Urquhart adds value

BARRY Urquhart is a talented self-promoter but then effective marketing is a big part of his message and his work

Mr Urquhart spends his time talking to people about how they can improve their business through marketing.

While working at a shopping centre in suburban Perth in the 1960s, Mr Urquhart began to consider the advantages of marketing for a business.

The corporate body that owned the shopping centre looked to the eastern states and just copied what worked there, but this didn’t seem to work for WA, Mr Urquhart said.

“This was the time of the birth of the big shopping centre but WA was different to Sydney and Melbourne and this got me looking at marketing,” he said.

The birth of high-cost, large scale shopping centres fed the community’s demand for convenient one-stop shopping and “this was a completely different way of thinking, suddenly marketing became important,” Mr Urquhart said.

Mr Urquhart claims that in this competitive environment the differ-ences between consumer items decreased and the importance of corporate branding increased.

This interest in marketing continued to develop until 1975 when Mr Urquhart accepted a position lecturing on marketing management and organisational behaviour at Curtin University.

At this time, lecturers were encour-aged to supplement their income through consultancy work with external businesses.

Mr Urquhart’s consultancy work rapidly developed and he set up his own consultancy business to help other businesses develop marketing plans.

“What became evident is a business can’t say what we’ve got is better, it’s not believable and how can you sustain the statement ‘We’re the Best’,” Mr Urquhart said.

He hypothesised that businesses needed to add value to their product through good service and the development of a strong brand.

As you listen to Mr Urquhart talk about the extensive research he conducted to develop his marketing theories, you realise his real skill has been his ability to listen.

In the 1980s, when Perth seemed awash with entrepreneurs and millionaires, Mr Urquhart published a book based on interviews with these successful businessmen.

He named the book The Jindalee Factor after the “Jindalee” over the horizon radar system developed by the CSIRO.

“No one had ever sat down and spoken to these guys, so in 1982 I interviewed the highest flying WA entrepreneurs,” Mr Urquhart said.

“There were three traits all these entrepreneurs had – they were flexible, disciplined and they looked beyond the horizon.

“The book sold in big quantities in Australia where everyone was wanting to know the secret of these people’s success.”

But the success was fairly short-lived for many of these businesses, but that’s where Mr Urquhart displayed his own entrepreneurial spirit and published a book titled From Black Hole to Blue Sky.

This book looked at where these businesses were after the stock market crash and the recession Australia had to have.

“It was building a bridge between formal studies and what is happening on the street,” Mr Urquhart said.

For a person who doesn’t believe he’s a writer, Mr Urquhart has written and published five books, with the sixth, Marketing Magic - Street Smart Marketing, due out in June.

His passion for talking to people about business and marketing appears to be a passion for communicating.

“All conflict comes down to communication between two human beings,” Mr Urquhart said.

“Essentially a good communicator will be good in business.

“When’s the best time to tell your wife you love her – before someone else does.

“In a consumer environment where people are working harder and longer, a product with a strong brand will be sold more quickly simply.”

According to Mr Urquhart, most of us don’t have the time to shop and when we do we choose convenience and a brand we recognise.

It’s more emotional than scientific.

It sounds very simple, but Mr Urquhart is happy to admit he’s not sure how he’d fare in a corporate role.

“My real function is a catalyst for change, and sadly I do offend some-times, because some people don’t want to change,” he said.

In the business world, Mr Urquhart has been branded a consumer advocate and an agitator who attacks corporations.

But he remains philosophical about the negative reactions to his presentations, and returns to his initial point that business people need to become better communicators to further their business goals.

n Barry Urquhart will be speaking on “It is better to

be different than it is to be better” at breakfast at Fraser’s Restaurant, Kings Park on Friday April 6.

Tickets $55, contact

Leesa Baker 9257 1777.

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