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Reaching beyond regional – savvy management strategies

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Competition for business is growing increasingly fierce as major metropolitan businesses extend their reach into regional Australia. Savvy management strategies will ensure you not only hold your business’ ground, but up its stake hold. These strategies can help take your business from good to great, and ensure your business stays in the spotlight.

So, what’s the key to good management?

American business great Mary Kay Ash says people are definitely a company’s greatest asset.

“It doesn't make any difference whether the product is cars or cosmetics,” says Kay. “A company is only as good as the people it keeps.”

How can the people in your business help you win business? To find out, let’s turn to the world of finance.

Taking on the players from the Big Smoke

David may have defeated Goliath, but can smaller non-bank lenders take on the Big Four? To have a fighting chance, marketing and advertising gurus will say smaller lenders need a point of difference to take on the bigger players, to be a purple cow in a field of ordinary jerseys. But there’s a big difference from the farmyard to the world of finance, especially in the current economic climate. This is where smart management strategies come into play.

So, what does a humble building society have that the Big Four don’t? Don Magin, CEO of Greater Building Society, says it’s simple – Jerry Seinfeld.

Local talent – how to leverage yours

The Greater is already a well-established brand, primarily operating in regional New South Wales and south-east Queensland. It was named by Business Review Weekly as one of the top 500 private companies; it takes care of around $4 billion in assets, and has the largest branch network of any building society in Australia. They have also boasted a 97 per cent customer satisfaction level for the last five years.

Despite this, Magin was facing the threat of the encroaching players from the Big Smoke – and in a stroke of good business, the Seinfeld campaign became part of building their brand in the public eye.

“This was something that was part of a bigger, overall strategy for the Society,” says Magin. “We looked at how we could raise our brand profile … we think we’re a real alternative to the major banks. We see ourselves as a little terrier nipping at their heels. All of our advertising in the past has had an element of humour in it, been able to poke a little bit of fun at the banks. So we’ve tried to find someone that would deliver that same message across to that audience.”

While it might read like something from the script of Seinfeld’s eponymous sitcom – US star backs regional building society – the idea didn’t come from an advertising executive in an agency. It came from a Greater executive – John Dwyer.

“It was his idea to do something that was going to make us stand out and really be someone that people would sit up and take a little bit of notice of,” explains Magin.

Location, location, location

The decision to use Seinfeld was based on research into what appealed to their customer base. Funnily enough, neither Dwyer nor Magin counted themselves among the funny man’s fans… until now.

The ad, in which Seinfeld constructs an ad-hoc set in front of a regional branch before delivering his stand-up material (enough, says Magin, for 30 more commercials), has done exceptionally well for the Greater – even before it was launched.

“We were quite blown away by the amount of media coverage we got before the campaign even started,” says Magin. “It’s quite possible we even got enough media coverage to pay for the campaign before we put it to air.” 

This, for any business in regional Australia, is a big plus.

Three smart management strategies for regional business

  1. People are your business’ greatest asset – manage them well and leverage your in-house resources to your best advantage.
  2. Aim high – you never know what you can achieve (or who you can achieve it with!) until you try.
  3. Invest in promotional strategies that will pay for themselves.

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Published on: Monday, January 10, 2011

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