Issue #08 February 2008

In This Issue

  1. Our recent work
  2. Public Relations - The Good
  3. Public Relations - The Bad
  4. Research - Getting it Right
  5. Overcoming Unspoken Objections
  6. Are you looking for an office?
  7. Can we help?

Our Recent Work

Over the last year, Balfour Consulting has:

  1. Undertaken community consultation for four road projects with the Department of Main Roads.

  2. Prepared successful client entries in four awards.

  3. Provided marketing and public relations support for a series of Townsville events, including the first Townsville Writers Festival and the first Family Summit.

  4. Undertaken a communications audit and consequently developed a communications plan that includes measurable objectives.

  5. Developed business and implementation plans for three NQ organisations.

  6. Developed Brand Strategies and Marketing Plans for five small businesses.

  7. Completed a Risk Management Plan for a regional organisation.

  8. Undertaken research projects for local government, State government and a NSW based national organisation, along with a major multinational.

  9. Undertaken three projects for the Great Tropical Drive.

If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.

Public Relations - The Good

Product recall is any company's worst nightmare. When Mayne's health-care division had to withdraw its entire range of health supplement brands because of the Pan Pharmaceuticals scandal in April 2003, the company wasted no time in following the best public relations tactic: be honest and ensure a constant stream of information is available to consumers. The result was full restoration of consumer confidence in the company's products when they returned a few months later.

A few years ago, the media were portraying McDonald's as the pariah of fast-food giants, with accusations that its menus caused obesity. Instead of adopting a siege mentality, McDonald's introduced low-fat alternatives to its staple menu items and willingly took part in the obesity debate. Today, condemnation of the company has all but ceased.

Public Relations - The Bad

In 2004, James Hardie Industries spent millions trying to avoid its legal responsibility to compensate people who were dying as a result of using its asbestos products. But the true cost of its ultimately fruitless efforts was the immeasurable damage done to its reputation as a corporate citizen. Even the announcement of a $1.5-billion compensation package did little to improve its image, which is likely to take many years to rebuild, if ever.

Once the star of the banking sector, National Australia Bank's fall from grace in 2004 was a textbook example of how a company's image will be severely bruised if it fails to admit as quickly as possible that it has faced severe problems and intends to rectify them openly and honestly.

The infighting on the board of NRMA in 2003 seemed to drag on interminably, to the extreme anger of the association's membership. Even after the brawls ended, NRMA's bad press continued, with changes being made and no explanation given. It would seem that NRMA is an organisation that has failed to grasp some of the most fundamental principles of good public relations, in particular openness of communication.

"If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be meetings."

Overcoming Unspoken Objections

If your prospects have bought products or services in the past that did not produce the promised results, they will be skeptical of your promises. This translates in to their holding unspoken objections about your product or services. Some actions that will help you overcome these objectives include:

  1. Eliminate any risk of loss. Guarantee your customer's satisfaction. Offer to refund their money if they don't get the results they expect or offer the first consultation free, so that they can test what they are getting.

  2. Prove your history of delivering what you promise. Provide testimonials from satisfied customers as evidence that you have lived up to your promises in the past.

  3. Make yourself available - personally or by phone. This is especially effective for internet marketers. Prospective customers feel more secure when they can talk with a real person.

    You can neutralise all three of these unspoken objections in advance through your web pages, your sales letters, your personal presentations - every message designed to generate sales.

"Marketing is the gentle art of turning human beings into revenue streams."

Research - Getting it Right

Good research can provide your organisation with invaluable information on target audience. Whether they are customers, clients or particular social groups, with accurate and comprehensive data you can ensure your communications are effective and your Brand clearly understood.

At Balfour Consulting, we see our responsibility to be providing our clients with the best available information. It is then up to the client as to how that information is used. If you have good research data, then you have a solid base for decisions regarding proposed actions or activities. Guesswork and assumption, even the use of second-hand data, is a risky approach.

What is considerably worse than no research, is bad research. If your research is not based on sound methodology, then the data you collect could have you confidently heading in the wrong direction, creating not solving problems. Whether you are undertaking market or social research, use an outside provider or at least get professional advice on how it can be done in-house.

The cost of good research is always lower than the cost of bad decisions. The use of both qualitative and quantitative research can provide you with an interactive understanding of the thoughts and opinions of your target audience, followed by the opportunity to measure these specifically across that audience. Qualitative research, through the use of focus groups, is an excellent way of generating ideas and getting a better understanding of how your audience feels about your organisation or product.

Quality research assists the decision-making process and allows marketing and communications activities to be undertaken with confidence. It will help you better understand and respond to the wants and needs of your target audiences while making you much more effective in your relationship with these audiences.

"Research is to see what everyone else has seen, and to think what no one else has thought."

Are you looking for an office?

Balfour Consulting has a serviced office available in our premises at 14 Dean St, just five minutes walking distance from the centre of the city. The office includes a telephone system, Internet access, fax, photocopier and off-street parking. Furniture can be included if required. Anyone interested can call us on 4771 4566.

Can we help you?

Balfour Consulting Pty Ltd has a proven track record in the following areas:

  1. Business/marketing strategic plan development

  2. Community engagement/consultation

  3. Facilitated planning workshops

  4. Market and social research

  5. Media and presentation skills development

  6. Public relations

  7. Direct marketing.

For further information, contact us on (07) 4771 4556 OR e-mail us as at:


You have received this newsletter because you are a client or friend of Balfour Consulting Pty Ltd, or because someone we trust thought you might be interested.  We will probably produce four e-newsletters per year to give you some up-to-date marketing and communications information and to let you know what has been happening as well as what we have planned. If you do not want to receive any more information, please let us know by email.  We welcome your comments on the newsletter, or any other aspect of our work.

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