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Posted by in Robert Craven Marketing Expert

Turning the Corner Out of the Recession – a case study

Turning the Corner Out of the Recession – a case study

Three months ago I sat in on a so-called management meeting for a rather lovely business (10 staff in the creative industries) who were heading towards bankruptcy with remarkable speed. Bring a Magic Wand They asked if I could bring a magic wand with me. (The bank manager’s heavy-handed letter had prompted the meeting). They showed me their wonderful work, they showed me their wonderful business plan and then they started to bitch amongst themselves about why other things were stopping them from being successful. The problem was not defined but a few questions clarified what was going on. In a nutshell, the key comments I heard were following a well-worn model: “We’re losing clients” “Clients have got tighter and tighter budgets and are less and less profitable” “Profitability is declining” “Cash is shrinking at a growing rate” Getting them to pause for breath, I asked them to explain how they get things done. The gregarious boss, Tony, explained: “We have this drop-dead vision and mission and out of...

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Posted by in Robert Craven Marketing Expert

How To Keep Your Customers Happy

How To Keep Your Customers Happy

In a world where everyone tries to delight us, why are we not so very delighted? Ten Ways to Keep Your Customer Happy Companies lose customers because they go elsewhere. And the reason why customers go elsewhere is that the people who serve them are indifferent to their needs. Here are ten ways to keep your customers happy: Understand what people want – You must keep asking questions of yourself: ‘What’s the unmet need..?’ ‘How are we doing…?’ ‘How can we do better…?’ Engage your customers – Treat them how you would like to be treated yourself. Real relationships blow away the institutional hype – Consumers are fed up with mass-produced mediocrity. ‘Authenticity’, a genuine product, rather than a created manifestation from the brains of the marketing department, will generate ‘customers for life’. Infect your customers with your enthusiasm. Infect your staff with your enthusiasm. Create memorable ‘wow!’ encounters that inspire customers to spread the ‘legend’ to others. Forget about selling – Customers hate to be ‘sold at’ but...

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Posted by in Robert Craven Marketing Expert

Survive and Thrive, My Foot

Survive and Thrive, My Foot

In our attempts to be polite, everything recession-oriented has the strapline “survive and thrive”. My book… workshops run by accountants… and seminars run by banks, business support organisations and consultants now give everything the S&T tagline. Sometimes we reverse the letters so it is T&S! Survive and thrive, my foot. The reality is “grow or die”. Grow or Die Businesses are either growing or dying, moving forwards or moving backwards, up or down. Maybe it is time that we were a bit more honest with our clients. I found some ‘middle of the night’ notes from the last recession. I know that they are pretty much identical to the panicky notes being written all over the country right now… What am I going to do about: Collapsing profits Vanishing cash Ineffective marketing Improving competitors Increasingly demanding /price sensitive customers Busy fool syndrome: working harder with less results Lack of direction Unable to find the solution by myself. The answer is in the last bullet point “unable to find the...

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Posted by in Robert Craven Marketing Expert

Blameless “Poor Me” SMEs or Innovative Entrepreneurs?

Blameless “Poor Me” SMEs or Innovative Entrepreneurs?

With the election behind us the debate heats up about how independent businesses have fared under a recession-hit Labour Government. Contradictory opinions abound: The recession hit the backbone of British economy AND we needed a shake-out to get rid of the underperforming businesses Independent businesses were being ignored and allowed to close AND they all deserve to go bust Business Link (=The Government) was doing nothing to help businesses AND Business Link saved my business Independent businesses deserve grants and help because they are a good thing AND they need to fend for themselves. The problem with these conflicting ideas is seen most clearly when people talk about “entrepreneurs”. I apologise for my binary (black and white) way of looking at things but sometimes it is useful to play the Devil’s Advocate and use extremes to understand what is really going on. So, my thoughts… There seem to be two stereotype definitions of the noun, “entrepreneur”, that co-exist in the world. However they, entrepreneurs, are treated as one homogeneous...

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Posted by in Robert Craven Marketing Expert

How to Find Niches and Opportunities

How to Find Niches and Opportunities

How to find niches and opportunities to fight the recession blues. A useful tool for any business is a checklist to find niches and opportunities in a recession: You can look at new customers and markets You can look at developing or changing your product or service You can do some combination of the two above Checklist to find niches and opportunities Neglected markets where, say, customer needs have outpaced provision e.g. hand-built cars like Morgan, importing organic wines Unfilled need: e.g. work away from office creates a demand for laptop computers and better mobile phone technology Disadvantages in existing products e.g. caffeine in coffee leads to decaffeinated coffee, short-life of cut flowers leads to demand for sachets containing long-life crystals for flower water Omission in otherwise well-served markets e.g. paper nappies, outdoor workers require robust mobile phones and laptops Extensions or new formats for proven lines e.g.- T-shirts, scarves and sweatshirts for Rugby Supporters’ Club, Weight Watcher soups/Heinz, Technological breakthroughs e.g. email-driven mentoring and business-support, special covers for...

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