Friday, 27 February 2009


I have just signed up to Facebook... interesting stuff.

The Facebook phenomenon is a no-brainer as a social networking tool but the jury seems to be out with respect to it as a business tool.

As usual there are the networking junkies (who have migrated through Facebook, Ecademy, LinkedIn, Plaxo etc) who will tell you that it (whatever the latest fad is) is the best thing since sliced bread.

I am going to stay with Facebook for at least a month. I have my own page (please do find 'Robert Craven' and please ask to be my 'friend'...) and so does The Directors' Centre (please do find 'The Directors' Centre' and please ask to be a 'fan'...). I will report back in a month and let you know whether it has worked for me.

- I have come across five old school friends ('why didn't we maintain contact for over 30 years?')
- have touched base with five very useful business contacts (excellent)
- rekindled relationships with about another half-dozen people and
- have 'chatted' with about a dozen avid supporters who I didn't even know existed before this week.

So far so good.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Price Up!?

We always have a full-on debate at the Let's Talk events about the pros and cons of putting up (or putting down) prices. The discussion rolls over into all my work at the moment.

My view: if you can... put prices up, lose the pondlife and work less.

Michael Porter (not my favourite academic) as I have quoted before, on the subject:
“Cutting prices is usually insanity if the competition can go as low as you can”

And here's some numbers to back up my case...

- I have polled 2,000 businesses over the last six months and roughly 10% have put their prices up in the last three months.

- Not one has reported a loss in profits… the customers they lost were the pondlife, the problem clients they didn’t want in any case. They never lost their best!

Hmm… food for thought. It takes bottle to put your prices up, especially now. And what would happen if you put your prices down? As they say in the States, "Do the math!"

Beating the Credit Crunch book
New Barclays Let's Talk... events: More Profit and Bright Marketing workshops

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Credit Crunching discount codes...

The Credit Crunch does have a silver lining... discounts at Dell, Pizza Express and about every high street chain you can think of at - too good to ignore...

Beating the Credit Crunch - the book

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Cash Is King

Last night's Panorama with Theo Paphitas was good. You can watch it on BBC iplayer.

His remit was as follows...

"Business dragon Theo Paphitis asks if the banks and the government are doing enough to help Britain's 4.7 million small businesses survive the recession... Are Britain's small firms are getting credit where it's due?"

Theo certainly had a good pop at the banks and the government... but there was a more important, fundamental point that needs to be re-iterated. We talk about this at just about all my events, and it is certainly featured in the new book.

Put simply, profitable businesses will go bust, and as Theo suggested, they do go bust! And the reason... CASH-FLOW is the big issue right now.

Starved of cash you cannot pay for raw materials, invest in new kit, do the R&D or pay the wages. In a world where (usually the large) customers are screwing you on your terms , the sums do not add up.

I am amazed at the following situations we have recently been told about:

- a £2m turnover manufacturing business with no cash-flow forecast
- a £1m turnover design company with no sales function or sales plan
- a £500k turnover service firm that has just been given a £2m contract but hasn't found funding to pay for the raw materials and is about to give up.

It is time to take action!


Last night's
Beating the Credit Crunch -
the new book

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Teenagers and Sales - reformatted entry

Sales and marketing is like teenage sex – everyone claims they are doing it... but the reality is that most aren’t doing it, and if they are doing it then they aren’t doing it very well.

So, let’s get back to basics (in business and selling!!!)

Jack Trout says:

1 Have a simple idea that separates you from the competition.

2 Have the credentials or the product that makes that concept believable.

3. Build a programme to make your customers/prospects aware of this difference.

Easier said that done.Most salespeople don’t know what they are selling.

They think they are selling a product for its features.

Actually people are buying it for what it does for them as consumers.

This is one of the fundamentals that most new salespeople just don’t get!

You sell floors… they buy easy cleaning

You sell a fast car…they buy something their neighbours will admire

You sell accounting services… they buy ease of mind and reassurance.

Unless you know why they are buying, or even what they are buying, then you are wasting at least 50% of your sales effort.

So, What is it that your customers are buying?

Why don’t you ask them rather than making assumptions?

Why don’t you listen to them rather than talking at them?

What is your simple idea?

What makes you different from the rest? Explain it in ten words.

Only when you understand these fundamentals can you start to build your communications programme.

If the target audience isn’t listening/buying then it is not their fault. It is yours.

(PS This was first posted in Feb 09)

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Step Up..., Step Down...! again

The Step Up debate in brief (taken from the new book). This discussion won't go away...

In a recession situation 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?”

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 — most (but not all) of the companies that did step-up in the last recession held their gains in subsequent economic recoveries.

The question
“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?
2. In your industry, do ‘temporary’ gains tend to become permanent?
3. What is the potential downside if you simply take a defensive posture?

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

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

Step Up or Step Down - continued - the original debate

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Credit Crunch Book - The Intro

Thanks for all the feedback (via the blog and direct) about the book. Everything has been taken on board in this period as we work towards the formal launch in March.

Sales of pre-publication copies have been amazing and we are re-stocking as we speak...! Thanks for all your support.

You can look at the Intro to 'Beating the Credit Crunch' if you go to

Full launch on 1st March but you can get pre-publication copies now from Lulu . You can get the printed book (£20.00) or a pdf (£10.00).

RELEVANT LINKS - Webpage about the book
Beating The Credit Crunch - pre-publication-date copies available now via Lulu!!

Friday, 13 February 2009

Rumours of my death...

To quote Mark Twain,
"The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated".

Letters of condolence were gratefully received (but unnecessary).Some prankster set off the alarms by posting a comment on an earlier blog and off went the rumour mill.

I am sure that I could have capitalised on the news/misinformation but some 100 people witnessed me alive and well last night at Preston NE's new football stadium where the Credit Crunch book had its first public outing. And very well received it was too!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Sea Diferente Y Gane or Bright Marketing!

Here's the Spanish version of Bright Marketing - my Spanish isn't that great but it seems to contain all the same stuff, but in Spanish!

Bright Marketing - book website
NEW BOOK - Free to lucky blog readers

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Beating The Credit Crunch - how to survive an thrive in the current recession

A word to the 'chosen few'. The new book is ready to buy. Full launch on 1st March but you can get copies now from Lulu . You can get the printed book (£20.00) or a pdf (£10.00).


Beating The Credit Crunch - pre-publication-date copies available now!!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

"When your competitors are slashing their marketing budgets, don't be tempted to do the same."

From the Wonkana blog...

I was reminded today of some sage advice from Robert Craven, who Richard Branson refers to as "the entrepreneur's entrepreneur" and how businesses ought to react ( can you detect the yearning tone? Good.) when all around them belts are being tightened, budgets are being squeezed and the consumer wants "owt for nowt". The words still resound as strongly as that day in Spike Island amongst the melee of the Bristol Enterprise Network."When your competitors are slashing their marketing budgets, don't be tempted to do the same."
Read More

Thank you

Marketing Blues
- Wonkana blog
The Devil's In The Detail and Capital Pitching also make reference to me.


My new book "Beating The Credit Crunch - How to Survive and Thrive in the Current Recession" is at 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.