“You can’t sell a secret” … it’s a catch cry often used in the marketing world and one that perfectly sums up the importance of telling the world about your product or service. The heart of any business success lies in its marketing, without it your business may offer the best products or services in your industry, but none of your potential customers would know about it. While trends come and go, the role of marketing remains the same, to raise awareness of your brand and ensure a unique selling proposition. Needless to say the explosion of the digital arena and social media has played a huge role in how we market our product or service and finding a perfect blend of traditional and new media can be a challenge for business owners. To find out more, I caught up with the Blokes About Town over a delicious lunch at Bella Venezia, Mooloolaba to get their take on the role of marketing today, how it’s changed over the years and how they see its role in business as it evolves in the future.

Joining me for lunch was Matt Jones, media and communications officer with Tafe Queensland East Coast; Adrian Painter, operations manager with What The Fox Creative; Bryan Cooper, marketing manager, Star Noosa Realty and entrepreneur and owner of DownTown Burger Bar Nambour, Cameron Scott.

Traditional media Vs new media, where do you sit?

Adrian: New media is changing the overall media landscape, as new media allows businesses to target ads more specifically to consumers based on their age, gender, marital status, etc. It also allows businesses the ability to track what these consumers are doing and how they end up on your website. New media allows us to get this data and analyse our target audience.

Bryan: Radio was going to kill newspapers, television was going to kill radio, the internet was going to kill television. Each new medium appears it finds its place within the marketing mix based on appropriateness and effectiveness of delivering the right message to the right target. The internet has been great at some things, but, with the exception of specific ‘yellow pages’-type applications like Uber, Wotif, Trivago, etc it has not been so successful at building brands. It’s hard to think of a car, a chocolate bar, a beer or a burger chain that owes its brand image entirely, or even mostly, to the internet or social media. Digital marketing companies have not helped themselves by promising results they have not been able to deliver and then covering up by blatant cheating. Many advertisers have no idea whether they are communicating with humans or robots, meanwhile hundreds of millions of people around the world are now using ad blockers to escape a digital deluge of mindless marketing.

Cameron: I believe a healthy mix between the two is essential. However, I have found new media provides a better ROI (return on investment). New media allows our business to understand what each customer costs us in marketing.

Matt: They work hand-in-hand with each other. It’s incredibly important to use a blend of media channels to effectively reach and engage with audiences. For example, new media is cost effective and allows us to really narrow our focus and target specific groups of audiences/customers, while traditional media can reach a broad range of people and can be worth the extra spend when trying to build a brand. Personally, I love both and use them quite independently of each other. I wake up every day, grab my phone and scroll through my social media newsfeeds for a quick snapshot of what’s going on in the world. But, to me, nothing beats the look and feel of a beautiful glossy mag or sitting at a café in the sun with coffee in hand relaxing and reading a newspaper while the world passes by.

Has the marketing role changed since you started your career?

Adrian: The role of marketing has not changed; the core objective still remains the same in the importance of a unique selling proposition. However, the role of the marketing department has changed, as they now need to become a media and education department. The marketing tools have changed and this has shifted our initiatives; we now need to encompass content that attracts customers and places them on a journey to convert and consume. You need to use the tools of technology to their advantage, for example, your entire business has to change to accommodate the use of social media. This also impacts your marketing spend in light of free Facebook and Twitter profiles.The basic rules of marketing have changed because we as people have changed, we are no longer passive consumers, our expectations are higher, our attention span is shorter and we expect products to make our lives more meaningful. Plus the buyer has more power, we are more in control; and we decide when, the consumer will call you, they do not want to be called.

Bryan: Well if it hasn’t, it probably should have because I started as a copywriter in advertising in the mid 1960s and I don’t believe the fundamentals have changed or need to. Good marketing communication is still about understanding the difference between stimulus and response and applying the rules of slow learning and fast forgetting. The best advertising and the best marketing today can still be summed up in the three words I learned many years ago – relevant and unexpected. Many marketers don’t seem to know these objectives or appreciate that the most important of those words is AND. Because if your communication is relevant but predictable no one will pay attention. And if it’s unexpected but irrelevant it won’t matter whether people pay attention or not. I can’t count the number of times I have listened to respondents in focus groups describe ‘ads they love’ in minute detail, only to later discover that they had absolutely no idea what the product or the brand was.

Cameron: I believe it has. Branding for the sake of branding was really important 10 years ago. With the arrival of social media and new advertising avenues, we have seen a shift in the value for money and the ability to directly market to a specific group of people. Therefore we don’t push a brand over a large blanket of people, but instead really narrow and focus our marketing material.

Matt: Absolutely. There were only four Ps in the marketing mix when I first started (product, price, promotion and place) and now there are about seven! Additionally, mobile devices have changed not only how we do business, but how we live. Social media influencers now rival traditional brand ambassadors and paid digital advertising is trying to put TV, radio and print advertising on the heritage listing.

What’s the right balance between building brand and tactical marketing?

Adrian: Branding is strategic, marketing is tactical. Marketing unearths and activates buyers. Branding makes loyal customers, advocates, out of those who buy. A brand will help encourage someone to buy a product, and it directly supports whatever sales or marketing activities are in play. Marketing may contribute to a brand, but the brand is bigger than any particular marketing effort. The brand is what remains after the marketing has finished.

Bryan: Impossible to say without knowing your history, your industry, your product, your competition, your place in the market, your budget and lots and lots of other questions. But if anyone else has a simple one sentence answer 
I am prepared to pay for it!

Cameron: This is such a hard one, because every business is different and every market is different. For us, we brand material within the shop but we use tactical marketing to push our brand out there.

Matt: How long’s a piece of string? Finding the right balance is crucial to staying relevant today, tomorrow and long into the future. But customer markets are extremely competitive and are constantly changing, so it can often be hard to find the sweet spot. Consequently, I follow a simple recipe: review the marketing mix regularly, measure and track results, look for opportunities, and adapt as required. Carefully assessing current customer behaviour and attitude, where the best prospects are, and where your competitive difference lies will help position your brand for success.

What is one new marketing skill you would like to have?

Adrian: Inbound marketing – CRM certified.

Bryan: I would love to be able to instantly produce real statistics to demonstrate that ‘facts and figures’, which often become accepted as reliable data, are little more than opinions, or have been heavily massaged to match preconceived ideas.

Cameron: I think we are all chasing the ability to foster organic material. This is something I am trying to understand and develop more within myself.

Matt: HTML. While I’m familiar with it, we’re old friends, but I’m by no means a ‘hardcore coder’ who can scroll through lines of code to find out why my website isn’t behaving like it should be. I know to leave that to the pros; the people who live in the matrix.

What’s your big marketing prediction for 2017?

Adrian: My prediction is an increased focus on customer experience. Customer experience is the heart of marketing and we need to embrace customer-centric philosophies to create effective marketing strategies and positive digital transformations.

Bryan: There will be lots of stories about the death of marketing, or the demise of digital, or the end of television, or the rebirth of brands, or about how some new trend will change everything – it won’t!

Cameron: I believe there will be a narrowing of the existing marketing channels. Making it harder to create good content, which generates organic reach. However, I think technology in marketing is shifting towards being able to capture a larger ROI on marketing dollars. This development will lead to business getting more accurate ROI projections before they even start marketing.

Matt: As Pokémon Go exploded onto phones around the globe and booted people off the couch and into the community, expect brands to put more time and energy into exploring the use of augmented reality in their marketing toolkits. Pokémon Go demonstrated two things: that users/customers are open to the idea and are thirsty for more; and that marketing professionals saw the powerful earning potential and are probably already hard at work trying to bring the next cutting edge campaign to life.

Bella Venezia Restaurant

I’ll admit I am a sucker for Italian cuisine, so when I discovered my lunch date with the Blokes about Town was at one of the best Italian restaurants on the Sunny Coast (as voted in the Australian Good Food Guide, 2017) I was a little bit excited to say the least and boy did they live up to their reputation on the day of our visit.

Operating from the same prime location on the Mooloolaba Esplanade since 1983, the popular a la carte restaurant is one of the longest established Italian eateries on the Sunshine Coast and it’s not hard to see why.

Upon arrival the lads and I were treated to an array of delicious dishes to sample before ordering our main meals including juicy Mooloolaba King prawns with aioli and tomato salsa, crumbed risotto balls with brie cheese and mixed herbs (arancini), antipasto semplice, a selection of cured meats, pickled and marinated vegetables, homemade preserves and warm homemade bread and Coffin Bay oysters.

We were spoilt for choice for mains but I couldn’t resist the Moreton Bay bug spaghetti. Cooked to perfection, the white flesh melted in your mouth, served with zucchini, leek, chilli and seafood bisque it was some of the best I have eaten.

Sticking with the seafood theme, another popular choice on the day included the spaghetti al fruitti di mare, featuring local Mooloolaba prawns, Cloudy Bay clams, squid, local cherry tomato , fresh chilli, basil white wine and olive oil, bellissimo!

Other delectable dishes include fettuccine alla carbonara, pulled pork risotto and diners can also choose from a selection of gourmet pizzas and non pasta dishes. Kiddies are also catered for with a bambini menu and the list of desserts is simply divine!

Do yourself a favour and drop in! You won’t be disappointed.

95 Mooloolaba Esplanade,Mooloolaba
Phone: 5444 5844