Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Tom Peters at The London Business Forum on Women

Saw Tom Peters yesterday at The London Business Forum. Very good.

I will share this slide of his with you:


  • Women make [all] the financial decisions.Women control [all] the wealth.
  • Women [substantially] outlive men.
  • Women start most of the new businesses.
  • Women’s work force participation rates have soared worldwide.
  • Women are closing in on “same pay for same job.”
  • Women are penetrating senior ranks rapidly [even if the pace is slow for the corner
    office per se].
  • Women’s leadership strengths are exceptionally well aligned with new organizational effectiveness imperatives.
  • Women are better salespersons than men.
  • Women buy [almost] everything—commercial as well as consumer goods.

So what exactly is the point of men?

As I said, 'very good'.


  • What is your business doing to sell to women?
  • Do you recognise that women buy in a different way from men?
  • Do men, or do women, design your products/services/offices/websites/adverts? How does that impact on how it is received by women?

Women = Men?
I believe that men and women do behave differently from each other (a sweeping generalisation!) and I believe that they do buy differently.
Bright Marketing: She's Your Number One Customer!

Marketing To Women: What Women Really Want! - Are women different from men? Do they behave differently when they are buying? And if they are different, should we be marketing to them in a different way? (CriticalEye, Aug 2006).
Targeting Number One - Women make the majority of buying decisions today. Why reaching this segment is possibly the number one opportunity for businesses (London Business School Business Strategy Review)


Thursday, 25 October 2007

Let's Talk... Exit, Sell or Retire

I've just come back from a most depressing two days in North Wales (Bangor and Wrexham) - the area and the people were great: real warm hospitality. Special thanks go to the Welsh Assembly and Wrexham Business Week!

The problem was the subject I was discussing... succession planning.

Like writing a will, you can always put off succession planning till tomorrow... and that is the problem.

Roughly three-quarters of business owners expect to have a big pay-out when they sell their businesses... but roughly the same number don't have any plans in place for their exit strategy.

The result is that the majority of business owners (as much as 75%, according to the research!!!) get next-to-nothing for their businesses when they retire - a couple of old Dell computers and some staplers is hardly fair recompense for the years you have put into growing your business.
The chances are that you will be one of the ones who get next-to-nothing when you sell/close your business.

And how much is your business worth?
Most people have hugely inflated ideas of what they will get when they sell their business - I mean totally unrealistic!

Doom and gloom or what!

However it is never too late. Ask yourself:
  • How much do you think the business is worth right now?
  • How much would someone realistically pay you for it right now?
  • How much do you want it to be worth in x years?
  • What do you need to do create the business that someone will pay that amount for?
  • Who do you need to talk to in order to make sure that your sums really will stack up (business growth adviser, banker, accountant, lawyer, business transfer agent)?

If you don’t start planning your exit right now then you may well have a very impoverished retirement!

Let's Talk Growth - Exit, Sell Or Retire workshop in Birmingham on 2nd November
Time For A Sharp Exit - Options To Get Out Of Your Business - article for IOD

Monday, 15 October 2007

Companies lose half their customers every five years!

From the Sunday Times :

"According to a recent Harvard Business Review study, US companies lose half of their customers every five years, with two-thirds of them citing inadequate customer care as their primary reason for leaving. The study calculated that it is six or seven times more expensive to gain a new customer than retain an existing one, and that if customer loyalty is increased by just five per cent, profits can increase by 25 per cent. "
Read the whole
Sunday Times article.

I often quote the figures from
Leboeuf that up to 65% of clients leave you because they feel that you just don't care - you don't make enough effort.

And as the Americans say, " Do the math!".

How much does it cost for you to acquire one new customer?

How long do they stay with you? What is the average gross profit/contribution over the life-time of a customer?

Or put it another way... with, say 1000 clients this year, you will need to replace 200 of them every year just from natural wastage... and yet it costs six or seven times more to sell to new customers... so why not focus on existing customers.

  • Do a customer survey every three months - find out who is and is not happy with your service (90% of businesses have not done a survey in the last three months!)!
  • Use a customer satisfaction/happiness form after as many customer interactions as possible
  • Find 10 ways to get closer to your customers right now! How can you not want to have incredibly loyal customers right now?!

Calculate how much time/money you spend:

  • Acquiring new customers
  • Getting them to buy more or more often from you
  • Stopping them from leaving you...

Read the whole Sunday Times article: Keeping The Customer Happy
Read the book Customer Is King (Virgin Books)
Read the Customer Is King (for professional advisors) article (Better Business)
Read the 10 Way To Keep Your Customers Happier article (Wilts Times)
Read the Exceeding Customer Expectations article (Customer Management)

Attend the Bright Marketing workshops

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Global Warming - No Problem

Today's London Sunday Times reports on Bjorn Lomborg's latest book, Cool It.

'Do you care about global warming? Yes? Liar.

'You still drive and fly. Your house lacks solar panels and windmills. You drive to super-stores where you buy food laden with air miles...: nobody really cares about global warming, they just talk about it.

'“The vast majority,” says Bjorn Lomborg, “are along for the ride. They’ve kids to pick up from day care, jobs to get on with, marriages to work on. This is a background phenomenon to many of these people.”...

Read the full
Sunday Times article.

'“There’s a huge difference between what people say and what they do,” observes Lomborg...

'Look at all the websites where you can take a flight and offset your carbon. Only about 1% do it. Likewise this goes for most politicians who say they will cut emissions dramatically. Blair said in 1997 that he’d reduce carbon emissions by 15%; we’ve seen an increase of 3% since then.”
Nobody denies that we waste too much or that it us that is causing many of the climate changes... the question is whether we are doing the right things to sort it out!

Sunday Times article

Monday, 1 October 2007

Fantasy CEO in The Times

Start as you mean to go on!

Competitors in The Times Fantasy CEO Competition are keen to make their mark but have found preparing for the first round unexpectedly taxing. Carly Chynoweth reports .

My humble advice, as quoted:
'As with a real business, it’s worth putting the time in at the beginning.

Think about where you are now, where you are going and how you plan to get there.

Clear objectives from the start determine your trajectory and whether you poodle along or whether you want high growth. Equally, setting up a solid strategy at the outset should mean that later turns require much less work. '

This interview got me thinking about the real life (not the fantasy) CEO role that most of our clients currently hold... and the questions we need to ask ourselves...
  • What are you trying to do with this business? What's holding you back?
  • What have you got to keep and what have you got to lose to move to the 'next level'?

Maybe it is time to reflect...

  • What is your role in the growing of the business? Are you making the best use of your time and if not, why not?
  • What can you do to speed things up?
  • What advice would a raw meat-, raw garlic-eating entrepreneur give you if he/she saw what you are doing in your business?

Strategy Sucks - article in European CEO magazine by Robert Craven
Fantasy CEO in The Times - full article in The Times
Will a bit of fantasy help your reality - article in The Times