It’s approaching that time of year again…when retrospection turns to introspection.

So, what will you do differently next year? 

This was the question put to the BLT group (*) at the latest meeting.

Thoughts from around the table:

1) Not to fall victim to scare stories in 2019

It seemed that 2018 was the ‘Year of GDPR’, with dire Nostradamus prophesies of doom set to befall anybody who dared to send out a single simple marketing email.

As it was, the sky didn’t fall down and the world didn’t end. Business (for the majority of SMEs) proceeded rather boringly as usual, albeit with a flood of (usually unnecessary) emails asking for consent to receive ongoing communications from Company X. So all in all, not a bad way of cutting down on unwanted email traffic.

However, the point was raised that 2019 is set to be the year of PECR [see below]…so forewarned is forearmed!

2) Not to overdeliver 

Overdelivery – the bane of many of us self-employed people. If not the majority.

Often grateful for the work, we throw ourselves into jobs, stretch deadlines, accommodate extra requests, and generally bend over backwards to deliver more than we originally promised.

But is that helpful? Does that undermine our offering in the first place? The AMA cites two types of company which over-deliver, with most SMEs falling into the ‘Market Culture’ category:

  • Adhocracy A company with an adhocracy culture focuses on being cutting-edge; its managers are committed to experimentation and pioneering, often for its own sake. Measures of success in this type of company include providing unique and original products with frequent innovations.
  • Market Culture – A company with a market culture is results-oriented; its managers are focused on trumping competitor offerings and define success in competitive terms such as relative market share.

Source: American Marketing Association ‘AMA’

3) Learn to say ‘No’

Following on from ‘Overdelivery’, was the concept (strange as it may seem!) of actively turning business away.

Some customers just aren’t worth the hassle – they want the world and they pay peanuts.

Just as the Pareto Principle states that 80% of a company’s profits come from 20% of its customers,  the Hassle Principle (I just made that up by the way – don’t google it please!) suggests that 80% of your business headaches will come from 20% of your customers.

I say this because I’ve recently seen it at first-hand, when undertaking a Customer Pathfinder for a firm of accountants (note: a Customer Pathfinder is a Nobleword Research product, which quizzes a sample of a company’s client base on the good, bad, and the ugly, in order to generate positive testimonials and actionable feedback.)

The customers who complained the loudest were always those on the cheapest plans. Fact.

A book called The Pumpkin Plan was cited as a great example of customer culling [see below].

4) Limit work

Parkinson’s Law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.

A semi-retired BLT member commented that the more he tried to pull back from his business, the more he ended up working. In other words, a prime example of Parkinson’s law:

“…if you give yourself a week to complete a two-hour task, then (psychologically speaking) that task will increase in complexity and become more daunting so as to fill the week.” [Source: life hack]

Incidentally, Cyril Northcote Parkinson (to give him his full title) made this observation having worked in the Civil Service for much of his life, so was well-placed to comment on the effects of bureaucracy at first-hand.

5) Interrogate your networking events

So much we do, we do out of habit.

Even if it doesn’t work.

So, if you are attending networking events just to have a laugh…or because the breakfast is nice…or for company, then fine.

However, if you want to make connections, gain knowledge and secure leads, then maybe you might need to change some of your networking events if they’re not working?

PECR: “Are you ePrivacy ready?”

PECR is the Privacy & Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 which governs email marketing.

You’re likely to be hearing a lot more about in 2019!

Here are some of the main pointers:

  • GDPR
  • GDPR

    In May 2016, the EU adopted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

    It replaced the1995 Data Protection Directive which was adopted at a time when the internet was in its infancy.

    EU member states were given 2 years to comply with GDPR (hence the general panic around the May 2018 deadline!)

  • An EU Regulation is a rule which must be followed to the letter (e.g. GDPR).

    It is punishable by fines.

  • GDPR is concerned with Data Protection for the personal data of individuals.
  • What will change?

    The new ePrivacy regulation will bring B2B marketing in line with B2C marketing; i.e. employees of organisations will no longer be able to be sent direct marketing, without consent, on an opt-out basis.

  • PECR
  • The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation (PECR) was first introduced in the UK in 2003 to enforce the EU’s ePrivacy directive.

    In Jan 2017, following the adoption of GDPR, the EU proposed 2 new regulations on privacy and electronic communications (ePrivacy) and on the data protection rules applicable to EU institutions, to align the existing rules to the GDPR.

  • An EU Directive means that the member states can choose how to interpret it.

    The EU wishes to upgrade the ePrivacy Directive to a Regulation to ensure it is consistent with GDPR.

  • PECR is mainly concerned with how data is used for marketing purposes.

    It is also known by marketers as the ‘cookie law’, since it requires organisations to have a cookie pop-up explaining the use of cookies on the website.

  • What will change?

    The new ePrivacy regulation will bring B2B marketing in line with B2C marketing; i.e. employees of organisations will no longer be able to be sent direct marketing, without consent, on an opt-out basis.

Please note, this list is by no mean exhaustive! It is just meant to be an eye-opener on the topic, as I am sure there will be a LOT more written about ePrivacy/PECR in 2019 (and we will no doubt discuss it at BLT).

Sarah Lawton at Simply Operations is our resident BLT guru/advisor/consultant on anything PECR-related, so please feel free to contact (bother!) her for any further information.

The Pumpkin Plan

Pumpkin PlanQ. What is the Pumpkin Plan?

A. It’s a US management book which (loosely) borrows from the techniques used by prize-winning pumpkin growers.

Here’s the Amazon summary:

“Each year Americans start one million new businesses, nearly 80 percent of which fail within the first five years. Under such pressure to stay alive–let alone grow–it’s easy for entrepreneurs to get caught up in a never-ending cycle of “sell it–do it, sell it–do it” that leaves them exhausted, frustrated, and unable to get ahead no matter how hard they try.

1. Plant the right seeds: Don’t waste time doing a bunch of different things just to please your customers. Instead, identify the thing you do better than anyone else and focus all of your attention, money, and time on figuring out how to grow your company doing it.

2. Weed out the losers: In a pumpkin patch small, rotten pumpkins stunt the growth of the robust, healthy ones. The same is true of customers. Figure out which customers add the most value and provide the best opportunities for sustained growth. Then ditch the worst of the worst.

3. Nurture the winners: Once you figure out who your best customers are, blow their minds with care. Discover their unfulfilled needs, innovate to make their wishes come true, and overdeliver on every single promise.”

Source: Amazon


In an ever-changing world, is it right to look back at 2018 in order to prepare for 2019?

Some might say not, but I prefer to echo Mark Twain’s comments and to learn from the past:

“History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes.”

– Mark Twain

Upcoming events
• 2-hour LinkedIn workshop: £50; 26th Nov, Bourne End with Tony K Silver.

Book in at

(*) BLT is a fortnightly networking group that meets from 7:15-8:45, every other Thursday at The George & Dragon, Marlow. We pay £10 for breakfast, but that’s it. 

For more details, please leave me a message – new networkers are always welcome.

The next meeting is Thursday 6th December