Monday, 19 November 2012

Orla Boylan (soprano) rehearses; Mo Farah (athlete) trains; Rodney Bashford (commercial writer) goes to business development seminars

Orla Boylan (soprano) rehearses; Mo Farah (athlete) trains; Rodney Bashford (commercial writer) goes to business development seminars including topics such as … copywriting.

Magic Moments:

Well, why not. My fellow delegates and I enjoyed the second of six Business Development Seminars from intime PROFIT. About twelve of us gathered around the boardroom table of a hosting company. Reeves of Chatham, Kent hosted the last one.

They are a firm of Accountants who themselves have a positive and innovative slant on Business Development. Their strap line is simply – business, tax, wealth. Probably one of the best Accountancy strap lines I’ve ever encountered and no, I didn’t write it.

For a long time I, like so many of you and so many of my clients, have had trouble summarising what it is I do and shoving it in the proverbial nutshell – the illusive elevator pitch or networkers’ 60 second intro can be so hard to define.

I came away from last week’s seminar with three or four inspired changing moments. Some came from the Seminar Leader David Mack. Equal value came from the comments and observation that punctuate the day, enthusiastic contributions from our colleagues around the table.

To come away with four or five ‘must do’s’ a month is perfect – that’s one a week, sufficient to make a difference because just the right number for a busy business to actually do something about.

Today, for me, the 60 second service summary. It looks a little like this:

I help businesses and organisations to identify – what it is they actually do – to identify their features and bottle their values.

I then articulate the message through the web, blogs, brochures, advertising and general correspondence – letters, e-mails and even tweets.

These are all written to deliver, not just the product / service values, but the core personality of the people and ethos behind the business - the ‘WHY’ that makes them different.

ASPIRUS Words is a commercial writing service that makes words work harder and businesses look sharper. Google  ASPIRUS Words  and you’ll see … it’s not just the right words that make the difference, it’s the wisdom behind them.

Hmmm … I like these Seminars.

Life is not all about blogging (though ther are a great CRM vehicle) but I would like to share some of the other blogsites currently written by ASPIRUS Words:

Plain English, plain speaking, pure correspondence. Words that work.
02476 609 104


Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Say it with an S not a Zeeeeeeee

If you are involved in the Financial Services industry, perhaps a busy IFA (Independent Financial Adviser), you will have your sleeves rolled up preparing for RDR (Retail Distribution Review). Perhaps you are set already or possibly one of the rather too many who have yet to effectively respond to the FSA's calls to change.

We have been working with Greycoat Financial Services who, like many, have taken RDR by the horns and used it as a positive marketing opportunity.

It has been an excuse to use someone like me to sit across the desk and totally re-evaluate the business.

What is it?

What could it be?

And how do we move it from here to there?

Whether you are several in partnership operating joint and severally, or whether you are one or two independents fighting the business prevention hurdle of Compliance and the FSA (Financial Services Authority), there is still an awful lot you can achieve to face 2013 with ambition and drive. Long sentence, sorry.

Fortunately, thanks to organisations like Tax Briefs and Three Sixty workshops – there’s a lot of material out there to help you write your own RDR changed business and service propositions.

Whichever route you choose to take, please ‘say it with an S not a Zeeeeeee'.

Too much ‘off the shelf’ solution and text is available to cut and paste where the language is over-Americanized. Some comes from across the pond, but much is simply written by folks relying on MS Word spell-check … set to English (USA) rather than (UK).

RDR is providing the British consumer with a more professional, fee-based Financial Services market. The gloves are off. Commissions have gone. Competition is endemic.

Now is the opportunity to review what you say and how you say it.
Personalise your proposition and lift your game.

Your clients now have to pay up front for advice, pensions, investments, retirement planning, estate planning etc etc. As discussed in Money Box a couple of weeks ago, consumers are used to paying fees for legal and accounting advice and service, so may not be too averse to paying for financial advice – as long as it lives up to its heightened status of ‘professional’.  

If promotional materials presenting your corporate proposition looks and says the same as 70% of your neighbouring IFAs, then competition will simply come down to price. Build individuality and substance into your image and you’ll stand out - justifiably professional.

It’s time to lift your game.



Greycoat have their core services and procedures re-structured and presentational / fulfilment materials written ready to go. The database has been re-structured to support the new service levels and client status. And we are putting the finishing touches to investment services, service pricing and product / value segmentation.


Clarity, vision, creative support from ASPIRUS and not one single Zeee.
Plain English, plain speaking, pure correspondence. Words that work.
02476 609 104

Friday, 14 September 2012

Words written to deliver message A to audience W, can not be tampered with to convey B to a bunch of Zeds.

I’m excited to have finally made time to join Stephen Fry’s forum @

This is a man who knows the value of words and the power of literal dexterity by which they can be shaped and delivered. Quality doesn’t have to be ‘posh’ unless one is writing for ‘the posh’ whose eyes and ears understand no less.

When writing for an audience, the writer wants that group of people to understand the message being delivered. It should pass via the eyes and literally heard, orally, as it passes to the brain. Hence the importance of writing in a style that sings as if your market is sitting before you listening to you speak.

Words and language evolved as an oral tool – a vehicle to communicate from mouth to the brain via the listener’s ear. Vocabulary gives language depth. Intonation gives it life.

So why shouldn’t the written word have life?  Well, it most certainly should.

Putting personality and intonation down on paper or up on the screen, in a blog, on a tweet needs a good understanding of what you need to say and who you want to say it to.

Then, you can play with the tools available to you – 26 letters and a bag full of syntax.

Don’t waste words – superfluity is a communications crime.

But, equally don’t compromise the message.

So how do we square these two points. The answer is easier these days than it once was. We have different communications platforms each with sensible and accessible messaging criteria, from 140 characters in a tweet; through blogging; on to a web site; via an e-mail; plus an attachment – and that‘s just the electronic media.

Hanging the style and expression to fit the audience is an art form on the one hand and an essential tool to apply to business / sales communication on the other.

Once written, it is very difficult to use one style of message to convey your meaning to a different audience.

But you don’t have to.

Identify your audiences; understand their language; consider what they might want to hear to motivate them; write the core message to that language and medium / platform – and Bob will once again be your proverbial…

In a blog / article called Take me to your Lieder in which Stephen Fry was writing (at some length) about the sad death of Dietrich Fischer Dieskau (a truly great Lieder tenor), he wrote of a task given him to try to translate Schikaneder’s original Magic Flute libretto from German into English.

He writes: “That experience, taking out the words that Mozart had set to music and trying to replace them with English equivalents, taught me one thing that I am anxious to share with an expectant world. Mozart knew what he was doing. Ho, yes. The man, as Control or Smiley might say, was Good, George. Damned good. He knew his tradecraft.

Words written to deliver A to audience W can not be tampered with to convey B to a bunch of Zeds.

 Life is not all about blogging (though ther are a great CRM vehicle) but I would like to share some of the other blogsites currently written by ASPIRUS Words:

Plain English, plain speaking, pure correspondence. Words that work.
02476 609 104


Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Turning RDR to a marketing advantage.

IFAs and Financial Service organisations are only too aware of the requirements of RDR to their business. The Retail Distribution review (RDR) is the latest wave of the hand from the FSA in their continual attempts to turn the Financial Services Market in the UK into a safe and level playing field.

Major changes come into effect from 1st January 2013, yet so far only half of the industry has implemented the changes needed to comply.

Key criteria for change are:

1. Clear charging creating structured fee based service levels.

2. Clear service provisions, explaining what the client gets and how actions will be implemented.

3. Increased professional status for qualified advice and efficient service.

Communication is the key to all elements of the change. Yet, ironically, the FSA hasn’t communicated the changes to the British financial consumer – that’s down to the IFA also.

In working with Greycoat Financial Services, a Westminster based IFA, we have used the requirements for change as the ultimate excuse to deconstruct and rebuild the business.

Not only have we produced a full portfolio of compliance-proofed materials, procedures and a marketing database to support the CRM – but we have helped the client to fully understand and feel comfortable about who they are and how their future relations with clients will work.

We’ve given Greycoat ownership of RDR and a positive proposition to build their business profitably from the changes it has required them to make.

Part of the process has used Simon Sinek’s The Power of WHY to review and structure key areas of internal and external communications:

“Knowing the WHY can inform your actions as a brand, your brand voice, its character, and everything else that helps build it into something people want to have a relationship with.”
Attributed to Simon Sinek.

Most but not all know WHAT they do – but WHAT in who’s perspective?
WHAT = fundamentals, intellectual property, the ‘business fuel’, USPs, KSPs, what makes a customer buy what they buy and is that in fact what you think you are selling!


Very few businesses truly understand WHY. So, what is WHY?

This is how Simon Sinek introduces his inspirational ideas:

WHAT and HOW are vital, yes – they determine quality, viability, functionality, price, value, margin. We all make rational (WHAT) purchase decisions every day … because it’s there at the time I want it.

The WHY is often forgotten in the content-driven, busy world of the Financial Services SME. By forgetting it we miss a major trick.

WHY is what you make it:

The value to the FS practitioner in understanding and applying / interpreting this thought process to their own business is what sets them apart from the competition.

Think about it - I'm not going to tell you the answer (because there really isn't a magic 'fits all' solution) this week because I want to develop the thinking in the next blog.

If you would like to discuss it further in the mean time please:
call Rodney Bashford on 07500 896 783

All businesses know HOW they do what they do – or do they?
HOW = manufacture, sales, service, admin, logistics, finance etc.

Friday, 27 January 2012

A picture paints a thousand words – even my words.

At last, my National Geographic subscription arrived (Christmas gift to self) and I was able to thumb its inspiring pages. No page was more provoking than that portraying the art of Jason deCaires Taylor, an artist, diver and photographer based in Mexico.

He uses the clear tropical waters as the backdrop for installation art exhibiting life size sculptures of ‘real people performing contemporary acts’.

The figures are cast from coral-friendly pH-neutral marine concrete, which soon host sponges and corals in turn attracting fish and colourfully assorted symbiosis of sea life.

Art is a multi-dimensional expression of feeling, emotion and service.


Yes, why not - service?

Why shouldn’t business communication tug at the human side of your client’s make up?

A procurement department sits all day tasked to source sustainably effective dip moulded plastic caps and sleeves, solutions for masking and protecting components in finishing.

Board Directors meet to consider financially and tax efficient solutions to build and protect their collective and individual wealth.

Architects and building groups are looking for build partners to effect roofing strategies across their development programmes.

But they are all ‘people’. So why don’t we treat them as such and write more personality into our CRM – our business communication strategy. Write to set yourself apart from the hungry competition.

Take this blog for example. Baited with a sickening headline, pictures of fish, an SEO-friendly video – and a few well chosen words (that is what I do after all), and I have a simple excuse to re-canvass my database.

The blog is like a crossbow bolt to fire by e-mail across the desks of those I hope to do business with, if not now, then at some time in the future. I sincerely hope that includes you.

Please call me - 02476 609 104

Thursday, 12 January 2012

TO BLOG OR NOT TO BLOG - driving sales through your CRM

“ I think we should, but I don’t have time…”

As part of a corporate CRM, the blog is a great way to keep the sales communications plate spinning at the simple push of the return key.

Remember the days of the Newsletter when we used to fell and pulp forests to print and post interesting collections of headline-driven words and illustrated articles to remind clients and prospects of the breadth of service genres we had to offer ?    Well, now we blog it.

I don’t need to tell you how many stamps, trees and envelopes you save and how many dustbins now avoid the thud of the wasted mailing. But, perhaps I do have to tell you how the blog helps drive your CRM and how little of your time (practically none in fact) is required to make it happen.

Words, style, frequency, contents – leave all that to ASPIRUS Words.

By way of an example, let me show you how it works with Sinclair & Rush in Maidstone, Kent. They are a global plastics manufacturer and distributor, fabricating a huge range of product to protect components and goods in the engineering, finishing, HVAC, automotive, electronics and – well anyone needing to cap, plug, package and display work-in-progress, components and merchandising goods.

Materials revolve around the world of Plastic and the varying derivations thereof. Industrial, transit and display applications are limited only by the constraints of one’s imagination. They have a corporate website that umbrellas and collection of sub-sites, each presenting core brands, products and applications.

Customers use Sinclair & Rush products in such different ways that one would probably not recognise the other as having the need to buy from the same manufacturing supplier. On the face of it this presents a massive headache for the sales team – each prospect call being different from the last in terms of need, solution and application.

MD, Peter Boulton, started working with ASPIRUS in the Summer 2011. Having been referred because of a need for writing and communication skills, he soon realised that whilst words were the ultimate product, the actual service is based on a remarkable ability to appraise the corporate environment and build exciting solutions into the communication strategy.

Peter Boulton is a ‘Noah thinker’. A corporate thinker who instead of simply predicting rain, steps forth and builds an ark. Goals are important and their pragmatic delivery essential. His aim is to turn his technical team around, from an outbound sales resource to an inbound sales consultancy.

An effective communications CRM is already being implemented, working the database with a series of generic, brand, industry and application-based mailings and e-mailings, all written by ASPIRUS. Now, the thread that holds the process together and accelerates / supports the individual messaging, is the Sinclair & Rush blog. Each article reflects a product / brand / application and links directly to the appropriate web site page to support the reader’s understanding.

It has just launched and we will use this ASPIRUS blog to follow its progress:

What S&R gain:
1.       Strongly branded regular communications.
2.       A zero cost key stroke presenting an illustrated case study.
3.       Examples of application, problems and solutions.
4.       A tool that removes the need to ‘predict contact timing’.
5.       A growing archive of brand / product examples that the sales team can use to illustrate solution possibilities.
6.       An electronic outbound to inspire application-related inbound.

And at what cost:
1.       A mutually agreeable fee.
2.       Ten minutes only, as part of a monthly marketing agenda – that’s all, as ASPIRUS do all the research and build the article from the half dozen key points offered by the Sales Manager.
3.       Well that is all – you really do not need to use your own time to gain the benefits.

Add life to your own CRM -
call ASPIRUS on 02476 609 104