Monday, 26 July 2010

Accountants: Love Them Or Hate Them?

Accountants update

Just been to the CIMA Accountants In Practice Annual Bash. And jolly good it was too.

Here are a couple of accountancy bits for your perusal

Monday, 19 July 2010

What Do YOU Want To Grow YOUR Business???

What is it that you want to grow your business?

Seminars, workshops, books and articles are all “good stuff” but do they really help you significantly grow your sales, profits cash and business value?
I suspect the answer is a big 'NO!'.

The real way to grow your business is for you to take action, massive action. It is to that end that we are focusing our energy.

We’d love to hear about what you are looking for.

So, add your comment below or feel free to email or phone me 01225 851044

So, what is it that YOU want?

What Next After Business Link?
Its Free And It Can Help Your Business... Whatever!!!
What Is The Message?
* - free online Directors' Centre Business Club - but free for how much longer?
* - Directors' Centre consultancy services website

Madecasse chocolate - a living case study

I've been keeping a careful eye on our friends at Madecasse, the chocolate makers.

And it looks like I am not the only person who is keen to see them succeed - Seth Godin has also been writing about them in his blog posting the brand, the package, the story and the worldview... wondering what they should do to get the chocolate bars leaping off the shelves.

To start off, the product itself is pretty good. And so thinks the New York Times. But does the packaging say "buy me, buy me"? Like Seth, I am not convinced they've got it quite right.

A couple of one-liners to kick-off the debate:

"Why should people buy from you if you're the same as the competition? What makes you different from the rest?" and "Marketing is not a battle for the product but a battle for the mind of the customer".

So a few thoughts.

No-one disputes the quality of the product, at least not once they've tried it. But for Madecasse virgins it is tricky - they will buy either if recommended (in which case the packaging isn't so vital) or because the packaging entices them.

Currently the packaging doesn't make the chocolate leap off the shelves. It doesn't tell a story..., it doesn't scream "buy me"..., it doesn't say "Hey Mrs Green Deli Shopper I am the one you want"...,

The back story is so fantastic that I think Madecasse are being too modest and shy. For specific shoppers (green/organic/chocoholics/environmentalists/third worlders) this chocolate should be "the only one... Why would I want to put money in the hands of the global capitalist scum when I can give it direct to the workers via Madecasse?".

This business should run and run and run.

BUT even though they have the power of a great product and the power of a great back story and the power of a great vision for the business... they still have to get the marketing right.

So, two things to do:

  1. Get the packaging spot-on. Identify your specific market niche - get it sorted and sell specifically to them
  2. Work the word-of-mouth marketing systems. In this world of Twitter, FaceBook, YouTube and so on you need to get your raving fans to help you sell your story.
As part of the "telling the story", Madecasse launched a mini-video on YouTube... a brilliant start (it is no longer available I am afraid). Raving fans want to feel that they belong and that they understand the story. They want to be able to see and share the story. They want to take part in the journey!

have such a brilliant story to tell (like Hobbs House Bakery - great history, great provenance, great product, great story, brilliant product) that they deserve every success.

Launching a Business With a Cause - Quick Update - blog article
Launching a Business With a Cause - articleMad├ęcasse - and you can get their chocolate in the UK
Hobbs House Bakery and Directors' Centre - video

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

What Next After The Business Link?

The Business Link looks to be on its last legs (Private Sector Looks To Step Into Business Link's Shoes [yesterday's FT] and Government Confirms The Business Link's Demise [BusinessZone]).

We have argued for and against the service elsewhere (BL: Should It Stay or Should It Go?, BL, Business Support and Passion, The Truth Is No-one Seems To Care About BL, Doug Richards Rips Into BL). I would argue that there is still a relative lack of interest in the subject. Meanwhile we hear the cries of woe for the current BL staff.

But what about the clients??? What about the small/medium/growing businesses in need of help and assistance?

Another re-organisation of the Business Support Industry puts any programmes/initiatives on hold. And the ones who suffer will be the poor clients.

Leaving aside the huge irony of a Government department trying to sort out entrepreneurship, there will still be a demand for some form of support/assistance for budding and growing businesses.

I will be the first to argue that naive, inexperienced business people need help and assistance of some form - DIY is not an option (What Is The Message?).

Consultants will crop up all over the place to accommodate the nascent need (Consultancy in a Recession). This will be a good thing for the high-performing consultants but it will be bad for potential clients.

People who don't know what they don't know will get lured into buying wonderful promises and 'get rich quick' schemes as unscrupulous entrepreneurs fleece them of their money (Its Free And It Can Help Your Business... Whatever!!!).

As I said before, the consultancy businesses with long track records and impeccable credentials (reputation, testimonials and track record) have nothing to fear.

So what next?
1) All BL services go into freefall - no-one knows what is going on.
2) Several hundred (ex-BL) business advisers could be about to be let loose on the market.
3) New options will appear scrabbling to fill the hole that will be left by the eventual demise of the BL.
4) The Government will create a new centralised solution to local problems. (How does that work?)
5) Something better...

From our point of view we have seen an exponential growth in people signing up for our Business Club - a free, online business club with workbooks, worksheets, videos, thought bubbles, case studies suddenly becomes an incredibly attractive option for the insatiable curiosity of 'growing business' owners. The tagline, "by entrepreneurs; for entrepreneurs" is what people like. Similarly our new website has seen an unprecedented numbers of hits.

The world of established/reputable business support and consultancy is really just a small village. Everyone has seen the change in the last month or so. Everyone is adjusting their offering to reflect how they think they can satisfy market needs.

Maybe the market will solve the problem before the Government has finished its consultation...


Thursday, 1 July 2010

Its Free and It Can Help Your Business - whatever!!!

Snake oil salesmen send me endless emails promising to double my profits with 21 secrets of success to be shared only with people attending blah blah.

All the usual sales tricks:
- only an odd (or prime) number of seats left
- full price should be odd (or prime) number of pounds
- effusive testimonials from unheard of people (eg TJ, from Preston)

- effusive testimonials from extremely famous (and unlikely) person

Does anyone believe this? And who attends? And what do they expect?

As my Grandmother used to say...
"If it is too good to be true then it probably is..."