The New Zealand Government made a tax increase sound quite harmless

When does 2.5 = 20? Only in New Zealand! This has nothing to do with the IQ level of the average Kiwi but with a clever positive advertising campaign mounted by the government in relation to their GST increase which has just come into effect.

I have spent the past few weeks in the seventh state of Australia and they have just increased their GST from 12.5 percent to 15 percent. I think this is quite a large increase in the GST and some simple mathematics tells me this is a 20 percent increase in the GST rate. Pretty simple maths really but every business I spoke with in New Zealand told me the GST increase was only 2.5 percent.

When I started to dig a little deeper I found that the Government had run a very effective series of advertisements that touted the advantages of the personal income tax breaks they were introducing, and as a minor sideline it suggested that the GST would go up by only 2.5 percent. They led with the positive news of the tax break and then kept plugging the GST increase as only a very small number.

I actually had trouble convincing some businesses they had been hoodwinked and the GST had in fact increased by a much larger number. They would have none of it. I am not saying the government lied – they just delivered a very positive message and maybe were a little economical with the truth. If the NZ government had been a business, they would have blown their competitors out of the water.

Not even the opposition party questioned their numbers.

This is all particularly relevant for this issue that features the CRN Fast50. Effective marketing is crucial to growing a business. All of the excellent businesses featured in the CRN Fast50 would have very effective marketing strategies which allowed them to continue to grow – and grow quickly.

The biggest mistake I see with businesses in relation to marketing is that they think marketing equals advertising. In the “old days”, marketing was placing an ad in a newspaper. In 1978, an average city dweller was exposed to anywhere from 500 to 2000 advertisements a day in different formats.

Thirty years later, a city dweller is exposed to up to 5000 advertisements a day. Your marketing strategy therefore has to be cleverer than placing a pretty ad in a newspaper. Your marketing needs to be wrapped around everything you do.

Several years ago, pop-ups started appearing on websites. It seemed like a great way to advertise.

Today, 81 percent of computers use pop-up blockers – so another method bites the dust. It may be more expensive, but 77 percent of consumers say they can remember the brand name of a physical promotional item they have received within the past year as opposed to only 12 percent of consumers who recall the brand of a company who exposed themselves electronically.

Although email is a very effective form of promoting our brands, only 5 percent of consumers say they prefer information on a promotion or product via email, with 51 percent preferring snail mail.

We have recently started a very simple addition to our marketing efforts. Using technology that simply wasn’t available a few years ago, we have a fully automated process where we send our clients an SMS on their birthday to tell them that their free gift is waiting at our store. With no staff effort and minimal cost, it’s bringing additional people to the store to receive something for nothing. Again it is an attempt to do something a little different.

Have a look through the CRN Fast50. Look at their websites; ring their staff. A theme you will see is they have a positive message they deliver in a succinct (but varied) way. Their clients will have heard a consistent theme for a long time that means their clients will believe the message as much as if they thought it up themselves.

Tell me your strategies on marketing NZ to sportsmen around the world to help them win gold medals at the next Commonwealth Games

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