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

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 - 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!