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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
Martin Pollins
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