Starting a Home Business – How to Write a Business Plan That Guides Your Success!

Writing a business plan isn’t optional just because you consider this simply a home business. You are a small business owner. A written business plan is required to secure finances or investors in your new home business. Starting a home business with your own funds and ideas doesn’t mean you don’t need a business plan.

A written business plan is critical to every home business. The thought process and research involved in writing your business plan will reveal the blue print for your home business.

There are numerous paid and free business plan products that you can use to develop your own home business plan. Unless you are seeking investors in your small business, you can learn how to write a business plan that keeps your business working toward your goals. To have a well written small business plan, you will find your goals easier to reach and keep track of your progress both with building your customer base and sales.

Starting a home business without a writing a well thought out business plan is like building a house without a blue print to guide you every step of the way.

Your home business foundation built on these eight areas will give your business a strong identity and focused sense of direction to help you plan and manage your business effectively.

#1) Business Summary.

Write out a description of your business. What kind of company do you want to build? A well written description or summary of your business often propels you through each step of how to write a business plan. Writing the summary first means you will always have the basic premise of your home business idea at the top of everything you put in your business plan.

#2) Name Your Business.

You may think that your direct sales business already has a company name but that is not the name of YOUR business. Creating a distinct name for your business will help make your plan. Does your business name reflect what you offer? Is it easy to remember? Does it have strong branding potential? Should you reconsider your current business name if it not working with your product? Make sure the name of your business fits not only your product or services but your mission statement.

#3) Itemize Your Products or Services.

Write out descriptions of your products; how do they look, smell, taste, feel or how your services will help others reach their own goals in life. How will your offerings improve the lives of others? Sort through why others aren’t already doing it and if they are offering exactly what you are going to offer then what prevents the competition from doing it better or more cheaply than you are.

#4) Mission Statement.

Your mission statement is a concise clear summary of the goals of your business. In your mission statement, you will define exactly what your business does, the products or services offered and what makes your business unique above the competition. Writing the bottom line of your business goals into your mission statement will guide the rest of your business plan.

#5) Business Assessment.

A major portion of your home business plan is a detailed assessment of four areas: your strengths, your weaknesses or limitations, business and marketing opportunities and threats or barriers to your potential success. At this stage of your business plan, you will be looking at your industry. Your work experience and talents that will add to your business would fall under your list of strengths. Your lack of knowledge or funds could be listed as your weaknesses. Take into account how broad your industry is when you are looking at your strengths and weaknesses. If you have little money for start up then you will need to be creative in your marketing and running your business. Will your weaknesses mean your opportunities for success are limited? Will your talent surpass your lack of funds?

Opportunities for business growth may be dependent on your networking contacts or website design. Every business owner should remain wary of all threats to business success. Planning for problems before they arise will make running a business easier and more successful in the long run. As you can see this aspect of business planning is critical to all of your vision, your mission statement, your goal setting and running your home business.

#6) Goal Setting.

Write your vision for your business. Be specific. You can revise this as your goals and mission changes. How do you envision your business a year from now then five years from now? Write out your goals and objectives. Break down each product or service into their own set of goals. Plan for expansion as your business evolves.

Goals are useless unless you can measure your progress towards them and plan to regularly assess which goals have been met or still need to be fulfilled. Make your goals specific and time sensitive. With each business goal, itemize what needs to be in place to reach each of your goals. Outline what steps you will take to reach the goals for your home business. Mark your calendar when its time to re-evaluate your goals and re-align your vision for your business to match the direction your business is going.

Celebrate when you reach your goals and regroup when you realize you missed the mark. It’s important to decide what you consider to be a major loss and what you will accept as unsuccessful. Knowing what you will accept and absorb as a business loss before it happens will help prepare you for when it actually happens.

#7) Target Market.

Research your desired target market. Identify who you expect to buy your products or services. Write a profile of your average customer. You need to know your target before you are able to aim. Study your potential customer’s behavior. Where do they shop? What do they read? Do they move in specific social circles? Who wants or needs your business? Who will benefit from your product? What type of people will find your business a necessity?

You cannot expect to fill a need or desire of a customer if you do not know what makes your offer unique and necessary. Look at those that offer similar products with success. Write out how you can rise above and differentiate yourself from the competition. At this stage of your business plan, describe how you can stand out from the crowd. Write down how and why your company is better than the competition. Study the competitions latest marketing strategies then outline here how you plan to counteract their business moves to give you the edge you need to stay unique and effective.

While studying your customers and competition, take the extra time to identify complementary products or services that may fit your current business plan that may give the edge you need to compete in the future.

#8) Sales and Marketing Strategies.

How will anyone know your business exists? What steps will you take to make your business known? How will your customers find you? What can you do to ensure that you attract the customers you seek? How will you track your efforts? How much money do you have to put these strategies in place?

List your strategies – press release, printed catalogs, business cards, open house, craft fairs, business, conventions, virtual expos, sales letters, etc.

Determine whether you will market exclusively online, locally to your warm market or a combination of both. If online marketing is part of your business plan then include an internet marketing plan to include your domain name and host, whether you will hire a professional website designer or do it yourself, your business logo and e-commerce set up.

#9) Business Start Up.

Determine what equipment and services you will need to run your business to include setting up your home office, equipment, supplies, product inventory, customer record keeping, and book keeping. Create a checklist of professionals you need to secure for legal and financial advice, advertising expertise, office assistance or tax expertise.

Starting a home business can be exciting and scary because it is Your dream that you are working towards with each work day. To write a business plan, means a great deal of commitment to the process. The process of writing a business plan will bring you closer to understanding yourself, your business goals, your company identity and reaching your potential customers.

Although these areas are critical to writing a business plan, there is much more that will be added to your plan over time. Each time you reach a goal or discover a barrier to making the sale ~ you will return to your business plan and revise your goals, strategies and techniques.

Business success is in the plan and implementation but also in the ability to adjust and redefine your business goals to meet your customers need or desire while letting you design your home business your way!

The Ugly Truth: Marketing a Book Is the Author’s Job

If you just published a book and are waiting for it to fly off the book shelf, think again. No one even knows that your book exists, unless of course you happen to be famous. Whether a traditional publishing house publishes your book or you publish you own book, you own responsibility for marketing. No one cares as much about your book as you do. The good news if you published your own book is that once a book hits the market, all authors are equal.

You can control how well your book sells and you should start thinking about marketing several months before publication. While this may seem early and you might not even have finished your book, you can never start too early.

You probably realize that you have to use social networks to increase market potential, but one of the first things you should consider is creating a web site where you can drive visitors. Create a site before you start using the social networks, so that you can promote your book on the social sites. Consider your web site your hub to the world.

What makes marketing so impactful today is that the internet provides you with global reach. No longer do you have to rely on someone walking into a book store to buy your book. As a matter of fact, you probably will not see your book on your local book store’s shelves since each book store decides what stock to carry, even if a traditional publisher published your book. Amazon is one of the most powerful distribution channels today.

Building a web site is not as difficult as it may sound. Many companies exist that offer complete packages including the purchase of a domain name, simple drag-and-drop site builders, and hosting services. What do these terms means?

  • Domain name: you require a domain name so people can find your web site (e.g., Google’s domain name is: www.Google.com, and the white house’s is: www.whitehouse.gov )
  • Site builder: you do not have to know anything about building a web site if you use a drag-and-drop site builder like Weebly, which allows you to drag pre-built components onto a page
  • Hosting service: the company you choose will “host” your site, which means they provide you with physical space on their hardware

Building a web site is the first step to preparing yourself to effectively market your book. Take control of your destiny and focus on marketing. Save your money and do not hire a publicist – you have what you need to market and sell your book.

Copyright 2012 Susan Page

Care Bears History and Facts

The lovable Care Bears were first created by the American Greetings company in the year 1981. They were intended to be used on greeting cards and become very popular to the public. Artist Elena Kucharik was the very first to create the images of our beloved Care Bears and by 1983 they were made into a series of plushy teddy bears popular amongst kids. Later on they were given their own cartoon series that lasted from 1985 to 1988 and then they got three major motion picture cartoon movies called, The Care Bears Movie, Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation, and The Care Bears Adventure in Wonderland.

Each of the Care Bears comes in a different color and they have colorful graphics on their bellies. The Care Bears are able to make magical power beams shoot out from their bellies to help fix a lot of problems. Each of the Care Bears has a different beam that shoots out from their bellies and holds the all of their love and special care. Each Care Bear has a different specialized graphic and a different special care. For example, Bedtime Bear has a sleepy crescent moon on his belly. He is able to send out a beam of special sleepy time care. And Cheer Bear is a happy fellow who can help others feel happier with his beam of cheerful energy.

Even today the Care Bears are popular among the kids. They just love to cuddle with their own special Care Bear. The Care Bears have all kinds of merchandising and entertainment available. You’ll find them in cartoons, books, music, classic Care Bear toys, and video games and even in comic books. They still feature the Care Bears on greetings cards too, so you can send a Care Bears card to someone special on their birthday.

What Items Sell the Most on eBay?

By having this simple, yet sometimes hard to answer, question and solving it – you can dramatically increase your overall wealth and start seeing consistent sales on eBay.

So how exactly do you see what items will sell most on eBay? It can be rather hard – you ultimately want to make sure that you are locating the best items that can completely contribute to your success on the eBay marketplace. The thing wrong with most people is that they have problems with this one step alone!

So the question is what sells the most on eBay right? The truth is that tons of items can sell on eBay and the items that are selling the most are constantly changing. Apple may come out with a new iPod that will ultimately change the price and the status of the last iPod that was being sold. New clothes come out, etc, so what’s good today may be outdated in a month or even much sooner! This is what you want to do – you do not want to find what’s going to be profitable today; you want to find out how you can consistently find the product that’s going to be profitable!

To make a long story short – you are going to want a method that can help you find the hottest items fail proof!

So the question is, how do I do this? Well thanks to the internet and eager online entrepreneurs who are constantly trying to fulfill unheard of niches – you can find a tool that is created by one of these people in order to give you an advantage among other sellers who sell on eBay – these are known as seller’s tools.

Seller’s Tools?

That’s right, these are tools that will tell you what is selling, how much they are selling for, who sold them, and any other information you need to know. People that are truly successful just follow those who have found the path to ultimate success! That’s why you have to start and you have to start today! You have to be successful by finding the best tools such as the Vendio seller’s tool or even the mpire.com seller’s tool.

Do not overlook eBay itself, this can prove to be the best seller’s tool!

Get Your Kids’ Creativity Flowing With Some Holiday Crafts

Most children love arts and crafts. Whether in school or at after school programs, these classes give children the ability to express themselves in creative ways. Elementary school teachers report that most pupils look forward to art class. The time gives kids a much needed respite from facts and figures. It lets them relax and let their minds wonder in unexpected ways.

Tragically, many school districts have opted to cut art program budgets in recent years. As test scores continue to fall and schools struggle to meet basic proficiency requirements in math and reading, art, music and physical education programs have been put on the proverbial chopping block. Millions of concerned parents have spoken out against these reductions to no avail. As a result, many of them have started doing arts and crafts at home.

The Benefits of Arts and Crafts

In addition to letting a kid’s imagination run wild, arts and crafts are a wonderful way to bond with your children. Like any shared project, kids feel like they are part of a team and that they are free to express their own ideas. Working on simple art projects at home can help your child become more independent and assertive. Most importantly, it will give her a sense of accomplishment. The statement, “I made that” is a very powerful one.

Holiday-Themed Projects

The holidays are probably the best time to work on arts and crafts with your kids. Not only do most children love the imagery and emotions that are associated with the holidays, but it often gives them a chance to show off their artwork to an audience. Because friends and family members stop by on most major holidays, your child can put her favorite creations on display.

Winter Projects

Winter is the unquestioned leader when it comes to holiday crafts. Christmas, Hanukah, New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day can bring out the creative spirit in just about any child. Before the weather turns cold, parents should stop by their local arts supply store and stock up on colored pipe cleaners, glue, construction paper, poster boards and whatever else they think their little artist might have fun with.

One simple winter project children often enjoy is making a New Year’s Eve hat. The hat can be made from either construction paper or poster board and glued or taped into a cone shape after it has been decorated. Magic markers, pipe cleaners, crayons, glitter, metallic sticker stars and glue are all that you

will need.

Though kids typically make cards for Valentine’s Day in school, a fun project for home is to construct a mailbox for cards from an old shoe box. Simply cover the box in construction paper, cut a slit in the lid, and let your little cupid decorate it. Once again, magic markers, stars, glitter and glue are important tools.

Last but not least, we have a simple Christmas project. As you might imagine, there are hundreds of home Christmas projects from which to choose. But there is just something about making stockings to hang from the mantel. With a standard undecorated felt stocking or even a large red sock, a little artist can create something festive with glitter and fabric paints.

Spring Projects

Most kids love decorating Easter Eggs. Dipping hardboiled eggs in a mixture of vinegar and food dye is enough to give them some color. But for creative-minded kids, that is just the beginning. Once the eggs dry, the shells can be painted with simple water colors and sprinkled with glue and glitter. Another simple trick most people do not know is to use crayons to color warm eggs. After boiling in the water, hold the egg in a paper towel or an oven mitt and let your child draw on it. If the egg is warm enough, the wax from the crayons will melt and create unique designs.

Summer Projects

Because summer is one long holiday for kids, there are few distinct days to celebrate. In fact, there is really only one – the Fourth of July. Hats and crowns decorated with the national colors is a nice, simple project to celebrate America’s independence. Red, white and blue pipe cleaners can be glued to a narrow band of poster board and fitted to your child’s head. Don’t forget the sticky stars!

Fall Projects

Halloween and Thanksgiving are every bit as colorful and full of iconic images as Christmas or Valentine’s Day. Spooky pumpkins, witches, skeletons and bats can all be traced and colored using construction paper. Plastic googly eyes can compliment any creepy creature. And for Thanksgiving, it is all about the turkey. A creative project that requires some skill is to make a pet turkey with a pinecone. The feet, beak and feathers can all be cut out from construction paper and glued onto the pinecone and the face can be painted on later.Affordable art supplies can be found at local arts and crafts stores or from sellers on the internet. Find some holiday crafts your kids will love now!

How To Start An Affiliate Marketing Website

Most new internet entrepreneurs start their first online business with an affiliate marketing website. It’s a website where you sell products and services that have been created by somebody else. When you make a sale, the product owner pays you a commission.

With an affiliate marketing website, you don’t have to create your own products, arrange payment systems, organize product delivery or sort out customer queries. The product owner does all of that.

Here are the 7 steps to starting an affiliate marketing website.

1. Pick Your Niche

A niche is the industry that you want to work in. There are affiliate products in just about every niche you can think of, from health and fitness to relationships to making money. Start off by picking a niche where you already have some knowledge or interest. This will help you to understand the needs and wants of your prospective customers.

2. Set Up Your Website

There are many software programs available that make the whole process easy. The WordPress website building platform is an easy to use and affordable way to get a professional affiliate marketing website online quickly and easily in only a few clicks!

3. Find Some Products

There are many different affiliate programs that pay commissions to people who sell their products. You can find a huge number of products to sell at top affiliate sites like Amazon, CJAffiliate, ClickBank and JVZoo. The top affiliate marketing companies will provide you with marketing materials and range of different products for up-sells and down-sells.

4. Build A List Of Prospects

It’s unlikely that a prospect will buy from you the first time visit your website. So you need to start building a relationship with them so that they can get to know, like and trust you. The most effective way to do this is via email. Put an email capture form on the front page of your affiliate marketing website with the offer of a free report or eBook in exchange for an email address. This ‘opt-in’ offer is normally provided by the product vendor for you to give away to your prospects.

5. Set Up Your Autoresponder

An autoresponder will send it automatically send out your free offer to anybody that submits their email to you. Once you have sent it, you can set your autoresponder to send a series of follow-up messages to help to build a relationship with your prospect.

6. Upload Content To Your Website

Your affiliate marketing website will need some content in the form of articles, blog posts, images, videos, photos and graphics. Your content demonstrates to your website visitors that you understand your niche and it will help get your website ranked in Google.

7. Drive Traffic To Your Website

You may have the best affiliate marketing website on the internet but if nobody is visiting it, you’ll not sell any products. Pick one or two traffic strategies. There are free and paid techniques that you can use. It’s better to do one or two effectively, rather than try to manage too many at once.

The Five Best Ways You Can Use Publicity To Get Free Advertising For Your Small Business

Let’s face it. The world of having your own small business is tough. Expenses are large, and often, revenue and cash flow are not. So the entrepreneur in the small business world always has to find ways to be creative in how he or she markets and advertises, with the goal of finding new local customers and better ways to increase local sales. It is an added bonus for the business owner when publicity comes his way. Hopefully it will be positive in nature, and more than likely, it will be free. The key to making this work for you, the small business owner, is to develop ways to generate positive publicity about your small business, and therefore, increase your cash flow. There are several different ways this can be done, and with a little work and steadfastness on your part, you will find a way to turn local small business publicity into a profitable venture for you and your family.

1. Become a Feature Story

One of the easiest ways to generate a little bit of talk about and interest in your small business is to invite a local newspaper, magazine, or news channel to feature a story about you and your company. This should be of no cost to you other than some persistence in calls to get someone interested in your tale. These types of publications and local news shows are always looking to feature someone from the community who has a success story or some advice to offer to others, and if you can find just the right angle to catch and interest readers and viewers, then they will love to publish your story for free. On-air interviews, via television or radio, also work well as this gives local viewers and listeners the opportunity to see or hear with whom they would be working if they were to patronize your business. This type of publicity is free and advantageous to all parties involved, and can typically help your business locate new customers and hopefully spark new interest in the services that you have to offer.

2. Become Active in Your Community

If you are not already, look for ways to get your voice heard within your town and neighboring communities. Any time you have a public forum in which to speak, you must do this. This is an absolutely free way to get your name, face, and name of your business out there and to get people talking, and you may even be compensated for your time by whomever it is holding the event. Local Chambers of Commerce are always hosting programs at which they love having small business owners attend and speak, as do Rotary Clubs, schools of many varieties, and possibly even churches and other places of worship. Speaking at these types of events is an easy and often quite profitable way for a small business to get some publicity, and in turn, free advertising.

3. It’s the Small Things That Count

How many times have you been driving down the road these days and seen vehicles painted or emblemized with a company logo? We see that every day and often, those things really stick in our heads. What an easy and cheap way to advertise for your small business! This type of publicity draws people in, and is a great way to advertise your company logo, phone number, and even web address. Make everything you do a way to advertise for your small business. Wear company T-shirts, put your logo on your car and your laptop, but get that name out there and exposed to the public.

4. Use the Internet

This sounds easy enough, but you would be surprised at the numbers of small businesses that are not taking advantage of the Internet and the multiple small business Internet marketing tools that are available to them. Many on-line forums will allow you to join the group and give you space for free introductions. This is a great chance to work your company name in and have it introduced to a brand new group of people.

You Tube is available for free video for your company, and networking in general is just so important. Once you establish some contacts, offer to have a link established on your website to others if they will return the same favor to you. This is a win-win situation for all who are involved.

5. Freebies

Be willing to give a little of your time. Offer free estimates, customer referral plans, and other such incentives that will encourage more and more people to support you and your small business venture. Furthermore, make sure that you get yourself and your company listed in any free local directories that are available.

The small business world is tough, but manageable, with the usage of these five simple tools that can help create a buzz about your business and provide publicity and free advertising. Of course, advertising is so important in the business world, and if you utilize these things along with your paid ads, your business is sure to profit and remain a hit for many years to come.

Weddings With a Touch of History: Top 5 Castles for Your Wedding in Italy

Italy is a country with a rich and unique history. Italy has probably the most incredible architectonic heritage. Throughout the ancient buildings, to Middle Ages churches, Baroque and Renaissance palaces, Romantic castles, Italy is the perfect place for destination  wedding . And what is more spectacular and elegant than a castle  wedding ?

Here’s a list of five Italian castles for celebrating a romantic  wedding  in Italy.

Castello di Vicarello – Tuscany

One of the most exclusive locations, situated on the Tuscan green hills, Castello di Vicarello is the perfect venue for an intimate but stylish  wedding . Huge green spaces ensure privacy and exclusivity in wonderful atmosphere. With warm welcome from all the staff and special attention from the owners, Castello di Vicarello is the ideal place to plan your dream  wedding  in Tuscany.

Castello di Rosciano – Umbria

Castello di Vicarello rise above the green woods thick with olive and oak trees: it’s composed of various individual structures within the fortified walls. You can’t chose better for your  wedding  – big halls and squares, arches and bridges are the perfect setting for your big day. Warm hospitality and unique atmosphere makes this location really special.

Castello della Castelluccia – Rome

Set in a fairy tale scenery, with romantic atmosphere of green Roman countryside, the Castello della Castelluccia is the perfect place for your elegant  wedding  day in Rome. Enchanted garden, romantic corners, beautiful rooms furnished with antique furniture are perfect for an intimate celebration. Professional staff at your disposal will help you solve all problems making the  wedding  day unforgettable.

Palazzo Belmonte – Cilento Coast

Overlooking the blues of the Mediterranean, Palazzo Belmonte was originally built as the royal residence for the family of prince of Belmonte in 17th century. Palazzo Belmonte is situated in Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park, hidden amongst greenery of the garden, it is a wonderful place to celebrate your  wedding  in Italy. Elegance and beauty, expertise staff are sure to make your historical  wedding  day a very special event.

Castello San Marco – Sicily

Originally surrounded by vineyards, now immersed in beautiful park, it represents a splendid example of Sicilian Baroque with Arabic influence. Timeless and adapted for modern festivities Casetllo San Marco is the right place for high class, elegant  wedding  in Italy. Excellent service, great charm and an enchanted atmosphere combined with mild clime and dainty cuisine are the right warranty for an unforgettable  wedding  day in Sicily.

Free E-Commerce Website Using Google Sites and PayPal

I started off with the goal of making a website that has no on going costs, minimal transaction fees and low maintenance. The choice of having all features integrated into the one website? or do I manage the website and let a third party do the financial transactions? security is a key to answering this question, a third party will be my option. Firstly I did allot of research into free web hosting solutions, benefits, security and 100% uptime. The list got down to a few, I tested them and decided on Google sites which ticked all the boxes. The main disadvantage is also an advantage, it locks down allot of code, making it harder to implement heaps of features but increases security immensely.

I have decided on my web hosting, now look at payment systems. The customer would have to be redirected to a secure website, the data passed between my website and the shopping cart had to be minimal as this can be hijacked or changed. I looked at allot of cool Java and php based shopping carts but in the end, all still sent across code that could easily be changed by someone smart enough. PayPal and Google Checkout are the main players, being in a Australia, Google Checkout was ruled out so I worked with PayPal.

Google sites is very easy use, first you give the website a name, choose a template and play around with the formatting a bit. Add a picture of the item you want to sell, then put it in the back of your mind for a bit, we now head over to PayPal.

Create yourself a PayPal account and change the account type to Business at http://www.PayPal.com. PayPal gives you the option of making pre-made buttons that are attached to your account and because no dollar amount or numbers of items passes between the sites, it is very secure.

Creating a PayPal Button:

Profile >> My Saved Buttons >> Create New Button

Select Yes; create an “Add to Cart” button.

Give the item a name, if you have multiple of the same items, include an item number.

Choose a price

Additional Options:

Postage Weight or Postage cost for that item.

Track Inventory, PayPal can stop people purchasing items if you run out of stock.

Once the button has been created, select the tab e-mail, copy the code and keep this for later.

Go back to your Google sites web page and add an image that your going to use as the “add to cart” button. This can be the one provided earlier by PayPal or you can choose to make your own image. Make sure you happy with the size, Google sites gives you the option of small, medium or large, but if you want something different, it can be changed in the HTML code option.

select the image, then click up the top on the link button. This is where you link your button to the PayPal, choose link to external website and paste in the PayPal link you kept from earlier.

My finished result is:

http://www.dollsclothes.com.au

Market Your Business Online With Local Search Engine Marketing

Business owners are constantly looking to find ways to market their businesses online amid tough competition from online and offline businesses. With the advent of Social Media this is becoming more and more complicated.

Finding the best alternatives to keep ahead of the competition is an ongoing process. Local search engine promotion has become more and more popular where business owners are looking to make themselves visible online to their local markets.

Local search engine marketing involves processes aimed at improving a website’s visibility in Google, Yahoo and Bing and brings up your business in local neighborhood searches. This focuses on Internet business promotion, campaign management, Google page rank, keyword ranking, and link popularity.

Like any internet marketing strategy, local search engine promotion looks at what the customer is looking for and how and what keywords are used to find the product. This Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tactic targets a local niche audience. It aims at getting a targeted audience. More and more businesses are using this marketing technique to promote and advertise their services and products online.

This form of marketing is also more likely to accumulate quality rankings in the search engines.

The internet has an unlimited source of information. Prospective buyers can search for anything they want on search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing by entering keywords or key phrases to locate an assortment of websites that offer the product or service they are looking for.

There are thousands, sometimes millions of pages that will be generated by a single keyword. It is important that your website is one that comes up in the top few pages. Narrow your niche market, and be very specific with your keywords or key phrases so that your website comes up in the top pages. It is much better to have a narrow niche where you come up in the top few pages every time than it is to have a generic keyword that brings up thousands or millions of pages.

i.e “Golf clubs” versus “Brand name” golf clubs for sale

There are many internet promotion services being offered to help online businesses rank high with the search engines. The service normally begins by providing clients with the most appropriate keywords for your product or service. They will optimize the chosen keywords into HTML codes throughout your website so that your website is picked up by the SEOs.

It is essential that the content of your website matches the keywords and any promotional sentences you use otherwise you could be blacklisted by the SEOs. Don’t use tricks to get people to your website you will lose credibility and search engine rankings.

To produce an effective campaign the Internet Promotion companies will use different formulas, techniques, technical tricks, and shortcuts that they know will bring results on the Search Engines. In addition to optimizing the keywords they will also optimize your articles or text for link building purposes. This optimization will help to rank your business high in the Search Engines.

The entire local search engine promotion process can be time consuming and difficult to understand as the rules change constantly. This is were the SEO specialists can assist with the process and can save the average business owners the worry and headache of advertising their services or products online. The key is to search for quality SEO providers. Don’t be pushed into using a search engine promotion company by overly aggressive techniques of marketing. Check the service out thoroughly before signing up with them. Make sure they don’t use techniques such as spamdexing, keyword stuffing, or other techniques that may get your website blacklisted.

Make sure you see results and monitor it for yourself online. Don’t hand it over and leave it to look after itself. Look at the statistics to see what leads or business the marketing has generated, and go with what works, and change to another company if it isn’t bringing you business.

Smart Clothing Tips Each Woman Will Appreciate

It’s not a secret that women always wish to look attractive and stylish. It does not matter where they go and what they do, they need to feel confident and beautiful. This does not only help them remain in the focus of men’s attention, but also makes it easier to reach the goals they have set. The choice of clothes and accessories to be included into the wardrobe of each woman depends upon many factors, such as her body type, style of clothes she prefers, personal traits of character, age, occupation and what not. However, there are effective fashion tips that will ideally work for each lady, who aims at looking appealing, sexy and gorgeous. Some of these smart tips are provided below.

  1. Old Apparel Never Goes Out of Style!

Do you believe that you should get rid of those attires you have worn for two or three years? Do you think that they are not trendy anymore? If so, then you may be mistaken! Many old things do not go out of fashion and remain trendy for years. Just have a look at the apparel you have in your wardrobe! What clothes seem too old-fashioned to be worn every day? Which of them would you eagerly purchase, if you were in a fashion boutique? These simple questions will help you make the right choice!

  1. Choose the Right Outfit for the Black-Tie Event

Have you been invited to visit a black-tie event? Is your best friend or close relative getting married soon and you don’t know what to wear? Don’t get into despair and take your time to shop wisely! There is no need to buy a luxurious dress for one night only. Instead, give preference to the attire you may put on when visiting holidays and festivities in the future. This will make the purchase both efficient and gorgeous. Don’t forget about suitable shoes, accessories and underwear! These things will make you feel confident and beautiful wherever you go, while proper makeup and hairstyle will contribute to your charming appeal!

  1. Know Your Strong Points

The best way to choose clothes that will really work for you is to know your strong points. One and the same apparel may look differently on two women just because they have different body types. It may take some time to experiment with different types of apparel and accessories to make the best choice, but the result will be worth this time and effort. By knowing your strong points, you will be able to opt for clothes that make you look stylish and chic. Likewise, you will avoid clothes that have negative impact upon your appeal and underline your imperfections.

  1. Don’t Forget About Jeans!

When thinking about your wardrobe, don’t forget about jeans. There are no stylish collections of clothes without this item. You can wear jeans in the everyday life just to feel comfortable. They are a nice choice for a family picnic, a night with your friends, a trip to the forest and even a romantic weekend. Just make sure you choose the right size. If you have any doubts, then give preference to the smaller size, because they will stretch with the lapse of time. By the way, if your jeans look a bit old-fashioned or you just wish to give them a brand new look, then you can decorate them with versatile gems and other accessories you will find in any local garment accessories shop. A bit of imagination will help you get nice-looking and fashionable jeans!

  1. Watch Out Deodorant Stains!

It’s not a secret that deodorant stains look unappealing and sometimes even disgusting. Furthermore, they are very hard to wash sometimes, which means that they can easily spoil your attire. It does not matter how stylish and expensive your new dress or blouse is – deodorant stains will give it an unattractive look. The same concerns makeup stains. If you have noticed the problem, try to wash the piece of clothing as soon as you can. If washing the stains with water does not help, then add the detergent or stain remover into water, leave it there for several hours and give it another try. This should help get rid of the problem.

  1. Do Not Underestimate the Importance of Scarves and Belts

Accessories always contribute to the way you look. This especially concerns scarves and belts that come in different colors, models, shapes, sizes and materials. You can choose several of them to fit your clothes. When chosen properly, these accessories add style, grace and elegance to your appeal.

  1. Keep Your Clothes in Order

It does not matter how many clothes and accessories you have, you should always keep them in order. Having bought an article of clothing you have been looking for, take your time to read the instructions on the label to know how to take care of it properly. This won’t take much time, but will help you maintain the nice look of your apparel for a long time.

Other Sites Like Craigslist Personals – The Best Alternatives to Hook Up

You want other sites like craigslist personals. This is understandable. Most of us are sick and tired of the con artists who use online classified sites. When you make a personals ad, this is what should happen: people read your ad, they contact you, you reply to them. What actually happens to most people who use online classifieds: you post an ad, lots of people reply, these people try to make you pay to see them on webcam or pay to see their profile on a dating site. Sound familiar? If not, you are extremely lucky! Thankfully, I can tell you there is a better alternative to online classifieds.

More and more people are leaving online classifieds in favor of free internet dating communities. These communities have several advantages over personals on classified sites. You can view photo albums and videos. You can instant message and email other members. You can chat to members on webcam or watch them as “they” chat on webcam. And, best of all, these sites are “heavily regulated” to avoid con artists making fake profiles and trying to sell you something. They take these matters seriously because they know how badly it can ruin our dating experience. These communities use clever software that sniffs out fake profiles and, therefore, prevents internet marketers from pestering you. This is great news because it means everyone who contacts us (10 people or 1000 people) are all real and are actually interested in hooking up with us. So, join millions of other people, make a profile, upload a photo of yourself, and start communicating with “real people”.

Email Retention Services for Businesses

While the speed a reliability of communication has been greatly enhanced by the Internet, it also has its drawbacks in some regards. Email servers, when they are maintained by the business that uses them in their own facilities, can be something of a risk. There is always the danger that the materials on the servers will disappear because of a virus incident or a hardware failure. This is where email retention  services  for  businesses  come in.

What Are They?

Email retention  services  are provided by  business-to-business  firms that have a tremendous amount of server space and the right expertise on staff to ensure that it’s managed correctly. Their huge amounts of server space allow these businesses to provide their clients with enough storage to retain emails for a very long time. This comes with a host of benefits for the  business  and, because of the skill of the company providing the  service , it is a much safer arrangement than attempting to provide email retention  services  at your own  business .

The Value of Email Retention Services

Sending important documents as email attention is a common procedure for businesses these days. One solution to making sure that those documents are always available is to print out a hard copy and to keep it on file. Another solution is to make sure that the email it came with is retained so that the document can be accessed at any time in the future. Email retention services provide the latter convenience. This helps to eliminate redundancy. If there are several offices that may have a need for the document, only one of them has to retain a hard copy and, if the document is lost at some point, the email to which it was attached will still be available to the other offices. This is an important step toward increasing office efficiency and the affordability of processes.

Safety

With a professional firm handling this storage, you can rest assured that your servers aren’t harboring viruses or spam emails that are waiting to cause problems on your network. Email retention  services  take effective measures to make sure that spam and viruses don’t end up costing your employees and  business  time and money. The servers that these emails are stored on are maintained by professionals who always know about the latest threats and make sure that contaminated emails are kept away from your business.

With this type of safety available, email retention services can potentially save customers thousands of dollars over any given year by eliminating the need to hire expensive IT consultants to perform cleanup operations on servers. You’re also able to go without having to purchase the expensive server technology used to accommodate this tremendous amount of storage and security yourself and, of course, don’t have to pay for the expertise required to operate it correctly. This makes email retention  services  affordable and sensible options for  businesses  that need a better way to make sure their emails are always retrievable and their data protected.

Risks in International Business

Just as there are reasons to get into global markets, and benefits from global markets, there are also risks involved in locating companies in certain countries. Each country may have its potentials; it also has its woes that are associated with doing business with major companies. Some of the rogue countries may have all the natural minerals but the risks involved in doing business in those countries exceed the benefits. Some of the risks in international business are:

(1) Strategic Risk

(2) Operational Risk

(3) Political Risk

(4) Country Risk

(5) Technological Risk

(6) Environmental Risk

(7) Economic Risk

(8) Financial Risk

(9) Terrorism Risk

Strategic Risk: The ability of a firm to make a strategic decision in order to respond to the forces that are a source of risk. These forces also impact the competitiveness of a firm. Porter defines them as: threat of new entrants in the industry, threat of substitute goods and services, intensity of competition within the industry, bargaining power of suppliers, and bargaining power of consumers.

Operational Risk: This is caused by the assets and financial capital that aid in the day-to-day business operations. The breakdown of machineries, supply and demand of the resources and products, shortfall of the goods and services, lack of perfect logistic and inventory will lead to inefficiency of production. By controlling costs, unnecessary waste will be reduced, and the process improvement may enhance the lead-time, reduce variance and contribute to efficiency in globalization.

Political Risk: The political actions and instability may make it difficult for companies to operate efficiently in these countries due to negative publicity and impact created by individuals in the top government. A firm cannot effectively operate to its full capacity in order to maximize profit in such an unstable country’s political turbulence. A new and hostile government may replace the friendly one, and hence expropriate foreign assets.

Country Risk: The culture or the instability of a country may create risks that may make it difficult for multinational companies to operate safely, effectively, and efficiently. Some of the country risks come from the governments’ policies, economic conditions, security factors, and political conditions. Solving one of these problems without all of the problems (aggregate) together will not be enough in mitigating the country risk.

Technological Risk: Lack of security in electronic transactions, the cost of developing new technology, and the fact that these new technology may fail, and when all of these are coupled with the outdated existing technology, the result may create a dangerous effect in doing business in the international arena.

Environmental Risk: Air, water, and environmental pollution may affect the health of the citizens, and lead to public outcry of the citizens. These problems may also lead to damaging the reputation of the companies that do business in that area.

Economic Risk: This comes from the inability of a country to meet its financial obligations. The changing of foreign-investment or/and domestic fiscal or monetary policies. The effect of exchange-rate and interest rate make it difficult to conduct international business.

Financial Risk: This area is affected by the currency exchange rate, government flexibility in allowing the firms to repatriate profits or funds outside the country. The devaluation and inflation will also impact the firm’s ability to operate at an efficient capacity and still be stable. Most countries make it difficult for foreign firms to repatriate funds thus forcing these firms to invest its funds at a less optimal level. Sometimes, firms’ assets are confiscated and that contributes to financial losses.

Terrorism Risk: These are attacks that may stem from lack of hope; confidence; differences in culture and religious philosophy, and/or merely hate of companies by citizens of host countries. It leads to potential hostile attitudes, sabotage of foreign companies and/or kidnapping of the employers and employees. Such frustrating situations make it difficult to operate in these countries.

Although the benefits in international business exceed the risks, firms should take a risk assessment of each country and to also include intellectual property, red tape and corruption, human resource restrictions, and ownership restrictions in the analysis, in order to consider all risks involved before venturing into any of the countries.

The Differences Between Kindle 2 and Nook – Which is Better?

Amazon’s Kindle 2 and the Barnes and Noble Nook are the two main heavy-weights in the battle of the eBook readers this year. There are many similarities, and critical differences in the two. What are they, and which is the better digital eBook reader? Let’s take a look.

E-Ink Display Screens- Both the Kindle 2 and the Nook use the same “E-Ink” technology for their display screen. Reading for hours on end on these eBook readers isn’t like staring at a computer screen. The E-Ink screen displays the words just like (or even better than) looking at a real book.

The Nook, however, has an additional color navigation screen underneath the display screen. This touch screen allows you to scroll through titles of   books , magazines,  and  other  publications . There is also a touch keyboard display on this screen. No reviews are available yet for the screen performance, but consumers will soon tell all.

Wireless and 3G- Both the Kindle 2 and the Nook boast wireless capabilities. You are able to download  books   and  other  publications  if you have access to a wireless network. If no wireless internet is available, then 3G cellular capabilities will allow you to download in that situation.

International Availability- Here is a major difference between the two eBook readers- International capabilities. The Kindle 2 boasts the ability to download books and full usage in over 100 countries, whereas the Nook is only fully functional in the US. Of course the Nook device will work in the sense you can still read  books  out of the country, but you cannot add more  books  or  publications . This is obviously a very important point for international customers to take into account.

The Nook’s Lending Capability- The Nook has the ability to let you lend out your books to others that have downloaded the Barnes and Noble software. You don’t necessarily have to have a Nook to receive the lent books, just the software. One should know that lending time is only 2 weeks and the person who lends the book cannot use it during that time. A good feature? Customers will tell over time.

Storage Space- Both the Kindle and Nook have base memory of 2 GB, which is good for about 1,500 books, however the Nook allows for extra space to be added to increase the titles to upwards of 17,500. Is 2 Gigs enough? Well, read one book a day and you’ll have 4 years of reading material!

Other Differences- The Kindle boasts a slightly lighter device, text-to-speech technology, and a web browsing capability, whereas the Nook doesn’t.

One other notable difference is the Google Android software in the Nook. Barnes and Noble chose this software, banking on the development of applications by software developers that will work with the Nook. We’ll have to see how the software performs and if there is an iPod like popularity in applications.

Tips for Caring for Your Home Landscaping This Fall

Even during the autumn months, you still want to be sure that your home landscaping is getting the care it needs in order to thrive throughout the winter and into the following spring. Here are a few tips on how to make sure your grass, flowers and other plants are in good shape for the next growing season.

The best time of year to plant new trees or to fertilize your grass is the fall. Doing both of these tasks allows the root systems of your grass and new trees to grow deep down into the soil. After the spring months start rolling around, your grass and trees should grow better and healthier thanks to this strong root structure.

While raking is not a favorite chore for just about anyone, it is still one of the most important ways you can maintain your grass and home landscaping. There are rakes on the market that are more ergonomic, so you could save yourself a lot of back and arm aches if you choose one that doesn’t require you to bend over too far. Try to rake your yard at least once a week if the weather permits.

You should also be sure to continue mowing your grass until it goes dormant for the season. The height you should mow it too depends on the type of grass you have in your yard. If you are unsure, you should contact your local nursery to get their expert advice on how far down you should cut your grass.

During the winter months, especially if there is snow on the ground, do not allow toys, sleds, shoes and other items to sit on your lawn. This can cause the grass, plants and other aspects of your home landscaping to flatten, and it might be difficult or even impossible for the plants to come back when the spring season comes around again.

Finally, be sure to prune any plants or trees in your yard as well. If you are unsure of how to do this, again, that is a question for your local nursery. The professionals that work there should be able to help you with this. You might also want to consider calling in a professional home landscaping service to take care of this for you, especially if you’ve never done it before.

With a few extra chores on your part, your home landscaping will look great throughout the winter until next spring!

Pros and Cons of Watching Television

Many of us love watching TV especially during our free time and if we don’t have anything to do. We like watching TV while eating our favorite snacks or hanging around in a friend’s place. Either way we are entertained when we watch TV. There are many different programs we can watch on TV depending on our mood and our personality. Some love watching comedy and talk shows while others particularly kids and those who are young at heart love watching cartoons on Cartoon Network or Disney channel.

But then, watching TV has its advantages and disadvantages. Experts say that too much watching of TV especially among children is not good for the health and the mind. TV can be entertaining and informative yet at times it can be damaging and harmful.

Below are the Pros and Cons of watching TV.

Pros:

1.) Entertainment and Laughter

We are entertained by shows we love to watch. We laugh at things we find funny and comical in the TV program we are watching. We also love to dance or sing along with celebrities we see on TV and some of us even copy their dance moves and singing styles.

2.) Information and How-To

We learn a lot of information about places and people that we usually don’t learn on magazines, books and newspapers. There are travel shows that show us beautiful places in the world and inform us the culture of different countries which can be a great help especially if we are planning to travel. We also easily learn how to cook new recipes by watching cooking shows and we can learn doing some other stuff through programs that show step-by-step procedures of performing a particular work, exercise or other interesting stuff.

3.) Improve Memory and Easy Learning

We usually take note of the time schedule for our favorite programs especially if it is only shown once or twice a week. We tend to store and recall the things that recently happened in our favorite show before the next episode will be shown on TV. This will help enhance our memory which we can apply on our daily life. For children, it is easier to learn math, science, alphabet and other subject matters if someone can show them how to do it like counting, identifying objects and a lot more. Educational TV shows are available for children to watch and learn.

4.) Bonding With Family and Friends

Watching TV is a great way to bond with family and friends especially on weekends. You can laugh and discuss things that you see on TV. That can be really fun.

5.) Awareness and Alertness

Weather reports and current news on different parts of the worlds can make you aware of what is happening outside your country. You can also be alert when there is an incoming typhoon in your area and that can help you get prepared.

Cons:

1.) Decline in creativity and imagination.

TV shows including commercials have tendency to share their creative works on us and impart their ideas and opinions on us which is not favorable and can lead to a decline in our creativity and imagination since we can not think on our own since creative stuff are readily available and shared to us.

2.) Health problems

We usually eat junk foods or any of our favorite snacks while watching TV. This is not good for our health because we tend to eat a lot while we are sitting down facing the television. This can lead to obesity since we don’t move a lot when we watch TV. This can also lead to other serious ailments caused by eating a lot and moving less.

3.) Makes people lazy

Most of us get hooked when watching programs of our favorite TV channel. We sometimes even forget to do our work or other important things because we got engaged in the show we are watching. Some people forget to do their household chores because they would rather watch TV than work.

4.) Some shows don’t teach good values.

There are TV programs that do not teach good values particularly to children. Instead of teaching them good deeds they even imitate, re-enact or spoof important things happening around us which is not good for children to watch.

To sum up, in watching TV you should choose and monitor the TV programs that you and your children should watch. Choose programs that can help you learn and grow as a person. You should also limit the time your children spend in watching TV. The maximum number of hours small kids should watch TV is 3 hours while for teenagers you should make sure they watch good shows only when they are done with homework and projects.

The History of Berenguer Dolls

The history of Berenguer Dolls began over half a century ago in Spain when Jose Berenguer began a lifelong passion for designing dolls in 1944.

By the 1950’s Jose Berenguer’s dolls had built an excellent reputation for quality craftsmanship and beauty. The most popular during this decade were the Chelito and Pepin dolls.

His passion for doll making and design was passed on to his son Salvador, who was also born in Spain – a country that has inspired many artists. Salvador comes from a family where the gift of sculpting has been passed down through the generations and inherited his family’s legacy.

He has personally sculpted many Berenguer doll masterpieces that capture the essence of a child’s beauty. He is an expert at recreating the look of innocence and purity that reflect childhood.

He is the creative genius behind the ingenious designs of today’s Dolls by Berenguer, now owned by JC Toys. With his sculpting background and a keen eye for detail, Salvador has created countless dolls that reveal the many varied emotions of childhood. He draws his inspiration from everyday life and – closer to home – his own children and grandchildren.

Salvador took over from his father in the 1960’s and continued his pleasure of a toil with the same passion and dedication as when he began over 40 years ago.

Today Salvador is Head Sculptor for the company JC Toys which has offices in Florida, Hong Kong and Spain.

JC Toys Group dolls were first introduced to the American market in the early 1980’s. You’ve probably heard of them under another name – they were known by the popular name of BERJUSA .

The Berjusa dolls had a considerable effect on the doll market at the time due to because of their amazingly life-like features and innovative gentle facial sculpts which had never been seen quite like this before. Popular brand names of dolls of the 1980’s and later were Tunene and Minene.

Later on that decade, new baby dolls were introduced to the range, like La Newborn and La Baby.

Today JC Toys is an international designer and manufacturer of collectible and specialty dolls, with one of the largest ranges in the world. And the name Berenguer continues to be synonymous with dolls of superior quality and unique design.

That is Salvador Berenguer’s legacy.

5 Profit Strategies Used By Affiliate Marketing Experts

The job of an online affiliate marketing expert is to help consumers find the products they need. They are the link between searching and solutions. Affiliate marketers have a unique advantage over product creators because they have none of the responsibility for developing the product or the management of affiliate programs.

But the online business world is competitive and there are many affiliate marketers who all want to reach the same customers. So how do the experts succeed where others struggle?

1. They Provide Valuable Information For Free

If you offer something of value for free to a prospect when they visit your website, in exchange for a their email address, you can send further information into their in-boxes. Keep in mind that what you give away for free is an indicator of the quality of the products you are promoting. The better value you provide, the more likely it is that a prospect will buy.

2. They Know The Best Programs And Products To Promote

An affiliate marketing expert will promote affiliate programs that pay excellent commissions and provide high quality products. There are a number of factors to think about when choosing affiliate programs. Firstly, make sure that they have products that your target audience actually want. Choose the ones that have a reliable track record of paying their affiliate on time. If you’re not making sales or not getting any support from the affiliate program, dump it and look for better ones.

3. They Have Multiple Income Streams

Don’t be dependent on just one product at one price to generate all your income. If you just sell just one product with no add-ons or up-sells your prospects will not have enough choices to pick from. Conversely, if you try and sell too many products you may confuse your customers and they’ll buy nothing. A successful affiliate marketer will have a good mix of related products that provide different income streams.

4. They Build Relationships With Their Prospects

An affiliate marketer expert will ‘tell rather than sell’. The main value of an affiliate marketer to any prospect is somebody who provides information. It’s how a prospect will come to trust your opinion. It’s what will make then open and read your emails. It will bring them back to your website and it’s what will motivate them to click on your affiliate links to make a purchase.

They Have Effective Sources Of Traffic

Website traffic is the business life-blood for an affiliate marketer. You have to ensure that you have constant flow of visitor traffic coming to your website and sales pages. You can buy website traffic or generate free website traffic. An affiliate marketing expert will use test various methods to see which works best to suit his target market.

The Advertising Power Of Promotional Products

Finding effective ways to bring your brand name or logo to customers is a necessity for any business hoping to grow.

Ideally you need to find ways in which your customers can remember you and easily reach you. Placing advertisements in Newspapers and Magazines is one option for you to pursue, but often this option is an expensive one, especially for smaller companies with a limited advertising budget.

A great way to achieve the same or potentially more results, which is also considerably cheaper, is through the art of creating promotional materials that are given away to your customers, suppliers and other potential sources.

At some point in time, most of us will have received a mug, key-ring or something similar with a company’s logo, brand and contact details, some of us may have even been a part of the business offering these promotional items.

But do you actually realise the results that can be achieved in using these methods.

Think about this – how many times do you read through that newspaper with those expensive advertisements in? how many of you actually remember the ads that you may have seen?

Now think about how many times you will use that mug with a brand name on, whether you take it to work to use, or even put in in the cupboard as a spare, every time you open that cupboard you will be reminded of the branded mug before you.

A well-produced product is a superb advertising source, printed with your company logo, or brand and slogan, even the contact details of your company, reminding people of your business long after they were introduced.

Have a quick look at these stats regarding promotional product impact for businesses:

  • Studies report that the giving of promotional products can boost business response rates by up to 72%
  • Adding a promotional product with a sales letter for direct mailings can increase your chances of a response by a staggering 54%
  • Customers who receive a promotional product are 16% more likely to refer someone to your company than to those who didn’t receive a promotional product
  • As high as 42% of people who were given a promotional product could remember the name or logo of the business on the product for as long as 6 months afterwards
  • Customers who were given promotional products placed additional orders up to 17% sooner than customers who received coupons or voucher codes.

Sending out items such as a mug with your own design on to a potential customer can have the edge in persuading them to use your business for any future products or services in your business sector, but equally as important, it can bring your brand to the awareness of people and companies that never even knew you existed.

Sometimes rather than the normal pens or key-rings, it may be better to look for something different, popular things that will last and be used by people who receive them are always a good bet, promotional mugs are always a good idea, as are soft toys or small bags.

There are so many items available these days that can be personalised for promotional use, so you really are spoilt for choice. If possible, where you can, try and give something that may relate to the customer in a certain way, something that they will value and have some use for.

Lastly, don’t be to afraid to spend a little more on a product, well designed promotional mugs for your most loyal customers will only give them more desire to recommend your company further and increase your brand awareness.

The Seven Steps to Thought Leadership

Most companies want to be known as thought leaders. Those few that do not probably don’t understand how this positioning would positively impact their reputation, their ability to meet their business goals, the value of their company, and their sales.

There are four major benefits to successful thought leadership:

a. A successful “push” strategy. Your brand and your expertise are invaluable to customers and stakeholders seeking advice and information

b. A successful “pull” strategy. As your reputation grows, it opens doors to new business prospects, trading partners, and interest from news media

c. Stronger relationships. Current customers and stakeholders feel validated for choosing such a forward-thinking company

d. High ROI. The materials created for thought leader campaigns generate higher returns because they are used for multiple purposes and multiple audiences

The path to becoming – and remaining – a thought leader has changed radically, as Web 2.0 and social media have re-defined how we receive information and communicate.

These seven steps are effective in today’s web-driven environment and have proven themselves with numerous companies.

Step 1:Self-publishing

Never has the saying, “publish or perish” been more true than in today’s content-driven Web 2.0 world. It’s no longer about interrupting what people are doing and getting them to listen to your message; it’s about having your message in front of customers’ eyes exactly when they are looking for information.

What does this mean for marketing and PR? Companies need to build their brand by publishing their own intellectual capital. While the news media is still an important influencer, online information has become so omnipresent that most people now use the Internet as their primary source of information.

Self-publishing for your marketing campaign can take several forms:

1. The Multi-Channel Bulletin

This is the foundation of your in-house publishing program and your Internet marketing and PR campaign. Topics can cover:

a. “Best practices”

b. Growing issues/problems and how they can be solved

c. Customer problems and solutions

d. Tips or advice

Each bulletin can then be adapted for multiple purposes:

Press releases, direct mail, website content, etc.

Now you can track website hits, analyze audience sourcing, and monitor your search engine positioning to see if the bulletins are driving traffic to your website.

2. Bylined Articles

The trade news media – both print and online – is increasingly interested in bylined articles. These articles – written by industry guest experts – are important components of your self-publishing program.

3. White Papers

White papers can also be utilized in marketing. Companies have had considerable success offering white papers through online ads in well-read newsletters and news sites to generate new business leads.

Step 2: The Executive Forum Blog

B2B companies often wonder about the usefulness of blogging, and are wary of the time commitment required and the risk of negative comments on the blog. The Executive Blog avoids these barriers by presenting individual blog postings as mini executive forums, i.e., vehicles to publish searchable opinions and establish thought leader positioning. Blog entries serve multiple marketing purposes and can be circulated to clients, prospects, opinion leaders, internal audiences, and media, too.

Step 3: The Online Speaker Series

Hosting online speaking forums is another thought leadership tactic that is a component of the “Content Is King” communication universe we now inhabit.

Your executive can serve as the host/moderator or as a member of the panel. Having multiple speakers increases your audience and strengthens your relationships with co-panelists who can be clients, consultants, or other key influencers. Inviting members of the media as panelists and moderators is another strategy that increases interest in the topic and strengthens relationships.

Ideas presented in the webinars can also become content for the multi-channel bulletin program and for the Executive Forum blog. The presentations themselves can be archived on the company’s website as podcasts and/or made available through iTunes and other online sharing sites.

Step 4: Traditional Speaking Engagements

Speaking engagements at conferences, trade shows, and other industry gatherings are a traditional component of a thought leadership program. While these opportunities are declining in number and increasingly competitive, they can still be invaluable as PR opportunities.

Step 5: The Thought Leader Website

Your website is one of your company’s most important showcases, demonstrating the depth of your intellectual capital, your industry leadership, and your dynamic growth. Two initiatives will maximize your website’s thought leader capability:

a. Provide a constant stream of new content with blog entries and posted bulletins, news releases, articles, etc.

b. Creating a “knowledge center” of insightful information, such as your own bulletins, white papers, and bylined articles, as well as commentary on interesting articles written by people outside your company.

Step 6: Media Relations

There are two components to media relations, both of which contribute to thought leadership.

The first is the type of activity that has traditionally been considered “public relations” – news releases on company events and accomplishments, with outreach to media likely to write about these announcements.

The second is Web 2.0 activities such as:

a. News releases that provide commentary on new industry, economic, market, regulatory, or social developments

b. Posting insightful comments on the blogs of key journalists who write stories relevant to your company or area of expertise

c. Sending selected bulletin, white papers, and articles to media

Thought leadership in media relations does not happen overnight. It is an evolving process that takes time and investment, but the long term benefits are significant. Executives and companies with successful media relations programs possess a powerful brand-building tool in the court of public opinion.

Step 7: Leveraging Online Social Media

Facebook, blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter – these social media tools are becoming more ubiquitous every day. But is social networking relevant to B2B companies? Is it a threat, a gold mine, or a non-starter in their marketing and PR efforts?

Handled appropriately, these new communication channels will not only enhance existing communications, they offer access to new audiences. They can strengthen your thought leader program, positively influence customers and stakeholders, and minimize the risk of a “social media firestorm,” a conflagration that can sink your company’s reputation with a real-time online crisis.

So yes, these social media channels are relevant to a B2B audience. The question is “How relevant?” And what exactly should you do?

Some leading PR Firms offer social media thought leader program which begins with an audit of how your company, your executives, your industry and the problems you solve are being discussed and/or represented online. Based on the results of this audit and their understanding of your business goals and resources, your program may include:

a. Setting up a corporate Facebook page and using it to share company information with constituents

b. Developing a lead generation strategy for LinkedIn and other business networking sites

c. Re-broadcasting company news on Twitter, following key journalists, and cultivating your own following

d. Selective blogging on appropriate thought leader and industry blogs

These seven steps to thought leadership in a Web 2.0 world will take you to the pinnacle you’re seeking in terms of reputation, brand equity, and lead generation. It may be via an entirely unfamiliar and different path than you might have taken five years ago, but the payoff will be an expanded online presence and the ability to reach a larger audience with even higher impact.

Wedding Gloves

One of the most polished accessories that a bride can wear is a pair of gloves. There was a day that no proper young lady would think of being married without them on her hands. Nowadays,  wedding  gloves are not only timeless and nostalgic, they can also be cutting edge and very trendy.

Traditionally, a bride wore a pair of gloves based on the sleeve length of her gown, and in fact, this is still the best place to start with choosing your gloves. It is a pretty straightforward formula: the more bare arm the gown exposes, the longer they should be. This can be a nice way to make a strapless or sexier sheath gown more demure during the marriage ceremony. The gloves can then be removed for the reception for a new and different look.

The style of the glove should complement the tone of your bridal ensemble. If you are wearing a classic ballgown with lace applique and pearl bridal jewelry, you would want to choose some made from either cotton or kidskin. For a sweet vintage look, consider little short gloves that are trimmed with a tiny pearl border to match your bridal jewelry. Another possibility is a pair of lace gauntlets created from the same lace as the appliques on your gown.

Another wonderful option for formal  weddings  is a long pair of silk gloves. If you are wearing a strapless gown, opera length looks especially impressive. Of course, you must consider the length of your arms when choosing your gloves, so more petite brides will want to wear an over-the-elbow length rather than the ultra-long opera length style. Brides who are self-conscious about drawing attention to their upper arms may prefer to wear gloves that come to just under the elbow.

 Wedding  gloves are not only traditional; they are also very much of-the-moment. At the most recent Oscar de la Renta bridal collection, he showed them in all shapes and sizes with the  wedding  dresses. There were long ones with slender dresses, short ones with ballgowns, slouchy gloves with ruffled dresses, and even baby blue gloves. Imagine how pretty a pair of pale blue gloves could be as your “something blue”.

Another option for making a statement with gloves is to wear a color that has a strong contrast against a white gown, such as black. For the last few years, designers have been showing gowns and accessories with black accents, and this is one way to explore that concept. Embellishments can also be added to a pair of bridal gloves to express your personal style. Some options include crystals, rhinestone buttons, and delicate lace details.

Gloves can be a simple way to add some flair to your  wedding  ensemble. One other fun thing about them: there is an old custom that the bride should never see herself fully done up on her  wedding  day. To this end, many brides will leave off one glove until after they take a final peek in the mirror. That is just one more of the wonderful traditions involving  wedding  gloves.

Human Resource Information System – HRIS

Human Resource Information Systems

The purpose of this paper is to identify other companies who have faced similar human resources issues in regards to information technology. Through benchmarking different companies we can learn how other companies have handled certain human resources issues related to information technology, information systems, new technology, and data security. An overall analysis has been completed using research on IBM Europe, Ameriprise Financial, Terasen Pipelines, Shaw’s Supermarkets, CS Stars LLC, IBM, WORKSource Inc., and Toshiba America Medical Systems, Inc. This paper also includes eight synopses of companies facing similar issue to those in the reading.

New Technology

With the changing world and constant new technology that is available, managers need to be aware of the technology that will increase effectiveness in their company. Human resource information systems (HRIS) have increasingly transformed since it was first introduced at General Electric in the 1950s. HRIS has gone from a basic process to convert manual information keeping systems into computerized systems, to the HRIS systems that are used today. Human resource professionals began to see the possibility of new applications for the computer. The idea was to integrate many of the different human resource functions. The result was the third generation of the computerized HRIS, a feature-rich, broad-based, self-contained HRIS. The third generation took systems far beyond being mere data repositories and created tools with which human resource professionals could do much more (Byars, 2004).

Many companies have seen a need to transform the way Human Resource operations are performed in order to keep up with new technology and increasing numbers of employees. Terasen Pipelines moved its headquarters from Vancouver to Calgary to be closer to the oil and realized a major growth in employees. In the past recording keeping was done on paper and with spreadsheets. Mangers at Terasen realized that there was a need to change to a more computerized system and looked into different HRIS vendors. By making the move to a HRIS system, Terasen is able to keep more accurate records as well as better prepare for future growth. Another company that saw the benefits of keeping up with new technology is WORKSource Inc. To meet the challenge of handling 100 new employees, WORKSource Inc. acquired Web-based technology programs from GHG Corp. like electronic pay stub, electronic timesheet software, time-off system, and human resource information system (“Tips,” 2006). By adapting these new programs, WORKSource was able to reduce waste and cost.

The Internet is an increasingly popular way to recruit applicants, research technologies and perform other essential functions in business. Delivering human resource services online (eHR) supports more efficient collection, storage, distribution, and exchange of data (Friesen, 2003). An intranet is a type of network used by companies to share information to people within the organization. An intranet connects people to people and people to information and knowledge within the organization; it serves as an “information hub” for the entire organization. Most organizations set up intranets primarily for employees, but they can extend to business partners and even customers with appropriate security clearance (Byars & Rue, 2004).

Applications of HRIS

The efficiency of HRIS, the systems are able to produce more effective and faster outcomes than can be done on paper. Some of the many applications of HRIS are: Clerical applications, applicant search expenditures, risk management, training management, training experiences, financial planning, turnover analysis, succession planning, flexible-benefits administration, compliance with government regulations, attendance reporting and analysis, human resource planning, accident reporting and prevention and strategic planning. With the many different applications of HRIS, it is difficult to understand how the programs benefit companies without looking at companies that have already benefited from such programs.

One such company is IBM. IBM has a paperless online enrollment plan for all of its employees. Not only has the online enrollment saved the company 1.2 million per year on printing and mailing costs, the employees enjoy working with the online plan. “Since we began offering online enrollment, we’ve learned that employees want web access,” Donnelly [Senior Communications Specialist] says, so they can log on at home rather than through the company intranet. So the company has been working to put in place a web-based enrollment system that employees and retirees can access from anywhere (Huering, 2003). By utilizing the flexible-benefits application HRIS has to offer, IBM was able to cut costs and give employees the freedom to discover their benefits on their own time and pace.

Another company that has taken advantage of HRIS applications is Shaw’s Supermarkets. In order for Shaw’s to better manage its workforce, the company decided it was time to centralize the HR operations. After looking at different options, Shaw’s decided to implement an Employee Self Service (ESS) system. The use of self-service applications creates a positive situation for HR. ESS gives HR more time to focus on strategic issues, such as workforce management, succession planning, and compensation management, while at the same time improving service to employees and managers, and ensuring that their data is accurate. With this solution, employees have online access to forms, training material, benefits information and other payroll related information (Koven, 2002). By giving employees access to their personal information and the ability to update or change their information as needed, HR was given more time to focus on other issues. Understanding the different applications HRIS has to offer will give companies the chance to increase employee efficiency and reduce costs.

Measuring the Effectiveness of HRIS

The evaluation should determine whether or not the HRIS has performed up to its expectations and if the HRIS is being used to its full advantage (Byars & Rue, 2004). One of the most significant challenges faced by public personnel executives today is measuring the performance of their human resources information system (HRIS) In order to justify the value-added contribution of the HRIS to accomplishing the organization’s mission (Hagood & Friedman, 2002). Implementing an HRIS program may seem a necessary stem for a company, but unless it will be an effective tool for HR operations, it will not help increase efficiency and may hinder it instead.

One company that implemented a HRIS system is Toshiba America Medical Systems, Inc. (TAMS). TAMS put all employee benefits information online and created an open enrollment option when TAMS changed healthcare providers. Almost immediately upon rolling out the UltiPro portal [new HRIS technology] to employees, TAMS began seeing improvements, with an estimated 70% increase in open enrollment efficiency (Wojcik, 2004). By determining the efficiency of the new program, TAMS was able to realize the benefits of the new HRIS system.

Security of HRIS

The privacy of employee information has become a major issue in recent years. With identity theft becoming a common problem, employees are becoming more sensitive about who sees their personal information, and the security it is kept in. By making sure employee information that is kept in the HRIS is relevant to the company and making sure there is limited access (password protection) to such information, companies can make its employees more secure with the safety of their information. Whether electronic or paper, employee files deserve to be treated with great care. Establishing security and end-user privileges calls for a balance of incorporating, HR policy, system knowledge and day-to-day operations (O’Connell, 1994).

One company that faced a major security issue was CS Stars, LLC. CS Stars lost track of one of its computers that contained personal information that included names, addresses and social security numbers of workers compensation benefits. The bigger problem was that CS Stars failed to notify the affected consumers and employees about the missing computer. Though the computer was retrieved and no information seemed to have been harmed, many employees lost their sense of security with the company. New York’s Information Security Breach and Notification Law, effective in December 2005, requires businesses that maintain computerized data which includes private information to notify the owner of the information of any breach of the security of the system immediately following discovery, if the private information was, or is reasonably believed to have been, acquired by a person without valid authorization (Cadrain, 2007).

Another company that experienced a breach in security is Ameriprise Financial. In late 2005, a computer that contained personal information on clients and employees was stolen. Because many of the employees at Ameriprise take their computers between work and home, the company determined there was a need to put more security into those computers. Ameriprise made sure all employees had the new security suite installed on their computers. By responding quickly to the need for more security, Ameriprise made sure all information is being kept secure. Making sure employees information is kept as secure as possible there will be more trust in the company and the HR employees working with that information.

Conclusion

IBM, Terasen Pipeline, CS Stars LCC, and Toshiba America Medical Systems, Inc. are good examples of companies facing issues similar to human resources information technology and human resources information systems. All of these companies know the importance of new technology, human resources information systems, and data security. The remainder of this paper provides synopses of more companies facing human resources issues, how the company responded to the issues, and the outcomes of the company’s responses.

Companies Benchmarked

IBM Europe

The Situation:

IBM is a global organization offering research, software, hardware, IT consulting, business and management consulting, ring and financing. It employs around 340,000 people, speaking 165 languages across 75 countries, and serving clients in 174 countries. In January 2007, IBM established a separate “new media” function within its corporate communication department. IBM main goal is to educate, support, and promote programs that utilize social media. IBM Europe decided to expand internal communication by blogging guidelines. The recognition was that blogging was already happening among IBMers, just in an unregulated way. In a similar way, institutionalizing a function to deal specifically with new media is not a corporate move, or establishing from scratch. It’s a response to the issues already emerging in the company. Now that those technologies are here, people are using them, they’re growing and there here to stay-we’re just going to put some structure around them so that we can try to optimize their use.” The users decide what technologies they want to use and how they want to use them. That main idea is that IBM understands that they must remember to respect the fact that social media are social. IBM had the need to connect its 340,000 global employees more effectively.

The Response:

IBM’s intent around social media has now been officially formalized. From January 22 2007, the company established a separate “new media” function within its corporate communication department. “Its remit: To act as expert consultants inside and outside IBM on issues relating to blogs, wikis, RSS and other social media applications. The main idea is to educate, support and promote programs that utilize these tools. IBM has a history of being a t the forefront of technology based corporate communication. From the multimedia brainstorming “WorldJam” that made news headlines back in 2001 in which 50,000 employees worldwide joined a real time, online idea-sharing session about the company’s direction. IMB has always prepared itself to use breakthrough technologies to establish a two-way dialogue with its employees. The need for social media was necessary and could no longer wait.

The Outcome:

In the last few years IBM has been recognized as being the vanguard of social-media use: IBM was on of the first Fortune 500 companies to get behind collaborative wikis, published internal blogging guidelines as far back as 2003, and is now moving fast beyond RSS and podcasts into videocasting and “virtual world” technologies like Second Life. The intranet search facility extends to all areas of the site, including new media aspects. When an employee logs onto their portal an executes a key word search, the results they get back not only come from the main intranet pages, but include results from IBM forums, wikis, blogs and podcast/videocasts tags. IMB has an understanding that employees are no longer staying in a company their entire lives. It’s just not like that any more. In Belgium for example over 50 percent of 2,300 employees have been there fewer than five years. The company has come to the conclusion that with an increasingly young and mobile workforce, the likelihood is that an employee population full of a younger generation, for whom these tools are part and parcel of life, is not that far away. In years to come IBM will have to deal with employee base for which blogging is just the natural way to interact over a web platform. IBM has created centralized platforms for most tools that fall under its remit, which includes wikis. For Philippe Borremans, new media lead Europe for IBM, has the potential business applications of a wiki cover two broad benefits: Collaborating and knowledge sharing. IBM has scored some notable successes on both fronts in the near 5000 wiki pages now up and running in the organization. The company has been a huge pick-up in interest in podcasting over the last 18 months writing can seem such a technical skill, whereas people feel they can talk more freely than they can write. One of the most consistently popular IBM podcasts, with over 20,000 downloads a week.

Ameriprise Financial

The Situation:

The Department of Justice survey estimates that 3.6 million U.S. households were victims of identity theft in 2004. Trafficking in personal date goes beyond U.S. borders: the New York Times reports that stolen financial information is often distributed among participants of online trading boards, and the buyers are frequently located in Russia, Ukraine, and the Middle East. One reason clients are concerned about data security is the widespread publicity generated by breaches at financial services firm. In late December 2205, an Ameriprise Financial employee’s laptop that contained unencrypted data on approximately 230,000 customers and advisors was stolen from a car. Other financial services firm, including Citigroup and Bank of America, also acknowledge large-scale customer data losses in 2005. President of NCS, Rita Dew, a compliance consulting firm in Delray Beach, Florida, says that the Securities and Exchange Commission requires investment advisors to have policies and procedures that address the administrative, technical, and physical safeguards related to client records and information.

The Response:

Ameriprise Financial had to fight back and had to implement “layers of protection.” It is important for employees who their primary business computer, and employees regularly transport the computer between home, office, and meeting sites. The vulnerability of this arrangement and the need for a safety software program is much needed.

The Outcome:

Employees who are transporting lab tops should install the Steganos Security Suite on their computer. This software allows employees to create an encrypted virtual drive on the laptop that serves as data storage safe. Employees stores all client related data and tax preparation software database on the encrypted drive, which employees has set up with one gigabyte of storage space. The best thing is that when an employee turns off the computer the information is stored “safe”, the software automatically encrypts the virtual drive’s data. The software also generates encrypted backup files, which employees store on CDs in a fireproof safe. This should keep the data secure if any employee’s laptop is stolen or if the drive is removed from the laptop. Other financial advisors are relying on encryption both in and out of the office. Other programs that are being used to protect client’s information are RAID Level 1 system to store data on the drives that are encrypted with WinMagic’s SecureDocs software. Encryption ensures that anyone who steals the computer will be absolutely unable to read the data, even by connecting it to another computer as a “slave drive. This has given many financial advisors the greatest peace of mind.

Terasen Pipelines

The Situation:

Terasen Pipelines is a subsidiary of Terasen Inc. located in Vancouver, Canada and is located in several provinces and U.S. states. In 2001 the company changed its headquarters to Calgary to be closer to the oil. With the big move, the company went through a growth spurt. With the company in many different locations and the growing numbers of employees, the HR department saw a need to find a new system to keep more accurate records.

The Response:

In the past Terasen had kept records on paper and with spreadsheets and with the growth of the company, this system does not work as well as in the past. In order to compensate for future growth, Terasen began to look into HRIS companies to help with the HR operations. After researching different companies, Hewitt’s application service provider model with eCyborg was found to be the right fit.

The Outcome:

Although there was difficulty adapting to a new way of recordkeeping, Terasen was able to find a system that will help support the current and future growth of the company. Fortunately, some of the HR staff had experience working with an HRIS and were able to help their colleagues imagine new processes, as aided by a system. One theme often voiced throughout this process was: “You guys don’t know how hard we’re working when we can make it so much easier with a system that could do a lot of this for us. You don’t always have to run to the cabinet for the employee file just to get basic information. It can all be at your fingertips.” (Vu, 2005). In order to help Terasen ease the HR burden of implementing a new HR system, the management of Terasen was convinced to look for a vendor to help implement and maintain a HRIS system. This system has helped Terasen better prepare for current and future growth.

Shaw’s Supermarkets

The Situation:

Shaw’s Supermarkets is the second largest supermarket chain in New England. With a workforce of 30,000 located at 180 stores throughout six states, Shaw’s HR staff is responsible for managing employees’ personal data. Their employee mix includes approximately 70 percent part-time employees, consisting of students, senior citizens, second-job part-timers, and career part-timers. One third of the workforce is made up of union associates, and Shaw’s staff oversees the company’s involvement with three unions and six separate contracts (Koven, 2002). In order to help manage the workforce, the HR staff became interested in centralizing its HR operations.

The Response:

In order to centralize HR operations Shaw’s decided to implement an ESS (employee self-service) solution. The use of self-service applications creates a positive situation for HR. ESS gives HR more time to focus on strategic issues, such as workforce management, succession planning, and compensation management, while at the same time improving service to employees and managers, and ensuring that their data is accurate. With this solution, employees have online access to forms, training material, benefits information and other payroll related information.

The Outcome:

Shaw’s has had positive feedback since implementing the ESS solution. “The reaction from our employees has been extremely positive,” Penney, VP of Compensation and Benefits, says. “We even had a significant increase in our medical coverage costs, and it was almost a non-issue because the online enrollment featured the plan choices, the employee cost, and the company subsidy. An employee self-service application makes it very easy for them to understand their contributions and coverage options. I received several e-mails from employees saying this was a great change and how easy ESS was, which the case is not often when employees are selecting their benefit options.” (Koven, 2002). By giving the employees more access to their information they are able to see the benefit choices available to them. Employees are also able to update their information online, which helps reduce the paperwork of the past. Shaw’s has also seen improvement in productivity because employees are updating information at home, not during work hours.

CS Stars, LLC

The Situation:

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has announced that New York State has reached its first settlement with a company charged with failing to notify consumers and others that their personal data had gone missing. Cuomo’s office, which enforces the state’s 2005 Information Security Breach and Notification Law, charged CS STARS LLC, a Chicago-based claims management company, with failing to give notice that it had lost track of a computer containing data on 540,000 New Yorkers’ workers’ comp claims.

The Response:

The owner of the lost data, which had been in the custody of CS STARS, was the New York Special Funds Conservation Committee, an organization that assists in providing workers’ comp benefits under the state’s workers’ comp law. On May 9, 2006, a CS STARS employee noticed that a computer was missing that held personal information, including the names, addresses, and Social Security numbers of recipients of workers’ compensation benefits. But CS Stars waited until June 29, 2006, to notify Special Funds and the FBI of the security breach. Because the FBI declared that notice to consumers might impede its investigation, CS STARS waited until July 8, 2006, to send notices to the 540,000 New Yorkers affected by the breach. On July 25, 2006, the FBI determined an employee, of a cleaning contractor, had stolen the computer, and the missing computer was located and recovered. In addition, the FBI found that the data on the missing computer had not been improperly accessed.

The Outcome:

New York’s Information Security Breach and Notification Law, effective in December 2005, requires businesses that maintain computerized data which includes private information to notify the owner of the information of any breach of the security of the system immediately following discovery, if the private information was, or is reasonably believed to have been, acquired by a person without valid authorization. The law affects not only businesses in their dealings with their customers, but employers in their role as custodians of employees’ personal data. (Cadrain)

Without admitting to any violation of law, CS STARS agreed to comply with the law and ensure that proper notifications will be made in the event of any future breach. The company also agreed to implement more extensive practices relating to the security of private information. CS STARS will pay the Attorney General’s office $60,000 for costs related to this investigation. (Cadrain)

IBM

The Situation:

IBM’s paperless online enrollment system, introduced in 1999, has proved to be a winner for both the company’s 135,000 active U.S. employees and the company, according to Cathleen Donnelly, senior communications specialist at company headquarters in Armonk, N.Y. The company saves $1.2 million per year on printing and mailing costs alone, Donnelly says, and the employees’ can take advantage of a variety of technologies to learn about issues, research program information and access decision support tools from their desktop computers. (Heuring, 2002)

The Response:

One of those tools, a personal medical cost estimator, enables employees to calculate potential out-of-pocket health care expenses under each of the plan options available to them, Donnelly says. Employees log in personally and are greeted by name and with important information regarding their benefits enrollment, such as the deadlines and when changes take effect. They automatically get access to health plans that are available to them, and the calculator lets them compare estimated benefit amounts for each plan.

“Employees can select the health care services they expect to use in a particular year, estimate expected frequency of use, and calculate potential costs under each plan option,” Donnelly says. “The feedback that we’ve received from employees tells us that this tool has really helped them to make a comparison between plans based on how they consume medical services.” The calculator shows both IBM’s costs and the employee’s. (Heuring, 2002)

The Outcome:

“Since we began offering online enrollment, we’ve learned that employees want web access,” Donnelly says, so they can log on at home rather than through the company intranet. So the company has been working to put in place a web-based enrollment system that employees and retirees can access from anywhere.

Employees can get summary information on the plans, drill down into very specific details and follow links to the health care providers for research. Donnelly says the system has received high marks for convenience because employees can “get in and out quickly.”

WORKSource Inc.

The Situation:

To meet the challenge of handling 100 new employees, WORKSource Inc. acquired Web-based technology programs from GHG Corp. like electronic paystub, electronic timesheet software, time-off system, and human resource information system (“Tips,” 2006). These tools enabled CEO Judith Hahn to handling payroll procedures efficiently and effectively.

The Response:

WORKSource has eight workforce centers, with approximately 108 employees, located throughout a six-county region. Previously, payroll, benefits, and human resources for those employees were processed and managed by a Professional Employer Organization. The company also has 52 administrative staff in its headquarters office. When the contract with the PEO terminated on June 30, 2006, those 108 employees were immediately moved to the payroll of WORKSource, which meant Hahn’s workload more than doubled effective July 2006 (“Tips,” 2006).

Hahn, in an interview with PMR, said she relied on LEAN to help get a handle on what needed to change for her to manage the increased workload. Two years earlier, Hahn’s CEO had introduced her to LEAN, a Japanese management concept of eliminating wasteful steps and motion when completing processes. “I began to read as much as possible about LEAN and joined an HR LEAN focus group” (“Tips,” 2006).

The Outcome:

Mastering the concepts of LEAN led Hahn to develop and apply her own acronym of “REASON” to her department’s payroll and HR processes. Review the process: map payroll tasks from start to finish. Eliminate waste: determine how to complete a payroll task most efficiently without unnecessary steps. Analyze alternatives: research and evaluate the applicability of new technology. Sell innovations to management: document the return on investment of each innovation. Open the lines of communication: communicate openly—and often—with all stakeholders, including employees and top management. Never allow negativity: make change simple and fun. Give employees plenty of encouragement and time to learn (“Tips,” 2006). Judith Hahn was able to implement the right human resource functions using information systems.

Toshiba America Medical Systems Inc.

The Situation:

Lynda Morvik, director of benefits and human resources information systems at Tustin, California-based Toshiba America Medical Systems Inc. (TAMS), thought it would make sense to add a benefits communication component to it. By having all the benefit information online, the TAMS employee handbook would also be a living document, enabling Morvik to make changes when necessary. Such was the case halfway through the project, when TAMS changed health care plans from Aetna Inc. to United Health Group Inc (Wojcik, 2004).

The Response:

TAMS, an independent group company of Toshiba Corporation and a global leading provider of diagnostic medical imaging systems and comprehensive medical solutions, such as CT, X-ray, ultrasound, nuclear medicine, MRI, and information systems, had been using a payroll service bureau and an in-house solution for HR that didn’t include easy-to-use consolidated reporting or an employee portal. After evaluating UltiPro alongside several enterprise resource vendors, TAMS selected Ultimate Software’s offering and went live in September 2002 after an on-time and on-budget implementation. Almost immediately upon rolling out the UltiPro portal to employees, TAMS began seeing improvements, with an estimated 70% increase in open enrollment efficiency (Wojcik, 2004).

The Outcome:

In an effort to expand the usage of the Web beyond the benefits enrollment process, TAMS has posted a library of documents and forms on its HR portal, including the benefits handbook, which garnered a 2004 Apex Award for publication excellence. That same year, Business Insurance magazine also gave TAMS the Electronic Benefit Communication (EBC) award for outstanding achievement in communicating employee benefits programs over the Web. To continue elevating its use of Ultimate Software’s HRMS/payroll solution, TAMS modified the UltiPro portal to meet the imaging company’s unique needs (Wojcik, 2004). It was completely integrated with several proprietary applications created to address compensation and performance management issues so that TAMS employees have a central location for comprehensive workforce and payroll information from a Web browser that they can access with a single sign-on (Wojcik, 2004).

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5 Small Business Marketing Strategies to Use Right Away

Marketing is the life-blood of your business; it is what sustains all businesses today, small and corporate alike. Marketing is the combination of strategies you apply in your small business to get new customers, to maintain customer loyalty and to increase your business profitability. If you want to grow your business, here are five small business marketing strategies you should put into practice right away:

1. Personalize whenever possible. Your customers will feel more valued when you send out relevant, personalized communications. And if you can take the time to hand write a few of your correspondence, you will definitely stand out from the crowd. What kinds of things can you personalize? You can send out post cards with hand written short messages to your loyal customers. A hand written thank you card is sure to go a long way. Or how about a quick “I’m thinking of you” note card?

And if you don’t have time to hand write very often, at least make sure the messages you send are pertinent to the client you’re sending them to. I’ll never forget the day I received a letter from our mortgage company saying something to the effect of “If you’re a business, call this number; and if you’re an individual, call this number.” My own mortgage company didn’t know whether I was an individual or a business?! It wasn’t long before we found a new mortgage lender.

2. Use creativity to get your name out there. Chances are, you have limited dollars for promotional items and advertisements in your small business marketing budget. Instead of expensive, full-color, high gloss brochures and flyers, why not consider a black and white newsletter that you can distribute more often. You’ll get a better bang for your buck by utilize an inexpensive strategy that you can repeat more often over an outlandish marketing strategy that you can only do once.

Why not consider email marketing, blogging, classified ads, and email autoresponders that are all less expensive than more traditional advertising so they can be repeated more often. Just be sure not to bite off more than you can chew all at one time. There’s no need to take on every single new marketing strategy all at once. Work one into your schedule, and when you get the hang of that one, add another marketing strategy into your schedule.

3. Create Urgent Offers. Most small businesses don’t have lots of time to sit around and wait for prospects to decide to make a purchase. You want your prospects to buy and to buy now. Build a sense of urgency into every promotional offer you make. Use deadlines, time sensitive bonus offers, limited supply items, etc. to incentivize your prospects to make their purchases sooner rather than later.

4. Use the Phone. I’m not quite sure why, but many of the small business owners that I consult with are afraid of the phone. Since so few entrepreneurs actually use the phone, placing a few calls here and there will definitely have you standing out from the crowd. One way to get over your fear of the phone is to have a mini-script already prepared. Know what you’re going to say ahead of time, and then practice it. Jot down a few notes on index cards – you don’t want to read your phone call word for word from a script. Make your first calls as introductory calls; they’re much easier to handle than traditional sales calls. And if you’re really super nervous about using the phone, try your mini-script out on a few friends or clients with whom you’ve already built up a great rapport.

5. Use Buddy Ads. You can collaborate with other businesses to exchange advertisements. You advertise in their place of business or on their website or in their newsletter, and vice versa. This small business marketing strategy works best when you collaborate with businesses that attract the same audience as yours but are not direct competitors of yours. If you’re a veterinarian, you can do buddy ads with a dog groomer. If you own a furniture you can do buddy ads with a realtor.

No single marketing strategy is ever effective to all small business. You will have to change your strategies from time to time or to use a combination of the strategies to maximize results. Your overall goal is to keep your business presence known to as many prospects as possible. By combining these extremely effective small business marketing strategies, you’ll be well on your way to growing your business an increasing your bottom line.

Understanding The Importance Of Business Management Consulting Services

Businesses will oftentimes benefit from obtaining business management consulting services. These services are especially advantageous to those businesses that are new to the industry. From marketing strategy development to client management to brand marketing, the services are large in number and can be obtained from a wide range of business management consulting firms.

When partnering with such a firm, it is important to obtain services from one that has much experience. A business does not want to partner with a company that has not helped other businesses succeed. To make sure a firm has prior experience, it can be valuable to ask for references, including previous clients who have obtained the firm’s services.

Some business management consulting firms specialize in helping business start-ups. The services they provide tend to include assistance with start-up budgets as well as the development of extensive business management plans. After a business is up and running, the assistance from the firm may be ceased, or if a business prefers, it can continue to obtain services. The length of time that a business partners with a management firm is always determined by the business, never the firm.

If a business is having difficulty with its marketing strategies, it can be of the utmost assistance to obtain services from a business management consulting firm. The firm can help devise marketing techniques that will prove to be effective, with the techniques being based on the industry that the business is operating in as well as the business’s target market. These strategies will not only help to attract new customers but also to retain them.

For businesses that are creating a brand, business management consulting services will also be beneficial. The consulting firm can help a business choose a proper name, create an eye-catching logo, develop a slogan and much more. If a business already has an established brand, the firm can help to improve it. In many instances, obtaining services to help with brand development can be one of the most effective investments the businesses ever make.

Another way that a consulting firm can be of assistance is for businesses that distribute printed marketing materials. They can help develop effective magazines, fliers or whatever type of printed material a business wants to distribute. For companies that offer services and products through the Internet, it is very important for services to be obtained from such a firm. In doing so, the companies can rest assured their content will be displayed in an effective manner, helping to expand their offerings to a global audience.

For those businesses that are into sales, a business management consulting firm can help to generate leads. Many times, the services obtained from the firm prove to be one of the single most effective factors behind a successful sales business. The firm can show a business not only how to find leads but also how to close the deals. Much of the time, they will introduce a business to lead generation techniques that it had not initially thought of.

Music Production Schools – Latest Possibilities in the Music Business

Music production is categorically one of the most successful industries. If you are attracted in the latest technologies, you believe your idea could revolutionize an entire business, and you are passionate about music, today music production schools offer may be interesting to you.There is a large diversity of programs that slowly covers the multilevel music industry.

Even if you ‘re not an professional you can be a especially talented person.Once his objectives are set, any novice can twist into a professional. It ‘s simple to grow to be famous and admired in this industry and this is known for a long time. It is no secret that musicians (singers, songwriters, producers) can experience anytime, both success and failure. Peak periods alternate with less good ones in this business.

Music producer schooling can avoid such negative professional adventures.Technical skills and work should unite.However the music industry it ‘s more complicated than that.

Music production schools give those techniques in order to develop your own vision in music production. Aspiring music entrepreneurs, ready to embrace a musical career, can find their answer with music production schools. Below you can discover some ideas for your career in music:

Successful songwriting

Your inspiration could be extremely valuable. Creativity is valuable but not good enough if you do not anticipate the musical market next trend. To grow to be a famed songwriter you must anticipate the trend within the music industry.

Record your music faster

The music enjoys the newest technological innovations. These tools can be extremely constructive for you if you think in going through a career in music. Everyone in the business will let know that you have to work hard in order to turn out to be a professional in this area. Professional studios with the newest devices and instruments are the most important benefit professional music production schools offer. This detail is practical even for the persons that do not have so much practice. Therefore, they will meet high standards in music business since the very beginning of their profession in music production.

Excellent artist management

To be successful in this business you need a lot of promotion. If talent is for artists, vision is unquestionably for producers who supervise such a business. When you are an singer coach you have to consider all features that are involved starting with the writing of the songs and all the extra things. It’s difficult to work with artists but with persistence and passion you can be successful. In the beginning, you might feel overwhelmed, but in time you will develop your own plans to deal with this kind of matters.

There is an additional important component that needs to be mentioned when it comes to music industry – competition. Never underestimate your rivalry, permanently keep an eye on them if you desire to be a footstep forward. You must never underestimate your opponent.

Now that you know how music industry works and music is your life time passion but your singing frightened relatives and neighbors, music production schools present full guidance for a profession in music industry. You should take into account the methods made accessible by the music production schools since the secret of all successful activities is the preparation.

7 Reasons Writers Should Self-Publish

  1. Creativity. Gone are the days when publishing your book meant relinquishing all control. Rewrites, cover art, book design – all these things were the decision of the publisher. With self-publishing you control the content, design and price of your book. You also get to take charge of the marketing, which can be a big bonus!
  2. Profits. Substantial advances are also a thing of the past. Traditional publishers typically pay only 4-6% royalties. Publish for yourself and keep 100% of the profits from the sale of your book.
  3. Marketing. Huge publishing houses dilute their marketing efforts among hundreds of authors. You can focus all your marketing efforts on your title(s). Additionally, there are low and no cost marketing channels available today that didn’t exist as recently as five or ten years ago. Social media can spread the word about your books with lightning speed.
  4. Credibility. Self-Publishing has become very favorable among serious writers. It has even caused some traditional publishing houses to open self-publishing divisions. It’s NOT going away. Self-published books are carried in bookstores and libraries worldwide. Aside from profits (which we all want), publishing allows your voice to be heard. Leaving a legacy and helping others are viable motives for publishing your work. Above all, your book is an expression of you.
  5. Speed. You’ll be able to publish your book much more quickly than a traditional publishing house. If you need to reach your readers quickly, this is the way to go (see number seven). Just be sure you don’t cut corners. You still want to put out a quality book. You set your own pace when you take charge of your publishing. This means you can have your book in weeks instead of years.
  6. Branding. Imagine distributing copies of your book while everyone else in the room is handing out business cards? A book brings your idea to life! A how-to book related to your industry can open doors for speaking opportunities, training opportunities and more. A book will lend credibility to your expertise and is a marketing tool every small business owner and entrepreneur should have.
  7. Kindle. Kindle has opened the door for self-publishing in a whole new arena. I firmly believe that everyone has a book in them. We all have a story to tell. Kindle has made it easy to get your foot in the publishing door. For very little money, you can self-publish via Kindle. For a little more money, you can have it done for you. Many companies can help you publish a quality, professional e-book.

Happy Writing!!

Oil Change and Other Maintenance

Keeping up with your car’s routine maintenance will help it run for many, many years. A simple $20 maintenance job can add years of life to your car’s engine. If you own a vehicle, you need to understand the importance of having a regular oil change and other routine maintenance.

An oil change involves taking out the old lubricant from your car’s engine and replacing it with fresh fluids. This is essential, because engine oils gather debris while they circulate through vehicle engines, and that debris keeps the lubricant from functioning properly. Eventually it can gum up your vehicle’s engine, increase wear and tear on engine parts, and keep your engine from functioning well.

When you have an oil change, you should also have the other fluids in your vehicle serviced and, if necessary, replaced. This includes steering fluid, transmission fluid, and coolant. Talk to your mechanic about the proper levels for these fluids, and have him check to make sure they are still clean and at their proper levels whenever you have your regular maintenance done. Many mechanics will recommend a coolant and transmission fluid flush from time to time to ensure that these fluids are clean and fresh. They do not pick up debris as quickly as the engine lubricant does, but they can still become dirty.

Another aspect of your car’s regular routine maintenance is its brakes. The brake pads on your vehicle get run down over time. These need to be replaced as needed. The length of time you will go between replacing the brake pads will vary tremendously based on the way you drive your vehicle. The more often you use your brakes, the more quickly the pads will need to be replaced. Talk to your mechanic about signs that it’s time to replace your pads, which may include sounds from your brakes.

You may want to include tire rotation on your list of routine maintenance. Rotating your tires, perhaps every other time you have an oil change, will help them to wear evenly. This will prevent uneven tread wear, which can lead to blowouts and flat tires at inopportune times.

You will also want to replace your windshield wipers from time to time. This will keep you from being in a situation where your wipers do not clear your windshield well. Consider rubber clad blades if you live in an area where it gets icy in the winter. You may also want to swap out your washer fluid for a de-icing washer fluid in the winter, and then switch to one that eliminates bugs from the windshield in the warm months.

Whenever you have your vehicle serviced for maintenance, take the time to check all of your vehicle’s lights. Don’t forget the emergency blinkers and turn signals. If any are burnt out, replace them. Driving without properly functioning lights is dangerous.

Remember, routine maintenance should go beyond the oil change. By taking care of all parts of your vehicle now, you will ensure that it runs reliably for a very long time.

Is eBid a Legitimate Online Marketplace?

eBid vs. eBay review

It is no big surprise that eBay is king of the auction marketplace. To many of us, eBay and auction marketplace are synonymous. Starting out as a source for people to sell their used computers, computer parts, electronics, etc, they quickly dominated this selling niche. However, with both buyer and seller satisfaction at an all-time low, many sellers are looking elsewhere to offer their wares to internet buying public. Buyers are seeing this and beginning to follow suit. One alternative is eBid, an internet auction and fixed priced site with many of the features buyers and sellers have grown accustomed to-Often at a much lower price.

eBid and eBay both offer offer a variety of items in different categories: clothing, shoes, computers, electronics, you name it you can get it here.

Let us Compare briefly the two auction sites. We will look at prices/fees, Quality of items, item variety, site security, and overall buying/selling experience

Fees and Prices: eBid

Quite simply, eBid wins in a landslide.

Depending on the item, selling fees at eBay are now anywhere from 9% to 16% when listing fee is added. If you want special enhancements like extra pictures, it will be even more. Add the cost of pay pal, and sellers are looking at fees approaching 11%-18%. Many industries are lucky to get a margin of 10-15% above wholesale. Because there aren’t too many people or companies who like to lose money, prices go up.

eBid’s pricing is lower-and far simpler. For a low monthly, yearly or lifetime fee, eBid sellers can list as many auctions as they want. After this, the base price for individual auctions is free, as are the final value fees. However, sellers do have a few options. They can choose to add a gallery picture (base auctions do not have pic) for 2% final value fee. So, a 100.00 item sold in this manner would cost 2.00 +pay pal fees vs. 10-14.00+ Pay Pal Fees on eBay. Sellers can also put their item on the feature page for $1.00 with no Final fee

Bottom line: Seller fees are significantly lower on eBid, which results in lower prices

My eBay listing for a new 5th Generation iPod nano (16 GB) is $170 @ eBay and $155.00 at eBid. My profit is roughly the same, but customers are getting a better deal on eBid-and are more likely to buy again

Quality of items: eBid (slight edge)

I have bought and sold on both sites. What I have found on eBay recently is a small but growing number of sellers not being 100% honest on all their listings. Don’t get me wrong, the majority of eBay sellers are honest companies/individuals with quality products. However, it seems more and more people are being squeezed by fee increases and deciding to try to embellish their listing a bit. Also, given that legitimate sellers are being forced out of business or to go elsewhere, there are less quality stable companies on eBay. The void, it seems, is being filled by more fly-by night sellers offereing inferior products. Many of the quality sellers have gone elsewhere, and a growing number are choosing eBid.

Bottom line: Many Legitimate Retailers who buy wholesale from manufacturers cannot absorb a 15% off the top fee. As a result, many eBid sellers are eBay refugees who can no longer survive (honestly) at eBay.

Selling and Buying Features: eBay

eBay has many more “neat” features that eBid doesn’t. eBid doesn’t have a best offer feature, nor do they have as many ways to search or list items. This makes sense, given the large fee difference. The sold items interface, as well as the auction interface are not as good as found on eBay. However, in terms of practicality, eBid does the job fine. Additionally, they have recently upgraded their site with more options and a more user friendly interface.

Bottom Line: eBay gets the nod for features and “Bells and Whistles.” However, eBid is what they say they are, which is a market place offering a venue for auctions and fixed price format. eBid is not lacking anywhere that impedes this process.

Buying and Selling Experience: eBid

This is largely opinion, but eBid seems to be what eBay once was. That is to say, it has a community feel where sellers help other sellers with tips, advice, suggestions-even promo tools. The reason for this is likely because sellers recognize that their success depends on the overall success of everyone associated with eBid. As far as buying, I have had nothing but positive experiences. I know that there are bad apples everywhere, and unfortunately there will be some less than positive experiences for some members-but so it goes with e-commerce no matter what the venue.

Safety, Security, Buyer/seller protection: EVEN, Wash

Yes, that’s right-no difference. Despite the fact that eBay has done a nice job promoting themselves as the “safest” option, the fact is that both sites accept pay pal as well as credit cards. Yes, I know eBay owns it, but pay pal is the real cash cow in the eBay enterprise. They offer buyer and seller protection on both eBay and eBid. It doesn’t vary in terms of site to site.

Going a step further, Pay Pal is not exactly as safe as many believe. In fact CREDIT AND DEBIT CARDS ARE FAR SAFER THAN PAY PAL. Banks are subject to the Truth in Lending Act, which states that the max liability for cardholders is $50.00 when card is used fraudulently. For online Transactions, that number is 0, zero, nada. Look it up.

Pay pal, on the other hand, is not a bank and is not subject to these rules. Basically, if they can recover your money, great-you get it back. But if they can’t-you will likely be out of luck. Look it up.

Bottom Line: There is no difference in security, as the same pay methods are offered.

Variety of items: eBay

eBay wins this one. One complaint I hear from buyers is having a variety of choices in terms of purchases and vendors. However, eBid has experienced a sizable jump in the number listings offered, as well as overall traffic.

Bottom line: eBay wins, but eBid gaining

Overall: eBid*

I give the Advantage to eBid based on 1) Prices and 2) Overall experience, especially for the buyer. However, I have added an asterisk because it remains to be seen if the recent momentum translates into increased sales volume for sellers. Many people still use eBay out of sheer habit, while others may still abide by the illogical fear that other sites are less safe. It is curious that eBay still is successful, despite the fact that their advantages are limited to the bells and whistle features and overall number of items that are offered. Don’t get me wrong, I still sell on eBay, and it is not as if they are doing anything wrong by continuously increasing selling fees.

If people continue to use their service, why not raise prices?

However, in this economy, price is king. The bottom line is that sellers in ecommerce eBay work very hard-eBay is not the easy millionaire in your underwear endeavor that many claim it to be. It should also be noted that buyers work equally as hard in their respective professions, and money is harder than ever to come by. All things equal, I will go with the lower priced option every time-especially when the cheaper option offers a better overall experience.

How Astrology Is Used Today

Astrology is the science of observing the Earth’s position relative to major celestial bodies. Individuals who believe in the usefulness of astrology utilize this science to predict future events and to help explain a variety of circumstances people experience on a regular basis.

If you are interested in what fate has in store for you, or you are interested in the various reasons why you are currently going through difficult times, you can utilize astrology to better understand your current situation. This science can be used in a variety of ways and it can be adapted to accommodate the unique needs of all types of people.

This science is commonly used to generate short summaries for people to read that are known as horoscopes. Horoscopes are designed to provide people with insightful information and they are designed to help people better prepare themselves for what is in store for them in the future.

Horoscopes can come in the form of daily, weekly, and even yearly predictions. Since there are also specific ages, or extended time periods, that are associated with specific zodiac signs, you can even summarize entire centuries and the type of events that are bound to occur within them through the use of astrology as well.

Many people access their daily horoscopes for entertainment, but many people also rely upon their daily horoscopes in a somewhat religious and superstitious manner too. Individuals who use horoscopes in this manner often believe what they read in their horoscopes to be true and they act accordingly to better accommodate the fates that are predicted for them.

Astrological references can also be used to classify people in general. If a person was born in a specific portion of the year, it is likely that they possess certain character traits that commonly correspond with their unique zodiac sign. Each zodiac sign correlates with a variety of common emotions and personality traits and this information can be used for many purposes.

One of the most common uses this information is applied to is compatibility. It is often believed that people of the same sign are more compatible with each other than people who are of different zodiac signs. Many people also believe that the future success of a relationship can be predicted based upon the individual zodiac signs of the people within the relationship.

There are truly many different sides to this science that are all very interesting and oftentimes quite fascinating. Whether you are interested in predictions of future events, or you are just trying to better understand the current circumstances you have found yourself in, you will likely be thoroughly entertained and informed by astrology and its insightful predictions.

Website Building for Affiliate Marketing – Build Your Site and Join or Join and Build It

Everyone these days is talking about earning money through internet. Those who have IT and related skills find easy ways to earn money from this great resource. However, even if you don’ have a specific skill required to earn money from the internet, you have the option to join an affiliate program to earn money. There are thousands of affiliate programs where you could join and sell a product in order to generate income through commission.

When you are going to join an affiliate program, you will find that there are two types of such programs.

· Some affiliate programs offer you a website on their own.

· Other affiliates want you to have a website

It is interesting to evaluate which kind of affiliate program is better. Are you going to do your website building first and join an affiliate program next or join an affiliate program and get a website from them? With both methods you need to do a lot in order to get down traffic to your site. When an affiliate program offers a site, they will only provide the templates, domain name and the hosting. Website building is your job.

Affiliate marketing sites and advertising

Selling their product is not the only benefit the company that offers the affiliate marketing site expects from your website. They want their propaganda also to be done through your site. Therefore, they will post various different links to their sites and advertisements in your affiliated website. Due to this reason most surfers are not happy to stay in an affiliate marketing site. However, if you do your website building first and join the affiliate marketing program afterwards, you never need to face this situation. Therefore on this context it is much better to have your own website and join an affiliated marketing program.

Domain name

When you do your website building using the resources offered by an affiliated marketing program and use their free hosting and the domain name, you get a domain name which shows that yours is a sub domain. With such a domain name and all the advertisement appearing around the site, it will never look a professional site. As such, you are at a disadvantage. All your efforts to get down traffic will be only for the benefit of the affiliated marketing company.

You never own a site offered by an affiliate

One of the biggest disadvantages of using a free site offered by an affiliated marketing company is that you don’t own the website. Even if you make good sales and earn money you never own the site. Therefore, all the control is with the affiliated marketing company. If you do your own website building and own your site it will not be so. The worst thing that could happen is that through some reason if they stop producing the item you sell or if the affiliated marketing company goes bankrupt you will lose your site.

Considering all these facts it is far better to hire a website building company and get a website built on order to join an affiliated program with your own website.

MLM Training – Allocating Your Advertising Budget

One of the most difficult concepts for people to understand regarding their MLM business is that you almost always need to fund your growth. While there are many free ways to generate leads, you will need to start allocating some money to marketing and  advertising  if you want your MLM business to grow quickly and get to a size that can provide a great residual income.

There are many good MLM Training courses that will show you exactly how and where to run ads to generate leads for your MLM business. I generally use an MLM Training offer in my  advertising  as this gets me better prospects that are more suited to my style and approach to my MLM business. By ensuring that I am recruiting people who are looking for MLM Training and want to learn, I can increase the likelihood that they will stay with the business long enough to get results. What I am interested in here is giving you some guidance as to how to allocate your funds to maximize your results. Given that many people don’t have a lot of money to waste; it’s essential that you focus your  advertising  dollars in areas that will bring the best possible results.

Some of the various  advertising  methods include buying leads, running pay-per-click ads online and running newspaper ads. No matter which method of generating leads that you choose, you will need to determine the cost or revenue associated with each activity. You need to know how many dollars you earn from recruiting people into your business. If you are using a Funded Proposal for your lead generation, you need to know what your profit margin is on a per lead basis for that portion of your business. If you are participating in any supplementary programs (such as a autoresponder, MLM Training System or recruiting system) where you are paid commissions for introducing new members to the system, you need to know how much you earn (gross and net) from each system. You should try to find a quality commission paying system that includes things like an Autoresponder and MLM Training as part of the package. Not only are these essential to your business but each and every new member you enroll will need an Autoresponder and good MLM Training courses to have any chance to succeeding. You might as well direct them to some good ones right away.

After you have reviewed your revenues and expenses for each recruiting source, you need to determine how many people from each source you are actually able to enroll in your business. You may find that some methods are less expensive to generate leads but those leads do not convert as well to your main MLM business. By using a spreadsheet format you can calculate which methods are the most profitable for you business and then focus your  advertising  dollars in that area. You do need to be careful about putting all of your eggs in one basket though so you should generally use at least the two best methods to help diversify the risk.

Newspaper leads can be problematic to track but if you have a good system for ensuring that you know where they can from (i.e. a separate website where you can track your hits) then it can be very profitable. Pay-per-click  advertising  is very popular for people who are recruiting online. You need to make sure that you monitor your conversions from each place you run ads to ensure that they are profitable for you. Buying leads can be very profitable for you business as well but you need to be very careful about where you get them from and how much you pay for them. You should ask your mentors or peers for recommendations of lead companies they have used and try to develop a relationship with the company you are working with. This will allow you to make sure that your needs are properly communicated to the lead company.

Although it takes a bit of work to collect the data and run the calculations, you will find that having a good handle on your  advertising  expenditures will enable you to have great success with your MLM business.

Why Is Web 2.0 So Popular?

A few years ago a certain major search engine decided to try something different with regards to organising, linking and ranking pages. It was successful because through development we now have Web 2.0.

What is Web 2.0.? The basic concept of Web 2.0 is that the internet users have the ability and platforms to give and share quality content.

In my mind, I simply see that it is like opening up a giant forum and chat room full of different topics and discussions.

Because of the linking of different topics and through the giving and sharing of quality content it has become many diverse communities inside one giant community.

What Is Quality Content.?

Anything that would be of interest to a group of people and is useful. It could be a whole range of content, from hobbies, fashion, food & drink, humour, sport, education, news, information, politics, health, business etc.

People love to share and receive content, they love to communicate. It is human nature. Web 2.0 has made it possible for anyone to communicate on the worldwide web with ease. And you don’t need to be an expert, you just need to make sure that what you share is the truth and correct and up to date.

A Bonus

Anyone with access to the internet can use Web 2.0 because it is Free.

Giving and sharing content has many rewards.

Here are just a few to think about, perhaps you can think of more:

The feel good factor,

Helping others

It can build self-esteem,

Create personal friendships

Build business and create good interactive business relationships,

Personal development and growth.

Improve communication skills.

How do you utilise Web 2.0 and link yourself to other users?

Well, it is quite simple, here are a few examples:

Social Network Sites

There are hundreds of these on the net, the biggest are MySpace and Facebook. There are others like Multiply, Gather, Twitter (more of a notice board site), Digg etc. For business here are the most popular: Bizpreneur, Bizzyblogs, Network2Connect. You also have business directories like Linkedinn.

These are platform communities where you can make a profile page about yourself, invite friends, build a friends list, upload videos and pictures, send messages, write blogs. You can also leave comments on others people’s profiles. But be careful not to spam them.

Forums

These are very popular still and have been used longer than Social Network Sites. There are thousands of forums on the net all covering different topics and discussions. You can either join a stand alone Forum or a forum within the social network sites. Just do a Google or Yahoo search for forums you would like to join.

Bookmark Platforms These are sites where you can bookmark your favourite websites and either make them private or public. A very popular one is Del.ici.ous. There are others like Webmarks, Pluginn etc.

Blogging Again there are a countless number of sites for writing and publishing your blogs. These are sites where you put regular updates about a particular topic or subject you are interested. Either for fun or for business reasons. You can put articles (these don’t have to be long, just a paragraph or two), pictures, videos, etc on these sites. People can then subscribe to your blog, and be kept up to date with your content. It is always advisable to keep your blog on the same topic. Again you can use stand alone sites, the most popular being Blogger, Hubpages, and Squidoo or you can write blogs within the social network sites.

Video Blogging

Also known as vlogging. This has become increasingly popular within the last year. People love audio and visual content particularly when it is done in a natural way. Although I am not saying that professional film making isn’t popular or commercials, on the contrary. Digital technology has made it easy for the average person to create their own long or short movies. Windows movie maker is a great editing programme which comes included with Windows, which is great because it doesn’t cost any extra money. Another great editing program which is not free is Camtasia.

There are hundreds of video hosting sites and most of them are free. The most popular and well known is YouTube. Others are Google Video, Yahoo, Putfile, Metacafe, Sumo.Tv, Sevenload, DailyMotion etc. Again you can upload your videos on whatever topic you like and people can subscribe to your videos, rate them and leave comments and messages. And you can do the same.

These examples mentioned above are the most common and easy methods to use. These will get anyone started and as a person becomes familiar and gets to know their way around other methods will be found. Also bear in mind that the internet is always changing and evolving so it is good to watch closely.

Enjoy Enjoy your Web 2.0 experience. It is a continuous learning curve but also lots of fun. So always remember to keep it fun!

Planning Successful Summer Weddings

Next to fall, summer is one of the most popular seasons to host a weeding. The warm air, sunshine and scenery make for a terrific environment to exchange vows with the one you love. However, when planning a summer wedding there are several important details one needs to keep in mind to ensure the ceremony is successful and enjoyed by all. Though summer is an enjoyable season you do have to factor in excessive heat, insects and sudden rain that could disrupt your wedding. When you plan ahead you can be prepared for outdoor hazards and provide the necessary cover to make your wedding a memorable event.

While many people anticipate a bright and sunny day for their wedding in June, July or August summer is known for sudden rain squalls. If you are planning a wedding during these months and will be having it outdoors make sure to have canopy tents set up. Tents not only can protect guests from sudden rain but will also provide necessary shade for guests who need relief from the heat. You will also want canopy tents set up for the wedding DJ and bar and food stations so people working the event don’t suffer from too much sun exposure.

Another thing to keep in mind when setting up for the big wedding day is the possibility guests may suffer from heat exhaustion. Weddings are full of dancing and partying and it’s common for guests to work up a sweat while celebrating. This is often not a problem in the fall or winter but outside in 80 degree heat with a burning sun bearing down it can be a major concern. Plan on having plenty of bottled water in buckets of ice or coolers strategically placed around the wedding facility so guests can stay hydrated. You may even want to consider setting up fans and mist sprayers that can provide instant relief from the heat.

Lastly, a summer wedding can easily be ruined with the sudden arrival of gnats, mosquitoes and other bothersome insects. These bugs smell food miles away and when you’re throwing a big outdoor wedding expect these uninvited guests to make themselves right at home. While you can’t erect a shield around the entire surrounding you can outfit canopy tents with side panels and clear plastic windows that will provide a comfortable shelter for guests while they eat. You can also find canopy tents with mesh screens that allow a cool breeze to blow in while keeping all the bugs away. When you plan a summer wedding properly you can rest easy knowing everyone will be comfortable and have a good time.

Free Advertising On the Web

Do you ever wonder sometimes how you are going to get your website out on the internet so people can see it? Finding new places to advertise where nobody else does?

With the internet being so overloaded with work at home jobs, business opportunities and regular jobs it’s hard to come across new, undiscovered places to advertise. Here are 8 tips to help you get your website seen:

1) Use message boards. There are lots of topics out there that you can talk about. Get to know people on the boards and introduce them to your company. The more friends you make the more they will trust you. Seek out boards on topics you enjoy. If you enjoy cooking, seek out cooking boards. If you enjoy music, seek out music boards.

2) Get a banner/button made. Exchange links if you can. It’s all about FREE advertising.

3) Plug boards. These are new to the advertising world. it’s a simple 88×30 button and you can submit it to a lot of work at home websites and other company websites.

4) Articles. Submit your articles to message boards and article directories. If you are a subscriber to an ezine, consider submitting your article to the ezine publisher for inclusion in a future edition.

5) Contests. Enter yourself in contests. Some websites have featured companies or mom/dad of the month where you can post your information on their site for a month. Once again FREE advertising. Sponsor contests. The contest you sponsor will be advertised, and your name and website will be attached as a contributor. Run your own contest and submit it everywhere you can, contest websites, message boards and sweepstakes sites.

6) Fillers. A lot of people are looking for fillers to put in their work at home packs. You send them your business card or flyers and they include it in their pack of information.

7) Free classifieds. This is another great way to promote your site. Some sites allow you to post once a week. Other sites allow daily submissions. Be sure to read over their rules before you post.

8) Myspace/Ryze. Myspace and Ryze are two great ways to network with other people that have their own home businesses. Join their networks and share your information about your company with other moms and dads that are also working from home. Also get great resources from these networks on how to build a successful business.

These are just a few tips to help you get your advertising going. There are lots of resources out there that you can use to help grow your business. Find good work at home resource sites to get updated articles and sign up for their newsletters. Join some networks and network with other work at home mom and dads. Have fun building your business and making friends.

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