Talking Business

“They’re on social media sites like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram and with that, there has been an increase in the number of what we call digital influencers.

“In effect, they’re creating a new type of TV channel, whether it’s involved in fashion, or news or sport. So millennials these days are consuming this content and getting entertained and learning new recommendations for products using social media.”


CrowdMedia has worked with brands like L’Oreal and Nescafe, who are trying to target millennials, and the only way they can do that is through social media and influencers.

CrowdMedia has built technology around this, using artificial intelligence. It has created tools that allow it to identify the major influencers in the market place, how many followers they have, and their level of engagement with followers.

“We have built tools that help match the right influencer with the right brand and product because there are millions of influencers out there and so making sure we get that alignment right is absolutely critical for ourselves as well as our brands,” Mr Carosa said.

About two thirds of the CrowdMedia workforce are millennials, who are digital marketers and digital strategists, and managing them is quite a niche for Mr Carosa.

“Having a good working culture is obviously absolutely critical for our company,” he said.

He said millennials were partly motivated by money but by other things too.

CrowdMedia now runs training as part of its retention program. Once staff  become managers, CrowdMedia offers them a share option plan to become shareholders of the company. And, besides the right kind of training, he said millennials also wanted a flexible work environment.

‘”One way we’re able to retain people is by helping them and training them for their future,” Mr Carosa said. 

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at  


By Sabri Suby >>

MANY BUSINESSES go headfirst into ‘selling’ to potential customers at the first chance, which is just like asking a stranger to marry you.

Here is a proven strategy to turn more cold leads into warm, receptive potential customers:


Targeting the non-buying customer

Typically, only 3 percent of the market are actively buying, and all your competitors are already targeting them. By targeting the 97 percent of the market that are not yet active buyers you will be building a pipeline of untouched future customers.


Would you ask a stranger to marry you?

With advertising, the majority of the people that you're going to be advertising to don't know, like, or trust you – what we call ‘cold tinder traffic’. They’ve just Googled a search like ‘accountant Melbourne’. 

This is where 99 percent of businesses get it wrong. They approach their prospects with a full frontal assault.

No wining and no dining! They are walking into a bar and asking a stranger to marry them!

Businesses need to understand their ideal client. This goes beyond the usual demographics such as age and gender, you need to know what they think, feel, and what makes them tick.

Don’t expect someone to browse your website for two to three minutes and then make a purchase. You can’t expect to convert more than 1-5 percent of your leads unless you build trust first.


Offer value before you push your service

You need to effectively buy your potential customer a free drink – through knowing them and knowing what questions they are asking.

Then you can offer value.

Our proven method is to use e-books and free reports to package up a valuable piece of content and then give it to your potential customers to further educate them along their journey. You are giving them value well in advance before ever trying to move on to the sales conversation.

For example, ‘What are the 10 things I should take when I meet a new accountant?’ or ‘What are the three things you should ask a house builder?’.

This free value changes the dynamic between the potential client and your company – they get to know you and trust begins to build.

But don’t forget that your emails, reports and offers need to be 80 percent value and 20 percent pitch, so include a call to action. Anyone who exchanges their details for the report becomes a warm lead that you can then nurture.


Maximise your website

Don’t link your digital marketing to your home page. Leads will drop off as they do not immediately find what they are looking for.

Each report or marketing tool should go to a page that specifically answers the questions in the e-book or report so it addresses the potential customer’s needs.

Let the prospect get to know you. Tell them about how the business started, about the founder, why the company does what it does.

Don’t just brag about how great you are.


Nurture your prospect

You are building a relationship through regular, informative contact. You are answering your potential customer’s questions and building trust.

Then you can move to the next step which may be a free consultation. You are still offering value but you are taking the client on a ‘second date’.

The relationship can then develop all the way through to what we call ‘Netflix and chill’.



Once you have stood out through providing value, building trust and being an advocate for your customers you have already demonstrated to them where they should go when they are ready to buy. They understand your company and feel secure in purchasing from you.

Through these strategies you have the best chance of securing a satisfied, paying customer.

Sabri Suby is the founder of Australia’s fastest growing digital marketing agency, King Kong, and author of Sell Like Crazy. The book covers all facets of digital marketing and illustrates the path to success with real-life case studies where Sabri has used the exact same selling system to supercharge their business. Find out more at

DAIS BRAND Strategy has appointed Michail Kowal as its new design director, based in its Fortitude Valley, Brisbane head office.

The appointment is part of the company’s moves to ‘re-engineer’ for sustainability and to continually enhance its client-centric creativity capabilities, as previously reported in Business Acumen.

“Michail brings over 20 years of brand creation and development experience to the DAIS team,” DAIS founder and director Jack Perlinski said.

“Having worked on a diverse range of brands both nationally and internationally, Michail utilises his passion for branding and design to create, grow and nurture new and existing brands. 

“A strategic thinker with a collaborative, hands-on creative approach, Michail will be leading the DAIS design team and working to deliver the best results for our clients,” Mr Perlinksi said.

“The whole team is excited to have Michail joining us and we can’t wait to see what he contributes to our projects.”

Some of the brands DAIS has helped develop include Emporium Hotels, Clovely Estate Wines, Hema Maps, Vision 6, Queensland Leaders and International Leaders.

By Ellen Boonstra, Asia correspondent >>

THE HEARTBREAKING IMAGE of a two-year old Honduran girl crying near the US-Mexico border, while her mother is being searched and detained, made headlines around the world as the face of President Donald Trump's ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy last year.

Taken by Getty photographer and Pulitzer Prize-winner John Moore, it won this year’s World Press Photo of the Year award. 

The image is part of the traveling World Press Photo 2019 exhibition which is making its way to Brisbane, where it will be on display at the Brisbane Powerhouse from July 13 to August 4.

Celebrating the best in photojournalism, the exhibition is a reflection of the most talked about news events of the past year, featuring over 150 single images and photo stories captured by professional photographers from across the globe.

The first World Press Photo award, back in 1955, came about when members of the Dutch photojournalists’ union had the idea of turning a national competition into an international one. What began as a one-off event has been held almost every year since, with the winning pictures put together in a traveling exhibition.

From these humble beginnings in The Netherlands with just a few hundred submissions, the event has flourished into what is widely regarded as the industry equivalent of the Oscars, with this year nearly 80,000 entries and 110 exhibitions in 45 countries, seen by over four million people.

The event earlier this year in Amsterdam where the winners were announced, was a weeklong festival with a dynamic program of master classes, presentations, screenings, meet-ups and panel discussions.

Business Acumen spoke with managing director Lars Boering at the organisation’s new premises at Amsterdam’s Westergasfabriek to get the bigger picture and find out how World Press Photo has evolved over the years.

“We are more than a contest,” he said, explaining how the World Press Photo Foundation plays an important role in bringing visual storytelling to places where media censorship is rife. 

Using the Press Freedom Index as a compass, they are guided to destinations where they feel they can make an impact. This year’s plans include “mission-driven” exhibitions to El Salvador, Caracas and Baghdad, among others.

“We highlight the importance of freedom of speech, freedom of exchange of information and free flow of information. Our dream is to touch every country of the world – whether it’s with the exhibition or an activity, or just by being there.”



For two years in a row, the organisation has held exhibitions at the Yangon Photo Festival in Myanmar.

“In a country that’s not so open about press freedom, that’s something very special,” he said, adding that the organisation makes sure to maintain its neutrality. “We have one rule – we do not alter the content of the annual exhibition for political reasons.”

Also, in an era where large parts of the population have become immune to yet another news report showing poverty, misery and atrocities, the organisation feels a responsibility towards encouraging journalists to document more positive news stories – ones that focus on what’s actually working rather than on what’s gone wrong.

“If you have stories that are positioned to talk about great things, with emphatic things taking place, then that’s the most powerful antidote to negativity and fake news,” he surmised.

Case in point is the ‘Solutions Visual Journalism Initiative’, a groundbreaking project launched at World Press Photo this year, in collaboration with the New York Times.

Solutions or constructive journalism aims to change the frame of the story to address “the negativity bias” in the media, switching from a focus on problems to stories of those taking action. 

While this type of journalism has been growing in recent years, it has not yet been comprehensively or consciously adopted by documentary photographers, photojournalists and other visual journalists.

World Press Photo Foundation plans to commission, fund and publish a small number of such news stories in 2019-2020 in order to educate journalists and engage the public on the benefits of a solutions focus in visual journalism and the media’s “negativity bias.”

“Bad news is numbing for people,” Mr Boering said.

“My organisation has been involved with showing bad news for years; how great is it to make photographers aware that they can submit work that shows things that are moving in the right direction?” he says.

“The ‘Solutions’ type of project is definitely something that we will pursue more of in the future.”



With a small, highly dedicated team of around 30 people at the Amsterdam headquarters and a large number of international volunteers in locations around the world, the organisation has managed to put together an impressive roster of photojournalism-related exhibitions, activities and initiatives.

World Press Photo Foundation is primarily funded by its own activities, accounting for about 60 percent of its revenue. There are corporate partnerships – in Holland PriceWaterhouseCoopers and Dutch Postcode Lottery are major sponsors this year, while the exhibitions in Sydney and Brisbane are supported by Canon Australia and Brisbane Airport Corporation, respectively.

The organisation also receives funding from private donors and family foundations, as well as support from embassies, museums and art institutions. Combined with revenue derived from renting out the exhibition worldwide and other activities like the sales of the World Press Photo yearbooks, Mr Boering estimated current annual turnover to be between 3.5 and 5 million euros.

“We are a non-profit social enterprise and aggregate as much money as we can to spend it on creating impact,” Mr Boering said.

The social impact is on multiple levels. Just by announcing the winners alone, the organisation has a potential global reach of 4.3 billion views through all the media coverage that is generated as a result of the exhibition and the organisation’s many other activities, “meaning all these people get touched by stories that matter".

At a time when journalism including photojournalism is under pressure, he said, “it is important to offer them [journalists and photographers] a platform because at the end of the day, they are preserving a piece of history as well as shaping the way news and photojournalism are reported.” 


World Press Photo Exhibition 2019

13 July 2019 to 4 August 2019

Brisbane Powerhouse, Brisbane

Free admission


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PO Box 2144