Saturday, 31 December 2011

What should agencies learn from Lady Gaga?

Manu Field in Marketing Insights on May 16, 2011:

I don’t propose to go into whether or not Lady Gaga deserves this level of success based on a dispassionate assessment of her musical talent. However, one thing which surely everyone can agree on is that she (or her handlers) has hit on – and consistently played on the strength of – a winning strategy. She is shamelessly different.

So Manu, where is your tenuous link to what can be learned from this by healthcare communications agencies, you may be thinking. Well, I would say that Lady Gaga is an excellent case study in support of the core thesis of a book that I read a while back called Bright Marketing by Robert Craven...

Read the whole blog at

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Bank Holiday Homework!!!!

Feeling lethargic before or after your Bank Holiday break? 

Here are 25 things to get you and your business back into shape. Read the following list and commit to follow through on just five of the following ideas as soon as you get back from the bank holiday:

1) Talk to at least five percent more existing/past clients every day

2) Talk to at least five per cent more potential clients every day

3) Find five ways to improve your product/service

4) Find five ways to get more out of your staff

5) Find five ways to get more profit out of your business

6) Find five ways to get more sales

7) Find five ways to improve understanding of how sales and marketing works

8) Find five ways to improve operational efficiency and consistency

9) Find five ways to spread the workload and make the business less dependent on you

10) Find five ways to make money get used more effectively

11) Find five ways to improve financial planning

12) Find five ways to spend more time "on" and less time "in" the business

13) Find five ways to communicate the vision/purpose to the team

14) Find five tasks to finish or dump that have been hanging around

15) Decide five decisions you want to make

16) Focus on five ways to enjoy your social/private life even more

17) Find five ways to maximise your time

18) Find five ways to laugh more

19) Find five ways to congratulate yourself on your successes

20) Find five ways to spend a little more time thinking and a little less time doing, but also…

21) Find five ways to be a bit more spontaneous

22) Find five new connections you want to make

23) Find five big steps you want to make

24) Agree five things you are going to do in the next five hours

25) Agree five of the above list that you are going to do in the next five days!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Andrew Ludlam's Maverick Marketing

Andrew Ludlam's Maverick Marketing is a slim book.

His voice and tone is good; he is neither patronising, smug, nor condescending which is a total relief.

He talks to you about your business in a quietly confident tone.

A small volume that shows you "the essential building strategies for extraordinary business growth" is what the cover says.

Certainly, Ludlam does cover key issues and attitudes to business growth. I found myself nodding and grunting in agreement.

He covers key issues and succeeds in keeping his words to the point. No endless waffle which means you can read the book pretty quickly. However only do this if you are prepared to return to start to uncover the value in the book.
Ludlam is spot on when he says that (and I paraphrase poorly) he can only point you in the right direction but you need to do the hard work.

No empty promises of get-rich-quick schemes in sight. Hurray.

The book is a great intro to business growth and the sort of topics that you would need to work on if you were serious about the subject.

It is clearly an intro to the work that he does and gives you an insight into the tools that he uses in his consultancy work.

As ever, take one nugget from the book and it will be worth its weight in gold. This book has plenty of nuggets.

Friday, 16 December 2011

FT Guide to Business Networking - Heather Townsend

Heather Townsend’s FT Guide To Networking gives you exactly what you’d expect from such a prestigious publisher: a thorough and robust introduction to the subject.

Networking is a mystery, a dark art to many, especially to those in professional service firms where people are trained to be brilliant in their job but often do not receive any formal guidance on the necessary softer skills required to grow a practice. (You are meant to pick up the networking thing by osmosis!)

Townsend systematically takes the whole process apart and examines each piece so the beginner or the relative expert can find great nuggets and insights into the networking process (and then apply them).

Her use of the FITTER framework and an opportunity scoring system allow you to apply her ideas, thoughts, and techniques. And the book is full of helpful lists, how-tos, tips, resource lists and summaries.

You can dip into this book where you feel you need a quick update and review or read it from cover-to-cover.

The book is free of the hippy nonsense that is so-often written about the subject. It is a well-researched book littered with real life examples of the ideas and approaches that she recommends.

Like a sex manual, there will be two types of owners of this book: those who shame-facedly hide it from view for fear of being found out... and those who proudly have it on full display. Which one will you be?

Monday, 5 December 2011

The Happy Manifesto

- The Happy Manifesto - So, to start the review I have to declare that I find most touchey-feeley self-help-type books excruciating to read. I assumed this was just another.

I keep thinking 'show me the numbers' and 'where's the proof?'.

Reading Stewart's book I was like the proverbial dog being dragged on a lead for a walk that they don't want to be part of.

Despite my attempts to challenge and object to Stewart's philosophy I found myself agreeing and supporting his views and I found myself buying into the happy manifesto. So my early prejudices (justified or not) were entirely unfounded.

It is a short book. 120-ish pages.

Its mantra. its ology, its way of looking at the world is deceptively addictive. Like chocolate but for your business brain.

Corporations will find Stewart's arguments almost hypnotic. He gets under your skin.

Not many business books hang around in your thoughts. Not many that you send to your clients. Not many that you want to share.

Of course the book is not perfect but I don't think it intended to be that. What it is... is a springboard, a catalyst, to get you thinking about how you run your business. Not only does he say to you 'Could do better...' but he gives you some very simple starting points....

For me, ideas like pre-authorisation will become part of my business toolkit. Terrific. That one idea is worth its weight in gold.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Learning To Leap - book review

Shindler's Learning to Leap was a delight to read. And that surprised me!

Having spent many years in the past - 'in the training room' - I am familiar with most of the self-help-y type models and self-assessment tools. This book manages to present its content in a light and refreshing manner.

Digestible and understandable and free of the touchey-feeley nonsense most books in this area always sink to. Phew. Well done David.

I particuluarly like the fact that you can skim OR read, take one idea or a bunch of ideas. The book is accessible and not limited to school-leavers only or redundant managers only.

My only minor observation is about the page formatting which has very narrow margins.

I can see this book being reproduced and focusing on many types of different targets. It could easily be fine-tuned as a book for school-leavers only, or graduates only, or qualifying accountants only. The list is endless.

Shindler has managed to crack the balance between being accessible and yet based on a rigorous and thorough understanding of the subject. His 'voice' is reassuring and not patronising.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011




and check out

- this article, The Grand Canyon Between You And Your Clients in Real Business
- this article, Work Deeper With Few Or Shallower With Many in Marketing Donut
- this article Why You Are Not Paid What You Are Worth
- this review/article Why I am Going To Buy From Your Competitors by Bridget Greenwood

Check out the mini-ad...

Checkout the new hashtag.... guess what it is...

And check out the new audio interview with Ian Brodie
Interview with Ian Brodie (30 minutes) (or full link including webpage and description)

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Friday, 28 October 2011

Mini-Case Study 3: Turnover Up 50% Even In A Deeply Recession Hit Market

Scan: the recession caused the almost immediate collapse of revenues for construction companies, architects and interior design products.

Evaluation: our client sold up-market furniture etc to hotels, offices and wealthy individuals, but had little profile and no leadership positioning. They ended up selling on price, and not winning enough competitive pitches.

: position as regional leaders, focus on “famous” designers, evolve the website so it offered more and better than any competitor, promote the owner as the regional authority on design, refurbish premises and launch high quality events for media and clients/prospects.

margins increased and turnover was up 53% ahead of an ambitious target in the first 6 months.

Contact Paul Jobin or Robert Craven at The Directors' Centre to find out more. +44 01225 851044

Monday, 24 October 2011

Mini-Case Study 2: Increasing Accountants’ Sales By 32%

Scan: three companies of accountants had merged, but operated to their own agendas as businesses and individuals. Too many were merely “order takers” leading to poor client relationships.

Evaluate: a business review showed little clarity of purpose or direction, and no unity of operating systems. Needed to change 1+1+1=3 into 1+1+1=5.

Recommendations: management and staff seminars created a shared sense of purpose and willingness to co-operate because they would all profit. New system set up by DC and key staff. Training was practical, comprehensive and positively received.

Results: 32% increase in services taken by clients transforming profitability. 10% annual growth exceeded.

Contact Paul Jobin or Robert Craven at The Directors' Centre to find out more. +44 01225 851044

Monday, 17 October 2011

Mini-Case Study 1: Doubling Net Profit In 18 Months

Scan: a care homes group in the Midlands with 6 homes. Good care, good people, low profits, no growth. Being out-gunned by national big company competitors.

too many NHS residents at low rates. Residents cared for, but not happy. No strategy. No direction.

: increase the rates; cap NHS resident numbers. Invest in activities to create happier residents. Launch positive initiatives: position as leaders in “home-from-home care” (what the big companies could never do); create a Fair Prices Campaign positioning them as the champions of good value; Elderly In The Community Awards to build community relationships, attract sponsors and recruit new residents.

: happier residents; a waiting list of residents; net profit margin up from 12% to 26% in 18 months.

Contact Paul Jobin or Robert Craven at The Directors' Centre to find out more

Thursday, 13 October 2011

A New Mastermind Group is Born! October 2011

A Mastermind Recipe:

  1. Take six business people (three men, three women).
  2. Lock them away for two solid days. With me.
  3. Show them how to healthcheck their businesses, define and set their personal, career and business goals.
  4. Get them to bring their key issues to the table.

This is a recipe for a high octane mix of:

  • results-focused decision-making,
  • breaking self-limiting beliefs and
  • creating the focus and drive that so many of us seek.

Chatham House Rules apply at such events. Names and identities will always be disguised to protect the innocent!!!

However, I can tell you that we had a vivacious mix of industries represented: media, e-learning, auctions, fitness, financial services and events.

The original issues were clearly defined as ‘GROWTH’ or ‘survival and growth’ and this manifested itself in many different ways.

At the heart of every conversation was an obsession with ‘deliverables’ and the actions required to achieve those results.

By results we meant increased profitability, better sales, and a better work-life balance. The subjects tackled were diverse and varied but the intensity and passion were second-to-none:

  • How to really make our clients feel loved-up!
  • How to create an out-sourced business model
  • How to introduce crowd-sourcing as an idea-generator
  • How to scale-up fast
  • How to switch director roles so that people do what they are best at
  • How to create/hit challenging sales/profit targets
  • How to put in place/create a scorecard process for highly effective monthly board meetings

Everyone left tired but invigorated to take on the exciting challenges that lay ahead. All condensed into three succinct action points to work on first thing Monday morning.

What is clear is that the formula works:

The right group of individuals

The right leader with the right knowledge/skills/attitude
An action orientation
Honesty, not politeness
Respect and the right chemistry
Accountability to deliver
Massive results for all the individuals concerned


See Will a 'Mastermind' group accelerate business growth? Or blow up in your face?