Sunday, 30 December 2012

Selling Is Simple

Selling is as simple as you make it. But are you using the methods that get results, asks Robert Craven
If you knew the most cost-effective sales method you would use it first – wouldn’t you? The problem is that most people don’t know what it is.
The Directors’ Centre carried out a survey earlier this year, asking 247 small and growing businesses to name their most effective sales method. The top two were:
- Face-to-face selling
- Referrals and customer recommendations
Sales success was mostly the result of relationships and reputation – face-to-face relationships supporting the corporate brand and communicated by word-of-mouth – as the old adage goes, “people buy from people”.
If you can’t sell your product, is it because it’s a rubbish product, or because you’re rubbish at selling? Look at the table and the picture becomes clearer. Are you focusing on the best ways to improve your sales?
There are entire industries selling the least effective sales tools (email marketing, direct mail, exhibitions), and they keep quiet about the fact that the cheapest solutions are often the most effective. 
The results of the survey suggest a number of questions:
- Do you know which sales methods are the most effective in your business? 
- Do you know the cost of acquiring one new client and how much they are worth to you?
- Has every part of your sales pipeline/system been measured, tested and systematised? If not, why not?
The 80:20 rule 
Do you know who the top 20% of your clients are? What makes them different from the rest? How could you find more like them?
- Are you trying to get more revenue from poorly performing clients – the trivial many, or from high-performing
clients – the vital few?
- Should you sack 50% of your poor customers and get better business from your richer ones?
Time to evaluate 
The following questions will help you to put numbers to your marketing activity (costs, inputs, outputs, benefits) and to test, monitor, track and evaluate your different options.
- Where do you currently spend marketing/sales time and money?
- Where do you get your best results? [eg referrals and recommendations]
- Where should you spend your time and money?
- What could good marketing and selling skills do for your business? [eg an improvement of 10% in sales]
- So, what are you going to do about it?

Taken from Selling is Simple in Growing Business by Robert Craven

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Top 10 New Year's Resolutions (you break)

According to Time Magazine...

Here are the Top 10 Commonly Broken New Year Resolutions

Here are our Top 10 suggestions on where to start:

1 Lose Weight and Get Fit
2 Quit Smoking
3 Learn Something New
4 Eat Healthier and Diet
5 Get Out of Debt and Save Money
6 Spend More Time with Family
7 Travel to New Places
8 Be Less Stressed
9 Volunteer
10 Drink Less

Choosing seven out of ten isn't bad for the coming year??

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

10 E-commerce Predictions for 2013

Here are Forbes 10 E-commerce predictions for 2013

1 Testing (Finally) Becomes a Must-Have: 
2 True, Real-Time Personalization for Everyone:
3 Consumers Get Over the Privacy Debate
4 Retailers Start to Love Loyalty Programs: 
5 Mobile Gets Personal, Too: 
6 Responsive Design as the Rule: 
7 The Rise of Cross-Channel Experiences: 
8 Companies Get a Handle on Big Data: 
9 Social Media Grows Up: 
10 B-to-B Catches Up to B-to-C: 

Saturday, 15 December 2012

The Secret to Exporting - the reality

The flavour of the month is export. The logic is unassailable. The economy needs more sales. There’s no-one buying here so export. Sell to people in other countries. Get them to buy our products and services. (So, what’s the secret...?)

In fact, exporting has been described as the solution to our current economic woes: our big businesses are screwed so that leaves the smaller businesses (some four million of them) to lead the growth renaissance. One trouble: not many export; not many want to; not many know how. (So, what’s the secret to this exporting malarkey...?)

While export has become the goal, the vision, for much of the current economic plan, the irony is that no-one quite seems to know how to do it. There are no books on the subject; there are no websites able to give the potential exporter what they are looking for (aside from lots of sweeping generalisations).

As a consequence, the Government is investing in helping small businesses to export. The UKTI is the public face that seeks to offer advice, guidance, support, suppliers and networks to help the business owner to export or export more. As I get to meet their people I find myself impressed by their knowledge and enthusiasm to help. More importantly, I meet business people impressed by them. (So, what’s the secret...?)

The problem, of course, is that the business owner is looking for an instruction manual, a ‘how-to’ guide and no such thing exists. And, of course, no such thing can exist because exporting is not a homogenised activity. Every export target is different.

As solid background there are things you need to understand: the big picture (how things work), finance, banking, export, market entry, logistics, legals, and every one of these subjects is different depending on what you are selling to whom. So, no universal answers available here. You need to talk to quite tightly-defined experts who understand what you are endeavouring to do.

I recently analysed some 50 companies I have worked with to try and get to the root of what does and what does not work in practice. No simple task. However, while the findings seemed confusing and conflicting at first, a very clear pattern does emerge.

The businesses were measured on the following criteria. The results were a victory for common sense. No more, no less:
  • Success – was measured in terms of profitability and - return on investment
  • Time horizon – was the company looking for quick wins or were they in it for the long game?
  • Size and number of employees – the natural change points were less than 10 employees; 10-100; more than 100
  • A clear champion in the company – more than just an internal sponsor but a champion committed to make the export strategy work
  • A clear partnership – again a clearly defined and highly committed person, this time working in the partner company/ies – probably the key success factor
  • A scale-able, clone-able, transferable business model
  • Closeness in terms of language
  • Ansoff matrix ‘closeness’: sticking to a similar product/similar market
  • Closeness and some sense of understanding or empathy.
Marking successes and failures according to these criteria gave a very clear view of what was required to make an export expedition work. 

This was not a foolproof method but it seems that it can be used to indicate, if not predict, the likelihood of success or failure. 

I can hear the howls of derision from the academics as they criticise my lack of intellectual rigour. However, this model seems to be ‘good enough’ to tell us whether a prospective exporter should proceed.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Year Five Of The Recession and Still No Demand

Year Five of this recession and there is no let up in the lack of demand. That is the problem for an ever-increasing number of growing independent service firms from accountants to book-keepers, from architects to product designers, from model-makers to homeopaths. 

All these service firms, along with everyone else, have the fundamental problem that there is simply not enough demand out there. Not enough to keep everyone happy.

So, what do the majority do?
Well, most work harder. Or rather, they keep themselves busy looking like they are working. Activity is not the same as business.

Why have sales crashed?
The primary reason for the sales crash is a slump in demand. But that is just the tip of the iceberg.

For many, the problem isn’t just the economy but what they are doing to get the sales.

Most service firm owners and directors work in their businesses. In essence they are vocational workers. With little experience of selling, these technicians find it difficult to make the sale in the best of times. But we are no longer in the best of times!

Along with poor sales skills comes a lack of understanding of the sales process.

Most service firms do not have the systems or processes in place to do the job properly.

They are simply not set up as a ‘sales machine’. Yes, they are set up for being great at what they do (do the accounts/book-keeping/architecture/product design/model-making/homeopathy for their clients) but they don’t really get how or what people buy or how to go about making those valuable sales.

Part of the problem is the upside down world that people seem to live in. And I am afraid that entire armies of marketing coaches and consultants have contributed to this.

Right now there is an absolute obsession with shiny things: LinkedIn, Twitter, FaceBook, Google Plus, squeeze pages, landing pages, Try Before You Buy. You get what I mean. All this technology and channels is fascinating stuff but often working at this level is like moving the deckchairs on the Titanic.

What is required is a focus on creating a product/service and an offer that is so compelling and seductive that it literally draws people towards it. Create something that solves their problem, hurt, need or want. Forget about what you want to do and what your narrow thinking has decided is possible and think only of what it is that would excite the client.

What is required is an entire re-think of what the customer wants and needs and how you can help them to achieve that. It is time to stop looking at the service from your own side of the desk and time to start to consider the offering entirely from the client’s point of view.

Take apart and re-assemble the service, thinking only of what would blow away the client. Then you might start to create something that might have some traction in the market.

Monday, 10 December 2012

10 Ways To Improve Your Business Before Christmas

10 Ways To Improve Your Business Before Christmas 

This time of year it seems that half the business world is incredibly busy whilst the other half is just waiting for the Christmas break to come along. 

This checklist is aimed at the businesses that are slowing down over this period - it offers you a number of tasks that can improve your business.

If you are a business that is incredibly busy at this time of year then download a PDF/print out a copy and come back to this plan in January.
This is a “size 12 wellies” article. Lots of sweeping generalisations andtreading on some peoples’ sensitive toes. Here goes:

Take two hours with your best business partner, mentor or advisor and implement a plan similar to the following:-

1. Put up prices by, say, 10%. 

This creates more profit (per sale) and if you lose any customers it will be the price-sensitive, disloyal ones that probably cause you more hassle than they are worth. You will be able to afford to lose them because you will probably make more money from the price increase than you will lose in leaving customers. (More profit).

2. Decrease direct costs by, say, 10%

Go to all your suppliers and ask them for a better price… ask “Is that the best you can do?” and say nothing till they come up with a better price. This normally works. (More profit).

3. Sack underperforming suppliers, customers and staff as appropriate. 

(Less wasted time). Only once you have improved your business model (see above) so that you are making a decent profit per sale, should you consider increasing sales.

4. Rethink the way you present your business.

Customers are not that interested in ‘what you do’ but they are interested in what ‘what you do’ can do for them. Make a commitment to start talking about what people get as a result of buying from you – what’s left after the purchase. Focus on the benefits that they gain from using your product or service. This will improve your sales performance massively (oops I just did it then!). (More sales).

5. Sort your proposition or offer.

Why should people buy from you if you are the same as the competition? What make you different from the rest? Be able to articulate the ‘why’ and ‘what’ of your business in a way that is truly effective. You should be able to do it in ten words or less. (More sales).

6. Get more leads, say, 10%. 

Go networking, find out about Google Adwords, get up earlier, and talk to more people. (More sales).

7. Get better at talking to people, asking for the business and closing the sale. 

Going on a decent sales course will add 10% to each of these fundamental steps in the sales funnel. These 10% improvements will create 46% more customers (!!!). (More customers).

8. Get customers to buy more, say, 3%. (More sales).

9. Get customers to buy more often, say, 3%. (More sales).

10. Stop them leaving 

Run a customer survey right now – simply talking to all your existing and past customers will generate more business, I assure you. Most customers who leave do not leave because of rubbish products or service – most defectors are content but someone came along who wanted their business more than you appear to… (More customers).

11. Collect money quicker, 10 days quicker. (More cash).

12. Write cheques slower, 10 days slower. (More cash).

13. While you are at it, decide on three things you can do right now, and which cost nothing, that you can do to blow away your existing customers and make them talk about you. (More customer loyalty and free promotion).
Download The PDF

Don’t procrastinate please. Take some time out, make the tough decisions and get on with it. Take massive action now.

OK, so I lied about the ten things and really it is more like 14 if you include having the meeting where you make the decisions.

Like removing a sticking plaster from your skin you can make these decisions and take these actions slowly or quickly. Your choice. However, every day you waste in the no man’s land of indecisiveness adds to the gap between you and those have already made the tough decisions. Those that have done the tough thinking are seeing exponential change; every day in the new world builds on the changes made on the previous day. 

Every day you don’t make these decisions is a day nearer bankruptcy.

In reality, there may actually be a deeper, more subtle set of changes required of you.

It is one thing to recognise what needs to be done and it is great if you make the commitment to implementing the changes.

Hand over the details of the Christmas party to your PA/secretary/intern and take the big decisions and actions that will benefit your business throughout the next year.

Stop reading, there’s work to be done. Now!

Robert Craven

See the original article at

10 Ways To Improve Your Business Before Christmas

Friday, 23 November 2012

So What Is Black Friday?

So, what is Black Friday? 

So many American emails trying to flog me things today!!! 

I had to look it up on wikipedia

Black Friday is the name given to the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States, traditionally the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. 

On this day, most major retailers open extremely early and offer promotional sales to kick off the holiday shopping season, similar to Boxing Day sales in many Commonwealth Nations. 

 Black Friday is not an official holiday, but many non-retail employers also observe this day as a holiday along with Thanksgiving, giving their employees the day off, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers. 

An explanation... "Black Friday" indicates the point at which retailers begin to turn a profit, or are "in the black".

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Trainers: How to tell a Brucie from a Hippy

For the past few years I have worked with numerous trainers, teachers and lecturers of varying degrees and qualities. 

Prior to that I spent years on the other side of the projector, in various classroom situations as student, delegate, manager, even on train-the-trainer events. In my time I have become aware of recurring training styles as I watched different characters try to persuade their subjects of the finer points of the latest management craze.

After years of discovering Covey's "Seven Habits of Effective Managers", McKinsey's "Seven S's" and Porter's "Five Forces", along with mnemonics such as Campari and ICE, Aida and Cleo, and numerous teaching and learning styles, we are proud to present Craven's Nine Trainer Roles. Like Belbin's Eight Team Roles, each trainer possesses elements of each style, although one or two styles seem to predominate in each trainer. 

The Counsellor 

The Counsellor has spent too many years on the psychotherapist's couch to believe that we do not have some deeper meaning than that presented in a simple question. For instance, in reply to your question, "I don't understand what you mean?" he might reply "How does that make you feel?" or "Why do you think you feel like that?" This trainer spends much time deep in thought, hand propping up his chin and nodding empathically (or is it empathetically, I never knew). Look out for passing references to NLP, TA, T-groups, sexism, racism, equal opportunities, triggers, stroking, mentoring and any references to vegetarianism in a former life!

The Slapper

"I'm going to slap them round and show them just what they need to know!" These are the words you might overhear when the trainers are comparing notes in the lavatory. The Slapper tends be pretty "macho" in approach. He believes that delegates need to be woken up to reality and it is his job to do it. He believes that you have to be cruel to be kind and that the only way to bring people around to his view is to beat it into them and let them know who is boss. Once the audience has been beaten into submission the Slapper can impose his views on the willing audience. Beware of Slappers, they are very prickly! Don't make small talk, be personal or attack them unless you want it used as evidence against you.

The Academic Expert

These creatures are simply unbearable unless you are one of them! You cannot argue with the expert who has a quote or a reference to dispute anything you ever say. These experts are pre-occupied with the numbers, statistics, models and theorems, and find the academic/intellectual part of the argument (or do I mean monologue?) their raison d'etre. They seem to lack balance in their lives but cannot believe that no one else is interested.

Bruce Forsyth

"Nice to see you, to see you nice! Our first game needs two teams, 100 sheets of paper and I want you to build an eight-foot-high tower in six minutes ... And then I want you to imagine you're on a desert island ..." These trainers joined the wrong profession; frustrated "academic luvvies" play games to entertain themselves and the delegates. A nice way to pass the day if you are, as they say, "Up for it", but I am not always sure of the value. Beware of the difference between cheap tricksters (sub species, It's a Knockout) and genuinely inspiring training styles (sub-species, Games People Play) - don't confuse the sizzle with the steak.

The Ageing Hippy

Tell-tell signs that you are with an Ageing Hippy are the following: any references to the Isle of Wight, Glastonbury, the Thatcher regime, and Bob Dylan. The Ageing Hippy will delight in reminiscing in how it used to be and how it could be but is not really rooted in the l990s. The other give-away to these social Christians is any kind of reference to writing epitaphs, attending your own funeral, or having only six months to live. A bit head-in-the-clouds for me, but they do make you stop and think about how you live your life. Ageing Hippies often combine with the Counsellor. Also look out for the quotes such as "Life is not a dress- rehearsal" (see Quoter).

The Quoter

The Quoter's skill is to have a quote for every occasion; it gets tedious eventually. Being a Quoter gives a clue to the background (and sub-species) of the trainer; try not to confuse the symptom with the cause. Either they went to Cambridge to read English and philosophy and know all of the Monty Python team and most MPs, (the don) and/or they have little real life experience and so learn pretty little witticisms to (apparently) demonstrate their wisdom (the shallow con). It's a bit like the joke about the economist who knows 365 ways to make love to a woman but does not actually have a girlfriend himself. Destroy a Quoter's ability to relate to you by quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Don't quote other people's opinions, tell me what you know".

The "Been there, Done it"

This one can be a raging bore - they've done it all and they can prove it. There's nothing you can tell them. However, if they are of the sub- species Hugely Successful and Interesting, Been there, Done its, then they can be fascinating as they tell you numerous stories of living with aboriginal Indians, losing a million and sacking an entire work-force. The alternative is that they can be incredibly dull, in which case they are of the sub-species Tips and Wrinkles Windbags. Normally they were in Burma in 1942 or running the Hong Kong operations for ICI or Ford in 1952 and don't they let you know about it! Well-meaning souls if a bit high on the old ego-count.

The Slide Show

Another training style that has some sub-species. The primitive form, the overhead projector maniac, can show upwards of 200 slides an hour. They don't vary or drift from the words on the slides and use the OHP machine and any desks to hide behind. Often, sad, almost unreadable slides make up for either their nerves or a deficient personality. Disaster strikes when slides get dropped on the floor because they are often not numbered and the general level of nerves and tension sends the presenter over the edge! The second sub-species, the highly evolved form, is called PowerPoint Plus and uses the latest multi-media, high-resolution presentation graphics technology, which whooshes and sploshes to the audience who sit in the dark as the presentation unfolds with the presenter giving a commentary in the dark - an alternative to hiding behind the OHP - a high-risk strategy because if things go wrong then they really tend to screw up!

The Loveable Clown

The Loveable Clown hides his intellect by appearing slightly foppish. This silliness may well irritate the impatient but behind the clowning about is a wonderful trainer waiting to be unleashed. Typical Loveable Clown behaviour includes dropping or losing slides, arriving late and - the classic Loveable Clown trick - writing on the whiteboard with a permanent marker. Have patience with the clown (they come in two styles, extrovert and introvert) because they are often the true stars. Do not under-estimate them.

While this list is not exhaustive it covers the characteristics of the key training styles.

I make a total and utterly abject apology to anyone who might think that they recognise themselves in the above. If they do, it is evidence of just how vain the training fraternity are. - they would find it impossible to believe that people were not talking about them!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

For And Against Paying For A Mastermind Group

For and Against Paying To Attend A Mastermind Group

In a nutshell,
  • The overt business benefit of attending a Mastermind should be a 30% increase in profits within the year
  • The reason to believe a group will do it for you is its track record
  • What makes those I am talking about so very different is the fact they have been run for some twenty years in various guises and constantly deliver. 

In order to avoid paying a premium price for attending a fully-fledged mastermind group, people try to run their own groups. The apparent upside is obvious – it will be cheap; the downside is less obvious at first. The reality is that such a 'less expensive programme’:
  • Isn’t run by a professional with a clear process for growing a business or a clear process for facilitating a mastermind group
  • Doesn’t have enough tried-and-tested processes in place; things are made up as it goes along (AKA “real-time R&D”)
  • Doesn’t tie people in through a financial commitment
  • Doesn’t create huge expectations
  • Tends towards being a social event if the results-focus wanes.

On the other hand, a high price point anticipates a high-quality offering that delivers on the promise. The high price point keeps the following out of the room:
  • Cheapskates
  • Free-loaders
  • Basket cases

A premium price attracts people who:
  • look for like-minded and ambitious people
  • are able to afford to invest (time and money) in the growth of their business
  • are looking for support from experts and colleagues 
  • want to be working with an ‘expert’ is their field using a tested, proven process and ‘ology’
  • are looking for space to
    • think strategically
    • talk through specific issues
    • have their feet held to the fire.

So, the price point goes some way to creating a self-selecting group of ambitious business owners and directors.

But what do they get? 

Well, I can only talk about my experience as a mastermind delegate and from running my own groups for the last 20 years.

The list of ‘soft’ benefits goes as follows:
  • an incredibly supportive and proactive group of like-minded business owners determined to help you grow your business
  • a mastermind expert, an acknowledged expert in their field (author, keynote speaker, been-there-done-it individual) who also has the facilitation and motivating skills to turbo-charge your thinking
  •  access to the network and ‘black book’ of the expert and your mastermind colleagues putting you in contact with potential suppliers and JVs
  • access to a tight and loyal ‘team’ or ‘club’ who will have experience of dealing with issues that are challenging you
  • new sales, referrals, recommendations
  • a better business from implementing processes and systems that roll out of your boardroom and through the business
  • the confidence to make tough(er) decisions and to follow them through.

Long term, the benefits can be seen by looking at a group I worked with 10 years ago and seeing the results for that group.

The 10 businesses were turning over just under £1.3 million (on average) back at the start of the decade. Some ten years later all are still in business (in some form) and the average turnover is now £15 million. More significantly, profit grew a staggering thirtyfold in the time period.

On average, the long-term performance of these businesses has more than outperformed the market. Maybe the programme just attracts high-performers.

Anyhow, what we can say is that those who choose to attend such programmes achieve above-average performance. 

Sunday, 11 November 2012

You Charge How Much? - why high prices are good, mastermind et al...

Just had a fascinating discussion with a potential client about why (my) high prices are often a good thing. We were talking about a premium-priced service. A Mastermind Group that charges £1,000 per month. On the scale of mastermind groups it is the price point that is interesting: some are free, there are lots in the sub-£500-a-month range and a few at £10,000-a-month.

The conversation started with the usual price-related issues: “What do I get for the money? What will it look like? How does it all work?” Somehow the questions missed the point. The point, of course, is about what the client really gets for the money.

The client doesn’t buy what you do… they buy what it does for them. They buy benefits. And the more overt they are then the easier it is to sell.

Suddenly the sale becomes easier for both buyer and seller.

A clear expression of the overt, explicit benefit clarifies the situation. “30% increase in profits within six months… clients from 2001 have grown thirtyfold… return on your investment in the region of 500%...”. Measurable, tangible results make the service come to life (yet so few of us offer more than a few features when trying to sell, eg six meetings, monthly conference calls…).

But still this debate has not got to the root of premium-priced service sales.

The centre of this debate was really around exclusivity.

The client could get cheaper offerings (and sit with other people obsessed with buying the cheapest). But that wasn’t what was wanted!

The client could get cheaper offerings (and sit among people who could afford the cheap, cheap prices). But that wasn’t what was wanted!

The client could get cheaper offerings (and work with a facilitator who had read the books rather than someone who has written them). But that wasn’t what was wanted!

The price point pre-qualifies the sort of people that may wish to participate. The price point excludes certain potential clients. The price point sends out a clear message about what the programme is and is not.

For many people, the higher price point actually makes the offering more attractive. In the mind of the client, the high price point creates exclusivity and scarcity; it is a statement of intent. If a product offers a return on investment of, say, 500%, then I would rather have 500% of £1,200 than 500% of £120. Stands to reason. Suddenly the client wants to give you money!

In order to cement the overt business benefit there are two additional components required.

First you need to demonstrate why the client should believe you can deliver. Here, the use of customer testimonials and statistics and invitations to talk to past clients removes most barriers.

The second component required to cement the overt business benefit is what makes you different from the rest. After all, if you are the same as the competition then I cannot think of one reason why people should bother to buy from you. 

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Locking Horns on Blogs and Social Media

After various 'lively' debates I have witnessed, sometimes personal/sometimes toxic/sometimes mind-numbing/sometimes bitter and twisted/sometimes plain dull... I would like to point people to...

Thumper's Rule - Knowing When And How To Avoid An Online Argument 
 a great blog posting by Sean R Nicholson. 

To summarise the blog: 

1) Learn Thumper's Rule - In case you have never seen the movie "Bambi", you need to learn this one little piece of sage advice from the bunny rabbit named Thumper. His father taught him (and his mother reminded him) that "if you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all." Sometimes it's just a good idea to walk away from the argument, especially before it gets personal. 

2) Don't argue just to argue 

3) Know your position and why you're defending it - Do you really believe in the argument you're making or are you just attacking the person who is disagreeing with you. 

4) Think about the community - Is your argument about gun control really beneficial to a community focused on helping solve technology-related issues?  

5) Consider how others would view the discussion and your behavior 

6) Consult with the site owner or community manager - When in doubt, ask the community manager whether they are okay with the way the conversation is going. 

7) Learn to agree to disagree 

8 ) Consider learning from the person you are debating with - Do you know everything? If you do, then turn off the computer because you're done. 

9) Be You…The Real You 

10) Back up your position with real, verifiable facts - If you have facts to support your side of the debate, great. Prove it.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Halloween 2012

It had to be done... A Halloween Infographic!!! $6.9Bn spending!!! That's the GNP of a small country!!!

See the original at

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Bright Marketing Launched On Kindle - hits #1 spot!!!

My book Bright Marketing has been published on Kindle this week and has created quite a stir by selling shed loads (or in this case the gigabyte load??). It is a great opportunity for you to get one of my books for a bargain price. It is usually a £10 book and is currently being sold for just £1.29.

Buy it Here

If you are not familiar with Bright Marketing, it is one of the most popular books that I have released. It is all about improving your business' marketing and increasing sales. It is full exercises that are easy to implement and work through with your sales/marketing team or on your own. You can find a full description here I have no idea how long this low price will last, but I suspect it will not last too long. All thought, comments and RTs appreciated. Robert 

Monday, 15 October 2012

The Service Firm Manifesto – A 14-Point Plan


Most growing businesses are service firms. As such you must stop yourself from looking like the mass of undifferentiated competitors that you have. Otherwise you will only be able to compete on price only. And that is a mug’s game!

It seems like a no-brainer that you need to be better than your competitors at (the word you hate), selling. Your marketing needs to be more compelling and it needs to be different from the rest. After all, why should I buy from you if you are the same as the competition?

With that in mind, and looking at our successful service firm clients over the years, we have compiled a manifesto – more than a white paper; almost an aspirational doctrine – to lead service firms away from selling on price.

The Service Firm Manifesto

We will not become a ‘jack of all trades and master of none’
- we are a specialist with specialist expertise in a specialist subject. We are not just another general practitioner with the same general set of guiding principles as our competitors. To do so would be commercial suicide.

We don’t do sales pitches
- we have far less futile and humiliating things that we can do to win business. But we will talk to you. We like to talk to people and find out what they are really looking for and what they are really like. We want to make sure that there is a real fit between how we work best and what the client is looking for. We need to understand you and what your problem really is.

We are not suppliers
- we are partners in the growth and development of our clients. Suppliers are ten-a-penny; they sell and compete on price and not on quality. That is not us.

We don’t do endless freebies and beauty parades
- while we are happy to do pro bono work for our chosen special causes, we do not and will not endlessly give away our intellectual property on a gamble that you might think we might be able to deliver some more (but in likelihood you will steal our ideas or ask us to use the ideas you have stolen from others).

We don’t get interviewed by you
- we will interview each other and make sure that the fit works for everyone. We will walk away if the chemistry and dynamics isn’t working or if we don’t believe that you believe in us. We are not whores; we will not work with anyone.

We will make no recommendations
- unless we have done the initial audit/healthcheck/diagnostics. Would you trust a heart surgeon who didn’t put you through all the diagnostic tests before making a recommendation to operate? Thought not.

We will apply all aspects of ‘The Expert’ model
- we will talk and write and deliver to a select audience with a specific set of problems. We have evidence and proof that we can address and resolve their issues. We have a proprietary point of view; we deliver wow work!

We will not compete on price
- being the cheapest is not our goal. It doesn’t help the client and it doesn’t help us if we cut corners or simply look for quick wins when fundamental, deep-seated change is required.

We will not sell time - we will deliver a value-added service and avoid charging by the hour or by the day. Clients are buying our years of experience and the originality of our ideas. How can you put a price on that?

We will talk money
- we won’t pray that no-one mentions budgets. We explicitly talk about money to make sure that we do not waste our time or theirs. We know we deliver stunning added value. We are not ashamed of our fees. They enable us to invest in delivering even better value.

We will define the overt business benefit of working with us, explicitly
- we will explain the actual numbers of working with us eg ‘our clients typically see a 30% uplift in profit within 90 days of working with us’.

We will give a real reason to believe that we can deliver – evidence, proofs, testimonials and word-of-mouth reputation.

We will be dramatically different from the competition.

We will enjoy ourselves.