Three strategies – which one are you following?
Widely suggested and often followed: Popular wisdom says that there are two possible strategies for a business to pursue (originating from Michael Porter): (1) To be a cost cutter or (2) To be a differentiator. Actually, I think that there is a third strategy: (3) To do nothing and eventually fail.

In the retail sector:

  • Aldi and Lidl are cost cutters. They succeed, and how.
  • Waitrose are differentiators. They succeed by a long way.
  • Tesco, for many years market-leaders in their sector, appear to have done nothing. They haven’t failed (yet) but they’ve certainly taken a hammering over recent months.

I frequently advise people to try something different. To become a differentiator. The following story emphasises just that:

Is this a message for Tesco? Try a little “Shopera”
Courtesy of Barry Urquhart, Marketing Focus, in Australia: it’s a simple enough question: What does it take to put a smile on the faces of all customers and have them spontaneously break out in applause?

The answer is: A little retail theatre and entertainment.

John Lewis and Waitrose standout as a British retail success story.  Click on the following link, enjoy, do share and like. View it here.

Problems and Solutions
Now, here’s a recap on some useful marketing, business promotion, new technology and other interesting stories from the past week:

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

Lots more marketing ideas and tips have been published by Marketing Profs:

From: marketingprofs.com

Is your business one of a kind? Or do you have a client whose business is shooting for the moon?

The Daily Telegraph want to hear from you.  Their nationwide competition to find The Daily Telegraph Festival of Business’ SME of the Year is now open. The event is on 11 November in London.

The event is being run in partnership with FedEx, has been launched to celebrate the achievements of small and medium-sized businesses throughout the UK.

The competition will be judged by the singer and successful businesswoman Myleene Klass [pictured above].

Registration is a pain, but if you let me know you want to attend, Rebecca Burn-Callander, Enterprise Editor at the Daily Telegraph will fast track your application. Contact mpollins@onesmartplace.com for details.

Five business lessons from Apple

From Smarta Business Builder who say that you can’t open a magazine, watch the news, or spend more than a minute online without coming across the Apple logo. It’s had its fair share of setbacks over the years, yet is still one of the most successful and popular brands in the world. So what can small businesses learn from Apple?

1.   Provide great customer service: Apple aims to re-create the same friendliness in its stores that you’d find at a Four Seasons hotel. It was ranked third in Bloomberg Business Week’s fourth annual customer service rankings, receiving A+ ratings for quality of staff and efficiency of service.

2.   Do one thing, better: Apple has always focused on making one idea a reality, and doing it better than anyone else. The iPod was all about getting your music into your pocket easily. The iPad meant you could get onto the internet wherever you were, easily. Steve Jobs said that Apple rejects hundreds of good and great ideas because it wants to focus solely on making one product the best it can be.

3.   Simple marketing techniques: Apple is a company that understands the importance of simplicity in advertising campaigns. The first television ads for the iPod consisted solely of people dancing along with music. Nothing was said about the features or technology of the product, because that’s not what Apple wanted its audience to think about. Apple wanted its customers to buy the iPod because it solved a problem: “What’s a better way to listen to my music?”

4.   Get people excited: Apple is great at getting people excited about their products. Through TV commercials, teaser campaigns, and press releases, Apple builds anticipation. This not only brings in new customers, but also makes existing ones even keener to get the latest version of a gadget they already own.

5.   Don’t be afraid to charge more: Compared to similar products, Apple’s are often between two and five times more expensive! But price doesn’t deter millions of people from buying Macs or iPhones. In fact, the higher price tag suggests to the customer that Apple’s products are better quality and more desirable than rival brands’.

Find other competitive advantages in the article 37 ways to beat your competitors.
Read the full article: www.smarta.com/advice/business-planning/business-plans/five-business-lessons-from-apple/

Lawyers and Accountants: Opportunities galore as the SRA steadies itself to drop separate business rule

The Law Society Gazette understands that law firms could be given the chance to bring non-lawyer professionals in as partners without becoming an alternative business structure. In October, the  Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) will propose reforms to the separate business rule – which could include removing it altogether. The move is designed to allow traditional law firms the flexibility to compete with multi-disciplinary practices (MDPs) which can offer a range of services.

In board papers explaining its decision, the regulator said ‘traditional’ firms should be allowed to conduct a wider range of activities – a proposal supported by most of the profession.  These changes would be subject to a consultation to be opened next month. It will include proposals to scrap the separate business rule. The changes will assist existing providers that do not wish to become ABSs to provide multi-professional services (for example, by taking on chartered accountants) and thus increase their market share.

The SRA board has voted to allow MDPs to offer non-reserved legal services without being covered by more than one regulator. This would apply, for example, to accountancy firms already regulated by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales that offer tax advice, which will no longer also be subject to SRA regulation.
Read more: www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/sra-ready-to-drop-separate-business-rule/5043210.article

ICAEW members in Catch 22 over tax avoidance

From ICAEW Economia,  a message for ICAEW members who are coming under intense pressure from clients to endorse tax avoidance schemes they have heard about, often from independent financial advisers or the scheme promoters themselves. Some general practitioners have even been threatened with losing their clients or being sued for negligence if they refuse to help, according to the ICAEW Tax Faculty. At a recent meeting at ICAEW, Faculty head Frank Haskew told Public Accounts Committee chairman Margaret Hodge that clients were often fed misinformation by tax scheme promoters about schemes or indeed about the responsibilities accountants have in giving tax advice. They can’t afford to lose clients and they can’t afford to be sued. Yet they risk reputational and financial damage if they do get involved

Schemes are regularly described as investment opportunities while the High Court decision in Harben Barker v Mehjoo – which awarded £1.4m in damages to Iranian businessman Hossein Mehjoo after finding the accountancy firm liable for failing to advise him about certain tax avoidance schemes – is often cited, without mentioning that it was overturned in the Court of Appeal.

“Our members hate these schemes but they feel really under pressure,” Haskew said. “They can’t afford to lose clients and they can’t afford to be sued. Yet they risk reputational and financial damage if they do get involved. They are damned if they do, and damned if they don’t.”

Blackberry Passport introduces dual-control keyboard

On BBC News, Leo Kelion, Technology desk editor reported that Blackberry has launched a distinctive handset featuring a square screen and a keyboard that offers both physical keys and touch-enabled gesture controls.

It said work-focused users in particular should benefit from the Blackberry Passport’s innovations. Sales of the company’s handsets – which are powered by its own operating system – have been in decline.

Analysts said the new device should appeal to existing Blackberry owners but might struggle to win over others.

The Canadian company’s chief operating officer said the handset’s release was part of a broader turnaround strategy led by John Chen, who became chief executive in November.
Read more: www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-29328135

A Quick Guide to Twitter Metrics & Definitions

From Simply Measured, before you can analyse your brand’s success on Twitter, you must first understand the metrics behind each action and how they’re calculated.  This FREE “quick ’n’ dirty” reference guide outlines the different ways that users interact with your brand and how to focus on the most relevant metrics.
Download this quick guide to get:

  • An up-to-date glossary of Twitter metrics and what they *really* mean
  • How metrics affect your brands Twitter visibility
  • Tips for choosing the most relevant benchmarking metrics for your brand

Samsung laptops to be pulled from sale in Europe

When they’re gone, they’re gone: From Leo Kelion, BBC’s Technology desk editor: Samsung has announced that it is ending sales of its laptop computers in Europe. The move includes its Chromebook model, which had previously been one of the category’s best-sellers. The South Korean company’s decision follows Sony’s announcement earlier this year that it was selling its Vaio division and pulling out of PC sales altogether. However, other firms have recently reported growth in the sector.

Samsung signalled it might consider similar action in other parts of the globe.

How to Manage the Company’s Talent in the Future

From Central America Data, good advice that companies recognize the importance for the future of their businesses of managing a growing workforce, which is international and mobile, but they do not know how to do it.

The Workforce 2020 study, prepared by Oxford Economics and SAP concluded that Companies do not have an appropriate strategy to deal with the transformation that is happening the way of working in the world – from the convergence of five generations to operations spread across the planet – which will lead to a crisis in management, attraction and retention of talent. After surveying more than 5,400 employees and directors and interviewing 29 companies operating in 27 countries, Oxford Economics found that two thirds of the participating companies have made little progress in shaping a workforce capable of meeting its future business objectives.

Revealed: How emails are killing your efficiency

Logical Office say that over 90% of communications with clients is done by email, yet most firms file emails manually. This whitepaper shows how to make massive time savings.

To find out more, fill in the online form and download your FREE copy of this publication.
Download: www.accountingweb.co.uk/logical-office/sep14/564463revealed-how-emails-are-killing-your-efficiency

Divorce customs in a bygone age

From DelanceyPlace Archives, I came across this story which I found interesting. Maybe you will too.

This story, comes from I Don’t: A Contrarian History of Marriage by Susan Squire. The book covers divorce customs ancient and not-so-ancient:
“For nearly a thousand years, an Englishman sick of his wife could slip a halter around her neck, lead her to market – the cattle market – and sell her to the highest bidder, often with her willing participation.”

This informal route to divorce for the lower classes lasted, amazingly, until at least 1887. … [As reported by non-fiction authors Lawrence Stone in The Family Sex and Marriage and Samuel Menefee in Wives for Sale] a drunken husband sells his wife in the opening chapter of Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), much to the astonishment of contemporary critics. Oblivious to the informal unlawful marriage and divorce customs of the less literate brethren (‘wife-sale’ dates back to c. 1073), they could not imagine such a thing happening on British soil in the nineteenth century, even though popular broadsides depicting the practice (one of which illustrates the cover of Menefee’s book) were still being produced and widely circulated during that same century.

Martin Pollins

Martin Pollins

Managing Director at Bizezia
Martin Pollins is a Chartered Accountant with wide experience in corporate finance and business management. He holds a number of directorships and has served on the boards of several companies, including those listed on the London Stock Exchange, AIM and OFEX.

He was a Council member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales from 1988 to 1996.

Martin Pollins ran his own firm based in Sussex and was the first Accountancy firm in the UK to advertise on television and Martin went on to create and launch the CharterGroup Partnership (the UK's first Accountancy network) and then LawGroup UK (one of the largest networks of lawyers in the country).

Martin started work on the Bizezia concept in 1996, developing the broad range of information resources and products over the past 18 years.
Martin Pollins
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