Westernfield Holdings Wind Turbine drivetrain testing

Posted by Chris on November 29th, 2009

Westernfield Holdings Wind Turbine drivetrain testing

Strange title for a blog eh ????

Well there is a reason and the reason is because I have decided to admit that I fell for one of the oldest tricks in the book the other day and bought stock from a rogue trader – otherwise known as a ” Boiler Room Scam “.

You can get more information on ” Boiler Room Scams ” here

http://www.cityoflondon.police.uk/CityPolice/ECD/Fraud/boilerroom.htm

and if you Google it.

Here’s a couple of useful blogs to look at in relation to Westernfield Holdings and other interesting companies:

http://stumbleforward.com/2009/04/09/readers-story-milton-hayward-scam-ripping-off-people/comment-page-1/#comment-5560

http://migger.net/2007/05/31/unicorn-ventures-advarsel/ ( starts off in Danish but there are lots of comments in English so you will get the drift pretty quick ).

http://www.ouaza.com/wp/2007/08/31/arnaque-boursiere-artemis/ ( starts off in French but lots of English later )

http://www.upvery.com/2265-macmillan-frasier.html

and the FSA has a useful list here:

http://www.fsa.gov.uk/pages/Doing/Regulated/Law/Alerts/overseas.shtml

You can bet that I will be writing more about this but for the moment I am ” keeping my powder dry ” as I have set the dogs onto some of these guys. They are going to find out that they are pretty big, nasty, dogs in the near future :-)

The thing that caught me out here is that they came with a reference from someone that I knew which I guess means that thier information and data originally came from a legitimate broker.

I guess that the other couple of things that caught me out were that it was in area of business that I thought was pretty hot ( electric cars ) and from a part of the world that I regard as high growth ( Far East and China ) and a company that had been invested in by Warren Buffett ( everyone’s investing hero ?? ) and was presented to me by a very educated and competent  ( sounding ) lady.

As I say there will be much more on this but there was something that quite intrigued me in relation to the way that these boiler rooms promoted themselves on the Internet and the way that they used it. They use some of the promotional techniques that we have talked about here.

Lets Google a couple of companies:

Westernfield Holdings – http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=westernfield+holdings&meta=&rlz=1R2ADBR_en&aq=f&oq=

Anderson Munro – http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&rlz=1R2ADBR_en&q=anderson+munro&btnG=Search&meta=&aq=f&oq=

Macmillan Frasier – http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&rlz=1R2ADBR_en&q=macmillan+frasier&meta=&aq=f&oq=

So, firstly someone ( we do have some idea who ) is generating plausable sounding ( ? ) company names and accompanying websites. Then they need to fill the website with appropriate content, promote the website ( get it ranking as high as possible in Google ) and create some semblence of history and credibility around the company.

This is done using free press release websites and these may be further promoted using Digg or some other similar site.

Unfortunately for the people who are creating these companies and websites people are talking ( all around the world and in many different languages – some reading eg French or Danish websites and then commenting in English ) on the Internet and posting what they know. This means that in some cases victims comments are managing to get onto the front page of Google with warnings about them.

Blog and forum websites that contain the warnings are ranking as high if not higher than the companies own website and the various press releases.

Of course there is a timelag but as the victims get quicker at spotting the scams and sharper at posting them with relevant keywords then the timelag is reduced.

People have made the point that the websites are not very old ( They have done a ” whois ” on the websites like this

http://whois.domaintools.com/makeb.net

and found out who constructed them and when ) and also that the Press Releases only start from certain dates and again are not very old.

Also, interestingly, some of them are still being posted about – probably in an effort to drive out the warning posts and replace them with PR’s.

These posts will tell you what the next ” stock theme ” that they are going to be telephone calling about is going to be.

Westernfield Holdings were still posting as recently as November 25th 2009 on the subject of thier alleged investment of $25 Million into a wind turbine drivetrain testing centre. Hence the title of this blog ;-)

Of course Wind Turbines are a very topical subject and the drivetrains are an element which is costly and high maintenance so the area itself is somewhat legitimate.

As I said there will be more and I am hoping to get some comment from some of the companies mentioned :-)

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next level down from Activity,Knowledge and Skills

Posted by Chris on November 25th, 2009

Do you remember this blog???

http://mandarainmaker.co.uk/wordpress/2009/10/16/the-perfect-salesperson-and-the-perfect-sales-meeting-structure/

Well, my client and I have been doing some more work on this. We reckoned that we needed to get down into a bit more detail and sub-divide some of these areas.

Activity

 

Here we had a discussion about what we think the activity targets should be.

 

Based around a week as follows, approximately:

 

1 day cold calling

1 day proposal writing

3 days meetings ( or if no meetings then calls to get meetings )

 

 

The target number of cold calling phone calls per week ( my recommendation is to go for researched, targeted phone calls rather than purely numbers based ) -should be say 30 per day? ( Any meaningful conversations to be followed up by a letter, so say 15 letters ? )

 

The target number of meetings per week – say 3 per day for 3 days = should be  9 ?? ( All appointments confirmed by email/letter )

 

The target number of proposals per week – should be, say, 6 ? ( All proposals to have summary of meeting, key needs and objectives, how we meet those needs/objectives, pricing and ideally ROI )

 

 

Knowledge

Here we divided knowledge up into various segments:

 

Company – ( The companies background/history, key philosophies and main strengths )

 

Products ( The top 3 – say, for an ICT company, 1. Telephony, 2. Computer Hardware – Switches, Routers, PC’s,

Servers 3. ????? TBD )

 

Services - ( The top 3 – say, for an ICT company, 1. IT Support, 2. Billing Services – Lines, Minutes 3. ???? TBD etc)

 

Competition ( The top 3 – say, for an ICT company 1. ABC Ltd. 2.  DEF Ltd. 3. GHI Ltd. 4.  JKL Ltd. 5. ???  We would highlight thier strengths and weaknesses ).

 

Suppliers ( The top 3 – say, for an ICT company 1. Cisco, 2. Microsoft, 3. HP )

 

Marketplace e.g for an ICT company – Hosted Computing versus Premises Based, Virtualisation trends, Cloud computing trends ( SaaS etc )

 

  

Skills

Here we divided skills up into seperate areas:

 

Meeting structure ( as before )

 

Proposal structure ( eg summary of meeting, key needs and objectives, how we meet those needs/objectives, pricing and ideally ROI )

 

Presentation structure ( eg Intro, summary of needs/objectives, how we meet them, discussion, agreement on way forward )

 

Demo structure ( eg Understand what we need to prove, prove it, next step )

 

Questioning skills

 

Closing skills

 

Objection Handling

 

Negotiation Skills

 

Psychometric profiling ( this is an advanced selling skill )

 

With each of these areas we can either record achievement as a percentage of the target or mark each area out of 10 as before. 

Now we had some way of focussing on the areas that needed to be addressed.

We could sit down amongst ourselves and give our own targets and also agree these with the salesperson.

Then we could write an action plan to address any areas of weakness or shortfall.

Forecasting Sales – is it an Art or a Science?

Posted by Chris on November 15th, 2009

 

 Forecasting is one of the most important activities in a salespersons calendar; it needs to be both reliable and consistent.

 

Over many years I have seen some amazing forecasting methods most are too complicated and require the salesperson to complete endless forms and questions which is time consuming and totally unnecessary.

 

KISS – keep it simple, stupid: is my motto

 

Traditional forecasting tends to be rear view mirror stuff with the salesperson often justifying why the sales haven’t closed.

 

Lets take a fresh look at the subject and consider our forecast looking forward and from the buyer’s standpoint.

 

Key questions:

 

What is your customers buying cycle?

Where are you relation to this?

What level of commitment do you have?

What level of commitment do you still need?

Are there any compelling events?

What are their buying criteria?

 

If your sales people don’t know the answers to these questions then your forecast  could be at risk.

 

Have a simple step x step approach to your information gathering.

 

Qualification using ‘MANU’ for smaller deals and ‘SPORTSMAN’ (which I have trademarked) as the most comprehensive approach to the larger high value sales.

 

If you want to know more about how to achieve reliable, accurate and consistent sales forecasting: 

 

Contact Richard Spooner +44 (0)7887 720006

 

 

 

Answer – it’s both an Art and a Science!

Achieving a high ranking website

Posted by Chris on November 13th, 2009
The main reason that I am interested in high ranking websites is because I think it adds value to a business that is exiting. Not that this is much of a factor in valuing companies but I think that Internet presence will become more of a tangible value factor.
One of my investee companies director’s asked me to give him some help with the latest ways of achieving a high ranking website and as this was a subject that I have been discussing here and elsewhere it seemed like a great opportunity to pull some of my thoughts together. ( I speak not as an SEO or website design expert but as an Internet Marketing Strategist ).
Q. How does a high ranking website get to be so ?? ( He asked )
I was reading some books about Google a while back and I remember them talking about how one of the founding ideas for internet search was based on the practice of referencing papers written by ( mainly ) intellectuals. That is ” good ” information is ” referenced ” or ” linked to ” by
” referrers “. So, I write a paper and I put a list of the references that I have used at the end. The more times that a paper is referenced ( linked to ) the better that paper is likely to be.
I noted that Googles spiders ( that crawl through all the websites on the Internet )  are looking for good, relevant information that other people have both visited and referenced ( linked to ).
Good content and information obviously tends to lead to lots of visitors and references ( links ) which creates more  visitors and references and so on.
Clear and correct “classification ” and ” indexing ” and ease of navigation through the website enables people and spiders to find information easily and leads to more visitors and links.
It is a case of ” If you build it ( correctly ) they will come ” and they will remember and reference you. ( Assuming they are interested in what you have to say ).
So, important factors are:
1. Relevant content ( updated and added to regularly )

2. Correct ” classification “, ” indexing ” and construction ( ie coding and website structure/ease of navigation )

3. Traffic ( Number of visitors )
4. References ( links )
Points 1 and 2 relate to what you are trying to rank for.
Points 3 and 4 are achieved with good, interesting and valuable content.
( There may be shortcut ways to the top but Google may well work out that you are trying to shortcut the system and going  against the basic tenet of providing the best, most relevant information to the searcher and penalise you for it ).
Understanding what you are trying to rank for is KEY.
This will lead to you having a number of ” straplines “, words and phrases that ARE WHAT YOU WANT TO BE FOUND FOR.
N.B. You MUST put yourself in the mind of the person who is searching for what you provide ( NOT who you are ). People will search for products and services generally not company names. ( Unless they know you and what you do already ). 
So someone might search on a pub by name e.g. The Glan Yr Afon Inn but they are more likely to search on ” Pubs in Holywell ” or ” Pubs in North Wales “.
There are ( as I view it ) various tiers of relevant words and phrases.The name of the company and it’s main products and services are Tier 1 and Tier 2. We then get down to lower tiers where someone may search on ” Bird watching in North Wales ” for instance. This may not seem immediately relevant until you understand that there is a bird sanctuary just down the road from The Glan Yr Afon Inn and realise that people who may want to watch birds may also want to eat, drink and sleep somewhere.
Understanding clearly what you rank for ( and the various tiers ) is the subject of a Strategic Marketing Review which we have talked about elsewhere in the Marketing section of this blog.
This covers:
  • Strategic marketing objectives
  • Tactical marketing objectives
  • Messages
  • Offerings
  • Target markets
  • How to get to target markets
  • How we will support our proposition
  • What the competition is doing

This needs doing whether we are thinking about Traditional Marketing, Word of Mouth Marketing or Internet Marketing – all of which we will do in a co-ordinated way.

From this review we will obtain some key messages, straplines, words and phrases.

We will create a website that has:

  • Our brand
  • Our message(s) – relevant ones
  • Our culture
  • Our content – relevant

and always – in the back of our mind – will be the fact that we want to be found for certain searches. We integrate these terms into our content and we also ” code ” them in where we can ( in website names, titles,  metatags etc )

 What we are doing is that we are taking care of the relevant content and correct classification aspects referred to earlier. THEN we need to go about increasing traffic and creating links ( ideally from other high ranking websites ).

To achieve this we ” promote ” ourselves.

N.B. Whilst we will concentrate on Internet promotion clearly Traditional marketing and Word of Mouth marketing will lead to an increase in Internet activity alongside a return fom that particular activity e.g. a mailshot may get a return in it’s own right but it will also add to Internet marketing  return .

When we talk about Internet promotion I am thinking that we have already established a website which has everything we have talked about so far in it. It looks great, has the right content, has the right coding and construction.

It will get direct visitors ( because people will see the url somewhere and type this in to the browser ).

It will get visitors via Google and other search engines because when people search for your products and services they are very likely to find you because your website has the right content and coding.

It will get more visitors because you will promote it on and you will create links from what I call referrer sites:

  1. Feeder websites. These are small, perhaps niche focussed websites that you establish.
  2. Social Networking sites eg Facebook, Twitter, Ecademy, LinkedIn.
  3. Photo/Video sites eg Flickr and YouTube
  4. Your blogsite.
  5. Other people’s web and blogsites.
  6. Information sites eg Digg, Stumbleapon,Delicious,Social Median
  7. Directory sites.
  8. Google Adwords.
  9. Press Release websites.
  10. Others sites.

Promotion does a number of things:

  • People see you on that medium/site eg on YouTube and further promotion may occur there
  • They link through to your website ( ie you get more traffic and links )
  • It adds to the number of visitors to your website 

To give you an example of how I have used ” referrer sites ” to boost visitors and links to a main website – here is one of the pubs websites

 
 
 
here’s it’s blogsite
 
 
here’s it’s Facebook page
 
 
here’s it’s Twitter page
 
 
here’s it YouTube video
 
 
If you look at this search on Glan Yr Afon Inn ( I have searched on the name to show you where it appears rather than as a ranking example – as you know it is hardly of any interest for the name to come up on google ) you will see that The Glan ( like myself ) is all over the place on Google.
 
 
Review sites, directory sites, press release sites etc etc
 
all of this are providing traffic and links to the main website as I described to you.
 
If you search on eg ” pubs in Holywell “
 
 
you will see that we come up top of Google Maps ( which comes top of Google )
 
and then in the main natural listings number 4 and 5.
 

Creating the best, high ranking website – the Vesuvius Project

Posted by Chris on November 7th, 2009

Sometimes the solution just turns up !!

Just recently we have been discussing how to create websites that not only look good and are easy to use but are also search engine optimised.

My past experience of having websites built is that you typically get website designers who are either creative and artistic or programmers. Simplistically the arty types don’t understand coding, databases and SEO and the programming types don’t understand art, aesthetics and ease of use.  In fairness you do get more that have an appreciation of both now.

However, you still get websites designed today without an appreciation of SEO. Some website customers don’t really think that this is an issue but my bet is that most of them will – one day. The days of un-SEO’d websites are long gone in my view.

Website designers often have to deal with customers who don’t understand that they need to do some thinking about what they would want to be ranked for if thier website was to be SEO’d. They also don’t appreciate that some things just take time and steady effort. Many of them also do not know what they want thier websites to look like or criticise designs without being able to say why it is not right for them.

There are a couple of things that modern websites really need that are often not provided.

One of these things is called a statistics monitor – enabling you to see the source of the people that come and visit your website and it’s various pages. One of the reasons for this is that today it is quite common to drive traffic to your website from e.g. a blogsite like this or from social network sites, press release sites. Google Adwords etc etc You need to know which of them is more effective at driving traffic to your website.

The other thing that you really need to be able to do is to be able to update the content on your website quickly and easily, with text and images and even video. Since I have had this blog I have been amazed at how easy it is for me to update it quickly. I am not doing anything clever with it at the moment - not using images and video for example. However I don’t have to get hold of my website designer and explain what I want to do – I just do it with a blog. A good website has to have regularly updated content though so not being able to update it easily is a problem.

So, because I tend to look for a process that will make a business proposition replicatable and scalable I have been thinking about the process for producing an effective website that incorporated things like SEO, statistics and content management.

Amazingly a business contact turned up here today with a system for making the production of websites easier and quicker ( deskilling some elements ) whilst at the same time ensuring that they were SEO’d and that they incorporated things like statistics and content management.

Now, for all I know there are loads of these systems around and more research is required but for now, as I said to my contact, I have a tool which allows me to follow and recommend a much more comprehensive website building process. 

We talked briefly about target market for this and to me it was ideal for businesses that were producing multiple, somewhat tailored but perhaps not exactly the same, websites. The thing was that I could reel off a couple of prospects ( suspects )  for this straight away.

Well I have put the system out for review to a couple of people I know and will get some feedback from them soon. Watch this space !!

Oh, it’s called the Vesuvius Project because I think that when we have the right solution it will explode :-)

Broad marketing strategy

Posted by Chris on November 4th, 2009

Just thinking about marketing strategy for a meeting that I have got next week. I am not sure about you but I like to try and keep things ( relatively ) simple. I have got a simplify and focus attitude to most things. ( Although some of them stubbornly refuse to be simplified :-) )

So, I think that the really key issues are:

What your strategic objective is ?

Typically companies that I get involved with have an exit strategy ( see – selling a business ) so included in  the objectives is the creation of  as much value in the brand, the processes and the customer connections as possible.  We want clear and consistent brands and messages; linked traditional, word of mouth and internet campaigning; creation and maintenance of a good customer and prospect database.

 

What the tactical objective(s) are ?? 

Perhaps we want to promote certain products and services to certain types of people to generate leads; perhaps we want to improve our Internet Marketing profile as our Traditional and Word of Mouth marketing is working pretty well.

 

What is our message ??? ( What are we offering ?? , what is it that we want to say to people ?? ) 

Is our proposition clear ?? What do we really do ( best ) ??

 

Who do we want to get our message to ??

Geographically( What area ?? ) , vertically ( Which sectors ? ) and horizontally ( What size of businesses ? ) I also like to visualise and describe the ideal, perfect customer. Hopefully we will have at least some of those :-)

 

How are we planning to get our message/proposition to our target markets ?

We have got these three main routes of Internet, Word of Mouth and Traditional. We can also ” push ” our message or we can allow it to be ” pulled ” ( eg we make sure that when people are enquiring about an area that is one of our main offerings they are going to find us )

 

What will we do to provide proof that we know about these areas and establish our credibility ??

We will talk about people that we have helped with our solutions. Case studies. Testimonials. Referrals.

 

What are the competition doing ??

Who are they ?? What are they saying ?? What are they doing ??? What are our advantages and strengths ?? 

  

These are some of the main areas that we need to be thinking about.

 

 

 

Check out the source ( code )

Posted by Chris on November 4th, 2009

Just doing some work for a client on thier Internet and Marketing strategy and thought it was interesting to compare the source code of the websites that come at the top of Google to those that don’t. It’s all in the Titles and Metatags really !!

“I want a blog that’s at the top of Google before I do any work on it – and I want it to be free”

Posted by Chris on November 2nd, 2009

The person that helped me create this blogsite ( Nikki Pilkington ) recently posted a blog herself about an email that she received from someone ( who will be getting famous soon ) here  http://networkedblogs.com/p16363780.

The email asked

” I am looking to start a blog that is free (or very cheap) to run, is easy to edit and write on and add photos etc.

 

I want this blog to be fully search engine optimised, so it comes up close to the top of google for all relevant search terms as well.  I also want some ad space on the site so I can start earning straight away.

 

How much would you charge for this?  I just want to be handed a blog that is at the top of google and is ready to go when you are finished… “
Nikki’s response to wanting this for free cannot be printed :-)
This got me thinking though…
I am not a website designer or an S.E.O. ( I leave all that to Nikki and her team ) but I am in part a sales and marketing strategist and as such I like to take a helicopter view on these sorts of things.
My overall view ( explained here  http://www.seana.biz/methodology.htm ) is that Internet Marketing is one part of marketing these days and alongside Word of Mouth Marketing and Traditional Marketing it should feed your database of customer and prospect information and drive your business engine along.
When it comes to Internet Marketing of course the thing that we all want to be is at the top of Google ( for particular search terms ) and ideally for the least money possible !!
Now, getting to the top quickly is one matter but getting to the top quickly for FREE is entirely another !
I am not going to tell you how to get to the top of Google for free ( I don’t think that it can be done – especially since nobody’s time is for free ) but I am going to tell you about some things that you can do to get yourself to the top of Google.
Some of these I am simply going to say Y.N.T.S.T.N.P.A.T. ( You need to speak to Nikki Pilkington about that ) or STN ( Speak to Nikki ) for short !!
What you have to understand in simple terms ( STN for the longer, more detailed version ) is that Google ranking is about Traffic ( to your site ), Relevant ( and changing and updated  regularly ) content and links ( from other high ranking sites ).
The websites that get good rankings have loads of visitors and great content and therefore lots of other ( good ) websites refer to them. 
Now, the other thing that you really need to understand is what words and phrases you want to get ranked for. There is nothing ( other than asking for it for free ) that riles SEO people more than dealing with people who do not understand what they want to get ranked for – in detail. by the way – what you think you want to get ranked for may not be the best thing to get ranked for ( STN for more ). What you think people will type into Google to find your products and services may not be what you think. ( Want to bet ?? )
Also the words and phrases that you want to get ranked for may just be too damned hard to achieve ( in any reasonably quick timeframe and reasonable cost ).
My advice to you is to think about the thing that you want people to find you for e.g. Pubs in Holywell and things that will lead them to that e.g. Accommodation in Holywell and things that will lead them to that e.g. Fishing in North Wales ( Lost ?? then STN ).
It’s basically because there are more ways than one of skinning this ole’ cat.
ok. Now lets start with your website. It has to be relevant, easy to read and look at ( N.B. Google’s layout ) and SEO’d etc etc etc ( STN )
To drive traffic to your website you need to use some or all of the following:
Google Adwords ( can be expensive – STN )
A Blogsite ( STN )
The use of Press Release sites ( Free or otherwise )
Inclusion in other people’s websites ( eg Newspaper sites, Blogsites, PR sites,Directories )
Information sites like Digg ( STN )
Directories ( Yeah I know I said that above aswell )
Social Networking sites ( Facebook, Twitter etc )
SOME of these sites will be very high ranking referrers or links to your site ( eg Facebook is )
ALL of them will drive traffic to your website.
Can you visualise this ?? You have all these seperate Internet based elements that are referring back to your website and driving it higher.
Have you realised how much work this involves yet ?? How long it takes ???
Yes my friend nothing comes for FREE and nothing comes easy. However I hope that this has helped you with the big picture and for more detail STN !!!!
 

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