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).

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

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

Is this happening to your client base?

One-in-five small to medium businesses have shrunk over the last three months, Zurich’s quarterly SME Risk Index, released yesterday, shows. In spite of continued recovery this year, SME confidence in the economy has remained low this quarter.

Small business Britain shrugs off risk as confidence surges
This is what the Index shows:

  • Latest Zurich survey shows SME confidence has almost doubled compared to last quarter
  • There’s a 10% leap in SMEs reporting lower risk in the market economy
  • SMEs now re-investing in assets and operations up around 50% compared to three months ago
  • Workforce capacity and availability of talent are now rising concerns
  • Overall concerns have lowered substantially since the Zurich SME Risk Index began in 2012 and have fallen to 39.92 in October from 42.17 in July.

Read the full report here.

Social Media Manager, Are You Asking Your Co-Workers These Questions?

In Simply Measured, Lucy Hitz posed these questions: What am I missing?  How should I repurpose content? Why isn’t our campaign hitting right?

If these are questions you’ve asked yourself while thinking about your brand’s social strategy, look around your marketing and social media departments.

The answers are likely right there, in the people who your company has hired to execute on email marketing, sales and account management, and even community management.

As a Social Media Manager, it’s your job to make sure your marketing strategy doesn’t exist in silos, so take some people out for coffee, burgers, ice cream, or vodka, and make sure to ask the right questions.
Read more to get the questions, here.

Office 365 adds storage, MDM enhancements

In Tech Target, Jake O’Donnell, wrote that in an effort to entice more enterprise customers, Microsoft has beefed up Office 365 with mobile device management (MDM) and free unlimited storage.

Microsoft is upping the ante for IT shops in need of more storage availability and mobile management controls in Office 365 plans.

The company will beef up its Office 365 storage and management capabilities to entice IT customers to weigh Microsoft’s full slate of mobile product offerings. It will soon introduce mobile device management capabilities directly in Office 365, plus free, unlimited storage in OneDrive for all Office 365 customers.

While the changes could pique IT’s interest in Office 365, integration with existing systems will be key to whether or not Office 365 is a good fit for organizations.
Read more, here.

How to Command a Room Without Saying a Word

In Inc. Magazine, Will Yakowicz wrote that, as a leader, there are times when it’s crucial to assert your influence. His article provides tips to help you make everyone else stop what they’re doing the minute you arrive. You know the old-school-leader archetype – a powerful presence walks into a room, and everyone present stops in their tracks. While command-and-control leadership is a thing of the past, charisma is a timeless attribute.

You can harness your charisma to demonstrate your dominance over a room, to create a feeling of friendship and loyalty, and to communicate good or bad news. Your emotion at the time affects your posture and reveals your intentions subconsciously, so others will see and feel whatever signal you are giving off. Remember, back when you worked for someone else, how you could tell what kind of news the boss had before he opened his mouth at a meeting?

Interestingly, you can learn how to control these subconscious triggers for your own benefit as a leader. Nick Morgan founder and president of communications consulting firm Public Words, writes in Harvard Business Review about how leaders can master the art of entering a room to wield influence and take advantage of their own charisma.

To exert your influence on others, Nick Morgan says you need to first find out what you’re putting out there. “Take inventory of how you habitually position yourself in front of the world and repair if necessary,” he writes.
Check out Nick Morgan’s tips here.

First impressions: Oppo N3, the phone with a motorized swivel camera

From an article in Times of India: Oppo was the first phone maker to launch a Smartphone with a rotating camera module, eliminating the need for two different lenses for front and back. Now, the China-based premium device maker wants to take the experience to the next level with its new N3 Smartphone that features a motorized camera swivel. This means you don’t need to manually rotate the camera mount when you wish to take a selfie. The Smartphone also features high-end hardware specifications and a premium design.

Oppo N3 looks like a refined version of the N1 with a relatively compact form factor and a more curved jaw line that we’ve seen on the Oppo Find 7. It even shares the Find 7’s Skyline notification light. It fits well in the hand and one of the reasons for that is the 5.5-inch display (the Oppo N1 sported a 5.9-inch display.

Scientists develop mind-reading “brain decoder”

Sarah Spickernell wrote in CITY A.M. that mind reading has become possible for the first time ever, thanks to a brain decoder developed by a team of scientists at the University of California, Berkeley.

In an interview with the New Scientist, the team explained that the decoder works by translating the signals fired off in your brain while you think into actual words, since the brain responds to its inner voice in the same way as it responds to other people’s voices.

“If you’re reading text in a newspaper or a book, you hear a voice in your own head,” lead researcher Brian Pasley explained.

“We’re trying to decode the brain activity related to that voice to create a medical prosthesis that can allow someone who is paralysed or locked in to speak
Read how it works here.

How to be charming: it’s in the voice

Sarah Spickernell also wrote in CITY A.M. to ask: why is it that some people are more charming than others? In a completely platonic way, it is possible to feel attracted to someone based entirely on the way they move and speak.

It’s all down to how low your voice is, and how easily you can adapt it to suit the person you are speaking to, according to a group of scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles.

They changed the vocal frequencies of male politicians from Italy, France, Portugal and Brazil, and analysed how these were perceived by over 250 participants. French president François Hollande and Luigi Magistris, the mayor of Naples, were among the politicians whose voices were altered.

It turned out those with lower voices were generally found to be more appealing because they seemed more dominant, while those with higher voices were viewed as weaker, more submissive leaders.

Crowded markets for the SME: entering where others wouldn’t dare tread

From Business Matters: Entrepreneurs are used to hearing phrases, ‘X have developed something similar’ or, ‘There’s already an app for that’. They are also used to being told that the market is too crowded and they are too late to enter it. For some this is exactly where the opportunity lies.

However, a crowded market, if anything, shows that demand – and a market – exists. Facebook was not the first social media site, and Google was not the first search engine. The key isn’t finding an empty field – but narrowing your product or the service you provide to a well-defined and niche customer, and meeting their needs better than anyone else.

This idea doesn’t make the situation any less daunting, however. A crowded market inherently involves a competitive climate – the article provides some ways to make sure you have the edge.
Read more here.

Why you should find your ‘Why’

[30 October 2014, AccountingWEB] Posted by Rachael Power on 29 October: There’s a lot of talk about finding your ‘Why’ recently, based on a famous book and Ted Talk by author, business coach and motivational speaker Simon Sinek. But what is it and why should accountants listen?

At the 2020 Group annual conference in Birmingham recently, Bootcamp pioneer Paul Dunn [pictured] gave an impassioned speech on practices finding their ‘Why’. Based on this same theory from Sinek, Dunn’s speech implored practitioners to find their ‘Why’, in other words the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you to do what you do.

On finding this, Sinek argues, can you then reach your full potential as a firm and reach the clients you want to reach – those who share your passion and your enthusiasm.

“I imagine a world where people wake up every day inspired to go to work and return home at the end of the day feeling fulfilled by the work they do, feeling that they have contributed to something greater than themselves,” according to Sinek.

To first buy into this philosophy, accountants [and lawyers] need to recognise that they don’t need to accept whatever clients and work rolls in the door. Instead, realising you have the ability to pick up and work with your ideal clients, the ones who resonate with your firm’s why will lead you down the path of picking them up.
Read the full article at: www.accountingweb.co.uk/article/why-you-should-find-your-why/567118

Check out Simon Sinek to spur you to bigger and better things

From my blog on 5 August in which I wrote about Simon Sinek: He’s an optimist and is described as “a visionary thinker with a rare intellect”. In a series of YouTube videos, he invites you to imagine a world where people wake up every day inspired to go to work and return home at the end of the day feeling fulfilled by the work they do, feeling that they have contributed to something greater than themselves. He’s a trained ethnographer, and the author of two books: the global best seller, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action and his newest book, Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t.

Born in Wimbledon, Simon Sinek speaks a lot to professionals at audiences in the USA and the UK (and elsewhere, no doubt). Go to YouTube and search for Simon Sinek. Here are a few videos that you’ll want to watch and learn by:

FREE iPad CTO Tips and Tricks Guide for IT Executives and Managers

Tradepub.com reports that the iPad CTO Kit brings together the latest in information, coverage of important developments, and expert commentary to help with your IT Management related decisions.

The following kit contents will help you get the most out of your IT Management research:

  • iPad Tips and Tricks – A Guide for Executives and Managers
  • How Mobile Management Services Fill a Critical Security Need
  • The ABCs of Mobile Device Management
  • Taking Windows Mobile on any Device

Download the FREE guide from here.

Rahman Ravelli E-Book 26th Edition: Now available for download

Rahman Ravelli has been ranked as one of the elite fraud firms of solicitors in the world’s most prestigious legal guide. They have just published their E-Book 26th Edition which is now available for download. The E-book includes the following articles:

  • THE RISK OF FAILURE: Official talk of a new offence of failing to prevent business crime may emphasise the need for compliance.
  • EVERY LITTLE HELPS: Is Tesco’s £250M financial black hole a case of salesmanship, aggressive accounting or straightforward fraud?
  • LIBOR AND LIABILITY: Why the Libor scandal touches on so many business crime issues.
  • SOURCE OF THE PROBLEM: Financial problems in outsourced public contracts are a multi-million pound reminder of the need for a proper anti-fraud approach.
  • EASTERN CUSTOMS: China teaming up with Europe to prevent fraud may be a taste of things to come.

Download from here.

Lean Six Sigma: Leadership in designing its implementation

From SoftExpert.com: The up-front design and development of the program before a Lean Six Sigma implementation goes a long way to ensuring that the correct success factors and measurables of the entire program are followed and delivered to all relevant stakeholders.

In this white paper, the author discusses and examines the implementation criteria of a Lean Six Sigma program to maximize the chances for success of the project – relevant to all organization types.
Download FREE whitepaper from here.

Legion Trade Finance launches special funding initiative for the UK fashion industry

From BM Magazine:  Specific funds of at least £20m have been allocated by Legion to boost the buying power of SMEs as they make plans for Spring Summer 2015. The UK fashion industry is now buying for Spring Summer 2015 with buyers touring the world securing the right products. Trade finance enables businesses of all sizes to pay for goods and Legion is playing a critical role in providing much needed capital.

In recent months, Legion has funded goods with an onward sale value of over £5m. It has supported a wide variety of businesses, from haute couture designers to high street suppliers through to discount stock wholesalers. This experience is now being extended to businesses of all sizes, with facilities available to help pay suppliers. Legion has allocated a £20m fund specific to the UK textiles and clothing sectors, although much more is available subject to demand.
Read more here.

Company Reporting – Emerging Issues: Joint Arrangements under IFRS

From AccountancyAGE Insight: This FREE report, taken from the Company Reporting “Emerging Issues” series from CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business, looks at the way in which companies have altered their accounting policies for joint arrangements following the adoption of IFRS 11.

The report examines the way in which companies apply the concept of joint control, taking into account the guidance given by IFRS on whether arrangements fall within the scope of IFRS 11. It goes on to look at the way in which companies assess whether joint arrangements should be considered joint ventures or joint operations and how these are accounted for using, respectively, the equity accounting method of IAS 28 “Investments in associates and joint ventures” or by directly recognising the share of the assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses of a joint operation.

The report also examines financial reports from nine companies.
Download the FREE report from here.

VAT Changes are coming

Last week, on the Europa website: Ideas on how to ensure a simpler, more effective and more fraud-proof VAT system tailored to the Single Market in the EU have been outlined in a paper published by the European Commission.

After much political and technical consultation, it has appeared that an origin based system is not achievable and the consensus is that any definitive regime must be based on the principle of destination i.e. VAT is due at the point of destination of the goods. However, there are many ways in which this can be designed and implemented for B2B supplies of goods. The document published on 30 October sets out what the Commission considers to be 5 feasible options. These are:

  • The supplier would be responsible for charging and paying the VAT , and supplies would be taxed according to where the goods are delivered
  • The supplier would be responsible for charging and paying the VAT, and supplies would be taxed according to where the customer is established
  • The customer – rather than the supplier – would be liable for the VAT, and taxation would take place where that customer is based (Reverse Charge)
  • The customer – rather than the supplier – would be liable for the VAT, and taxation would take place where the goods are delivered
  • The status quo would be maintained, with some modifications

The document also gives a brief explanation of the options. The Commission is now undertaking an in-depth assessment to determine the impact of each of the options for businesses and for Member States. On the basis of its findings, it will present the possible way forward in Spring 2015.
The document is available from: ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/taxation/vat/future_vat/index_en.htm

Concern at IRS use of Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws in the USA – same worries as HMRC’s new powers?

Mike Godfrey in Tax-News.com wrote about the actions the IRS are taking to collect money – not so different to HMRC’s approach in the UK to collect tax from delinquent taxpayers.  HMRC probably got their ideas from our US cousins.

Following a recent report in The New York Times, lawmakers have expressed concerns about the Internal Revenue Service’s use of civil asset forfeiture laws to seize the assets of small business owners.

The Civil Asset Forfeiture Act of 2000, which was aimed at preventing money laundering, drug trafficking, or other crimes, has been criticized for enabling government agencies to use greatly reduced standards of evidence to seize assets, and for the assets’ owners themselves to generally have to prove their innocence. In addition, civil forfeiture victims must either pay for a lawyer, which some cannot afford to do, or defend their property themselves. Overall, more than USD2bn was collected in 2013 from civil and criminal forfeitures.

In its article, The New York Times, using various examples, pointed out that: “the Government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without so much as an allegation that they have committed serious crimes. The Government can take the money without ever filing a criminal complaint, and the owners are left to prove they are innocent.”

One example showed how the IRS had not accused a small restaurant “of money laundering or cheating on her taxes – in fact, she has not been charged with any crime. Instead, the money was seized solely because she had deposited less than USD10,000 at a time [so-called ‘structuring’], which they viewed as an attempt to avoid triggering a required government report.”
Read more here.

Innovation in Legal Services: creating the turn-key ABS

In this article, RPC reflect on the UK legal market seven years after the “Tesco Law” big bang and highlight one very innovative project they advised on, involving the establishment of a major new member-owned ABS1 on an outsourced basis.

With the media reporting “rip-off Britain”, the Barbarians at the Gate, aka New Labour (as part of their wider modernisation agenda) decided it was time for change for cossetted professionals. The Legal Services Act 2007 blew open the padlocked doors of the profession, bringing to an end centuries of self-regulation and unnecessary red tape which limited the ownership and management of law firms to lawyers only. Why, this particular change was felt to be a priority was never clear but the Act, as a whole, was thought to be all in the best interests of consumers, providing them with better, cheaper access to “Tesco Law”.
Read the full article here.

Surviving self-assessment: 5 ways a client portal can help

From AccountancyAGE Insight: The hectic weeks leading up to the self-assessment deadline on 31 January are a stressful time for tax professionals.  Fortunately help is at hand! Technology exists to make the entire process quicker, easier and more efficient. Read this short FREE guide from CCH to find out how.

Learn how a client portal can help you to:

  • Collect data from your clients.
  • Get verifiable, online approval.
  • Share information with clients and team members.
  • Give all parties secure 24/7 access.
  • Protect client confidentiality at all times.

Download the FREE guide from here.

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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