“ 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 19 Jan, 2018
If you feel that your media is not working, that your media is starting to drag the chain or that the current policy and strategy simply do not work anymore, these are clear signs that your media is in need of a relaunch.

The media model created to do the job well can alter without you actually seeing the subtle changes that occur behind the scenes. 
Things such as rate fluctuations, seasonal media audience variations, new media undercutting your preplanned audience numbers and over spending in one category are common traits that effect your media results.

When you find out about what is truly going on it's too late. You have spent your money and it's too bad you won't get it back.

How do you relaunch your media amidst constant change and generally too much information that leads you in the wrong direction.
What are the true market conditions ?

Your relaunch should take into account your business needs, revenues, profits and growth plans. Most importantly relaunch with a measured approach where you can change course without locking in large sums that a fixed and only become money wasters. 
A media relaunch becomes an integral part of your operation, not an added expense that drifts off to one side. 
With media audiences becoming more fragmented on a daily basis, a media relaunch sometimes is essential.

If your media has reached a plateau and lacking that certain sizzle, Media Futures recommends you seek out an independent media professional. Media policy, media strategy, media planning and media buying are an art not a science.

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

By Greg Allardice 28 Dec, 2017
Media is a cycle business. It never stays the same and has constant shifts and changes to keep the alert media policy maker, media strategy specialist, media planner and media buyer on their toes.

Why is this so?  The answer lies in the fickle nature of the illusive audience. When programmes , media formats and content changes, audiences go in search of something new. The media goes into a new cycle and essentially whilst some things remain regular such as a base audience , traffic flow or bolted on loyal users, the rest alters in a flash. 

This is evidenced in dramatic rating variations in free to air mediums and the constant scramble for share of voice in social and online platforms where attention spans are short.

How do you stay on top of the game?  Engage an independent media specialist who not only predicts the market but can assess the cycles to your advantage as a client or buyer.

This comes with experience and is not a job for juniors. It is a wealth of market experience built up at the coalface and knowing that cycles come and go regularly.

If your media policy, media strategy, media planning, media buying and media audit have not addressed Media Cycles it's time to seek out an independent media specialist.

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

By Greg Allardice 18 Dec, 2017
Media comes in all forms, some a perfect fit and some that does not make sense for your brand or service

Good media stacks up when the following fall into place

* The medium or mediums have a format or style that suits your product or service
* The audience is audited and you can measure usage patterns  by day parts
* The medium can supply effective frequency to drive recall and recognition
* Cost effectiveness is high 
* Value add is an option to extend impact to the target audience 

Bad media is not an option in any form . Avoid the pitfalls of investing in bad media that simply is not a fit.

Good media will make sense from the beginning, it flows naturally and the process of buying into good media time or space ticks all the boxes

If your media policy, media strategy, media planning, media buying or media audit have not addressed Good Media, Media Futures recommends you seek out an independent media specialist

Media Futures presents media articles in the constant quest for improving return on media investment
By Greg Allardice 13 Dec, 2017
The general industry perception is that media takes a holiday over summer, audiences drop away and rates crash through the floor.

However media does not take a holiday, it operates 24/7 365 days and this time of the year has always been a great environment for smart advertisers who are ready to take advantage of the market conditions.

Consider these points as to why seasonal summer media in Australia makes sense.

* Regional markets come alive with tourists and holiday makers who do watch, read and listen to local media 
* Capital cities have an influx of foreign tourists
* Sport dominates media coverage and represents good buying for targetted audiences
* Seasonal retail, food and lifestyle products are ideal for online targetting particularly via mobile phone
* Selling of seasonal specials and clearance of stocks in readiness for the new year offerings make sense
* Back to school is always an important market for parents at end of school holidays

If your media policy, media strategy, media planning , media buying and media audit have not yet addressed Seasonal Media , then Media Futures recommends you seek out an independent media specialist.

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

By Greg Allardice 11 Dec, 2017
Media Futures has long promoted the mobile phone as a medium that cannot be ignored. Recent industry figures show that for 2018 Mobile phone digital expenditure is estimated to be 54 % of total digital spend with increases to as much as 72% by 2022.  These growth figures cannot be ignored and only serve to reinforce the "Media in your pocket" concept.
It is without a doubt the medium that makes sense on every media plan particularly in the 12 to 70 years markets.

As with all new mediums that have a hot run, everyone wants to be there. However consider these salient points-

* All growth mediums eventually plateau out in audience and time spent using

* The cost of doing business with new mediums that have rapid uptake of usage always become too expensive over time because of demand levels and greed of media owners to maximise profits

* New mediums of this type are best served with fine tuned targetting to improve ROI

* Work on short term buying patterns due to the influx of competitive low costs digital formats that only serve to erode audiences in your chosen market and with similar formats to the market leader

If your media policy, media strategy, media planning, media buying and media audit have not yet addressed
Mobile Growth, Media Futures recommends you seek out a n independent media professional.

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

By Greg Allardice 30 Nov, 2017
The discipline of media targetting is front and centre of every media planning undertaking. The fact is there is always going to be some wastage and no matter how well you target your message there will be people who see it or hear it that have no interest in your product or service. 

What do you do to minimise this wastage through your media targetting. 

* Factor in an estimate of the amount of wastage 
* Off set that predicted wastage against the rate negotiated for a unit of time or space
* Does the medium have a response channel where you can measure who and how many responses you achieve
* Is it sales or awareness only you are looking to achieve
* What clutter surrounds your message, how prominent will you be

Media targetting is key to maximising your return on investment but keep in mind that 100% effectiveness is unlikely.
Be realistic when approaching this segment of your media undertakings .

If your media policy, media strategy, media planning, media buying and media audit have not addressed media targetting it's time to seek out an independent media professional.

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

By Greg Allardice 26 Nov, 2017
If your media exposure patterns have become stale, boring, or just running out of ideas, then a media spectacular makes sense. This does not mean spending all your budget in one hit. The golden rules of reach , frequency and effective frequency still apply.  A media spectacular essentially means stepping into a new form of communication versus your tried and proven methods. It may involve sponsorship and key branding in a sporting code, event participation, big large outdoor formats, philanthropic giving that brings media coverage of a positive nature, seasonal festivals or creating a major media event which you design and control. Media is an open book, not just confined to units of  time and space. The purpose of this article is to open the thinking patterns to achieve a break through when media has become stale or cluttered and you are just not getting results. 

Think Media Spectacular if you are not cutting through with current media practices.

If your media policy, media strategy, media planning, media buying and media audit are not working effectively consider an independent media professional.

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

By Greg Allardice 19 Nov, 2017
Time was when the small screen meant TV or small media meant a small press advt. However in 2017 small media means your computer screen or mobile phone.

According to Sensis Report 2016 Laptop ownership is 70%,  Smartphone ownership 76%,  Tablet 53%,  Desktop 54 % 
Internet usage more than 5 times per day is 55 % 

In fact the numbers are much higher. Walk down the street , sit in a cafe, travel on public transport and you will see much higher percentages using the small screen.

The purpose of this blog is to put out a wake up call to all marketers and advertisers.  " Think small!!! "
Yes, think about how to capture the attention of your current and new customers on the small screen and then work backwards into TV and large screen formats such as outdoor and cinema.

Why is this so?? 

The attention span of the average consumer is about 3 seconds, if you don't grab then then , they are gone.
There is so much clutter on all media and the small screen is a smorgsabord of choice.  The need to create powerful effective " small " communications has never been greater.

This involves a turn around in thinking and both at a creative and media usage level. Using tried and proven practices of even 2 years ago is a lazy approach to creative development. 

Think" small" and your world instantly becomes bigger.

If your media policy, media strategy, media planning, media buying and media audit are not thinking" small" it's time to talk to an independent media professional.

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

By Greg Allardice 09 Nov, 2017
In this current economic cycle, media budgets are under great pressure. That means they are being cut, reduced or just not actioned.

Why is this so? Commercial media budgets are set by accountants and CEO's, despite the best efforts of the
Marketing Director to set a budget to grow sales, improve market share and  attract/retain new customers.
Sadly this trend will continue.
The media budget cycle will continue to spiral down in real or indexed terms till the powers that sign off on media budgets recognise that media is an investment, not a cost item.

So how to go about creating a media budget in this current sick state of the media economy?

* Recognise that if competitors in your category are also chopping media budgets then you have the opportunity to increase your budget over a shorter space of time to gain market dominance.

* Set media budget numbers over a 3 year year cycle, but manage quarterly to keep track of unforeseen impacts

* Set your media budget not based on past budget numbers, but  as a percentage of forward sales calculations 

* Budget for growth. Make your budget a part of forward business planning in line with the overall goals and objectives 

* Set regular measurement bench marks against media budget and have guarantees in place if results fall short

* Be brave and don't allow the back room bean counters to dictate the media budget and put you in a  "no win "position

If your media policy, media strategy, media planning, media buying and media audit have not addressed media budgets, Media Futures recommends you seek out out an independent media professional

Media Futures presents industry articles in the constant quest for improving return on media investment
By Greg Allardice 07 Nov, 2017
Media is a seductive beast. It lures you to watch it, read it or listen to it. When making commercial media decisions this seductiveness can take over which leads to poor decisions on how to invest your media budget. The media pitfalls are many and there are millions of cases where poor choices have resulted in the media campaign being a total waste of time and money.

Here are some common pitfalls -

* Believing that media will solve your business issues
* Putting all your eggs in one basket and stacking your media buy into one particular medium
* Failing to check the detail of your media buy before it commences
* Not looking closer into how your media buy will translate in a cluttered media environment
* Believing everything you are told and relying on glossy presentations to win your media spend
* Working initially with a senior media operatives only to have a junior with no practical experience handle the detail
* Failing to conduct post campaign audit and analysing what you actually got

The common thread here is making decisions based on emotional beliefs that the media process will deliver in bucket loads. When you look at the big picture your media spend is only a very small fraction of the total output and therefore what might seem big and impressive to you is really quite insignificant when it happens.

If your media policy, media strategy, media planning, media buying and media audit have by passed the pitfalls of commercial media, it's time to engage with with an independent media professional.

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

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