7 sinful signing mistakes small business owners make

When we think of marketing programs our minds are quickly drawn to social, print and broadcast media. Although these programs can be quite glitzy and create media and consumer buzz they overshadow an extremely impactful marketing program not often considered by managers and owners. It is the signage used at the brick and mortar store itself.

Signs in windows, on doors, over display racks or by the register are interpreted by the shopper to determine the quality of the merchandise or the management of the store. Sometimes only subliminally but always effective in relaying a message.

Whether your store is in a mall, strip center or stand alone, the same psychology of engaging a customer applies. Yet many stores fail to consider the image their signage conveys to the consumer.

Here are the seven worst messages commonly conveyed:

“We sell crap”.
“I don’t do enough business to hire a second employee”.
“This is not a serious business”.
“We keep most our doors locked because we do not trust you ”.
“Go to the bath room elsewhere”.
“Details don’t matter to us”.
“You are not welcome here”.

This is excerpted from “Send customers a positive message”, part of the “How to” series at getmaximpact.com, a website based in Rochester Hills, Mich., dedicated to business and individual growth.

Federal Reserve officials comments raises more questions than answers

Charles Evans, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago made headlines on Tuesday when he spoke at an Economic luncheon in Detroit. Covering all the broad array of subjects from the housing recovery to the labor market, Evens first came out firing with information about short term interest rates.

“We started to taper our asset purchases, but we indicated that the fed funds rate would be near zero for quite some time — quite likely well into 2015. Barring any changes to our outlook, this would translate into seven years in which short-term interest rates would be at their zero lower bound. But policy likely will need to remain highly accommodative for such a time to ensure we make adequate progress toward maximum employment and price stability — the two congressionally mandated goals for U.S. monetary policy”

The asset purchases he is specifically referring to is QE3, the latest in a round of bond purchases by the Fed to stimulate growth in the economy. Whether it has helped or not remains to be seen, however last summer, Ben Bernanke who was the heading the Fed hinted at stopping the program. This immediately had had an adverse effect on the markets, as the Dow went from 15,000 mark down to the low 14,000’s. In an effort to do damage control, a couple of days later Bernanke made a statement using the now famous term ‘tapering’. This word seemed to have a pacifying effect on the stock market as it began to continue its climb up to over the 16,000 point mark.

However, as the forth quarter of 2013 came around, Bernanke felt that there was enough positive data in the economy to justify the early tapering phase. Ten billion a month would be taken off the initial per month policy of 85 Billion dollar bond purchases.

Unfortunately a consequence of this action is to see interest rates rise as a logical next step. This has caused fear in the markets, because since the 08’ crash, equities and foreign direct investment have been low risk/high reward avenues to make some money off the top. As a result of the tapering and implications of rising interest rates, investors have been pulling out of equities and emerging markets.

According to a Businessweek Report. Global investors pulled $6.3 billion from developing-nation stocks in the week through Jan. 29, the biggest outflow since August 2011, according to Barclays Plc, citing data from EPFR Global. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index declined 0.8 percent to 919.48 and has fallen 8.3 percent this year.

As a result, January has been anything but good, the Dow has seen around a 1,200 point drop, with fears of contagion rippling through the markets. So it stands to reason that based on past behavior the Fed would try to make a publicized statement in order to put investors at ease. Which is perfectly understandable, however it just raises some questions of the actual credibility of the statement itself. Some questions being.

What credibility does Mr. Evans have to his word now? Did anyone see a pinky swear? No, well then if the assumption is he is saying that just so the markets can hear it, then what are the negative repercussions if the Fed does in fact have to raise interest rates before 2016?

If this trying to deflect the eventual rise of interest rates, what is the importance of rising rates in relation to the stability in the markets? Would keeping them so low have an equally detrimental effect? And finally, Why wouldn’t the newly appointed Fed chairman Janet Yellen not use this opportunity to come out and make this statement? Wouldn’t such a statement in the face of crisis assert her new position as the head of the Federal Reserve.

35 years of experience offered to you free of charge

Part 1

Why I Wrote Win-Win

Having spent more than 35 years deep in the trenches of developing cross-sector partnerships and cause marketing campaigns with the nonprofit, for-profit, education and government sectors, I have learned what works and what doesn’t. I have developed partnerships – from a local two-person art program, a three-county children’s magazine, regional and national campaigns for Fortune 500 corporations, to cause marketing for an international sports organization, and all sizes and variations in between. I have experienced people in all types of organizations working together. And through it, all I have developed a step-by-step, proven process to planning and implementing successful cross-sector partnerships.

Beginning with my first job at Cedar Point, the world’s largest pure amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio, where I developed a relationship with the state-sponsored Ohio Travel Council, I discovered the many benefits of bringing different sectors together in a mutually rewarding relationship. A few years later, I was hired by Marriott Corporation as Public Affairs Manager and given the task (at age 25) to design the opening promotion of its largest project in history: the family entertainment center Marriott’s Great America in Santa Clara, California. It was here where I conceived and directed my first comprehensive cross-sector partnership campaign, which I define as a partnership between two or more partners from the nonprofit, for-profit, education and government sectors, with the March of Dimes. This campaign raised $2.5 million (and in 1976 that was a lot of money!), 40% more than ever been raised by the March of Dimes Chapters West.

Through the challenges, opportunities and understanding gained through this relationship, the main theme of my career was set: cross-sector partnerships provide more benefit to all the partners than each could have ever accomplished alone.

From those early experiences and beyond, in my work as Public Relations Director of the United States Olympic Committee, to the founding of The William Bentley Agency, an integrated public relations/marketing agency, to the honor of serving as director of marketing & communications for the American Red Cross (San Francisco) Bay Area chapter, to my current role as Founder/CEO of Bruce W. Burtch, Inc., a cross-sector partnership consulting and training firm, each role and relationship along this path have created a foundation of knowledge that I wanted to share.

I wrote this guidebook because I have seen thousands of organizations from all sectors struggling through the recent economic times. I have seen and still see a lot of pain and a need for help and real answers. Yet I know from experience that there is an extraordinary amount of opportunity lying in wait for the right combination of partners, on any issue, in any sector, in any small town or metropolitan city, in any corner of the world. Cross-sector partnerships can be extraordinarily successful when these partners join together for their individual and mutual success, while focusing on creating benefit for the greater good.

Win-Win for the Greater Good is a guidebook, not an overview, not a nice collection of stories. My goal is to take years of experience in developing partnerships between all sectors and provide you with the blueprint, the materials and the tools that will guide you in developing highly successful, highly profitable cross-sector partnerships. Here you will find information from the very basic to more challenging concepts. Each reader comes to this guidebook with different experiences and different levels of expertise.

In 1978, I was asked by the president of a large foundation what I wanted to do with my life, and almost without thinking I said, “I want to do well by doing good”. He leaned back in his chair, laughed heartedly and replied, “I’ve never seen anybody do that before.” That very phrase to “do well by doing good” has been my personal mantra and foundation of my work from that minute forward. From the bottom of my heart I believe that doing good is the necessary prerequisite for doing well. Doing good benefits everything you do and everything you are. Doing good and doing well can best be accomplished through win-win partnerships.

The 7 benefits of video blogging

A Video Blog, also known as a “vlog” is a clever way to increase brand awareness, gain a greater following and most importantly, generate additional business. If vlogging is not yet a part of your digital marketing strategy, it’s time to jump on the video blogging wagon.

The 7 benefits of Video Blogging:

1. Good for your SEO strategy.

YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google. That means potential customers are more likely to search for a service, product or information on YouTube, than they are on Yahoo or Bing. See more from this awesome infographic. When you post a video, and somebody is searching for that subject, it will likely show up in a search engine if you have optimized it correctly. SEO quick tip: You can embed your video on your website and transcribe it increasing your chances to include the important keywords mentioned in the video.

2. Develops trust.

When a follower watches you in a video, he begins to feel like he knows you, delivering a sense of trust. People by nature are more inclined to use a company for business when they are able to put a face to a name. Even more so, if they already know how you talk and have seen you “in action”.

3. 2 minutes provides concise, quick information.

As a general rule, savvy marketers know to keep videos under the 2 minute mark, as to not lose the attention of the viewer. People are more likely to click on a video blog over a written one because it requires less effort to watch than it does to read, while still delivering the same results.

4. People are visual.

People prefer to see something visually over reading content (which forces them to use their imagination). By providing the visual stimulation, you require viewers to do one less thing.

5. Videos generate more shares than any other type of posts.

If you want something to go viral, a video blog is the key. Currently, the most shared and “liked” content on Facebook is videos followed by pictures followed by articles.

6. Excellent for How-Tos or tutorials.

Again, since people learn best visually, videos are a great platform to teach your customers something new. Video how-to’s give your viewers the chance to see exactly how something is done and to pause or rewind when needed.

7. Generate income from your videos on YouTube.

YouTube allows you to monetize your videos by permitting YouTube to place ads in the video. Ads are always content appropriate and if you generate high viewership, you can make anywhere from $0.01 to $2.00 per 1000 hits from YouTube!

Bill Gates Quotes – The Best Quotes for Life and Business

Bill Gates is one of the most well known and sought after entrepreneurs in the world. He’s been at the top of the Forbes’ Richest People in the World list for many decades now. As such a high profile individual, entrepreneurs and now philanthropist, it’s no wonder why so many people are searching for “Bill Gates Quotes” on the internet.

Seeking out quotes from your favorite celebrities, athletes and individuals around the world is a great way to get inspired and put you back on the right path in whatever it is you are trying to achieve.

I’ve written a 1,200 word post on my favorite Bill Gates quotes and what they’ve meant personally for myself and my business. Now it’s time for you to look through some of Bill’s greatest quotes below and see which of them are your favorites and apply to your currently lifestyle and business.

15 BILL GATES QUOTES TO GET YOU MOTIVATED

“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”
– Bill Gates

“It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”
– Bill Gates

“If you can’t make it good, at least make it look good.”
– Bill Gates

“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.”
– Bill Gates

“I believe that if you show people the problems and you show them the solutions they will be moved to act.”
– Bill Gates

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”
– Bill Gates

“I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they’re interested in.”
– Bill Gates

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”
– Bill Gates

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”
– Bill Gates

“I really had a lot of dreams when I was a kid, and I think a great deal of that grew out of the fact that I had a chance to read a lot.”
– Bill Gates

“Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There’s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.”
– Bill Gates

“If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1,000 MPG.”
– Bill Gates

“At Microsoft there are lots of brilliant ideas but the image is that they all come from the top – I’m afraid that’s not quite right.”
– Bill Gates

“I think it’s fair to say that personal computers have become the most empowering tool we’ve ever created. They’re tools of communication, they’re tools of creativity, and they can be shaped by their user.”
– Bill Gates

“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”
– Bill Gates

Unleashing the power of assumptive communication in media relations

How many people do you think toss any old thing into public toilets? One in 100? Whether it’s more frequent or a rarer phenomenon, one thing’s for sure: there are enough “anything goes” toilet-tossers among us to warrant the creation of signs asking them not to do it.

Of the many such signs I have encountered over the years, some have carried humorous messages, along the lines of “Your mother told us to remind you…” statements. Others vent frustration, with variations on “To the idiot who thinks it’s a good idea to discard Lego pieces and silverware…”

But until last week, never had I come across one that raised the level of discourse to what I would term “assumptive communication.” There, inside Fiora’s, a rather elegant Geneva restaurant, was a well-appointed unisex rest room with a sign above the toilet. It stated, in attractive, flowing script:

“Thank You For Remembering! Only Toilet Paper Should Be Flushed.”

It’s a stroke of relational warmth, even though the “relationship” consists of someone who came up with those words at a single point in time and a diverse audience of people who come across it days, weeks, months and years later. To each of them, the note goes beyond asking to do something and proceeds straight to expressing appreciation for their “remembering” to do the right thing.

That is one powerful piece of assumptive communication.

It assumes that the individual reading it is someone who wants to be responsible. One of the most popular examples of assumptive communication is “thank you for not smoking,” a much warmer, more hopeful offspring of the curt “no smoking” or needy, hand-wringing vibe that emanates from those “please do not smoke” signs.

It’s a variation on the sales technique known as the assumptive close, wherein you are not questioning if the prospect wants to buy, but wondering how soon and in what quantity. Do you want small or large? Would you like to place order today or tomorrow?

That approach frames the hoped-for answer in a “yes-yes” manner. People may choose to say “no,” but why plant that seed in case it is not there in the first place?

An adjunct of this interpersonal skill is an informal rule of thumb taught by Bill Hawkins, an Amway Diamond IBO and leader in World Wide Group who has been one of the foremost Amway sales-and-training instructors for about 30 years: in sales, never hear the first “no” but always hear the second one.

In other words, don’t bow to someone’s initial objection, or statement that they are not interested, without probing further to understand the basis for that stance. But at the same time, don’t be pushy once they have reaffirmed the certainty of their desire not to make a product purchase or pursue a business opportunity.

Meanwhile, in media relations, it’s important to pick your spots with assumptive communication. Don’t overdo it. If you play this card on a media outreach that doesn’t measure up, then your credibility will plummet to “boy who cried wolf” depths.

But when you are developing a story pitch whose merit is strong—it’s not merely an adequate piece that might be of value—it may well be time to exude an appropriate level of confidence in your conversations and e-mail correspondence with reporters.

While you obviously would never tell a reporter that he or she “has to do” a story or suggest that coverage is a “no brainer”—a cheap shot that tries to shame someone into a corner—there are respectful, yet confident ways to get the point across:

One example is when a story is a natural follow-up to a media outlet’s prior coverage. That was the case a few weeks ago as Inside Edge PR contacted a publication in the Fox Valley:

“I wanted to share this news release below with you, before any other media outlet, since I know that the (newspaper) already devoted coverage in the immediate aftermath of the (news event)….”

In addition, I included a hyperlink to the newspaper’s original story.

For that media outreach, I followed up with similar introduction to other outlets, a few days later. I also referenced the original publication’s coverage as a way to legitimize the credibility of the story. Within 24 hours, two of the market’s biggest newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, began pursuing the story.

Another common example of a hook to sink into the reporter’s or editor’s consciousness is when they have a way to localize the story, such as a person hailing from their publication area or with an event coming to their area.

Whatever makes the story compelling and attractive, succinctly spell it out and you should consistently enjoy watching its evolution from a “great fit” to well-earned publicity.

Three Ways To Create An Effective Marketing Mix For Your Business

Struggling to successfully bring your brand to the consumer masses? You’re certainly not alone; building a business in any industry requires careful attention to your final marketing mix in order to yield the desired final results. Even if building a successful marketing program seems straightforward enough at first, many entrepreneurs quickly realize that the process can begin to feel daunting.

Naturally, printed handouts are a given staple in any campaign. But what about including other methods? There are a slew of traditional and online promotional tactics available for businesses of every size and scope. Deciding which ones can help propel your brand to the masses (without irreparably damaging your bottom line) can prove challenging for even the most focused marketer.

Trade Show Stands: The First Step In A Successful Marketing Program

Fortunately, it is possible to create a streamlined and effective advertising campaign that not only gets your business brand in front large groups of consumers, but, more importantly, large groups of prospective clients that are actually part of your targeted demographic. What’s the first step in a successful, comprehensive campaign? Purchasing customized trade show stands.

Using trade show stands at live encounter functions delivers an unparalleled range of features and benefits that include:

* Exposure to a high concentration of a specific consuming niche
* Ample access to affiliation contacts
* Extensive opportunities for leads and client base expansion
* Grand scale brand exposure

And much, much more. Delivering such impressive results makes it easy to see why trade show stands are a proven component in virtually any effective promotional approach.

Beyond Trade Show Stands: Incorporate Two Effective Online Methods As Well

Of course, trade show stands aren’t the only way to enhance a print campaign within your organization. Tapping into the limitless power of online promotional tactics can also help consolidate your advertising efforts. Partnering with a professional provider to create original, unique and effective content is the best way to ensure that every article, blog and website associated with your organization is maximizing impact on your targeted audience.

What’s the third and final step toward achieving the ultimate marketing mix for your business? A social media campaign. Savvy entrepreneurs recognize that, in today’s global economy, beating out the competition is often all about online word of mouth. Not having a social media campaign for your company can instantly put your business at a major marketing disadvantage. Having active and engaging social media pages for your organization can help you extend your brand’s exposure and connect with your clients in new, more meaningful ways.

Best of all, these three critical techniques do not have to be mutually exclusive advertising endeavors. Many entrepreneurs have discovered that they can often bring their trade show stands and online methods together for maximum impact. Writing online press releases and blogging about upcoming live events can help reinforce overall promotional image. Additionally, posting updates on social media pages during any exhibits and conventions proves an ideal way to enhance marketing impact for optimal return on investment.

Checklist for Travelers to Canada

One way to get to know a person is to travel with him or her. People’s true personality tends to emerge when they are dealing with stress. They also reveal their maturity, sense of responsibility, and other positive qualities’ or lack there of when faced with situations with which they are not familiar. However, that does not necessarily mean that you should seek out stressful travel situations in order to discover your travel companion’s true personality. It therefore pays to anticipate difficulties when traveling with others and to be ready for them.

If you are traveling to Canada, the first priority is to be sure to carry your travel documents. If you are from the United States, you need to have a valid passport, permanent residence card or nexus card (US citizens and permanent residents are allowed to enter Canada without a visa). If you come from a country that is not included on Canada’s visa-exempt list, then you should have your travel documents and visas ready. Border officers and airport customs will check these documents before they grant you entry into the country or even allow you to board an airplane flying to Canada.

Those who are traveling on temporary resident visas should also bring their visitors to Canada insurance documents in case border officers ask to see it. To be safe, you should also bring photocopies of all of your travel and identification documents.

Of course, a traveler’s checklist should include appropriate clothing. The type of clothes you need to bring to Canada will depend upon the time of year that you will be there, and the place where you will be staying.

If you are in Canada for the summer, you can bring your usual summer clothes: t-shirts, shorts, jeans, and other light clothing. You should also bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and hats for UV protection. Summers in Canada can get very hot, just as it can get very cold during the winter. If your visit occurs during this season, do not forget to bring your warmest jackets, boots, and long underwear. You should also bring wind breakers, gloves, scarves, mufflers, and hats. The cold winds can get very strong during winter, especially if you are headed to the prairies – Manitoba, Saskatchewan and northern Alberta. Actually, anywhere in the North will be cold.

Canada has plenty of outdoor adventure attractions, so there is a chance that you will go hiking or exploring the outdoors. You should definitely bring a pair of sturdy hiking boots, or at least walking shoes. Even if you do not plan to go hiking or trekking, walking through snowy streets still requires a pair of boots. Be sure not to forget warm socks as well!

There are also cities in Canada, in northern Ontario, Quebec and the Acadian regions of the Maritimes, where Canadian French is widely spoken. The people of Quebec, for instance, often prefer not to speak English even if they can understand it. So do not forget to bring a French phrasebook with you.

Finally, you should have a widely-accepted credit card in your wallet at all times. Visa, MasterCard and American Express are accepted in most stores, hotels, restaurants, and other commercial establishments.

Norman Reedus and Ian Somerhalder ride for Endymion in New Orleans

In tonight’s Endymion Parade in New Orleans, Ian Somerhalder of TV’s “Vampire Diaries” and “Lost” road as Co-Grand Marshal with Norman Reedus of “The Walking Dead” and “The Boondock Saints.” Each had their own float, of course, and had separate toasts with Mayor, Mitch Landrieu.

While Mr. Reedus stayed at the top for his toast, Mr. Somerhalder was down among the musicians that were serenading him on his ride. After exchanging toasts with Mayor Landrieu, the celebrities went on their merry way.

They were followed by members of the court and then the King and Queen of the Endymion Krewe. While the toasts with the mayor were exciting for those present, the crowd was more exciting once the millions of beads were flying into the stands.

In addition to the beads there were many other goodies including frisbies, stuffed animals, balls of various sizes and types, dubloons, glowing rings, necklaces, and other jewelry.

Better store signs, stop telling customers you sell crap

During the 1970s Detroit based Kmart had the tagline “Satisfaction Always”. At the time their biggest retailing rival was Chicago’s Sears who had a similar trademark, “Satisfaction Guaranteed”. Both mottoes created a consumer impression that they would be happy with their purchase or they could get their money back. Analysts believed this impression helped the two companies grow.

They were probably correct as both chains diverted from these promises in the 1980s and both would falter, eventually merging in 2003.

Many small businesses and managers within larger companies send an opposite message to potential customers. Instead of instilling confidence they send a subliminal message that says, “I sell crap.”

How?

They put a sign on the door or near the checkout declaring unequivocally there will be no refunds or exchanges. In other words once they have your money they will keep it no matter what.

The signs are often worded “no refunds or exchanges”, “all sales final”, “refunds only with receipts in x days.”

The consumer sees this as a buyer beware message and they will definitely think twice before opening their wallet.

Instead of these signs consider signs that let the customer know you stand behind what you sell. Provide a way for them to get a refund should they so desire. Sure some will take advantage of you but how many sales will you give up to prevent one unscrupulous customer?