There’s been a lot going on… are you keeping up to date?

There’s been a lot going on… are you keeping up to date?

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:

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 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 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:

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

Mike Godfrey in 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.

How you could lose all your clients to KPMG or PwC

How you could lose all your clients to KPMG or PwC

Should smaller firms be worried?

In accountingWEB, Nick Huber & Rachael Power reported last week that KPMG has set its sights on the small-business market with the launch of a cloud accounting service for SMEs. The cloud-based service, which cost the firm £40m in investment and was developed with Xero, includes accounts preparation, bookkeeping, payroll, VAT and corporate tax returns.

The partnership between Xero and KPMG was announced last March and its New Zealand branch has also recently been awarded ‘platinum partner’ status.

According to a KPMG spokesperson, Xero will be very much linked into the package, combining their already existing software with parts the Big Four firm built in-house “to bolt on and widen the offering”.

The new service puts KPMG in competition with smaller accounting firms and software suppliers such as Sage One. It costs £150 per month or more and can also include advice from KPMG staff. Simon Collins, KPMG’s UK chairman, said the firm wants to be the “clear choice” for all privately-owned businesses.

Not to be outdone by KPMG, PwC has come up with a different strategy to get small to medium-sized clients: An agreement between PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and online debt market MarketInvoice, announced last week plans to give businesses extra borrowing options.

If your firm is a law firm, don’t just sit there and say “this won’t apply to us”. It will: KPMG announced at the beginning of the month that it had become the first ‘Big Four’ professional services firm to be awarded an Alternative Business Structure (“ABS”) licence by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority to operate on a multi-disciplinary practice basis – this allows the firm to deliver an expanded range of focused integrated legal services complementary to its existing business.

A blueprint for the modern accountancy firm

From accountingWEB: At the 2020 Group annual conference earlier this month, US chairman Chris Frederiksen [pictured] spoke about how to build a modern accountancy firm. Based on 2020’s research and Frederiksen’s own experience of firms around the world, he came up with five elements common to modern, profitable firms.

“We are now in a paradigm shift, as we have never seen it before,” he said, referring to finance technology innovations such as Apple Pay. Most accountants are following the ‘Red Queen’ concept and running as fast as you can just to stay where you are at the moment.”

According to Frederiksen, modern, profitable firms typically specialise in a particular industry or product. In addition, it knows its purpose or ‘Why’ and doesn’t try to be all things to all people.  “You don’t see Starbucks selling Coke,” he said, “because that isn’t who they are or what they believe in.”

With 90% of what the profession does becoming largely commoditised by technology that lets people to do themselves, firms need to diversify and adapt to survive. Once the firm has hammered out its why, what it will focus on and what industry and area it will specialise in, it can then stop taking in “whatever rolls in the door”.

Focus draws on three things, said Frederiksen: passion that you can transfer to your clients; being darn good at what you do; and figuring out a way of working that’s very profitable.
[Comment: what Chris doesn’t say is what you have to do when heavyweights such as KPMG and PwC start to infiltrate your territory.]

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

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

Isaac Asimov Asks, “How Do People Get New Ideas?”

From MIT Technology Review, last week: Isaac Asimov was an American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books. Born in Russia, he made his home in the US and died aged 72 in 1992. Now, published for the first time, is a 1959 Essay by Isaac Asimov in MIT Technology Review at the link below. It covers the creative process, the nature of creative people, and environments that promote creativity.

Microsoft Building Third-Party Publisher Ad Network

From Search Marketing Daily, by Laurie Sullivan: Microsoft has plans to build out a third-party ad publisher network, similar to Google AdSense, placing premium high-quality ads on publisher sites supported by Bing and Bing Ads.   The brands want to augment existing desktop and mobile search traffic. David Pann, GM for the search network at Microsoft, said the company already has the technology to make it happen.
The service would support publishers that wanted an option other than Google to drive organic search traffic to their sites. Bing was never really in the business to compete for that publishing search ad volume.

Do you know these 29 Social Media Analytics Terms?

From Smart Brief: You can download this FREE guide to brush up on the key terminology for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

In addition to detailed definitions, you’ll also learn best practices and gain valuable insights from some of the leading pros in the industry.
Download now from:

The Most Ridiculous Excuses For Skipping Work

Forbes report that for the last 10 years, job listing site CareerBuilder has put out a list it calls “The Most Unbelievable Excuses for Calling in Sick.”

Last year an employee said he couldn’t come in because his false teeth flew out the window while he was driving down the highway. Another claimed that someone had glued her windows and doors shut so she couldn’t get out of her house. This year the excuses include a worker who said he felt he had to stay at a casino when he had money left after a gambling weekend. Then there was the employee who said she couldn’t come in because she had woken up in a good mood and didn’t want to ruin it.  This year’s excuses were gathered through a Harris Poll that ran from 11 August to 5 September, among 3,000 workers and 2,000 hiring managers.
Read the complete excuse list, here.

Accountants: Managing your Xero clients – Step 8: Marketing your practice

From AccountancyAGE Insight: In this eight-part series, the briefings have guided you through the benefits of using Xero, the training, learning and support we provide and how Xero helps you increase your client engagement and satisfaction – as well as improving your overall practice efficiency.

In Step 8, the FREE briefing runs through all eight steps to summarise how you can manage your Xero clients and really work on improving your client engagement and satisfaction.
Download from here.

UK: PwC and MarketInvoice to give small firms investment boost

In City A.M., Chris Papadopoullos reported that an agreement between PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) and online debt market MarketInvoice, announced today, plans to give businesses extra borrowing options. PwC will inform its clients about MarketInvoice’s financing services and the online firm will refer its clients to the PwC My Financepartner team – accountants who specialise in helping early- to mid-stage firms.

MarketInvoice provides an online platform where firms can sell their invoices to investors. The firm then owes the investor, but gains the cash, which it can use to pay immediate debts. The investor also receives interest payments.

Email is alive and kicking

183 billion emails sent per day, 4.2 billion email accounts worldwide, 6% growth rate—it’s safe to say that email is here to stay.

Asking the Right Questions: How to Evaluate Marketing Automation

From Marketo: If you’re considering a marketing automation solution, you’re probably familiar with the benefits: incredible productivity, targeted engagement, alignment with sales, and serious insight into what’s working—and insight into what isn’t.

But as you evaluate solutions for your business, you’ll need to consider the capabilities that matter most to your success. This guide uses extensive research from David Raab Associates and VentureBeat to highlight the practices satisfied marketing automation users have in common.

Download the FREE Asking the Right Questions: Evaluating Marketing Automation eBook, to find out:

  • What satisfied marketing automation users have in common
  • How various features and capabilities affect marketing productivity, campaign effectiveness, marketing/sales alignment, and reporting
  • How to amplify the value of your marketing automation

Read more, here.

The Best-Performing CEOs in the World

Who are the best-performing CEOs?  Adi Ignatius in Harvard Business Review (November 2014) says the knock on most business leaders is that they don’t take the long view—that they’re fixated on achieving short-term goals to lift their pay.  So which global CEOs actually delivered solid results over the long run? HBR’s 2014 list of top performers provides an objective answer.
You can find out who they are at:

5 Simple Steps for Creating ViralSocial Content

[24 October 2014, Simply Measured] Posted 22 October, By Kevin Shively: As social media marketers, we’re constantly reaching for that next piece of “viral” content. That next blog post, photo, infographic, Tweet, promotion, video, or offer that gets shared like wildfire across the web.

The problem is that in our quest to create the new hotness, we don’t always do our homework.
In order to make this a more tangible lesson, the author used Simply Measured’s own Twitter account as an example, analysing Q3 of 2014 as a way to identify some possible viral topics, content types, and most importantly, potential.
This is an interesting story, well worth reading:

Working for yourself: maintaining focus, building resilience

From ICAEW:  One of the seminars at September’s Setting Up in Practice event (3 September 2014), hosted by Olivia Landsberg, was Working for yourself: maintaining focus, building resilience.

This article provides the key ideas for those who weren’t able to attend.

The event explored 3 key subject areas:

  • reframing what marketing means to you;
  • scheduling time for “important but not urgent” tasks; and
  • creating your own informal advisory board.

Marketing, regulatory issues and work-life balance are common concerns for members. The context for the seminar was to regard these not as problems but as a way of thinking. A resilient mind comes from being aware of as well as challenging our assumptions and understanding that they are different from facts.
Read more here.

Twitter Introduces App Platform Fabric In Bid For More Mobile Dollars, Data

From Adage, By Mike Bergen: Twitter is beefing up its mobile presence, making a move for more ad dollars and data from handheld devices. On Wednesday, the social media company introduced Fabric, a mobile-app platform meant to lure more developers to its suite of products. The move pits Twitter against rival ad-sellers Facebook, Google and Yahoo, which all host competing products.

CEO Dick Costolo introduced Fabric as “the future of mobile software development” at Flight, Twitter’s inaugural mobile developer conference in San Francisco. “[It’s] a future that is built on a collection of fully integrated end-to-end services,” he said, speaking to a room of over one thousand developers. “It is entirely about you and your users, not us.”

At the 22 October conference, Twitter also unmasked ‘Digits,’ a tool within Fabric to authenticate mobile-app users via telephone numbers. Its first corporate partner is McDonald’s. The fast-food giant will use Digits for all of its native apps, including Surprise Alarm, its customer-engagement app.

Digits, a two-step, so-called “white-label” log-in, will roll out across 216 countries, in 28 languages. Tying login info to phone numbers, rather than email addresses, could also be more lucrative in ramping up active users globally, where Twitter is seeing its fastest growth.
Read more here.

Microsoft ditching the Nokia name on smartphones

BBC News reports that Microsoft is ditching the Nokia brand name from new devices, less than a year after acquiring the Finnish mobile firm. New Nokia Lumia smartphones will instead be known as Microsoft Lumia, the company said. Nokia’s non-mobile division, which is not owned by Microsoft, will continue to use the name.

The mobile operation was bought by Microsoft in April in a deal worth $7.2bn (£4.6bn). Since then, Microsoft has quietly shifted away from the Nokia brand.

A post on Nokia France’s Facebook page confirmed the branding shift. The renaming will roll out globally in due course, Microsoft has said. The announcement comes despite Microsoft agreeing to a 10-year deal to use the Nokia name on mobile products.

Can Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablets usurp the business notebook?

From, David Hancock writes: If you need to stay productive when you’re away from your desk, Microsoft’s latest “hybrid” tablet/notebook could be the gadget you’ve been looking for.The boom in portable devices makes it easier to stay on top of things while you’re out and about, but remaining productive while you’re on the road is always a balance between portability and usability. Apple and Android tablets hit the sweet spot for some people, but life becomes more complicated if you’re not prepared to sacrifice a physical keyboard and traditional desktop applications.

This is where Microsoft’s Surface Pro range comes to the fore, especially if you’re already using Office 365 and are wedded to the Microsoft ecosystem. With a slick detectable keyboard, the Pro can easily switch from tablet to notebook and back again.

PayPal launches loan service for SMEs

BM Magazine reports that PayPal [Boss David Marcus pictured] has introduced Working Capital, a new loan product which promises eligible merchants a tailored grant loan within minutes of request. Whilst not in the UK yet, Australia is the first market outside the United States to receive the service, we will see the new service during 2015.

PayPal customer experience and solutions director, Kareem Al-Bassam, said that Australia was chosen due to demand from SMEs for wider choice of financing options, but expected the UK to be the next territory

SMEs that want to take up the new service will complete a four-step application process; eligibility can be checked by PayPal merchants which have held an account for at least 12 months via the provider’s web site.

Marketing Profs: Smart thinking… pass it on

From Marketing Profs: Lots of goodies here.  Check out the featured FREE whitepapers listed below for the latest research and how-to marketing guidance. Also, be sure to keep your eye out for next month’s selections.

Facebook Analytics: The Complete Guide to Facebook Analytics
Learn how to use your brand’s Facebook data to fully analyze your – and your competitors’ – activity on Facebook, and inform your strategy
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Facebook Advertising: The Path to 1:1 Marketing Success
Transform segment-driven, offer-based marketing campaigns into personalized 1:1 customer journeys by building a 1:1 customer journey strategy.

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Metrics: 10 Metrics that close the gap between marketing and sales
Marketing & Sales should be like peas in a pod, but too often they’re misaligned and misunderstood. These metrics help close the gap.

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Content Marketing: 10 Ways to Improve Your Content Marketing
Increase your website & intranet ROI – enhance your content marketing & distribution strategies. Read Chasing Engagement: Part 1

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Customer Experience: [Whitepaper] Guiding the customer journey
Channel-hopping customers? Optimize their buying journey online and offline. Offer individual relevancy and boost conversion by up to 35-40%

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Customer Satisfaction: You have their NPS® score…now what?
Measuring your customers’ satisfaction is great place to start, but unfortunately too many companies stop there. Find out what you can do next.

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Free eBook: The Changing Landscape of B2B eCommerce

From Magento:  For years, eCommerce was a B2C game—a channel best suited for consumer brands and retail transactions. Several recent studies and some major shifts in buyer behaviour, however, paint a different picture. This ebook will explore the consumerisation of B2B eCommerce and the massive opportunity for B2B companies that get it right.

Audit Exemption: Increased threshold in 2015

FREE from AccountancyAGE Insight: In line with the EU Accounting Directive it is likely that the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills will propose an increase in the audit exemption thresholds during 2015. Almost 100 audit professionals took part in the Wolters Kluwer survey to assess the likely impact of this change.  You can read an analysis and commentary of the results in this FREE paper.

Passed by the European Parliament in June 2013, the Directive included increases in the maximum thresholds that member countries can adopt for the definition of small companies and audit exemption.

What impact will this have on audit professionals in the UK? Will fee income from audit work decline? What can be done to make up the shortfall? How do practices plan on communicating with their clients?
Read this FREE report to find out.

UK-Tax: Draft clauses to be published on 10 December 2014

From ICAEW Tax Faculty: Draft clauses to be included in the Finance Bill 2015 will be published on 10 December 2014. These will be accompanied by responses to the earlier policy consultations, explanatory notes, tax information and impact notes and other relevant documents.

The consultation on the draft legislation will be open until 4 February 2015.

Accountancy Age Insight

From AccountancyAGE Insight: The BI Survey 14 examines BI product selection and usage among users in areas including business benefits, costs, proportion of employees using the product, competitiveness, recommendation, innovation, performance, customer satisfaction and agility.

The BI Survey 14 features:

  • A comparison between different types of BI tools based on how customers say they use the products.
  • KPI dashboards packed with concise information, which can be absorbed at a glance.
  • Who the leading reporting vendors are in terms of business benefits, project success, price-to-value perception, big data analytics and much more…

View the FREE Briefing here.

Is the UK recovery just an illusion? And much more…

Is the UK recovery just an illusion? And much more…

Is the UK Recovery an Illusion?

You’ll know that I’ve previously expressed some doubts as to whether or not the UK has really recovered quite as well as the politicians say. In an article entitled The UK Recovery is an Illusion, Jeff Salway wrote in New Model Adviser to set out the views of renowned investor Bruce Stout, manager of the Murray International Investment Trust. He said that: “Mr Stout emphasises capital preservation arguing that quantitative easing has caused the UK to become caught in a liquidity trap”. For me, the telling words in Jeff Salway’s article come from Bruce Stout who says: ‘There is no recovery. We’ve thrown the kitchen sink at everything over the last five years and extended debt to unprecedented levels.’ 

Let’s hope he is wrong!

It’s waiting for your name

A new publication (Workplace Pensions and Automatic Enrolment) is now part of the Bizezia online business library – click here for details of the digital library, running to nearly 700 publications.

Your clients will thank you for providing to them this publication – contact us for details of a special offer this week. Don’t forget that this and all the other Bizezia publications in the digital library are branded with your firm’s details prominently shown.

Sameness is out: you have to be different to succeed.

You’ve probably got ideas of your own about companies that differentiate themselves from their competitors by providing what is generally called legendary service. 

Read my blog post from last week on how Nescafe and The Willoughby Book Club have taken everyday products and created a profitable business by differentiating what they sell.

What can be learned from these companies? Can it be applied to your firm? Of course it can!

Accountants: Did you remember that the FRC updated the UK Corporate Governance Code last month?

On 17 September 2014, The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) issued an updated version of the UK Corporate Governance Code (the Code) – you can read it here. This significantly enhances the quality of information investors receive about the long-term health and strategy of listed companies, and raises the bar for risk management.

The FRC has confirmed proposals for boards to include a ‘viability statement’ in the strategic report to investors. This will provide an improved and broader assessment of long-term solvency and liquidity. It is expected that this statement will look forward significantly longer than 12 months. The Code has also been changed in relation to remuneration. Boards of listed companies will now need to ensure that executive remuneration is designed to promote the long-term success of the company and demonstrate how this is being achieved more clearly to shareholders.

The revised Code will apply to accounting periods beginning on or after 1 October 2014.

Estonia – a new opportunity?

Last week New Scientist (and others) reported on the Baltic minnow’s bold experiment with digital residency. It could help us understand what comes after the nation state

Imagine this: A client comes in and asks what you know about forming a company in Estonia. What do you say?

Fancy becoming an Estonian? There are plenty of reasons why you would. The tiny Baltic country is a technology powerhouse, with digital infrastructure as good as anywhere, online elections and compulsory coding classes. Now some of the benefits its 1.3 million citizens enjoy are open to all: Estonia will let anyone become an e-resident – E-residency isn’t citizenship – you won’t be able to vote, or move there unless you are already entitled to. But it will allow you to access Estonia’s excellent online services, such as banking and the incorporation of companies. These currently require a physical address, but will soon be as easy as opening an email account.
Read about it here.

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

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

Samsung develops super-fast Wi-Fi that can download HD movie in under 3 seconds

From The Independent, by James Vincent: South Korean electronics giant Samsung says it has create a new Wi-Fi standard that is five times faster than current technology. They say its new 60 GHz Wi-Fi would allow users to transfer a 1Gb movie between devices in less than three seconds and let users stream uncompressed HD videos in real time.

Current Wi-Fi technology operates within the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands and can reach transfer speeds greater than 1Gb per second. By contrast, Samsung’s new 60 GHz Wi-Fi can transfer data as fast as 4.3 Gbps.

As ever with this sort of cutting edge technology it’s unclear exactly when these speeds might be available to consumers, but reports suggest it could be integrated into products “as early as next year” (although these are likely to be low-production prototype models).
Read more here.

Apple releases updated iPad and iPad mini

From City A.M: Apple CEO Tim Cook has introduced the new iPad Air 2, along with an iPad mini 3. The updated, slimmer iPad Air is 6.1 millimetres thick and weighs less than one pound. It is priced at $499 to $829 in the USA. Both new tablets feature a fingerprint sensor.

Discover 5 Ways to Improve Your B2B e-Commerce Buying Experience

For years, e-commerce was a B2C game — a channel best suited for consumer brands and retail transactions. Several recent studies and some major shifts in buyer behavior, however, paint a different picture.

Get ready to explore the consumerisation of B2B e-commerce and discover the massive opportunity for B2B companies that get it right.

View this FREE eBook to learn:

  • Major trends shaping the future of B2B e-Commerce
  • Where most B2B e-Commerce efforts fall short
  • 5 ways to improve the B2B e-Commerce buying experience
  • Understand if your platform is equipped for the future of B2B e-Commerce

Download the FREE Ebook from here.

Stupid Geek Tricks: How to Make Your Computer Talk to You

From Intelligent machines capable of speech are often the stuff of futuristic sci-fi movies, but you can turn any computer into a chatty Cathy.

Even though we aren’t yet at the stage with computers where they can interact with us like people, there are a few tools and simple scripts we can write to make any computer that is running Windows speak to us. This article explains how to do it.
Read the whole article:

Next Generation Content Collaboration

From In today’s world we’re assaulted by a never-ending stream of fragmented data.
Delivered via myriad channels and managed on cumbersome legacy file storage systems or non-secure consumer tools, it hinders our ability to work with others or make important decisions.

Until now. Next Generation Content Collaboration: A Brave New Era explores the top 5 challenges faced by the modern enterprise and how those challenges can be overcome.
Download this FREE whitepaper here 

Interesting news: USA: Bionic eye allows blind man to ‘see’ after 33 years

From Times Of India who report on a revolutionary new bionic eye implanted into a 66-year-old blind man in the US has allowed him to ‘see’ for the first time in 33 years.

Larry Hester was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa when he was in his early 30s. At the time, the degenerative disease that would rob his sight was poorly understood, and there were no known treatments, researchers said.

On October 1, 2014 Hester became only the seventh person in the US to have a so-called bionic eye — an Argus II Retinal Prosthesis Device — activated as a visual aid to send light signals to his brain. The device incorporates technology initially developed by researchers at the Duke Eye Centre; its sophisticated features were further enhanced and marketed by a company called Second Sight Medical Products.

Great for clients: FREE 17-page guide to the latest UK pension changes

Brought to my attention by the Telegraph Business Club: George Osborne’s budget bombshell earlier this year shocked the pension industry, handing more control over to pension savers and removing the need to buy an annuity. In a matter of moments everything had changed but what does this mean for people expecting to draw from their pensions soon?

This FREE guide from Tideway explains:

  • What the changes are;
  • What interim measures are in place ahead of the changes coming into effect from 6 April 2015; and
  • The types of withdrawal strategies people at, or in, retirement will be able to take advantage of.

Download your Free copy of the pensions guide entitled ‘Changes to pensions at retirement following the 2014 budget’ from

There is no form to fill in and no questions asked. Simply visit the above link to start the download. To contact Tideway, the specialist pension advisers and producers of this 17-page guide please call 0203 178 5982.

Q and A: 30-second guide to pension changes

From CITY A.M.: This article provides a 30-second guide to pension changes: The Taxation of Pensions Bill was published yesterday by the government setting out formally the pension changes first unveiled in March.

Q Back in March? What was new yesterday then?
A Some of the bigger rules were only mooted in a draft bill published earlier this year, but yesterday the government confirmed they would be included in the new laws.

Q What are these “bigger rules” that you mention?
A Savers will be now able to access all their defined contribution cash, either in one go, in smaller amounts over time (such as a bank account) or use it to buy a fund product such as an annuity or drawdown fund.

Q So can I use my pension pot like a bank account then?
A Sort of – savers can now take out as much cash from their pension as they want, and as frequently as they want.

Q Great. What’s the catch? I hear tax is a big factor in this change.
A Currently, you can take a tax free lump sum of 25 per cent with the other 75 per cent incurring tax. If you have £40,000 you get £10,000 tax free and pay tax on £30,000.

Q That’s one option but what happens if I take my £40,000 in instalments?
A You will pay income tax on 75 per cent of each withdrawal. If you take £5,000 a year for eight years, you’ll get a lump sum of £1,250 tax free and pay income tax on the other £3,750 a year That’s below the £10,000 allowance so you may end up paying no tax.

Where’s your head? In the sand or in the Cloud? The Cloud and the New Accounting Firm

From accountingTODAY, Pioneers and early adopters in the cloud report that the benefits are tremendous – but you need to be willing to change your firm to reap them.
This FREE report looks at:·

  • What firms will need to do to adapt
  • The pitfalls they’ll want to avoid
  • Strategies for staying secure online

Details here.

An Opportunity to Meet Business Owners Who Make More Happen Every Day

From All entrepreneurs have one thing in common: The drive to make more happen every day. That’s what it takes to turn something you love into a sustainable business. “Make More Happen Every Day,” a collaboration between Staples and Inc., brings you the unique stories of business owners who work to constantly produce better products and services – and experience more personal and professional success. Their lessons, ideas, and experiences can help inspire you to bring more to your business every day.

Visit the “Make More Happen Every Day” site to learn more about what owners like David, Randy, Alan, and Zeynep are doing to grow their businesses every day.

Accountants: Do you want to offer probate services?

From ICAEW: On 15 July, the House of Commons approved ICAEW’s role as approved regulator, which came into force as law on 17 July; the statutory instrument approving ICAEW’s role as a licensing authority was laid on 22 July and became law on 14 August.

ICAEW is now accepting applications from firms for accreditation to offer probate services.

Consumers looking for probate services are able to use appropriately qualified ICAEW Chartered Accountants as an alternative to traditional providers.
Read more here.

A Quick Guide to Advanced Twitter Analyses

From Simply Measured: Is this you: You understand the importance of building a results-driven Twitter strategy and you’ve got a handle on basic analyses.

Now it’s time to step up your game by learning a few more advanced analysis techniques that will help boost your brand’s performance on Twitter. Download this FREE Quick Guide to Advanced Twitter Analyses to:·

  • Learn how to turn Tweets into web traffic to your site·
  • Improve your brand’s customer service on Twitter·
  • Measure Twitter campaign performance from start to finish

Click the link below to download the full guide: launches Puls: A smartwatch that doesn’t need a smartphone

From Business Spectator in Australia: Nathan Olivarez-Giles writes to say that, the award-winning musician and tech entrepreneur, took the stage at Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference last week in San Francisco to launch Puls, a smartwatch that he hopes will be successful enough to bring him some tech-industry credibility.

The device is about two inches wide, and looks more like a cuff than a watch. It doesn’t depend on a cellphone like other smartwatches—it connects to a cellular network by itself to make calls, send text messages, check in on social networks, find location on a map, and of course, play music.

It has an integrated touch screen to operate the forked version of Android that powers it, and like Android Wear and the Apple Watch, it has a voice-activated digital assistant, too, named Aneeda instead of Siri.
Read about it here.

Pick the perfect pension to avoid auto-enrolment anguish

From New Model Adviser, Henry Tapper writes: The message needs to get through to accountants, employers and advisers: pay up for pensions, not just payroll, to avoid a future fiascoMillions of employees are being led blindly into potentially dysfunctional pension schemes, due to a toxic combination of employers’ unwillingness to fund advice and advisers’ belief that auto-enrolment is all about payroll and not about pension scheme selection.

The routes to the auto-enrolment market are changing. While it is possible for advisers to reach employers under their own steam, the involvement of accountants is increasing.

A number of accountancy firms are running models that use advisers. Many have IFAs embedded in their practices, or have formed strategic partnerships with IFAs. There are examples where this set-up works well, with the IFA used specifically for their expertise in pension selection. However, some accountancy practices are going it alone, using existing systems and payroll know-how to take business away from advisers, while possessing little idea of what a good pension actually looks like.Read what Henry Tapper has to say, here.

EC approves the creation of British Business Bank

The European Commission has concluded that UK plans for setting up the British Business Bank (BBB), an integrated entity for managing SME access to finance programmes in the UK, are in line with EU state aid rules. In particular, the Commission considered that the BBB concept addresses market failures that hamper SME access to finance in an appropriate and proportionate way, without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market.

The BBB will have three subsidiaries, the Mandated Arm, Service Arm and Commercial Arm – each will provide distinct services. It is also planned that certain already existing programmes supporting SMEs will be integrated within the respective arms of the BBB. The BBB will also develop and manage new SME access to finance programmes. The UK considers that this will ensure a more effective deployment of programmes to support SMEs in their growth and thereby contribute to economic development and job creation.

From their website: “The “British Business Bank” currently exists as a programme within the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS). Once EU State aid approval has been granted, the British Business Bank will run as an arms-length institution. BIS will hand responsibility for state-funded business finance schemes over to the British Business Bank.”
Visit the British Business Bank’s website at:

Windows 10: the top 10 most requested features

From The Verge, Tom Warren reports that Microsoft is currently soliciting feedback for Windows 10 as part of a Technical Preview program to improve the features of the company’s next version of Windows.

While testers are voting on a variety of changes that Paul Thurrott has documented well, Microsoft has also opened its own Windows feature suggestion page at the Uservoice feedback site.

Microsoft has previously used Uservoice for Windows Phone, and strong Uservoice support for the Cortana name actually swayed the company to keep the name following several leaks. So it’s clear the company looks at Uservoice closely. This article covers the top 10 requests for Windows 10 features.

Apple SIM can be the next big revolution

From Times of India, Ravi Sharma, writes that Apple devoted a lot of time during its October 16 presentation to iPads, iMac, OS X Yosemite and even Safari browser, but it didn’t mention — even once — one of the features that may have significant repercussions in the global telecom industry.

On its website, the company says that it has introduced a new sim card, called Apple SIM, with iPad Air 2. “The Apple SIM gives you the flexibility to choose from a variety of short-term plans from select carriers in the US and UK right on your iPad,” the company says on its website.

Basically, it means that customers in the US and UK, which have carrier subsidies, will be able to change their telecom operator by simply tapping the screen a few times. For example, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile in the US will provide a list of plans on the screen and buyers would be able to simply select the plan on the screen. This is revolutionary for these markets, since most consumers don’t switch carriers as the change is a lengthy process.

Marketing Round up for Professionals October wk 2

Marketing Round up for Professionals October wk 2

Before you get delve into the gems in this article, see if you can find the time to view the latest product from the One Smart Team at Bizezia: Your Daily News. Think about how you can use it as part of your firm’s objective to keep in touch with clients and prospects. It’s a great marketing tool and all for less than the cost of a Big Mac each morning! Click the Icon to discover more…

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.

Last week, I gave examples from the retail sector, citing Aldi and Lidl as successful cost cutters, Waitrose as successful differentiators and finally Tesco as (at present) sadly in category 3. Interestingly, Warren Buffett, the famed Sage of Omaha and one of the world’s richest men, has admitted his biggest investment ever outside the US was a huge mistake. He said he made a wrong decision to buy into Tesco. I happen to think he’s wrong, but time will tell. Meanwhile Morrisons are putting their hopes for a recovery into a new Loyalty Card System.

You’ve probably got ideas of your own about companies that differentiate themselves from their competitors by providing what is generally called legendary service.
Take a look at these examples.

Ron Kaufman, a regular contributor to Better Business Focus, is a hugely successful author and presenter on the importance of service excellence.  He asks: When Does Customer Service Excellence Become ‘Legendary? He says that many organisations use the phrase “Legendary Service” to describe and promote their service. But how many have really earned the right to claim customer service excellence? If you give good service, that’s not legendary. If you go out of your way for someone, that’s not legendary either. But if you provide service unsurpassed in your field – that can be legendary service. Customer service excellence sets a company apart from its competitors. Read his excellent article 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:

How to get paid on time

british notesAccountancyAGE reports that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has recruited a team of psychologists to help them to get tardy taxpayers to pay their taxes. The wording of thousands of letters from HMRC to delinquent taxpayers has been “subtly altered” with the aid of these psychologists to inspire guilt. The chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has revealed all at the Liberal Democrats’ party conference. Apparently, HMRC has “pinpointed the exact words and concepts” which trigger people to pay what they owe.

Speaking at the Liberal Democrat party conference, Mr Alexander said: “We are using psychologists and behavioural economists in HMRC to get the money quickly. Tax dodgers beware – we know where you live, we know how much you owe, and now we know how you think. Your behaviour is unacceptable, and we are coming for our money.”
There’s the full story on this in AccountancyAGE here, and also in the Telegraph, here.

Maybe accountants and lawyers could learn something from this initiative – after all, most firms complain that their cashflow problems arise mainly from clients not paying their fee notes on time. Would you use this approach to get paid on time? Have you pinpointed the exact words you must use if you want your clients to pay what they owe?

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

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


UK: Mid-tier Accountants on the rise?

ICAEW Economia suggest that mid-size law firms are flourishing compared with their larger rivals. Could the same trend be taking place in the accountancy profession, asks Nick Martindale. The economic downturn affected virtually every business in some way, and professional services firms were no exception. For some, though, it was a chance to win more work, capitalising on a need for potential clients to review costs, which forced them to look at alternative providers in a different way. Even as the economy recovers, controlling costs remains a priority, accompanied perhaps by a growing recognition that big isn’t necessarily best.

A study by the professional practices group at MHA – a UK-wide association consisting of nine independent accountancy firms – looked at how the legal sector is shaping up in the post-downturn age. The study found that, in 2013, firms with 10 partners or fewer experienced little or no growth in average fee income compared with the previous year, while those with 25 partners or more recorded average growth of just under 3%. The most successful group was those firms with between 11 and 25 partners, which saw growth in excess of 6% on average.

There are, of course, differences between the legal and accountancy sectors, both in the relative size of firms and the degree to which an established “mid-tier” can be identified. Yet, against the backdrop of the economic landscape facing clients, the sectors are suitably similar to pose the question of just how mid-tier accountancy firms are faring in comparison with their larger competitors.
Read more about this and how it could affect your firm at:

FREE eBook on Stress Management

Here’s a bargain: Stress Management For Dummies, 2nd Edition – eBook (Usually $14.99) is now available FREE for a limited time! Learn management tools so you can stop letting stress have a negative impact on your life. It’s impossible to get through life without encountering stress. And unfortunately, most of us learn the incorrect ways to cope with it.

Thankfully, Stress Management For Dummies gives you trusted guidance on teaching your body and mind to properly cope with stress while keeping your sanity intact. Whether it’s love, work, family, or something else that has you in the red zone, this updated edition of Stress Management For Dummies will help you identify the stress triggers in your life and cut them down to size — all without losing your cool.

  • Shows you how to use stress in a positive, motivational way instead of letting it negatively affect your life
  • Teaches you to retrain your body and mind to react positively to stress
  • Helps you overcome common stresses faced in modern life

If you want to manage stress and get back to living a normal life, Stress Management For Dummies has you covered.
Offered Free by Wiley from:

Apple to hold iPad launch event on October 16

Get your check book out: Times of India say that Apple plans to hold a “special event” on October 16, where it is expected to launch its new iPads, technology website Re/Code said, citing sources.

On the heels of a major launch of large-screen iPhones, Apple has scheduled an October 16 event to update its iPad line, technology news website Re/code reported.

The event also will include a look at next-generation software for powering Macintosh computers, Re/code said, citing unnamed sources. The gathering is to take place in an auditorium at Apple’s headquarters in the California city of Cupertino, according to the report.

Free E-Book: Evaluating and Implementing Business Intelligence

Available from Matillion is a FREE guide: All you need to know to select and deploy a Business Intelligence and Self-Service Reporting solution successfully.

Getting at the vital information you need can be painful. Business Intelligence (BI) and Self-Serve Reporting solutions can help. This E-Book explains why and how to be successful selecting and implementing BI:

  • Evaluate the business case
  • Understand the costs and effort involved
  • Select the right technologies and tools to be successful
  • Address data quality, integration and security

This FREE Complete Guide will teach you all you need to know to select and deploy a Business Intelligence and self-serve reporting solution, helping you deliver the smarter, clearer picture you need for your company.
Download from:

What’s sinking your cash flow?

This should appeal to all accountants and lawyers – in fact for all their clients too.

Watch this FREE short entertaining video and learn 4 ways your firm could be leaking cash – and what you can do about it. Discover a smart solution that can help you stop the leaks, generate higher profits and bring in more cash. This initiative has been sponsored by Deltek.
View this video now by registering at:

Optimize Your Website for Lead Generation

From Marketo: when it comes to converting leads and making lasting impressions, your website is where the magic happens. Learn how you can use forms, calls-to-action, usability and SEO to upgrade your website lead generation efforts!

Download this FREE ebook from here to find out how to:

  • Enhance your forms on your site to convert leads
  • Decrease “bounce rates” with optimized website navigation
  • Create authentic content, intelligent keywords, HTML, and links to improve your SEO

Facebook Further Reveals Plans for Internet-Connected Drones reported that Yael Maguire, engineering director at Facebook Connectivity Lab, doesn’t like to use the word “drones” when it comes to “beaming” Internet to the developing world. He prefers “planes.”  But whatever you want to call them, Facebook and are looking to the skies in order to get the last 15% of the world’s population, who are currently unconnected, online. At the 2014 Social Good Summit last week, Maguire gave more details on the Connectivity Lab’s plans, first revealed in March, in a conversation with Mashable CEO Pete Cashmore.

“In order for us to fly these planes — unmanned planes that have to fly for months, or perhaps years at a time — we actually have to fly above the weather, above all airspace,” Maguire said. “That’s between 60,000 and 90,000 feet. Routinely, planes don’t fly there, and certainly not drones.”

The Path to 1:1 Customer Journey Success

A warning from they say that what they’re offering isn’t your average industry whitepaper. It’s an at-a-glance roadmap to hang by your desk, filled with expert tips on how to transform segment-driven, offer-based digital marketing campaigns into personalized 1:1 customer journeys. Chances are, your lifecycle marketing campaigns provide a great framework for building a 1:1 customer journey strategy.

Take a closer look at how to manage customer journeys by:

  • Converting potential customers into subscribers to increase the likelihood that they’ll become purchasers.
  • Helping new subscribers feel like they’re family. Give them the inside scoop on everything your brand has to offer.
  • Keeping your subscribers happy by providing the content they want, exactly when they want it.
  • Building long-lasting relationships between your brand and your subscribers.

Download now to see how far you can go with the world’s most powerful 1:1 digital marketing platform.

The Future of B2B Marketing: Predictions From 31 Pros

From Marketing Profs an interesting post by Ann Handley: Some marketers seem to have an uncanny ability to predict the future. That includes the speakers at next month’s MarketingProfs’ B2B Marketing Forum in Boston, the theme of which is “Marketing for What Comes Next.”

Thirty-one of the B2B Marketing Forum speakers sat down with #mpb2b speaker Lee Odden to share where they think marketing is heading. Read more to see a list of the B2B marketing futurists, here.

The Volume of Twitter Mentions by Country, Language, and Time

Also from Marketing Profs an interesting post by Ayaz Nanji: Users in the United States are now responsible for less than half (41.5%) of all Twitter mentions, according to a recent report from Mention.

The report was based on an analysis of 70,000,000 Twitter mentions originating in 234 countries. A “mention” was defined as a reference made—i.e., the use of a Mention-tracked keyword—by a Twitter account about a specific entity or person using a related hashtag, handle, or keyword/phrase.

Though its share has dropped over time, the United States is still responsible for far more mentions than any other country, the analysis found. Users in the United Kingdom account for the second-most number of mentions on Twitter (9.7%), followed by France (5.4%). You can read more, here.

SmartTools: Social Media Marketing

OK, you’ve decided to get serious about social media. But creating a smart social media marketing program that reaches customers—your customers—is more challenging than simply collecting followers. You need to set internal expectations, put policies into place, inspire people to take action, and measure your program for success. In short, you need a plan.

That’s why MarketingProfs created SmartTools: Social Media Marketing. They’ve pulled together the critical steps to planning, executing, measuring, and optimizing social media programs that meet your business objectives. Plus, using their interactive SmartTools system you can plan, save, and print in a snap. You can read more, here.

#SocialSkim: Social Ad Spend Evolves, Hyperlapse for Marketing, More!

On Marketing Profs written by Angela Natividad who asks: Do you want to pay to play? Find out how ad spend in social media is evolving. You’ll also learn eight ways to use Hyperlapse for marketing, what a brand enthusiast actually looks like (and where her value lies), and how to run searches through Twitter in a way that brings better results, fast. Skim to boost your social smarts!
You can read more, here.

Localisation Should Be a Forethought: Five Tips for Success

On Marketing Profs written by Darren Megarry and Evelyn Toro who say: Some 60% of global marketers have no strategy for multilingual content marketing, according to a recent survey by Cloudwords. That’s a dangerous oversight, because not thinking about translation until after the content is produced tends to complicate the process and increase costs. And it increases the chance of missing out on opportunities in emerging markets.

Localisation is important: the economic potential of non-English-speaking markets, both online and offline, is staggering:

  • By 2025, the number of global consumers in emerging economies will reach 4.2 billion, and annual consumption in emerging global markets will increase to $30 trillion. (McKinsey & Company)
  • 56.2% of consumers say information in their own language is more important than price, and 60% of consumers from non-English-speaking countries rarely or never buy from English-only websites. (Common Sense Advisory)
  • Fortune 500 companies that translated information to keep up with or to gain an edge over their competitors were 2.04 times more likely to have an increase in profits. (Common Sense Advisory)

Read more:

Cloud tools & services drive rapid growth for SMBs

Google tells us that SMBs (if you are in North America) or SMEs (in the UK) that use cloud services grow 26% faster and are 21% more profitable according to a new report.

In today’s marketplace, expanding and adapting more quickly than the competition is no easy task. So how do fast-growing companies manage to come out ahead?

In partnership with Deloitte, Google surveyed small and medium businesses across Europe and the United States, including members of the Fast 50. They found that 85% of these companies believe that cloud technology is helping them grow faster.
Could it help you too? Find out here to access the FREE download.

Redefining Video Marketing

ExactTarget was looking for a new way to engage website visitors and increase conversion rates – setting themselves apart from their competition. Simply by implementing a dynamic, video-rich marketing strategy, ExactTarget solved this challenge.

Check out their exciting results in this new report from Nucleus Research.

With a video-rich marketing strategy ExactTarget was able to:

  • Double user time on site
  • Improve website visitor engagement with brands and products
  • Increase product demonstration frequency — 500 requests were attributed to their video portal
  • Reduce page bounce rates by 12% in their video portal
  • Improve brand management with the ability to quickly publish video

To access this FREE report, click here.

Bring Passion to Your Presentation

Spotted on You know that a static, boring presentation can cost you a prospect’s attention — and cost your company the sale — but you shine in your business, not in show business. The key to delivering a powerhouse presentation isn’t showmanship. It’s authenticity. It’s the honest expression of the passion that brought your company to centre stage in the first place. This free e-guide, All Systems Grow: Mastering Presentation, can help you build compelling presentations that truly sell.
Download the guide now from here.

6 Keys to Compelling Blog Titles

Also on The art of writing captivating titles is vital for business blog. Like a first impression, your blog title is your audience’s first interaction with your post. Is it more important to be catchy or informative in your titles? It depends on the audience you are chasing. If you are looking for the next viral hit, use catchy phrases and link-baiting language to snag your audience. If you are looking for a deeply engaged audience, use more communicative language that reflects your topic authentically. Both approaches have their advantages. It’s up to you, the writer, to choose your tactic.
Lots of good ideas here.

7 Ways to Handle Negative Feedback on Social Media

Simply Measured say that social media is not for the faint-hearted; it’s where people go to be heard and often where they go to complain. People can be ruthless and hard as you might try, you won’t keep everyone happy. This guide will help you keep your social media cool and handle negative feedback in the best way possible.

Download this FREE guide to learn how to handle negative feedback, including:

  • How to build a process for handling negative feedback
  • Ways to identify different types of negative feedback
  • Tips for choosing the right response in the moment

…and much more.
Download the full guide:

What is FireChat and why is everyone talking about it?

Posted on, Robyn Vinter writes about a new messaging app has some interesting features…

Ever been hilariously bantering with a group of friends on Whatsapp only to have the signal cut out as you think of an absolute zinger, seriously destroying your comic timing? Or been unable to pick up your Snapchats on the Tube when you’re at your most bored? It’s really annoying. Sometimes you really want to communicate with people, despite having no internet connection or phone coverage. Well, as always, there’s an app for that.

FireChat allows you to communicate while “off the grid” as it sends messages via Bluetooth and mobile Wi-Fi, without needing a router or network. It means you don’t need an internet connection or phone signal. It has a range of 70 metres, but can piggyback on other phones to reach much further.
Read more here

“iPad For Dummies, Portable Edition – eBook (usually $6.99) FREE for a limited time!”

On Your e-mail, photos, music, books, and games are just a touch away with iPad. Use this FREE portable guide for getting started.

Part iPod touch, part MacBook, part e-Reader, the iPad combines the best of your favorite gadgets into one ultra-portable touch device. From sending e-mail and surfing the web to taking pictures, watching and recording videos, playing games, downloading apps, and so much more, the fun begins right here with this friendly For Dummies guide.

  • Magic touch — navigate the multitouch screen, use the onscreen keyboard, and e-mail and surf the web with just the touch of a finger
  • Picture perfect — turn your iPad into a digital picture frame, add cool effects to your photos, and make FaceTime video calls
  • Get rhythm — organize your music collection, listen to your favorite tunes, and create cool custom playlists
  • All those apps — download the latest apps, keep them up to date, and indulge your interests with games, e-books, and more
Marketing Round up for Professionals October wk 1

Marketing Round up for Professionals October wk 1

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:


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 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:

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:

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:

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.

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.

Marketing Round up for Professionals September wk 4

Marketing Round up for Professionals September wk 4

“A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”
Steve Jobs

Think about: Are your experiences diverse? Are you putting what you know to good advantage?

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

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.

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

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

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


A smartphone, contact-free for only £65 – Android One smartphones released in India by three companies

From Leo Kelion, Technology desk editor, BBC News: The first Android One-branded budget-priced “high quality” smartphones have been released in India. The handsets provide a minimum set of features determined by Google, which has sourced several of the components to help cut manufacturing costs. The company has also teamed up with a local network to make it cheaper to download Android updates and new apps. Experts suggest the move should help address criticism of earlier entry-price smartphones.

Sundar Pichai, who oversees Android, said the Android One scheme had delivered economies of scale that meant the first batch of phones could be offered for as low as 6,399 rupees ($105; £65) if bought contract-free.
Read more:

Beyond NPS: Identifying Advocates And Inviting Them To Take Action

From eMarketing Profs: Measuring your customers’ happiness with NPS surveys is great place to start, but unfortunately too many companies stop there. It’s time to take an ACTIVE role in inviting your company’s promoters to help you increase leads, generate more revenue, and reduce churn through advocate marketing.

Beyond NPS: Identifying Advocates And Inviting Them To Take Action
This new FREE eBook by Influitive and Waypoint Group features best practices for identifying and inviting your advocates to take action. It also contains insights and best practices from 10+ B2B marketing practitioners based on their experiences launching highly successful advocacy programs, including marketers from Ceridian, Okta, Mitel and more.

What are you waiting for?
Influitive helps companies like yours generate impressive customer engagement results with powerful advocate marketing software.
Download from:

Best Practices for Visual Marketing

From TripleLift: They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but every image has its own value. In advertising, choosing the right image can make the difference between success and failure. TripleLift’s data team reviewed over 100 campaigns to help you understand the best types of images that drive results. Their metrics (FREE) will help you execute a picture perfect campaign.
Download now:

How technology can help with VAT reclaim and expenses…

From Concur, via AccountingWEB, a very helpful FREE e-book provides insight into how using technology can help to keep the taxman happy. Discover the benefits of an expenses policy, what to check to ensure you are HMRC compliant and what VAT can be reclaimed on expenses.

Download the e-book to learn more about:

  • How to keep the tax man happy,
  • Nonsensical VAT rules,
  • Reclaiming VAT on fuel,
  • Reclaiming international VAT, and
  • How technology can help with VAT reclaim.

For more information or if you need any assistance, please visit, read their blog or call them on 01753 501444.
Download from:

Tolley – FREE Capital Gains White Paper

From AccountancyAGE – In certain circumstances shareholders may wish to pay dividends other than in proportion to their shareholdings. This FREE guidance note from Tolley® Guidance covers this topic in more detail and includes relevant cases.
Download this FREE White Paper from:

It’s Time for Cross-Functional Harmony

From eMarketing Profs – There’s a good reason why many B2B organizations get sales enablement wrong. And no, it’s not just about sales. It’s because every customer-facing group isn’t working together toward a common goal.

Simply put, sales enablement is the delivery of the right information in the right format, to the right person at the right time. But for it to work, the chasm between sales and marketing needs to disappear.

Download 3 Phases of Value Driving Sales Enablement for a FREE detailed framework on how to structure and execute a true cross-functional team focused on driving growth and profit. This ebook explores the roles that content marketing, sales intelligence, mobile technologies, and customer communities play in sales enablement. You’ll learn how to:

  • Empower marketing to facilitate the process of discovery
  • Equip sales with real-time intelligence
  • Build customer engagement through social communities and portals

Read more at:$/download

Did you know that women are starting 1,288 new businesses per day? And that’s is the USA alone

From Amex, via Smart Brief – According to The 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, commissioned by American Express OPEN, the number of women-owned businesses has increased at 1.5 times the national average.  This new FREE report, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, includes up-to-date insights on the growth of women-owned businesses and pinpoints how policy and programmatic support can help even more of these companies reach their full potential.

In this report you will find:

  • A summary of the state of women-owned business today
A detailed look at national, state, metropolitan, and industry trends.
  • An analysis of the tremendous growth seen among firms owned by women of colour.
  • A look at daily business creation rates, comparing rates before and after the recent recession.

Learn more, read the full report:

How to Find Free Wi-Fi Hotspots When Travelling

From How to Geek – Free, public Wi-Fi access points are popping up in more and more places around the world. They’re extra useful when travelling, as you won’t have your home Wi-Fi network and may not want to pay for international mobile data.

These tips will help you find Wi-Fi hotspots on the go, whether you’re travelling to a foreign country or just to the other side of your home city.

Two Restaurant Chains That (Almost) Always Have Free Wi-Fi
If you want free Wi-Fi, keep an eye out for a Starbucks or a McDonald’s restaurant. These two chains have a huge number of locations all over the world, and they both consistently provide free Wi-Fi. Whatever you think of their coffee and food, their free Wi-Fi is good — and you generally don’t even have to buy anything, as you can just log right in. Of course, it’s probably polite to make a purchase if you’re going to be taking up a seat and using their Wi-Fi for a while.

These are far from the only restaurants with free Wi-Fi, but a Starbucks or McDonald’s is easy to spot from a distance and will probably have free Wi-Fi when you get there.
Read more at:

Tech Stuff: PCC approves private company GAAP exception for certain acquired intangibles

From Journal of Accountancy, in the USA, the Private Company Council (PCC) voted on 16 September to approve a GAAP alternative that will allow private companies to elect not to separately recognize and measure certain intangible assets acquired in a business combination.

Private companies that elect the alternative would not recognise:

  • Noncompetition agreements.
  • Customer-related intangible assets that are not capable of being sold or licensed independently from the other assets of a business.

It is anticipated that customer-related intangible assets often would not meet one of the criteria for recognition. Customer-related assets that may meet one of the criteria for recognition would include mortgage servicing rights, commodity supply contracts, and core deposits. If FASB endorses the alternative, it can be written into GAAP. FASB’s endorsement is required for all PCC-originated GAAP alternatives. FASB will discuss the topic in the coming weeks.
Companies that elect the alternative would be required to separately disclose qualitatively any intangible assets that did not meet separate recognition under this alternative.

The alternative would be applied prospectively for all business combinations entered into after the effective date, and there would be no option to apply it retrospectively.

A private company that elects the alternative would continue recognizing and measuring under existing GAAP all intangible assets that exist at the beginning of the period of adoption. That means that noncompetition agreements and customer-related intangibles that were recognized prior to the adoption of the alternative would continue to be amortized over the expected life that was set previously. Private companies that elect to adopt the alternative also would be required to adopt Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2014-02, Intangibles—Goodwill and Other (Topic 350): Accounting for Goodwill (a consensus of the Private Company Council).
Read more:

Top Tips & Trends to Know for Blogging in 2014

From, by Francisco Perez: Practically since the advent of blogging, people have been proclaiming that blogging is dead. There’s a new eulogy written for blogging every year, from major platforms—respected and popular sources like The Content King, Social Media Today, The Guardian, Politico, and even The New York Times have filled blogging’s grave and written its tombstone. Yet every year, more blogs pop up and more bloggers find success with audiences.
Blogging is nowhere near on its last legs, but some things have changed in the world of online journals since the heyday of Blogger and LiveJournal—and some things have remained the same.

This article sets out what you should know to start or continue running a successful blog in 2014 and beyond, whether you’re blogging as a primary online presence or working on a small business blog. [Francisco Perez is a Business & Inbound Marketing Consultant, an Online Entrepreneur, and founder of]

Automatic: More than an app, it’s an ‘Automatic’ lifesaver for cars

You can’t have one yet (unless you live in the USA) but this lifesaver is on its way… Nearly every car on the road these days has a “black box” data recorder, like the ones in commercial airplanes. But the boxes in our cars have short memories — less than 10 seconds. That’s enough to preserve some pretty important evidence, like how fast you were going when you hit that lamppost.

But maybe you’d like a longer, deeper history of life behind the wheel. How far did you drive, and where? What route did you drive, how long did it take, and where did you park? For that, you’ll need to take careful notes, or get the right smartphone app.

The author of this article has been testing one that is actually more than an app. Automatic is a $99 piece of hardware that plugs into the digital interface found in most vehicles made since 1996. This little dongle uses a Bluetooth radio signal to connect with an app running on an iPhone. It’s a handy way to keep constant tabs on your driving habits. It can also tell you why the car’s “check engine” light just came on. And it has a built-in crash sensor that can call for a rescue if you’re in an accident.

About that digital interface — it’s called an OBD II port. It’s a plug mounted beneath the steering wheel, where the guy at the garage plugs in his computer to test your car during a state-mandated inspection. But the port has other uses. The auto insurer Progressive offers a plug-in device called Snapshot that reports your motoring habits to the company, which uses the data to award discounts to safe drivers. An Oregon company called CravenSpeed makes a $45 unit for performance fanatics. It tracks air temperature and barometric pressure, engine coolant temperature, revolutions per minute, and horsepower output, among other things.

The Automatic app costs considerably more, and does a lot less, but does it with style. Just plug in the dongle, download and install the free app on an iPhone or Android phone, and pair it up with the phone’s Bluetooth feature. Then enter the car’s Vehicle Information Number. It’s on a barcode attached to the doorframe of most cars. The app lets you enter it by scanning the code with the phone’s camera.
Read more:

Amazon rolls out new tablets and e-readers

Have you got one yet?  Amazon ramped up its push into hardware last week, with the debut of six new or upgraded mobile devices, including a high-end £169 e-reader called the Kindle Voyage and its cheapest-ever six-inch touch-screen Fire tablet starting at just £79.

The online retail giant also revamped its basic Kindle e-reader to include a touch screen at just £59. All the new devices start shipping from next month.
Read more:

Small Businesses Spend More on Social Than On Any Other Media

From Adage, Kate Maddox wrote that Social Media has become the top media platform for small and medium businesses when it comes to usage and spending, according to a new report from research firm BIA/Kelsey. The report found that 74.5% of small and medium businesses – defined as those with fewer than 100 employees – now use social media to advertise or promote their businesses. This is up from 71.7% last year. Small businesses also spend an average of 21.4% of their total media budgets on social, more than on any other media platform, according to the survey. This is up from 18.9% last year.

The survey, “Local Commerce Monitor,” is now in its 18th edition. This year’s report was based on an online survey of 546 small and medium businesses, conducted in July. Just over half of the businesses (52.2%) serve primarily consumers; 30.8% serve consumers and businesses equally; and 15.6% serve primarily businesses. The remainder of respondents were unsure.

In one of the key findings, small and medium businesses now use social more than any other media platform for business purposes. For example, small and medium business usage of print and outdoor advertising combined totalled just 59.3% this year, down from 63.0% last year.

In terms of spending, small and medium businesses spent a total of 18.5% of their total media budgets on print and outdoor advertising this year, down from 20.9% last year.

Instagram to introduce advertising in UK

In CITY A.M., Sarah Spickernell wrote to say that users of Instagram in the UK will soon be exposed to adverts. The photo-sharing social network said it was slowly rolling out advertising in the UK, with the first adverts set to appear at some point in the “coming weeks”.

Initially, adverts will just be for just a small selection of businesses, hand-picked for their “already great” presence on Instagram. The company wants to ensure the advertising its users are exposed to is “creative and engaging.”

Could professionals, like you, be damned if you do and damned if you don’t?

In ICAEW Economia, we learned that ICAEW members are in a Catch 22 over tax avoidance (but it applies equally to other professions).

ICAEW members 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.”
Read more:

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Marketing Round up for Professionals September wk 3

Marketing Round up for Professionals September wk 3

Problems and Solutions

Now, here’s a recap on some useful marketing, business promotion, new technology and other interesting stories from the past week. If you have a problem and a solution, what are you waiting for? 

“I believe that if you show people the problems and you show them the solutions, they will be moved to act.” – Bill Gates

Social Media Marketing & PR: New Guide: Social Media Cheat Sheets

Almost every day, a new blog post appears with best practices for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – and the list goes on. It’s overwhelming even for the savviest PR pros & marketers. Our guide is here to help. The publishers have done the research and chosen the practices most essential to your social media marketing and PR success.

Get these FREE cheat sheets from VOCUS from and see how to:

  • ​Stand out with visuals
  • Increase reach and brand awareness
  • Choose the right network for your message
  • Reach your target audience 

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

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


GLOBAL: Apple unveils watch and new iPhones

Leo Kelion, Technology desk editor, BBC News reported on the Apple new product launch on 9 September: Apple has unveiled a smartwatch – the Apple Watch – its first new product line since the first iPad and the death of Steve Jobs. The device runs apps, acts as a health and fitness tracker and communicates with the iPhone.

Although many companies already sell competing products, experts note that Apple has a history of entering sectors relatively late and then changing their direction with influential devices of its own.

Apple also unveiled two new handsets that are larger than previous models. The iPhone 6’s screen measures 4.7in (11.9cm) and iPhone Plus 5.5in (14.0cm) – a change that analysts said should help it prevent users migrating to Android.

The firm also announced a new service called Apple Pay, which chief executive Tim Cook said he wanted to “replace the wallet” in shops.

Paypal to start accepting bitcoin payments

From Asia-First – In a move seen as a major boost to virtual currencies, eBay Inc said PayPal will start accepting bitcoins as payment for online transactions. Over the coming months, PayPal will allow its online merchants to accept bitcoins, potentially allowing its 152 million registered accounts to transact using the virtual currency.

PayPal is the most significant business to-date to embrace bitcoin even as issues on whether or not bitcoin should be considered as a currency continue to hound the virtual currency. EBay’s Braintree unit chief Bill Ready said PayPal and Braintree will work with bitcoin payment-service provider Coinbase Inc to enable payments in the virtual currency. Coinbase investors include Andreessen Horowitz, which in turn is part-owned by Marc Andressen who sits on the board of ebay.

Forrester Report: Mobile Trends for Marketers

Amazingly, there are more than 2 billion smartphones on the planet — and they’re transforming business as we know it. Download the FREE Forrester 2014 Mobile Trends Report to learn about the mobile innovations that will shape 2014, and the overhyped fads that are likely to fizzle.

You’ll see why analytics are the backbone of every successful mobile strategy — and you’ll learn how mobile will change every aspect of your business.
Download now from:’s/2014/Predictions_2014_Mobile_T.pdf

The Practice of the Future

From in the US: What does the financial advisor practice of the future look like? What changes do the next few years have in store? While we might wish for the ability to see into the future, parallel annual research projects on affluent investors and financial advisors tell us that for financial services, the future is now.

Research over the past five years has shown that, year after year, elite teams are distancing themselves from the competition. They’re exceeding affluent investor expectations and marketing their services at the highest levels. The future is embodied in the profile of today’s small cadre of elite practices.

Get your FREE copy of The Practice of the Future: How to Stay Ahead of the Curve and Build a Future-Proof Business from here.

7 Keys to Cold Emails that Guarantee You a Response

It’s time to stop hitting send and crossing your fingers, says Arsham Memarzadeh. You’d imagine that with all the new marketing platforms and email-optimising technology, we’d have figured out the secret to cold emails by now. Yet here we are — still hitting send and blindly holding out hope this will be the one that gets a response. Entrepreneurs are still struggling to convince VCs that their pitch email is worth opening; job seekers are still failing to persuade employers they’re that one-of-a-kind candidate; and sales people still haven’t found the perfect balance between being irritating and accessible.

The author is currently working on a report around new metrics for mobile-first B2B SaaS companies, and in forming his hypothesis, he’s engaged with experts in the space with whom he’d never previously interacted (including entrepreneurs, investors, independent advisors, etc.). He’s pretty happy with the response rate, even when reaching out to people far more experienced and more difficult to access than himself. That’s because he has focused on making the simple yet elusive act of responding as compelling and easy as possible.

This article, here, provides seven simple tips to boost your response rates by drafting cold emails that convert.

Team Building – Developing Your Leadership Skills”

Offered FREE by Free Management Ebooks, this free eBook explains the core principles of team building that will help you get the best out of any team that you find yourself managing.

Successful team building in the workplace has more to do with making a success of the team you have been given, rather than building an ideal team from scratch. You will learn how to apply these principles to:

  • A project team where even though you are not an expert in all of the technical aspects of the project you are still expected to coordinate the team’s efforts.
  • A support team where there are problems with motivation and high staff turnover.
  • A high-level strategic team where you do not have any direct authority over the other participants.

Download from:

Opportunity for Professionals: Standard Life makes loans to advisers

In New Model Adviser, Michelle Abrego says that Standard Life has made loans to a number of financial advice firms in an effort to support their growth plans, including the acquisition of other IFAs. [Could this apply to Accountants and Lawyers too?]

Standard Life confirmed that it has already provided loans to a small number of firms and New Model Adviser® understands that the provider is in talks with further firms over offering finance.

Standard Life said the details regarding the number of firms it had lent money to, as well as the size of the loans, was confidential, and that the initiative was not restricted to advisers that used its wrap.

It said that the purpose of the funding was not to influence future business or asset flows to Standard Life products.
Read more:

Accountants for business: Innovations in access to finance for SMEs

From AccountancyAGE Insights – In the years since the 2007-8 financial crisis, the issue of access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises has taken on a new prominence. This FREE paper from ACCA reviews a broad range of innovations in business financing and highlights examples of good practice in developed and emerging economies.
Download from:

Campaign Management maturity assessment

Highlights from the 2014 Adobe Benchmark Survey: A successful campaign management strategy is vital to the overall success of your firm. In this FREE white paper, Adobe shares the result of a survey of over 270 management-level or higher marketing professionals who rated their organisation’s campaign management competency in seven categories.

Read this white paper to learn industry benchmarks and to see survey results such as:

  • 69% of marketers struggle to combine inbound and outbound channels in an orchestrated, consistent fashion
  • Although 70% have business rules in place to serve customers personalised content, only 23% have “fatigue” rules that prevent them from wearing out the customer with too many messages and offers.

Get this FREE download from:,7cc2cbc,7cc2cc1&p1=003a0000028U0i4AAC


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Marketing Round up for Professionals September wk 2

Marketing Round up for Professionals September wk 2

Here’s our regular round-up of marketing and business promotion issues plus other interesting things over the past week.

Before you get delve into the gems in this article, please find the time to view the latest product from the One Smart Team at Bizezia: Your Daily News. Think about how you can use it as part of your firm’s objective to keep in touch with clients and prospects. It’s a great marketing tool and all for less than the cost of a Big Mac each morning! Click the Icon to discover more…

But first, think about trying something new today:
If you do things well, do them better. Be daring, be first, be different, be just.
– Dame Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop 

This week’s stories:

Learn from Guy Kawasaki who brings his social media expertise to Hubspot

Guy Kawasaki is a legend. He is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of APE, What the Plus!, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College. He definitely knows what he is talking about…

In Social Mediopolis, we learn that HubSpot has partnered with Guy Kawasaki to bring his social media expertise to the HubSpot audience, and they wanted to share it with you as well! Check out three free awesome resources to help you grow your social media following, and create awesome social media posts to increase engagement and reach.

  • Guy Kawasaki’s 10 Tips for Building a Social Media Following [On-demand recording]:  Guy has over 7.5 million followers! He must be doing something right. Access his top tips for free in this on-demand recording of Guy Kawasaki on how he grew his social media following.
    Access it here.
  • How to Get 1,000 Followers on Twitter [Free Guide]: Inspired by Guy’s first webinar on growing your social media following, we compiled his tips into a short guide to getting 1,000 followers on Twitter, the right way. Start growing your following on social media today!
    Access the guide here.
  • The Art of the Perfect Social Media Post [On-demand webinar]: Creating social images to expand the reach of your content can be tough. Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick walk us through how to create the perfect social media post and how they have used these tactics to build a following of over 8 million!
    Access the recording here.

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

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


Learn How to Handle Your Firm’s Expanded Services Workload

Kevin Stockton on the Grey, Ryan, Wayne & Company Blog writes: You want your [CPA – Accounting or Law firm] to grow, but you are not exactly sure how to make that happen. There are a lot of strategies out there, the most obvious being expanding your offered services to bring on new clients and expand your current business with the clients you already have.

But how will your firm handle the extra workload as you take steps to grow your practice’s footprint with both new and old clients? The article expands on two ideas to achieve your objective:

  • Increase Your Staff
  • Work With a Partner Organisation

Taking the step of uniting with an outside partner is a big one, but it’s a strategic move that can pay big dividends in the long run. By enlisting the help of a third-party partner, you will be able to assist your high net worth clients and affluent business owners with complicated, non-CPA-centric problems, without having the inherent danger of sending pieces of their business to outside sources, or adding too much to your overhead. The trust and integrity you build with these clients will in turn help you attract others.
Read the full article at:

New Technology: Samsung launches Galaxy Note 4, Edge

Ravi Sharma wrote on Times of India that Samsung has announced its next-generation phablet, Galaxy Note 4, along with two new devices — Galaxy Note Edge and Gear VR — ahead of the IFA 2014 tech expo in Berlin. With these new announcements, Samsung is entering new segments, as well as updating an existing product line. The company also showcased its new smartwatch Gear S, which was announced last week.

Galaxy Note 4, which is now the top-end phablet in Samsung’s portfolio, has a 5.7-inch display. Samsung has upped the display resolution in Galaxy Note series, from Full HD (1080x1920p) in Note 3 to QHD (1440x2560p) in Note 4. Despite a higher-resolution display, Samsung says that Galaxy Note 4 will deliver 7.5% more battery life than its predecessor due to an optimized interface. The phablet has a 3,220mAh battery (just 20mAh more than that of Galaxy Note 3), and features fast-charging technology, so the battery can go from 0% to 50% in 30 minutes.

Using the right keywords

Marketing Wordstream says that High commercial intent keywords are like invitations from prospective customers. They beg you to tempt them with your wares. They tell you, loud and clear, that they have money in their hands and they want what you’re selling right now. But what kinds of keywords can be considered to have high commercial intent for Paid Search campaigns?

In this free guide, the promoters look at:

  • What high commercial intent keywords are
  • Why they’re so important
  • How to identify them for your business
  • How to put them to work in your content and marketing campaigns

Find out more, here.

9 Books Billionaire Warren Buffett Thinks Everyone Should Read

Drake Baer wrote in Business Insider that when Warren Buffett started his investing career, he would read between 600, 750, or 1,000 pages a day.

Even now, he still spends about 80% of his day reading. “Look, my job is essentially just corralling more and more and more facts and information, and occasionally seeing whether that leads to some action,” he once said in an interview.

“We don’t read other people’s opinions,” he says. “We want to get the facts, and then think.”

To help you get into the mind of the billionaire investor, Business Insider has rounded up Warren Buffett’s book recommendations over 20 years of interviews and shareholder letters: click here.

Learn from this: Increasing Customer Engagement and Lifetime Value

From Adobe you can learn about best practices for loyalty marketing programmes and discover how brands like Sephora and Starwood Preferred Guests ensure ease of use, mobile access and personalisation for their customers.·

  • Relevant and personalised with appropriate offers·
  • Real-time and contextual messages·
  • Seamless across channels and devices

To download the FREE guide, simply complete the form at this link.

Segmentation Tactics

Magento Commerce explain that online merchants are under more pressure than ever to deliver targeted and optimized experiences to their customers. As a leader in eCommerce, The Magento Team know that segmentation is essential to improving conversion. This FREE eBook was developed to help merchants improve conversion through segmentation best practices.

Presenting relevant content and promotions to individual buyers can translate into more sales and larger orders on your site. Download the complimentary eBook now and start increasing your conversions today!

In this eBook, you will gain key insights on how to:

  • Create more targeted messaging to increase conversions
  • Encourage visitors to self-segment on your site for a better experience
  • Help drive sales through a more targeted segmentation strategy

3 ways Accounts Prep clients can be profitable again

The promotion from OCRex on AccountingWEB talks about putting automation into practice. For years, accountants and bookkeepers have been offering a service, which takes a massive burden off the hands of their clients. Billons are spent annually on manual data entry tasks.

Now you can discover 3 ways to automate these tasks and equip your practice with the tools to optimise operations efficiently.

New Technology: Samsung launches world’s first bendable TV, largest curved TV

Ravi Sharma reported that Samsung today launched the world’s first bendable TV as well as the world’s biggest curved television, ahead of the IFA 2014 tech expo. Both these televisions have 105-inch screens and pack 11 million pixels (5120X2160p resolution) on the display panel.

The new Samsung curved TV a custom lock screen and has a quad-core processor under the hood to power the smart functions. The display panel of this 105-inch TV has 21:9 aspect ratio and 4.2-metre radius.

Microsoft Unveils Lumia 830 and 730 Phones

Microsoft will seek to draw more people to its internet-based services with two new mid-range smartphones it unveiled, including one designed to help people take better selfies.  Both devices are under the Lumia brand Microsoft bought from Nokia. They run the latest version of Windows Phone 8 and feature Cortana, a Siri-like voice assistant available to help with directions, calendar appointments and messages. Many of those interactions will steer users to Microsoft services such as Bing search and OneDrive storage.

This video could change your mind about the robotics revolution

Harrison Polites, in Business Spectator, says that just like horses were made redundant as a mode of transport when Henry Ford started mass producing cars early last century, there’s a growing fear that humans will also soon face being put out to pasture. That’s the controversial message at the heart of this viral video on robotics currently doing the rounds on the web. It offers a rather compelling and grim argument on the scale and impact of the automation trend.

Good Advice: Don’t waste time reading terms and conditions

If a bank or insurer uses small print to reject your claim, fight back – you’ll probably win, says James Daley in the Daily Telegraph. He says that, a few months ago, his company Fairer Finance launched a campaign to get rid of unwieldy and indigestible terms and conditions documents in the world of personal finance.

When The Telegraph kicked off the Spare us the Small Print campaign, a snap survey was carried out to find out how many people actually read the Ts&Cs – and from the poll of 2,000 individuals, as many as 73pc claimed they don’t bother. Now, the Money Advice Service – the government-backed financial help centre – went one better, launching a similar survey in which as many as 84pc of people said they don’t read the small print.

New Technology: Bank customers to sign in with ‘finger vein’ technology

A new way of accessing bank accounts is being launched which identifies individuals through the unique pattern of veins in their fingers, says Simon Gompertz on BBC News. Instead of having to use a series of passwords and numbers, users will be able to log on to their accounts by placing one of their fingers into a scanner. The technology is quite distinct from fingerprint recognition.

Logistics firms are positive about future use of drones

If you ever thought that the future is going to be much the same as the present or recent past, you’ll be quite wrong: Will Green wrote in Supply Management that some 42 per cent of logistics operators believe they will use unmanned drones to ship cargo in the future and most believe it will be within 15 years, according to a survey. The research was carried out by the National Aeronautical Centre (NAC), which said rising fuel prices and predicted growth in international freight volumes made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) more attractive, as they are expected to have lower fuel requirements than conventional aircraft. The survey also found more than a third of freight forwarders believed they would be using UAVs. However, the survey of 60 logistics carriers and freight forwarders found that there were concerns around the ability of UAVs to transport sufficient tonnage to replace marine and air shipping.

It’s your fault you don’t get paid on time: This could be why you are still waiting for your money

The Law Society Gazette say that law firms wait an average of three months for their bills to be settled – more than twice as long as businesses in other sectors, a survey of LLP accounts has revealed.  The analysis of 321 firms, by finance company LDF, found an average delay of 94 days. The average payment duration across business as a whole is 41 days. Delays on this scale ‘could well tip firms which are otherwise very successful into dangerous territory’, said Peter Alderson, LDF’s managing director.

But from my experience, firms leave costs on the time ledger until someone says “we should bill that”. That’s often several months down the line – well after the work was done. And on top of that, any additional, unplanned work hasn’t been communicated to the client. Hardly surprising then that the client takes ages to pay whilst arguing over the matter.

Look up Contract Engine, now available for small accountants and lawyers up to large multi-office, multi-partnered firms. There’s nothing quite like it anywhere else: details at:

The Anti-PowerPoint political party

You might think you don’t like PowerPoint presentations, but you’ve got nothing on Matthias Poehm. In 2011, Poehm, a software engineer, founded the Anti-PowerPoint Party (APPP)—a Swiss political party with, as you may have guessed, a distinctly anti-PowerPoint bent. The party was formed with the sole purpose of raising awareness about the inefficiencies of PowerPoint (and other slide-show-style presentation software), how they lower engagement and motivation, and ultimately cost Switzerland (and other countries) large sums of money due to lost productivity.
Read more:

Amazon’s Fire Smartphone launches in the UK

Oliver Smith in CITY A.M. reports that Amazon’s Fire smartphone, the online retailer’s first foray into the crowded smartphone market, will go on sale in the UK on 30 September following its US launch in June. Amazon has announced it has partnered exclusively with O2 to launch the phone which will be FREE on a £33 a month contract.

The Fire features Firefly, a service designed to identify products within a second and link through to purchase on Amazon’s website, and comes with a year’s free subscription to Amazon’s Prime membership service which includes free access to video and music streaming and unlimited cloud storage.

Marketing Round up for Professionals September wk1

Marketing Round up for Professionals September wk1

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:


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:

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:

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:

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

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:

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:

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:

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:

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.

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

Marketing Round up for Professionals August wk 4

Marketing Round up for Professionals August wk 4

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.

Try something new today.
“Little hinges swing big doors.” – W. Clement Stone

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

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


Free eBook: The Content Marketer’s Guide to Webinars

Here’s a FREE comprehensive webinar guide for all experience levels from Online Events. This eBook will benefit anyone involved in webinars – marketers and non-marketers alike – and includes topics such as:

  • How to get started from a technical perspective
  • Best practices and tips for engaging your webinar audience
  • How to strategically structure your program to generate leads
  • The best way to squeeze the most leads out of webinars

View a preview at:

5 Keys to Social Media Measurement For Every Network

From Simply Measured If you’re a social media marketer, you’re spread pretty thin. You create editorial calendars, visual assets, content, plan campaigns, set goals, and measure results. This task-list could sound familiar to any marketer, regardless of their arena. The difference for social media marketers is that you’re operating in an ever-changing landscape, and your area of responsibility is growing… constantly. In fact, the recent survey of social media marketers found that 23% of all marketers measure and report on at least six social networks.

The new FREE whitepaper, The 5 Essentials of Cross-Channel Social Media Measurement, highlights the most important needs and functions of measuring social programs that span several networks.
Read more:

Building a Global + Local Social Media Strategy

From Get Simply Measured. In today’s digital world, brands can easily take their marketing efforts global on social media. The biggest challenge can then be localising strategy and messaging. Learn how to balance global and local tactics to find the right geo strategy for your brand.

Download this FREE social media guide to learn:

  • The key differences between a global and local social strategy
  • How to find the right mix of global vs. local tactics for your brand
  • Ways to measure whether your current geo strategy is working

…and much more. Click the link below to download the full guide!

Five Essential Steps to Project Success & Profitability

From Financial Force. Effective project performance is vital to customer satisfaction and profit, especially in the professional services industry. While much has been written on this subject, sometimes it helps to just cut through the clutter and focus on the fundamentals and best practices that mean the difference between project success and failure.

This independent white paper will give the reader practical and actionable advice on how to run projects on-time, on-budget, with great quality on a predictable and repeatable basis.

Download this FREE independent report now and learn how your organisation can achieve a more agile project management process.

Native Ad Success Requires Research and Strategy

From Business News Daily.  Ads are everywhere in today’s world, and nowhere are promotional messages more prevalent than on the Internet. Until recently, online advertisements only came in the form of display units: pop-ups and banner ads that are often intrusive and only distract from the user experience. Today, a growing number of companies are choosing a more seamless, natural approach by creating and running aptly named ‘native ads.’

“Native ads appear around a webpage’s main content with a look and feel that matches the design and layout of the website,” said Ash Nashed, CEO and founder of digital media technology company Adiant. “This design makes the ad simple, unobtrusive and easier to consume than displays ads. We consider native ads a seamless preview to content and offers, and less like an attention-demanding ad that can be disruptive to consumers. These features translate into better engagement with consumers.”  Aaron Goodin, CEO of content discovery and engagement platform Snap Skout, explained that there are six types of native ad formats, as published in the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) Native Advertising Playbook earlier this year.

Free Guide: How To Attract Valuable Crowds To Your Webinar

From Click Meeting.  61% of marketers consider webinars their most effective marketing tactic. The audience should always be the focal point when planning, launching and promoting a webinar, and there are many effective methods for attracting valuable crowds and ensuring optimal conversions.
Download the free guide from:

How secure email and e-signatures can accelerate your practice

From Sharefile. There is an easier way for you and your clients to share confidential data on any device. This simple FREE guide explains how. In this white paper, you’ll learn the types of features to look for when selecting a file-sharing service for your business and how you can improve security when sending and receiving confidential documents.


  • Find a file-sharing service built for business
  • Send large files with ease
  • Protect your confidential files without complicated installation
  • Use custom reporting to track files
  • Get mobile access for on-the-go users

Email attachments and consumer-grade file-sharing services lack the security needed to keep your files, and your clients’ confidential information, safe. Take advantage of this free white paper from Citrix to see how to select a file-sharing service that meets the needs of your business.

Talent management starts with vision at the top

From a Blog posting by Scott D. Wiley, CAE, President & CEO, The Ohio Society of CPAs.  There is a strong and recurring theme dominating conversations among CPAs in Ohio and CPA association executives: how do we leverage talent to drive growth in our organizations and in the profession?

The talent equation is one that businesses everywhere face as they seek to build their bench strength across the organisation. In the recent member value survey, Ohio CPA leaders in all sectors identified talent management among their top three business challenges. What’s driving the concern? An increasingly complex business environment and the undeniable fact that while there’s a full pipeline of accounting graduates right now, our profession is losing ground in retaining CPAs in the 3-5 year experience range. These young professionals who invested the time to earn their CPA license are in many cases leaving the profession without a trace. It’s a trend we’re seeing in Ohio and one the AICPA reported during recent visits with larger regional firms.

That’s troubling when you consider the profession’s most experienced members also are retiring at a faster rate each year. It’s expensive to recruit and train talent and many organizations are turning to outside consultants for a comprehensive model to address their talent concerns. CPA firms, in particular, have great technical expertise at the top ranks, but many are realizing that these same leaders need help in how to develop people and keep them for the long haul.
Read more in this interesting article:

Five steps for marketing your practice

Not sure how to market your practice? Want to promote your accounting services, raise awareness of your brand and outline your ‘unique selling point’ to prospective clients? Then you need to make marketing part of your practice’s overall business strategy.

A FREE Xero five-step plan guides you through the marketing process with practical hints and tips to help you start making your practice the one that clients come to first. There’s also an appendix which outlines some of the more common analytical tool used by marketers. Get this free download from the source link below:

Should You Fire Your Worst Customers?

From Boston MA: Is firing your worst customers actually a good idea? In many instances, the answer is an unequivocal yes. Yes, turning away revenue can hurt, but the truth of the matter is there are always costs associated with onboarding and servicing customers, and the ones who are unhappy or who aren’t a good fit in the first place can quickly become more trouble than they’re worth. Add on top of that the risk of a bad/disgruntled customer detracting from your brand, and the decision to part ways is usually an easy one.

Do You Know Who Your Worst Customers Are?
The problem is that while it’s never an easy choice to cut the cord, it can be an especially difficult call to make for early-stage companies, who are still actively building their brand and trying to optimize their customer acquisition process. To make matters worse, early-stage companies also rarely track the costs of maintaining a customer (or even a cohort of customers), and by neglecting to do so they lose out on data that can be extremely valuable and illuminating. For example, it is not uncommon to find that 10% of your customers account for 70% – 90% of your customer service costs, even in an early-stage business. Many companies decide to hold off in investing in customer service tracking tools because they are short-sighted and do not see immediate benefits from it. But putting it off can often come back to haunt them. Sometimes not knowing the cost of maintaining a particular customer group can lead a company to think they are more valuable than they actually are. It can even lead to them steering their go-to-market and customer success strategies in misinformed and misguided directions. It can be an extremely costly mistake.
Read the full very useful article at:

Keys to retention: Career advancement, strong leadership 

From the USA: many companies are ill-prepared to face talent retention challenges as the global labour market grows more competitive, two new surveys show. Employees often perceive limited opportunities for career advancement with their current employers and lack confidence in their organisations’ leadership, the results of two surveys by global consulting firm Towers Watson indicate.

Employers that fail to address these problems risk losing their best talent, as opportunities for employees to leave their companies appear to be increasing. Forty-eight per cent of 1,637 employers from across the world participating in Towers Watson’s Global Talent Management and Rewards Survey said hiring activity has increased compared with last year; just 15% said hiring activity has decreased. And 35% of employers said turnover was rising, compared with 18% who said turnover was decreasing. The most coveted employees often are the ones who are leaving; respondents said they are having difficulty retaining high-potential employees (56%) and top performers (54%).
Read more:

Free E-Book: Rocket Matter: Total Firm Management Through Better Technology

Over the years, thousands of firms from a wide range of practice areas, locations and backgrounds have adopted Rocket Matter law firm management software to run their practice. These firms have seen myriad improvements in billing and invoicing, document assembly and management, calendaring, contact and task management, and much more. They’ve also improved their bottom line, in some cases dramatically.

The case studies in this FREE E-Book span a broad range of practice areas including real estate, business litigation, intellectual property, family law, criminal defense, bankruptcy, and personal injury. The firms and lawyers profiled were encouraged to share real world examples of how they use Rocket Matter. Challenges are outlined, and solutions and benefits detailed.
Download the FREE E-Book from:

Amazon prepares online advertising programme

From The Wall Street Journal: Amazon is gearing up to more directly challenge Google’s dominance of the online advertising market, developing its own software for placing ads online that could leverage its knowledge of millions of Web shoppers. Initially, Amazon plans to replace those ads on its pages that Google chiefly supplies with a new in-house ad placement platform, said people familiar with the matter. In the future, that system could challenge Google’s $50 billion-a-year advertising business and Microsoft’s, they added.

The Seattle-based retailer already has a limited business placing ads on other sites. In a sign that it has larger goals, Amazon is testing ways to expand that program with new types of ads. “Amazon could use the data it has about buying behavior to help make these ads much more effective,” said Karsten Weide, an analyst at researcher IDC. “Marketers would love to have another viable option beyond Google and Facebook for their advertising.”
Read more:

Telephone Interrogation – why it’s bad for the health of your firm

Telephone Interrogation – why it’s bad for the health of your firm

woman on phoneRecently I made a phone call to a company where I called to speak to a person to whom I’d sent an important email and I wanted to know why I hadn’t been contacted. This company (a large business membership organisation) have an interrogation system which prompted the receptionist to ask several questions such as:

  • Name (no, not even “what is your name please”)?
  • Company (no, not even “from which company are you calling”)?
  • About (no, not even “what did you want to speak to her about”)?

And then, to cap it all, I was told “I’ll just see if Mrs X is available”. (Did this mean, “I’ll see if she wants to speak to you”?)   The experience I had reminded me of a publication I put together some time ago based on work done by Paul Dunn of Boot Camp fame. It’s part of the Bizezia Online Business Library. Several parts of the remaining text in this article come from that publication.

Want to read the whole publication?

Email us – We’ll send it directly to your inbox for FREE!

The telephone is a powerful tool. Use it wisely.

The office telephone is a powerful tool. Together with emails and faxes, it is your firm’s link with the outside world.  If your firm receives say 100 calls in a day and you work on an average for 200 days a year… that’s 20,000 opportunities for first impressions for callers – whether they are clients, prospects or whatever. The effect of all those opportunities is incredibly far reaching – perhaps more so than you’ve ever thought. Just to illustrate how far reaching it is, a survey conducted a few years ago quoted these staggering statistics as to why customers no longer deal with a particular company – or, put that another way, the survey reveals why customers go to your competitors. Let’s run through the figures.

  • 3% of customers said they went to the competitor because it was more convenient for them to deal with the competitor.
  • 5% gave a variety of reasons which come under the heading of miscellaneous.
  • 9% said that they changed because of a relationship at a high level.

You’ll notice from the above, that none of the reasons so far deal with the product or the service or the price. These are not as important as it would seem. In fact, only 15 percent of people said that they changed from one company to another because of a product range, price or the delivery time.

That leaves 68 percent. The survey showed that almost seven out of ten people left because of what they called “perceived indifference”. Perceived indifference is another way of saying “the company did not seem to care about me” or “the company treated me as if I was not at all important”.

Although 68 percent is a huge number, it is a number over which you now have the power to change. Now this is where the telephone is important. You see, perceived indifference is what you often hear on the phone on the first contact.

Here are some common examples. Just imagine these things happening to you when you’re calling another company:

Ring ring, ring ring, ring ring, ring ring, ring ring, ring ring, ring ring, ring ring, ring ring…

Or you hear things like this:

“XYZ Company, hold please”

“He’s in a meeting” “Connecting”

“ABC Company” (said very gruffly)

All of these examples are perceived indifference.

To start with, we will reflect on just how important that first greeting is.

The Need for Performance Standards

man with shoeIn a moment I’ll provide some ideas that will help you without a lot of effort. First though, I want to talk to you about hamburgers. Well, not just any hamburgers but a Macdonald’s hamburger. The Macdonald’s hamburger itself is not important – the survey I mentioned earlier illustrates that products themselves are not the important thing. What is important is the service you get.

When you walk into a Macdonald’s store, it’s always clean. Pretty simple. But when you walk into the average privately-owned hamburger store you often slide about on the grease. What’s the relevance of that? Simply, that as customers, we all notice the simple things. In fact, someone once said that to succeed all you really have to do is do the ordinary things… but you have to do them extraordinarily well.

Macdonald’s do the ordinary things extraordinarily well when you go up to their front counter. There’s the young person behind the counter. They are not brighter than average, they’re not smarter. But one thing is for sure. When you walk in as a customer – the first thing they do is smile at you. Again, very simple. But very important.

Then you look up at the menu and ask for, say, “a Big-Mac and a Chicken Burger please.” And then the young person will say with that same smile “Certainly. And would you like some fries with that…”

Now why do all the kids do that? Again, as I stressed before, it’s not because they are brighter or smarter than we are, but because they have a set of what I call performance standards to work on.

A Receptionist’s job breaks down into several parts, such as:

The first thing you have to do is to welcome the customer to your company. That doesn’t simply mean that you’ll smile – it means much more than that. Then of course you’ll listen very carefully to what they have to say and then you’ll transfer them to the person you’ve determined they want to speak to. Of course, if that person isn’t in then you’ll perhaps take a message or offer to help in some way.

The idea is to make every contact with every customer positively memorable. So the aim is to delight the caller at every opportunity.

Clearly and obviously, a smile right up front is an important beginning. And not surprisingly, that’s our first Performance Standard. But it’s not just a smile.

See the list below of the 6 Performance Standards. (Email us to get the publication with a detailed explanation of each Performance Standard)

› Performance Standard 1 – Smile to the point of a grin BEFORE you answer the phone.
› Performance Standard 2 – Answer your phone on the second ring
› Performance Standard 3 (for Receptionists) – Good morning, Company name, THIS IS [First Name] speaking
› Performance Standard 4A – Listen…. Attentively
› Performance Standard 4B – Give out Positive Strokes.
› Performance Standard 5 – Put the Caller through straightaway with finesse or offer your help.

These small things actually make a major difference in how callers perceive you.

If your competitors want to play the interrogation game, let them do so. Clients and prospects don’t like to play that game at all.

Want to read the whole publication?

Email us – We’ll send it directly to your inbox for FREE!

Marketing Round up for Professionals August wk 3

Marketing Round up for Professionals August wk 3

This article is my regular round-up of marketing and business promotion issues plus other interesting things over the past week.

Try something new today:
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” – Walt Disney

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

Here are lots more marketing ideas and tips that have been published by Marketing Profs from

Accountants missing disclosure facility opportunities, finds CCW

AccountancyAGE reported last week that accountants are potentially missing opportunities to square their clients’ tax affairs with HM Revenue & Customs through beneficial disclosure facilities, top 20 firm Crowe Clark Whitehill has found in its fourth annual survey of general practitioner accountants.

The findings suggest that every accountant has clients who would benefit from making a properly managed disclosure under one of the available HMRC facilities, but a lack of understanding of the facilities means that it is not happening.
Read more:

Windows ‘Threshold’ preview could go live in September

A preview of the Windows new operating software could go live in September according to Tech Radar. The next major update to Windows, currently being called Windows Threshold, could arrive in preview form as soon as late September. That’s according to ZDNet, whose unnamed sources said a Windows Threshold “technology preview” will go live in early October at the latest.

“Threshold” is thought to be the code name for Windows 9, though Microsoft has yet to confirm it officially. Nevertheless the Windows 9 preview will be available to any and all who choose to participate, one of the site’s sources said. Tellingly the Windows 9 tech preview will reportedly also feature automatic mandatory monthly updates, a move that could signal Windows’ future trajectory. It’s believed that Windows 9 will hit the shelves in Spring 2015. Source

Be Prepared: Create a Recovery Drive for Windows, Linux, Mac, or Chrome OS

Computers don’t come with operating system installation CDs anymore (did you forget?). If your operating system won’t boot, you’ll need a bootable recovery drive to fix it. All operating systems allow you to create these. These recovery drives provide access to the same recovery options your operating system includes. You can always create them later, although you may need access to a computer running the same operating system.
For details, read more at:

Look to ‘The Simpsons’ for lessons in economics 

From CCH’s­ You might not have known it, but all those episodes of ‘‘The Simpsons’’ were just secret economics lessons. It turns out the yellowish, four-fingered cartoon characters have a lot of insight to offer on basic economic theory. We know this thanks to Joshua Hall, an associate professor of economics at West Virginia University — and the brains behind the new book ‘‘Homer Economicus: The Simpsons and Economics’’ (Stanford University Press).

Hall got the idea to incorporate pop culture icons like Homer Simpson into his lessons after teaching a three-hour night business class. “It’s hard to go three hours when you’re just lecturing and eyes start glazing over,’’ he said. Hall started using examples from ‘‘The Simpsons’’ to hammer home lessons – from urban transportation in the monorail episode to a gambling lesson involving Mr. Burns and a casino. Hall began with the theory that episodes from the cartoon offered numerous: from the simple, such as supply and demand, to the more complex, such as the economics of immigration and health care.
Read more:

Most firms have not updated T&Cs – Has Yours?

From Supply Management: More than eight out of 10 firms have failed to update their terms and conditions to take advantage of new late payment regulations that came into force last year, a survey has revealed. Law firm Lovetts said just 32 per cent, out of more than 100 businesses, were claiming legal recovery costs and compensation on late payments “as a matter of course”, even though the ability to do so was put into law as part of the UK adopting an EU directive. Lovetts said the findings came despite an increase in the number of bad debts and almost a quarter of firms saying the problem had worsened in the past year. Lovetts said lack of awareness or fear of upsetting customers may be behind the figures. Charles Wilson, CEO of Lovetts, said: “Our survey suggests businesses are missing a major opportunity to claim compensation and reasonable costs on overdue invoices – effectively making the debt recovery free.
Read more:

Added value means added business

From Accountancy Age Insight: Many accountants are widening their nets in terms of what they can offer. The world of business is ever-evolving, and accountants have to stay on top of their game to deliver a top-notch service. Clients can be like young children. Some show a fearless enthusiasm that may need to be gently reigned in for their own good; some may want to move into bigger, unknown territories but are scared of taking the first step – others are keen to learn the ropes of running their businesses soundly, and just need a bit of guidance.

This two page free article from Sage outlines how accountants can generate new business by providing added value to clients.
Download from:

Apple’s iWatch to have tough, sapphire display

If you still charge by the hour, you need a watch. Why not get an iWatch from Apple (not yet released but coming soon). According to the Wall Street Journal the iWatch will have scratch resistant sapphire on its screen. Apple may have learnt its lesson after the fragility of the iPhone screen. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the company’s new iWatch will feature scratch resistant sapphire on its screen rather than more delicate glass. Sapphire is preferable to glass because it is both harder and more resistant to heat, making it a tougher material to scratch or damage.
Read more:

Publicity: Getting Media Coverage

To generate constant media coverage, fresh & creative content is a must – but it isn’t always easy when newsworthy topics are scarce. There is now a free guide available from Vocus with eight great ways to generate publicity. You’ll discover how creative tactics such as newsjacking, leveraging user-generated content and creating controversy will capture the attention of the media and achieve consistent publicity for your brand.
Read Eight Ways to Generate Publicity:

Make the Most of a Wealth Management Practice and Grow Your Firm

How do tax and accounting professionals expand their businesses with wealth management services? And how do they keep both their practices growing successfully? Learn how in this new eBook brought to you by Accounting Today and Cetera Financial Specialists. Based on polls conducted by SourceMedia Research, and supplemented with additional studies sponsored by Cetera, this eBook shares best practices, videos and other resources that:

  • Provide concrete steps you can take to grow your business
  • Show you how to build stronger client relationships
  • Help you get your practice on the fast track to success

For help in growing your firm, read this new eBook today. Available here.

Thinking of Selling?

Thinking of Selling?

book cartoonSelling a business is a bit like selling a house – to get the best value and get a quick sale, you have to make it look nice on both the inside and outside to maximise your chances of success, says Rachel Bridge in the Telegraph, here. Among the list of things to do, she suggests that you plan carefully and don’t spend the money before you have a done deal. The value of your business is directly affected by early preparation. Whatever value you place on your firm, it’s only worth what someone else is prepared to pay for it and it may take a time to find the right purchaser who has the money and vision to make a success of the acquisition.

So, if you’re thinking of selling your accountancy or law practice it helps to know what a purchaser may be looking for. Here are my thoughts on the matter. They are not listed in a particular order – some issues will be more important on some transactions than others. The most important point to remember is to get good professional advice from the outset.

And, by the way, each of the numbered points, or at least most of them, probably deserve a separate article over the coming weeks.

These aren’t necessarily all the points to address when selling a firm. Any that I’ve forgotten, will be included in future articles.

1. Are your clients the sort of clients that a purchaser wants to deal with?

Are the clients you have generally good ones or, at the other extreme, are they all a load of trouble and bad payers? You may need to cull some of your clients. Get rid of the rubbish and focus on building up clients in a niche area.

2. Are the clients that you have, long-standing clients or are they fairly new to the firm?

A purchaser will feel a bit nervous if there’s a big churn of clients and the ones that you currently have are quite different to the ones that you had a year ago. A savvy purchaser will want to know where the clients came from. Best of all, in my view, are clients who were recommended to consult with you by an existing, satisfied client of the firm.

3.  Do your clients pay you promptly or are you always in dispute with them?

What you’ll need to look at are areas such as the engagement letter process you have in place (what’s that I hear you say, you don’t have engagement letters?). Also, the frequency the clients pay you – for example, once every two years is not good enough. Do you tell your clients what your fees are going to be before you do the work and do you bill them when you say you’re going to bill them, not ages afterwards?

4. What are your staff and partners like?

Are they the sort of people that if they do the job well, the outcome is pretty ordinary? Do you have a big turnover of staff? Are they well trained? Do you spend money on training?

5. What are your fee charges like?

Are the fees you charge sufficient for you to earn a reasonable profit? A purchaser will want to know how you have arrived at your charges – whether it’s on an hourly basis, every 6 minutes or whatever.

6. What sort of branding does your firm have?

Is the image your firm portrays of a tired old fashioned dreary type of firm?  Just what sort of reputation does your firm have?

7. What sort of connections does your firm have?

Do you have relationships with your local solicitors and banks? Who refers business to you?

8. How do you get new clients?

What do you do in the way of marketing? Do you spend money on marketing and advertising? What is the ROI of your marketing?

9. How many times have you been sued?

A purchaser will want to look at your professional indemnity insurance record and the claims made against the firm.

10. Why should anybody come to your firm when there are plenty of other firms on the high street?

Do you have any specialisations? Are there any niche positions you own in the market place?

11.  What’s the status of your office premises?

Do you have a lease or do you own the building? Is the rent affordable? Is there room to expand? Will the purchaser transfer the firm’s activities to their own premises? And if so, what’s going to happen to your existing offices? If you own the freehold of the premises, are you going to sell it to the purchaser?

12. What’s the status of your technology?

Are your computers up to date? Is your software compatible with that of a purchaser? If not, it might be a problem. Do you have a strong online presence?

13. What about archiving

Do you have separate premises and are they secure?

14. Do you have any debts?

Have you had a history of debt with banks, loan providers, suppliers etc? How will debts be dealt with on a sale?

15. Goodwill, Debtors and Work in Progress

Now, these are key items and they will feature high up on the list of assets you are selling to a purchaser.

Let’s start with goodwill. This is an emotive subject. The firm who are selling have spent many years building the reputation of the firm and gathering new clients along the way – that must be valuable they say. The purchaser is more concerned with how long the clients are going to stay with the firm – there’s no such thing as a “long term contract” with clients and they can leave the firm at the drop of a hat, or a bill from the new owners that’s more than they paid in the past.

For accountants, because of the recurring nature of much of the work, it used to be the case that goodwill could be sold for 150% of the annual recurring fees of clients but not anymore. For lawyers it’s different. Most law firms work on a transactional basis and so goodwill is an even more difficult asset to value. And, whatever is agreed, it’s likely to be paid out over a number of years so no lump sum to take to your desert island retirement villa.

Debtors aren’t usually a problem. If the list you hand to the purchaser has only debtors that are not disputed and proper provision has been made for irrecoverable items, there won’t be an issue over value. However, in my experience, most purchasers won’t pay for debtors – it’s more likely that they will agree to collect the money for the old firm and hand it over when collected.

Work in progress is always an issue. If there’s unbilled time or value on the client ledger, the question arises as to why it hasn’t already been billed. Has the unbilled time relate to work that has been agreed with the client (what does the engagement letter say)? At best, a vendor can expect to get paid only when the client pays the firm. There may have to be a discount that is conceded to a purchaser.

16. Payment

If you’re hoping that the purchaser will pay a big cheque at completion and you can walk away to your retirement villa in the sun, you may be disappointed.  Most purchasers will want to spread the risk and pay by installments.

Most firms have external funding (from banks etc) in addition to financing from partners or LLP members. More on this is a later article.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Where can you get help? 

Here are five firms that I know well and which can really help on these matters. In future articles, I’ll be speaking to them about some of the numbered points I’ve listed to hear what they have to say.

DMH Stallard LLP
DMH Stallard LLP solicitors have a significant corporate team operating out of London and the South East.  They are recognised as one of the leading law firms in the region across all the key practice areas and are described as standing out from other law firms for “high quality advice and a strong reputation.”  Having been involved in a number of mergers themselves as they have grown the firm over the years, they are well equipped to provide practical and commercial advice to professional firms on a range of M&A transactions. The main contact partners are Jonathan Grant and Abigail Owen.
Address: Gainsborough House, Pegler Way, Crawley, RH11 7FZ, England (And at: London, Guildford, Farnham, Crawley, Brighton) Tel: 01293 605000 Web:  Email:

KATO Consultancy
Andrew Jenner FCA and Phil Shohet FCA of KATO Consultancy are respected and experienced specialists in practice management and M&A. They know all about the issues involved in buying and selling a professional firm.  They will not act for any firm where they feel that they cannot add value to the business. They always confront issues in the most appropriately sensitive way, and their reputation is founded on finding the right solutions to practice issues and implementing them in a way that plays to partners’ strengths and improves the value of the business.
Address: Bank Chambers, 203 Goring Road, Worthing. BN12 4PA Tel: 07768 684724

Goldsmiths Practice Services
Another respected and experienced specialist is Ron Goldsmith who runs Goldsmiths Practice Services LLP – one of the UK’s leaders in accountancy practice sales and support including the merger and acquisition of accountancy practices both for sole practitioners and multi partner firms.  Apart from this work, they also provide further assistance to help purchasers with acquisition financing on an unsecured basis. The financing schemes are also available for clients to help them with their commercial finance requirements. They also have a joint venture with Accountancy Age on where you will find the latest opportunities for buyers and sellers.
Address: Siena Court, Broadway, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 1NJ Tel: 01628 627637 Email:

Mark Lee
Mark Lee FCA CTA (Fellow) works with professionals to help them to STAND OUT in a positive way. This is equally important whether you are to remain in practice or you want to secure a better price when you sell up. In this case you need to ensure that your practice STANDS OUT effectively. An accountant by profession, Mark chose to move away from the provision of professional advice in 2006. He has built a portfolio career that includes acting as a professional speaker, mentor, facilitator, author, blogger and debunker. The better prepared you are and the higher the profile and reputation of your practice with clients and with staff alike the more a purchaser is likely to be more attracted to your practice when it is offered for sale.
Tel: 0845 003 8780 Email:  Web:

Stanley Davis Practice Support Services
Specialising in the accountancy and legal practice fields, the company will arrange: mergers, acquisitions, disposals, succession, exit strategies whether retirement or otherwise, partner or partner designate executive searches, practice development and organisation, restructuring and general business advice. The first consultation is always free of charge and without obligation. Eric Golding FCA is managing director of this company within the Stanley Davis Group and works with firms of Solicitors and Accountants, drawing on his experience as a Chartered Accountant in practice for more than 20 years.
Address: 41 Chalton Street, London, NW1 1JD  Tel: 020 7554 2222  Email:  Web:

Marketing and Business Promotion – August 12th

Marketing and Business Promotion – August 12th

Try something new today

Here’s a recap on some useful marketing, business promotion and other interesting stories from the past week:

Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

Here are lots more marketing ideas and tips that have been published by Marketing Profs from


EU-funded tool to help our brain deal with big data

Every single minute, the world generates 1.7 million billion bytes of data, equal to 360,000 DVDs. Ask yourself: How can our brain deal with increasingly big and complex datasets?

EU researchers are developing an interactive system, which not only presents data the way you like it, but also changes the presentation constantly in order to prevent brain overload. The project could enable students to study more efficiently or journalists to cross check sources more quickly. Several museums in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and the United States have already showed interest in the new technology. Data is everywhere: it can either be created by people or generated by machines, such as sensors gathering climate information, satellite imagery, digital pictures and videos, purchase transaction records, GPS signals, etc. This information is a real gold mine. But it is also challenging: today’s datasets are so huge and complex to process that they require new ideas, tools and infrastructures.
Read more:

H&R Block Reaches out to Attract Accounting Firms

You must have heard about a US tax return preparer called H&R Block. They are very big. And well respected. They have now created a new program to attract accountants who are interested in selling their practices or becoming H&R Block franchisees, with a new service spearheaded by accounting industry consultant Jennifer Katrulya. She will continue to manage her consulting practice, BMRG Advisory Services, which provides firms with education, resources, tools and advisory services for modernizing their accounting practices, while also joining Block as director of accounting operations for H&R Block Small Business Services.

The emergence of cloud-based technology is changing the way accounting firms offer and price their services, Block noted, and the launch of the H&R /BMRG (Business Management Resource Group) program aims to address both problems. “As we’re looking to move into the client accounting services space, with bookkeeping, payroll, etc., an important thing for us was having a certain level of operational and strategic expertise, which Jennifer absolutely brings to the table,” said Jeremy Smith, director of H&R Block Small Business Services. “But also we want to be a constructive player in this space and part of the community. An important part of this is we know a big problem within the accounting space is succession.”

Watch out for the move to do the same in the UK – it could be sooner than you think. In the meantime, read more at:

New computer chip mimics the brain

It’s as fast as a supercomputer and as small as a postage stamp: the new computer chip that mimics the brain… What is it?

“TrueNorth” is a new computer chip that has been developed by scientists to mimic the organisation of the brain. Just three millimetres in width, it consists of a grid of one million “neurons” each connecting to 256 other neurons. The result is over 256 million connections, or “synapses”, between them. By working together, the neurons are able to identify the most important features in a visual scene in real time.

The project was first launched by American technology company IBM in 2011, but since then a number of other companies have also become involved. The details of the new chip are published in the journal Science. Dr Dharmendra Modha, the publication’s senior author, told the BBC that it was “a new machine for a new era”. He said that he foresees a wide range of next-generation applications, from glasses that help visually impaired people navigate, to robots that can investigate disaster scenes. Its capabilities are more advanced than other computer chips, which is the result of the processor being “endlessly scaleable”, according to Modha. “This isn’t a 10-15% improvement,” he said. “You’re talking about orders and orders of magnitude.”
Read more:

Your USB drives could cause serious injuries

The ubiquitous USB is ‘critically flawed’ after bug discovery, researchers say. Dave Lee, Technology reporter, BBC News says that cyber-security experts have dramatically called into question the safety and security of using USB to connect devices to computers. Berlin-based researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell demonstrated how any USB device could be used to infect a computer without the user’s knowledge. The duo said there is no practical way to defend against the vulnerability.

The body responsible for the USB standard said manufacturers could build in extra security. It is not uncommon for USB sticks to be used as a way of getting viruses and other malicious code onto target computers. Most famously, the Stuxnet attack on Iranian nuclear centrifuges was believed to have been caused by an infected USB stick.  However, this latest research demonstrated a new level of threat – where a USB device that appears completely empty can still contain malware, even when formatted.
Don’t say you weren’t warned.
Read more at:

Business plans for the 21st century

Previous articles in this series have looked at the whys and whats of business plans. John Stokdyk and the AccountingWEB team complete the series by looking at how people compile their plans and ask why they have proved so resistant to technological change.

The content, structure and composition of business plans have changed relatively little over the past decade. And the same could be said of the techniques used to create them. The web and other technologies such as tablets and smartphones offer a wealth of new ways to both create and communicate business plans. But the tools most people used 10 years ago – Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel – are just as ubiquitous in 2014.

As FD Works founder Jon Gaunt said of Excel 2013 in a recent blog, “Nothing comes close for business planning.”
Read more:

Warning – Too much Twitter use may make you psychotic: Study

If you have a tendency to read and post tweets for several hours a day, watch out for psychiatric disorders. According to researchers, an overdose of Twitter may drive you psychotic. The study detailed the case of Mrs C — a 31-year-old heavy Twitter user — who was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Germany because of intensive suicidal thoughts.

Mrs C’s development of psychotic symptoms coincided with her “excessive” use of Twitter — up to several hours a day reading and posting tweets, claimed the paper titled Twitter Psychosis: A Rare Variation or a Distinct Syndrome?
Read more:

The top 10 fixes for PC problems

The top 10 fixes for PC problems – read about that and more in PCWorld’s August Digital Edition. The onslaught of tech information is relentless. Stay on top of the latest with PCWorld’s Digital Edition. Available as single copies or as a year-long subscription, it highlights the best content from—the most important news, the key product reviews, and the most useful features and how-to stories—in a curated Enhanced Edition for Android, iOS, and Kindle, as well as in a Replica Edition.

The Enhanced Edition includes videos, slideshows, podcasts, and other interactive features—all designed for consuming on your tablet. The Replica Edition is a PDF-like version that’s enabled for your mobile device’s touchscreen.

How to subscribe and start reading:
Current subscribers can visit to learn how to access PCWorld on any device and start reading the August issue right away. Not a subscriber? With the PCWorld Digital All-Access Pass, you can get access to the digital magazine on as many devices as you’d like! Plus, you get access to both the Enhanced Editions and the Replica Editions—all for $19.97 a year. Subscribe today, or learn about other purchasing options by visiting
Read more:

Time’s up: The benefits and challenges of moving away from the billable hour

This is from the USA but provides useful lessons for UK firms: Debbi Warden, CPA, CGMA, still remembers exactly why her bookkeeping firm decided to—as she colourfully puts it—jump off a cliff. “It felt as if every other week we were putting dollar signs in front of our clients,” she said of her firm’s previous billing practices. “We are a relationship business. And we didn’t want dollar signs interfering with the relationship.”

Warden, who runs an accounting firm called The Business Manager near Denver, Colorado, wondered if changing her billing model might help. It’s a question many CPAs have considered in recent years, especially as more and more consultants have called for the elimination of the billable hour. Warden’s experience provides an instructive case study for firms that want to understand the challenges and potential benefits of such a change.

She jettisoned the firm’s old model, in which practitioners charged most clients $75 an hour and invoiced after the work was completed. Instead, a majority of clients began pre-paying a flat rate through an automatic monthly bank draft. The rate varied by client.
Read more:

Real productivity and total freedom: The Citrix Paperless Office Suite

Do you ever wish there was a way you could be in two places at once — being both productive at work and still present in your personal life? Now, there is. The Paperless Office Suite from Citrix combines the data-sharing power of ShareFile, virtual conferencing from GoToMeeting and total remote access to your computer from GoToMyPC to deliver on the promise of freedom and productivity found with true mobility.

Follow the real-world example below and then imagine how much more you could get done at work and in life with the Citrix Paperless solution.
Read more:

Tax rates, allowances and reliefs 2014/15: ICAEW TAXtools 5 issued

The Tax Faculty of ICAEW has issued TAXTools 5 which sets out a summary of 2013/14 and 2014/15 key tax rates, allowances and reliefs for business tax, indirect taxes, national insurance and personal tax. It includes information relevant for both members in practice and in business in an easy-to-use format. Additional and more detailed information can be found at the end of each section by following hyper-links to HMRC guidance.

TAXtools 5 is available online at TAXtools 5: Tax rates, allowances and reliefs 2013/14 and 2014/15 where drop-down menus can help you find what you need. It is free to all and not restricted to Tax Faculty members. You can save the webpage as a favourite, download or print a pdf version to keep on your desk. If you find it useful why not forward it to your colleagues?
Read more:–allowances-and-reliefs-2013-14-and-2014-15–ICAEW-TAXtools-5-issued

Going Local: Keys to Grassroots Marketing

Understanding and optimizing local opportunities can be the most powerful type of marketing possible. Generally, business owners are grappling with a host of new marketing imperatives. They have to “grab eyeballs”, drive traffic to their website, monitor page views and calculate their conversion to sales. If you ran a big company, you’d be increasingly dependent on technology to keep track of customer buying patterns, preferences, and needs. But if you’re running a local small firm, you start each day with a significant competitive edge: you actually know your customers.

This allows you to provide a level of customer service and personalised attention that larger organisations can only simulate or dream about. The added dimension of customer connection alters the playing field for business owners whose market is local. Your customers know they can shop for your products or services not only locally, but also online. But you can win and retain their loyalty by making your personal relationship so valuable that levels on which you can’t compete, such as price, take a back seat to the importance they place on doing business with you.

A free publication can be downloaded from:
Read more:

Marketing and Business Promotion – Aug 5th

Marketing and Business Promotion – Aug 5th

“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new” – Albert Einstein

Try something new today:

This article is a round-up of marketing and business promotion issues. 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 a penny.

Here’s a recap on some of the marketing and business promotion stories from the past week:

P.S If you are thinking of selling your firm, please take a look at my blog Thinking of Selling.

Marketing Profs – lots of new ideas to try

Here are lots of new ideas from Marketing Profs:


14 Optical Illusions That Prove Your Brain Sucks

This is a bit of fun. Go to the source link given below and then stare at the black cross in the middle of the graphic you can see. Soon you’ll begin see a green dot moving around the perimeter. Eventually, all the pinkish dots disappear, leaving a lonely solo green dot traveling along the edge. But it’s all a lie. There is no green dot and the pink dots never really disappear.

This is known as the “lilac chaser illusion.” It’s a combination of several physiological phenomena including 1) the previously mentioned “phi phenomenon” in which we perceive continuous motion between separate objects viewed rapidly in succession (used in development of early cinema); 2) afterimages in which overstimulation of specific cones in the eye can “tire” them out while surrounding cones not affected by that particular stimulation will send the brain the complete opposite stimuli (in this case, green); and 3) the fact that our brains tend to ignore blurry stimuli that are in the periphery of our vision, a phenomenon called “Troxler’s fading.” (Image via)

Our brains filter through a constant tsunami of stimuli and piece the important parts together to recreate what we know as “reality.” And they do all this in damn-near real-time—which is really impressive if you think about it. But here’s the thing: a big chunk of what we consider “reality” actually consists of our brains making guestimates.
Read more:

Murphy’s law or law of unintended consequences: The re-emergence of Goodwill?

Whether driven by such problems as Equitable Life, the general fall in annuity rates, the global financial crisis or financial problems in the European economy, or simply the desire for and expectation of an older generation to receive a significant capital sum on retirement, goodwill is now an increasing issue of interest within the profession.

Derek Smith, a senior consultant at Foulger Underwood, recently acted as expert witness on the Wildin case. The case [Graham Michael Wildin v HMRC] was about how to calculate the goodwill value of a Gloucestershire accounting practice that was sold in 2003. Wildin and HMRC disagreed over the CGT Wildin owed after he sold shares in his firm.

Traditionally, practising accountants expected someone to make a goodwill payment to buy into the practice and help partners to retire. Within medium and larger firms this ceased to be the approach some years ago but the practice was still retained in part by smaller firms. For some, this was established through their partnership agreements even though these were not always read (or shown!) to incoming partners. Although in some cases there was a discount applied for those who had been with the firm for some time, this was not always the case.  The recent past however has seen the emergence of a number of circumstances that were perhaps previously unforeseen or unexpected [covered in the article].
Read more:

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

You ought to have heard of Simon Sinek. He’s an optimist and is described as “a visionary thinker with a rare intellect”. In this 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, he 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:


Texting for Success

With nearly everyone on the planet having a mobile phone, and nearly every one of those phones having texting capabilities, SMS has become ubiquitous worldwide. That makes it the perfect technology to interact with your customers.  Short message service is a simple, easy-to-use method of communication, and as this buyer’s guide examines, many businesses are using it to improve customer satisfaction and sales.

Download Using SMS for Marketing: A Beginner’s Resource for the ins-and-outs of SMS and how when implemented correctly, it can result in a significantly higher impact when compared to other channels.  Twice as many people use SMS as have access to the Internet or email. Don’t miss out on this untapped marketing channel. Download now.  Registration is required.

Master the Art of Lead Nurturing

In the B2B marketing landscape, sales don’t come easy. Before customers sign on, your marketing and sales teams must collaborate to build brand awareness and trust, demonstrate value, and help prospects make an informed decision.

Today’s prospects are often reluctant to reach out to your sales team until they’ve completed a significant amount of independent research. Download 5 B2B Lead Nurturing Mistakes & How to Fix Them to learn how to drive engagement, measure your results, and tweak your programs to maximize potential sales opportunities.  Download now. Registration is required.

Download Five B2B Lead Nurturing Mistakes & How to Fix Them

In today’s B2B marketing landscape, your prospects are more likely than ever to complete a significant amount of research prior to reaching out to your sales team. This requires marketers to be masters of lead nurturing, helping to build brand awareness and trust, and demonstrating value so prospects can make informed decisions. Download this free guide to learn five common mistakes that many B2B companies make during the lead nurturing process—and practical tips for how to avoid them. Registration is required.
Read more:

The vast majority of SMEs are still concerned about growth

The vast majority (84%) of senior decision makers from British SMEs say they are concerned about the current economic climate, with three in five businesses not confident that the economy will improve over the next year. This is according to the latest quarterly SME Risk Index from global insurer, Zurich, and polled by YouGov, surveying over 500 senior SME decision makers. Further details of the report are available here.

This latest report follows news on Begbies Traynor Red Flag Alert that suggested that an interest rate rise of 1% could have severe impact on SMEs experiencing financial distress, especially those with debts accumulated during the recession. Many commentators feel the Bank of England could increase interest rates as early as November 2014 with a slow incremental increase between Spring 2015 and the end 2017.
Read more:

When the Buyer Only Cares About the Price

There is a type of client whose only priority is paying the lowest price, even if that means sacrificing quality, brand recognition, or delivery time. What can we do when price becomes the main obstacle to closing a sale? Many companies become frustrated with customers whose only priority seems to be the price.  Ariel Baños, President and founder of FIJACIONDEPRECIOS.COM, provides three keys to identify and profit from “price shoppers”
Read more:…

How to build an online profile that leads to new opportunities

What’s the first thing you do when you meet someone new? You search for them online. You may look at their LinkedIn profile, their company website, blog and maybe even their Facebook profile and Twitter account. A quick online search of someone can tell you a lot of information and savvy business professionals and entrepreneurs know how to exploit this and use it to their advantage.

Your online profile, that is all the platforms that represent you and perhaps your business, has the power to influence potential new clients, business stakeholders as well as future employers. So if you want to be seen in a certain light or position yourself as an industry expert, building a strong online profile is the best way to achieve this.

When building your online profile you should consider the suggestions made in this useful article.
Read more:

How to Self-Publish a Book

Twenty years ago, if you were a new author interested in getting your book published, you had to shop it around with publishers and hope that someone, eventually, might not reject you. But nowadays you can choose to self-publish anything you’d like. Here’s how.

In the old dynamic of getting your book in print, authors basically had three options:

  • Send a manuscript to publishers. If you were lucky, an editor at one of the big publishing houses would have plucked it from the so-called “slush pile” of unsolicited manuscripts. Your publishing contract may have included an “advance,” a sum of money that will be paid back with royalties earned from the sale of your book. The royalty rate? About 8-10% for mass market paperbacks.
  • Commission an agent to shop around your manuscript. A good agent would be able to get your book in front of the right people at the right publishing houses (for a price).
  • Have a vanity press handle publishing. You would send in your manuscript, and pay a large fee to get several hundred copies published. It would be up to you to sell them… or give them away.

That was then, this is now. The rise of tablets and the launch of self-publishing platforms have made it possible for anyone to release their own book to the world, without going through the traditional gatekeepers or costly vanity presses. However, it’s still easy to get burned with self-publishing. The author says he learned some of the pitfalls, rip-offs and mistakes the hard way, when he began publishing the In 30 Minutes series of how-to guides in 2012. Since then, he has started a small publishing company and has heard from lots of newbie authors who are unsure about how to get started.
Whether you have a fiction masterpiece, a biography, nonfiction work or children’s book, the pointers in this article will help you navigate the brave new world of self-publishing.
Read more:

The Clear Skies Desktop

Ami Banerji‘s Linux desktop is clean, simple, and pretty open. What it gives up in widgets it gets back in simplicity, and that’s a good thing. This article shows how to get the same look for your computer.

Ami is running Ubuntu 14.04 “Trusty Tahr”, so while some of the look and feel is Ubuntu specific, not all of it is, and you can get a similar look with any Linux distro. Here are the components you’ll need:

  • The wallpaper from WallpaperUp
  • Conky, a lightweight system monitor for Linux systems
  • Harmattan for Conky
  • QlockTwo by none other than okubax, whose work we’ve featured before here
  • The Numix GTK theme
  • Plank, an application dock for Linux for the launcher at the bottom of the screen
  • The Numix Square icon set to replace the system icons

As with many setups like this, the beauty is that you can take it all and duplicate the look and feel, or you can just pick and choose the things that appeal to you and apply them to your own system.
Read more:

5 Ways to Get Over the Fear of Starting Your Own Business

You are on your way home after a long day at work thinking how you would love to start your own business—the freedom it would give you, the satisfaction it would fill you with.

You think about it more and more, and with each passing thought you increasingly realise all the reasons why you can’t actually do it.

  • You can’t take the risk
  • You aren’t good enough at anything you could actually start a business in
  • You can’t raise the money
  • You have no experience in starting a business
  • You wouldn’t mind trying, but you would mind failing
  • You are scared you will leave a good job for something that may amount to nil

If these are some of the things you are thinking—stop thinking those things, and never think them again.  And start re-thinking like this… [As in the full article]  For more information check out VTSL’s website.

[This is a useful article to share with clients who are thinking of starting their own business] Read more:

Working Remotely – The Telecommuter’s Guide to the Galaxy

Working remotely – lawyers, legal professionals, techies, just about anyone – saves money, improves productivity, and creates greater access to talent.

This free book identifies the advantages of working from anywhere in the galaxy, and explores how workers and employers can optimize productivity, streamline processes, and adopt best practices.

If you’re considering working remotely or moving your practice to an all-remote workforce, check out this book for insight and recommendations to help you along the journey. Click the hyperlink below to register and obtain this free book.

News update for Accountants and Lawyers – July week 5

News update for Accountants and Lawyers – July week 5

The following is a round-up of marketing news from the last 7 days. It covers mostly marketing issues, 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 a penny.

By the way, don’t forget to read my blog posts on current affairs, finance scams, recession (yes, it may be back again together with higher interest rates and plummeting property values), the audit of honesty in organisations and much more at:

If you didn’t see it, why not read last week’s blog about The Economic Miracle that George [Osborne] invented.

Potential Impressions vs. Actual Impressions: Which Should You Measure?

Since Twitter updated its activity dashboard to include actual impression data, the author says he has heard one question from a lot of social media marketers: Should my team focus on potential impressions, or actual impressions?

It’s a good question, albeit a tricky one. And as is the case with most analysis, there’s no universal answer. If there were, we’d just call it math (and I’d be out of a job). As the breadth of social measurement grows, and we’re able to granulate specific actions, we can find very specific insights from the data we look at. In the case of impressions, this means we can find use cases for both types.

What Is An Actual Impression?
The definition used by Twitter in the new activity dashboard identifies an impression as “anytime a user sees your Tweet.” Think of it like a pageview in Google Analytics. If your Tweet physically shows up on a user’s monitor, that’s an impression. This is incredibly valuable as a marketer in the broad sense of the title. As data becomes more essential to the social marketer’s process, and tactics are formalized, social media is being fully integrated into the marketing process, no matter what that process looks like in your particular industry.
Read more here.

A comprehensive guide to investing in the UK

From Legal Week Law, This free Herbert Smith Freehills’ guide aims to explain the key legal issues affecting planned or existing investment in the UK, acting as a glossary or step-by-step guide for overseas investors. It’s just what your clients and prospective clients want.

The UK has successfully retained its leadership position in Europe for inward investment. The country’s financial and professional services and the strength of London remain a powerful draw, and it is still the most attractive destination for foreign direct investment into Europe. At first, the legal system in the UK, the way in which investment in companies is made, the restrictions on acquiring businesses in the UK and the rules on money laundering, financial services, employment, tax law and other areas, can be difficult to understand.
Click ‘View Briefing‘ to download the full guide. Registration is required.

Come on… Have some fun! Circle the skies, from your phone

Flight simulators are one of the most enduring types of computer games. For years, they were primarily played on traditional PCs, but many smartphones and tablets are now powerful enough to give simulator apps the realistic look and feel of swooping and soaring through the sky.

Infinite Flight, which is $5 on iOS and Android, is easily the most impressive flight simulator for mobile devices. The app has realistic graphics and sophisticated controls that simulate many aspects of flying real aircraft. It also comes with a number of aircraft, and locations to fly around. To start, select an aircraft type, like a small Cessna or the powerful F-18 fighter. Next, choose a location and some basic weather options. Then you’re immediately transported to the cockpit, with a beautiful view of the sky and ground and a display of the important aircraft controls.
Read more, here

Lots of Marketing ideas from Marketing Profs

Here are lots of new ideas from Marketing Profs. Click on the links below.
The New Anti-Spam Law in Canada: A Primer for Email Marketers
Facebook Mood Manipulator & Snapchat, Reddit, Instagram News
Planning Tool: Blogging
Seasonal Search Trends by Industry
Using the Cloud to Tear Down the Walls of Customer Channels
When Being Banned Is a Big Win: Four Lessons From Beats by Dre
How Much Do Chief Marketers Get Paid? [Infographic]
Using Buyer Personas to Make an Impact on Marketing ROI
Car Tech: Time for Automakers to Get in the Fast Lane
Serving Everyone Means Serving No One: Customer-Centricity Truths
Has Google Penalized Your Website? SEO Can Help
Social Media Engagement: Kim Garst & Nathan Latka at Social Fresh
How to Create an Emotional Connection With a Customer
The 10 Brands Businesspeople Respect Most (and Least)
What the European Union’s Ruling About Google May Mean for You
Community Trolls: Types, Motivations, and Solutions
2014 Marketing Automation Benchmarks and Trends
All You Wanted to Know About Mobile but Were Afraid to Ask
How Big Businesses Use Colors to Affect Your Emotions
Three Types of Data That Can Help You Connect With Leads

Add sizzle to your PowerPoint presentation with shapes and special effects

Unless you’re presenting a cure for insomnia, you want your PowerPoint slides to engage your audience without distracting them from the presenter (you). Too much text invites people to read rather than listen—if they don’t just tune out completely.

Fortunately, PowerPoint 2013 has some amazing new graphics features, as well as updates on older ones, that let you add customized eye candy to your slides. Here, we’ll show you how to create and format basic shapes and add some special effects.
If you want your presentation to sizzle, read this article, here.

11 secrets for creating a viral hit from the king of online video

Rebecca Burn-Callander, Enterprise Editor of the Telegraph wrote an interesting article on this subject.  Do you want to send your brand or project viral, she asks.  The creator of Barcroft Media, which has attracted 500m views with its eye-catching content, shares his tried-and-tested tips for creating a hit online video If you are a regular user of Facebook, Youtube, or a fan of the Telegraph photo galleries, it’s likely that you’ve seen – and probably shared – content created by viral agency Barcroft Media. In this article, founder Sam Barcroft reveals some of his most valuable tips for creating digital videos that will be seen by millions.
Read more, here.

7 Shortcuts every Boss should know

These common-sense tips and techniques will make you a better manager. After decades of observing executives and entrepreneurs in action, the author says he’s come to the conclusion that good management is mostly a matter of common sense. That being said, common sense can sometimes be in short supply. To fill that lack, this article provides a “cheat sheet” from the “How to Manage Your Employees” chapter of the author’s new book, Business Without the Bullsh*t: 49 Secrets and Shortcuts You Need to Know.

More on How to Be a Great Boss

Read more, here.

10 technologies that will transform PCs in 2015 and beyond

“The PC’s future is so bright, you gotta wear shades” writes the author.  You might write off PCs as archaic or boring. You might take for granted that they’ll get faster, lighter, more power-efficient and more convenient to use over time. But if you stop and consider all the things that go into making a computer better, there’s actually a lot to be excited about.

This article gives you 10 PC advancements that will transform PCs over the next several years.
Read more, here

Secrets of a successful accountancy firm

“What is the purpose of a business?” What do you think the answer is, asks Mark Lloydbottom. This is the first in a series of articles on becoming more successful in AccountingWEB’s Practice Excellence Programme.

This is a question that’s been asked at many workshops and on three continents. The first respondents invariably, sometimes tentatively suggest, “to make a profit.” The author waits a while to see if any other responses emanate from the participants until eventually someone offers the [correct] answer that is to meet the needs of its customers. The extent to which a business meets or exceeds the needs of its customers there will be a number of outcomes, one of which is profit.
Read more, here

5 Lesser-Known Email Etiquette Rules You Might Be Breaking

In the two decades since email began saturating most workplaces, most people have come to agree on some basic etiquette rules, such as don’t reply-all when you don’t need to and avoid using all caps unless you’re screaming at someone. But there are finer points of email etiquette that aren’t as universally acknowledged but can make you a far more effective emailer. Here are five lesser-known email etiquette breaches that you might still make.

  • Waiting to respond to an email until you know the answer – even if it takes days.
  • Assuming that you don’t need to respond if you’re more junior than others receiving the email.
  • Sending out “gentle reminders.”
  • Responding to a serious or sensitive email with only “OK.”
  • Sending emails that are too long or aren’t clear about what action you’re requesting.

Read more, here

Answering questions about your Social Media campaigns

With an increased investment in social media marketing comes an increased need to know which tactics work, and why. You can learn how to answer the questions that will help you share the success of your campaigns with your boss [or your co-directors or partners]. You can download a free guide to learn things like:

  • How to provide a high-level campaign summary
  • How to share what your audience is saying about your brand
  • Ways to connect social media activity to sales
  • How successful your brand’s customer service is on social

…and much more.
Read more, here

A Better Way: Cut through the “noise” with a personalised approach to Email

In a sea of distraction, everything from our inbox to our favourite social media feed is buzzing with people and brands competing for our attention. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to cut through the noise to reach leads and customers. Amid the chaos, your one-size-fits-all email blast just doesn’t grab anyone’s attention anymore.

Trying to make sense of email marketing tactics that work today? This free short guide will explore:

  • How to ditch the one-to-many blast for one-on-one engagement
  • How email nurturing drives small business growth
  • How to leverage email marketing and CRM to automate your marketing efforts

Read more, here

Six tips for using existing data more wisely 

Organisations are collecting more data than ever before and processing them in new ways in an effort to improve their businesses. But often they are not using the data in the right way — if they are using them at all. Eighty-seven per cent of finance professionals said Big Data holds the potential to change the way business is done, according to the CGMA report From Insight to Impact: Unlocking Opportunities in Big Data. But 86% of those surveyed said their businesses struggle to get valuable information from the data they have. Hurdles to maximising data’s value include organisational silos, challenges related to data quality and an inability to work with unfamiliar, non-financial data.

The article provides six ways to make sure you are collecting the right data and making the most of the data you already possess.
Read more, here

Marketing and Business Promotion

Marketing and Business Promotion

This article is a round-up of marketing and business promotion issues. 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 a penny.
marketing cartoon

By the way, don’t forget to read my blog posts on current affairs, finance scams, recession (yes, it may be back again together with higher interest rates and plummeting property values), the audit of honesty in organisations and much more at: If you didn’t see it, why not read last week’s blog about Dr Cable’s posture on foreign takeovers.

The dos and don’ts of pitching for business investment

Each year venture capitalists and seed investors pour billions into businesses in the hope one day they will bag a winner. Creating big, sustainable, and highly profitable ventures is every investor’s dream.

But getting you and your business in front of these wannabe billionaires – let alone being given the green light – isn’t easy. So BBC spoke to three different and influential investors to find out how to get a proposal to them, what they were looking for, and as importantly, what they would run a mile from. Each of the investors has agreed to answer questions from our readers. You can email your questions to with the subject heading “investment”, or complete the form at the bottom of the story.
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There’s a better way to plan your event: Use Eventbrite

eventbriteNow, here’s the easiest way to sell tickets and manage registration for any kind of event: Powerful tools to save you time and energy. Create a polished, customised event page in minutes – just fill in your event information and you’re good to go!  You can send email invitations and updates to your guests directly from your Eventbrite dashboard.

With simple online registration by invitees, you don’t have to bother with phone calls, emails, or tracking guests on a spreadsheet. Instead of guessing who will show up, have people RSVP in advance so you can plan your food, seating and more.
Read more:

Free Search Engine Basics E-Book

This is from Rocket X1, theInternet Marketing Agency for Growing Businesses.People use search engines to find your business, product, or service, but how do you show up consistently in search engine results?

It starts with good, optimised content, but let’s face it, Google’s winning. It’s been an uphill battle for businesses trying to make a dent in the search rankings. And if you’re among the downtrodden that got slammed by some of the algorithm updates, you learned how quickly all those SEO tricks can become completely useless, if not outright harmful.

But there are a handful of fundamental practices that you can implement to maximize the chances of getting your content found and read. It starts with relevant, useful content in the form of website copy, blog posts, video, and more. In this E-Book, you’ll learn about the essential element that go into optimizing your online properties and content for search engines and for mobile devices.
Download it free from:

IntelliSend for business email

intellisendEngage Mobility, Inc., a US provider of mobile technology, marketing and data solutions, has announced that is has launched its newest technology and service called IntelliSend, a proprietary technology that detects whether an email recipient is viewing an email via mobile, tablet or desktop. The technology then delivers the optimized version to the mobile user. IntelliSend will be integrated with the Engage Mobile Engagement System for a complete mobile marketing experience.

“One of the challenges with the small mobile screen is filling out online forms. The abandonment rate for customer acquisition is extremely high and businesses are losing conversions and revenue. With IntelliSend, our technology recognizes the device and delivers a mobile friendly version of the content that seamlessly integrates with our click-to-call platform. The conversion rates using optimized mobile with click-to-call are markedly better,” states Engage CEO Jim Byrd. “As more and more email is read through the mobile device, businesses must deliver the right message, in the right format, to the right device so their customers can respond. IntelliSend makes this process seamless, easy and extremely cost effective.”

Engage offers IntelliSend to all business owners, agencies and marketing partners with pricing beginning at $500. For more information, please visit or call them at US +888-888-3642.
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Captivate your audience with a guerrilla marketing blitz

Like guerrilla soldiers forced to use limited resources to fight mightier opponents on the battlefield, guerrilla marketers rely on strategic strikes to gain a foothold in the digital marketplace. While traditional billboards and magazine ads might prove to be a few-million-dollar drop in the bucket for some companies, smaller businesses can reach huge audiences with a refined approach to basic internet tools like YouTube and other social media sites.

While many business people have heard of the concept, not everyone has led a quick, sexy, interactive guerrilla campaign. It requires a simple marketing message made into an unmistakable experience. Entrepreneur magazine defines guerrilla marketing as “any promotion that’s unconventional, unexpected and usually evocative of a unique, memorable reaction from or interaction with the viewer.” That’s exactly what the approach takes: an unconventional method, led by imagination and an innovative spirit to craft messages that resonate with audiences.

This excellent article provides a few things to consider before you launch a guerrilla campaign.
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Coca-Cola’s Mini Kiosk is absolutely adorable

Despite being an enormous multi-national, billion-dollar company, Coca-Cola has really distinguished itself with small-scale guerrilla marketing. They have prioritised the localised customer experience with a series of happiness focused stunts, which thanks to smart filming and social marketing have gone viral globally. Well, it doesn’t get much more small-scale than with one of their most recent campaigns, The Mini Kiosk and its new product the 150ml mini can.

There’s something about tiny things, and tiny versions of things that make our brains go into adorable overdrive. Coca-Cola has capitalised on this in a way we can’t even be impressed at, because we’re too busy gushing about it.
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Kickstarter wrote a computer program for its ‘Lunch Roulette.’

To ramp up its culture, Kickstarter created a creative lunch program for its employees and now the company is ready to share it with the crowds. You see, Kickstarter’s staff is especially diverse – former funeral directors, radio hosts and hardware hackers are all part of the team. To bring this eclectic group together, the Brooklyn-based crowdfunding platform started organizing different, random groups of employees to break bread together.

While middle school may have been a long time ago, we still need a bit of encouragement sometimes to leave our comfort zone. In order to be sure that the hardware hackers weren’t exclusively having lunch with other hardware hackers, the office manager at Kickstarter, Shannon Ferguson would work tirelessly to come up with continually random groups for these lunch outings. But as Kickstarter grew, so did the challenge of this task.
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Avoid Loss in Translation: Put developers & creative staffers on the same page

In the exciting fast-paced world of technology startups, communication failures between different departments can spell disaster. As the founder of a company that builds software to streamline and optimise communication on teams, the author knows subjectively and from customers, that this problem is pervasive between technical and nontechnical teams.

And the communication gap can’t be bridged with project-management software. Basecamp, Trello and other scrum platforms are amazing, but the kind of communication breakdowns I’m talking about run deep. It’s almost as if one party were speaking English and the other Japanese, and all are tossing their heads in misunderstanding. But don’t send a marketing guru to night school for computer science. Some clear and easy ways can prevent company initiatives from becoming lost in translation.
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Brainstorm Assistant – the answer to how to promote your brand

Talk to the brains[21 July 2014,] Need a helping hand to find your perfect promotional product to represent your brand? If so, look no further than Brainstorm Assistant – simply fill in your details on their online form and they’ll help you come up with promotional ideas. With plenty of options for marketing ideas on offer, they say they will ensure that your product is the right fit for your company with their promotional idea generator.What have you got to lose? Just try it!
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Marketing Profs – lots of new ideas to try

Here are lots of new ideas from Marketing Profs:


Marketing Professional Services

animationA long time ago, Philip Kotler and Richard A. Connor, Jr. wrote something about marketing that will surely interest you. It’s called: Marketing Professional Services – A specific program for managers of professional services firms.  It appeared in Journal of Marketing, January 1977. You can download the free paper at the source link provided below.

Marketing is one of the most important functions for helping professional service firms meet the unprecedented challenges they are facing. This article outlines a specific program.

Read more:,%20Conor%20-%20Marketing%20professional%20services%20(cit%C3%A9%2030)%20-%201977.pdf

Solving the problem – what Leaders need

You’re a marketer, and you’re in charge. You’re overrun with responsibilities but limited on time, and money never seems to go far enough. You make it work. But could it work better?

The people at MarketingProfs, feel your pain. They hear from executives like you every day about the inimitable challenges leaders face and the knowledge they require to fill the gaps. They know what you need, and they’re here to deliver.

That’s where B2B Marketing Forum comes in. Now in its eighth year, B2B Marketing Forum has always brought together the brightest practitioners—those in the trenches who’ve been there, done that—to help marketing leaders like you understand the latest tools and tactics, cultivate new ideas, and walk away with new strategies for success. And this year’s no different. In fact, they’re doing something even more special: they’re presenting a series of CMO-focused sessions to address your unique needs. Register now to secure your spot at this premiere learning experience.

Join them for executive-level, how-to presentations.

Finally, jumpstart your learning a day early with their executive-level workshop, Let’s Talk Strategy! Focused on the fundamentals of strategy and how to apply strategic thinking to advance your B2B marketing goals, you’ll learn how to take control of your marketing strategy with the real tools for real challenges in real life. This workshop is nearly full, so register now before it’s too late.

The Forum takes place October 9-10, 2014 (workshops October 8), at Westin Copley Place, Boston, MA, USA. The registration form (with pricing details) is at:
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Over a third of clients use internet to find lawyers

A survey of consumers has found that 38 per cent in the US and 36 per cent in the UK use the internet to find a lawyer if they need one. The research was carried out by YouGov for the Thomson Reuters site FindLaw. The conclusions suggest that the public is moving away from relying on personal recommendation to the net. In the UK some 30 per cent of people still prefer to rely on the advice of friends or family when seeking a lawyer. Source: Legal Futures
Read more at:

How to Build an Army of Advocates

The rise of social media has created a legion of consumers who openly and enthusiastically share their opinions on brands they love. But how do you organise the masses into your own army of brand advocates? It’s easier than you think.

Nowadays, there are satisfied customers, and there are brand advocates—those who eagerly embrace your company’s vision and help advance your interest through interactions online. And as The Advocate Marketing Playbook explains, it’s easy to create and manage an advocate marketing program for your company. Filled with best practices, use cases, and helpful worksheets, it’s your how-to guide for planning and launching successful programs that leverage one of your best assets—your customers. Download now from the hyperlink given below.

Leading tech entrepreneurs share how they raised funding

strategyFunding a tech start-up doesn’t always turn out how you planned. Three tech entrepreneurs reveal how their first-time fundraisings turned out…Raising finance can be a treacherous path to take, inevitably throws up twists and turns and often takes twice as long as you expected.

Speaking at London Technology Week, founder of Seven magazine and forthcoming website 2210 Fashion Marc Cameron, asked three tech entrepreneurs – Tim Jackson, Nick Holzherr, and Stefan Siegel – to revisit their first-time fundraising attempts.
Read more at:

Powerpoint pro tips: Exporting to other formats

PowerPoint is used everywhere, but it can’t be viewed or edited on every device. That’s a problem in an increasingly ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) world, where many audience members could be wielding Android tablets instead of PCs.

Why not take advantage of PowerPoint 2013’s versatile Export tool to create versions for posting and sharing that embrace all devices. The article explains how to save a presentation as a PDF, a Word document handout, and an RTF outline.

Read more at:

Perspective-shifting habits of 10 extremely creative people

steve jobsThe best ideas often come to the person who isn’t actively searching for them. We spend a lot of time racking our brains in morning meetings and staring at blank computer screens waiting for an aha moment, but science shows we might be better off removing ourselves entirely from our typical work environment to gain a fresh perspective.

Earlier this year, Stanford University researchers found that a person’s ability to think creatively increases almost 60 per cent when they abandon that office chair for a stroll around the block. And taking brief, unplugged vacations and spending time outdoors specifically have proven to help us arrive at our best ideas and improve our decision-making abilities.

Of course, great creative minds don’t necessarily take a cue from science or wait around for research to back up their methods — they arrive through intuition and discipline at the habits and practices that lead to their best ideas and greatest successes.

This article profiles 10 people who found some of their best ideas by stepping out the office, away from the noise and into spaces that encourage their creativity rather than stifle it.
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Can employees expect their employers to be caring?

employee thinking

Of course they can and they do. According to a recent study, a third of employees said they would consider leaving a job due to poor workplace wellbeing. So what’s the secret to getting it right; being seen as a caring company and, in turn, boosting growth for the business?

Over the past few months The Telegraph, in partnership with leading financial protection provider Unum, has developed The Blueprint; a practical guide to help employers make a case for a renewed focus on health and wellness at board level, and to provide them with the everyday solutions to apply in their workplace. To create The Blueprint, the views of employees and employers at some of the country’s most established brands and innovative start-ups were garnered, collated and collected, focusing on five central business areas.
Read about them at:

Audits of Honesty

Audits of Honesty

Mention the word “audit” to anyone and the chances are that it conjures up the idea of an accountant (usually a registered auditor) and his/her team coming to your office with their quill pens – ready to give you a “thorough going over” before they’re ready to sign off an audit report on the contents of the annual accounts. These financial audits are part of the regulatory system – if you like, it’s a cost that has to be paid when you run a company, with some exemptions for small companies.

advanced business process

To be truthful, the financial audit isn’t generally welcomed – it’s something that has to be done, but few business owners and managers regard it as something they actually really “want”.

But your historical trading record isn’t the only thing that should be subjected to scrutiny or “audit”. There are many other audits that people aren’t aware of, such as (excerpted from my publication on Strategic Audits):

  • Business Strategy Audit: This means analysing the effectiveness of your company’s strategy and the process by which the strategy is determined and implemented.
  • Marketing Audit: This provides a thorough review of the company’s marketing environment, objectives, strategies, and activities with a view to determining problem areas and opportunities and recommending a plan of action to improve the company’s marketing performance.
  • Corporate Identity Audit: This means providing measurement tools for your company’s corporate image and reputation.
  • Technology Audit: A technology audit gives you the necessary tools to see how effectively you can exploit the technological strengths in your company (and eliminate weaknesses) as well as identifying other IT opportunities that may help your organisation.
  • Leadership Skills Audit:  Are you “leading” or “pulling” – you need a guide to improving the leadership effectiveness at every level in your company. The audit identifies the competencies are required for leadership success in your company and measures the performance of the company’s employees in terms of those competencies. It stresses the need to develop leadership at all organisational levels, and suggests an outline for developing personal improvement plans.
  • Corporate Culture Audit: Here’s how to evaluate your company’s organisational culture as well as capturing all its strong points to create sustainable competitive advantage.
  • Computer Security and Fraud Prevention Audit: This is an in-depth way to check the security of your computer systems and the data held on them.
  • Productivity Audit:  This incorporates performance measures to identify key areas where improvements in productivity can be achieved. This audit increases the chances of increasing productivity in real terms, rather than improving efficiency at the expense of strategic goals.
  • Service Management Audit:  This is an assessment process to determine the direction and effectiveness of each service unit throughout your organisation. The audit provides information about using service resources effectively, measuring the quality of service management, and assessing a company’s ability to recover in the face of service failure.
  • Customer Satisfaction Audit: This audit ensures that your company stays firmly focussed on customer needs. It looks at the critical aspects of system-wide customer satisfaction and measures performance.
  • Partnership and Alliances Audit: Are you in good company? – find out via a structured assessment of your company’s alliance, partnership and joint-venture relationships.
  • Environmental Management Audit: This audit describes how you can determine which environmental standards should be targeted and provides a model for auditing performance in terms of those standards.
  • Logistics Audit: If you’re set on maintaining sustainable competitive advantage, here’s the solution to reshaping the logistics processes in your organisation.
  • Risk Audit: This audit assesses the various risks to which your business is exposed. For example: what would happen to your business if someone slipped and fell on your property, or a customer sued you for an error you made, or an employee stole funds, or a power surge knocked out your computer system and vital data is lost, or someone hacked into your computer system and stole your company’s secrets or, perhaps worst of all, a product you made injured or poisoned someone or even killed them?

The new kid on the block – the Audit of Honesty.

The above is a formidable list and perhaps too much except for large companies dealing with millions of consumers.

What’s missing though is the audit of honesty. It’s coming soon and it may become the norm.

On 7 July, the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors (CIIA) said that businesses should launch a full- scale review of their corporate cultures if they want to stop future crises and scandals taking place. It went even further by proposing that the audit industry should be given sweeping new powers covering behaviour in all parts of businesses, as well as the traditional role of monitoring and reporting on financial activities.

This news was widely reported in the financial press and was warmly received.

Would Honesty Audits be any different to Financial Audits?

breadIn July 2013, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), here, wrote about financial audits. They said the auditing business rests on what Joshua Ronen, a New York University accounting professor, once called “a structural infirmity.”  Auditors are paid by the companies they audit, much as rating agencies, such as Fitch, Moody’s et al, are paid by companies they rate.  WSJ wrote that this gives auditors an economic incentive to lie on their clients’ behalf, even if that puts their reputations at risk. As an old German proverb puts it: Whose bread I eat, his song I sing.

We have to try to think of what an honesty audit might encompass. Here’s a start:

  • If something goes wrong, how does the business report it to the customer?
  • Does the business act swiftly in reporting problems?
  • Are all the facts relating to a problem communicated to the customer without attempt to confuse or distort?
  • Is the business honest and trustworthy when writing reports to customers and in completing forms etc?
  • Does the business deceive customers by knowingly over-charging for products or services?
  • Does the business always comply with all employment laws and other regulations?
  • Does the business knowingly misrepresent any facts?

winston churchillNo doubt you can add many more points.
[NB “business” mentioned above means the company or organisation whose honesty is being audited.]

Final words from Sir Winston Churchill:

“It is a fine thing to be honest, but it is also very important to be right.”

Desperate Dan moves to the digital era

Desperate Dan moves to the digital era

“My interest in desperation lies only in that sometimes I find myself having become desperate. Very seldom do I start out that way. I can see of course that, in the abstract, thinking and all activity is rather desperate.” – Desperate Dan in the Dandy, many years ago

I hope you enjoy this update for accountants and lawyers of news from last week. If Desperate Dan can keep up to date, so can you. desperate dan

Marketing and Practice Management Issues

“Tomorrow’s Practice”?

This month, ICAEW launched a major new research project looking at how accountancy practices must evolve over the next 10 years and beyond. Members of ICAEW are invited to get involved with the project, Tomorrow’s Practice, which will report later this year. Members will be asked to think boldly and bravely about how the profession should change to better serve the changing needs of society and of business in the years ahead. Crucially, research by Intuit, ICAEW’s project partner, shows that many small businesses currently want services or support that accountants do not offer. More

Bring your own device (BYOD) policies

Organisations are increasingly allowing staff to connect to their corporate network using their own personal devices. This factsheet highlights some of the security issues that should be considered and safeguarded against when adopting such an approach.  More

How Mobile Consumers Engage With Promotional Emails

Consumers decide to read promotional emails on their mobile devices primarily based on whether they recognise the message sender, according to a recent report from Campaigner. Just over 42% of US consumers surveyed say familiarity with the sender’s name is the main influence on deciding whether to open a promotional email on their mobile device. Other major factors include awareness of a special deal/price in the message (20.5% say it influences) and the email’s subject line (20.3%). More

Five Reasons Marketers Should Be Customer-Centric

it takes months to find a customerDo you know about customer-centricity? And why does it matter? Customer-centricity is a marketing strategy with the primary goal of acquiring high-value customers and maximizing the value of every customer relationship. It acknowledges that there is no “average” customer and that the differences among customers represent an opportunity to build more long-lasting, profitable relationships through relevant communication. Customer-centricity stands in contrast to other common marketing strategies, such as product-centricity (competitive advantage through superior product design or merchandising) or channel-centricity (focus on achieving dominance in one or more channels). More

Can the collaboration trend work in favour of the mid-size firm?

Sir Nigel Knowles’s recent published opinion contrasted the consolidation in other industries with the relative fragmentation of the legal market. This won’t last forever, he predicts:  “The firms that emerge [..] will be either highly global or truly niche” (16 June 2014). But, not all senior lawyers take that view… More

Top personal injury consortium paying Google £8m a year

InjuryLawyers4u, the leading law firm marketing consortium, is paying Google £8m a year, it has emerged. Andrew Twambley, director of InjuryLawyers4U and managing partner of Amelans, said the consortium was spending £3m on Google four years ago and 10 years ago “probably about £3”. He said Google was the biggest player in digital marketing “by a long way” and in a “monopoly” position. More

From top retailer to law firm chairman

Leading retailer Greg Tufnell, new non-executive chairman of innovative legal practice Radiant Law, has told Legal Futures that changed expectations among clients over pricing is one of the key elements driving disruption in the legal market. As first reported in Legal Futures in March, Radiant Law applied to become an alternative business structure so as to allow Mr Tufnell, a former managing director of Mothercare and Burton menswear, to take a minority stake in the business. It has now been awarded its licence. More

Practising certificate fee set to fall by 17%

The individual practising certificate fee will fall by 17% in 2014/15, subject to Law Society Council approval and a consultation with members that starts today.The fee proposed is £320, down from £384 this year. The Compensation Fund levy is expected to be £32, which would result in a total fee of £352, a fall of £88 on 2013/14. More

Great work, great publicity: Bristol accountant coaches students for national competition

An accountant from Bristol has coached students to take part in a national competition aimed at developing business skills, reports the Bristol Post. Alan Crawford, of Lyndhurst Accounting, mentored Bristol Grammar School and Norton Hill School for the Business, Accounting and Skills Education (BASE) competition. The business game was set up by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) to help young people develop skills needed in the workplace. More

Details That Make a Big Difference

Building and growing a brand online takes skill and an eye for detail. Often, people think the more grandiose the idea for improving their website, the better their conversion rates will be. The truth is that most conversion increases come from changes to small, overlooked details.This article provides seven such small details that will make a big conversion impact on your site. More

Move from Boring monologue to Profitable dialogue

[18 June 2014, marketingprofs] You’re not the only one who gets a little nervous interacting during presentations; your audience does, too. Why not make it easier for them to participate? “No matter if you are presenting in a virtual or in-person environment, your presentations will benefit from audience participation and interaction.”  This eBook by educator and coach Matt Abrahams outlines 3 best practices that will help you transform your presentations from detached monologues to interactive dialogues between you and your audience. Download the complimentary eBook from the source link below. Registration is required. More

The Most Effective Calls to Action for Facebook Posts

Asking people to share a post is often the most effective call to action (CTA) for Facebook posts by brands, according to a recent report from TrackMaven. Posts that include the word “share” garner nearly two times as many social actions (likes, comments, and shares) on average compared with those that do not (4.02 vs. 2.19 average interactions per post), the analysis found.  Use of the word “please” was also found to be an effective CTA, with nearly double the average number of interactions as well.  Of the words examined, “now” was found to be the least effective: posts including that word have only marginally greater effectiveness than those that do not. More

Succession planning key as firms look to grow

The majority of accountancy firms say succession planning is now more important than before the recession. Three-quarters of HR directors believed succession planning was of higher importance now than in 2006, according to a poll of 100 leading HR executives by accountancy recruiter Randstad Financial & Professional. Succession planning focuses on identifying potential future leaders to fill key positions, Randstad found. There is rising interest in succession planning, with 67% of HR directors working in accountancy firms saying it is likely to be of higher priority in future. More

Upgrading to a New Computer? Take the Opportunity to Unclutterman by computer

Before moving from one apartment or house to the next, you sell, discard, or donate items that are no longer needed. You unclutter. You don’t move everything over, then discard unwanted items. Why then, would you choose the latter when moving from one computer to the next? You have three choices when upgrading to a new Mac computer: Transfer from Time Machine or other disk, transfer from another Mac or PC, or start with a clean slate (let’s call this the “unclutter” option). There are similar options for PCs. More

Lawyers – watch your back!

A bar-commissioned study has found that clients will be able to instruct half of all barristers directly by next year, jeopardising a huge amount of work presently channelled through solicitors. The second Barristers’ Working Lives report, published by the Bar Council and the Bar Standards Board, shows the number of barristers that clients can access directly will comprise almost 50% of the bar by the end of 2015. One in five barristers (20%) plans to complete new public access training. That will swell the ranks of the bar trained to work directly with clients to nearly 7,500 – almost half the entire bar – from the current 4,400. The study also showed that one in seven barristers (14%) plans to apply for authorisation to conduct litigation, further edging out solicitors. More

Barristers move towards ABS, survey says

Nearly one in five criminal and family barristers are considering joining alternative business structures (ABS) with non-lawyer owners, while four out of 10 of all barristers plan to apply, or are thinking of applying, for authorisation to conduct litigation, according to a major survey. In a statistical snapshot that showed barristers struggling to cope with the impact of legal aid cuts in publicly-funded work, the biennial survey of the Bar 2013, Barristers’ working lives, found the earnings of two thirds of self-employed criminal barristers had fallen. More than half were not satisfied and were considering their options – with nearly a fifth intending to leave the profession altogether. More

Accounting profession: Going strong, but facing issues

dilbert marketing cartoonFrom the USA: The CPA brand remains “incredibly strong,” according to American Institute of CPAs president and CEO Barry Melancon, but the profession still faces challenges. In a keynote address on “The State of the Profession” at the 2014 Practitioners Symposium and Tech Conference, Melancon and AICPA chair Bill Balhoff updated attendees on a variety of issues, initiatives, and regulatory and governmental developments that will affect the profession going forward. Among the good news was the high reputation of the profession, and the value clients put on it. Melancon reported survey data showing that, among other things, 91 percent of business decision-makers are very or somewhat satisfied with the work of their internal CPAs, while 87 percent were very or somewhat satisfied with the work of their external CPAs. At the same time, 75 percent of them said that they would be more confident in work done by CPA than in work done by a non-CPA accountant. More

“Give clients what they want – not what you think they need”, digital pioneers tell law firms

Three leading digital pioneers yesterday told law firms to “give clients what they want” rather than what they think clients want, whether that is a daily blog or free legal documents. Speaking at the Legal Futures‘ NatWest mmadigital ‘From Click to Client’ conference, Paul Hajek, principal of Clutton Cox in Gloucestershire, said the internet still had a “huge way to go” in the law. More

Free Social Media E-Book Downloadinternet marketing ebooks

Social Media is one of the most hyped and misunderstood Internet marketing tools available for professionals. Promises of receiving tons of leads for creating a Twitter account now ring hollow. LinkedIn and Facebook present exciting yet strange and frightening frontiers for marketing initiatives. This free social media e-book attempts to guide you in the right direction in an age where local search and community engagement are reshaping the Internet marketing landscape. Download from here. Registration is required.

Have you tackled the social media beast yet?

When you’re busy looking after clients finding the time to get active on social media might not be top of your priority list, but it can be a very powerful tool for finding new customers and communicating with existing ones. In this free guide FreeAgent’s Social Media Manager, Adrian Mather, will give you an overview of the social media landscape, why your practice might want to use social media, and then provide some practical tips on how to get started on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. Download the free guide from here. Registration is required

How Different Cultures Understand Time

From Richard Lewis, Richard Lewis Communications: Time is seen in a particularly different light by Eastern and Western cultures, and even within these groupings assumes quite dissimilar aspects from country to country.


  • In the Western Hemisphere, the United States and Mexico employ time in such a diametrically opposing manner that it causes intense friction between the two peoples.
  • In Western Europe, the Swiss attitude to time bears little relation to that of neighbouring Italy. The Thais do not evaluate the passing of time in the same way that the Japanese do. In Britain the future stretches out in front of you. In Madagascar it flows into the back of your head from behind.

Richard Lewis is an internationally renowned linguist and the founder of Richard Lewis Communications. He founded the Berlitz schools in East Asia, Portugal, and Finland and spent several years in Japan, where he was personal tutor to Empress Michiko and five other members of the Japanese Imperial family. He is the author of the award-winning book “When Cultures Collide,” and lectures on cross-cultural issues around the world. Read this interesting article here.

How to Boost the Effectiveness of Your Online Forms

How can you boost the conversion rate of the forms on your website? Does including branding help? Can tweaking the language on the “Submit” button get more people to click? Formstack recently set out to answer those question by examining data from more than 450,000 online forms created by publishers across a range of industries. A key conclusion from the analysis is that the type of form, rather than its length, has the biggest impact on the overall conversion rate (the number of people who submit a form compared with the total number of visitors to the form page). Of all the form types examined, contests have the highest conversion rate on average (28%) and surveys have the second-highest rate (21%). Contact forms have the lowest conversion rate on average (4%), in part because they are often used by visitors for informational purposes (i.e., to find a phone number or street address). More

Effective marketing for accountants

Accountancy practices engage in a variety of marketing and business development activities to boost client numbers and increase fee income, but how effective are these? What works and what doesn’t work? How many leads do professional firms expect to generate and how many of these end up becoming new clients for the practice?  To answer these questions, Wolters Kluwer ran an online survey in May and June 2014. This document presents a summary of the 137 responses so far received. Registration is required. More

The 5 key qualities of a successful FD

play with figuresTo remain successful and dynamic, FDs need to be resilient to change and have the ability ‘to think outside of the box’ to ensure their organisation is best placed to drive their business forward. ‘Number crunching’ has become just a single thread of the growing number of qualities that FDs need to possess. The role of the FD has taken on many different angles encompassing a variety of roles and responsibilities in addition to their standard day-to-day activities. We are seeing a new breed of proactive, dynamic FDs entering the market who are turning the traditional model of the FD on its head. These talented individuals are on a constant learning curve, welcoming new opportunities, seeking ways and means to develop and grow not only their business, but the role they play within the organisation. This has translated in the FD having their pulse on many different aspects of the running of the organisation from innovating ideas, investing in IT, facilities management, HR, strategic planning and seeking and exploring opportunities for mergers and acquisitions.

This free guide considers what key qualities the modern FD needs to not only perform well but to meet the demands of the changing market. To remain successful and dynamic, FDs need to be resilient to change and have the ability ‘to think outside of the box’ to ensure their organisation’s success. This guide considers what key qualities the modern FD needs to not only perform well but to meet the demands of the changing market. Registration is required. More

How creating a business plan for your clients can evolve the service you offer

It’s quite clear that, these days, we are living in the Attention Economy. People crave attention. They need it. And in many unfortunate cases they aren’t particularly embarrassed by how they get it. But the attention economy is also becoming increasingly visible in the world of business too. Now, clients expect more tailored advice and higher levels of personal service. In fact, they are no longer just looking for a traditional accountant at all, but for a business coach too. A proactive advisor who does more than just check figures and balance the books. A consultant who can also contribute ideas. A guru whose pearls of wisdom guides entrepreneurs in growing their businesses. This free whitepaper studies how accountants can use new technology to develop closer ties with clients and generate additional service revenue. Registration is required. More

Google: two million legal searches made every day in UK

Two million online searches on legal subjects are made every day in the UK, according to a senior Google executive, who went on to advise lawyers that their future clients would increasingly be reached through video and mobile technology. Alex Lowe, a digital marketing expert and Google’s industry head – classifieds, told this week’s Legal Futures’ NatWest mmadigital FROM CLICK TO CLIENT conference that consumers were becoming a “new breed” who had a “voracious appetite” for video. More

Lawyers’ PII reforms set to be approved on 2 July

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has confirmed it will not extend its tight deadline for responses to a string of consultations proposing wide-ranging and controversial reforms of regulation. The news came as The Law Society renewed its attack on the plans, which include radical changes to professional indemnity insurance, the compensation fund, multidisciplinary practices and accountants’ reports. Reform of PII, including the proposal to slash minimum cover for small firms to £500,000 and cut run-off to three years, are expected to be approved at an SRA board meeting on 2 July, just two weeks from now. More

Technical Stuff

Direct recovery of debts: why the proposals are risky for taxpayers

The government is consulting on plans to give HMRC sweeping powers to recover debts directly from individuals’ and businesses’ bank accounts, but are the moves too draconian?  Meg Wilson, tax expert at CCH, analyses the proposals and outlines potential pitfalls to a policy shift which has been met with strident opposition from MPs to professional institutes. More

Upfront tax: time to settle

HMRC’s accelerated tax payments plan means members of tax schemes could find themselves caught retrospectively because the proposed changes allow HMRC to demand payment before the outcome of any ongoing tax enquiry for any schemes that fall under Disclosure of Tax Avoidance Schemes (DOTAS) says Andrew McKenna, partner and head of tax investigations at Smith & Williamson. More

Marriage breakdown ruled a reasonable excuse

marriage cartoonA taxpayer has won an appeal against HMRC concerning £10,000 late tax payment penalties, after a tribunal ruled his marriage breakdown was a reasonable excuse for tardiness. In Timothy Cooke v HMRC [TC03633], Cooke, a businessman from Telford, West Midlands, was issued two late penalties totalling around £10,000 for his self-assessment tax return for the year ended 5 April 2012. Cooke owed capital gains tax (CGT) of about £100,000, due by 31 January, after he made £380,000 by selling shares in a company he used to work for. But he didn’t pay the tax until 24 October 2013. Cooke told the tribunal that he had been in financial difficulties and used £70,000 from the share sale to pay off his Individual Voluntary Arrangement. He also used £30,000 from the share sale to pay a loan.  More

The Next Debate: Taxation of Digital Goods and Services 

From the USA: This is a digital world. People read books on digital readers. They listen to music on phones and tablets, some downloaded and some streaming. They turn off the lights and lock the doors in their homes remotely while standing in the office. They download apps to help with everything-cooking, running, driving, and entertaining. Digital goods and services are becoming more and more integrated into people’s lives. The taxation implications are covered in this interesting article. More

New Revenue Recognition Standard could affect tax practitioners and auditors

From the USA: The new converged revenue recognition standard from the Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board could have an impact on not only financial statement preparers, but on tax practitioners and auditors as well. “It’s not just accountants who need to worry about this,” said Bloomberg BNA Tax & Accounting executive editor George Farrah in an interview Friday. “Tax people will need to know about it because you might have to change your accounting method for tax purposes, and you need to assess whether or not that’s going to have an impact. They also need to be aware of it for their transfer pricing policies. Their transfer pricing may have been based on revenue estimates. Those estimates need to be looked at to see if there is any impact on them.” More

Disclosure of cautions breaches privacy rights, Supreme Court rules

Disclosure of childhood and other minor convictions violates human rights law, the Supreme Court has ruled. Five judges rejected a joint appeal by home secretary Theresa May and justice secretary Chris Grayling against a Court of Appeal ruling that prospective employers need not be told of convictions and cautions that were spent under the 1974 Rehabilitation of Offenders Act when they asked future employees about their criminal record. The court said cautions represent an aspect of private life that should be protected and any requirement to disclose them to potential employers was a breach of the right to a private life and would ‘significantly jeopardise’ entry into their chosen field. More

SRA attacked from all sides on indemnity reforms

The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s proposed indemnity insurance reforms have been attacked from all sides – by the Legal Services Consumer Panel, the Law Society and the insurance industry itself. In a highly critical response, the consumer panel said it was opposed to three of the five main proposals – cutting the level of compulsory cover from £2m to £500,000, reducing the amount of run-off cover from six years to three, and introducing a cap on aggregated claims. More

Train all youth justice lawyers, says damning report on failing system

[19 June 2014, Law Society Gazette] By Catherine Baksi: Mandatory specialist training for criminal lawyers working with children should be introduced ‘without delay’, a damning report from MPs and peers on the failings of the youth justice system says today. The report highlights a lack of specialist professionals with many practitioners, including lawyers and judges, insufficiently trained to recognise young offenders’ needs, and lacking knowledge specific to young defendants and youth court law. More

Reform of the EU Statutory Audit Market – More FAQs

Europa has published FAQs on reform of the EU Statutory Audit Market. More

Budget reform risks call for simplified advice says think tank

The think tank, International Longevity Centre-UK (ILC) has called for the development of simplified financial advice to avoid consumer detriment from Budget pension freedoms. ILC warned that one million pension savers aged 55 to 64 face significant risks as a consequence of the new pension freedoms to be introduced in 2015 in a new report titled, ‘Freedom and Choice in Pensions: Risks and Opportunities’. It said the new pensions freedoms are likely to increase the need for financial advice, meaning those caught out by the ‘advice gap’ were at risk. More

How to take tips from Tesco to plug the advice gap

Financial services firms must look to the likes of Amazon and Tesco with their responsive service development and increasingly seamless cross-channel execution methods, writes Natalie McLellan of Egremont Group. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has challenged financial firms to innovate in an effort to plug the advice gap. Firms looking to take up the challenge should look to retailers and technology companies to learn a few tricks. FCA chief executive Martin Wheatley acknowledges that concerns over regulation had held back firms from developing simplified or technology-based propositions. More

Jail for fraudster: not for hiding in wardrobe but for VAT fraud

A woman from Northern Ireland who hid in her bedroom wardrobe when HMRC called at her home to look into her business dealings has been jailed for a £140,000 VAT fraud. Donna Magee from Dungannon was arrested by HMRC in February 2012, as officers investigated her fictitious business and fraudulent VAT repayments for the construction of non-existent new business premises. When officers raided her address Magee was found hiding in a wardrobe. More

ESMA report on accounting for business combinations

From Deloitte’s IAS Plus: the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published a report ‘Review on the application of accounting requirements for business combinations in IFRS financial statements’.  The report finds that some good business combination disclosures are provided in the annual financial statements of European companies but that there are also certain areas where improvements are needed. More

Updated EFRAG endorsement status report

From Deloitte’s IAS Plus: the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) has updated its Endorsement Status Report to reflect that the European Union has published a Commission Regulation endorsing IFRIC 21 ‘Levies’.  In addition, the report has been updated for the issuance of a draft endorsement advice letter on the amendments to IFRS 11. More

European Union formally adopts IFRIC 21

From Deloitte’s IAS Plus: the European Union has published a Commission Regulation endorsing IFRIC 21 ‘Levies’. IFRIC 21 is effective in the EU for annual periods beginning on or after 17 June 2014, however, earlier application is permitted so EU companies can adopt in accordance with the IASB effective date (1 January 2014). More

Registry presses on with land charges takeover

Land Registry of England and Wales is to press ahead with controversial plans to take over the management of the local land charges register – despite overwhelming opposition in a public consultation.  Announcing plans for Land Registry to become the sole registering authority for local land charges (LLCs) today, Ed Lester, chief executive, said he had made ‘a number of changes’ in the teeth of opposition. Of 620 responses to the consultation on the agency taking on ‘wider powers’, 95% of those expressing an opinion opposed the proposal to take on local land charges.  A statement from the registry said the change would make it easier to register a property and create a standardised national fee, ending what it called ‘the existing postcode lottery’.  At present, local land charges are maintained by 348 local authorities, with search fees varying between £3 and £96 and turnaround times between 1 and 42 days. More

Ban lawyers giving tax advice, Tory MP urges

Solicitors who advise clients on legal financial strategies that have no purpose other than to create a tax advantage could face prosecution under proposals floated in parliament by a Conservative MP. Charlie Elphicke, MP for Dover and a former tax lawyer, has tabled amendments to the Finance Bill that would create a summary offence to propose an arrangement ‘which meets the definition of “tax abuse”’. This, in turn, is defined as ‘any arrangement that, having regard to all the circumstances, it would be reasonable to conclude is an arrangement that has no business, social or other purpose other than the obtaining of a tax advantage’. Another clause would entitle HMRC in certain circumstances to ‘require any person to disclose any privileged information’. More

Mansworth v Jelley update 2014

From the ICAEW Tax Faculty Team] The Personal Tax Contentious Issue Panel sets out the circumstances in which HMRC will allow claims for capital losses calculated on its original (erroneous) interpretation of Mansworth v Jelley. The aftermath of the Mansworth v Jelley decision rumbles on. The latest development is the decision of HMRC’s Personal Tax Contentious Issues Panel (PTCIP). This has been published by the Tax Faculty in TAXGUIDE 06/14.  In overview, the decision is that, in certain circumstances, taxpayers who claimed losses based on HMRC’s original interpretation of the Mansworth v Jelley case can have relief for those losses.  Catch up here.

Finally, wisdom from Dr Seuss…Dr Seuss

Big Data – It’s bigger than you think and more important too

Big Data – It’s bigger than you think and more important too

Accountants and Lawyers should take note: this affects your firms as well as most of your clients.

The UK’s Alan Turing Institute for Data Science is set to benefit from a £42 million government investment spread over 5 years. It will strengthen the UK’s aim to be a world leader in the analysis and application of something called big data.
big data cartoon

Financial Benefits of big data

The Centre for Economics and Business Research estimates that the big data marketplace could benefit the UK economy by £216 billion and create 58,000 new jobs in the UK before 2017. And a Deloitte report estimates that the direct value of public sector information alone to the UK economy is around £1.8 billion per year, with wider social and economic benefits bringing this up to around £6.8 billion.

There’s more: Research by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (Nesta) also shows that UK data-driven firms are 40% more likely to report launching products and services ahead of their non-data savvy competitors.

But, what is it?

All very interesting, but what exactly is “big data?”?

Barry Urquhart a regular ­Better Business Focus author defines big data as:

The utilisation of the cloud software capacity to rapidly retrieve, collate and to enable analysis of information from multiple sources.

Another definition is:

big data is the continuously growing collection of datasets that derive from different sources, under individualised conditions and which form an overall set of information to be analysed and mined in a manner when traditional database technologies and methods are not sufficient.

I like this definition of big data: data sets that are too large and complex to manipulate or interrogate with standard methods or tools.

dataBarry Urquhart says that the concept and processes in big data favours big businesses, which have been quick to embrace and deploy the attractively enveloping concept to their own short and long-term competitive advantage, and to enhance the effectiveness of communications and relationship initiatives.

There a great video from Intel about big data here and a planning guide here.

Previously, when I blogged on this topic, I wrote that the use of big data by organisations today raises some important legal and regulatory concerns. The use of big data systems and cloud-based systems is expanding faster than the rules or legal infrastructure to manage it. Risk management implications are becoming more critical to business strategy. Businesses must get ahead of the practice to protect themselves and their data. The main problem area typically relates to consumer privacy but legal compliance, such as legal discovery and preservation obligations, are also very important too.

Any organisation that interacts with technology in some way or another (that means everyone, doesn’t it?) is facing a big challenge with integrating and processing the high velocity influx of data from multiple sources and in a variety of formats. On the one hand, traditional database management tools were not built to address large volumes and unstructured data.  On the other hand, new technologies, such as Hadoop, which were developed to handle big data, are extremely difficult and expensive to set up, manage and develop for.

Big data cloud services: Introducing Xplenty

xplentyTo address the challenges mentioned above, a new generation of big data cloud services is emerging. One of these is Xplenty.

Xplenty is powered by Hadoop (see below) under the hood, so it can handle structured, semi-structured and unstructured big data volumes.

A word or two about Hadoop: With nothing available at the time, in Google’s early days, Hadoop was developed so they could index all the information they were collecting so as to present meaningful and actionable results to users. Its current form, Apache Hadoop, is an open-source software framework for storage and large-scale processing of data-sets on clusters of commodity hardware – for big data! It’s used in several markets from finance, to weather analysis, to database engines and much more.

big data lives in the cloudXplenty lets you process large volumes of data within minutes, yet it does not require any expertise in Hadoop. It lets you deploy Hadoop clusters in the cloud with a single click. The visual interface allows users to design sophisticated data flows without the need for writing a single line of programming code.

It’s free to try. You can learn more at:

“You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.” – Daniel Keys Moran (American computer programmer and a science fiction writer)


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