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Be A Copycat To Become A Top Cat

Never be afraid to learn from others and when it comes to business being a copycat is certainly a recipe for becoming a top cat.

If you are willing to learn from the success of others, my No1 piece of advice is - look at companies outside your own sector.

If you focus on brand leaders in your own sector you will merely end up as a copycat not a top cat. You'll end up being a pale reflection of the leader brand.

By borrowing ideas from companies you admire outside of your own sector, you will import fresh concepts which could be revolutionary in your sector and help you outpace the competition.

So who are the best companies to emulate?

Here are my three selection criteria:

1.    They should be brand leaders in their sector.
2.    They should have demonstrated a period of dramatic and sustained growth.
3.    They should be inspirational brands which have captured your imagination.

When you have identified the companies you admire, drill down and look below the surface. See how they operate, identify what makes them better than the competition and pinpoint their secrets for growth.

It's now time to become a copycat - stealing their ideas and implementing them in your own business. In no time at all you'll look like the cat that got the cream!

Old Government House is a lovely hotel in Guernsey

Old Government House is a lovely hotel in Guernsey. Reckoned to be the best on the island, it's a comfortable resting place for a weary traveller.

Part of the Red Carnation Hotel Group, it offers good food, quality service and…shabby upselling of its rooms.

I was greeted with a big smile from the receptionist when I entered the hotel. I had booked a classic room for a hefty £125 a night but within seconds the young lady was telling me she could upgrade me to a lovely room but at a supplement.

I assured her the classic room would be fine, after all, I had seen the photographs on their website.

Imagine my disappointment when I was shown into a cold unfriendly room that might have been considered luxurious in Pentonville Prison but was certainly substandard for Guernsey's premier hotel.

I should have paid for the upgrade!!

Contrast the psychology of hotel's approach to that of British Airways. On long haul flights BA will often upgrade passengers for free.

Why?

Because BA realises that providing an upgraded seat in business or first class engenders goodwill and it will encourage passengers to upgrade their ticket on future flights because the beds, food, wine and service make flying a pleasure not an ordeal.

It worked with me. I no longer fly at the back of the plane when travelling long haul.

After complaining about the upselling to Old Government House's general manager Andrew Chanrtell, I was offered a nicely appointed classic room. I declined his offer but asked why I was not put in this attractive room in the first place.

There is a lesson in BA's approach for all businesses - if you under promise but over deliver you will retain your customer's business for ever.

For my part I will choose the Bella Luce next time I have to stay in a Guernsey Hotel.

The Pen IS More Powerful Than The Sword

Words matter.

Words have shaped the world as we know it. Angry words have taken countries to war. Soothing words have created peace.

In personal and business relationships - words matter. They can build trust and respect but careless words can destroy friendships in seconds.

No where are words more important than in the marketing arena - they influence, persuade and sell.

Yet how many dismal websites have you seen with text that would put you to sleep? How many brochures have you read where 100 carefully chosen words could easily replace 1000 boring words? How many mind-numbing speeches have you had to endure?

Endure was the word which inspired us to create Only Words - the world's largest copywriting agency.

We have assembled a team of award-winning journalists, editors, wordsmiths and authors to help companies, charities, Government departments, NGOs and creative agencies produce text that influences, persuades and sells.

We produce:

  • Text for websites, brochures and annual reports
  • Copy for direct mail, white papers and news releases
  • Slogans and body text for adverts
  • Speeches for business leaders and politicians

You name it - we do it…if it involves words.

Speak to us and we'll prove to you that words are more powerful than the sword.

Visit www.onlywords.net for more information.

Don't Believe All You Read In The Papers

Pick up a newspaper - any newspaper - and you'll find it's full of depressing news.

Gloom and doom stories may sell newspapers but also they give a totally distorted view of what's actually going on.

On the business front, if you look beyond the tombstone headings, you will find business is booming for many companies.

We work with many clients who are enjoying rocketing sales and record profits.

These businesses don't know how to spell the word "recession".

So what makes them different? How come businesses like Marks & Spencer, easyJet, City Refrigeration and many others are flying high?

I reckon it's got to do with a positive mental attitude among the people leading these vibrant businesses.

People like Stuart Rose, Carolyn McCall and Willie Haughey know times are tough. They know confidence is shaky. They know their customers have become savers rather than spenders.

But they also know that great offers, good service and smart marketing is the recipe for success.

Here's a three step action plan to revive flagging sales and falling profits.

  1. Refresh your sales proposition. Look at what you can do to provide better value to your customers or clients.
  2. Review customer care. Companies that offer great customer service retain more existing business and win more new business.
  3. Pep up your marketing. When times are hard, smart companies review their marketing strategies and invest in marketing activities that produce the greatest return.

Implement the three point plan in your business and you'll leave the recessionary blues far behind.

There's No Such Thing As Bad Publicity

It's a myth invented by ineffective PR people that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

The truth is bad publicity can damage your brand, undermine sales and wipe out profits. If you doubt what I say…think BP.

Bad publicity can also destroy personal brands. Think Fred Goodwin - if you don't agree.

Fred still has the ball and chain of his RBS failures around his leg and he will not escape the world's worst banker tag by simply lying low.

Staying out of the public eye is not the way to rebuild a reputation whether you're Fred Goodwin or BP.

The only was to rebuild what is tattered and torn is to get out a needle and thread and repair the damage. Careful stitching can mend holes and, over time, can rebuild reputations.