Party like a businessman

Marketing advice

Marketing is everything, Everything we do and everything we say, it has either a positive or a negative effect on the customers. Or no impact at all…

Recently, I read a survey stating that 85 per cent of staff are notaware of their company’s core business idea and strategy. This is how the idea of using a "party metaphor" to describe business communication & development was born.

The idea is simple. Creating a good party and marketing a business successfully are based on the same principles. The metaphor is based on a 10-step-model which encourages the employees of a given company – from CEO to Post Room – to coordinate their efforts so as to strengthen the oveall communication impact. This might sound simple, but it is not that easy to achieve and getting it right can yield significant profits.

Step #1.

The Party Theme / Business idea & Strategies. 

It´s important that everyone in the company is aware of the business idea and strategy.

I recently met with a sales executive from Apple. I asked him if his main role was selling Apple products. He answered quickly: "No, I AM Apple!" “What do you mean?" I asked. His reply was fast: "Well, I help our customers to unleash their potential with simplicity and attractive design, and that is someting I LOVE doing." Clearly, he knew so well the company’s values and goals that he could identify with them. Talk about living the brand!

Tip: Make sure that that all staff is aware of what their role entails and how it fits within the company. You will be amazed about the amount of money wasted and opportunities missed when there is confusion about the company’s aims.

Step #2.

Guests? Target groups and their needs.

Without customers - no business. All focus should be directed towards satisfying the customer’s needs and making the company a ‘hero’ in customers’ lives. IKEA is a great example of pre-empting and meeting customer needs. In addition to functional furniture at low prices, their stores offer free measuring tapes, small pencils and note papers, and especially designed IKEA bags, to name just a few clever customer-friendly features.

Tip: Encourage all staff to think about what their customer needs are, and how they can contribute to satisfying them. They might come up with the idea of ​​your company’s IKEA bag.

Step #10

Seven steps later in the model, you have reached Step #10 – ‘The Moment of Truth’. The result of the overall strategy should be that customers enjoy the product/ service so much that they’ll want to come back for more. The attention to detail at the heart of the company’s strategy is a key element of such success. Coca Cola is one of the most popular brands worldwide; its Facebook page counts more than 42 million ‘likes’. Not only it is known to value its employees, but it constantly keeps abreast of social trends. Despite having been established in 1886 it is not complacent and aims to appear fresh all the time (no pun intended).

Harald Moe is a business & communication consultant based in Sweden. He is the author of Party Marketing

Photograph: Getty Images

Harald Moe is a business & communication consultant based in Sweden. He is the author of Party Marketing

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Q&A: What are tax credits and how do they work?

All you need to know about the government's plan to cut tax credits.

What are tax credits?

Tax credits are payments made regularly by the state into bank accounts to support families with children, or those who are in low-paid jobs. There are two types of tax credit: the working tax credit and the child tax credit.

What are they for?

To redistribute income to those less able to get by, or to provide for their children, on what they earn.

Are they similar to tax relief?

No. They don’t have much to do with tax. They’re more of a welfare thing. You don’t need to be a taxpayer to receive tax credits. It’s just that, unlike other benefits, they are based on the tax year and paid via the tax office.

Who is eligible?

Anyone aged over 16 (for child tax credits) and over 25 (for working tax credits) who normally lives in the UK can apply for them, depending on their income, the hours they work, whether they have a disability, and whether they pay for childcare.

What are their circumstances?

The more you earn, the less you are likely to receive. Single claimants must work at least 16 hours a week. Let’s take a full-time worker: if you work at least 30 hours a week, you are generally eligible for working tax credits if you earn less than £13,253 a year (if you’re single and don’t have children), or less than £18,023 (jointly as part of a couple without children but working at least 30 hours a week).

And for families?

A family with children and an income below about £32,200 can claim child tax credit. It used to be that the more children you have, the more you are eligible to receive – but George Osborne in his most recent Budget has limited child tax credit to two children.

How much money do you receive?

Again, this depends on your circumstances. The basic payment for a single claimant, or a joint claim by a couple, of working tax credits is £1,940 for the tax year. You can then receive extra, depending on your circumstances. For example, single parents can receive up to an additional £2,010, on top of the basic £1,940 payment; people who work more than 30 hours a week can receive up to an extra £810; and disabled workers up to £2,970. The average award of tax credit is £6,340 per year. Child tax credit claimants get £545 per year as a flat payment, plus £2,780 per child.

How many people claim tax credits?

About 4.5m people – the vast majority of these people (around 4m) have children.

How much does it cost the taxpayer?

The estimation is that they will cost the government £30bn in April 2015/16. That’s around 14 per cent of the £220bn welfare budget, which the Tories have pledged to cut by £12bn.

Who introduced this system?

New Labour. Gordon Brown, when he was Chancellor, developed tax credits in his first term. The system as we know it was established in April 2003.

Why did they do this?

To lift working people out of poverty, and to remove the disincentives to work believed to have been inculcated by welfare. The tax credit system made it more attractive for people depending on benefits to work, and gave those in low-paid jobs a helping hand.

Did it work?

Yes. Tax credits’ biggest achievement was lifting a record number of children out of poverty since the war. The proportion of children living below the poverty line fell from 35 per cent in 1998/9 to 19 per cent in 2012/13.

So what’s the problem?

Well, it’s a bit of a weird system in that it lets companies pay wages that are too low to live on without the state supplementing them. Many also criticise tax credits for allowing the minimum wage – also brought in by New Labour – to stagnate (ie. not keep up with the rate of inflation). David Cameron has called the system of taxing low earners and then handing them some money back via tax credits a “ridiculous merry-go-round”.

Then it’s a good thing to scrap them?

It would be fine if all those low earners and families struggling to get by would be given support in place of tax credits – a living wage, for example.

And that’s why the Tories are introducing a living wage...

That’s what they call it. But it’s not. The Chancellor announced in his most recent Budget a new minimum wage of £7.20 an hour for over-25s, rising to £9 by 2020. He called this the “national living wage” – it’s not, because the current living wage (which is calculated by the Living Wage Foundation, and currently non-compulsory) is already £9.15 in London and £7.85 in the rest of the country.

Will people be better off?

No. Quite the reverse. The IFS has said this slightly higher national minimum wage will not compensate working families who will be subjected to tax credit cuts; it is arithmetically impossible. The IFS director, Paul Johnson, commented: “Unequivocally, tax credit recipients in work will be made worse off by the measures in the Budget on average.” It has been calculated that 3.2m low-paid workers will have their pay packets cut by an average of £1,350 a year.

Could the government change its policy to avoid this?

The Prime Minister and his frontbenchers have been pretty stubborn about pushing on with the plan. In spite of criticism from all angles – the IFS, campaigners, Labour, The Sun – Cameron has ruled out a review of the policy in the Autumn Statement, which is on 25 November. But there is an alternative. The chair of parliament’s Work & Pensions Select Committee and Labour MP Frank Field has proposed what he calls a “cost neutral” tweak to the tax credit cuts.

How would this alternative work?

Currently, if your income is less than £6,420, you will receive the maximum amount of tax credits. That threshold is called the gross income threshold. Field wants to introduce a second gross income threshold of £13,100 (what you earn if you work 35 hours a week on minimum wage). Those earning a salary between those two thresholds would have their tax credits reduced at a slower rate on whatever they earn above £6,420 up to £13,100. The percentage of what you earn above the basic threshold that is deducted from your tax credits is called the taper rate, and it is currently at 41 per cent. In contrast to this plan, the Tories want to halve the income threshold to £3,850 a year and increase the taper rate to 48 per cent once you hit that threshold, which basically means you lose more tax credits, faster, the more you earn.

When will the tax credit cuts come in?

They will be imposed from April next year, barring a u-turn.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.