This article is my regular round-up of marketing and business promotion issues plus other interesting things over the past week. It provides access to tools you can use right now to promote your firm plus software that will help those endeavours. The really good thing is that most of them are FREE – yes, that’s right, they won’t cost you or your firm a penny (or a dime, if you are reading this in Canada or the USA).

One of the stories below comes from a message received via ICAEW about the need for engagement letters with clients. Don’t forget that we have the most comprehensive client contract system – click here to find out more about Contract Engine.

Try something new today
“What makes my approach special is that I do different things. I do jazz, blues, country music and so forth. I do them all, like a good utility man.” – Ray Charles

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

More marketing ideas and tips have been published by Marketing Profs:

From: e.marketingprofs.com

New Acas Guidance on Dress Codes

From Daniel Barnett, employment law barrister: Acas has issued new guidance on dress codes and appearance in the workplace. It sets out the issues for employers to consider, rather than providing answers. Two of the areas it focuses on are tattoos and body piercings, and religious dress.

Source: Click here for access to the Acas guidance.

Attract A-List Clients with Estate Planning Services

From Grey, Ryan, Wayne & Company Blog in the USA: Bringing in more A-list clients to your firm is one of the basic cornerstones of any fully-developed Professional firm’s business growth strategy. While this sounds great on paper, an obvious question remains: Where do A-list clients come from?

Diversifying the portfolio of services your firm offers is a great way to attract more desirable clients. And one of the best expanded services you can offer as a Trusted Business Advisor is estate planning.

What is estate planning?
By definition, estate planning is the process of formally arranging for the disposition of a person’s assets after death (or upon disability), including bequeaths to family, friends or charity. In simpler terms, an estate plan outlines a person’s wishes for their worldly possessions and assets in the event of their disability or passing. A thorough estate plan should also minimize tax burdens on the family and keep an estate out of probate.

Who needs an estate plan?
In truth, everyone needs an estate plan – or a will outlining an executor and a division of assets, at the very least. That said, only part of the population has enough assets to require the expertise of a CPA for estate planning. Those are the clients that you will want to target. You will want to show these A-list clients that you can be their guide through what can be a confusing sea of jargon, rules and regulations.
Read the rest of this article at: info.grwco.com/blog/attract-a-list-clients-with-estate-planning-services

4 tips for focusing on impact 

Paul Gustafson (president of TDA Group, Silicon Valley’s premier content marketing agency, asks: Is your content reaching the right audiences to have a significant impact on sales?  His digest explores four recent news stories about reviewing and improving your content strategy.

Find out why your competitors are probably using content audits to size up your business. See why content is the common driver for paid, unpaid, and earned media—and get tips on using content strategy to boost SEO. Plus, find a primer on content and first impressions.

Read more at: social-media.blognotions.com/2014/08/22/tda-group-content-happy-hour-4-tips-for-focusing-on-impact

The 6 Step Customer Advocate Marketing Handbook

From Social-Media Blognotions, Learn how to motivate and scale customer advocates to grow your business.
It’s FREE here: social-media-blognotions.tradepub.com/free/w_socb03/prgm.cgi

Identify Your Most Profitable Customers – Introduction to Customer Segmentation 

From Magento Commerce: Customer segmentation can help you increase profits by targeting customers with personalized promotions and special offers. More advanced customer segmentation strategies can help you make the best use of your marketing resources, identify promising new markets, and increase overall customer sanctification and brand loyalty.

Successful customer segmentation starts with collecting and analyzing customer data. But there’s more to it than grouping customers demographically. The more you know about your customers, the more you can give them what they want—and the more likely they are to keep coming back.
Download the FREE ebook fromwww.magentocommerce.com/resources/introduction-to-customer-segmentation-ebook

Surface Pro 3 – Third time lucky for Microsoft?

Microsoft has been talking up Surface Pro 3 sales stating that the latest model is already outpacing earlier versions, which probably isn’t too big a feat given that since the launch of the original Surface in 2012, Microsoft has lost $USD1.73 billion dollars on Surface and Surface Pro. That’s not including the advertising dollars that Microsoft has pumped into marketing the device and while the Surface Pro 3 might be selling better than its predecessors Microsoft remains tight-lipped on the number of actual units sold.

With Steve Ballmer out of the picture and Microsoft chanting the ‘platforms and productivity’ mantra espoused by new CEO Satya Nadella, the Surface Pro 3 just might be Microsoft’s last chance to turn its tablet/laptop hybrid vision into a commercial hit. With the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft is openly targeting the best-in-class notebook – Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Air.
Read more: www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2014/8/27/technology/review-surface-pro-3-third-time-lucky-microsoft

Apple Planning 12.9-Inch iPad for 2015

Apple has been working with its suppliers for over a year on larger touch-screen devices, Bloomberg reports. Apple Inc is preparing to roll out a larger, 12.9-inch version of its iPad for 2015, with production set to begin in the first quarter of next year. The report comes as Apple struggles with declining sales of its 10-inch and 7.9-inch tablets, which are faltering as people replace iPads less frequently than expected and larger smartphones made by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and other rivals encroach upon sales.
Read more: gulfbusiness.com/2014/08/apple-planning-12-9-inch-ipad-2015

Chinese operating system ‘set for autumn debut’

From Pinsent Masons (OUT-LAW): A home-grown ‘China operating system’ (COS) to challenge rivals such as Microsoft, Google and Apple could be available as soon as October 2014, the country’s state-run Xinhua News Agency has said.
 According to Xinhua, Chinese Academy of Engineering academician Ni Guangnan told the People’s Post and Telecommunications News (PPTN) that the COS “will be first seen on desktop devices and later expanded to smartphones and other mobile devices”. Xinhua said Ni heads a COS “development alliance” established in March. He told PPTN: “China has more than a dozen mobile OS developers with no independent intellectual property rights because their research is based on Android.” Xinhua said Ni believes that future development should be led by the Chinese government.

Ni told PPTN that “the end of Windows XP and a government ban on the procurement of Windows 8 have opened the door to domestic OS developers… our key to success lies in an environment that can help us compete with Google, Apple and Microsoft”. However, Xinhua said there are still “problems” in the COS development programme, “including a lack of research funds and too many developers pulling in different directions”.
Read more: www.out-law.com/en/articles/2014/august/chinese-operating-system-set-for-autumn-debut

Accountants have opportunities in financial planning and forecasting

In the Journal of Accountancy, by Ken Tysiac in the USA: Many accountants may have opportunities to expand their service offerings to small business clients by providing financial planning and forecasting, according to a new survey. Just one in three accountants offers financial planning or forecast services as part of clients’ business planning process, according to a survey of 150 accountants by business software company Exact.

“Small businesses that see the bigger picture are likely to capitalize on an opportunity before their competition does, but too many are focused on the day to day,” Steve Leavitt, general manager of U.S. cloud solutions for Exact, said in a news release. “Accountants would be wise to position their offerings as much more than bookkeeping and tax preparation. The same data that’s used to run day-to-day operations can also help accountants drive active planning and performance management, enabling them to provide added value to their clients.”

Practitioners and firms can deepen their relationships with clients by going beyond traditional core services such as tax preparation to embrace roles as “trusted business advisers.” Promoting CPAs as trusted advisers was one of the 10 main objectives of the future-focused CPA Horizons 2025 report released in 2011.

Another area of opportunity: reviewing clients’ performance against their business plan; 33% of respondents in the Exact survey said they never conduct such reviews for their clients.
Read more: www.journalofaccountancy.com/News/201410783.htm

All You Need to Know about the US Federal Debt in Three Minutes

From Brookings by David Wessel: Is the US federal debt really a crisis that demands immediate attention? The headlines suggest it is, but to understand the debt we must first put it into context. A new three-minute video from the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy boils down the facts about the outlook for the federal debt by tracing the recent ups and downs (yes, downs) of the projections for federal borrowing over the next decade. You can watch it here:

The animation presents the 10-year forecast for the federal debt made before the recession, how it rose when the recession hit, and how it rose still higher after Congress enacted President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the fiscal stimulus of 2009. Despite the outlook brightening in 2013 with the tax increase on upper-income Americans, and a slowdown in the pace at which health care spending is rising, the US is not out of the woods yet.
Source: www.brookings.edu/blogs/up-front/posts/2014/08/27-federal-debt-all-you-need-to-know-in-three-minutes-wessel

Accountants: How to limit your exposure when contracting with clients

From ICAEW, John O’Donnell, ICAEW’s Practice Consultant, recommends that you enter into contractual agreements with clients for the services you provide.  He says: “We strongly recommend that you enter into contractual agreements with clients for the services you provide. ICAEW has a helpsheet on client engagement terms and also a helpsheet entitled “What if you do not have an engagement letter?” which is a minimum amount of information to enable compliance with ICAEW requirements. From a risk management perspective, however, we strongly recommend that detailed contractual terms are entered into with clients.

This means that both parties can clarify what their contractual intentions were in the unfortunate event of a problem. Some firms limit their liability to clients by adding in a cap or multiple of fees. We recommend that these are well signposted to clients (perhaps by including a comment and reference in a covering letter) so clients cannot argue they were unaware of the limitation when they signed the engagement letter. At a later point, if you have to rely on the limitation, the client could claim that they were unaware of it and it is possible that the terms could be overturned by a court under the Unfair Contract Terms legislation. If you are providing audit services, ss534-536 Companies Act 2006 sets out requirements which have to be followed for an audit limitation of liability to be effective so it is important that your client follows this process.”
[NOTE: John O’Donnell FCA is a Practice Support Services consultant employed by ICAEW]
Source:  www.icaew.com/en/members/practice-resources/icaew-practice-support-services/practicewire/news/how-to-limit-your-exposure-when-contracting-with-clients

Samsung Unveils Smartwatch That Can Make Calls Without A Phone

Reported in Gulf Business: The Gear S has a 2-inch curved display and offers features like WiFi connectivity, pedestrian navigation and a built-in GPS.  Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has unveiled what it said was the first smartwatch capable of making and receiving calls without a mobile phone nearby, in the South Korean firm’s latest effort to find a new growth driver.

The world’s biggest smartphone maker has been pushing hard to develop the wearable devices market as it looks to counter slowing earnings in its mobile division, which led to weaker-than-expected second-quarter earnings. Samsung is hardly alone in pushing wearables, which have yet to catch on with consumers. Its rival Apple is expected to launch its own device this year and LG Electronics Inc on Thursday announced its new G Watch R smartwatch featuring a circular plastic OLED screen, a stainless steel frame and leather strap.
Read more: gulfbusiness.com/2014/08/samsung-unveils-smartwatch-can-make-calls-without-phone

Apple may unveil iWatch on September 9 alongside iPhone 6

In Times of India, via Techradar: Apple is planning to announce its first wearable on September 9. That’s the date Apple has supposedly set aside for a media event for its iPhone 6, too. Logic would tell you Apple would unveil its long, long-rumoured iWatch next to the iPhone 6, and it turns out logic is probably right. According to John Paczkowski over at Recode, Apple is indeed planning to announce its first wearable on September 9. That’s the date Apple has supposedly set aside for a media event for its next-gen iPhones, too.

So here’s where we stand for September 9: two new iPhones (a 4.7- and 5.5-inch iPhone 6) and the iWatch…
Read more: timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/tech-news/Apple-may-unveil-iWatch-on-September-9-alongside-iPhone-6/articleshow/41067710.cms

Are you in?  Green light for financial adviser directory

In Mortgage Finance Gazette, By Elizabeth Henry: A new financial adviser directory has got the go-ahead following a public consultation earlier this year. A mix of industry bodies, product providers, practising financial advisers, and consumer organisations responded to the proposal from the Money Advice Service during the consultation in June.

The proposal outlined how the creation of a new directory would make it easier for consumers to find a regulated financial adviser as they approach retirement and beyond.  The new directory will be built and hosted within the Money Advice Service’s existing site, and will aim to be launched by April 2015 to coincide with the new Retirement Guidance Service.

Advisers will not have to pay to be listed in the directory; however the service is currently establishing an independent panel of consumer and industry representatives to set the criteria for inclusion.
Read more: www.mortgagefinancegazette.com/latest-news/green-light-for-financial-adviser-directory

Has the flawed password system finally had its day?

From Paul Rubens, BBC Technology reporter: Passwords are a pain. We choose simple words that are easy to remember, but equally easy for hackers to guess. Yet we still forget them. And they also get stolen with alarming frequency. The reported theft of 1.2 billion email passwords by Russian hackers earlier this month was just the latest in a long string of major password security breaches that have led some people to wonder if the use of passwords should be abandoned.

But what are the alternatives?

One low-cost option, according to Dr Ant Allan, an authentication expert at Gartner Research, could be biometrics, making use of the microphones, cameras and web cams most computers and mobile devices are equipped with. The simplest way to log on might be through facial recognition – or “authentication by selfie,” as Dr Allan calls it – because it would require the user to do nothing more than look at their computer or mobile screen. Logging in using voice recognition would also be straightforward, he argues. Security for these authentication methods can be beefed up by adding contextual information such as GPS data from a mobile phone, or simply the time of day. If a user tries to log on at an unusual time or place then additional authentication information can be requested.
Read more: www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-28891938

Top Tips For Making BYOD Work For Your Company

In Gulf Business, By Tim Stone: Clear policies are needed to implement a successful Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, writes Tim Stone, VP, Marketing, EMEA at Polycom. Gartner predicts that by 2017, half of global employers will require their employees to supply their own device for work purposes.

In the Middle East, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is becoming increasingly popular in the workplace and a ‘mobility-first’ mindset is now clearly visible among Middle East CIOs. Regional organisations are expected to accelerate efforts over the next 12 months to transform their IT systems in order to integrate mobility solutions. While BYOD has obvious advantages for companies, most notably in reduced hardware, support costs, and employee satisfaction, it is important to plan carefully for the company-wide implementation of any new working practice.
Read more for the author’s top BYOD tips: gulfbusiness.com/2014/08/top-tips-making-byod-work-company

MSN messenger shuts down for good

From Joe Hall in CITY A.M.: The instant messaging service is being switched off in China next month, marking the end of its 15 year lifespan. For most users, the platform died last year when Microsoft decided to switch users over to Skype, yet it has – until now – continued to operate in China. On Thursday, users of Windows Live Messenger (the most recent name for MSN) in China received emails from Microsoft informing them of the new closure, and encouraging them to move to Skype where they would get free credit on the online video and phone calling service.

MSN messenger started life as a rival to AOL’s AIM messenger, but Microsoft has been focusing its attentions on Skype since it purchased the company for $8.5bn (£5.1bn) in 2012. At the time, Skype already boasted over 200m users, while according to reports from tech websites, Windows Live Messenger had seen a reduction of around the same number in just two years.
Read more:  www.cityam.com/1409413672/msn-messenger-shuts-down-good-chinese-users-encouraged-move-skype

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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