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Posts for June 2012

Displaying 1 to 6 of 9 results

The wisdom of Yoda

June 28, 2012 by Ron Immink

A perfect storm is coming your way. The book, Smart customers, stupid companies by Michael Hinshaw and Bruce Kasanoff, takes four trends and explains what they will mean for your business.

The trends are: connectivity (the internet of everything), digital sensors (imagine a world where sensors are embedded in everything you see), pervasive memory (everything is recorded, everything is data) and the impact of social media.

CRM does not work

Over the past decade, billions of pounds were spent on CRM systems. How much do you think customer satisfaction has increased as a result? Nil, nada, zip, zero. Why? CRM captures data that is relevant to the company, not the data that is relevant to the customer. And therein lies the problem.

Friction is suicide

There is no customer loyalty. Customers are now smarter than companies and they adjust quicker to technology. A bad customer experience means that they will switch (89%). And that is amplified by social media (their friends will switch too). Friction is business suicide.

"Wow" is the best defence

You need to become as smart as your customer, you need to anticipate their needs, delight them and make sure that all the touch points you have with your customer are seamless and smart. Analyse the digital breadcrumbs. Imbed sensors in your products and in your business model. Create a holistic, single view of your customers. Integrate the voice of your customer in your organisation. Allow for mass customisation. Give your staff the power to delight. The best defence is an ongoing “wow” customer experience.

Other books

What I like about the book is that it covers issues in a wide range of other good business:

And it translates that into some pertinent questions and becomes, in effect a workbook to transform you company. The chapter “Get smart” is particularly powerful.


Some tips from the book:

  •  Go extremely modular and allow customers to make their own product 
  •  Cut your prices by 90% (it will happen anyway, read “Free”)
  •  Be utterly transparent (no lies, no spin, tell the truth)
  •  Apply sensor technology and make your product and touch points smart
  •  Collect as much data as you can and use the data to be seamless, to delight your customer and to anticipate their needs.

The challenge

The book ends with a challenge. “Many of you aren’t going to do this. You don’t have the culture to put customers first. You rather sell than serve”.

The authors acknowledge it is hard. But it is not impossible. If you don’t do it, your competitors will. And how can you disagree with a book that quotes Yoda: “Do or do not. There is no try”. 

Lets get smart!

Ron Immink is the CEO and co-founder of Small Business Can and Book Buzz.

This will get you better results - but don't throw the baby out...

June 27, 2012 by Drayton Bird

racehorse jumping{{}}Years ago I did a banner ad to promote racehorse ownership that had a horse galloping across the screen pulling a message. Worked like a charm.

Anyone who knows anything about online advertising is aware that ads with things happening tend to work better than ads where nothing happens. Large corporate clients tend to hate this sort of thing. Too vulgar. But I recall simply making the prices flash for a posh wine merchant boosted sales by more than 10%. Here is some more detailed research about the subject:

However, one bit of that article got my goat a little. “The days of solely measuring online campaign success on a cost-per-click or lead-generation basis are fading, with these measures indicating engagement with the ad itself rather than its success in improving brand metrics.”

All attempts to stamp out phrases such as “brand metrics” are to be vigorously encouraged, because they usually indicate an attempt by an agency to avoid being measured on anything more concrete. At the start of that magnificent all-purpose doorstop, “Commonsense Direct and Digital Marketing” I quoted David Ogilvy's mentor (yes, he had one – Raymond Rubicam): “The only purpose of advertising is to sell. It has no other function worth mentioning”.

I once did a talk to the Marketing Society called: “The research said it would sell. So how come we went broke?” So I wouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater just yet. While measuring on pay-per-click is a waste of time, measuring on cost of leads, while not as good as measuring on cost per sale, is better than things like “engagement with the ad”. This nauseating expression should be swept into outer darkness, along with brand metrics, core values, mission, vision and almost any phrase including the word strategic - especially if it is a job title. If that title also incorporates the word officer – sudden death should occur.

Drayton Bird is a renowned direct marketing teacher, speaker and author.

How to focus in a world of marketing magpies

June 25, 2012 by Robert Peters

How to focus in a world of marketing magpies/magpie{{}}Do you have a successful marketing strategy — one that consistently delivers enquiries, sales and profits?

Or are you always trying something new in the hope that it will work — being a marketing magpie?

Magpies are always on the lookout for something shiny that they can add to their collection.

Marketing magpies fill their to do lists with new ideas without building a focused marketing strategy.

Why is it bad to be a marketing magpie?

  • You’ll be frustrated by continually chopping and changing
  • You’ll be unproductive with your time
  • Your marketing will be confused and ineffective
  • You’ll risk the success of your small business

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with looking for new ways to market your business and taking advantage of new ideas. But don’t let the volume of new ideas become your focus — don’t chase everything that’s shiny.

What are the signs that you’re a marketing magpie?

1. The endless list of great ideas

You have an endless list of new ideas that you want to try. You might even spend more time researching and adding ideas to your list than you do executing on your marketing and delivering results.

2. You consume without taking action

You read the eBooks, take part in the webinars, listen to the podcasts and spend hours and hours consuming blog posts and other information — but you don’t take action.

Knowledge is great, but without action it’s worthless. One of the most critical success factors in small business is the ability to execute — to take action and get results.

How can you avoid becoming a marketing magpie?

Follow these four steps and you’ll not only ensure you avoid being a marketing magpie but create a structured marketing strategy that will deliver results.

Step 1: Focus

Select a small number of activities that you will focus on for your marketing. You should pick no more than five specific things and focus exclusively on these.

For example you could select: blogging weekly on your own blog, guest posting on other blogs that are popular with your target audience, building an engaged Facebook community, building a local presence with Google Places and building a partnership with a complementary business to gain referrals — for instance wedding photographers can build great relationships with wedding hotels and venues.

Look at what has already worked for you and do more of it. If you’re just starting out look at what others in your industry are doing, and where your perfect customers hang out — it’s no good building a Facebook community if you’re targeting lawyers who won’t be using Facebook during the times you are able to engage.

Set targets for your five focus areas. For instance, if you select guest posting, how many posts will you write and submit to websites in one month, three months, and so on. By creating clear goals you can measure your results.

Step 2: Action

Picking the five areas is only the start. You need to take action.

Make progress in your focus areas, ensure that every day you have time put aside to work on each. At the end of each day have a quick review of what progress you’ve made and plan for the next day. Don’t let yourself become distracted from these five things.

Step 3: Review

Regularly review your five focus areas for measurable results. Regardless how much time you put into selecting your initial areas of focus, the results are ultimately going to show you if you made the correct choice.

Have you seen an increase in traffic from guest posting, have you received enquiries through building an engaged Facebook community?

Step 4: Adapt

Based on the results in your review, adapt your focus. If you’ve seen results from Facebook but not as much as expected do you need to spend more time engaging with your community? Do you need to publish more blog posts to generate more enquiries?

If you’ve adapted your focus from a previous review and you still don’t see the results you’d like then, and only then, consider changing one of your focus areas. But only change one at a time, and only after you’ve really made an effort to take action in that area and the results have proven that it’s not working.

Build a Strategic Habit

Following this approach will build a strategic habit, a focused marketing strategy and most importantly measurable, profitable results for your business.

Are you a focused marketer or a marketing magpie?  Please join me for a discussion in the comments.

Robert Peters is a Small Business Adviser and Director of Fresh Eyes Consultancy.


How I sponsored a future Olympic athlete

June 18, 2012 by Neil Westwood

Magic White board Atlete{{}}I recently went to an inspiring event at the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford. A number of Olympic and paralympic athletes — past and present — were there, including Steve Backley, the former world record holder for javelin throwing.

It was incredibly moving and so inspirational that I found myself approaching one of the athletes — discus thrower, Adam Damadzic — and offering to sponsor him.

Adam is from Worcester (the home of my company, Magic Whiteboard). He is a Birchfield Harrier at Birmingham and was GB number 1 in 2011. And he will be going to the Olympic trials of selection for London 2012 on 22nd June.

Sponsoring Adam was a decision made by my heart as well as my head. He’s got a really good shot at getting an Olympic medal in the future — in fact I’ve told him he’s got to win! You will definitely hear Adam on TV because he shouts very loudly when he throws the discus.

I was so impressed with Adam’s determination and commitment that I offered him £1,000 sponsorship to help buy essential equipment and to pay for travel expenses. This will help Adam compete at the highest level and prepare him for future Olympics.

Of course, it’s great publicity for us to support such an amazing young talent, right on our doorstep. We are so proud to do this and it will make the Olympics in London 2012 more exciting than ever.

Thanks to the sponsorship, Adam mentions us on Twitter and Facebook. He’s also got a top with our name on it, although the regulations mean he can’t wear it at the Olympic Games. And he gives talks to a lot of young people in schools and colleges — so he always gives us a mention. Interestingly, we’ve already seen an increase in orders for Magic Whiteboard products in sports colleges, so it looks like it’s working.

I would certainly encourage more small businesses like ours to raise funds for young athletes like Adam. It will help Team GB win more medals. And it’s good for local businesses to support local talent.

You can watch Adam throw one of his personal bests on You Tube and you can follow him on Twitter @adamdamadzic.

Neil Westwood is the managing director of Magic Whiteboard, as seen on Dragons’ Den. Read more about Magic Whiteboard in our case study.

Take the quiz: should your business be on Facebook?

June 14, 2012 by Sharon Tanton

Facebook - Will your business be "Liked"?{{}}With 800 million users worldwide, and operating in 70 languages, Facebook has become the world’s meeting place. Big brands like Coca-Cola and McDonalds have embraced it, your customers and clients probably have personal accounts, setting up a page is free, and very easy.

So should your business be there too?

My view on this is a resounding “it depends”. Take this quick quiz to help you decide whether to get friendly with Facebook, or to market your business on other social media platforms.


  1. Are you in the travel, food, hospitality or leisure industry?
  2. Do you have lots of good pictures and video content to share?
  3. Does your business interest people beyond their working lives?
  4. Does your business inspire people? Do you have a meaningful mission?

If you answer yes to most of the above, then Facebook is definitely for you.

Not so much

  1. When you talk about your business at dinner parties do people’s faces light up?
  2. Is your business a source of great anecdotes?
  3. Do you help your clients achieve a transferable skill, something not purely work based?
  4. Does your business create loyal fans who love to share what you do?

If you answer mostly no, then I’d suggest you divert your energies elsewhere.

Why Facebook is for some businesses and not for others

Facebook is a social network; rather it’s still the social network. Facebook’s millions of users update their status regularly with personal stuff. Where they’re going, how they’re feeling, what they did last night. They share things that make them laugh, rant about things that annoy them, laugh, talk, flirt, argue. All human life is there, sometimes in rather more detail than you actually wanted.

In short it’s a vibrant, noisy, lively place where people let their hair down. If your business fits well into this upbeat, social environment, then starting a Facebook page for your business is an excellent idea.

However for an accountancy business, or a firm of commercial surveyors, I’d suggest that maybe Facebook isn’t the right place to be. Ask yourself whether the updates you’d be able to post will look at ease between your neighbour’s holiday snaps and a video of a cat playing the violin.

I’d venture that “Don’t forget to file your tax return by Thursday!” or “Is your business compliant with the Code for Leasing Business Practises 2007?” won’t make you any friends. You’ll be the person standing in the corner at the party asking for the music to be turned down, the one wearing a suit on dress down Friday.

Sharon Tanton is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut, a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant and a Valuable Content associate.


What separates the successful from the failures?

June 13, 2012 by Robert Craven

Coin stack{{}}Spring 2008 saw the completion of the Magic Million survey, a report examining how successful businesses break through the million pound turnover barrier. There were certain key characteristics that these businesses exhibited that separated them out from those that never got that far.

With the recession, all the findings seemed to get thrown out of the window. How could anyone still be talking about business growth when we were facing the biggest economic downturn in living memory? However, it soon became clear that the Magic Million survey was far from irrelevant.

Looking back at how we survived the Thatcher recession and reading the formal research, it became clear that the Magic Million “ology” is what’s actually needed to be applied today.

The answer to the fundamental questions, ”What separates the less successful from the successes?” and “What holds back the less successful?”, is resoundingly simple. The poor performers blame everyone else but themselves; the successful take the blame for all successes and failures.

All the research blames managerial deficiencies, inefficiencies and incompetence for business failure; yet these people blame everyone else. Moral of the story: before you start pointing your finger get a mirror and take a look at yourself.

Robert Craven is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut. He runs The Directors' Centre and is the author of business best-sellers Kick-Start Your Business and Bright Marketing. His latest book is Beating the Credit Crunch – survive and thrive in the current recession.


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