Marketing a Business
Friday, 2nd March, 2012
Asking for dollars, such as raising share capital is another form of marketing and one where a lot of skill is used. Some prospectuses and shareholder updates are very imaginative. These may involve claims that you will get a great return on your money plus a tax write-off. Such were the 'managed investment schemes' based around rural activities such as tree farming which were sold as year-end tax 'write-offs'.
Michael Pascoe, Sydney Morning Herald, May 22nd, 2010 reminds us of one of the best in "Great Southern crash fells expert opinions".
They also were good at churning out bumf for their investors, all sorts of stuff about how the trees were going down on the farm. But one of their best efforts at spin was a document that tried to explain why their plantations weren't meeting expectations raised in the tax deduction sale process, or, in Great Southern speak, why "the expected average yields on these Projects as a whole are expected to be at the lower end of the initial yield range".
Great Southern was good at finding excuses, why the real world turned out to be somewhat less glossy than their sales brochures, but what I particularly like is this one:
"The Australian short rotation hardwood plantation industry (particularly on mainland Australia) was still in its infancy in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Great Southern was an early entrant into the industry. While we had a reasonable basis for harvest yields at the time because we followed best practice and were supported by independent experts, they were not, in hindsight, sufficient to accurately predict harvest yields across a wide range of soil and climatic conditions. As a result, expected yields for earlier Projects are down on Prospectus estimates."
And Great Southern also wasn't much chop at forecasting woodchip prices either. Or production costs. How could they as they didn't know what they were doing, as implied by this paragraph:
"At the time of preparing the disclosure documents for each of these Projects, Great Southern had limited actual cost history available in order to estimate what the costs may be. Great Southern used the best information available at the time in order to provide an estimate of costs and these estimates were verified by an independent expert on an individual Project basis."
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