3 marketing principles from the Senate: Focus on YOUR niche

Hope Focus Try - Nick Xenephon (Original image from nickxenephon.com.au - adaptation by Steve Davis)Nick Xenephon, the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party and the Australian Sports Party gave us all a reminder in the 2013 Federal Election that no matter how big your competition is, you can still make a mark.

This is NOT a party political article but rather a marketing-based assessment of voting results and party positioning.

As I watched the election campaign and then the voting results, it became clear to me that there are three principles that separate the winners from the losers:

  • Hope
  • Focus
  • Try

And I believe these principles separate successful small to medium businesses and organisations from those that fail. Let me explain.


To see an independent Senator like Nick Xenephon collect the second largest haul of Senate votes in South Australia compared to the giant, well-funded and well-oiled political machines of the Liberal and Labor parties, is strong evidence of self-belief.

In fact, Nick Xenephon faced a battle not only against the big parties but also against The Greens, who not only directed preferences away from the independent but also pushed a strong message that a vote for Xenephon was a vote for Abbott.

When we are up against larger competitors, it can be tempting to lose faith in our products or services, which is where a solid dose of hope and confidence is needed.

We need this emotional resources because making a difference in the world, or just your market, takes hard work, guts and determination that will not whither at the first setback.


The thing that helps a smaller organisation succeed against larger ones, is the ability to be nimble and to get into the nooks and crannies of a market place to find and service specific groups of customers.

Both the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party (likely to win one seat in Victoria) and the Australian Sporting Party (likely to win one seat in Western Australia) defined their ‘niches’ or market segments clearly, enabling them to use existing networks of potential supporters to spread the word and mix it with the ‘big guys’.

What I like about the market segmentation with both of these parties is that two important criteria have been addressed:

  • Size – both segments are large enough to provide enough votes to obtain a Senate seat
  • Networks – both segments have strong networks of enthusiasts to tap into, quickly and cheaply, eg, car clubs and associations, and sporting clubs and associations.

This last point is the one most often overlooked when small to medium enterprises embark on marketing strategy development; market segments don’t only need to exist but need to be efficiently accessible.

My question for the rest of us is, are their readymade networks, magazines, forums, etc, where we could efficiently raise awareness of ourselves among attractive potential clients or people of influence?


The last principle I gleaned from the Senate results was that all 73 participants on the South Australian Senate papers were at least trying.

This is something we can forget in the busyness of running our businesses and organisations: at least we are DOING!

There are many people you will meet with great business ideas, but it is only when they actually TRY that they get a chance to have their idea tested by the market.

You are already there!

I hope these three principles help refresh you this week as life is about to get busier, considering¬†our new Prime Minister announcing that Australia is ‘once again open for business’.




  1. Mark Fraser

    Thank you for the timely reminder and encouragement to ‘keep trying’.

  2. Miriam Clappis

    Great blog – loved your feedback about trying – “There are many people you will meet with great business ideas, but it is only when they actually TRY that they get a chance to have their idea tested by the market.”


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