Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Does Your Web Design Company Tie You To Them .. Or Grant You Total Freedom?

Does your websdesigner tie you up in knotsA Website Is Essential for Education Providers .. Especially FE Colleges. But Often a Web Design Company Tie You to Them And You Don’t Realise Until It Is Too Late

This is how it works. Some web companies quote and tell you that you will have full control over the website once it is launched. But over the last few years, we’ve seen too many instances where that wasn’t true. Let me show you how a Web Design Company Can Tie You to them.

Many college sites pull in course info from the MIS system. It’s often a problem syncing the two together and the web design company will use a piece of software to do this. Often it isn’t until part way through the design process that they tell you about the need to use it. And they will blame your MIS system.

And because you are working to a deadline its easy to believe they have a solution and go down that road.

The problem comes when you want to take over full control of the website. The bit of software that links your MIS and website belongs to the web company. They insist you need to pay them a maintenance fee to keep the syncing running. And that’s how they stay in control of everything. In the worse cases, the company will then discover new problems when you want to upgrade plugins etc. The plugin will clash with their piece of software and you will need to pay them to modify it!

How Else Does a Web Design Company Tie You to Them?

Another trick unscrupulous web designers do is to quote for hosting the site. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this. But we’ve seen one case recently where the bill for hosting was £10k for a three years contract. When we looked at the external host they were using we found a huge discrepancy. The hosting company were charging £250 a year. The extra £9250 over three years was the admin fee the company were trying to charge.

There are a great number of really good web designers available to colleges. Not all are of dubious reputation. The problem is working out which ones are straight and which ones are out to rip you off.

At times like this, it pays to use an external consultant to advise on what to look for. After years of working with straight designers, and finding far too many that aren’t straight, we are happy to advise any college.

Discover more about college website problems on this site 

Or visit Underfunded Education for advice on how to get the best from small budgets



Project Management: How to Manage Complex Business Management Projects Without Getting Stressed

Project Management_ How to Manage Complex Business Management Projects Without Getting Stressed.jHow to Manage Complex Business Management Projects is the topic of my latest book. It’s available on Amazon




Marketing Thought: There are Few Alternatives to a Budget

Stella* called me and booked a 1:1 …. she had severe marketing issues and her turnover had droppped £3 million in five years. Her turnover was had fallen by 50% to £3m.

Stella’s largest competitor has a £55m turnover and puts 2% into his marketing budget plus he employs a team of 10 marketing professionals.

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Using Fractals in FE marketing and Sales

20% of Your Businesses Are Probably Responsible for 80% of Your Turnover …. and Fractals Dictate There Are Huge Profit Opportunities With The 20%

Definition of a Fractal: a graphical curve or geometric figure, each part of which has the same statistical character as the whole.

Businesses and people are predictable, far more predictable than many people think. Economist Vilfredo Pareto was aware of this and described the Pareto Principal with regards income distribution.

But it applies to other situations as well. The Pareto Principle is actually a fractal in that the same relationship exists as you drill down through your business. 20% of your customers will either buy 80% of your goods or contribute 80% of your profits. And if that 20% you’ll find that 20% of them are super customers and contribute 80% of the 80%  ….. well you get the idea.

It takes some doing getting your head around this but it is important that you do because when it comes to profit not all customers are equal.

In business fractals are all around you. Take football, a huge number of people watch the game in the pub. It cost s them a glass of beer. Of these people 20% can be persuaded to buy a ticket to go to a game. 20% of them will buy a season ticket. 20% of them will take a box. And a few of them will buy a club!

Of course 20% doesn’t hold true in every single case but you get the idea I’m sure. There is a,ways a percentage that can be unsold to the next level.

So what are up you doing to tap into these sales?


Stefan Drew on The Magic of Specialising

Setting up a new business doesn’t happen just like that.

A degree of specialisation is needed. But what can you specialise in and did we all start that way?


Listen to the audio to discover more


How to Build a Successful Platform Without Email

Keeping In Contact With Customers & Prospects Without Email

In this post I want to share a recording I did with my colleague Ian Brodie. Ian is Mr Email and wrote the definitive book on the subject. So me saying I don’t use email is an interesting proposition for an interview.

Did sparks fly? Of course not.

But you might find a few thoughts that create flames for you and your business.

[Podcast] Stefan Drew on How He Built a Successful Platform Without Email Marketing


Caring for Customers is Like Painting Your Premises

Caring for Customers is Like Painting Your PremisesWe’ve Painted Our Premises And It Looks Great. 

Well, Caring for Customers is Like Painting Your Premises

In some senses it felt like a waste of time and money as we went for the same colour as before. Continue reading


Why You Shouldn’t Delegate

Why You Shouldn't Delegate

We Are Told To Delegate, To Outsource, To Do Less Ourselves. But Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Delegate

We Are Told To Delegate, To Outsource, To Do Less Ourselves. But Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Delegate

If you delegate everything you miss huge busienss growth opportunities. You also lose the opportunity to spot what isn’t working in your business.

This short video explains it all … viewing time is about a minute.


Pricing Strategies: How To Display Prices in a Small Font to Maximise Sales

Few Providers Use This Pricing Strategy. They Need to Know How To Display Prices in a Small Font .. and More Importantly, Why They Should Do Use a Small Font

I often suggest FHE institutions should consider this Pricing Strategy for Full Cost Courses …. because it works.

See How To Display Prices in a Small Font to Maximise Sales


A Really Simple Guide to Bots

A Really Simple Guide to Bots can be downloaded by clicking the link below

AReallySimpleGuidetoBotsVol1 ..

but don’t forget to browse the numerous bot posts here.


Mergers: Does Size Matter? Is Bigger Better?

Merger: Does Bigger Mean Better? Does Size Really Matter?Lots of Colleges are Merging. It’s Meant to Make Them Sustainable. Does It?

See my latest Featured Article in FE News

Merger: Does Bigger Mean Better?


Understanding Searcher Intent is Vital

Searcher Intent, What is It, How Do You Define Searcher Intent?Searcher Intent? What Do Online Searchers Intend

We read a lot about SEO and ensuring that we use the right keywords in our content to ensure we come high up on the Search Engine Results Pages.  But to do this, and get highly ranked, we need to know what the online searcher intent is.

Are they just merely curious, doing actual research, want to buy, want to recommend to a friend or something altogether different?  People’s intentions are not always obvious, so, when writing content, we need to make some assumptions if our webpage is to match their actual needs. Continue reading


How to Transcribe Audio & Video Quickly & at Low Cost

Transcribe and transcriptionTranscription of Video and Audio is often needed for use on websites and YouTube.

DIY transcription tends to be slow, inaccurate and ineffective. So I recommend using online services such a SpeechPad, simply because they are accurate, quick, inexpensive and they operate 24/7.

Find them at



Could Numbers Be Gender Specific?

Research by Wilkie & Bodenhausen (2015) Indicates That Numbers Are Gender Specific

My gut reaction was that this was highly unlikely. But then I thought some more.

My logic was that if this were true then it might influence how we use numbers to influence the purchase of courses .. especially online.

So I’m conducting some research of my own. It’s only a simple one question survey but it will cast more light on the question.

Answer this single question and I’ll explain the rationale as soon as I have some results.

Click the link below to see the question

Numbers & Gender Research


How to Turn Website Visitors into Students

website conversionTurn Website Visitors into Students

So many people write or blog about the black art of getting more website visitors; but far fewer focus on getting those visitors to become students (customers).

Converting visitors isn’t a black art. It’s not magic. It’s the application of a very simple marketing process.

There are three parts to it.

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Value Based Pricing Strategies for FE Business Development

Value Based Pricing Strategies are an FHE business development strategy essential in FE Value Based Pricing is an Alternative Pricing Strategy Few FE Providers Use

Most FE Providers ignore Value Based Pricing Strategies and go for Flat Pricing with a single option. For example, a course is charged at £195 per person. There are no other options.

This is a quick and easy way to quote but it means you are going to be compared with your competitors on price. And that means someone will always try to do it cheaper and, even if you get the work, the margins are very slim.

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Once Upon a Time There Was a College Restaurant

Why some college restaurants need to closeCollege Restaurants are about to hit the news.  Some providers are about to announce expansion plans with city centre commercial premises .. and others are quietly closing their restauarants.

Neither route is necessarily the one other providers should follow.  But we all should ensure our commercial activites are there for the right reason.  And that has to be to provide our students with the very best training and education we can provide.  They deserve no less.

Sadly many providers close over the summer period and, whilst i agee that staff need a break, I’m not convinced college restaurants should close over the summer.

You can read more about my views in my latest FE News article entitled ……..Why Some College Restaurants Need to Close


Employers Will Pay Much More

employers pay extra for luxury Frequently I’m Told Employers Will NOT Pay a Premium .. or sometimes anything at all. 

That’s NOT True

Employers will pay much more than most people think when buying courses for themselves or highly valued staff.

The trick is to tap into what they value or need most.

Employers are people and people value the little extras in life .. such as
Luxury (the feeling of)
Process (if it’s unique)
Passing Responsibility (the transfer of it…to you)
Think about the businesses that YOU pay a premium to…

What do they give you that makes you happy to pay extra?

Coffee shops; most charge a high premium on coffee fees. In return you get a distinct ambiance, great coffee, comfortable seating and (usually) good music.

Apple, Their computers and phones are really expensive. You can pay 100% – 400% premium on their computers. But in return, you get a Apple shops which provide a much better experience, a great feeling when opening the box plus good  customer service.

Even the simpler, more innovative design implies clarity.


What Employers Will Pay For 

Employers will pay extra if you provide some, or all, of the above.

The first step is to answer the phone correctly. These people are responsible adults that run businesses.  Far too often when I speak to providers on the phone I feel like they are treating me like a school leaver. There is no need to be abrupt or appear superior!

I’m sure staff don’t set out to appear like this .. but sadly some definitely come over like this.

So start by thinking about the people you are dealing with and what they expect.  Provide this as a minimum and then try to exceed their expectations.  You can then base your prices on this level of service and see significant income improvements.

You will also stand out from the crowd when bidding against other providers.


Customer Profiles: Social Media Profile Scores

Customer Profiles: social media responses from surveymonkey survey of UK students

Click to Enlarge

Knowing Our Customers Social Media Profile is Essential for Cost-Effective Marketing

I’ve talked about profiling our customers social media responses before,  And you probably realise I have concerns about the volume of poorly used social media being used by providers. Customer profiles are a vital marketing tool.

It isn’t that I’m totally  against social media.  It is that far too often the wrong platforms are often used, messages sent tend to be a bit vanilla and there are far too few calls to action for my liking.  Certainly social media is meant to engage. But it should never bore. And every marketing campaign should have some measurable outcome; preferably a sale of some sort.

Customer Profiles: How to Profile Your Customers

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Client Acquisition: How To Avoid Client Chasing

Client acquisistion isn't easy; unless you market effectively. Client Acquisition: Getting More Business Clients Can Be Hard When Your Emails and Phone Calls Don’t Get Answered.

So how do you get the clients without appearing desperate? Try this method of Client Acquisition

You know the situation. They ask for a proposal, you write and send it and then you can’t get an answer from them.

Sometimes their priorities have changed but often it is just that you keep missing one another.  When this happens you have to decide if you should give up or keep chasing.  But chasing looks desperate.

How to Avoid Client Chasing and Looking Desperate

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