“ Human Services Enter a Brave New World ”

  • By Greg Allardice
  • 30 Aug, 2016

Media Futures recently interviewed Leanne Ferris of Ferris Management Consultants about the new order sweeping the Human Services Category.


Here’s a snap shot summary of what Leanne had to say –


1. Question : Has Human Services really become a business?


Response :  Human Services comprises a number of services for the Australian public that are delivered directly by The Government or are Government funded through service delivery organisations. The large majority are Not for Profit or Profit for Purpose (i.e. the more contemporary name) which generate their own income largely through commercial activities, social enterprises or philanthropic activities supported by volunteers


Yes much of Human Services has become a business. They operate under constitutional governance, have stakeholders, a board of directors and invest in the development of products and services. They conduct their finances to be sustainable for their clients or for public benefit and are increasing their investment in brand building and marketing. This is not new.  Religious based organisations have pursued a businesslike approach for decades if not centuries owning and operating hospitals, schools and childcare and more recently are the major players in aged care. Even the government is treating human services as a business. Earlier this year Australian Unity paid the NSW government $114million for the government’s NSW Home Care Service, so we are seeing for-profits buying government human services that has been traditionally been contracted at no cost to NFPs.



 2. Question :  Are Human Services NFPs prepared for a new era when competition is fiercer than ever and the philanthropic dollar is simply harder to get ?


Response: Responding, yes. Prepared, it’s work in progress for most. The JB Were Cause Report for 2016 and ABS data 2013 reports that there are 57,000 NFP’s in Australia. They secure 8 per cent of their income from philanthropy and gift giving which represents 0.23 % of Australia’s GDP. The largest recipient sectors are health and education which are 3 to 4 times larger than any other sector that NFP’s are found in. The interesting thing is that health and education are dominated by religious based organisations and therefore the largest proportion of giving goes to religious based organisations. Yet many of these of these organisations can’t and don’t offer a deductible gift receipt. Schools are funded through taxes and hospitals through Medicare, yet religious based schools and hospitals have been some of the more successful fundraisers because of their long term unwavering strategic focus.


So where is the competition coming from – it’s the immense profileration of charity start ups in Australia. On average there are 10 new charities per day in Australia and we have the highest number of charities per person in the world. This trend has occurred over the past 50 years. The proportion of tax payers who donate has been stable at 36 % which peaked in 1983. The average donation per taxpayer has doubled over the past 10 years. So competition is fiercer. Most Human Service NFP’s are not prepared for the new era, which is evidenced by the fact that unfunded Govt commercial and philanthropic activities has fallen from 63 % to 54% of revenue for NFP’s over the past 20 years. This is because NFP operators have become more reliant on outsourced Govt work and program grants. Whilst this has been good for these organisations the profit margin is small and organisations have not focused on skills and capability growth in response to increased commercial and philanthropic competition. They now face significant capability disadvantage in preparing for the reforms the Govt is undertaking.



3. Question :  How do organisations prosper when Govt funding is turned off?


Response:  Recognition of the challenges and to face commercial reality. NFPs can only do the work of their mission if they have the working capital to support the operation. Traditionally good work was done to the extent that the Govt provided the income and topping up from fund raising. Financial preparation and to be sustainable over the longer term requires the creation of a war chest of working capital to provide for the cost of change. Most NFP’s are fixed asset rich and cash poor. NFP’s must make reserves for capital investment, innovation and maintain responsible levels of liquidity.  


The organisations are typically top heavy with unsustainable levels of management overheads due to inefficient practices and structures. This is supported by the Australian Institute of Company Directors 2016 NFP Governance study reporting 38% of Directors believe that the sector was efficient, that means 62% are reporting operations that are less than efficient. NFPs over the decades have fostered a command and control culture so as to operate under the demanding compliance requirements of government contracts. The early adpoters who make cultural and structual change have a better chance of surviving. This same study concluded that NFP Directors key issue is financial sustainability and reported that  NFP’s Directors top 3 key ways forward were -


1.    Maintain and build income which means being sales focussed in the markets that you can offer a value proposition that meets customer needs.


2.    Being clear about your strategic direction is imperative. Chasing Govt grants and outsourced Govt work has resulted in too many organisations spread too thinly in their operations and market focus. Prospering organisations are more disciplined concentrating on what they do best and who they do it for.


3. Directors say they must diversify their income sources which is a contradition of the two recommendations above. Only those who have navigated the changes and have the working capital available can look to diversification to prosper.



4. Question:   How can they upskill and capitalize on an uncertain future?


Response:   Although there are uncertainties for NFP’s in the new world, what is clear is the move towards models of human services based upon empowered consumer choice.  This forces organisations to put the customer at the centre of their thinking. The command and control top down structural business model and institutional approach is no longer relevant.  Consumer choice models require the contemporay approaches of style (i.e. the way we do things) and experience (i.e. the way we make people feel) for the customer and employee, as the most important elements of culture to have an effective organisation. In an uncertain future, recruiting, training and investing in staff and skills is needed. However, elevate the style element as the key driver for cultural shift. Up-style before up-skilling.


Legacy behaviours are not welcome and if not addressed will be a root cause of organisational failure. Investing in board members and staff to shift organisational style and culture rather than skills development can deliver the collective experience that is needed for the empowered human services customer of the future.


 Media Futures undertook this interview as an update on current trends and thinking.


The aim is to be more predictive and how that effects future media models and audiences.

The payback to companies, organisations and advertisers is to be more precise in how they go to market and be able to operate more effectively.










Contents copyright Media Futures 2016

By Greg Allardice 12 Oct, 2017
Have you been disappointed with what you buy after all that hard work , planning and buying media?
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Can't return it and no refunds.

This happens constantly because the majority of media buyers miss out on key steps in the negotiation process or simply have high hopes in what they do. Naivety rules supreme in a cluttered and seductive media world.

If you are not building in media guarantees or do not have outclauses then you can risk throwing your media budget down the drain.  The thing with media media is that it is an intangible business. You don't hear or see it till it happens , then it's gone in a relatively short space of time.

Media guarantees are one way of reducing your risk. If you are not putting this into practice now, talk to an independent media specialist.

Your media policy, media strategy, media planning, media buying and media audit deserve smarter thinking.

Media Futures presents industry articles in the constant quest for improving return on media investment.

By Greg Allardice 09 Oct, 2017
In a world where there is too much media it pays to be media savvy. Over the past 5 years the self destructing nature of greedy media operators have resulted in a lack of trust by clients in media and in the providers who claim to deliver  a premium service of planning and buying, only to let the side down. The recent scandals and debacles in digital media are good cause to lift your game and be media savvy.

Do not believe everything you are told , question every cent that is invested and above all measure results. 

Media is not all it appears to be on the surface. The glitter and gloss of media is only as good as the processes in place and the expertise of your media specialist. Too often clients award a large media contract to a media buying company only to find key staff leave or the day to day business is shunted down the line to juniors  who unfortunately do not have the knowledge, experience or skills to effectively compete in the cluttered media world.

Your media savvy will guide you to make the right decisions  on who gets to work on your media planning and buying. 

The rise of independent media specialists who are accountable and who have invaluable experience is a growing trend. 

If your media policy, media strategy, media planning, media buying and media audit are not  media savvy , its time to talk to an independent media specialist.

Media Futures presents industry articles in the constant quest for improving return on media investment.

By Greg Allardice 02 Oct, 2017
Most people see media as an intrusion, an annoyance that does not nothing else but to spoil the content they are watching or listening to. However if that is the case, why then does advertising exist within all commercial media. ( This articles excludes government run media companies that are paid for  by the tax payer but do run their own promotions and sell their products for a profit like the ABC and SBS in Australia)

Media when used properly is a powerful sales tool, where the intrusion and annoyance of advertising becomes secondary when the communication is properly structured and positioned for the creation of interest. Have you noticed that the majority of advertising is about what's on offer, the price and where/ how to buy? 

This pushy style of advertising is what turns customers off......they have seen it all before.

The smartest way to use media as a powerful sales tool is not to sell anything at all. Simply inform your audience that your product or service is available and talk to them about your offering. The moment you start to look and feel like other pushy advertisers you have just turned off buyers. 

In the 1960's a famous American car manufacturer launched a new car and never once showed the model or shape of the car. Sales were exceptional.  Why did it work ? Because media was used as a powerful sales tool and avoided the same old, same old formulas. It gained attention, not turned off the audience. 

Make sense? Plant your media seeds wisely and watch your business grow.

If your media policy, media strategy, media planning and media buying have not addressed media as a powerful sales tool it's time to seek out an independent media professional.

Media Futures presents articles relating to the media industry in the constant quest for improving return on media investment.

By Greg Allardice 27 Sep, 2017
There is an old joke in advertising it goes like this ..." I know I'm wasting half of my media budget but I don't know which half..."   

There is truth in this statement. Media wastage is a major issue and it comes about through naive media practices, having untrained or poorly trained people working on your media budget or simply plain ignorance when it comes to media knowledge and astute savvy.  

There is too much media nowadays with audiences spread across multiple mediums coupled with a considerable tune out factor. Essentially the proliferation of media has lead to consumers no longer paying attention to the continual bombardment of media. 

So what can you do about media wastage?  Business must go on and you need to reach new consumers.
Media is still a critical element of the marketing mix.
The answers lies in doing more preparatory work on media policy and media strategy. Get this part right and the rest falls into place, but only when you have an experienced and impartial media operative working on your business. 

Do you ask these key questions?
1. Where is the  wastage in my media planning and buying
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3. How do I measure which parts of the media buy are wasted during the campaign and what are the safeguards to avoid media wastage

If your media policy, media strategy, media planning, media buying and media audit have not addressed
Media Wastage, its time to engage with an independent media specialist.

Media Futures presents industry articles in the constant quest for improving return on media investment.
By Greg Allardice 19 Sep, 2017
Media is a seductive being, the desire to see your own messages in audio/ visual or print, the expectation for a return on your spend and the building of a positive image. 

Media is part creative and part transactional. Media Futures places the emphasis on creativity. Without  creativity there is not much except a faceless transaction in most cases. Click a few keys on a computer and it's done. When you work with a creative media planner/ buyer who also looks for the detail then you are entering a new world where leveraging your media return is a priority.

Media detail is an art.  Are you looking for media detail?  
Consider this check list .

* Takes into account the environment into which your message is placed
* Avoids clutter and resulting lack of attention  
* Digs deeper in to audience return prior to the media buy
* Only works with accredited audited mediums
* Applies your KPIs and how they are accountable within the the media buy
* Explains in detail where your messages are placed and the pitfalls associated with each medium
* Stays on top of the exposure patterns and checks on activity when it occurs

These are but a few of the attributes you should be seeking when considering media detail.
If your media policy, media strategy, media planning, media buying and media audit are not working towards improved media detail, it's time to seek out an independent media specialist.

Media Futures presents industry articles in the conquest for improving return on media investment.

By Greg Allardice 14 Sep, 2017
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So what goes on onside the media before you see it or hear it ?  What happens is a non scientific creative process to win over your heart and mind and the medium hopes that you remain loyal to them. This means that there are many decisions made on what will appeal to their audience and therefore appeal to your media budget. Spend your media budget with us is what the medium wants you to do. This opens up a myriad of opportunities for advertisers and marketers to participate with a medium . Generally these opportunities are not presented to you. The aim of the medium is to fill their standard advertising time /  space offerings and are designed to maximise their revenue, not necessarily your impact and exposure.  Yes there is more to the art of media buying than choosing  from a Chinese restaurant menu.

If your media buying is lacking and all you get is the same old time and space, then seek an independent media specialist who knows how to dig deeper and get into the fabric of a medium. Your impact and ROI will rise enormously.
Have you turned the media key?

If your Media Policy, Media Strategy, Media Planning, Media Buying and Media Audit are not digging deeper then it's time for a refresh. 

Media Futures presents industry articles in the constant quest to improve return on media investment.

By Greg Allardice 04 Sep, 2017
Like all commodities, media has a use by date and that means predicting the onset of Media Decay. Essentially what this means is how much media do you need and how long do you advertise. When is the right time to stop and how much media is required to effectively impact your audience.  The answer to this question lies in analysing a number of factors in the planning stage and prior to the launch of a campaign and through that analysis determine when Media Decay will set in. How often do you see and hear campaigns that you no longer take any notice ? The media becomes wall paper and you simply do not pay attention. This is a good example of Media Decay, when the campaign has passed the point of effective frequency and no matter how much you spend, it is simply a waste of media budget.

If your media policy, media strategy, media planning, media buying and media audit are suffering from Media Decay , it's time to seek an independent media specialist.

Media Futures presents industry relevant articles in the constant quest for improving return on media investment.

By Greg Allardice 21 Aug, 2017
Audience shifts known as Shifting Sands are not new. They have been occurring since media was invented. Only now the pace of shift has quickened. What is Audience Shift? Have the shifting sands of media caught up with your organisation.

Audience Shifts occur when media users do not maintain loyalty to a particular medium or programme or time segment or title and like the shifting sands drift around multiple media searching for what they want. This occurs because there is simply too much choice for the consumer covering thousands of media options in any given day.  This poses immense issues for advertisers particularly if you buy your media based on historical audience data that goes out of date quickly. Yes some mediums do deliver stable audiences, however the viewability by and retention of audience means you need to look deeper into any medium you purchase. Add to this the multi media user, those who use more than one medium / device at the same time and you have the recipe for low message retention and further erosion of audience.

What's the answer to Audience Shift?

The answer is to dig deeper into your target audience.  Where your message is placed to reach your prime consumers.
Ask questions like how long is the length of time a consumer will see your message, how long do they stay with a chosen medium and can you establish their likely media usage patterns over a 24 hour period. 

Shifting Sands in media is real, but most don't ask the hard questions before spending their media budget.

Media Futures presents industry articles in the constant quest to improve return on media investment. 
If your media policy,media strategy, media planning, media buying and media audit have not addressed Audience Shift, it's time to seek an independent media specialist.

By Greg Allardice 18 Aug, 2017
Media reform is long overdue in Australia. Consider that the current laws were put in place decades ago, were made by public servants and politicians who no longer exist and the fact that a whole new media enterprise being The Internet / Social media has entered the mix and are not subject to Australian media laws. Some don't even pay tax but operate freely in Australia.  The current stalling and deal making in Parliament is another example of a system out of touch with reality. No doubt the slow process of reform will reach a conclusion, but the political system does not have to sell airtime / space, does not have to make a profit and does not have to operate under draconian laws of the dark ages.

Whilst the political system plays their own internal games and kick around the media reform bill, media companies are bleeding right now and crying out for a level playing field.

The power of the media should be used to promote it's own cause and not wait for a handful of internal power deals that really don't have an impact on the big picture. Media Reform is needed now.

Meda Futures presents industry based articles in the constant search for improving return on media investment.
If your media policy, media strategy, media planning, media buying and media audit need improvement , Media Futures recommends you seek out an independent media professional.

By Greg Allardice 16 Aug, 2017
Media is often looked at as a source of "quick fixes" . You've heard the phrase like,  " we need to get more sales let's advertise  or "  let's get our message out there  the customs will flock to us" .

Generally the results are disappointing due to the fact that hit and miss media campaigns have no continuity, there is no consistency. But we hear you say we do not have a big budget nor can we afford the prices of main media. The answer to this pain is, what ever your media budget may be, you can have media consistency and create frequency of impact by choosing the right mediums, flighting patterns and size/ length of media messages. Keep hitting the same target consistently. The audience numbers may be lower than larger budget competitors but the gradual build of effective frequency over time is what counts. It is effective frequency that builds top of mind, recall and response. So if you are considering the hit and miss route of " let's advertise", then keep your money in the bank. It is a waste of your funds to spend it over a few weeks and hope something miraculous might happen. 

However if you are prepared to advertise with media consistency and get results no matter the size of your budget then seek out an independent media professional.
If your media policy, media strategy, media planning, media buying and media audit are not up to scratch it's time to understand Media Consistency.

Media Futures presents industry articles in the constant quest to improve return on media investment.

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