Monday, 26 January 2009

Saturday, 24 January 2009

UK Recession - It's Official... (plus free new book offer!)


"Britain has tumbled into its worst recession since the 1980 when the country was grappling with high unemployment in the Thatcher era..."

The Daily Telegraph reports... UK Recession - Its official and worst since 1980”.

This is dreadful news for the UK economy.

AND THE FREE NEW BOOK?
Ironically, my new book "Beating The Credit Crunch - How to Survive and Thrive in the Current Recession" is being sent over to the printers as we speak.

We will have a limited number of review copies available for blog readers and have decided to allocate them to every 25th person emailing me with the following info

  1. Name
  2. Job Title/Position
  3. Company Name
  4. No of Employees


Email now with the four pieces of info, and put "free book" in the subject. Good Luck! Feel free to spread the word - the more, the merrier (but no cheating!) and the 'offer applies only to UK addresses and finishes on 1st March 09 - one entry per company etc etc).



RELEVANT LINKS
"Beating The Credit Crunch - How to Survive and Thrive in the Current Recession"

Daily Telegraph article


Friday, 23 January 2009

Blogs From Fortune-Tellers

SmallbizPod criticised ACCA in its August 08 blog. Maybe they (ACCA and SmallbizPod) knew something we didn't know about 'cos we didn't have the foresight to call it a credit crunch way back then.


"As the credit crunch continues to bite, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) has released a top ten list for small businesses facing late payment or debt recovery issues. A very simplistic list with the mandatory seek more advice from your accountant to conclude.

1. Decide whether it is worth a fight.
2. Consider your customer.
3. Assess why the customer has refused to pay..."


Read more



Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Transform Your Marketing - and your business

I found this article at mybusiness.co.uk in a little trawl of the net...

"Robert Craven is one of the UK’s leading marketing specialists and entrepreneur gurus, and author of Bright Marketing – Why Should People Bother to Buy From You?. He explains how, with a few simple steps, you can improve your marketing to transform your workplace, people and profit margin."

Thank you for your kind words.

RELEVANT LINK
Transform Your Marketing - article

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Be Remarkable #3: better/different or perfect/remarakble

In the blog entry, Bright Marketing Manifesto - better/different, I say that...

"If there’s a choice between being better or different then different wins every time – Ideally you should be different and better." [Stop trying to be better and start trying to be different.]

This statement always rattles a few people who you can hear saying things like "but surely better is better...? Why wouldn't customers buy the best product...?"


Well, I'd like to move that statement on a stage... Replace the word 'better' with 'perfect'... and replace the word 'different' with the word 'remarkable'. And you get...

"Stop trying to be perfect and start trying to be remarkable."

Remarkable - a simple word which means...
"worthy of attention" .

In the words of the book the Big Moo,

"Bringing remarkable ideas to market depends on the vehicle transporting them - you. Stop trying to be perfect and start being remarkable."

In a recession there are no medals for creating perfect solutions. Why would someone buy your product if they are not aware of it? You need to create something that people will be aware of - something that they will notice. Something remarkable - worthy of being remarked about!

So - why should people bother to buy from you?. This question is more relevant now than ever before!



RELEVANT LINKS
Be Remarkable #2 - repeat/updated posting
- look at the earlier blog
Bright Marketing Manifesto - better/different
- the earlier blog entry
Bright Marketing Manifesto - the mind of the customer Part two
- the earlier blog entry


Thursday, 15 January 2009

Be Remarkable #2 - repeat/updated posting

BE REMARKABLE means 'worth making a remark about'.

Are you boring, dull, mediocre, average, run of the mill...?
or
Are you exciting, challenging, different, refreshing, worth talking about?

Being noticed is easy - just pull a stunt (streak at the next football match).

Doing something that other people talk about is something else.

And don't try to please everyone - you just want the people who can help your cause to be talking about you (the sneezers, the movers and shakers, people with otaku)

Being reasonable will not make you remarkable.

It is the zebra that leaves the herd that gets noticed; in business it is great to get noticed but maybe it is not so clever in the jungle...

but few can sustain the tag of being remarkable: The Beatles... Fender Stratocaster... Mercedes Gullwing... Mohamed Ali... Herman Miller Aeon chair...


RELEVANT LINKS
Bright Marketing - the book

Monday, 12 January 2009

Work With Your Bank - comments

In his blog of today Work With Your Bank to Beat The Recession Richard Lockyer is very flattering:

"Team work will always get you better results than if you try to go it alone and one of the best people to get in your team is your bank manager. I thought that the following article written by Robert Craven gives some really good advice on how to just that and the 9 financial tips that are included are great value in their own right and quite easy to implement..."

RELEVANT LINK
Work With Your Bank To Beat The Recession - my original BusinessZone blog

Back to Basics - Be Deliberate

In my annual spring clean (in January!) I found my notes from a prestigious judging panel for a 'Business of The Year' Competition (I am on the panel for several of these).

My notes which related to the winner were as follows:

"A deliberately mapped-out process - they set out to:
  • audit their current business
  • evaluate the opportunities
  • decide what to do
  • roll out and do it."
No wonder they won!!!

Thought Bubble
It is - again - all about action!

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Professional Service Firms and Smaller Businesses

While casually googling I just fell upon an article of mine entitled
Professional Services and Valuing the Customer

It is worth a look:

"Continuing the theme of the challenges facing small businesses, today we look at the poor level of service sometimes given to small companies by firms offering professional services. Everyone’s a consumer at some level, and as Robert Craven argues, SMEs should be valued customers just as much as anyone else..."
Read more at Professional Services and Valuing the Customer

This one was aimed at accountants!

======
And here’s an accountant joke from an accountant's website:

A young accountant dies. He immediately goes up to heaven (wishful thinking we know) and meets Peter. Because Peter is an organised sort of Saint, he goes through the required details...

Peter: How old are you?
The accountant: 33
Peter: That's impossible!
The accountant: Why?
Peter: I have looked at your time sheets and examined the hours that your have charged your clients - by my reckoning you are at least 97!

Friday, 9 January 2009

Four Steps To Growth During A Recession

4 Steps To Growth During A Recession by Michael Robertois - a cracking little article from Harvard Business Publishing.

Can companies actually grow stronger during a recession? What can they do to capitalise on the problems that their rivals encounter during tough economic times?

Steve Jobs on the recession, reflecting on the last recession as well as the current economic climate...:

"In fact we were going to up our R&D budget so that we would be ahead of our competitors when the downturn was over. And that's exactly what we did. And it worked. And that's exactly what we'll do this time."


Here are four steps your company should consider now:

First, invest heavily in research and development now so that new products and services are ready for launch as the economy begins to grow again. Your acceleration of investment now will yield a strong product advantage in the coming years.

Second, spend some time learning about the customers of your weakest competitors. Your rivals are probably working desperately to save their biggest/best customers. They might not, however, have the time and resources to focus on smaller clients. Focus your attention on these potential new customers, particularly those with attractive growth prospects and strong balance sheets.

Third, identify your most critical suppliers and distributors, and determine if any face the possibility of severe impairment to their business due to the economic downturn. Examine ways in which you might help those suppliers and distributors weather the downturn.

Finally, think carefully about your talent needs. Capitalise on this opportunity to identify and attract talented employees, while there is slack in the labour market.



RELEVANT LINKS
4 Steps To Growth During A Recession by Michael Robertois

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Work With Your Bank To Beat The Recession

A new article of mine has just been published by my friends over at BusinessZone:

"If you put together a water-tight business plan you can get money out of your bank manager even in troubled economic times... Robert Craven uses a real life example to illustrate how...

Here's an example of a quick 'n' dirty plan adopted by a precision engineering works employing six people – this activity turned the business around..."





RELEVANT LINKS
Work With Your Bank To Beat The Recession - BusinessZone blog

STOP PRESS: Coming soon - a new book. Watch this space...

Small Book Publishers

Julian T Rowe in another of his articles E-Marketing Ideas For Small Specialist Book Publishers says,
"It is good having your books being sold by Amazon, Blackwell's, ASDA and other small booksellers as a distribution channel. However success in business lies is the ability to get customers to buy from you (Robert Craven)." With a new book on the way, I will take note!!!

RELEVANT LINKS
Julian T Rowe - list of articlesE-Marketing Ideas For Small Specialist Book Publishers - article SME Managerial Incompetence and the Pitfalls to Avoid - article

Monday, 5 January 2009

Ste Up or Step Down - continued

Judging by the emails you've sent me, today's blog seems to have hit the mark - Step Up or Step Down - Which Strategy for Recession? .

The thrust of the earlier article can be interpreted as follows:

  1. This recession is an opportunity to step forward or fall behind.
  2. In the last recession, those that fell behind found it hard to catch up after the recession was over; those that stepped forward maintained their position after the recession.
  3. For sound businesses with a robust business model then this recession can be seen as a golden opportunity.
  4. For businesses with a faulty or flawed business model then they are hugely exposed


And The Big 'So What!'
Talking to clients today (you know who you are!!) we have spoken a lot about what makes a good/robust business model - being in a relatively recession-proof industry certainly helps!

Seeing opportunities and having the confidence to invest time and money in them seems to be a key issue. Is this the time to hold back? How deep are your pockets? Have you got the bottle? What is the potential downside and what's the potential upside?

Either way, take action, now!


RELEVANT LINKS
Step Up or Step Down - Which Strategy for Recession? - yesterday's blog

Step Up or Step Down - Which Strategy for Recession?

The Recession Talk Your Board Should Have is a challenging article in BusinessWeek by Kevin P Coyne - although the original article was aimed at larger businesses, I will paraphrase as best I can and add my own twist.

Along comes a recession and suddenly we ask the questions...

“How can we protect ourselves…? What to cut first…?”

You are probably talking about the wrong stuff.


Surveys taken during the last recession suggest that as many as 70% of boards will not hold the discussions they should be having.


What should you not be talking about
Boards waste their valuable time when they discuss what is euphemistically described as “the operational details of belt-tightening and tactical cost reduction”.

After all, this should all have been discussed at length in developing the current budget.

The board's role should be limited to discussing the key issue:
“How would the shareholders/owners want to balance the two competing objectives of
1) minimizing the hit to profits versus 2) capturing maximum growth?”

So what should you be talking about?
You should be talking about how the company could, in fact, step up its activities and use the recession as a chance to gain position and advantage.

A company has almost twice as much chance to dramatically improve its position in an industry during a recession compared to normal times — and that most (but not all) of the companies that did step up held their gains in subsequent economic recoveries.


How can your board and management determine whether a step-up strategy is right for your company?


You should consider three major questions:
1. Are there truly tangible consequences of missing the next year's earnings forecast by going for growth? Yes/No/Maybe

2. In your industry, do ‘temporary’ gains tend to become permanent? Yes/No/Maybe

3. What is the potential downside if you simply take a defensive posture?


It would take a lot of effort and courage to tailor a step-up strategy to the company's specific situation.

But then again, unthinkingly adopting a strategy of retrenchment would be every bit as hard, unpleasant, and possibly dangerous.


It's important for the board to hold the right discussion, even if the decision ends in favour of retrenchment. And if the decision is to step up, so much the better.


RELEVANT ARTICLE
The Recession Talk Your Board Should Have

Saturday, 3 January 2009

A quickie!

Just received a newsletter from White Maple Consulting - it contained a review of Bright Marketing as well as articles on charisma and five forces...

“Normal marketing” has failed, states Craven, due to: lack of commitment; lack of clear benefit (too much focus on selling features, not benefits); poor positioning (eg looking exactly the same as your competitors); KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid); and “paralysis combined with dull thinking” (because people have been on too many “inappropriate” marketing courses).


Bright Marketing gives a lot of commonsense advice and some inevitable, but helpful, “tools”. The best section is “What Works” with its practical advice on a variety of topics...


RELEVANT LINKS

White Maple Consulting - Newsletter
Bright Marketing - website