marketing http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/3848/all en-US Choosing the Wrong Color Can Cost You Big on These Purchases http://www.wisebread.com/choosing-the-wrong-color-can-cost-you-big-on-these-purchases <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/choosing-the-wrong-color-can-cost-you-big-on-these-purchases" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/car dealer-colors-Dollarphotoclub_69826725.jpg" alt="car dealer " title="car dealer " class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>People generally chalk up color to personal preference when making a purchase, but what about those times when that choice can actually cost money? Strangely, I spend a lot of brain space thinking about the impact of color on my finances.</p> <p>I'm typing this article from the comfort of my new coral pink yoga mat. Coral is one of my favorite colors. Also, I am way more excited than I should be about the fact that it looks like a giant stick of chewing gum.</p> <p>Even though my yoga mat comes with a lifetime guarantee and I bought it at a 15% discount, it wasn't the best purchase I could have made. If I had been focusing on long-term savings rather than how I could add cinnamon fragrance to my mat for the ultimate Big Gum Workout Experience, I would have bought the black version of the same mat.</p> <h2>Black Hides Dirt &mdash; and Requires Less Care</h2> <p>A black mat would hide a lot of dirt. By buying the coral mat, I've basically resigned myself to spending extra time, water, and money keeping my yoga mat clean&hellip; forever.</p> <p>Who am I kidding? I know I'm going to be known by my fellow yogis as &quot;that girl with the filthy pink mat.&quot;</p> <p>I'm so grateful that I look good in black. Because otherwise I would be wearing some dingy looking clothes. As much as I fantasize about wearing white jeans, it's not going to happen. Just thinking about the cost of dry cleaning gives me hives.</p> <p>By now most people have heard about the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Overdressed-Shockingly-High-Cheap-Fashion/dp/1591846544">environmental damage</a> and <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/04/24/bangladesh-building-collapse/2108727/">human misery</a> caused by clothes manufacturing. What continues to go under-reported is the fact that the care and cleaning of clothing is actually more taxing to the environment than clothing production. How you clean your clothes and how often you have to clean your clothes can really make a difference to the planet. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-laundry-mistakes-you-didnt-know-you-were-making?ref=seelaso">11 Laundry Mistakes You Didn't Know You Were Making</a>)</p> <h2>White Cars Roll Cooler &mdash; and More Visibly</h2> <p>Light colors are not without benefits. The Car of Torture I drove in high school was burgundy. During Arizona summers, a dark paint job turns an automobile into a furnace on wheels. Although I literally drove home from my summer job everyday wearing oven mitts (pro tip: don't touch a black steering wheel in 120 degree weather with your bare hands), I still have scorch marks on my back fat where I accidentally branded myself with the metal end of the seatbelt.</p> <p>After the unrelenting sun exposure oxidized the burgundy paint job on my car, giving it a distinctly scabby look, my parents agreed to repaint the car white. The color change instantly lowered the interior temperature by 10 degrees.</p> <p>As an adult living in Los Angeles, I only drive white cars. Although the smog keeps my white car looking disreputable at all times, it saves me money in two major ways.</p> <p>First, who has right of way at a four way stop in Los Angeles? The driver of the crummiest car, obviously. A dirty white car saves me on fender benders because other cars give me wide berth.</p> <p>All kidding aside, I drive a white car for visibility at night&hellip; to other drivers. My father, a retired head and neck surgeon, only drives yellow cars because he knows from years of treating accident victims that yellow cars are among the least likely to be <a href="https://www.aaafoundation.org/sites/default/files/CarColorAndSafety.pdf">passively involved in accidents</a>. Most car buyers don't think about paint color as a safety feature, but the cost of buying the wrong color car could be your life.</p> <p>Despite its connection to fire engines, red is actually a hard color to see, especially at night, when people's color vision is distorted. In fact, the common belief that drivers of <a href="http://www.snopes.com/autos/law/redcars.asp">red cars get more speeding tickets</a> is an urban legend.</p> <p>Secondly, the clear coat on my white car has also oxidized, but the damage is much less obvious than it would be on a darker color, and much <a href="http://guidetodetailing.com/damage-repair/how-to-restore-faded-oxidized-paint/">easier to repair</a> with Clay Bar detailing versus new paint.</p> <p>Finally, in hot climates, light colored cars get better gas mileage, because they stay cooler without the use of air conditioning. While I love the look of leather seats, I can't look at a black car with a black leather interior and not think the driver doesn't have brain damage. Or, maybe those drivers are just really into pain and never wear shorts.</p> <h2>A White Roof Is Cheaper, Too</h2> <p>Dark colored cars aren't the only way people are wasting their air conditioning. I'm getting ready to paint my black asphalt tiled roof white to <a href="http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/cool-roofs">reflect heat and save energy</a>. White roofs have been touted as a major way people could help <a href="http://www.csmonitor.com/Innovation/Responsible-Tech/2008/1003/how-white-roofs-shine-bright-green">slow global warming</a>. However, repainting the roof is a big no for people who live in areas that have cold, dark winters because white roofs <a href="http://www.nbcnews.com/id/35125043/ns/us_news-environment/t/white-roofs-do-cool-temps-study-finds/#.VNm5Y1PF9Cy">make homes harder to heat</a>.</p> <h2>Color Is a Powerful Advertising Tool</h2> <p>Color is also a powerful tool for driving consumer purchasing. Just like my yoga mat purchase, <a href="http://savvypanda.com/blog/selecting-colors-to-influence-client-buying-behavior.html">85% of shoppers place color</a> as a primary reason why they buy a particular product.</p> <p>In addition to aiding in brand recognition, an award-winning study in 2013 revealed that even the background color on a webpage influenced spending. Researchers discovered that shoppers were more likely to spend more money on an auction site like eBay after being exposed to a red background. However, the same shoppers were less likely to spend money on a fixed priced site after being exposed to red.</p> <p>Men seem to be especially sensitive to red, even <a href="http://jht.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/04/16/1096348012442546">tipping red uniformed waitresses more money</a>.</p> <h2>Some Colors Stimulant Appetite &mdash; and Spending</h2> <p>Red and yellow are also <a href="http://www.shape.com/blogs/fit-list-jay-cardiello/color-control-eat-less-workout-more">appetite stimulants</a>, which is why just about every fast food chain uses those colors in everything from their logos to their décor. Cornell University psychology researchers discovered that <a href="http://foodpsychology.cornell.edu/outreach/color_plate.html">plate color</a> affects how much people eat. When researchers reduced the color contrast between food and the plate, study participants served themselves 22% less food. Just reducing the color contrast between the plate and the tablecloth reduced consumption by 10%!</p> <p>Over the past decade well-meaning consumers have been snookered out of their hard earned cash by an increasing number of products <a href="http://thegreenwashingblog.com/2014/02/25/marketing-and-greenwashing/">pretending to be environmentally responsible</a>. In addition to greenwashing, consumers now have to be on the lookout for <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/feb/15/komen-pinkwashing-problem-planned-parenthood">pinkwashing</a>. Caused-based shopping as charity is problematic because everyone from <a href="https://www.facebook.com/nopinkwashing">fracking</a> companies to <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/feb/15/komen-pinkwashing-problem-planned-parenthood">gun manufacturers</a> have tried to clean their dirty karma (and <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/10/21/komen-is-supposed-to-be-curing-breast-cancer-so-why-is-its-pink-ribbon-on-so-many-carcinogenic-products/">carcinogenic products</a>) under the guise of helping find a cure for breast cancer.</p> <p>Luckily, pink isn't just used to defraud charitable shoppers. It's still used for good by medical professionals. According to <a href="about:blank">this study</a>, researchers discovered that Baker-Miller Pink (AKA bubblegum pink) has a calming effect. Just looking at the color slows people's endocrine systems and loosens muscles.</p> <p>Baker-Miller Pink. The perfect color for a yoga mat. I feel so vindicated.</p> <p><em>Does color influence your spending decisions? What color will you pay more for?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/max-wong">Max Wong</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/choosing-the-wrong-color-can-cost-you-big-on-these-purchases">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/advertising-jargon-that-aims-to-mislead">Advertising Jargon That Aims to Mislead</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-products-you-think-you-need-but-really-don-t">25 Products You Think You Need, but Really Don’t</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/marketing-messes-with-your-head">Marketing Messes With Your Head</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/unbearably-stupid-packaging">Dumbest packaging ever?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buy-this-product-friend-the-hidden-power-of-testimonials">Buy This Product, Friend: The Hidden Power of Testimonials</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping advertising color marketing Mon, 23 Feb 2015 16:00:08 +0000 Max Wong 1299971 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Simple Ways to Market Your Side Business http://www.wisebread.com/6-simple-ways-to-market-your-side-business <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-simple-ways-to-market-your-side-business" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/businessman-marketing-notepad-desk-Dollarphotoclub_70821536.jpg" alt="businessman marketing" title="businessman marketing" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When you run a side business &mdash; especially when you're first starting out &mdash; you usually don't have very much money. Most advertising is out of reach for people running businesses on the side, and many free marketing techniques require so much energy that they aren't worth it, either. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-generate-new-leads-for-your-side-business?ref=seealso">7 Ways to Generate New Leads for Your Business</a>)</p> <p>However, there are some fabulous ways to generate customers for your side gig without killing yourself in the process. Read on to find out what has worked for me &mdash; and countless other folks.</p> <h2>1. Word of Mouth (Referrals)</h2> <p>This is the simplest way possible to get more business. If you do good work, your customers will put other people in touch with you, and your business will grow organically.</p> <p>Word of mouth is one of the best ways to grow your business, because people trust their friends and loved ones more than they trust a website or a listing in the phone book. However, it can be slow.</p> <p>If you want to speed things up, it's quick and easy to ask your customers to be sure to tell their friends about you. You can even create incentives &mdash; maybe offer a discount on their next purchase if they refer two people to you who actually buy something.</p> <h2>2. Make Real Connections With Customers</h2> <p>If you want your customers to connect you with their friends and family members, you'll want to forge a solid connection with them. If your business allows you time to interact, be sure to make the most of that. As appropriate, share your story and that of your business &mdash; let them know why you do what you do.</p> <p>Even if you don't have the chance to talk, you can find other ways connect with people. It's easy to include a handwritten note if you're sending a product, or a &quot;thank you&quot; card when you're finished working with someone. Anything that shows you spent a little extra time and energy to personally interact with them will make them feel closer to you.</p> <h2>3. Social Media</h2> <p>Having an active social media presence can help almost any business. It usually takes some trial and error to figure out where your customers are hanging out online, when they're there, and what they'd like to hear from you. Spend some time experimenting, so you can maximize your time and energy later.</p> <p>Most businesses find customers via Twitter and/or Facebook, though some (such as clothing, art/design, or food businesses) find that Instagram is a better choice. You may even find that LinkedIn is the best place to find your customers &mdash; especially if you're in a B2B or professional services field.</p> <p>The beauty of social media is that it can potentially find customers for you, so the more viral or shareable your content, the better. Before you post to social media, ask yourself: &quot;Do people want to read or look at this? And would they want to share it with their friends?&quot; If you can answer those two questions in the affirmative, you're on your way to building a successful social marketing program.</p> <h2>4. Give Something Away</h2> <p>People are often reluctant to purchase something the first time they hear about it, but they usually aren't hesitant to try something that's offered for free. What you give away depends on what your business offers. In general, it's simple to compile some blog posts into an ebook, create a downloadable infographic, or make a template that potential customers can try for free.</p> <p>Offering something for free not only allows potential customers to get an idea of the expertise you offer, but also gives them just a taste of how you work and what you might be like to work with. This can go far towards reassuring them that doing business with you is worth their while.</p> <h2>5. Join a Chamber of Commerce</h2> <p>Most cities offer chamber of commerce networking events. Some will bring in a speaker, while others will offer cocktails at a meet-and-greet. Joining these groups is usually cheap or free, and can connect you to people in your community who might need what you're offering. Even if they don't need it, though, making the connection means you'll be closer to the top of their list when they meet someone who <em>does</em> need what you offer.</p> <p>It can be hard to get to these meetings if you're still working full-time. But a few of these groups offer online networking as well, and some entrepreneurs opt to take time off from work to attend. It's worth looking into it, and if you find yourself getting a lot of business via your contacts at the meetings, you can decide how to invest yourself further.</p> <h2>6. Offer a Groupon</h2> <p>Some side businesses find that offering a deal via <a href="http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-2822544-10788528">Groupon</a> or <a href="http://www.tkqlhce.com/click-2822544-11429060">LivingSocial</a> is a great marketing tactic. It gets new people in the door, where you can <em>wow</em> them with your amazing presence, products, or expertise.</p> <p>The idea is to keep people coming back for more. In reality, there are a good number of <a href="https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/should-your-business-offer-a-groupon-deal/">pros and cons</a> to offering a deal like this. You will need to decide whether you can structure a deal so that you will still make money, and what you will do to bring people back after their first interaction with you. If you think you can make it work, the actual offering of the Groupon is an easy process.</p> <p><em>What's your side gig (or your dream side gig)? How do you (or would you) market it?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/sarah-winfrey">Sarah Winfrey</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-simple-ways-to-market-your-side-business">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/11-ways-to-earn-extra-cash-from-thrift-stores">11 Ways to Earn Extra Cash From Thrift Stores</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/16-festive-ways-to-make-extra-money-for-the-holidays">16 Festive Ways to Make Extra Money for the Holidays</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/watching-tots-how-to-get-started-in-babysitting">Watching Tots: How to Get Started in Babysitting</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-worst-work-from-home-jobs">The 5 Worst Work From Home Jobs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-side-jobs-for-stay-at-home-moms-and-dads">12 Side Jobs for Stay-at-Home Moms and Dads</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Extra Income marketing promotions side gig side job Tue, 17 Feb 2015 10:00:07 +0000 Sarah Winfrey 1289849 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Weird Ways People Get Promoted http://www.wisebread.com/3-weird-ways-people-get-promoted <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-weird-ways-people-get-promoted" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/businessmen-shaking-hands-Dollarphotoclub_69140300.jpg" alt="businessmen shaking hands" title="businessmen shaking hands" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are lots of ways to get promoted. Hard work, diligence, nepotism... But at some companies, not even having a relative in a senior position is worth much when it comes to climbing up the ranks. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-unique-ways-to-score-a-job-interview?ref=seealso">12 Unique Ways to Score a Job Interview</a>)</p> <p>Read on for three of the quirkiest, most inventive promotion methods you've ever heard of. They're anything but run of the mill.</p> <h2>1. An Algorithm</h2> <p>Seven years ago a team of Google's senior-most data crunchers set out to create a mathematical equation to determine who got promoted and when. &quot;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KY8v-O5Buyc#t=151">We wanted analytics to spit out our people decisions</a>,&quot; says Google VP of People Analytics Prasad Setty. Previously, the company's top dogs would gather for several days at a hotel where they would scour performance reviews and ultimately hand out promotions to those employees they concluded were most deserving. It was an exhausting and time-consuming process, one that Google executives believed big data could accomplish more efficiently. And so the fate of thousands of employees was entrusted to an algorithm.</p> <p>Turns out, people didn't like that much. &quot;We thought that these people who lived in the world of search and ads algorithms all day long would love this,&quot; Setty says. But when the algorithm was presented to Google's hiring committees, they were completely unreceptive. They simply didn't think an algorithm could replace the consideration and care that goes into human resources decisions. And so, after much debate, Google executives agreed that people should make people decisions. Data still contributes to Google's promotions processes, but it's people that are at the reigns.</p> <p>It seems robots won't be taking over for human resources managers anytime soon.</p> <h2>2. Random Selection</h2> <p>Organizations would be more efficient if they <a href="http://www.improbable.com/ig/ig-pastwinners.html#ig2010">promoted people at random</a>. That's the counterintuitive conclusion arrived at by three Italian researchers who were awarded the 2010 Ig Nobel prize in management for their research. Their work is based on the Peter Principle, the idea that merit-based promotion results in many people assuming positions that exceed their level of competency. To fix this problem, the researchers simply removed merit from the equation. What they found is that when people win promotions by lottery, the entire organization performs better. Yes, <a href="http://arxiv.org/abs/0907.0455">we know it sounds crazy</a>, but these researchers did the math to back it up.</p> <p>What the Italians didn't consider, however, is the reaction of employees when informed by management that when it comes to future promotions, their hard work and accomplishments won't be considered. (We predict the scene would be something just short of the apocalypse.)</p> <h2>3. A Sense of Humor</h2> <p><a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikaandersen/2013/05/06/want-to-get-a-promotion-be-funny/">Proteus International weighs a person's sense of humor</a> when making hiring and promotion decisions, according to founding partner Erika Andersen. &quot;Last year we had two final candidates for an admin job in our company; both looked great on paper, and their phone interviews had been positive,&quot; she writes in an explainer on Forbes. &quot;We then had both candidates do an in-person 'inbox simulation' &mdash; in effect, a couple of hours doing tasks and interactions he or she would do on the job. So both people came into the office and spent a couple of hours with us. It quickly became very clear which person we wanted. A key difference: One candidate had a sense of humor, while the other was almost completely humorless.&quot;</p> <p>It wasn't that the chosen candidate told jokes; rather, she was quick-witted and funny in an understated sort of way. Andersen explains, &quot;When I said, 'You're a native New Yorker? I don't meet many of those,' she replied, 'Yeah, I know more people in New York who are from other countries than from other boroughs.'&quot; Nothing worthy of an SNL performance, but it's the kind of clever and light-hearted remark that makes a person generally pleasant to be around.</p> <p>As it turns out, humor is valued by executives far beyond the boardroom at Proteus International. A recent survey by Robert Half Finance found that <a href="http://blog.roberthalffinance.com/humor-career-advice">79% of chief financial officers believe an employee's sense of humor plays an important role</a> in how well they fit in with the company's corporate culture. Many of those surveyed also said they believe a person with a sense of humor is produces better work.</p> <p><em>What's the strangest way you've been promoted?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/brittany-lyte">Brittany Lyte</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-weird-ways-people-get-promoted">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-simple-steps-to-discovering-your-true-salary-potential">6 Simple Steps to Discovering Your True Salary Potential</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-8-worst-things-good-employees-do">The 8 Worst Things Good Employees Do</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-times-a-higher-salary-isnt-worth-it">6 Times a Higher Salary Isn&#039;t Worth It</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-career-tactics-that-are-actually-holding-you-back">5 Career Tactics That Are Actually Holding You Back</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-to-say-to-your-boss-to-get-a-promotion-or-raise">5 Things to Say to Your Boss to Get a Promotion or Raise</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career and Income marketing promotion raise self promotion Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:00:13 +0000 Brittany Lyte 1283631 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Sign Up for Half-Price Flights and Free Hotels http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-sign-up-for-half-price-flights-and-free-hotels <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-sign-up-for-half-price-flights-and-free-hotels" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/hotel-86518451.jpg" alt="hotel" title="hotel" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Looking for a unique way to save money on flights and get free hotels? How about car rentals, bus rides, and even restaurant meals? You can save big bucks on travel by becoming a mystery shopper.</p> <p>I recently took a flight from Canada to Peru for a 50% discount. And this summer I expect to fly to Switzerland (also for 50% off), and later in the year possibly to Australia &mdash; or maybe even Japan &mdash; for another 50% off.</p> <p>I did this by flying as a mystery shopper. So it wasn't a discount for nothing. But overall, it's great value. Here's how to get started.</p> <h2>Travel Mystery Shopping Basics</h2> <p>The company that hooks me up with these travel savings opportunities is called <a href="http://www.evaluateitbysqm.com/">EvaluateIt by SQM</a>. They feature travel-related mystery shopping opportunities, mostly in North America, and to a lesser extent around the world.</p> <p>Travel providers approach SQM wanting to ensure their customer service and quality management is top notch. SQM then finds mystery shoppers (like you and me) who are willing to experience the product or service as a normal customer, but with an evaluative eye. After submitting a report about our experience, we receive a discount or refund for our efforts.</p> <h2>What You Get</h2> <p>EvaluateIt is a Canadian company, and thus many of the current available flights are with Air Canada in and out of major Canadian cities, and flying to places around the U.S., Europe, South America, and even Australia and Asia. They are currently adding new airlines to their roster, which will open up more U.S. destinations.</p> <p>They also have opportunities to mystery shop hotels (mostly in North America), with a resort in Hawaii being their most in-demand placement. In addition, they feature a couple of long-distance bus routes, and the occasional car rental deal.</p> <p>What you get is a reimbursement (of up to 100% of your cost) of your expenses once you've completed the travel assignment and submitted your report and receipts.</p> <p>In the case of airfare, you pay EvaluateIt directly for the flight tickets; in all other cases you pay directly for the service in question just as any other customer would. (Remember, as a mystery shopper, the travel provider is to be none the wiser that you're on the job).</p> <h2>What You Have to Do</h2> <p>For my flight from Toronto to Peru, I had to fill out a detailed, five-page questionnaire about my experience, including categories like boarding and pre-departure, cabin service, duty-free service, cabin crew grooming, food and beverage, cabin environment, how they dealt with irregular situations, pre-landing, and after landing. For each category I had to answer 10-20 yes or no questions, plus provide detailed explanations and an overall rating. Although it would be possible to complete the questionnaire from memory after the fact, I found it helpful to print and fill the forms out as I went, given the detailed level of observation required. Within three days of the flight, I hopped online and completed the official questionnaire and uploaded my electronic boarding pass.</p> <p>Other travel mystery shopping assignments are similar; some are more detailed than others. Generally the higher the value of the mystery shopping assignment/reimbursement, the more work and observation is required on your part.</p> <h2>Who Can Be a Mystery Shopper</h2> <p>Despite the fact that EvaluateIt by SQM is a Canadian company, citizens and residents of any country can participate. But remember, mystery shopping isn't a free ride; there's work required, which is best-suited to those with a keen sense of observation.</p> <h2>Saving on More than Travel and Earning Extra Money, Too</h2> <p><a href="http://www.evaluateitbysqm.com/">EvaluateIt by SQM</a> is a subsidiary of <a href="http://www.sqm.ca/index.php/en/">SQM</a>, who is the parent company and offers everything EvaluateIt does plus a much larger range of mystery shopping opportunities including retail (clothing, parking), services (auto services, massages, spas, hair cuts, etc), banking, attractions, gyms, fast food and restaurants, and more.</p> <p>Depending on the assignment, you can get paid in four different ways:</p> <ul> <li> <p>A shopper fee, paying you to do the assignment</p> </li> <li> <p>A shopper fee and a reimbursement fee (you get paid to perform the assignment and you get to purchase an item which you are reimbursed for &mdash; partially or fully)</p> </li> <li> <p>A reimbursement fee only</p> </li> <li> <p>A partial reimbursement fee (such as 50% off airline tickets)</p> </li> </ul> <p>Shopper fees range anywhere from $5-$100; the more complicated the assignment, the higher the compensation or reimbursement. You are paid (via direct deposit or check) after performing the mystery shopping assignment and submitting your report and invoice. In the case of airfare assignments, you are reimbursed directly to the credit card you initially paid with.</p> <h2>Going Even Deeper With Mystery Shopping</h2> <p>Have these travel mystery shopping opportunities whet your appetite? <a href="http://www.volition.com/mysteryint.html">Volition.com</a> has a listing of mystery shopping companies with international opportunities to make money. Some include travel gigs; however, EvaluateIt by SQM is the only one specializing solely in travel mystery shopping assignments.</p> <p><em>Have you ever been a mystery shopper? Please share your experience in comments!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/nora-dunn">Nora Dunn</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-sign-up-for-half-price-flights-and-free-hotels">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-8-scariest-things-probably-coming-to-air-travel">The 8 Scariest Things Probably Coming to Air Travel</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-get-the-best-fall-and-holiday-travel-deals">7 Ways to Get the Best Fall and Holiday Travel Deals</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-best-cities-for-frugal-lovers-of-the-outdoors">8 Best Cities for Frugal Lovers of the Outdoors</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards">5 Best Travel Reward Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/travel-resources">40 Most Useful Travel Websites That Can Save You a Fortune</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Travel customer service marketing mystery shopping travel discounts Thu, 08 May 2014 09:01:09 +0000 Nora Dunn 1138261 at http://www.wisebread.com Get the Job You Want With the Right Professional Image http://www.wisebread.com/get-the-job-you-want-with-the-right-professional-image <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/get-the-job-you-want-with-the-right-professional-image" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/emotions-5077584-small.jpg" alt="face" title="face" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Your professional image &mdash; your &quot;personal brand&quot; &mdash; combines all of your knowledge, talent, and experience into the public face of your professional persona. The most effective personal brand not only reflects the proper image, it also works across a variety of online forms as well as in person. But even the most carefully crafted personal brand can benefit from a little tweaking. Here ten ways to improve your professional image by improving your personal brand. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-brag-about-yourself-to-employers-without-sounding-like-a-jerk?ref=seealso">How to Brag About Yourself</a>)</p> <h2>1. Emphasize Your Distinctive Traits</h2> <p>Your personal brand relies on being able to highlight what sets you apart from others in your field. What are some things that only you can do? Do you have any specialized knowledge? What new ideas have you come up with? How have you added your own touch to projects you've been involved in? What kind of lasting impression or influence have you had on previous employers and colleagues?</p> <p>This aspect of your personal brand is especially important for job seekers. An employer's number one question is, &quot;What makes you the best one for the job?&quot; Showing how your way of doing things has been successful in the past, and how your brand can benefit the employer in the future, is an effective way of answering that question.</p> <h2>2. Get a Website</h2> <p>A website can elevate your image and provide a home base for your brand. Paying for a <em>&quot;yourname.com&quot;</em> domain not only ensures you'll be at the top of the search results when people Google you, it also provides a more professional representation of your personal brand than a subdomain on a free hosting site.</p> <p>For most people, a simple site containing a short personal bio, your education and professional experience, and your contact information should suffice. Single-page site building tools such as <a href="https://www.strikingly.com/">Strikingly</a> work well for just this task, with the ability to populate the site with info from your Facebook profile and the inclusion of a personal-brand standard: a &quot;What I Believe In&quot; section. If you want something more substantial than splash pages, you can go with the myriad of website templates available on the web or hire a professional to create a unique site from scratch.</p> <h2>3. Blog the Talk</h2> <p>Blog posts allow you to discuss the areas of your expertise in more detail, provide insightful commentary or analysis of industry news and issues, and give additional opportunities to express your brand's personality. If you prefer a visual medium, you can upload short videos instead. To spread your brand even further, contact industry-related websites, blogs, and other publications to see if they are open to guest posts. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-do-bloggers-make-money-what-every-non-blogger-should-know?ref=seealso">How Do Bloggers Make Money?</a>)</p> <h2>4. Get Passionate</h2> <p>It seems simple, but your brand should really be about doing something that you love. If you don't feel that your brand is a part of your very being, it'll be pretty difficult to sell it to anyone else. However, when your brand revolves around doing what you love, you project that passion and your brand feels authentic to others.</p> <p>Employers know passionate workers perform at a higher level and companies are keen to work with other business owners who share a passion for their work, so having passion as the foundation of your brand benefits job hunters, promotion seekers, and the self-employed alike. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/make-your-dream-career-a-reality-for-less-than-100?ref=seealso">Make Your Dream Career a Reality for Under $100</a>)</p> <h2>5. Focus Group Your Friends</h2> <p>The best way to know if you're displaying the right image is to ask people who know you. Question friends and colleges about the impressions they have of you. If what they say doesn't match up with the brand you want to project, you'll need to figure out where you're going wrong and find ways to strengthen your weaker areas.</p> <h2>6. Dress the Part</h2> <p>When you visualize yourself at the top of your game, what are you wearing? Use that ideal representation of yourself as the basis for your professional wardrobe. Take it a step further by developing a signature style move that makes people think of you whenever they encounter it. Whether it's an affinity for chartreuse gemstones or your partiality for the Trinity knot in your ties, playing up your unique fashion sense helps you craft and solidify your brand's image. Don't forget to include it in your social media profile pictures. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-only-16-pieces-a-man-needs-in-his-wardrobe?ref=seealso">The Only 16 Pieces a Man's Wardrobe Needs</a>)</p> <h2>7. Optimize Your Social Media Profiles</h2> <p>LinkedIn and other professional networking profiles are a huge part of a successful brand, so make sure yours are completely filled out and up-to-date. Think of an eye-catching headline that succinctly describes your brand, such as &quot;Passionate personal finance consultant for working-class families.&quot; Use the site's groups and other networking features to connect with other professionals and organizations and bolster your standing as a player in your field. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-your-linkedin-profile-noticed-with-a-few-attention-grabbing-tweaks?ref=seealso">How to Get Your LinkedIn Profile Noticed</a>)</p> <p>As for more socially-oriented sites such as Facebook and Twitter, fill out all the profile information that's relevant to your professional interests and hide everything else. Keep your pages fresh by making a few relevant posts every day, maybe passing along a particularly valuable article or pointing to your newest blog post or video. Use image-focused social media sites such as Instagram and Pinterest to share pictures and videos that relate to the image you want to project.</p> <h2>8. Create Business Cards</h2> <p>Although they're not quite a big deal as <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoIvd3zzu4Y">Patrick Bateman would have us believe</a>, business cards are still an important part of your personal brand. Even in the smartphone age, business cards are the best way to provide all of your vital information in face-to-face situations. To make your business cards better represent your brand, include your picture, a unique logo, or a short quote or tag line on the back of the card.</p> <h2>9. Show Off Your Accomplishments</h2> <p>A collection of your greatest hits tells potential employers or clients exactly what they'll be getting when they hire you and bolsters your image as you grow in your career. A physical portfolio that showcases your best graphic designs, articles, or grant proposals can provide a strong visual representation of your expertise and highlight your ability to deliver consistently. If you decide to have a website, you can include a digital version of your portfolio along with links to pieces you've published and projects you've worked on.</p> <h2>10. Demonstrate Consistency</h2> <p>This is the bit that ties your personal brand together. In the most general sense, all you need to do is perform in your own unique way time after time. This should be an easy task if your brand is a genuine representation of <em>you</em>.</p> <p>More specifically, make sure the information you provide is consistent across all of your branding materials, from your resume to your YouTube profile. This means using your signature colors, a uniform font, similar language, and creating the same general &quot;feel&quot; across all of your branding materials. The most effective personal brand is a cohesive one, so even little things like having your Twitter background match your Facebook cover photo matter. Regular blog or video posts are also a handy tool for demonstrating your consistency.</p> <p><em>Do you actively manage your brand? Manage it in comments below!</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lauren-treadwell">Lauren Treadwell</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/get-the-job-you-want-with-the-right-professional-image">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-spot-a-social-media-snake-oil-salesperson">7 ways to spot a social media snake oil salesperson</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/great-ways-to-improve-your-resume-today">Great Ways to Improve Your Resume Today</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-2">Bottled Water, Bottled Hype Part 2</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-job-search-stunts-to-get-you-noticed-by-employers">7 Job Search Stunts to Get You Noticed by Employers</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-brag-about-yourself-to-employers-without-sounding-like-a-jerk">How to Brag About Yourself to Employers (Without Sounding Like a Jerk)</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Career Building branding marketing personal brand self promotion Mon, 24 Mar 2014 09:48:21 +0000 Lauren Treadwell 1131914 at http://www.wisebread.com Psychology and Loans: The Strange Reasons Why You Make Bad Decisions http://www.wisebread.com/psychology-and-loans-the-strange-reasons-why-you-make-bad-decisions <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/psychology-and-loans-the-strange-reasons-why-you-make-bad-decisions" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/cash-5086614-small.jpg" alt="cash" title="cash" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Watch any commercial television broadcast, and it's pretty clear that marketers believe that both sex and greed can sell nearly any product. You can hardly flip a channel without seeing an attractive woman convincing you to drink this beverage or drive that car or use a particular auction website or coupon code in order to save hundreds!!</p> <p>But most of us think that we don't make our choices as to which beer to drink, what car to drive, or even where to score a bargain simply based on the advertisements that are clearly biased sources. We're much more rational than that.</p> <p>And, even if we do end up drinking a brand of alcohol because we love a particular ad campaign and the beautiful eye candy the marketers are using to hawk it, what's the harm? After all, purchasing inexpensive products based on an emotional reaction is hardly going to hurt your bottom line. It's not as though human beings make big decisions &mdash; like whether or not to take out a personal loan &mdash; based on such emotional and irrational factors.</p> <p>Unfortunately, it turns out that we do.</p> <p>No matter how much we all pride ourselves on our rational decision-making processes, we are all susceptible to the seductive pull of non-informational marketing techniques, even when the financial stakes are relatively high, as when you apply for a loan. Though traditional economists would argue that the only deciding factor for a loan should be the overall cost vs. overall benefit, behavioral economist <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sendhil_Mullainathan">Sendhil Mullainathan</a> found in a 2003 study that our decision process is much murkier.</p> <h2>A Loan Experiment in South Africa</h2> <p><a href="http://karlan.yale.edu/p/AdContentWorth_mar09Final.pdf">Mullainathan's study</a>, which he co-authored with four other researchers, set out to determine if the sorts of marketing ploys that advertisers have been intuitively using for years actually do affect a consumer's decisions and habits. For the experiment, the authors partnered with a bank in South Africa that was hoping to increase loans. This lender was a competitor in the &quot;cash loan&quot; market in South Africa, and it offered high-interest, short-term loans with fixed repayment schedules to members of the working poor population.</p> <p>In this experiment, the lender sent out letters to over 50,000 previous borrowers, informing them that they were eligible for a special interest rate on a new loan. However, the interest rate offered to the borrower was randomized so that some letters offered low rates and some offered high rates. (Hence the term &quot;special&quot; rather than &quot;low&quot; in the letter.)</p> <p>In addition, each letter also included various other randomized aspects: photos of bank employees varying by gender and race; an offer of a chance to win a cell phone in a lottery by coming into the branch; different tables, some of which were simple, and some of which were complex, that explained the loan options; and varying deadlines for taking advantage of the loan. Because of the large sample size and the randomization of the offers/letter characteristics, Mullainathan and his co-authors were able to scientifically determine which factors were most likely to appeal to potential borrowers.</p> <p>Unfortunately, it seemed as though the borrowers were motivated by much more than just dollars and cents. As Mullainathan stated in a 2006 article in <a href="http://harvardmagazine.com/2006/03/the-marketplace-of-perce.html">Harvard Magazine</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>&quot;What we found stunned me. We found that any one of these things had an effect equal to one to five percentage points of interest! A woman's photo instead of a man's increased demand among men by as much as dropping the interest rate five points! These things are not small. And this is very much an economic problem. We are talking about big loans here; customers would end up with monthly loan payments of around 10 percent of their annual income. You'd think that if you really needed the money enough to pay this interest rate, you're not going to be affected by a photo. The photo, cell phone lottery, simple or complicated table, and deadline all had effects on loan applications comparable to interest.&quot;</p></blockquote> <p>Considering the fact that these loans were offering interest rates as high as 11.75% per month, it's clear that these borrowers were thinking with something other than their brains &mdash; which seems to make no sense at all.</p> <h2>We're All Vulnerable to Sexy Marketing</h2> <p>You may be thinking that this particular study doesn't have anything to do with you and your brain processes. After all, the 50,000+ borrowers from the study come from a very different culture and society, and their socioeconomic background would seem to indicate a lower likelihood of higher education.</p> <p>However, there have been multiple studies over the years examining the effect of attractive women on men's basic cognitive function. The <a href="http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/beautiful-minds/200905/interacting-women-makes-men-stupid">findings</a> have been both surprising and completely expected &mdash; interacting with an attractive woman temporarily makes it more difficult for men to think clearly. (The studies have found that women also lose some cognitive function when they find a man particularly attractive. But the effect was both more pronounced in men and more likely to occur even if the male participant was only somewhat attracted to the woman.)</p> <p>This is hardly news for anyone who has lost the ability to speak in front of the object of their affection, but it doesn't seem to have anything to do with our susceptibility to marketing.</p> <p>That's why a <a href="http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-011-9860-z/fulltext.html">2012 Dutch study</a> adds such an important context to the fact that male South African borrowers were more likely to take a loan after seeing a picture of a female banker. Apparently, even the anticipation of interacting with a woman &mdash; who the participants in the Dutch study did not even see face-to-face &mdash; was enough to impair cognitive ability. Not only did the South African bank get to take advantage of the cognitive impairment brought about by beauty, it also impaired borrowers' decision-making when they thought about the <em>possibility</em> of interacting with the woman whose photo adorned their offer letter.</p> <h2>Emotion Is an Excellent Motivator</h2> <p>In addition to the photograph, the other big spur for South African borrowers was being given a tight deadline for taking advantage of the special loan rate and being offered a chance to win a free cell phone.</p> <p>Theoretically, neither of those offers should have positively affected loan rates. Traditional economists would argue that shorter deadlines should result in fewer loans, since it gives customers less time to mull over their options and decide to go for it. But that runs absolutely counter to what every marketer from Groupon to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-retailers-manipulate-you-into-spending">Amazon</a> has proven to be true &mdash; people are more likely to buy (or sign on the dotted line) if they don't have a chance to rethink their first impulse. Our first decision is generally based upon gut or emotion, whereas our second thought is when we realize the downsides.</p> <p>And as for the cell phone giveaway, that simply plays into both a sense of greed &mdash; &quot;I can get something for nothing!&quot; &mdash; and the fact that most people <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Availability_heuristic">overestimate their chances of winning</a> any kind of lottery.</p> <p>The rational part of the brain can hardly keep up with it all.</p> <h2>Being a Responsible Consumer</h2> <p>I was taught as a young girl to never, ever, ever give money to anyone canvassing door-to-door, no matter who they claimed to represent. While I do feel a little tenderhearted about charitable organizations and cute kids selling cookies, I find it very easy to turn away solicitors who are offering to help repair roof damage after a hail storm or get me set up with a security system on my house. And that's because I know that these solicitors are not knocking on my door in order to help me. They're looking out for themselves.</p> <p>I bring this up because we often seem to forget the motivation behind letters offering &quot;special&quot; interest rates and emails providing us with one-day-only sale prices. If we regard anything coming unsolicited into our homes as untrustworthy, we won't even have the chance to be influenced by attractive photographs, cell phone lotteries, time deadlines, or special rates. That means you'll look into taking a loan when and only when you're ready for one.</p> <p>Just be careful if the loan officer at the bank happens to be an attractive woman.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emily-guy-birken">Emily Guy Birken</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/psychology-and-loans-the-strange-reasons-why-you-make-bad-decisions">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-psychology-of-free-and-its-power-over-you">The Psychology of Free, and Its Power Over You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-marketing-tricks-you-should-be-aware-of">10 Surprising Marketing Tricks You Should Be Aware Of</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/unbearably-stupid-packaging">Dumbest packaging ever?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/advertising-jargon-that-aims-to-mislead">Advertising Jargon That Aims to Mislead</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-dangers-of-mobile-banking-and-how-to-avoid-them">5 Dangers of Mobile Banking — And How to Avoid Them</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs marketing Tue, 23 Apr 2013 10:24:41 +0000 Emily Guy Birken 973548 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Reasons Your Great Startup Business Is Doomed http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-your-great-startup-business-is-doomed <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-reasons-your-great-startup-business-is-doomed" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/8411025404_fee3bbdd24_z.jpg" alt="empty office" title="empty office" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>There are many people who have great ideas and the spurt of ambition to pursue their dream of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/4-lies-business-owners-tell-themselves">working for themselves</a>. Unfortunately, many of these same people have also gone bust &mdash; even before getting their business up and running. If you have been toying with the idea of starting your own venture, you should take time to evaluate what you think running a startup is really like, and what it means to be in business for yourself. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/freelancing-a-beginner-s-guide-to-doing-it-right">Freelancing:&nbsp;A Beginner's Guide to&nbsp;Doing It Right</a>)</p> <h2>1. You Think You Can Bootstrap It</h2> <p>There are many that go into a business idea without a dime to their name, utterly convinced they were going to make it big. Before telling your boss to take your job and shove it, you should really work through the realities. No matter what your business idea is, there will be overhead expenses to be covered until your business makes money, which can take years to happen. Consider working fulltime for a paycheck until you can truly stabilize your side business.</p> <h2>2. You Don't Believe in Business Plans</h2> <p>As a writer, I&rsquo;ve been asked to create a lot of different types of material. To date, my least favorite inquiry was from a couple who wanted me to write their business plan.</p> <p>At first I thought they meant &quot;rewrite&quot; their plan into something more professional. What they actually meant was for me to create a business plan for their proposed trucking company. This couple had not a single clue about what it would take to get the business up and running. They had absolutely no idea how to deal with the immediate future of their company let alone the long-term vision or profitability.</p> <p>Whether or not you plan to seek the financial assistance of investors, you need to work through a business plan. If you cannot answer the questions common in every business plan, do not open for business until you can answer those questions clearly and confidently.</p> <h2>3. You Are All Talk</h2> <p>Again, in my line of work, I deal with a lot of startup companies looking to cement their presence on the Internet. There are some who will ask for 20 quotes for web content and in the end never do anything about it. It&rsquo;s one thing to feel excitement about a business idea, but if you are unable to see the project through to completion, <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-business-lessons-i-learned-the-hard-way">starting your own business</a> may not be the best move for you.</p> <h2>4. You Cannot Follow Through</h2> <p>There are some people that are so full of ideas but rarely does one stick around long enough to see it through. Jumping from one idea to the next can be dangerous, especially if you are putting forth your hard earned money for something that is going nowhere. Sort through your ideas in writing and sit with them for a while to see if any stick. Then consider pursuing that idea.</p> <h2>5. You Don't Understand the Business</h2> <p>There are some businesses that fail right off the bat because people fantasize about what the business would be like rather than researching the realities. For example, opening a bakery may look great on television, but it would be to your advantage to really see what it is like on a day to day basis. You should make an effort to talk to owners of businesses you are interested in starting for yourself and find out what really happens. You can even shadow a few business owners for real life experience.</p> <h2>6. You Rely on Others to Do the Hard Work</h2> <p>As a <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/7-tips-for-small-business-success-in-troubled-times">business owner</a> getting ready to launch a startup, it is important to realize just how much of the actual work falls on your shoulders. You wear many hats, especially during the first few years when paid help may not be a viable option. You have to be committed to doing all of the hard work and seeing it through or you will be closing the doors soon after they open.</p> <p>You also need to really consider your target audience. If you are planning to open a jewelry business and think having only your friends and family as customers will keep you afloat, you may want to reconsider your business plans and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-awesome-money-making-hobbies">keep your jewelry-making skills as a favorite hobby</a>.</p> <p>Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. Surely there are things that can only be learned through trial and error, but when you are investing your own time and money, you may not be able to afford too many errors. Do your research, complete a full business plan if only for your own benefit, and really consider the pros and cons of what you are venturing into.</p> <p><em>Have you gotten your startup business through the difficult first few years? What do you know now that you didn't know then?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/tisha-tolar">Tisha Tolar</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-your-great-startup-business-is-doomed">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/business-plan-basics">Business Plan Basics</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/writing-your-own-business-plan-thrifty-or-foolish">Writing Your Own Business Plan: Thrifty or Foolish?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-freelance-clients-part-two">How to Find Freelance Clients: Part Two</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-small-business-pitfalls-and-how-to-avoid-them-part-two">6 Small Business Pitfalls, and How to Avoid Them: PART TWO</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/my-pumpkin-lady-s-secret-to-business-success">My Pumpkin Lady’s Secret to Business Success</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship business plan marketing startup business Wed, 27 Mar 2013 09:48:32 +0000 Tisha Tolar 971377 at http://www.wisebread.com Money-Making Lessons From the Girl Scouts http://www.wisebread.com/money-making-lessons-from-the-girl-scouts <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/money-making-lessons-from-the-girl-scouts" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/gs.jpg" alt="Girl Scouts pose with cases of cookies." title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>My living room has been stacked high with cases of Girl Scout cookies for the past month, I've created a spreadsheet that looks like the blueprint to a Dr. Seuss house, and my day is frequently interrupted by phone negotiations over trading a &quot;Dulce&quot; for a &quot;Savannah.&quot;</p> <p>Yep, I'm a cookie mom.</p> <p>Despite my moments of doubt &mdash; &quot;Are all these hours really worth the amount of money this fundraiser puts in our troop bank account?&quot; &mdash; I've come to love most aspects of cookie season. I've even learned a thing or two about money and sales from the well oiled machine known as the Girl Scout Cookie Program. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/timeless-money-lessons-from-teens">Timeless Money&nbsp;Lessons From&nbsp;Teens</a>)</p> <h2>1. You Can't Get a &quot;Yes&quot; If You Don't Ask</h2> <p>During cookie manager training, I learned that <a href="http://www.gscsnj.org/Forms%20&amp;%20Documents/Cookie/Troops/Cookie%20Program%20Troop%20Guide.pdf">85% of people who are asked to buy Girl Scout cookies say yes</a> (PDF). However, only 35% of people are asked. If a sales team with millions of unpaid child workers has that large of an untapped market, think how much untapped potential your own business or endeavor might have!</p> <h2>2. It Pays to Set Goals</h2> <p>One great thing about the Girl Scout Cookie Program is that Girl Scouts are supposed to <a target="_blank" href="http://www.girlscouts.org/program/gs_cookies/the_five_skills.asp">set their own goals</a> for what activities they want their earnings to fund and figure out how many cookies they need to sell to meet those goals. The process is encouraging me to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/goal-setting-defined-and-deconstructed">do more purposeful goal setting</a> for my own money earning activities.</p> <h2>3. Lead With What You Have</h2> <p>This is actually a piece of advice our troop got from a kind shopper as we stood outside a local grocery store. Our Scouts were keeping a close tally on what varieties we had run out of, and when shoppers asked what we had, they'd recite, &quot;We're out of Trefoils, we're out of Do-Si-Dos ...&quot; before finally getting to the many varieties of cookies we still had for sale.</p> <p>&quot;Hey, girls,&quot; our shopper said, getting out his wallet. &quot;Lead with what you have, not what you don't have.&quot;</p> <h2>4. Be Persistent</h2> <p>The Girl Scouts have come up with a great way to counter excuses like, &quot;I don't eat sweets&quot; or &quot;I already bought cookies.&quot; It's called a <a target="_blank" href="http://girlscoutsla.org/pages/product_sales/goc1.html">Gift of Caring</a>, and it means that you can pay for a box of cookies to be donated to a food pantry or military unit &mdash; with a percentage going to the troop just like with a regular sale. It takes some moxie for little girls to hear &quot;no&quot; and come back with, &quot;You could give a Gift of Caring instead!&quot; but I have seen it pay off again and again.</p> <h2>5. Don't Save All Your Accounting for the Last Minute</h2> <p>The Girl Scouts wisely break up their cookie season into bite-sized chunks, asking troops to make deposits throughout the season so that they don't find themselves at the end of the sales period owing thousands that they haven't collected. This would be such a good idea in all our financial planning &mdash; if you need to make a $10,000 tuition payment in September, schedule yourself four quarterly bank deposits of $2,500 each to make sure it's all in order when the time comes.</p> <h2>6. Don't Bite the Hand That Feeds You</h2> <p>Girls Scouts are always supposed to leave a place nicer and cleaner than we find it, but at cookie manager training we were warned to be especially vigilant about this when it comes to selling cookies in public locations. When selling in front of stores, we are admonished not to leave our empty cases lying around or even taking up space in the host business's recycling bin. Most important, if Starbucks is nice enough to let us sell cookies by their front door, we don't stand around drinking coffee or hot cocoa from other shops.</p> <h2>7. Make Every Member of Your Organization Accountable</h2> <p>In our area, every parent in the troop signs a responsibility form acknowledging that they owe every penny of cash for the cookies their daughter takes to sell. Parents who volunteer must be fingerprinted and get a background check from the local police. Every time cookies or money change hands from troop to members and back again, a receipt is issued.</p> <p>This all may seem like overkill until you realize that our little troop is currently in possession of $6,000 in cookies and cash. Scout's honor is great, but when we are talking about thousands of dollars, receipts and fingerprints are great backup.</p> <h2>8. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate</h2> <p>When I first got involved in the cookie sale, I was shocked at how much work is involved for parents, especially when the girls are young. But it all gets done despite the volunteers' jobs, parenting responsibilities, and everything else they have to do. It gets done most easily in troops &mdash; like ours, luckily &mdash; where all the families share the work. If I ever <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-reasons-youre-not-as-happy-as-youd-like-to-be">find myself getting overwhelmed</a>, it's usually because I have not taken time to ask the other parents if they could take over one of the tasks I'm juggling.</p> <h2>9. Remember the Big Picture</h2> <p>When I get home from spending three hours outdoors with a group of increasingly rambunctious third grade girls and count up how many cookies we sold, I'm tempted to calculate our troop's earnings on a per-hour, per-adult basis. This often amounts to less than minimum wage, which discourages me.</p> <p>However, other Girl Scout parents remind me that there is more to the sale than our troop earnings. There is all the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.girlscouts.org/program/gs_cookies/the_five_skills.asp">great experience our girls are getting</a> with earning the money to fund their own activities. Then there is the fact that money from every box sold goes back to our local council to fund activities for all girls in our region. When I got my summer Girl Scout camp catalog, it laid out the difference between what parents are required to pay and the true cost of providing the camp sessions. Girl Scout Cookie sales <a target="_blank" href="http://www.girlscouts.org/program/gs_cookies/faq.asp">subsidize camps and other great activities</a> that many girls could not afford otherwise.</p> <h2>10. Don't Over-Estimate Sales</h2> <p>If you order more cookies than your troop can sell, you'll be scrambling to avoid literally &quot;eating&quot; the loss. This is a lesson that even a regional Girl Scout council found out when some cookies they returned to the baker &mdash; as allowed in their contract &mdash; turned into a black mark on the Scouts' public image. The baker had <a target="_blank" href="http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57569638/destruction-of-unsold-girl-scout-cookies-sparks-debate-in-california/">unexpired cookies destroyed instead of donated</a>, and the news media had a field day.</p> <h2>11. You Must Understand Opportunity Cost</h2> <p>Once a troop has picked up its initial cookie order, the volunteers involved have the option to order and pick up more cases. Whether to do so requires some guesswork and calculation &mdash; are the potential additional earnings <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-pay-in-time">worth the adult's time</a> and gas to fetch more cookies, and the girls' time to sell them?</p> <p>&quot;I thought about ordering two additional cases for a booth sale because I'm pretty sure we'd sell them,&quot; said Marta Segal Block, a troop cookie manager in Oak Park, Ill., who blogs at <a target="_blank" href="http://advicefrommarta.com/">Advice from Marta</a>. &quot;But really, even if we did that's only $17 or so, so it isn't worth the trouble to order the cases just for that. But, if we had a third booth sale and ordered another 10 cases, then it would seem worth it.&quot;</p> <p><em>Have you ever taken part in a GSA cookie sale or similar fund raising effort? Did you learn any money and sales lessons?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carrie-kirby">Carrie Kirby</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/money-making-lessons-from-the-girl-scouts">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-financially-educate-your-children">How to Financially Educate Your Children</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/47-simple-ways-to-waste-money">47 Simple Ways To Waste Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/12-ways-kids-can-teach-us-about-money">12 Ways Kids Can Teach Us About Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/marketing-messes-with-your-head">Marketing Messes With Your Head</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-places-teens-and-adults-can-learn-about-money">7 Places Teens (and Adults) Can Learn About Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance children and money girl scout cookies marketing sales Tue, 05 Mar 2013 10:30:10 +0000 Carrie Kirby 968126 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Surprising Marketing Tricks You Should Be Aware Of http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-marketing-tricks-you-should-be-aware-of <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-surprising-marketing-tricks-you-should-be-aware-of" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/2378325327_0249dc455d_z.jpg" alt="vitamin water" title="vitamin water" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="164" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As an advertising professional, I get exasperated by the use of deceptive language and product claims that are misleading. From ambiguous wording, to modern examples of snake oil, here are 10 things you should know before spending your hard-earned money.</p> <h3>1. Excedrin &mdash; Many Names, One Product</h3> <p>You&rsquo;ll see this not just with Excedrin, but with a multitude of products in the pharmacy section. Why sell just one product when you can repackage it many different ways and grab more of the market share? In this case, Excedrin Extra Strength, Excedrin Migraine, and Excedrin Menstrual Complete all contain exactly the same ingredients, at the same strengths. Buy one; you&rsquo;ve got them all.</p> <p>By the way, this also goes for Tylenol Simply Sleep, Benadryl, and generic allergy meds. The only difference is the price and the packaging. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/market-clones-how-to-pay-drastically-less-for-pricey-products">Market Clones:&nbsp;How to Pay Drastically&nbsp;Less for Pricey Products</a>)</p> <h3>2. Beware of &quot;Organic&quot; Eggs</h3> <p>As we all try to do our bit to encourage better food production practices, we often spend a little bit more on eggs to ensure they&rsquo;re organic and also cage free. But some of those labels are misleading. <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505123_162-44041791/trouble-in-the-henhouse-the-scam-of-organic-eggs/" target="_blank">In one recent case, the 36,000 hens at Chino Valley Ranchers</a> produced eggs for a variety of different labels, ranging from Walmart&rsquo;s Great Value label to Eggland&rsquo;s Best and Horizon Organic. The same eggs were repackaged and the prices varied depending on package and destination, but not the treatment of the hens.</p> <h3>3. Chocolate and Champagne Diamonds Are Usually Poor-Quality</h3> <p>Here&rsquo;s another example of an <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-greatest-story-ever-sold-is-a-fantasy-covered-in-blood">already scandalous industry</a> trying to make even more money from something that has little worth. It&rsquo;s no secret that the diamond industry hordes diamonds to keep the prices artificially exorbitant. But now, there&rsquo;s a new scam. Although there are genuine brown diamonds out there, the vast majority are dusty, cloudy, <a href="http://jewelrywiseblog.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-chocolate-diamonds/" target="_blank">poor-quality diamonds that have been exposed to radiation, turning them brown.</a> You wouldn&rsquo;t want these &quot;gems&quot; anywhere near your rings and necklaces, but they have been rebranded as &quot;chocolate&quot; or &quot;champagne&quot; and their prices marked up accordingly. Avoid them.</p> <h3>4. Subway's &quot;Cold Cut Combo&quot; Is All Turkey</h3> <p>Strange but true. Even the <a href="http://img68.imageshack.us/img68/3007/subcz7.jpg" target="_blank">Subway menu</a> has it in writing, saying, &quot;The Cold Cut Combo is stacked with turkey-based meats &mdash; ham, salami, and bologna.&quot; Now, call me old-fashioned, but I always thought ham was made from, well, ham. This is not the case at Subway. Salami and bologna, I was willing to accept that they would be a mixture of different meats. But ham? Even the term &quot;Cold Cut Combo&quot; implies a selection of different meats.</p> <h3>5. Jose Cuervo &quot;Especial&quot; Isn&rsquo;t Special</h3> <p>If I sold you a cashmere sweater, and you discovered it was made with 51% cashmere and 49% cotton, how would you feel? If I sold you a diamond necklace, and you later found out only 51% of the diamonds were real, would you be annoyed? <a href="http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=is%20jose%20cuervo%20real%20tequila&amp;source=web&amp;cd=4&amp;cad=rja&amp;ved=0CFcQFjAD&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Feverydaydrinkers.com%2F2012%2F09%2F30%2Fjose-cuervo-especial-is-garbage-here-is-why%2F&amp;ei=DZ4hUa7qMsOEygH_lYCwDw&amp;usg=AFQjCNEEHl5KAfPZ4wCfIOHD7cliKB1APA" target="_blank">Well, this is the same deal with Jose Cuervo Especial</a>. The law states that you can label a drink Tequila if it has at least 51% agave. And Jose Cuervo Especial meets that bare minimum. The rest is fermented from other less expensive sugars. Ironically, it&rsquo;s the most popular brand of Tequila, due to price and some very smart branding. But if you want the real deal, stay away from Especial, and go with their Tradicional and Reserva De La Familia varieties. Better yet, buy a bottle of triple distilled Corralejo Reposado. It&rsquo;s under $50 a bottle and tastes divine.</p> <h3>6. You Cannot Name a Star</h3> <p>It&rsquo;s a nice idea, right? To name a star after a loved one as a birthday present or anniversary gift? And there are plenty of sites out there that will let you name a star for as little as $20. They&rsquo;ll even send you a frameable certificate and a picture of your newly named star.</p> <p><a href="http://www.wired.com/techbiz/media/news/2001/12/49345" target="_blank">Well, it&rsquo;s completely bogus</a>.</p> <p>Those names are not recognized by anyone outside of the company you paid. Only the International Astronomical Union assigns names to stars, and usually they are a long string of numbers containing the precise coordinates of the star. So, if someone gives you a &quot;star&quot; as a gift, you can smile and say thanks, but just know it means absolutely nothing.</p> <h3>7. Certified Angus Beef May Not Be All That</h3> <p>This is another example of <a href="http://amazingribs.com/recipes/beef/zen_of_beef_grades.html">the power of marketing</a>.</p> <p>In 1978, the American Angus Association coined the term &quot;Certified Angus Beef&quot; as a way to promote Angus as a higher quality beef than other cattle breeds. And now it&rsquo;s seen as a label of real quality. But the major control method used to determine this Angus &quot;quality&quot; is that the meat comes from a cow with at least 51% black hide. There are other control methods, too, but many butchers will tell you that you won&rsquo;t be able to taste the difference between regular beef and Certified Angus Beef. If you want quality, look for the <a href="http://www.askthemeatman.com/usda_beef_quality_grades.htm">USDA Prime label.</a> But note, only 2 to 3% of all beef can receive that high grade.</p> <h3>8. Power Balance Bracelets Do Absolutely Nothing</h3> <p>Well, let me rephrase that. They make money for the companies selling them. And they take money from the poor suckers who believe the hype. But other than that, they are just silly pieces of silicone and plastic that do not contain any special powers at all.</p> <p>It&rsquo;s all about the power of suggestion and the placebo affect. If you think you&rsquo;re getting some benefit from one, it&rsquo;s because you think it&rsquo;s working. <a href="http://www.hoopsvibe.com/nba-news-and-rumors/articles/170231-mark-cuban-hates-balance-bracelets" target="_blank">Mark Cuban</a> famously trashed the stock of power balance bracelets in the NBA dressing room. Oh, and the makers settled a $57 million lawsuit because they had to admit the product does not do what it claims. Still, they continue to be sold on sites like Amazon, so please, avoid them.</p> <h3>9. 73% of Doctors Do NOT Recommend 5-Hour Energy</h3> <p>Have you seen the 5-Hour Energy ad that shows a woman sitting next to a massive pile of papers? There are some incredible claims made in that ad, but this is a classic example of the power of words and the way in which they can be manipulated. It would take a long time to explain it all, and other outlets (<a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/timmaurer/2012/10/12/the-5-hour-energy-scam-and-the-power-of-self-deception/" target="_blank">Forbes</a>, <a href="http://www.brandfailure.com/5-hour-energy-commercial/" target="_blank">BrandFailure</a>, <a href="http://blenderlaw.umlaw.net/2012/08/01/misleading-advertising/" target="_blank">BlenderLaw</a>) have dug into the ad in detail. In a nutshell, the ad claims that &quot;73% of doctors who reviewed 5-Hour Energy said they would recommend a low calorie energy supplement to their healthy patients who use energy supplements.&quot; It&rsquo;s garbage. It&rsquo;s deceptive. And it&rsquo;s a lawsuit waiting to happen.</p> <p>Doctors are not recommending this product; they are saying that healthy people who are already taking energy supplements should take a low-calorie version. It&rsquo;s unbelievable that this ad even aired, and as someone who works in advertising, I&rsquo;m ashamed of this kind of misleading rubbish. Not only that, but 5-Hour Energy has been <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/Health/hour-energy-drinks-cited-13-deaths/story?id=17725137" target="_blank">linked to a number of deaths.</a> Having this ad out there, linking it to doctors, is beyond irresponsible.</p> <h3>10. Vitamin Water Should Really Be Called Sugar Water</h3> <p>This is another example of <a href="http://foodfreedomgroup.com/2013/02/04/the-vitamin-water-deception/" target="_blank">blatantly deceptive language</a>&nbsp;in an attempt to cash in on many consumers' desire to eat healthy and stay fit.</p> <p>You&rsquo;d think a product like Vitamin Water would be a healthy one, but once again it is marketing at work. The two main ingredients in the drink are water and fructose. And while the label states there are only 13 grams of sugar, there is deception at work yet again. Why? Because there are 2.5 servings in a bottle of Vitamin Water! That means a bottle contains 32.5 grams of sugar, which puts it up there with most sugary soft drinks. As for the vitamins in the bottle, they are in there, but they&rsquo;re trace amounts of synthetic vitamins. The greater danger here is that because of the deceptive language, people are chugging these bottles of &quot;healthy&quot; water without realizing that they&rsquo;re as <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/22-reasons-to-stop-drinking-soda">bad for them as a bottle of Coke or Pepsi</a>. Even Coca-Cola&rsquo;s lawyers (Coca-Cola produces Vitamin Water) say that it&rsquo;s not a healthy beverage! Don&rsquo;t buy into the hype. Drink water, preferably from the faucet.</p> <p><em>How have you protected your wallet by avoiding misleading marketing or outright scams?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-surprising-marketing-tricks-you-should-be-aware-of">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-getting-charged-by-a-text-message-scam">Are You Getting Charged by a Text Message Scam?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-psychology-of-free-and-its-power-over-you">The Psychology of Free, and Its Power Over You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/unbearably-stupid-packaging">Dumbest packaging ever?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/advertising-jargon-that-aims-to-mislead">Advertising Jargon That Aims to Mislead</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/psychology-and-loans-the-strange-reasons-why-you-make-bad-decisions">Psychology and Loans: The Strange Reasons Why You Make Bad Decisions</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Consumer Affairs avoiding scams false advertising marketing Thu, 21 Feb 2013 11:24:31 +0000 Paul Michael 967940 at http://www.wisebread.com 25 Products You Think You Need, but Really Don’t http://www.wisebread.com/25-products-you-think-you-need-but-really-don-t <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/25-products-you-think-you-need-but-really-don-t" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/4098652750_c217cc9e3b_z.jpg" alt="shopping cart" title="shopping cart" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As someone who has worked in advertising for over 17 years, I can tell you that my industry is responsible for creating an awful lot of need. There are some things in life that we actually do need, like food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and so on.&nbsp;But even within those basic necessities, needs are created for things that do us no good. No one needs Adidas shoes over Nike shoes. No one needs a Big Mac. No one needs a Lexus. And no one needs a theater in their basement. These are wants, created by the ad industry to convince you that you will be unhappy if you don&rsquo;t have them. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-you-need-vs-what-you-want-and-how-to-tell-the-difference">What You Need vs. What You Want, and How to Tell the Difference</a>)</p> <p>As George Carlin once said,&quot;Trying to be happy by accumulating possessions is like trying to satisfy hunger by taping <em>sandwiches</em> all over your body.&quot;</p> <p>So, in an effort to bring a little balance to the shopping world, I present a list of 25 things that advertisers, manufacturers, and retailers insist you need, but actually don&rsquo;t. And, for ease of browsing, I&rsquo;ve split it into categories. Let&rsquo;s start with the multi-billion dollar cosmetics industry.</p> <h2>Cosmetics</h2> <p>Where would the beauty industry be if not for its skill at manufacturing desire?</p> <p><strong>1. Aftershave</strong></p> <p>I shave once or twice a week. And when I do, I rarely splash on aftershave. The reason you are told you need it is to close your pores, but they&rsquo;ll do that on their own with a splash of cold water. Aftershave has one purpose, and that&rsquo;s to make you smell nice. If that&rsquo;s what you want, buy it for that. But you don&rsquo;t actually <em>need</em> it.</p> <p><strong>2. Body Scrub</strong></p> <p>Those fancy scrubs filled with crushed peach pits or other granules are not required at all. A simple washcloth or loofah will do the job just as well.</p> <p><strong>3. Leave-In Conditioners</strong></p> <p>They promise silky-soft hair, but in actuality they can coat the hair in fragrances and other ingredients that can build up over time, making your hair look and feel worse. And you&rsquo;ll buy more leave-in conditioner to combat it!</p> <p><strong>4. Cellulite Creams</strong></p> <p>It&rsquo;s snake oil. It&rsquo;s silly. It&rsquo;s nonsense. Nothing you can buy in a bottle or tub will get rid of cellulite for you, so don&rsquo;t go out and buy it. Seriously.</p> <p><strong>5. Toner</strong></p> <p>In the old days, soaps used to leave a nasty film on your face. They don&rsquo;t any more. So toners are a waste of time and money.</p> <p><strong>6. ChapStick</strong></p> <p>Any lip balm really. Did you know that lip balms contain alcohol? Guess what alcohol does to skin? Dries it. You&rsquo;ll be reapplying your lip balm all day to combat the effects of your lip balm. Lips, 99% of the time, are self moisturizing. So leave them alone.</p> <p><strong>7. Shower Gel</strong></p> <p>Crammed with petroleum by-products and chemicals, shower gel may smell nice but it isn&rsquo;t necessary. Keep it simple. Use a bar of decent soap and a washcloth. And if you're out of soap, water and a good scrub with your washcloth will do the job.</p> <h2>Sports and Fitness</h2> <p>We really do need to get fit and stay fit, but we don't need to spend a lot of money on athletic apparel and fitness supplies.</p> <p><strong>8. A Gym Membership</strong></p> <p><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-going-to-the-gym-is-a-waste-of-money-time-and-resources">You don't need a gym membership to get in shape</a>. Most people don&rsquo;t get anywhere near the use out of them that they should. If you&rsquo;re hell bent on getting fit, save yourself a lot of money and jog, take the stairs, do pushups and sit ups, and find other ways to stay in shape without the need for an expensive monthly fee.</p> <p><strong>9. &quot;Diet&quot; Meals</strong></p> <p>Those low calorie meals are quick and easy, but they are nutritionally lacking what you really need. The process involved in making them &mdash; freezing, defrosting, and so on &mdash; kills flavor and nutrients. Eat a healthy balanced diet and eat smaller portions.</p> <p><strong>10. Exercise Gadgets</strong></p> <p>Ab toners, butt lifters, and all those other fitness inventions prey on your wish to get fit quickly and easily. There&rsquo;s no such solution. They are gimmicks, they never do what you think they will, and you will sell them for a quarter of the price in a yard sale, or let them rot in the basement.</p> <p><strong>11. Fancy Athletic Clothing</strong></p> <p>You&rsquo;ll see people spending a fortune on wicking materials, silver-infused fabrics, breathable name brand clothing, and all sorts of other designer gear. All you need is a pair of sneakers that give good support, a cotton T-shirt, and a pair of socks and shorts. That&rsquo;s it.</p> <p><strong>12. Miracle Pills</strong></p> <p>Don&rsquo;t be fooled by fat burners and &quot;silver bullet&quot; remedies. With a balanced diet and exercise, and a lot of hard work, and you&rsquo;ll get the results you need. Pills just shrink your bank balance.</p> <h2>Baby Stuff</h2> <p>It's easy to fall prey to marketers' come-ons when children are involved.</p> <p><strong>13. Crib Bumpers and Bed Sets</strong></p> <p>They&rsquo;re pretty, cost a lot of money, and will never get used. <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/18/health/no-bumpers-cribs-sids-parenting/index.html">They&rsquo;re also unsafe</a> and shouldn&rsquo;t be in the crib. Don't bother.</p> <p><strong>14. Wipe Warmers</strong></p> <p>You can warm wipes in the palm of your hand for a few seconds if you want, but honestly, babies really don&rsquo;t need them.</p> <p><strong>15. A High Chair</strong></p> <p>These things are bulky and end up in the basement or garage. Buy a strap-in booster seat to use with your regular chairs. And when you don&rsquo;t need it, you can store it in the corner and still have full use of the dining set.</p> <p><strong>16. Baby Monitors</strong></p> <p>Unless you live in a Bill Gates style mansion or have a hearing issue, there&rsquo;s really no need to buy a baby monitor. As a parent of three, with one still under a year, I can tell you that whenever my youngest cries, my wife and I both hear it. Sure, we bought a monitor, like &quot;good parents&quot; do. But we don&rsquo;t use it any more. The interference was more annoying than anything else, and we have never, ever slept through our infant's crying. As these things can set you back several hundred dollars, you should really save your money.</p> <p><strong>17. Walkers</strong></p> <p>Think about this &mdash; we have been walking for centuries, and we didn&rsquo;t need walkers to assist us. Babies will pull up on furniture, your leg, anything they can find, and will figure out walking on their own. You can help, using your hands to guide them. Walkers are fun, but not necessary.</p> <p><strong>18. Changing Pad</strong></p> <p>At about $30, they&rsquo;re not that expensive, but you don&rsquo;t need one. A lot of moms I know create them using folded towels or blankets.</p> <h2>Household Items</h2> <p>Look around your house. There are lots of opportunities to reuse and repurpose instead of buying chore specific products.</p> <p><strong>19. Washing Machine Cleaners</strong></p> <p>First, they sell you the latest, greatest way to wash your clothes. Then you find out the new washer needs regular cleaning, too, with expensive packaged cleaners. Don&rsquo;t bother with them. Just add two cups of white vinegar into the drum and run a regular cycle.</p> <p><strong>20. Silver Jewelry Polish</strong></p> <p>Want to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-clean-silver-naturally">brighten those valuables</a>? Mix a little toothpaste with baking soda, scrub with a toothbrush, then rinse with warm water and buff with a dry cloth.</p> <p><strong>21. Cord Organizers</strong></p> <p>As our lives get more cluttered with gadgets, they also become filled with cords and wires. Don&rsquo;t buy fancy cord organizers. A simple toilet paper tube will do the job. If you cover it in black tape, it won't look like a toilet paper tube, either.</p> <p><strong>22. Paint Remover for Hands and Skin</strong></p> <p>You&rsquo;ll see a lot of products offering great solutions to the painted hands problem. But it&rsquo;s not such a problem at all. A dab of olive oil will remove the stains just as well.</p> <p><strong>23. Hard Water Stain Remover</strong></p> <p>Products like CLR will do that job, but for a price. You can do it with products you already have at home. Combine a teaspoon of vinegar with two tablespoons of salt, and mix into a paste. Then, scrub it in, and watch those hard water stains disappear.</p> <p><strong>24. Drain Uncloggers</strong></p> <p>When you buy these, you really do pour good money down the drain. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-really-easy-ways-to-unclog-drains">Baking soda is your friend here</a>&nbsp;&mdash; just pour a 1/2 cup down and watch it go to work. If it needs a little help, a wire coat hanger can help.</p> <p><strong>25. Dryer Sheets</strong></p> <p>A little dab of fabric softener on a hand towel will actually do the same job. The towel is reusable, and fabric softener is way cheaper than dryer sheets.</p> <p><em>Now, over to you. What have you discovered you can pass on, or substitute with something far cheaper?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/paul-michael">Paul Michael</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-products-you-think-you-need-but-really-don-t">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-10"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-many-reasons-to-make-do-with-less">The Many Reasons to Make Do with Less</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/choosing-the-wrong-color-can-cost-you-big-on-these-purchases">Choosing the Wrong Color Can Cost You Big on These Purchases</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-do-a-spending-fast-in-16-easy-steps">How to Do a Spending Fast in 16 (Easy!) Steps</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/if-budgeting-isnt-fun-youre-doing-it-wrong">If Budgeting Isn&#039;t Fun, You&#039;re Doing It Wrong</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/why-invest-in-the-stock-market">Why invest in the stock market?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping marketing needs wants Thu, 07 Feb 2013 11:36:34 +0000 Paul Michael 967534 at http://www.wisebread.com Orange Makes You Buy More (and Other Sneaky Store Smell Tricks) http://www.wisebread.com/orange-makes-you-buy-more-and-other-sneaky-store-smell-tricks <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/orange-makes-you-buy-more-and-other-sneaky-store-smell-tricks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/485145205_8ed939c375_z.jpg" alt="store smells" title="store smells" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>As any realtor will tell you, the smell of fresh-baked cookies or warm bread are enough to inspire warm feelings of home. But are these yummy smells enough to get people to buy more while out shopping? (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/advertising-jargon-that-aims-to-mislead">Advertising Jargon That Aims to Mislead</a>)</p> <p>While television commercials don't yet have smell-o-vision to encourage viewers to buy products, physical stores can easily pump in manufactured smells to try to get people to spend more money.</p> <p>The trick works.</p> <p>A study by Nike found that adding scents to their stores increased intent to purchase by 80%, according to a story in <a target="_blank" href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/advertising/the-smell-of-commerce-how-companies-use-scents-to-sell-their-products-2338142.html">The Independent</a>, a UK newspaper.</p> <p>A Net Cost supermarket in Brooklyn, N.Y., was using machines to <a target="_blank" href="http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-500202_162-20080320.html">fill the air</a> with the smell of chocolate in the candy aisle, the smell of grapefruit in the produce section, and the smell of rosemary focaccia by the bakery.</p> <p>But why not just give customers a chocolate chip cookie to get them to buy more? Smell machines are cheaper, for one thing, and smell is more subtle than putting something in your face such as a cookie or playing loud music to get you to shop faster.</p> <h3>Strong Sales From Simple Scents</h3> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2012-11/wsu-slc112112.php">Researchers</a> at Washington State University College of Business and in Switzerland found that a simple scent works best to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-shopping-jedi-mind-tricks-and-how-to-spot-them">entice shoppers</a>. Writing in the Journal of Retailing, researchers noted that uncomplicated scents such as that of an <a target="_blank" href="http://www.treehugger.com/culture/beware-scent-orange-when-shopping.html">orange</a> had the most effect on increasing shopping.</p> <p>A simple smell is more easily processed, they found, which frees the customer's mind to focus on shopping.</p> <h3>Where the Nose Goes, the Wallet Soon Follows</h3> <p>Scents are often released at a store's entrance to attract people inside, which is one reason why perfume counters are often at the front of department stores.</p> <p>As Paco Underhill, a New York author of the book &quot;Why We Buy,&quot; told me in an interview two years ago, the smell of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.dailyfinance.com/blog/2010/04/20/sneaky-department-store-tricks-that-get-you-to-spend-more/">perfume</a> is intended to get shoppers to buy in that area and throughout the store.</p> <p>&quot;That, in part, gets our saliva glands developing, and when we are salivating we are much less disciplined shoppers,&quot; Underhill said.</p> <h3>But a Little Goes a Long Way</h3> <p>If you've ever been doused by a perfume sampler in a store, you know how offensive some perfumes can be and how the smell can do anything but get you to buy more.</p> <p><a target="_blank" href="http://www.kometcommunications.com/">Leslie Komet Ausbum</a>, a marketing expert, says she avoids Abercrombie stores because of what she calls the &quot;noxious levels of cologne they have in the store,&quot; that sets off her daughter's asthma, and the &quot;horrifically loud music&quot; there.</p> <p>Other smells can backfire, too. Milk and cookies go together, but they didn't go so well in San Francisco in 2009 in the &quot;Got Milk?&quot; ad campaign. <a target="_blank" href="http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-205_162-2233121.html">Cookie-scented</a> cardboard strips were installed in bus stop shelters to encourage people to buy milk, but they were quickly removed after complaints. Among the complaints were that the ads could be offensive to poor and homeless people who couldn't afford sweet treats.</p> <p>Other bus shelter ads with smells, however, have been successful. The smell of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.daleair.com/index.php?route=information/information&amp;information_id=7">baked potatoes</a> was a hit in the UK, a spokesperson for Dale Air, an aroma business there, told me in an email interview. The company has also done interactive bus stop advertisements for cake and coffee businesses.</p> <p>Supermarkets that Dale Air has worked with have seen sales increase by pumping out the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/better-brewing-12-ways-to-make-coffee-at-home">fresh smell of coffee</a> in the morning and then a crusty bread or cake smell in the afternoon.</p> <p>Still unconvinced of the power of smell to motivate a response? Try baking a cake or a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-cooking-breakfast-cookies-for-the-life-hacker-on-the-go">batch of cookies</a> and time how quickly your family leaps off the couch and into the kitchen. Then let us know the results of your experiment!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/aaron-crowe">Aaron Crowe</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/orange-makes-you-buy-more-and-other-sneaky-store-smell-tricks">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-11"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/25-products-you-think-you-need-but-really-don-t">25 Products You Think You Need, but Really Don’t</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/choosing-the-wrong-color-can-cost-you-big-on-these-purchases">Choosing the Wrong Color Can Cost You Big on These Purchases</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/marketing-messes-with-your-head">Marketing Messes With Your Head</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/unbearably-stupid-packaging">Dumbest packaging ever?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/advertising-jargon-that-aims-to-mislead">Advertising Jargon That Aims to Mislead</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Shopping brain hacks marketing smell Mon, 07 Jan 2013 10:48:37 +0000 Aaron Crowe 959794 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Easy-to-Fix Cover Letter Mistakes http://www.wisebread.com/10-easy-to-fix-cover-letter-mistakes <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-easy-to-fix-cover-letter-mistakes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/6829342681_350c3702d0_z.jpg" alt="writing cover letter" title="writing cover letter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="188" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I have yet to meet a job hunter who doesn't dread writing cover letters. They're time-consuming and tedious, and unfortunately, they're unavoidable. It's easy to break cover letter etiquette if you're not careful. Those errors can cost you the job, so check out some common mistakes to be sure you're playing by the most important rules.</p> <p><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Job-Hunting-Tips-26217369">RELATED: The Best Job Hunting Tips of the Year</a></p> <h3>Failing to Emphasize the Company</h3> <p>Explain not what the company can do for you, it's what you can do for the company. Cover letters are often &quot;I&quot; filled proclamations of a candidate's attributes and fail to connect how their skills could benefit the employer.</p> <h3>Duplicating What's on the Resume</h3> <p>A cover letter is supposed to say everything you don't have room for on your resume and is the place to highlight certain relevant accomplishments. If your cover letter and resume are barely distinguishable, it's a sign that you might not have enough to offer.</p> <h3>Forgetting to Include Contact Information</h3> <p>Your contact information is one detail you should duplicate on both your resume and cover letter. If the two get separated, the hiring manager will know how to contact the person that wrote such a compelling cover letter.</p> <h3>Leading With a Blah Intro</h3> <p>Recent college graduates often make the mistake of mentioning their new degree in the first line of their cover letters. By doing this, you're suggesting that your educational background is the best thing you have to offer. All applicants, new grads or not, should come up with an attention-grabbing introductory line.</p> <h3>Skipping the Extra Mile</h3> <p>At all costs, avoid addressing your cover letter with &quot;To Whom It May Concern.&quot; It's stuffy and shows that you didn't take the extra step to find the appropriate name. Sometimes all it takes is a call to the company's receptionist or an Internet search may do.</p> <h3>Making It Too Long or Too Short</h3> <p>Limit yourself to a maximum four paragraphs. Use the first paragraph to introduce yourself and the position you're applying for, then mention applicable skills and specific achievements while demonstrating your knowledge of the company, further explain your suitability if your resume can't say it all (like if you're changing careers), and sign off politely letting them know you'll be in touch.</p> <h3>Sending Out a General Letter</h3> <p>One big sign that an applicant hasn't taken the time to customize the cover letter: when the company name is incorrect. Seriously, it happens all the time. Prevent this embarrassing mistake by taking the time to edit each letter to fit every position you're applying for.</p> <h3>Including Personal Details</h3> <p>Your cover letter is no place for details like your age and marital status, or gender and religion for that matter, unless these details are somehow relevant to the position.</p> <h3>Playing It Too Cool or Being Too Stuffy</h3> <p>Your goal is to make the cover letter conversational while maintaining a professional vibe. The goal is to entice the employer to call you for an interview, and they're not necessarily going to want to meet someone who seems too stiff. At the same time, a letter that's too casual might suggest you're not serious about the job. Aim for somewhere in between.</p> <h3>Submitting a Sloppy Letter</h3> <p>You're better than sending off a letter that's full of typos and grammatical errors. But so many people aren't patient enough to proofread their work and end up submitting sloppy cover letters. An employer will recognize this as carelessness and pass you over for someone who took the time.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blog-teaser"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> If you&#039;re not getting called in for job interviews, the problem could be your cover letter. Make sure it&#039;s up to snuff by avoiding these mistakes. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-guestpost-blurb"> <div class="field-label">Guest Post Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p style="text-align: center;"><a style="border: medium none;" href="http://www.savvysugar.com"><img alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u4/savvysugar-300-small.jpg" /></a></p> <p><em>This is a guest contribution from our friends at </em><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/"><em>SavvySugar</em></a><em>. Check out more useful articles from this partner:</em></p> <ul> <li><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/7-Job-Hunting-Sins-Avoid-5657179">7 Job Hunting Sins to Avoid</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/What-Name-Your-Resume-Cover-Letter-26126164">What to Name Your Resume and Cover Letter</a></li> <li><a href="http://www.savvysugar.com/Interview-Preparation-Tips-Time-Line-20892485">10 Essential Steps to Take Before a&nbsp;Job Interview</a></li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/popsugar-smart-living">POPSUGAR Smart Living</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-easy-to-fix-cover-letter-mistakes">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-12"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/stupid-things-to-put-in-your-cover-letter">Stupid Things to Put in Your Cover Letter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-dumb-things-employment-recruiters-see-people-do">6 Dumb Things Employment Recruiters See People Do</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-start-off-your-cover-letter-right">How to Start Off Your Cover Letter Right</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-avoid-getting-hired">How to Avoid Getting Hired</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-not-to-wear-to-a-job-interview">What Not to Wear to a Job Interview</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Job Hunting common job search mistakes cover letters marketing Fri, 21 Dec 2012 10:48:08 +0000 POPSUGAR Smart Living 959891 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Simple Ways Small Business Can Maximize Twitter http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/3-simple-ways-small-business-can-maximize-twitter <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/3-ways-small-businesses-can-maximize-twitter" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/3-ways-small-businesses-can-maximize-twitter</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/3-simple-ways-small-business-can-maximize-twitter" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000018064981Small.jpg" alt="Woman at laptop" title="Woman at laptop" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>By now you've probably read, &quot;Your business needs to be on <a href="http://twitter.com/" target="_blank">Twitter</a>!&quot; in one small business marketing publication or another. But you may be asking yourself, &quot;How will Twitter help me improve my local small business?&quot;</p> <p>When we think of Twitter, we often think of celebrities, the media, and businesses with a national brand (and national customers). And Twitter probably makes sense to you in those instances.</p> <p>But maybe you're wondering how a local caterer, landscaper, or accounting firm can <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/money/article/75-top-twitter-tips-from-todays-small-business-moms-1" target="_blank">use Twitter to increase business</a> and referrals on a local level.</p> <p><b>1. Build Relationships First, Business Second</b></p> <p>Remember that Twitter is best used as a networking tool (and later a referral tool) for locally based businesses&mdash;not a sales pitch tool. You wouldn't walk into your local Chamber of Commerce meeting shouting your latest special over and over again every time someone walked up to you and said hello. And you shouldn't do it on Twitter either. Now that's not saying that you should never mention your business, but it shouldn't be more than a single digit percentage of your tweets.</p> <p>The point of Twitter is to network and create relationships like you would in real life. As a small business owner, creating real relationships through Twitter will often lead to more referrals and potential business than tweeting your latest special ever could.</p> <p>Need an example? Someone who follows <a href="http://twitter.com/sugarrae" target="_blank">me</a> on Twitter began conversing with me about a movie we both liked after I tweeted about it. We later found out that we also had a love of football in common. After multiple times of conversing back and forth, I ended up following the person back. Occasionally this person made mention that they owned a local fitness studio. About three months ago, a person I know in that locale tweeted saying they needed to get in shape. I tweeted back that so and so had a fitness studio where they lived and they should check it out. They did and ended up purchasing a membership.</p> <p>That's the potential for business generation and referral power by creating real relationships on Twitter.</p> <p><b>2. Make Local Connections</b></p> <p>So now that you know how Twitter can help you generate business and referrals, how do you find your local community on Twitter? A site called <a href="http://tweet.grader.com/" target="_blank">Twitter Grader</a> has made it a pretty easy process.</p> <p>If you're in a big metro locale, you'll likely find your city in the &quot;<a href="http://tweet.grader.com/top/cities" target="_blank">top cities</a>&quot; list. Let's say you live in San Diego. Click on San Diego from the top cities list and you'll quickly be given a list of the <a href="http://tweet.grader.com/location/?Location=San+Diego%2C+CA%2C+United+States" target="_blank">top 50 Twitter users</a> listing San Diego as their location in the Twitter bio.</p> <p>But what if you don't live in one of the &quot;top cities&quot; cited on Twitter Grader? Never fear. You can click on any top city link and find the locals in your area by performing a new search at the top of that page for your own location. Say you're on the San Diego page. Simply change out the &quot;San Diego, CA, United States&quot; in the search box at the top of the page with &quot;Your City, Your State, Your Country&quot; and click &quot;Go&quot; and you'll be presented with a listing of the top users in that city.</p> <p>Look at the bios of the users in your city and check out what they're tweeting about. Follow those you think you can find something in common with and/or that you'd be interested in learning more about.</p> <p>Remember that your goal is not to advertise your services to these people but rather to form local connections much like you would at a Chamber of Commerce meeting. I typically tell people to follow those you'd be interested in having coffee with if Twitter were &quot;real life&quot;.</p> <p>You can repeat this process for every city you can think of that your local business serves.</p> <p><b>3. Find Media Contacts</b></p> <p>Twitter is not only great for creating a referral network, but it can also be a great tool for gaining traditional media exposure for your business. Thousands upon thousands of journalists use Twitter. Much like you can seek out your local community on Twitter, you can also seek out the media that are local to you and/or specific to your niche as well. And a site named <a href="http://muckrack.com/" target="_blank">MuckRack</a> makes it incredibly easy.</p> <p>MuckRack tracks the accounts of thousands of journalists on Twitter and various other social media networks. You can view their <a href="http://muckrack.com/publications" target="_blank">publications list</a> to find the Twitter accounts of all the reporters at specific publications such as <a href="http://muckrack.com/directory/charlotteobserver">The Charlotte Observer</a>.</p> <p>The <a href="http://muckrack.com/plans" target="_blank">paid version of MuckRack</a> also allows you to search by &quot;beats&quot; and topics to help you find reporters specific to your niche. While the pricing (starting at $99 per month) may be a bit hefty for many small business budgets, there is no minimum term or contract. So you can always sign up for one month and get as much &quot;advanced information&quot; as you can during that time.</p> <p>As with making local contacts, the point of identifying these journalists is to attempt to create relationships with them and get on their radar long before you have a story idea to pitch or potentially offer up your expertise for their latest story.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/rae-hoffman-dolan">Rae Hoffman-Dolan</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/3-simple-ways-small-business-can-maximize-twitter">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-13"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/13-ways-to-use-social-media-in-business">13 Ways to Use Social Media in Business</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/social-media-an-easy-source-of-coupons">Social Media: An Easy Source of Coupons</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-someone-to-accept-your-linkedin-invitation">How to Get Someone to Accept Your LinkedIn Invitation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-everybody-ought-to-know-about-twitter">What Everybody Ought to Know About Twitter</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/social-media-and-identity-theft-in-2010">Social Media and Identity Theft in 2010</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center marketing networking small business social media twitter twitter strategy Thu, 05 Jan 2012 18:23:29 +0000 Rae Hoffman-Dolan 844412 at http://www.wisebread.com Why Brand Image Is Important to the Tiniest of Businesses http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/why-brand-image-is-important-to-the-tiniest-of-businesses <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/why-brand-image-is-important-to-the-tiniest-of-businesses" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/why-brand-image-is-important-to-the-tiniest-of...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/why-brand-image-is-important-to-the-tiniest-of-businesses" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000018257225Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="170" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>A few months ago, a promising independently-run business shut its doors within a couple of years of startup. Though I enjoyed its product offerings, I had a hunch that it would not survive, not because of operational mismanagement or sloppy customer service but lack of a well-defined and relentlessly-communicated personality or brand.Though some happily embrace and <a href="http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/how-to-become-a-premier-local-brand-1" target="_blank">effectively use branding to differentiate their businesses</a>, many entrepreneurs are unconvinced of its value. Some rationalize that branding is counterproductive to a small business, especially a tiny one.</p> <p>Skeptics may think that narrowly defining a target audience and its ideal customer <i>limits</i> revenue and growth possibilities. Reluctant owners might wonder if spending time and allocating resources to developing and managing a branded presence <i>detracts</i> from profitability. However, conveying an image that is in sync with a viable brand strategy can not only help even the tiniest of companies but can be a major driver of its success.</p> <p>Branding touches and intersects with all aspects of a business: marketing, operations, sales, and more. Consider how effective integration and consistent portrayal of a brand image can benefit your business:</p> <p><b>Your ideal customers will recognize that they are being wooed. </b></p> <p>The small shop aimed to please a variety of people, primarily those within a ten-mile radius. These seemed to represent an appropriate target audience, homogeneous on a superficial level. But their lifestyles and consuming habits were wildly divergent, increasing the difficulty of winning favor among various segments.</p> <p>Nevertheless, in its seedling form, the brand held promise of reaching this audience with its similarities in demographics despite dissimilarities in consumer behavior. However, the branding concept was minimally developed and focused on product offerings and an occasional special event. Infrequent mentions of the brand message were contained in its website, in-store signage, social-media messaging, and face-to-face conversations.</p> <p>All aspects of the brand image should resonate with your target audience, letting them know how their quality of life could benefit from connecting with your business. Ideal customers should understand and want the emotional connection and tangible benefits that differentiates your company from competitors.</p> <p><b>Your customers will know what to expect from your products and services. </b></p> <p>The types of products and services offered, along with their respective price tags, are influenced by the brand strategy. In the case of the failed small business, the primary message was generally consistent in terms of purchasing; that is, items procured for the business roughly matched brand criteria.</p> <p>The message that needed more clarity, however, was how these disparate items were part of a more cohesive whole from the customer&rsquo;s point of view. Unless they evaluated the business premise and, frankly, stretched their imaginations, most would not see the connections among boutique-style offerings and seemingly basic items and folksy product lines.</p> <p>More intentional messaging with greater frequency could have better portrayed the brand image and helped endear the customer to the business and its unusual assortment of offerings.</p> <p><b>Customers will know who to tell and what to say about your business. </b></p> <p>Customers spread the word about the tiny business, telling others about its presence and encouraging visits. But, other than espousing the convenience of its location, they really didn&rsquo;t know what unique benefits to promote or what points of distinction to emphasize. Initial interest was high, but then traffic seemed to flounder.</p> <p>Given a clear brand message, both newly enchanted and long-time customers will know who to tell about your business and what they should say. They will intuitively insert the salient features and benefits of your products and services in conversations with friends, family members, professional colleagues, etc.</p> <p><b>You will know what to say in social-media and face-to-face conversations.</b></p> <p>The shop owner shared information that was useful but not relevant to the ideal customer. Over time, social-media messages, marketing campaigns, and face-to-face conversations became more and more disassociated from the original brand image. Promotional efforts and conversations began to resemble those of area competitors, further eroding the possibility of brand loyalty.</p> <p>Endless possibilities for engaging audiences, educating customers, promoting key products, and showcasing special events through social media and daily interactions can overwhelm many business owners. But a brand strategy can serve to shape and channel this content so that the image is accurately conveyed and continually reinforced.</p> <p><b>You can charge prices that support business profitability. </b></p> <p>The lack of a narrowly-defined brand image caused price issues for the fledgling business. Pricing strategy seemed inconsistent as some items were bargains while others were marked up considerably. Worse, while some customers understood the benefits of premium products and unquestioningly paid store prices, many were confused about their value and were resistant to pricing.</p> <p>Owners of the tiniest companies find that a properly expressed brand can not only reach target audiences, set expectations, and streamline business decision-making, but also help the business command desired pricing. Ideal customers understand, appreciate, and are willing to pay for unique expertise, specialized services, distinctive products, and one-of-a-kind experiences.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/julie-rains">Julie Rains</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/why-brand-image-is-important-to-the-tiniest-of-businesses">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-14"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-freelance-clients-part-two">How to Find Freelance Clients: Part Two</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store">4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-improve-your-work-reputation">7 Ways to Improve Your Work Reputation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center brand brandning communication image marketing small business Wed, 28 Dec 2011 22:18:56 +0000 Julie Rains 835744 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Steps to Building More Buzz About Your Business http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/3-steps-to-building-more-buzz-about-your-business <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/3-steps-to-generating-more-buzz-about-your-business" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/articles/3-steps-to-generating-more-buzz-about-your-bus...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/3-steps-to-building-more-buzz-about-your-business" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000018392180Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>You can't control whether or not people talk about your business.</p> <p>Or can you?</p> <p>Do some businesses simply get lucky and enjoy an abundance of word-of-mouth buzz? Or do they make decisions and take actions that generate buzz?</p> <p>I believe that you can actually control how much buzz your business generates by addressing a few simple&mdash;but crucial&mdash;issues. In fact, there are three primary &quot;buzz problems&quot; that every business needs to address.</p> <p><b>1. A buzz-worthy business must know what it does.</b></p> <p>It is surprisingly common for businesses to not have one clear goal and approach. Here's how it often happens: business owners have one good idea (the thing that will make them money), but then they have a few decent ideas as well (things they like, but that won't really fly off the shelves).</p> <p>Because business owners believe in their ideas, they end up running with all of them. They justify this decision by telling themselves that they are now offering a range of products for different consumers and that they are supplying additional features and creating added benefit and value for the customer.</p> <p>The problem is that adding options usually confuses potential customers rather than exciting them. It's not just about product features, however. It's about losing the core idea behind your business. With so many options, it becomes difficult to be known for any one thing. And if your business isn't known for something, then people won't talk about your business.</p> <p>Journalists call this &quot;burying the lead.&quot; The lead is the number one thing that the writer wants the reader to get out of the story. If you don't read anything past the first line or two, you should know the most important part of the story. And if you don&rsquo;t? The journalist has buried the lead deeper in the story.</p> <p>Do customers quickly grasp the most important part of your story? Or do they see multiple options? There can only be one lead. Don't bury the thing that makes you noteworthy&mdash;your lead story&mdash; just because you don't want to leave your second-best idea on the sidelines.</p> <p><b>2. A buzz-worthy business must have an interesting business model or approach.</b></p> <p>If you want to generate more buzz for your business, then you need to <a href="http://www.openforum.com/articles/easter-eggs-arent-only-for-easter" target="_blank">do business in an interesting way</a>. This isn't about finding an interesting business idea or choosing a &quot;sexy&quot; industry to do business in; it's about making your business unique. In other words, it's about making your business noteworthy.</p> <p>For example, let's say that you run a local pastry shop. You make birthday cakes, wedding cakes, and so on. There's just one problem... no one is really talking about your pastry shop. Why? Because every other pastry shop in town does the same thing as you.</p> <p>You need to make your business stand out and be worthy of remark. Maybe you eliminate everything except your best-selling carrot cakes. Maybe you deliver your cakes in a cake-shaped van. Maybe you focus solely on baby showers and target all of your cakes towards that market.</p> <p>The point is, baking cakes isn't a new or sexy industry, but you can <i>make</i> it interesting and buzz worthy. People will talk about &quot;the baby shower bakery&quot; or &quot;the carrot cake place&quot; or &quot;that weird cake car,&quot; but just another pastry shop doesn't really stand out on its own.</p> <p><b>3. A buzz-worthy business must create stories.</b></p> <p>In December 1999, the town of Halfway, Oregon renamed itself &ldquo;<a href="http://half.com/" target="_blank">Half.com</a>, Oregon&rdquo;. As you might expect, the name change occurred because of financial backing provided by Half.com ($100,000 and some computers).</p> <p>At the time, Half.com was a budding Internet startup and was looking for a way to generate buzz. The move paid off and Half.com found itself mentioned in the <i>New York Times</i>, <i>WIRED</i>, and dozens of other mainstream media outlets. Less than a year later, eBay bought Half.com for $312.8 million. It's an interesting story, but the story-behind-the-story is even better.</p> <p>At the time, Half.com's VP of Marketing was a man named Mark Hughes. A few years later, Hughes wrote a book called <em>Buzzmarketing</em>. In his book, he outlines six principles that he used at Half.com to generate buzz for the business.</p> <p><b>Six Buttons of Buzz</b></p> <ol> <li>The taboo&mdash;sex, lies, and bathroom humor</li> <li>The unusual</li> <li>The outrageous</li> <li>The hilarious</li> <li>The remarkable</li> <li>The secret&mdash;both revealed and unrevealed</li> </ol> <p>If money is tight and you're looking to generate word-of-mouth buzz about your business, then use these six buttons of buzz to create a story. As long as you have taken the time to address the first two points above&mdash;Don&rsquo;t Bury the Lead and Be Interesting&mdash;then you'll have a business worth talking about once the story hits.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/james-clear">James Clear</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/3-steps-to-building-more-buzz-about-your-business">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-15"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-freelance-clients-part-two">How to Find Freelance Clients: Part Two</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store">4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-5-best-credit-cards-for-small-businesses">The 5 Best Credit Cards for Small Businesses</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-all-successful-freelancers-do">10 Things All Successful Freelancers Do</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Small Business Resource Center buzz marketing half.com marketing small business Sat, 24 Dec 2011 00:07:43 +0000 James Clear 835752 at http://www.wisebread.com