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Month: December 2008

Japan doesn’t have it easy either

Japan doesn’t have it easy either

With economic turmoil at our shores it is easy to forget that others around the world are facing similar hardships. I was reading today that Japan’s economy isn’t looking too hot at the moment. The base rate is set to 0.1% (lower that the UK or the US), unemployment has risen to 4% and output has dropped 8% in November with another expected 8% drop in December.

The problem is that forcast sales of the goods produced by the Japanese economy is down. This is felt by factories and support industries, all the way down janitor and programmer jobs, everyoen is affected. Unfortunately until a positive outlook appears, everyoen is going to be affected and this is the net effect of the economic crisis we are facing.

There have been a couple of ripples here in the Isle of Man, but the politicians feel that we will not technically suffer a recession. The reality is that the Island has had a number of years of unprecedented growth and the hope is that any short-term blips will be cancelled out by long-term growth. We’ll just have to watch that …

IVA – Get out of jail free?

IVA – Get out of jail free?

Portrait of the Queen

I was reading about a financial instrument we have available here in the UK called an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) which is a formal and legally binding agreement between someone in debt and his creditors. It’s not quite a free ride through because although the terms of may vary, creditors will expect that their prospects of recovering money will be at least as good as in bankruptcy. Creditors also don’t lose their right to bankrupt you if you don’t fulfil your part of the agreement.

In order for the IVA to be binding, a minimum of 75% of creditors must agree to the IVA proposals. Creditors can suggest changes, however you must agree these in order for them to be implemented. The proposals usually call for the party in debt to make monthly payments and a dividend is paid out to creditors in full and final settlement of their debts.

The reason why creditors usually go for this sort of arrangement is because they expect a larger repayment than they would otherwise get if the debtor were made bankrupt. This is enough incentive for them to accept the IVA.

If you need to go down this route, it is always advisable to get a professional to guide you through the process. There are a number of organisations who will help you to avoid bankruptcy and get back on your feet. If you want to learn more about IVAs, check out the FAQ page on ClearDebt’s website.

GBP almost par with Euro

GBP almost par with Euro

I was looking at how much the Sterling is worth against the Euro today and was shocked to see the exchange rate is pretty close to 1. Here’s how the Pound has dropped recently:

gbpeur

It’s amazing to see how far down it has come, I remember it being at around 1.5 Euros to the Pound. Will be interesting to see what happens in the next few months …

Selling a package

Selling a package

I was looking through a website that sells holidays in Branson and thinking of the great way they package the holidays to be much more than a visit to Branson. For example, they sell their vacations as “Fun and Excitement”, “Comfort and Elegance” and “Music and Magic”; all great themes that put great images in the mind of the reader. There seem to be a number of shows you can go to, and also a number of attractions.

If I had to visit, I think I’d like to visit sometime in summer as they have water parks and caves and caverns to visit. They have a calendar of events, but unfortunately it only goes up to December, so I’m not sure what’s happening next year. Notwithstanding there seem to be loads of parks and other attractions to visit, so if I were looking for somewhere to visit in the US, it would be on my list.

Anyway, back to the idea of marketing themes; they help to build a story in the reader’s mind and so are easier to sell than just a list of features. So keep this in mind when you’re putting together some thoughts for your marketing strategy. Focus on a cohesive story and you make it easier for your customers to understand what you’re offering.

The Secrets of Marketing in a Web 2.0 World

The Secrets of Marketing in a Web 2.0 World

Excellent article on WSJ about marketing in a Web 2.0 World. It’s a distillation of conversations the researchers had with a number of key people involved in leveraging the new social tools available on the Web. Here’s what they recommend:

  • Don’t just talk at consumers –¬†Work with¬†them through the marketing process – The new paradigm is all about engagement. The audience isn’t passive any more, involve them in your process, from idea generation all the way to product feedback.
  • Give consumers a reason to participate – Motivate consumers, an incentive (not necessarily monetary can go a long way). And make sure there are no barriers to their participation, things like a toll free where they can speak to someone can go a long way
  • Listen to, and join, the conversation outside your site – Keep an ear open for conversations around the Web, and participate wherever word springs up about your company.
  • Resist the temptation to sell, sell, sell – Don’t forget, you’re trying to build a relationship here. Forget short-term wins and you can build a long-lasting loyalty.
  • Don’t control, let it go – This is a hard one for most executives. Solicit feedback wherever you can. Negative comments can help you grow and improve even though your initial reaction may be purge.
  • Find a ‘marketing technopologist.’ – That’s a person who brings together strengths in marketing, technology and social interaction. These people are worth their weight in gold.
  • Embrace experimentation – New ideas are generated all the time; some die some flourish. You need to participate wherever you can to be part of this growing ecosystem and reap the rewards.

There’s some great stuff in there, some of which isn’t immediately intuive. The article has a number of cases and real-life examples, so head off and read the full article

Tips for Managing Change

Tips for Managing Change

I came across some good pointers in a magazine which I thought I’d echo here for posterity. They’re good points to remember and provide a good framework for things you need to keep in mind.

  • Change must be actively and proactively managed, as unforeseen effects can be costly and risky
  • Detailed impact analysis must be carried out, to see what the ramifications will be throughout the company and among all stakeholders
  • Behavioural and cultural changes will have the most impact on staff whose working habits are altered by new IT
  • The changes that a new IT system will bring must be communicated to those impacted by it in a manner appropriate to their roles and concerns. Psychology is key.
  • All stakeholders must buy in to the changes that will impact them, and sufficient time and attention must ensure this happens.
  • Hiring a dedicated marketing communications expert specifically to oversee change management programmes can be a good investment.
  • It is essential for the CIO to get the board to understand that even apparently non-IT decisions can have IT implications that are costly and risky.
  • No IT changes, however trivial, are likely to prove invisible to users.
  • CIOs must be aware of appearing focused on the risks of change instead of the benefits
  • Change management is an activity in its own right, and will, therefore, require adequate resourcing.
  • Change should be managed as rapidly as possible to minimise both the “disruption window” and the time in which other aspects of the business can change simultaneously.
  • Becoming the corporate change management expert is a key opportunity for the CIO.

Interesting points there and some that are applicable to lots of different businesses. It’s important to make sure that you adopt these points at the right level though. For example, changing a business model in a small retailer selling pet supplements will require much less invovlement than a big multinational organisation changing ways of workings for example.