Monday, 28 April 2008

OGC unveils new logo to red faces

From The Daily Telegraph...
It cost £14,000 to create, but clearly no-one at the smart London design outfit that came up with the new logo for HM Treasury thought to turn it on its side.
The logo, for the Office of Government Commerce, was intended to signify a bold commitment to the body’s aim of “improving value for money by driving up standards and capability in procurement”.

Just classic this one... turn it through 90 degrees and it looks like a man with a big xxxx - it looks like the Cerne Abbas giant to me... a fertility symbol!

Very good! And it definitely isn't 1st April!

- The Barclays Roadshow: Robert Craven's Bright Marketing workshops - Exeter, Cambridge, Heathrow, Hull and Bradford - including the One-Minute Brand Test on your business cards/stationery - avoid embarassing mistakes! Free to attend.
- Homer Simpson publicity stunt - makes me smile for more on the Cerne Abbas giant!)

Friday, 25 April 2008

'Let's Talk...' Seminars and Workshops - Something old, something new...

The Barclays ‘Let’s Talk…’ Roadshow is gearing up to go back on the road next week!!!

19 events in 19 cities… four seminar titles, two speakers and some 2000 delegates! All in the space of 12 weeks. Great excitement!

The ‘Bright Marketing’ and the ‘More Profit’ seminars are back ‘due to popular demand’- most of these events are on the verge of reaching full capacity. These events are all about you figuring out how to get better and more profitable clients for your business and making your business more profitable.

The ‘Let’s Talk… Exit… Grow, Sell, or Retire’ event is for those of you thinking about how to get out of the business.

The ‘Let’s Talk… Green Business’ events are being led by the wonderful
Kiki Maurey. A new programme title that was piloted to huge acclaim in Liverpool.

You can find out more at the Let’s Talk webpages and you can book online.

All the workshops have the usual balance of the practical, the challenging and the goading elements. Stunning feedback from past delegates.

Barclays ‘Let’s Talk…’ Programme – webpages and online booking
Robert Craven
“Let’s Talk… Green” in Liverpool – it’s about the money!
What Is Bright Marketing? (Comments from Ashford)
Let's Talk... Exit, Sell or Retire
Sacking Customers
A Great Event in Newmarket!

Meeting, talking, developing relationships

We've recently been doing a mini-survey in-house to track how and when we first make contact with potential clients and then map out their 'customer journey'.

What is obvious is that we need to meet and 'press the flesh', often a number of times, to build up trust, rapport and understanding. Running workshops is a great way to get the ball rolling - you meet people who are interested in what you've got to say and they can test-drive you with no obligation... others come along to see what's going on and that's all part of developing the brand and the community of users, raving fans and ambassadors.

Next week we are starting a three-part programme
Grow Your Business Now in the South-West near Bath. Three morning workshops, each about two weeks apart... free to attend... focusing on 'taking your business to the next level'. I will be delivering the Kick-Start session using material that has only been used in premium-priced Kick-Start strategy sessions. Paul and Guy will be also be running sessions on actually making things happen in the business.

It will be a great opportunity to be in a room of like-minded business people and to take away tools that will help you increase the profitability of your business.

It starts 2nd May and places are limited so sign up now.

Grow Your Business Now - a one-off series of three free workshops for owner-managers and entrepreneurs.

The Directors' Centre - more on the award-winning consultancy for growing businesses

Let's Talk... - a series of 19 workshops starts next week, right across the country. Titles include: More Profit, Exit, Bright Marketing, Greener Business

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Growth Strategies Conference

I attended the Growth Strategies Conference yesterday in London – an array of speakers and a good day overall catching up with numerous contacts.

Highlights/most memorable parts of the day: Colonel Tim Collins OBE (honest, no messing), Martin Higginson (breath of fresh air), Doug Richard (not like he is on the Dragon's Den).

A couple of themes echoed loud and clear throughout the day.

1) The findings of the Magic Million survey (coming soon) were totally supported:
“Really great businesses are obsessed with strategy, marketing and teams… and almost certainly some forms of external advice and external finance… a big dose of luck…”. Big tick in the box for the survey.

2) Despite the doom and gloom in the papers, the majority of attendees were optimistic about the future. ( I should think so!)
4% pessimistic… about the next 12 months
23% cautious
56% optimistic
17% bullish.

3) teams, people, teams, people...

4) Bloody FDs - love 'em or hate em', trust 'em or despise 'em... you need one who you can trust... but don't let them run your business

5) It is great to spend a day away from the office and away from ‘business as usual to regroup your thoughts and refocus your energies.

Thanks to all concerned.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Entrepreneurs Question Time - The Sales Cycle.

Bristol Enterprise Network invited me to sit on a panel of 'distinguished entrepreneurs' for a 'Question Time'-type event called 'The Sales Cycle'.

A podcast has been released
The other speakers were:
* Peter Claydon, Chief Operating Officer & Co-founder, picoChip Designs Ltd
* Ami Baker, Managing Director,IMA Enterprises Ltd
* Chris Huxley-Reynard, Sites Director, Tidal Generation

The podcast can be downloaded from here:
The podcast is spilt in two (Spike Island April08 parts one and two) and you'll hear that I get more lively in part two!

Bristol Enterprise Network

Sunday, 20 April 2008


I am currently writing a series of short, tight blogs for the people over at SMEweb. Recent posts you might like to look at include:


Friday, 11 April 2008

Change Mindset To Go Global

I have recently been quoted "He thinks Mauritians have plenty to learn to improve business standards. As things are, he describes the market as unsophisticated and lacks what it takes to make profits."

Hamish Ramdharry's article in the News On Sunday of Mauritius makes my comments appear somewhat harsher than intended. The rest of the article does however go on to describe my feelings about business in the country! (Hamish is a splendid and fascinating man - although his camera isn't the most flattering in the world - see the photo taken at the British High Commissioner's Residence!)

Other Mauritius-related blog links of mine:
"How To Grow My Business?"
Mauritius #1
Mauritius #2
Customer What?

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Captainitis and Groupthink

Just ran a strategy session for a client.

A lovely business, growing at greater than 30% pa, on its way towards £20m turnover. Two things struck me (straight out of the book ‘YES – 50 secrets from the science of persuasion’).

1) Captainitis – besides the dangers of seeing yourself as the best decision-maker in the room, there is also the problem that others may believe that you are. In the past I was given a copy of a book of Black Box recordings from plane crashes. Most involved basic human error. Many included the team/crew assuming that the captain was right (because of his expert authority). Dangerous.

2) ‘Groupthink’ – if enough people agree then it is assumed that they must be right. Very dangerous.

When leaders fail to ask for input and when individuals fail to assert their feelings it becomes a vicious circle of bad/poor decision-making. When the group all merrily agrees with each other then it also a bad thing.

Fortunately, today I saw a leader who sought the opinions of his team members and encouraged all points of view, especially dissenting ones. This is no easy task but it does bring more commitment and buy-in in the long run.

As I saw, the clever/humble captain/boss/MD can break a potential cycle of unconditional agreement by inviting dissent from the knowledgeable team.

YES – 50 secrets from the science of persuasion’

April Fool from Guinness

In Oz in 07 it was "Strewth Bruce" and in the UK in 08 it was "For One Day Only".