Passing Off-Court of Appeal Confirms Test in Galway Free Range Eggs Case

When it comes the economic tort of  passing off there is an accepted 3 part test which a Plaintiff needs to pass in order to win an intellectual property case involving passing off.

The test is as follows: you must prove

  1. Goodwill or reputation in a product
  2. Misrepresentation by someone which may lead to confusion between one product and another in the minds of the public
  3. Damage to the goodwill or reputation as a consequence of the misrepresentation.

This test was approved by the Supreme Court in McCambridge Limited v Joseph Brennan Bakeries and prior to this in Jacob Fruitfield Limited v United Biscuits (UK) limited.

Galway Free Range Eggs

This test was reviewed again in a case involving free range eggs in Galway.

Galway Free Range Eggs Limited had gone to the High Court for an injunction preventing a competitor, Hillsbrook Eggs Limited,  from selling their eggs under the name of “O’Briens of Galway Free Range Eggs”.

Galway Free Range Eggs Limited claimed passing off by Kevin O’Brien, Carmel O’Brien and Hillsbrook Eggs Limited as they claimed there was likely to be confusion in the minds of the public concerning their eggs and those of the Defendants. The High Court had refused the application for an injunction. Galway Free Range Eggs Limited appealed to the Court of Appeal.

Background

Galway Free Range Eggs Limited were unhappy when the defendants began selling their eggs as “O’Briens of Galway Free Range Eggs”.

The High Court had held that the Plaintiff had failed to prove misrepresentation leading to confusion by the defendants and found consumer survey evidence to this effect of limited value.

Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal held that Galway Free Range Eggs Limited had established that the defendants had engaged in passing off and were entitled to an injunction to protect its good name and reputation. The Court also held that the High Court had erred in dismissing the survey evidence and EU regulations which obliged the defendants to label their eggs as free range did not mean they had to include the words “free-range eggs” in their brand name.

Applying the 3 part test

1. Goodwill/reputation

The Court of Appeal accepted that Galway Free Range Eggs Limited had established goodwill in the use of the word “Galway” in connection with the words “free range eggs”.

2.  Confusion

The Court held that the appropriate test to be applied was whether the public were likely to be victims of confusion arising from the Defendants use of the words “Galway free range eggs” in its packaging and found that the High Court had erred in failing to apply this “confusion” test once it found that the Plaintiff had failed to find misrepresentation leading to confusion.

The Court of Appeal also held that the High Court should have had regard for the survey evidence adduced by the Plaintiff and that it was permissible to admit survey evidence; it was then a matter for the Court as to how much weight was given to that evidence.

The survey evidence showed that there was confusion amongst the 29% of the population and that this was sufficient to establish confusion and fulfill the 2nd part of the test. The Court of Appeal also found it was not necessary to put particular members of the public into evidence to give evidence about confusion and survey evidence could be relied upon.

3. Damage

The Court of Appeal held that it was not necessary to show that the Plaintiff had actually suffered damage but it was the appropriation of goodwill which was sufficient to establish damage for the purposes of the 3rd part of the test and to obtain the remedy-an injunction-sought.
You can read the full Court of Appeal decision in Galway Free Range Eggs Ltd v Kevin O’Brien, Carmel O’Brien and Hillsbrook Eggs Limited here.

Voluntary Liquidation of a Company by the Members

leases-tenancies-licences

A company can be dissolved by liquidation and there are three categories of liquidation:

  1. A voluntary liquidation by the members after the making of a statutory declaration of solvency
  2. A voluntary liquidation by the members which is ratified by the company creditors
  3. A court ordered liquidation

In a voluntary liquidation the appointed liquidator must file accounts with the Companies Registration Office and the company is then dissolved 3 months after that.

Every invoice, letter, email or order for goods thereafter should indicate that the company is in liquidation.

Members voluntary winding up

The two main requirements for a members voluntary winding up include:

  1. A statutory declaration of solvency
  2. A special resolution must be submitted to the CRO (Companies Registration Office)

The Declaration of Solvency is made on form E1 which involves the directors declaring that they have enquired into the affairs of the company and are of the opinion that the company will be able to pay its debts in full within a period of 12 months from the commencement of the winding up.

Within 1 month/30 days of making this declaration of solvency the members must pass a special resolution to wind up and appoint a liquidator (form G1).

The resolution to wind up must be advertised in Iris Oifigiúil within 14 days of passing the resolution.

Forms E1, G1, and a Notice of Appointment of Liquidator (Form E2) must be filed with the Companies Registration Office.

The statutory basis for the Declaration of Solvency is set out in section 207 of the Companies Act 2014.

Procedure for commencement of a members’ voluntary winding up

Section 579 of the Companies act 2014 sets out the procedure for the commencement of a members’ voluntary winding up in Summary Approval Procedure, which requires a special resolution of the directors.

Alternatively, an ordinary resolution of the directors will be sufficient if the procedure under section 580 of the Companies act 2014 is adopted in respect of companies of fixed duration or a company which is to dissolve on the happening of a fixed event:

a) on the expiry of the period, if any, that is fixed for the duration of a company by its constitution; or

(b) should such happen, when the event occurs on the occurrence of which a company’s constitution provides that the company is to be dissolved;

a members’ voluntary winding up of the company may, alternatively to the employment of the Summary Approval Procedure for that purpose, be commenced in accordance with section 580.

In summary, three forms must be filed with the CRO (Companies Registration Office): E1, E2, and G1 and an advertisement must be placed in the Iris Oifigiúil publication.

A form E3 may be required if the liquidation is not completed within 12 months; E3 is a form in which the Liquidator gives an account of his acts and dealings.

3 months after the date of registration of the final accounts (forms E6 and E5), the company is deemed to be dissolved.

Under section 708 of the Companies Act 2014 a company’s dissolution can be voided within 2 years and returned to liquidation. This procedure involves an application to the High Court.

Qualifications for appointment as liquidator

The qualifications for appointment as a liquidator are set out in section 633 Companies act 2014 and there are 5 categories of individual who qualify.

Eligible individuals include practicing solicitors, members of prescribed accountancy bodies, a person with practical experience of winding ups and knowledge of the law, members of a professional body recognised by the Supervisory Authority, and a person qualified under the laws of another EEA state.

The liquidator will need professional indemnity cover and certain persons are disqualified from acting as liquidator-for example, the company auditor, or an officer or employee of the company.

Section 583 of the Act provides that the company can appoint the liquidator at a general meeting. A general meeting can also remove or replace the liquidator.

Declaration of Solvency

The declaration of solvency form (E1) must be completed correctly and it is vitally important to check it carefully before submitting it to the CRO; if not directions from the High Court will be required.

It also must contain an Independent Person’s report in accordance with section 580(4) of the Companies act 2014  which confirms that the Declaration of Solvency is not unreasonable.

The Independent Person’s report must contain certain prescribed information such as the scope of the work performed by the statutory auditor and the opinion of the statutory auditor that the declaration of solvency is not unreasonable.

Side Letters to Commercial Leases

side letter commercial lease

If you are leasing a commercial property you may encounter a ‘side letter’ in addition to the lease itself.

A side letter in such a situation is used by a landlord and tenant-as it is signed by both parties-to modify the terms of the lease itself, generally on a temporary basis. This would be done to confidentially vary the terms of the lease and prevent any knock on comparable consequences for the landlord from other tenants in a development.

An example of this would be a concession in relation to rent for a temporary period of time.

This concession would not be in the public domain as the rent might be if the lease was lodged in the Registry of Deeds or details registered with the Commercial Lease Register of the Property Services Regulatory Authority.

Some points to consider

  1. The time period or special event which is to be covered by the side letter should be clear if the concession is to be temporary and for the particular lessee
  2. If the lease itself contains an ‘entire agreement’ clause then the side letter should be mentioned in the entire agreement statement
  3. If the side letter is agreed and granted at a different time from the lease itself then there should be some consideration given for the side letter, even a nominal sum
  4. The landlord needs to be careful that the granting of the side letter will not inadvertently let a guarantor off the hook
  5. Is this side letter to be binding on a future landlord if the sells the building? Is the side letter to be personal to the existing lessee and not assignable to a new tenant?
  6. The side letter will be terminated if any provisions of the lease are breached-for example, late payment of rent

A problem may arise if the breach of the lease leads to the side letter being set aside as this may amount to a penalty for the tenant which is disproportionate to the loss suffered by the landlord for the breach. If that is the case the side letter may be unenforceable if challenged.

Provided the penalty is proportionate the side letter is likely to be enforceable, however.

Side letters will usually bind a landlord’s successor in title and should, therefore, be disclosed to a any future purchaser. For this reason any side letter should be kept with the lease so that it is disclosed on sale. If it is not disclosed a future purchaser will probably succeed in a claim for misrepresentation and the cost of complying with what has been agreed in the letter.


The leading case in this area is Vivienne Westwood Limited v Conduit Street Development Limited, a UK case. This decision is not binding on Irish Courts but would probably be persuasive as the Irish and UK landlord and tenant law is broadly similar and the decisions tend to be similar.

Company Directors Cannot Represent Their Company in Court

ompany directors representing company in court

Are you the director or shareholder of a company?

Did you know you cannot represent your company in Court? You must instruct a solicitor to act for the company.

Let me explain.

I have often seen company directors and/or sole shareholders in the District Court seeking to represent the company. The company is a separate legal entity, however, from the shareholders, directors and members and it may face prosecution or be engaged in legal proceedings and disputes from time to time-for example failure to file tax returns or health and safety prosecutions.

If the company was a natural person it could do so as the director or any individual can represent himself in Court. Whether that is a good idea or not, however, is another kettle of fish.

Many times, the director of the company will go to the Court himself and purport to speak on behalf of the company. This is not permissible, however, as a company director or shareholder or member does not have a right of audience in Court in Ireland.

This rule was first established in a case in 1969, the “Battle” (Battle v Irish Art Promotion Centre Limited) case. This decision was reaffirmed by the Supreme Court decision delivered in October 2018 between AIB Bank and Aqua Fresh Fish Limited.

The Supreme Court stated,

The so-called rule in Battle v. Irish Art Promotion Centre Limited [1969] I.R. 252, when complemented by the inherent jurisdiction and discretion of the Court to permit, in exceptional circumstances, representation of a company by a person who is not a lawyer with a right of audience, continues to be the law in this jurisdiction and is consistent with the Constitution.

Put simply the general rule is that a company must be represented by a solicitor; Courts have the power, in exceptional circumstances, to allow a person who is not a lawyer to represent a company in court. But the general rule is that only 3 categories of person have a right of audience in Court:

  1. The parties in a case
  2. A solicitor instructed by a party in the case
  3. A barrister instructed by a solicitor for one of the parties in the case.

The Exceptions

The exceptional circumstances which may give rise to a Court permitting a company director to act for the company in Court are not clear and there are no guidelines you can follow or anticipate. Regard will be had by the Court to precisely what type of representation the non lawyer individual- director or otherwise-intends providing-for example, whether he/she intends acting in a ‘lawyer’ capacity before and at trial or merely acting on one occasion in Court or in a lesser capacity. Presumably the Court will also consider the complexity of the issues involved in the case and whether the administration of justice will be significantly hampered or delayed.

In addition to the exceptional circumstances referred to above there is a statutory exception pursuant to the Companies Act, 2014-that is, where a company is charged with an indictable offence it may appoint a representative to appear on its behalf in Court.

Moreover, a Court may listen to the views of a director in the interests of justice and to assist the Court; this is a different matter, however, to representing the company as a ‘lawyer’.

Conclusion

A company director or member or shareholder cannot represent their company in Court, the company must ‘lawyer up’, save for exceptional circumstances.

My 4 Most Important Digital Marketing Metrics

Digital marketing ireland

Are you wondering about how to use the internet and social media to start or grow your business?

Do you have a healthy degree of skepticism about what works and doesn’t work?

Have you come across individuals who claim to be experts and gurus in the area but you have your doubts?

I have built my solicitor’s practice almost entirely through digital or online marketing. So what I have to tell you is based on what works, not some theoretical nonsense with no valid evidence or data to support it.

There is plenty of spoofers out there, quite frankly, giving advice about digital marketing, online marketing, social media marketing who really only talk the talk.

Not only will I tell you what works, and what the important metrics for my business are, but I will prove it.

Yes, I will give you evidence of critically important areas I monitor and measure on a weekly basis to ensure my marketing machine is ticking over nicely with a nice, smooth sound.

Ready?

Let’s go.

Website traffic

Firstly, if you were ever involved in a retail business you will know that footfall is critical to your success. Without footfall-that is, passing visitors in the immediate vicinity of your business premises-you will struggle big time.

The online equivalent of footfall is website traffic. How you get visitors to your website can fall into two large categories:

1. Organic methods

2. Paid methods

Organic methods include organic search traffic and social media traffic.

Paid methods include advertising such as Adwords, YouTube advertising, Facebook advertising, and so forth.

Clearly, the best type of traffic is organic search traffic, and there are 2 reasons for this:

1. It is free

2. It is motivated to find a solution to a problem

To clarify, organic search traffic is when you are looking for a product or service and you search online in a search engine like Google. If your website ranks well in the search engines, especially Google, you will get more of this top quality traffic.

So, my number one metric to measure on a regular basis is my website traffic figures. Putting it plainly how many people visit my store each day-that is, how much daily traffic do I achieve?

I have a number of websites dealing with differing aspects of Irish law but the two main sites I look at are:

a) BusinessAndLegal.ie

b) EmploymentRightsIreland.com

I have other sites, too, such as SmallBusinessLawIreland.com, FamilyLawIrelandHq.com, and MakingAWillIreland.com.

But these 2 sites are the ones which drive all my traffic and in the year to date (early May 2018) the average number of daily visitors to my sites are as follows:

EmploymentRightsIreland.com:

March, 2018, average daily visitors: 4389

BusinessAndLegal.ie

Average daily traffic: 1,356 per day in April, 2018

So, between these 2 sites alone I receive 5,745 visitors per day.

It is self evident that the more traffic I get the more leads/queries I receive, the more consultations I book, and the more clients I add to my books.

The next time you are being regaled by a ‘guru’ or expert with the latest shiny new object for growing your business online ask him/her how many daily visitors he/she gets to his/her website or blog. It will give you some food for thought and should influence you as to whether to do business or not.

Let’s face it: if the guru cannot get traffic to his/her site how will he/she do it for your business?

Email marketing subscribers

Email marketing is incredibly powerful for it allows you to communicate with potential clients/customers in a way which is expected, consented to, and personal.

Email marketing, however, is not about asking people to sign up for a newsletter (yawn). No, you want to be much more intentional, useful and strategic than that.

Here are a couple of email marketing articles I have written previously, they explain email marketing in greater detail:

From my business perspective, I monitor the number of subscribers to my list on a weekly basis. Today my total number of subscribers is 6,067. The vast majority of these subscribers have signed up for my free employment law report and free weekly employment law tips.

These subscribers are valuable to my business and I am ruthless in ensure good list hygiene by removing anyone whose email address is undeliverable or who have unsubscribed. In fact I encourage people to unsubscribe as I only want people on my list who are interested in what I have to offer.

So every week I will scrub my list to ensure only people who want to hear from me do, in fact, hear from me.

Here’s the proof:

YouTube subscribers

Video is powerful and allows a connection between video maker and viewer that is difficult to achieve with words alone, especially given the attention span deficit of people nowadays.

This is why I put a lot of effort into my YouTube channel.Checking the number of subscribers I have is an extremely regular occurrence.

Today the number of subscribers is at 873 with my first major target being 1,000 subscribers. That should be achieved soon because I am adding an average of 70 new subscribers every 30 days. Here’s the proof:

Facebook metrics

Facebook allows me to reach an enormous audience easily and I check certain FAcebook metrics every day, including:

  • Number of fans of my two main pages (here and here)
  • Cost per result of any advertising campaign I am running
  • Cost per acquisition of leads to sign up to my email list (see above)

Fans of my employment rights Ireland page number over 18,662 today and fans of my Terry Gorry & Co. Solicitors page number 6,864 today. Here’s the proof:

Conclusion

  1. Understand the digital marketing metrics that are most relevant for your business and monitor them relentlessly
  2. Don’t fall for ‘shiny new objects’
  3. Don’t accept assertions or promises from people who promise to help you grow your business online without getting some cold, hard evidence and facts from them about the important metrics in their own business
  4. In other words, ask them politely, ‘don’t tell me, show me’ when it comes to growing your business online.

Competition Law in Ireland-What SMEs and Entrepreneurs Need to Know

Competition law in ireland

Have you been the victim of unfair competition or anti competitive practices in your industry?

Perhaps you have encountered an abuse of dominance by one or more competitors? There is strong competition law on the statute books to protect you, you know.

The principal piece of legislation deal with with competition law in Ireland is the Competition Act, 2002 and Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014. Part 2 of the Competition Act, 2002  deals with the two main prohibitions:

  1. The prohibition on anti competitive arrangements
  2. The prohibition on abuse of dominance

Anti Competitive Arrangements

Section 4(1) Competition Act 2002 states:

4.—(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, all agreements between undertakings, decisions by associations of undertakings and concerted practices which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition in trade in any goods or services in the State or in any part of the State are prohibited and void, including in particular, without prejudice to the generality of this subsection, those which—

( a) directly or indirectly fix purchase or selling prices or any other trading conditions,

( b) limit or control production, markets, technical development or investment,

( c) share markets or sources of supply,

( d) apply dissimilar conditions to equivalent transactions with other trading parties thereby placing them at a competitive disadvantage,

( e) make the conclusion of contracts subject to acceptance by the other parties of supplementary obligations which by their nature or according to commercial usage have no connection with the subject of such contracts.

Sections 4(2) and 4(5) set out the exceptions to section 4(1).

The prohibition only applies to separate undertakings, which is defined as

‘ undertaking ’ means a person being an individual, a body corporate or an unincorporated body of persons engaged for gain in the production, supply or distribution of goods or the provision of a service and, where the context so admits, shall include an association of undertakings.

The prohibition does not apply to intra-group transactions as there is only one undertaking, from a competition law perspective. An agreement between employer and employee will not be covered, either, as an employee is not an undertaking. Therefore employment contracts will not fall under the remit of the Competition Act, 2002 and any issues in relation to restrictive covenants in contracts of employment should be looked at under common law restraint of trade principles.

The prohibition includes

  • Anti-competitive agreements
  • Concerted practices

An agreement will be seen to exist where one undertaking agrees with another undertaking to limit its freedom of action so as to restrict competition in the marketplace. A concerted practice is a form of coordination between undertakings.

The intention of the parties is irrelevant, it is the object or effect of the agreement that needs to be reviewed.

If the agreement ultimately benefits consumers it will fall within the exceptions found in section 4(5) and will be exempt from the prohibition.

The Competition Authority, established by the Competition Act, 2002 was dissolved and replaced by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission in the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014. It has the power to issue declarations that agreements or concerted practices are covered by section 4(5) and does not fall foul of section 4(1).

Horizontal and Vertical Agreements

A horizontal agreement is an agreement between undertakings between competitors-that is, at the same end of the supply chain.

Vertical agreements are agreements between undertakings at different ends of the supply chain-for example, manufacturers and distributors.

Horizonatl agreements are hard core offences and subject to severe penalties as they are agreements between competitors and are more likely to be anti-competitive. Vertical agreements, by contrast, are generally exempt  as they have a lower risk of anti competitive effect.

Abuse of Dominance

Section 5 Competition Act, 2002 deals with the abuse of dominance prohibition:

5.—(1) Any abuse by one or more undertakings of a dominant position in trade for any goods or services in the State or in any part of the State is prohibited.

No exemption is possible from this prohibition, it is an absolute prohibition and dominant companies have a particular responsibility to avoid abuse of that dominance.

What is a dominant position? There is no widely accepted definition but any company with in excess of 40% of the market is going to raise concerns. The test is whether the concern can act independently of others in the marketplace.

Other factors which will be looked at in determining dominance will include:

  • Barriers to entry to the market
  • Customer switching costs
  • Barriers to expansion
  • Market share of the entity being looked at-a consistent market share of over 40% will cause concern

The prohibition in section 5 above refers to ‘one or more undertakings’, therefore a situation of collective dominance could arise if more than one undertaking acts in concert with another.

When looking at a breach of section 5 consideration will be given to

  1. Is the undertaking ‘dominant’
  2. Has its conduce been an abuse of its dominance-te conduct is not abusive if it can be objectively justified and proportionate to a legitimate aim.

Examples of abuse of dominance

Examples would include:

  • Abusive pricing
  • Exclusionary abuse-for example, predatory pricing, single branding, loyalty rebates, refusal to supply, tying and bundling

Penalties

Penalties for hard core offences-that is, breaches of section 4(1) above can be

A breach of the Competition Act, 2002 can also lead to personal liability for an officer or employee of eh company.

Enforcement of the Competition act, 2002 is through both civil and criminal means.

Any aggrieved person can make a complaint to the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, formerly the Competition Authority. This body and the DPP can institute criminal proceedings to enforce the Competition Act, 2002 and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has extensive powers to carry out raids to obtain records relating to competition law. This allows them to search both business premises and private homes of executives or officers of the company.

They can also summons witnesses to attend before the Commission.

Moreover, an aggrieved person can institute legal proceedings in the Circuit or High Court for breach of section 4 or 5 of the Competition Act, 2002. The aggrieved person, if successful, may obtain an injunction and/or damages and/or a declaration from the Court.

An important thing to consider is that the Competition Act, 2002 shifts the burden of proof from the prosecutor to the defendant in a criminal prosecution and criminal prosecutions can be carried out by the Commission for summary offences and the DPP can prosecute on indictment.

Section 50 of the Act also provides protection for whistleblowers who act in good faith.

Conclusion

If you are a small business owner and you have been the victim of abuse of dominance or anti-competitive arrangements the Competition act, 2002 provides strong remedies to put a stop to it and make competition in your market fairer.

How I Sold 306 Kindle Books in 5 Days Last Week, and 3 Vital Lessons for Entrepreneurs

Click on image to enlarge

Stunned, I was. It was beyond my wildest expectations.

And my birthday, too!

256 books sold on Monday 5th February, 2018-one day.

Let me explain.

I have a number of books for sale on the Kindle publishing platform. A few years ago I decided to take advantage of what Jeff Bezos has created with Amazon and Kindle publishing. At its essence Kindle publishing allows small business owners like me publish what we like, when we like.

The good news is that there are no gatekeepers now, nobody whose permission I require. No seal of approval required.

And I could care less for anyone who looks down their nose at ‘self publishing’, as somehow a lesser form of writing and publishing.

Kindle countdown deal

Last week I decided to do my first price promotion since 2016. It’s called a Kindle Countdown deal.

It works like this: the regular price of one of my Kindle books is £9.99. The Kindle countdown deal allows me to discount this book to £.99 and increase the price in 5 increments over the following 5 days, reverting back to its previous, regular price of £9.99.

To recap, the promotion started on Monday 5th Feb at 8 am and the price of the book was £.99.

Then the price of the book increased each day for 5 days as follows:
£.99 (Monday 5th Feb)
£1.99
£2.99
£3.99
£4.99
£9.99 (original list price) (Monday 12th Feb at 12 am)

I did a Kindle countdown deal for four of my books:

Employment Law in Ireland: The Essentials for Employers, Employees, and HR Managers

27 Irish Employment Law Cases: Priceless Lessons for Employers and Employees from Decided Cases of the EAT, Equality Tribunal, and High Court

How to Carry Out a Workplace Disciplinary Procedure: Avoid Costly Claims for Unfair Dismissal and Other Employment Related Claims

The Art of Marketing Your Services Business Online: How to Get New Clients With a Proven, Inexpensive 5 Part Digital Marketing Strategy

Results

The results are as follows:

5th Feb: 256 units sold

6th Feb: 33 units sold

7th Feb: 12 units sold

8th Feb: 1 units sold

9th Feb: 4 units sold

Total sold over 5 days 306

Click on image to enlarge

 

Promotion of the deal

I promoted the deal in two main ways:

Why publish on Kindle?

Two main reasons: 1) it’s easy to do, and 2) it allows a person in a particular field or niche to position themselves as an expert, a trusted authority.

Lessons for entrepreneurs and small business owners

There are broader lessons, however, that you can learn from this.

  1. You don’t need permission.

If you are an entrepreneur, small business owner, a grinder, hustler, budding entrepreneur, or wannabe writer, the good news is you don’t need permission or a seal of approval from anyone anymore. Amazon and Kindle allow you to just do the work now and publish your own story, thought leadership, expertise, or, quite frankly, whatever you want.

You can also publish on your own blog or YouTube channel or podcast.

2.Traditional bookstores are screwed.

Last week it was a long established, much loved book shop in Cork that closed down. The previous week I listened to a bookshop owner on the Sean O’Rourke radio programme who is struggling in Dublin. She even told the story of a lady who came into her shop, had a coffee and read her book on her Kindle, and then complimented the shop owner for such a ‘charming little shop’ after spending an hour there and having a coffee while she read her Kindle.

Fighting against Kindle, fighting against Amazon, fighting against the convenience and price of shopping online for books when you live in a rural area and have virtually every book ever published downloadable within 10 seconds, many of them for free (the classics), is a futile exercise.

I love books and have read copiously for years. I have spent years trawling bookshops, but not in the last few years. I cannot remember when I bought a physical book in a shop last.

On a wet, miserable, February Saturday like today I can download a good book in a matter of seconds at a great price. I live in rural Ireland. The alternative is to get into my car and drive to Liffey Valley shopping centre, go into Easons and hope they will have what I am looking for.

It’s unlikely they will have what I want because I read a lot of obscure books which are often specialist in a particular area of activity-for example law, or a particular area of law such as advocacy.

The regular bookstore simply cannot match the choice or price or convenience of shopping on Amazon and reading on my Kindle.

And when you get to my age the eyesight for reading disimproves and the text in a physical book is too small. On Kindle I can simply enlarge the text size, and choose the font.

3. Learn and understand digital marketing

The four big factors in selling these books, and promoting the growth of my business and new client acquisition are:

  1. blogging/publishing good content on my websites
  2. Email marketing
  3. Facebook marketing and advertising
  4. YouTube publishing

As long as I have access to these four tools I can generate clients and grow my business.

And the two critical common areas between blogging and publishing my own Kindle books and creating my own videos and growing my YouTube channel?

Firstly, I don’t need permission to do any of it, and secondly I can establish a position of expertise in whatever I publish about. And I can publish with words or video or audio.

So, if you can’t write, whip out your phone and make a video and give something of value to your potential customers/clients. You might be surprised at the outcome.

Here’s the 1 Vital Lesson You Can Learn from Jim Gavin, Aidan O’Brien and Willie Mullins

jim-gavin-man-management

Are you running a business?

Do you manage people?

There is one thing that Jim Gavin, the Dublin football manager, Aidan O’Brien and Willie Mullins, the racehorse trainers never fail to do.

Let me explain.

Aidan O’Brien

Last week, I was, as usual, watching the racing on Channel 4.

Aidan O’Brien’s horse, The Ghurka, had just won a group race.

In the after race interview O’Brien did what he always, without fail, does: he name checked all his stable staff who look after the horse on a daily basis.

Not a generic thanks to “all the staff” but along these lines: “Mary looks after the horse every day, and Jimmy rides him out, and Timmy, Susan, Aidan, and Shane-they all look after him and love the horse and said he was in great form, so we couldn’t have been happier with him…”

O’Brien name checks, and recognises, individual stable staff after big (and all) successes as a matter of course.

If he had named the local postman as being instrumental in the horse’s performance and rude good health I would not have batted an eyelid.

He always thanks “the team”, and deflects individual glory as if it to say, “this is not about me, it’s about my team, I’m very lucky…”

Can you imagine the pride these employees, and their families, take from their daily work being recognised by the boss from the parade ring at Royal Ascot or Epsom in front of millions watching live on television?

Do you imagine it would engender some loyalty from those staff?

Some serious commitment?

Would they take pride in their work?

Would they really look after the horse in their care, even when nobody was watching?

Willie Mullins

Willie Mullins, the national hunt champion trainer, does the same thing in virtually every interview. Listen to him closely on television at Cheltenham or Leopardstown or Punchestown, or anywhere else, for that matter.

He name checks the individual member of staff who rides out or mucks out on a daily basis, or travels with the horse, or makes any contribution.

 

It would be easy for O’Brien and Mullins, champions of their sport and geniuses of their profession, to take all the credit.

Nobody would quibble, as their brilliance is rightly recognised, spoken about and written about in the media.

Yet they take every opportunity to thank and recognise each worker involved, no matter what their rank or position in the organisational structure.

Jim Gavin, Dublin Football Manager

Last weekend the Irish Times trumpeted the fact that they had an interview in the paper with Jim Gavin. They described it as his first “one on one interview”.

They told us this was unusual because Gavin had not, since taking over as manager of Dublin, given interviews to anyone.

Here’s what the Irish Times said:

But you must understand something. Jim Gavin has been the manager of the best team in the country’s biggest sport since late 2012 and this is the first time he’s sat down alone with a newspaper reporter. We’ve asked countless times and the answer has always been polite and always been no.

This is in sharp contrast to many managers who cannot resist a microphone or reporter’s note pad and pencil.

So, I was intrigued because I thought to myself, “why now?”, why is he giving this interview?

When I read it it soon became clear: the prime purpose was to promote the Bray air show which was on the same weekend, and which Gavin is involved in as a pilot and safety officer with the Irish Aviation Authority.

And the reason for not doing interviews before this one was set out very clearly by Gavin:

“I’ve always steered away from one-on-ones,” he says. “Because it genuinely is not about me. It’s about the team.”

And this one philosophy was the only football related comment Gavin made in the interview. The rest was about flying, his life as a pilot, how it all started etc.

But it’s an important one, especially if you are managing people in any capacity.


Conclusion

From these 3 masters of their sport/profession you can see the one common philosophy and dogma: it’s all about the team.

Is this the case in your business or organisation?

If it’s not, I invite you to reconsider and learn from Gavin, O’Brien, and Mullins.

1 Email Marketing Mistake that Makes You Look Stupid and Lazy

email-marketing-ireland

I would attribute a huge part of my success in growing my solicitor’s practice to email marketing.

Anybody with an ounce of sense can, with a little research and study of online/digital marketing, quickly recognise the stunning power of email marketing in helping you grow your business.

However, it is not all plain sailing.

In fact, there is one simple way to ensure that your attempts at using email marketing will flounder badly and, in fact, be stunningly counter-productive.

The power and purpose of email marketing

Let’s back up for a minute and take a look at the power and purpose of email marketing: the power is that you get access to a person’s email inbox.

The purpose is to get the opportunity to earn your position as a trusted advisor/expert in your particular field.

The knock on effect of this win is you get a chance to sell your products or services later on in your relationship, when the subscriber to your list feels the time is right and he/she is comfortable in doing business with you.

It’s worth dwelling on this idea briefly:in exchange for someone’s email address you promise to deliver into their inbox something of value, probably on a regular basis.

The outcome of this exchange will be, if done property, the trusted authority status you seek, and of benefit to you as business owner and to your subscriber.

But before this exchange, before a website visitor gives you their email address, you must give them something of value in advance-an “ethical bribe”, if you will.

One way to blow this strategy out of the water is not to deliver value in advance, not to provide an incentive for the reader to give their email address, not to give them the opportunity to confirm that they want to join your email list, and simply to go for the short cut.

The counterproductive shortcut

The short cut?

Simply putting someone’s email address on your list, without their consent, without a “double opt in”, and sending them unwanted commercial emails.

There is probably more than one definition of spam, but unwanted, unrequested commercial emails into my inbox is a sufficiently accurate definition for me.

So, for me, it’s spam.

Look: let me be clear: if you add me to an email list of subscribers without my consent, and send me commercial emails, I will simply report your emails as spam in my Gmail account.

And the consequence of this is that your email will simply be undeliverable with future emails going straight into my spam folder.

Google is good like this.

There is only one thing worse than this mistake in your email marketing and that is getting someone else, for example a so called professional marketing company, to make this mistake on your behalf.

Not only will your emails go straight into spam, but you will be paying some “marketing/promotions” company for the privilege of having your email address blacklisted.

As I said earlier in this piece, I rely hugely on email marketing.

I work very hard to grow my subscriber lists

But each and every one of my subscribers to my many email marketing lists has been bribed in advance with something of value, such as a free guide, in return for their email address.

In addition, they must also confirm that they want to opt in and receive communications from me; and, finally, they have the opportunity in every single email to unsubscribe from the list.

Don’t want to hear from me any more? Just hit the “unsubscribe” link and I’ll be gone like a thief in the night appears regularly in my emails.

When you go to the trouble of doing it right, and creating something of value to swap for an email address, I find it easy to get angry when I receive commercial emails from people who have simply added me to their list and hoped for the best.

Have You These 4 Essential Elements in Your Sales Page?

sales-page-essentials

Have you a sales page on your website or blog?

Even if you haven’t a dedicated sale page you will still want website/blog visitors to purchase your service or product.

If you have, there are 4 things that are absolutely essential if you want it to be effective in making sales of your product or service.

Let’s take a look at what they are. Sounds good?

The 4 questions are what, who, why, and when.

1.      What is it?

The first thing to address is to answer the question, “what is it?”. This might seem obvious to you, and it probably is, but you must guard against the well-known curse of knowledge.

You are completely familiar with your product or service; in fact, you may have created it and lived with it with passion for years. We all take things for granted.

But, your website visitor may never have heard of you or your product or service.

So, you must be absolutely clear about what your product or service is, what it does, who it helps, and what problems does it solve for your reader.

2.      Who are you?

You need to address the question, “who are you?”

Why should the reader believe you? Why should she trust you?

Have you the necessary expertise and experience to help her solve her problem?

Do you know what you are talking about? Can you show this?

3.      Why is your product/service essential for the reader?

Why does the reader need what you have to sell? Why can they not do without it if they want to solve their problem?

4.      When will they see results?

If the reader buys your product or service, when will they see results?

People are impatient for solutions to problems, and nowadays especially are used to shortened time spans, shortened attention spans due to social media usage etc.

Conclusion

An effective sales page on your website or blog, or in print, will need many more components.

But without the four essentials above it is very unlikely to perform in the way you deserve, or is supportive of your business.