Wednesday, January 30, 2008

How promotional gifts ensure your company is remembered

Who does not have half a dozen or so company logo magnets stuck to your fridge? They work great as a promotional gift for the delivery food industry. Most people use them, so there they are right on the fridge, so you are usually hungry when you see them. Chances are if you are hungry and have the money your going to call them instead of going to the phone book and looking for some one else. This works for the delivery food industry because it reaches the target market, hungry people about to make or get food. It is also not very expensive with a long-term affect so it is cost effective. This promotional gift does not work for most other industries.

For a lot of retail places coupons can be seen as promotional gifts. They work to get people in, it can be seen as getting some thing for nothing, in this case money off or 2 for one. But people don’t associate coupons as a gift, and they only have a very short term affect. This also goes for food samples given in stores. You want some thing that is seen as a gift, and will have a long term affect so it is cost effective. Promotional gifts do not work if they are short term, consumable, expensive, not easily associated with your company, or not seen because it is not used, packed up or tossed.

There is a lot to think about when looking at promotional gifts for your company. One thing you have to remember is that it is part of branding your company. It needs to fit in with how you want to be seen. A cheep promotional gift is not going to work if you are going for a high-end image and an expensive one may not be cost affective. A nice quality key chain works for high-end car sales. People will use it, it reinforces positive feelings toward the dealer, this leads to positive word of mouth and repeat sales as well as having the customer using the dealership to service the car. As you already made the sale it is a cost affective promotional gift that ensures your company is remembered.

Gift certificates work in some retail situations. If you have a monthly contest then people come in to enter, so you get increased traffic. Increased traffic usually results in sales both in walk in retailers or on line ones. People will also check to see if they won or some one they know did, more traffic. The person who does win will use the gift certificate to buy some thing that will give them a positive association with your company. This also helps with word of mouth marketing. Every one loves to talk about winning, or getting some thing for free. This is a good way to get positive company branding.

However, you want some thing that any one seeing it thinks of your company. How do you find the right thing to use as a promotional gift? You need to take time, put the work into research and design. It is better to not give a promotional gift then spending money and time on one that does not work. Especially when putting a little bit of time and effort can give you one that does. You need to know whom your giving the promotional gift to, how they are going to use it or see it, and will it stand out from all the other promotional tools other companies use. Take a look at what other companies are successfully using, why it works for them, and what will give you the same results.

Friday, January 25, 2008

How to develop leadership skills

What is the best way to learn how to develop leadership skills? Well you can go find a book full of lists of skills and personality traits that make a good leader. In it you will find the same old list of skills and traits that are seen as being needed to be a leader. Or you could take the time to take a closer look at people who are actually in leadership positions. We all know that leadership is a combination of specific skills and personality. So lets find out what they really are.

When you look at some one you see as a leader what characteristics stand out? A leader may not know how to do a job or a project but they do know who can. A leader may not always be the smartest or the most charismatic person in the group, but they are the person taking action. You will notice that most leaders listen, voice their opinions and do. They take action and expect others to follow. They also tend to be organized and quick to grasp a situation and find solutions or the person who will. Not all leaders are well liked, but they are respected. People trust them to do what is expected. They show confidence in their abilities and a willingness to learn what they don’t have or know. Or at least listen to some one who does.

The skills you find these people to have may or may not be in those books about leadership skills. You will probably be surprised by what makes people in leadership positions stand out from those around them. No one is going to have the same mix of skills or personality traits. So know you have to figure out what is going to work for you?

What skills do you already have? What skills can you develop? You can see what things you need to work on and change with in your skill sets. Is there an opportunity for you to develop your skills at your work place? Don’t expect to be able to learn or change every thing over night and be a leader the next day. It is going to take hard work. Skills need to be practiced, a balance learned as you figure out what will and will not work for you and your personality.

So you see the skills, you may even have them all. Now you have to realistically look at your personality. What do you need to change or work on? How much do you have to change? Are the things you think you need to change in your personality just skill sets you need to learn? Things like positive assertiveness, anger management, communication, negotiation skills, or even time management. If you have to change a large part of who you are to be a leader your going to have to decide if it is worth it to you. If it is, start taking courses, classes, and seminars. You don’t need to try and do it on your own. See if you can take more responsibility on at work. Take the INITIATIVE, because that is what makes a real leader.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Making money on the Internet by writing a blog, truth or fiction?

People kept telling me that I could make money online, that there is contract work available for people who write blogs. I was quite sceptical about it; I could get paid to blog, right. I had to many of the get rich working from your home spam emails. I had one person telling me, on a forum, about how he was making so much money by writing web site reviews. I thought sure, and when are you going to ask me to sign up and give you all my information. Well strangely enough he never did. What he did was answer my questions honestly.

He had been writing a computer technical blog for years and one about software, coding and programming. The blogs built up a huge readership over the years. He had been approached about doing reviews for different companies, everything from the technical side to reviewing games, and programs. They would pay him to write about their product with a link back to their website. He started small and now gets paid any where from about $100 to $500 per article he is contracted to write. So of course everyone was asking were to sign up to do this. He explained that at this point he is usually contacted by the company directly to review their products or sites but that there are quit a few different companies out there that act as a middleman. They have bloggers register with them, and then will either offer them a job to write an article at a specific price or will let them bid on jobs and let the companies pick who they want to write the blog.

I was expecting him to tell us to all sign up to one company, as some companies will pay for everyone who registers under you. He actually told us to look on the Internet and find ones for ourselves. I liked that. He gave us the information we needed and then told us to do the work. I spent some time looking at some of the different sites that I could get paid to blog. I signed up for several to see how they worked. So far Smorty has offered me assignments that actually fits with my blogs. I have found Smorty easy to navigate and I don’t feel any pressure to take an assignment. I don’t think that I am going to make large amounts of money doing advertising blogs or website reviews. I do think that I can make a little money writing about things that interest me and I would probably have written an article anyway. Mind you I am only willing to write about things of interest to me no matter if someone wants to pay me or not.

I think that if you are already writing a blog then doing blog advertisements that fit with your blog then it is not a bad thing, as long as your writing the truth and just give your opinion on the site. If you are writing about some thing that is of interest to your readers, with a link to a site that has more information or might be useful then that is actually a good article, even if you were paid for it. However if you are thinking about starting a blog just to write blogs for money it is not going to work. People are not interested in reading ads about anything and everything, no matter how well written. Like every other business decision you have to do your research and don’t do something because someone told you that there was a lot of money to be made. The reality is that if you are writing blogs to make money you have to put time into it and the payout is not going to be the big bucks for a very long time, if ever.

How firing your customers can lead to bigger revenue

Restricting yourself to concentrating on one market segment can be loosing you money. This is especially true if you are completely missing a larger market or multiple markets. If you are not flexible enough to change with the market or see other markets your company will not grow. So sometimes firing your customers can lead to bigger revenue by opening up more or larger markets. Companies need to evolve to meet new markets needs, concentrating on the old market can prevent you from making necessary changes for your company to grow or survive. Firing some customers can also let you focus on or finding clients you have a better profit ratio with.

For years I concentrated on one market, and I did very well. I was marketing to a specific historical re-enactment hobbyists group. It was a great fit; I had found my niche in the market place. Then I realized that there was a much larger market for my product. There are a lot of other re-enactment groups and live role-play gamers to market too, so my target market grew. Then medieval and fantasy became big in the general public over the last few years with all the epic movies that came out. Now there is a resurgence of the vampire and werewolf theme with all the movies and TV shows coming out. So my market is growing and changing. I have to be flexible to change with it. I thought I was doing this.

Then I realized that I had been restricting my self to still meet the historically accurate standards set by my original target market. Some of the customers in my expanded market place would be interested in those products but I was not taking advantage of the full potential of that market. Most of that market likes the look but don’t care about historically documentation. So I had to re-evaluate who I was marketing to, what was my real customer base. I found that my old market was not willing to pay the same prices that other markets are, so I was no longer limited to a specific price range. My old market I had a limited product, slower sales and a saturated market. It was no longer cost effective to continue catering to that market. Firing my original customers opened the doorway for me to change and increase my product line. Meeting the needs of the larger market resulting in an increased profit margin.

I had also been concentrating on selling at local festivals, events and stores. I did not recognize the international interest that is out there. So again I had to re-evaluate to where I was selling, and what methods I was using to sell. I have not stopped selling locally but I have expanded the market by opening a store on line. However, these are two different markets needing completely different marketing strategies. These days I do not limit myself to just the market I perceive to be there. I am actively searching for multiple markets, and the methods to target them.

My business is retail so I do not have to deal with slow payers or no payers. These are the other customers that it pays for you to fire. Why keep clients that are reluctant to pay for product or services once they have them when you can concentrate on ones that do pay. Every business has to change and grow as the customer base evolves with new trends, needs, technology and competition always finding new ways to take our customers.

Finding the right online Casino

I love playing poker online. I enjoy chatting with people over a friendly game, and I get to meet people from all over the world when I play online. I think that most gambling card games have more to do with skill then just luck like most of the other gambling games like roulette. I found that I even enjoy watching the pros play on TV. Poker is my game. Now mind you I do tend to play online at sites that have play money games, though I do like to play the odd 10 cent table or even the 10 cent to $1.00 tournaments. I have found that winning money is great, but I just enjoy the game so it as much fun for me to play the play money games, as it is to play for real money. Which is good because I don’t have the money to loose. If I am not willing to loose the money I will not play it. Good rule to play by when gambling.

I found an interesting website that is a Casino Review Site. The idea is that they have pulled all the data for quite a few online casinos and then have put it together in an easy to use list so that you can compare each online casino to find the one that is right for you. What I liked was that there was a review done for each casino by the editor and then right beside it was the reviews done by people who have gambled on that casinos site. It made it easy to find out what people thought about the casino. I also liked that they had a list rating each casino for each type of game. I could look under poker, and other people could look under bingo, craps, Baccarat, Keno and more to find out what casinos had the best games.

I have to admit that I like playing backgammon but never thought about gambling on a game. I believe that it originated as a gambling game so it makes sense that people would gamble on it. If I was more of a gambler I might actually try a game or two just to see how I would do. I suspect though that most people gambling on the game are better at it then I am. I do think it is also one of those games where skill is important, but you still need some luck. Poker is still my game because you don’t need the best cards to win; you just need others to think you have the best cards. Mind you I am not going to quite my day job and try to become a Poker pro.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Common job-hunting mistakes and how to avoid them

So you have decided to look for work. That was the easy part, now you have to go job-hunting. Save your self some time and work; find out what are common job-hunting mistakes and how to avoid them. Hear are some questions you need to ask yourself

Are you treating looking for a job as a job? Are you put as much time and effort into it as you would be working for some one else? Or are you putting just enough time and effort to find a job ad and mail your resume in?

Where are you looking for jobs, are you limiting your opportunities? Most people just look at the ads in employment offices, newspapers and online. Other people will also use networking with friends and family to get unpublished job leads. Very few people think to find companies they would like to work for and then contact that company to see if there are any positions open or coming up. Yes, the dreaded cold calling a company. If done right this is a great tool. You already have a head start on getting a job with the company; it is a great way to make a good impression. If you get a rapport with the HR department, or other contacts in the company they might contact you when a position comes up. Did you sign up with any and all temporary employment companies? A lot of companies prefer to let them do the recruiting and interviewing for them and then see if the person sent over works out. It is a good way to keep working when looking and gives you a chance at jobs that may never be posted. Also a good temporary employment company will do the work for you, to find the right job for you. They don’t get paid unless you are working.

What type of jobs are you looking for? Are you shopping for the best job for you or just any old job? What criteria do you have? Why waste your time looking at jobs that don’t meet your criteria? If the job does not meet your requirements you’re not going to want the job any way. What criteria you ask: Is it a job you are actually interested in? Is it a job you can do? Is it in a location you can easily get to? Is this job going to take you to where you want to be in your career, or is it a dead end job? Will the hours work with your schedule?

Have you done your research both in your abilities, the company and the job? Do you know what your abilities and skills are? Have you confidence in your abilities and skills. Do you know what your transferable skills are? Are you over-qualified, under-qualified for the positions you are looking at? What are the requirements of the job you are looking at? What do you know about the company, their needs and how you would fit in? Did you make sure your cover letter and resume are targeted to the job and company you are applying to? Or did you just look at the ad and say I think I can do this and sent your resume to them?

Did you just send or drop your resume off and moved on to the next job posting? Did you call to confirm they received your resume or to find out when they would be doing interviews? Why would you call? So that they know your name, and you stand out from the 100’s of other people who just gave them their resume.

You have the interview, now what mistakes do you need to avoid. Yes the interview is still part of the job hunting. If you do every thing right but mess up in the interview your not going to get the job. Here are some things you need to do to be prepared for the interview.

Be early.
Don’t be eating or drinking when you come in or are waiting in the reception area.
Be polite, courteous and professional to every one you come in contact with. You have no idea who they are or what they are in the company.
Dressed appropriately for that industry. For most jobs it is a suit you need to be in. For construction or plant work still wear the suit but bring a change of clothing and safety gear so you can take a tour. No matter what the job is take extra effort on your appearance.
Have several copies of your resume and cover letter with you. You always have one for yourself, and one for each of the people interviewing you. You may not always know how many people will be in the interview so make sure you have extra copies.
Never show if you were a disgruntled employee or have hard feelings toward past employers.
Be honest and confident about your abilities and skills.
Make sure you did your research. Try to figure out what you can do for the company before hand so that when they ask you questions you can give them answers relevant to them and their needs.
Have several copies of your references. Make sure your references are relevant and meet the company’s references requirements. Make sure the people on your reference list know that they are on it and to expect a call.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Balance in life and work

Who are you? How do you see yourself? Is there balance between your work life and home life? Many people identify themselves with their job or job title and not with other achievements or aspects of their lives. We all know people who spend their lives working until that is all they have. Being determined and dedicated at work is good, but not if you sacrifice friends, family, and life out side of work. At the same time there are people out there who work for the paycheque because they need the money to socialise or help their family. Family and friends come first and they are willing to lose jobs so they can socialise. I am not referring to the people who take time off to take care of a sick child or family member, but the ones who just don’t show up for work because they want to hang out with a friend. In both these cases the people are leaning too heavily towards one aspect of their life and are neglecting other aspects. You need to have balance in all aspects of your life to have a full and healthy life.

The people who are workaholics lose out of a lot that life has to offer. They tend to have problems outside of work that will often invade their jobs. It is hard to have a good family life when you are not there. This often results in poor or dysfunctional relationships with partners and children. It is lonely when all you have is work and every one in your life is work related, scrooge comes to mind. People who are like this are often extremely driven and stressed out. This tends to lead to health problems. If all you do is work it is very easy to burn out. You have to have some thing to balance all the work, other wise what is the point to working? What do you do if some thing happens to your job? If your job is the end-all important thing, or how you identify yourself, what happens to you if the job is gone, or the dynamics of your job changes? What do you have to support you then? Most people in this position don’t have any thing else in their lives, and tend to fall into depressions over big changes like this.

On the other hand you have the people who never get any where, always seem to be loosing jobs or staying at low paying positions. Why, because they don’t care about their job, all they care about is having a good time. They seem to have no ambition. This is just as unhealthy as the workaholic. It is hard to keep a job and after a while it becomes hard to get a job. It is hard to have a good life you don’t have money. It is very stressful when you are living from paycheque to paycheque, always struggling to keep up with the expenses of living. The stress can lead to health problems, as can not having the money to eat right, or pay for medical treatment. It is also hard to have healthy relationships when people see you as being not very responsible, never pulling your own weight. If you don’t have a job, how do you live?

Both sets of behaviours have consequences. People need balance between work and home life to keep them selves motivated and recharged. Being at work should be rewarding, and some thing you enjoy doing and so should your home life. So what do you do if you find yourself leaning too heavily towards one aspect of your life and are neglecting other aspects?

Take a look at why this is happening, chances are you are not happy in one aspect of your life and are overcompensating in another area. If all you want to do is hang out with friends and not work then you need find a job that you like and hopefully are good at. See if there is some way you can bring in the aspects you like about being with your friends into your job. It may be as simple as you don’t like what you are doing or the people you are working for or with. Realise that you need to work to pay bills and live so you might as well find a job you like, not just one you do just to survive. You have a better chance of keeping the job, and doing well at it if you like what you are doing and the people you are working with.

If you are finding that all you do is work ask yourself “why are you spending so much time at work?” Are the demands of the job too much and to do the job you have to give every thing else up? Think about what you are missing out on by working all the time. What is important to you, working all the time or seeing your kid take their first step? If the job is to demanding then re-evaluate the job. You may want to get a different job, or find a way to delegate some of the work so you can spend some time having a life. If it is not that the job is to demanding then try and see what is missing in your home life. What else do you do that gives you a feeling of accomplishment, some thing you don’t mind identifying your self with that has nothing to do with your job or title. If it is relationship problems, working to get away from them is not going to make things better. You need to spend some time fixing or changing that part of your life, even if it is not some thing you want to do.

It comes down to this, if you are not happy in one aspect of your life you need to make changes in that area to make it better. Not move away from that aspect and end up having a big imbalance in your life. It is just not healthy. It is better to have a good job and home life that you enjoy then a high paying job and no life or a great social life with no means to support yourself.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Cskills website review

One of the growing industries is construction. However it is no longer a job that you drop out of high school and go do like it was when my father was a teenager. Now it is much more complicated and you need to know what you are doing before someone will hire you. Even apprenticeships for the construction industry can be a combination of collage study and on the job training. Apprenticeship is still a great way to earn as you learn and get a good start on a career in construction.

If you are looking into starting a career in construction you might want to check out CSkills. Cskills is a partner of the sector skills council for construction. I spent some time on their website and was actually overwhelmed by quantity and quality of information they have on todays ConstructionSkills and how much things have changed in the last 40 years. This web site has information on what you need to know to get a job in construction, where to get the education, funding, and even apprenticeships. Their website has all information about what you need to get your NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications) and SVQs (Scottish Vocational Qualifications) so you can get your CSCS card (Construction Skills Certification Scheme).

If you are already in construction but need something to advance your career Cskills also has a section on getting a CSCS card threw OSAT (On-Site Assessment and Training) or EWPA (Experience Worker Practical Assessment). As well as information on how to get a CPCS card (Construction Plant Competence Scheme). These show that you have all the up to date information in health and safety as well as being skilled and capable within your field. These cards show you are a professional and can make a big difference in your career path.

The website also has information for people who own or run construction companies. They can keep us with all the rules and regulations as well as find apprentices. Cskills site is up to date on health and safety legislation and how to meet the requirements for construction workers to be certified by 2010. This site is so full of information that it is worth taking the time to visit and look around.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Benefits and risks or running an online business

So you see all these work at home, start your own online business ads. You think, "Hey there must be some thing to this. I would like to stay at home and make lots of money just like all these ads say I can." Before you leap you need to find out what are the benefits and risks of running an online business.

There are a lot of benefits for running an online business.

You are your own boss. This way you control what you do, how you do it, and when. So if you are a stay at home parent, you can work around your kids. If this is a second source of income, then you can work around your regular job. I like being able to spend time with my kids and work when they are asleep.

There are a lot of different types of online businesses you can get into. It is easy to diversify by having several different online businesses at the same time. It is quite possible to have multiple streams of income with the same business.

The potential income is often only limited by the time and money you choose to invest. Once you have your online business set up most of your time and money is going to be spent on getting people to find your site, also known as online marketing. This will be done through a high rank on search engines, links, ads, word of mouth and any other way you can think of. How well you did your work setting up your site will determine if they buy from you, or sign up or click what every ad system your using. When your site is successful you may be busy shipping, restocking and putting new product on the site. However, no matter what you will always need to invest in bringing new, and old customers back to your site. You never stop your online marketing.

There are online businesses that are almost self-sustaining with only a little work or money from you. You set up the site, maintain it, and keep it online, and away you go. A lot of this type of business is in partnership with drop-shippers, some who will even set up the site and maintain it for you. There are always already established online businesses up for sale. You just have to get people to go to it. The real work of anyone with an online business is getting people to come to their site.

There are a lot of risks to running an online business.

Getting scammed is a big risk for those who do not do their research or go for the get rich quick schemes. There are a lot of online businesses out there that only make the seller rich.

Not cost effective. You invest your money and time and make a little money but nothing like you expect. The competition online is great. It is not like you are the only supplier of product "widget" in a small town. Your competition can already be well-established selling "Widgets", "Wedgets" and any other type of "ets". It’s an uphill battle getting people to find you and then buy from you instead of company ABC or XYZ. You could have the greatest product, best price and service but if people don’t know you are out there, they are not going to be looking for you. How much do you have to spend in time and money to become established and get the sales you need to break even? Is it cost effective in the long run, or throwing good money after bad. You can be doing every thing right and still not succeed.

It always cost more then expected, in money and time. You may find yourself spending all your time on click exchanges trying to build up hits in the hopes of making some money.

Your email and web site becomes a prime target for spammers. You end up with 100’s of spam emails a day if not more. Most of them seem to want to sell you an online business or get you to pay them to do online marketing for you.

Having to spend lots of money to keep your computer system upto speed with the needs of the anti virus programs. The anti virus programs out there are not going to be compatible with older systems soon. Can you afford to upgrade your computer system to the newest technology so your system can support the newest anti virus programs? Can you leave your computer system vulnerable with out the most up to date anti virus programs?

I have an online business; it is an extension of our already existing business. Online businesses are completely different then off line businesses. I like what I do, but it has been hard and I had to learn a lot, and am still learning. We have a retail site and we don’t use drop-shippers so we have been able to avoid a lot of the pitfalls of running a retail site. But the amount of established competition can be very daunting at times. And new sites show up every day. I some times have to question our expectations for our web site and the time lines we have set for it to be cost effective. I think it is going to take more time and money then we first thought simply because marketing online is very different then marketing offline. An online business can be great and successful, but only if you go into with your eyes open. As with any and all business ventures do your research.