Tuesday, 23 December 2008

New Year's Resolution - A Bunch of Fives

Not a NEW Year's Resolution as it is OLD... but it still seems as relevant as ever! Should I call it "Old New Year's Resolutions"?

A Bunch of Fives - Robert Craven's New Year's Resolutions for 2006(?) - print it off and pop it on your wall. (First published in Daily Telegraph Business Club, December 2005. Also in Dealer Support and USP Magazines Jan 2006 - and on the USP Magazine website).
How time flies!!

Saturday, 20 December 2008



Have a wonderful holiday-time this year.

Each year we give a donation to a chosen charity rather than spend money on Christmas Cards and stamps. This year the donation will go to the Jack Cecoup School in Lusaka, Zambia.

This school works with 500 poverty-line children from AIDS affected homes; most have lost a parent from AIDS, many have lost two! All the proceeds, every penny, goes direct to the school; there are no intermediaries.

In August, proceeds from my book sales paid for concrete classroom floors to replace soil/dirt ones. This next donation will pay for the their first toilets - a pit latrine. At the moment the school has no water, no toilets, no electricity.

My blog at
where-does-money-from-my-books-go talks a little about the school
and photos can be seen at

On another note - have a look at
www.bleedtheworld.com a video/spoof put together my the company my daughter works for. It is a little like marmite: some people love it; some people find it offensive.

Here's to a great 2009!


So What Really Matters to People?

Travelling on the train, bus and tube on Saturday and everyone was talking about the 'Strictly Come Dancing' finals.

"Who will/should/could win?"

Everyone has an opinion!!!

Meanwhile I thought that the real issue that impacts on all of us is what's going on with the economy and what can be done?

No-one seems to have an opinion.

I understand that 'Strictly' has a beginning, a middle and an end and its not that complicated to have an opinion on it (if you care about it). What I find scary is that no-one seems to know or ask the question

will/should/could the government do?"

Ignorance is bliss!

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Recession Blues #3/#4/#5

See Recession Blues blog entries at smeweb:

Recession blues - “Since this recession I’m losing my baby, Because the times are getting so hard”BB King, Recession Blues

Recession blues 2 - Recession blues 2 - batten down the hatches

Recession blues #3: now is the time - Take note of the 2nd extreme approach to surviving the recession

Recession blues #4: What’s to be done? - You can find numerous profit improvement checklists to ‘survive’ the recession. But, I have to ask, “So What?”

Recession blues #5: Action - And if the poo is about to hit the fan…

see above

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Going Up; Going Down

Paul Clegg's blog is getting a little schizophrenic methinks... a sign of the times.

One minute he quotes and refers to me in his blog entry Directors Centre: Great Ways to Grow: The Three Plus One Tool and then in a sudden turn of mood he quotes Directors Centre: Why Businesses Fail, Plan of Action, Start-up success.

To be honest, the two blogs are not mutually exclusive but it does look odd when you see them side by side.

Paul Clegg's blog
Directors Centre: Great Ways to Grow: The Three Plus One Tool
Directors Centre: Why Businesses Fail, Plan of Action, Start-up success.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Have You Ever Asked Yourself Why Most Businesses Fail?

Julian T Rowe in his article SME Managerial Incompetence and the Pitfalls to Avoid says (quoting me!),
"Have you ever asked yourself why most businesses fail? In the UK on average two thirds of all businesses fail within 3 years. This is a horrifying statistic. Most business failures tend to blame everyone else but themselves for their misfortune..."

He goes on to point out that "SMEs need an 'early warning system'"

Julian T Rowe
SME Managerial Incompetence and the Pitfalls to Avoid

Monday, 8 December 2008

My Top Ten Business Books by Richard Lockyer

‘My Top 10 Business Books’ by Richard Lockyer states:

They say that if you want to be the best then find out who the best are and then copy them, well in my opinion you will have to go a long way to beat these guys!”
“It took me ages deciding on the following ten because there are so many great books available. I finally decided on these because all of them contain tips and advice that you can take away and implement in your business immediately. So here we go in no particular order……………..”

and goes on to list:

1. Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson.
2. Winning by Clive Woodward
3. The Pursuit Of WOW! by Tom Peters
4. Control Your Destiny Or Someone Else Will by Jack Welch.
5. Find Your Light Bulb by Mike Harris
6. Screw It, Lets Do It by Richard Branson
7. Ready, Fire, Aim by Michael Masterson
8. The E Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
9. Kick Start Your Business by Robert Craven
10. Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Saturday, 6 December 2008

The Relevance of the MBA for Start-Ups and Anyone Else in a Recession!

BusinessZone recently published my article, MBA: The devil's work for those starting a business, an article that comments on the (ir-)relevance of the MBA for start-ups.

On reviewing the article you can see its relevance to any business in the current economic climate.

Some of the keys points and questions it asks are:

  1. Running a business is about action, it is not about theory.

  2. The market is brutally honest.

  3. Why should people bother to buy your product?

  4. Do not compete on price.

  5. The four main skills are: Vision, Passion, Determination, Communication/Delegation skills.

  6. Work ON your business not IN your business.

  7. Don't shy away from passion!

RELEVANT LINKSMBA: The devil's work for those starting a business - article from BusinessZone website

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

"Bish! Bash! Bosh!" Horror (with working links this time!)

I recently wrote an article Bish Bash Bosh! Take Action - it was published in Growing Business magazine. And now I am told that the phrase has been hijacked by the crew on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here (Does anyone remember who David Van Day and Timmy Mallett are? Why do people hate Timmy?). And they have done it in a song!

So, my article starts:
Jerry runs a lovely professional service firm. To be specific, it is a web design agency. In the past his problem, which he openly admitted, was that he never got that much done. He was Mr Nice Guy who was a bit of a busy fool – too forgiving, too patient and altogether too nice. His staff, clients and suppliers walked all over him and he didn’t even realise it. He was too busy trying to be on the right side of everyone. In my opinion, he had lost the plot...
Read Bish Bash Bosh! Take Action

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

National Business Awards 08

An audience of over 1,200 were present to see the winners of The National Business Awards 2008 announced. Finalists were joined by judges (that's me!), sponsors, numerous business leaders and academics alongside HRH the Earl of Wessex and Peter Mandelson, current Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

Lord Mandelson, Gordon Brown's secret weapon, claimed in his speech that he will listen to, and reply to, all points of view that are sent to him.

I have written...

I am waiting for a reply...

National Business Awards website

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Africa Photos

There's been a fair number of enquiries etc about the Africa trip I took in the summer. Below is a link to some photos.

The first photo (above) was taken near Kuhtse in the Kalahari, Botswana.
This photo taken at the school was just outside Lusaka in Zambia. For the anoraks out there, it was taken with a little indestructible digital point and shoot camera...

I posted some photos on my flickr account and the link is http://flickr.com/photos/10391085@N04/page2/

Making Things Worse - Customer Service in Cornwall

The prosecution:
  1. Nice hotel near Number 15 Restaurant on the outskirts of Newquay. Friendly welcome... but obviously times were hard - they were offering extra 40% discount for any friends who book in the coming low season - pretty good, eh! The nice manageress made a lovely sales pitch 'asking for the business'... all good stuff! I was ready to tell the whole world about them. Times were hard... but here, it seemed, was a business making the effort...

  2. The next morning: 06.55am the ventilation/extract fan etc outside our bedroom window kicks off and roars into action. It is so loud it wakes us both up with a jolt.

  3. I call reception and explain the situation and the sweet person at reception was very understanding "You are not the first person to mention it... so sorry... and can you come to reception when you are ready and mention the problem and we will be able to sort something out with the bill." Excellent. Some kind of a result.

  4. Neither of us can get back to sleep as the noise gets progressively louder. I ask myself why I have to resort to turning on the radio/TV to drown out the noise of the fan... so we resign ourselves to getting up.

  5. On departure we go to reception as requested and mention the problem. The reply was, "It's the ventilation system and we have to have it on or we can't open the kitchen for breakfast" followed by "Why should we do something on the bill - you got a good price already" and similar stuff. I pointed out that I was simply repeating what the earlier receptionist had said, but to no avail. As tension increased the manageress who had watched all this shrugged her shoulders to receptionist who again repeated that "There is nothing we can do..., the ventilation has to go on..." I appealed to her one more time pointing out that I now felt foolish and loathe to recommend her hotel to my many friends who would follow me to Number 15 but zero response.
Walking out of the reception area I am fuming. I stop in the foyer (where reception can still hear me) and I repeat that I am amazed that they are happy to let me leave as an upset/disgruntled customer. Naively I hoped they might decide to relent or at a minimum say those immortal words "I am sorry" or "you are right" or "yes can we offer you a discount for the inconvenience".

Instead the receptionist made me feel as if I had been lying about the offered discount.

- So who's problem is this, mine or theirs?

- Why do I get so upset that they can't be bothered?

- Should I name and shame the hotel? (PS I have sent them a copy of this blog entry. I wonder if I will get a reply?)
- How many chances should I give them, or am I simply in the wrong to expect a quiet night's sleep and for a hotel to deliver on its promise???

I am afraid that even with the 40% discount, I will not be recommending them.
So, shall I tell you who it was?


Customer Is King - the book
Previous posting on Ritz Carlton

Exceeding Customer Expectations - A Seven Point Plan - Are customers really in charge when it comes to dealing with organisations. Here is a seven-point plan to make sure the customer is 'king' (Customer Management, July/August 2006)

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Bright Marketing Manifesto - What The Customer Thinks...

What the customer thinks matters more than you can imagine - so do a customer survey now.

It is one of the most simple and effective things you can do to get things moving - it gets you talking (and listening) to customers to find out how to turn them on - there will be sales to made (quite simply 'picking the low hanging fruit' because you were there when they were thinking about making a purchase).

- You never know when a client is about to leave you
- You can never assume that you are getting it right
- Most dissatisfied customers don't bother to tell you
- Clients will tell you cunning/clever ways to turn them on even more
- Every customer survey that our clients do will generate more sales

Wants and Needs - The Learning And Teaching Scotland Management Toolkit
How to Find Out What Customers Want - The Management Toolkit
Customer Is King - book

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Bright Marketing Manifesto - Put Up Prices, Now!

Some Thought Bubbles:

- As a small/growing/independent business you can not compete on price - there are always bigger businesses around with better buying power/sales people/customer reach etc and they will always beat you in a price war
- 95% of people do not buy on price despite what they say
- When you put prices up the clients that leave you are normally the 'scum' - the disloyal that buy on price
- When you put prices up, the clients that stay with you are the ones buying on everything but price - they love your service/flexibility/localness/friendliness etc etc
- When prices go up you can afford to lose clients (with a 30%GP and a price increase of 10%... you can lose up to 25% of sales volumes and still get the same gross profit!)
- At my last twenty events I have asked the question "Who has put prices up in the last six months?" - not one person has put prices up has seen a loss in profits as a result!

Cutting Prices - bloglink
Barclays ‘Let’s Talk…’ Programme – webpages and online booking for the Let’s Talk… workshops
Putting up prices - bloglink

If you actually want to understand how and why and when to put up prices then give us a call on +44 (0)1225 851044 or contact me at
rc@directorscentre.com - this is one of the many things that my team help people to do

Friday, 7 November 2008

Business Paying Lipservice To The Environment

From B2BMarketing Online:

FTSE 100 companies are going green to protect their reputation rather than as a result of concern for the environment...

The Green Washers and Green Winners survey, compiled by communications and research team Chatsworth, polled 1200 national and trade journalists, sustainability experts and political groups to measure the perception of which companies are leading the way on sustainability issues, and which are more concerned with image over substance.

Results suggested that the main motivation for UK companies to adopt green policies is to protect their reputation (27 per cent) with just 18 per cent believing the main motivator is good business sense. Only one per cent of those polled believe genuine concern for the environment is the key driver for UK companies to adopt green policies.

Read the full article

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint - blog article
Is Green The New Black? - Robert Craven explains why going green will not just benefit the environment. (Start Your Business, November 2007).
The full article - B2BMarketing Online

Attend one of Kiki's Green Business seminars for free! (26 Nov in Cornwall and 03 Dec in Swindon)

Monday, 3 November 2008

More Effective Marketing for Accountants

Here's a link to an article entitled More Effective Marketing from ACCA's In Practice magazine. It is aimed at accountants! It starts

Traditional forms of marketing are not always effective and advertising is rarely cost-effective. Robert Craven believes you can implement more subtle techniques to reach potential clients.

It seems to have produced some interesting reactions.

Accountants - Know Me, Know My Business - an article from the same magazine In Practice
More Effective Marketing from ACCA's In Practice

PS To stop the suspense, the photo is a very young John Cleese!

Friday, 31 October 2008

Cash Matters

I ask every audience I talk in front of, “What is the most important thing to measure to tell you how well your business is doing?”.

And, without fail, people always come back to me with the wrong answer! They call out ‘sales’ or ‘turnover’ or ‘profit’ but they hardly ever mention the right and probably only answer and that is ‘cash’.

The reality is that it may be illegal to trade without profit but it is impossible to trade without cash.

So how do you keep your head above water? It isn’t rocket science, but very few people seem to follow the basic steps.

1. Measure cash-flow like a hawk – it is your business so it is your responsibility to know exactly how much you owe, how much you are owed, how much you have got and how much you are going to need. Do the numbers.

2. Do the cash-flow projections – depending on how close you are sailing to the wind and how big the fluctuations are, do cash-flow projections every quarter/month/week. Failure to do so is entirely inexcusable.

3. Have clear credit terms on your initial contract and on all subsequent invoices.

4. Check all new clients’ credit records – and watch them until they have proved themselves to be reliable.

5. Have a rigorous process for invoicing, following-up and collection. Be reasonable but be firm. Talk to anyone who owes you money. Listen. Be clear and be firm. It is your money that they owe you.

Also recognise that a tightly-run credit control system is useless if you are not making the profit in the first place.

As Michael Porter says, “Cutting prices is usually insanity if the competition can go as low as you can”.

Cutting Prices - blog on Porter
Recession Blues for Recession Bores - blog
Recession Blues - article

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Testimonials etc etc

I am a great fan of testimonials - they are so much more convincing than anything you can write yourself... they are in the voice of another customer/client and so the reader can relate to the comments in a way that is different from the way that they would read your own words.

An Example: Baiju Solanki, Director of Performance Coaching and Training Ltd features the Let's Talk More Profit Seminar in his blog as follows:

I recently attended a workshop run by Robert Craven. The workshop was on how to make more profits. The key thing when running your own business, and what you can do to make more profits, is to be open minded about what others are doing and to really look at what works for you. As someone, who not only delivers, but also attends workshops, I am always fascinated how the same old things, when put to you in a different way can have a positive impact... Read more

Performance Coaching and Training - their
Let's Talk More Profit - free seminars

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Corporate Responsibility Top 100 in Sunday Times

In May 2008, The Sunday Times published the Top 100 companies for CSR: Number Four was BHP Billiton.

Certain members of the team here at The Directors' Centre are puzzled by this.

I remember members of my team refusing to work on a project with BHP - they refused because of BHP Billiton's CSR record!! A quick search on google for "BHP Billiton CSR record" still generates some interesting links.


Sunday Times Top 100 - pdf - also go to BITC for the full commentary
Corporate Social Responsibility Is Immoral, Unfair And Damaging - It is tantamount to signing a death warrant for your employee’s job security. (CEO Magazine, Aug 2006).
Green Is The New Black - Tara Struk - despite what their PR suggest, companies probably don't make changes out of goodwill.
Barclays Let's Talk Green Business - events where you can discuss how to create a greener business

Monday, 20 October 2008

The Most Effective Sales Method

A (not so) recent survey (from The Directors' Centre!) asks the question, ‘If you could only use one sales method then what would it be?’

When asked what was ‘the most effective sales method’…. small and growing businesses put
- Face-to-face selling, and
- Referrals and customer recommendations
at the top of their list!

- Do YOU know which sales methods are the most effective in my business?
- Do
YOU allocate sales effort in the most effective manner?
- Do
YOU know how much it costs to acquire one new client?
- How much is the average new customer worth to

Which Sales Method Is The Most Effective? article
Getting More Bangs For Your Bucks - further commentary at istaris.co.uk

Friday, 17 October 2008

Bright Marketing Manifesto - Selling is Everything

Most businesses think that their product or service is pretty cool... so what's the problem?

Well, most business don't know how to sell their products; they are too obsessed with making a great widget but they don't see the picture through the eyes of the customer! So, get some decent sales coaching/training, now. Before it is too late!

Bright Marketing - the book
The Directors' Centre - TheDC can help you improve your sales and and profits! Phone up to find out how.

Bright Marketing Manifesto - Infect Your Customers!

Infect your customers and staff with your passion and excitement for your business - they are your ambassadors!

I am a great believer in nurturing the passion and excitement that you have for your product - create raving fans and ambassadors for your product and suddenly life becomes much easier. It is simply not enough to deliver an OK service; you need to blow people away with your legendary service and then they will tell others.

I am often cited for my "I love my accountant" quote.

And why do I love him?

Because he blows me away with the quality of the service and because of the customer experience.

So there's some food for thought. If an accountant can excite staff and customers then why can't you?

Bright Marketing - the book
The Directors' Centre - TheDC can help you create the legendary customer experience that will boost your profits

Thursday, 16 October 2008

SMEweb Blogs #3

I am continuing to write a series of short, tight blogs for the people over at SMEweb. Recent posts you might like to look at include:

SMEweb Blogs#2

PS Next week's Wrexham More Profit event is mentioned in
their blog. Meanwhile next week sees Let's Talk... Start-Ups in Sheffield and Let's Talk... More Profit in Hull, Doncaster and, of course, Wrexham! Visit the website!

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

The Vulgar Mr O'Leary

I have just been trying to track down a quote from Michael O'Leary along the lines of
"I want to drive out the sh-tty competitors".

All I could find were the following rather vulgar comments:

"Code-sharing, alliances, and connections are all about "how do we screw the poor customer for more money?"
"Air transport is just a glorified bus operation."
— Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's chief executive, quoted in
BusinessWeek Online, 12 September 2002

Most complaints, O'Leary tells me, are generated by the company's no-refund policy. "We don't fall all over ourselves if they... say my granny fell ill. What part of no refund don't you understand? You are not getting a refund so f-ck off."
"There is too much: 'we really admire our competitors'. All bollocks. Everyone wants to kick the sh-t out of everyone else. We want to beat the cr-p out of BA. They mean to kick the cr-p out of us."
How low can you go?
By Graham Bowley, FT.com site; Jun 20, 2003

BusinessWeek Online, 12 September 2002
How low can you go?By Graham Bowley, FT.com site

Friday, 10 October 2008

Bright Marketing Manifesto - better/different

If there’s a choice between being better or different then different wins every time – Ideally you should be different and better.

Bright Marketing - the book

Friday, 3 October 2008

Bright Marketing Manifesto - You get known...

You get known for what you do.
– So what is it that you are known for? Is it the right stuff?

Ask Eddie 'The Eagle'!

Bright Marketing - the book
Bright Marketing workshops with Barclays

Monday, 29 September 2008

Bright Marketing Manifesto - the mind of the customer Part two

After the brief blog entry Bright Marketing Manifesto - the mind of the customer several people (including Karin H ) have asked me to expand on the "marketing is a battle for the mind of the customer" line of thought.

In a nutshell, people buy what they THINK is the best product or service - often they don't know or have the objective information to know what is the best product/service for them - so they buy the product that they THINK is the best... So you will sell more if people think your product is the best!

Quoting from an earlier book chapter...

The Law Of Perception states that

Marketing is a battle of perceptions and not simply a battle of products.

Most people seem to assume that, in the battle for customers, it is the best product that wins. This is clearly not the case. The winner is the product that customers believe to be the best as proven by whether they buy or not.

While the product's quality or features may play an important part in the buying decision, there are many forms of persuasion which will have influenced their thinking - brand image, company reputation, or competitor comparisons to name but a few, and all of these are perceived. The job in hand is to win over the customer's mind.

Bright Marketing Manifesto - the mind of the customer original blog entry
Bright Marketing - the book
Bright Marketing workshops – free workshops with Barclays

Let's Talk... Promo Material

I have just been asked where to look for general promo material for the "Barclays Let's Talk..." events.

The best place(s) to look will be:
90 second video piece - Robert to camera


5 minute video piece - delegates and a bit of Robert live

Our website link - web links to the different programmes.

We'd love to see you at the latest tour which starts next week (19 venues across the UK). Some of these free events have already 'sold out'!!

Friday, 26 September 2008

Bright Marketing Manifesto - the mind of the customer

Marketing is not a battle of the product; marketing is a battle for the mind of the customer...
How will you win this battle?

Bright Marketing - the book
Bright Marketing workshops - with Barclays

Friday, 19 September 2008

Bright Marketing Manifesto - WHY?

Why should people bother to buy from you when they can buy from the competition?
- What makes you different from the rest?

If you can't answer this question then do not pass 'Go' and do not collect your £200!

Bright Marketing - the book
Bright Marketing workshops with Barclays

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Little Gordon Ramsay... (with revised Part 3)

Gordon Ramsay fans will love these little virals for catering.com - they will become classics: very funny, very inexpensive to make, loads of people will talk about and share them. Very clever. Mind the language!

Gordon Part 1
Gordon Part 2
Gordon Part 3

A Lovely Product Design...

It is not often that I see a design idea and go "oh yes, very cute... very, very neat" but I saw one at last week's Green Business Leaders event put on by Barclays...

It was one of those products that once you had seen it you wondered why someone hadn't seen the idea years ago...

The whole event was fascinating as we saw some stunning 'green' businesses showcased. And the one that got me excited was from Moixa Energy in London.

On their website the state:

"Our vision is to invent technologies that provide consumers with better solutions for their mobile or home power requirements that are more usable, economic and environmental..."

What does that mean in reality?
Their USBcell is stunningly simple and obvious - a re-usable/re-chargeable battery that charges via your USB port. Every has one (a USB port) and everyone wants to use rechargeable batteries but can't stand the faff of finding their rechargers all the time... And now you can recharge almost anywhere... Watch this company!!! Quite rightly they won an award

USBcell - the stunningly cute product
Green Business Leaders - Barclays awards ceremony
Moixa Energy
Let's Talk Green Business
- Kiki's workshops with Barclays

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Putting up prices

Paul Clegg's blog quotes the More Profit workshops...

"Did you know that a 10% price reduction needs to generate 50% more business to remain as profitable as you were before you dropped your price.

That is why, when faced with a volatile economy, most businesses will work harder and longer and end up ‘standing still’ at best. Robert Craven from the
Directors' Centre shared that gem with me."

He goes on, "A master communicator and a highly practical ‘hands on’ marketing man, Robert conducted research amongst 2000 business owners to discover the 3 most effective ways to develop more sales. Master these, let your competitors reduce their prices and you will grow your profits and your customer base.

A clue: most business people waste their money on marketing that simply does not work. Do you want to do what most people do or find out what really works and why?

Paul Clegg's blog
Directors' Centre
Barclays ‘Let’s Talk…’ Programme – webpages and online booking for the Let’s Talk… workshops
Robert Craven

Friday, 5 September 2008


Otaku - a japanese word... roughly translated, it is all about enthusiastic people who enthuse (about your product?). It could be a nerd?

Wikipedia: "Japanese term used to refer to people with obsessive interests"...

These people care...
These people are obsessed
These people talk...
These people listen...

These people are not all nerds/anoraks!

So, what can you do to make your business attractive to these "sneezers"?

PS what is a sneezer...? Back to
Wikipedia on Seth Godin's IdeaVirus book:

"Interrupting people is an inefficient approach to marketing, and one doomed to failure. Instead marketers should strive to spread ideas. An Ideavirus is an idea that moves and grows and infects everyone it touches. An Ideavirus is based on customers marketing to each other.

"The book refers to hives and sneezers. Hives are the groups of people to whom the idea has some specific relevance, sneezers are the people likely to spread your idea. A successful Ideavirus requires the sneezers infecting the hive."

Wikipedia - on otaku
Wikipedia on IdeaVirus
Seth Godin - his blog
Otaku research

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Each Friday...

Each Friday…

“Each Friday ask all your reports to tell you on a single page what important things happened during the week and what these things mean for the business” says Jack Trout.

Too right!

Jack Trout - his website
No more 'To Do' lists #4 - blog entry
No more 'To Do' lists #3 - blog entry
No more 'To Do' lists #2 - blog entry
No more 'To Do' lists #1 - blog entry

Sunday, 24 August 2008

What is Marketing? (again)

What is marketing?

Jack Trout to the rescue again. This is sweet!

"1.Have a simple idea that separates you from the competition
2.Have the credentials/product that makes the concept real/believable
3.Build a programme to make your customers/prospects aware of this difference.”

Bright Marketing - book
Let's Talk... Bright Marketing - free seminars with Robert Craven in October
Jack Trout - his website

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

When did marketing become a term of abuse?

Here are some excerpts from a press release for Warwick Business School's Nigel Piercy - excellent stuff!

In common usage, the word 'marketing' is little better than a term of abuse. The public image is of institutionalised hucksterism, smoke and mirrors, deception, meaningless brands, and 'spin' and Public Relations.

Managers see marketing departments as untouchable, slippery and expensive, populated with brash wideboys who would do better to show less arrogance.

Professors... stay in marketing and contribute little of any value...

Marketing shows every sign of being a discipline in distress, searching for legitimacy.

Most business school courses in marketing seem to imagine an organizational context of marketing functions that no longer exists...

Teaching is built around a model of marketing programmes that has been largely unchanged since the 1960s - a model enshrined in marketing textbooks...

The result is marketing teaching which ignores the real challenges facing managers in favour of the comfort of familiar textbook notions of what marketing should be about.

Press Release for Warwick Business School's Nigel Piercy's new book
Why Marketing Fails - an article
Bright Marketing – the book
Customer Is King – the book

Monday, 18 August 2008

Back to Africa - a blog that lost in the ether...!

By the time you read this post I should be back from Malawi - part of a three country tour (Malawi, Botswana, Zambia). As well as working with local businesses (small and large) and Government Business Support Agencies we will be visiting schools in Botswana and Zambia to hand over the proceeds from our recent fund-raising efforts.

10 July - Customer Is King - Lilongwe
11 July - Bright Marketing - Blantyre

15 July - Customer Is King - Gaborone
16 July - Magic Million - Gaborone

22 July - More Profit - Lusaka
23 July - Kick-Start Your Business - Lusaka.

The Africa Diary - a rough diary of the Botswana/Zambia/Mauritius trip (Jan/Feb 08)
"Does Your Stuff Work In Africa?" - blog entry

Friday, 15 August 2008

Cutting Prices

We always have a wonderful debate at the Let’s Talk… More Profit event about the pros and cons of putting up (or putting down prices).

My view: put prices up, lose the pondlife and work less.

Michael Porter on the subject:
“Cutting prices is usually insanity if the competition can go as low as you can”

(He looks a bit insane in his photo!!)

Let’s Talk… More Profit - events: new schedule out now
Masterclass Forum - spend a day with me and six other businesses...
Michael Porter - his website

Friday, 8 August 2008

No More ‘To Do’ Lists #10

No more ‘To Do‘ Lists item 10 is

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends upon the unreasonable man.”
GB Shaw

“Most people are reasonable; that’s why they only do reasonably well.”
Paul Arden

Paul Arden - powerpoint: Think The Opposite

Masterclass Forum with Robert Craven

A quickie... I am running a Masterclass Forum on 12th September in Bath. Basically, six businesses locked in a room for the day with me (and each other).

You bring your issues and we will endeavour to sort them out for you. It is a brilliant format; businesses attend from all over the country. Typically businesses greater than 10 employees sign up.

Benefits of attending:
- you get blunt feedback and advice from other people who have been through similar scenarios
- spend a whole day with Robert Craven and the other businesses who will focus their attention on your issues
- networking: business (direct or by referral) is always done between the delegates
- put a 'toe in the water' to see how you like working with outsiders to help grow your business (without paying the usual full day consultancy fees!).

Call me or Lesley to find out more on +44 (0)1225 851044

Robert Craven - Masterclass Forum - video piece from our friends at cmypitch.com
Masterclass Forum - page from the website - see what past delegates say, book your place etc.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

No More ‘To Do’ Lists #9

No more ‘To Do‘ List item 9 is


The riskiest thing is to be safe… Very good is bad… because no-one notices it.

Bright Marketing - book
Purple Cow - by Seth Godin

Friday, 1 August 2008

Be Impressed by a Sixteen Year Old

You need google about Thandiwe... a student from Jack Cecup School in Lusaka.

Zambian girl - Thandiwe Chama Awarded Children’s Peace Prize in the Hague …:

"In 1999, when she was only eight-years-old, her school was closed because there were no teachers. Thandiwe refused to accept this and led 60 other children in walking to find another school. As a result, all the children were taken into the Jack Cecup School.

Strengthened by this achievement, Thandiwe has been fighting ever since for the right to education for all children.

Thandiwe continues to impress, for example by speaking in church about children and AIDS - an issue not always discussed easily in churches. With a friend, she wrote and illustrated a booklet called “The Chicken with AIDS”, telling young children about the perils of AIDS.

She also co-authored a song called “For My Sake” about the need for children to be supported and protected - a song which has already been played in South Africa, Tanzania, as well as the United Kingdom."

The more you discover about her the more impressed you become with her and the team at Jack Cecup School.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

No More ‘To Do’ Lists #8

No more ‘To Do‘ Lists item 8 is


The world will not grind to a halt if you are not there to take every call. In fact customers might treat you with a bit more deference if you ration your available time with a bit more respect for what is really important.

Your Mobile Addiction! - blog entry
Blackberry Stats - blog entry

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Lusaka, Zambia

Returning to Zambia has been a delight.

I did a 'More Profit' session to an audience that was predominantly members of ACCA (accountants) and members of the Management Express Forum. Again the issue of putting prices up was very controversial - lots of debate and discussion. How can this concept be applied in Lusaka? What would happen?

On the following day we did a full 'Kick-Start Your Business' full-day session. All the material was received with great warmth and enthusaism and again the pricing debate kicked in.
"How can Nando's charge three time more for the same beer and the same chicken as a local restaurant yet be full all night?"

And the answer is in the 'Kick-Start' and 'Bright Marketing' 'ologies':
- "Nature is brutally honest..."
- "Marketing is not a battle of the product but for the mind of the customer..."
- "Why should people buy from you when they can buy from the competition?"
- "Its all about branding..."
- "If there's a choice between being different or being better then different wins every time..."

At the end of the day, the MD of a fast food outlet as well as a local businesswoman came up to me and explained that they had both nervously put up prices in their businesses... there had been no noticable change in trade - if anything some of the difficult customers had left and some nicer ones had replaced them.


More Profit - seminar

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

The Leopard...

Just come back from the most amazing safari experience - three days in Northern Botswana (Okuti Lodge, Okakavango/Moremi Game Reserve) - while there I was shown this wonderful Zulu proverb. It sums up the whole Bright Marketing 'ology'.

'Ingw idla ngamabala'
The leopard eats by means of its spots
If one wants to succeed, one must develop characteristics that distinguish one from others

So maybe the book should have a leopard on its front cover!

PS All the webpages claim "Camp Okuti is enclosed by fencing and thus wonderful for the first time visitor to Africa who might need that ‘safety’ factor'" - I can assure that this is not the case!!! We were woken up by a hippo under our stilted bedroom/tent and we had a leopard come through the site on our first night! Not for the faint-hearted!

Bright Marketing - the book
Okuti Lodge - webpage

(Photo taken in N Botswana)