State of the Blog: May 2020

A lot has happened since I last updated here… how are you holding up in your little bit of bubble? I’ve personally been taking everything one day at the time. Many grand plans I’ve made have ended up on the backburner, including keeping this blog up to date. (Six drafts from months ago, waiting for me to finish researching, writing and editing! :O)

While I’m no longer guaranteeing regular updates, I am going to try and focus on quality content. Still not 100% sure what “quality content” means for my little corner of the internet yet, but I’m sure I’ll feel a lot better about it all once I start writing again.


State of the Blog: March 2020

Keeping up to date with my blog posts here has been a minor ordeal to say the least. I’m sure every parent out there can relate to trying to juggle parenting with work and/or study and their hobbies. On top of that, I caught my son’s chest infection, which hasn’t been pleasant. At least I’ve been starting drafts, even if they’re taking time to finish.

A lot of what’s been taking me so long is finishing my essay on GM ceasing the Holden brand. I finally finished that today, and got it fact checked by my parents. It’s the first essay I’ve intended for wider consumption that I’ve written in a very long time. I’m quite proud of it.

With that out of the way, I can finally go back to editing my post-class blog posts and get them up (complete with backdating!). I’m also hoping I can get a couple of my tabs clear by posting links to some articles on marketing that I’ve been meaning to post.

Other plans for the blog this month include finding a WordPress theme that I like, and trying out some SEO techniques.


Holden: An Obituary

Thanks to Mum and Dad for reading over this before I posted. Your thoughts and opinions on everything I touched on are appreciated!

General Motors announcing that they were axing the Holden brand on Monday made me feel like I was a vampire being staked. We touched on it a little bit in class that evening, but no-one would have realised that they had someone with a fairly close connection to Holden sitting in their classroom.

My original plan was to write about what Holden‘s loss means to Australian marketing. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you too much about the branding. I don’t even care that much for cars. But Holden still means a lot to me, and people like me.

I grew up in Salisbury, South Australia. It’s right next door to Elizabeth, where the Holden factory was located. My dad worked in the paint shop and on final assembly. My mum worked at one point for Cooper Standard Automotive making car parts for Holden. Both my dad and one of my uncles own vintage Holdens (HR Standard Sedan and HR Premium Sedan). At my house, the V8s would be on the TV every race weekend. It was (jokingly) considered high treason to own a Ford, and there was disappointment when my mother bought one when my parents decided they needed a second car.

An Holden HR Standard Sedan is parked in front of a house. The car’s roof is white, and the car’s body is powder blue.
My dad’s Holden HR Standard Sedan.
An Holden HR Premier Sedan is parked in front of the Holden offices at Elizabeth, South Australia. The car’s roof is white with some rust, and the car’s body is blue, with some discolouration on the base of the front and back doors.
My uncle’s HR Premier Sedan parked in front of the Holden offices at Elizabeth, South Australia.

Getting a job at Holden, even as a subcontractor, meant being set up for life, or at least for a very long time. Manufacturing is hard work, in between the physical labour, the pace that comes with needing to get one car off the line every 60-90 seconds and the monotony that tends to come with the job, but Holden had the reputation for paying well and looking after their employees and families. Even now, I fondly remember one of the Christmas parties we went to one year at a mini golf course where Father Christmas visited us and gave us a present early.

Holden was something that those of us that grew up or lived in the Northern Suburbs of Adelaide could feel proud of, especially on those days where media or others with their own biases made us feel like there wasn’t much to be proud of. It didn’t matter to us (or Australia as a whole) that Holden technically hadn’t been Australian since 1931 when GM purchased what was Holden’s Motor Body Builders to become General Motors-Holden. It was enough that J.A. Holden & Co. had started in Adelaide, and was therefore South Australian, and ours.

For people like myself, Holden was a promise. It was a promise that, if you worked hard at your job and were proud of the work that you put in, you would be able to look after yourself and your family. It was a promise that your job, no matter how small it may seem to people who don’t know better, was important and needed. It was a promise that you could worry less about the world around you, because you had a stable job. In short, Holden has always been about two way loyalty.

By the time General Motors had made the announcement on December 11 2013 that Holden were going to stop manufacturing in Australia, both of my parents had been out of the automotive industry for quite some time. My dad got injured at work, and eventually made the decision not to return. My mum got sick of the instability that came with working in manufacturing, and managed to get a job working as a FIFO cleaner out at a mine.

I don’t always name drop, but when I do, it’s usually because I’m spruiking the work of a childhood friend of mine, Royce Kurmelovs. He’s an independent journalist that has also written several books. His first book, The Death of Holden, chronicles the stories of people impacted by the loss of (car) manufacturing, and what happens when manufacturing jobs go. For those of you that prefer their reading not to be book length, this is Royce’s take in The Guardian on losing Holden completely, and a piece in Kill Your Darlings that became the basis of The Death of Holden.

As I reread The Death of Holden, I’m reminded of all the things I was told by the adults around me growing up, and how those messages changed from when I was a child, to when I was finishing school. Royce describes this perfectly in the preface:

As an adult you look back and you can see it in the little things. The hardware store that closed down. The liquor store that didn’t. The high-school teachers who broke lesson plans with impromptu speeches about education and good jobs. The ones who didn’t. There were the friends who went off to university to make something of themselves and those who didn’t. Those who learned trades, and those who didn’t. Those who got out by joining the army. Those who stayed because they had kids early. That one friend who left school to chase a dollar, who ended up working so hard as a waitress that four years later she collapsed on the bathroom floor of the restaurant and still went to work the next day.

From The Death of Holden – Preface: Turning it off, page x

I can’t speak for my friends that I went to school with, or for friends of mine that also grew up north. But I can tell you that I worked my darned hardest over the years to study and get a good paying job in a field that I enjoyed, and failed repeatedly. I can also tell you that I rewrote that last sentence three or four times to avoid my gut instinct of writing like I was talking to my friends, family and my event colleagues when we’re doing grunt work… the sense of ‘I need to be someone else to secure good work’ never entirely leaves you, even when you do manage to secure semi-regular work that you love.

Holden’s final death isn’t just about the loss of an iconic brand, an important part of South Australian history, one half of Australian motor sport’s biggest rivalry. It’s also about the lost pride of an entire region, about hurt feelings that hard work and loyalty ultimately means nothing and that you’re struggling to change your work ethic to fit in a business ethos that no longer seems to exist in large corporations. Ignoring the people right at the bottom that helped to build the cars – Holden workers, workers at parts manufacturers and other workers supporting the wider supply chain – that ultimately made the Holden brand does Holden a disservice.

Unfortunately, this girl from Salisbury didn’t realise what you meant to her until it was too late, old lion. I’m sorry your death was so long and painful. You will be missed.


Market segmentation

I attended my first class tonight, Analyse Consumer Behaviour. We spent time going over the basics of marketing: what marketing is, the marketing process, and spent some time on market segmentation.

But what is a market? Put simply, a market is all of your product’s current consumers and potential consumers. Depending on where you’re offering your product or service, that could be anywhere from a small group of people right up to several hundred million, if not a couple billion people. It’s unrealistic to think that your product is going to do the same thing for everyone, so you need a way to break that large group of people down into smaller groups who have similar things in common.

This is where market segmentation can come in. Market segmentation can be thought of as a tool to help a marketer decide where best to use their resources, and to make their workload easier because you’re not trying to market to everyone.

For marketing to consumers, you can segment your market using:

  • Demographics
  • Geographics (location)
  • Behavioural (how often and when something is used)
  • Benefits or needs
  • Psychographics (lifestyle)

Segmentation methods are slightly different for marketing to businesses, but that’s getting covered in the next class.

Here’s an interesting fact: Newcastle is a common test market for products in Australia as Newcastle’s demographics tend to mirror the average Australian population as a whole.


Back to school means a new blog

My New Year’s resolution was to make a career change. My personal life was making it a lot harder to work the last minute odd hours that comes with events, and I was starting to dread working shifts. I also wanted to go back to having events work as an incredibly weird and highly satisfying hobby, not what I do for a living.

Scrolling through my options for evening study on TAFE NSW’s website, I found myself repeatedly looking at marketing. It turns out that a lot of the job descriptions for marketing jobs on Seek have a lot of overlap with my skill sets in web design and events. And the information night that I attended sealed the deal, with an emphasis on digital, clear study progression options should I decide to go further, and flexibility to work around work.

I start my Certificate IV in Marketing and Communication tomorrow night at Ultimo. I’m excited, but very nervous – I haven’t undertaken any formal study for about five years, and my only real exposure to marketing has been through watching Gruen.

But with a very busy schedule even before study, I need a way to keep myself accountable. If I force myself to blog the reading, watching and research I should be doing to supplement my course. It also gives me a practical way to demonstrate my skills (hello, potential future employers!).

So here we are: a new blog to match my new course. I’ll be posting at least a couple of times per week to quickly jot down what I can remember very soon after class, then go back and edit to fill in gaps in my posts after I revise my notes. I’ll also be sharing resources that I find useful, as well as books, articles and videos that I take a look at while I’m studying.