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Monthly Archives: September 2012

What Kind of Booth Should You Have?

 

In order to get the most effective use out of your trade show booth, a few techniques should be incorporated into your marketing for exhibitions and trade shows. There are a few techniques that are tried and true that you can use at any exhibition and come out on top.

One. Make sure you know the layout before you get there.

Just as if you are mapping exits for a fire drill, you want to have the layout of the floor plan before you get to the exhibition. You can usually call the organizers and get the floorplan well before the convention begins.

The reason that you want the floorplan is to map out a second and third place that you can be if your first choice does not work out. Many times, conventions end up moving a tradeshow booth because it is too big or there is some last-minute change with the venue. You want to make sure to be as flexible as possible, and that includes helping the venue masters choose another place for you in case the first one does not work out.

Two. Bring the most flexible trade show booth that you can.

There are many different kinds of foods that you can bring to an exhibition, some more flexible than others. These days, you want to bring a fully collapsible tradeshow booth that can be built and taken down in pieces. The reason for this is in case you do not get all of the space that you were promised on the floor plan, you can adjust without having to create a huge mess.

Also, the more modern tradeshow booths are well equipped for flight and build, as well as takedown. There is no reason that you should not be able to fit your entire tradeshow booth inside your luggage these days. You should also be able to build it up and take it down very quickly. There are many different kinds of booth designs that fit this exact description. Make sure that you get one of them in order to stay on the cutting edge of the convention.

Three. Get a three-dimensional display.

You want to be tall, wide, and out. Get in the way of the customer. People should see your booth before they see the booth of your competition. You want your banners high and visible. It doesn’t matter if you protrude a little bit more into the walking area than your competitors do. Remember, you are here to sell, and it is better to apologize and take down a piece of your booth rather than tell yourself know before you even show up, and lose out on any customers that may have been looking for you because you were too shy to do something different.

Four. Video and interactivity is King.

The uses of the Nintendo Wii in an exhibition are endless. If you have not thought of any, make sure that you read some website articles on that. You also want to have interactive video if you can. Invest in a downloadable app. All of this will help make your booth the top of the exhibition.

This post is brought to you by Sarah Thomas, a small business owner. When it comes to sound event marketing service she recommends http://www.northernproductions.com/. She has depended them for the last 3 years to deliver quality trade show display designs for her business’ conference events.

 

 

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Life Lessons from a Personal Assistant

No matter what your position in the company you work for, there is always a lot you can learn from a personal assistant. Their roles put them in the thick of most functions of any company without making them full participants and this allows them a unique perspective on all operations most employees will never see; they are able to observe more than most would. There are courses for a personal assistant to learn the tips and tricks of the trade but most of the more efficient and effective tricks will only be picked up naturally over the course of a career. Let’s look at some nuggets of wisdom that go with the job description of personal assistant but that anyone can use themselves to better their career.

Create a Personal System

The first thing a personal assistant will do for their duties is create a system or routine that they cover every morning in their responsibilities. It usually includes checking e-mails, menial daily chores, any responsibility they might have to undertake daily gets filed into a system of operation for a personal assistant. Regardless of salary or position, each of us undertakes to complete some daily task in our careers and creating a system for ourselves and sticking to it creates routine which in turn makes us more efficient from day to day.

Write it All Down

Having good handwriting is one of the qualifications essential to being a good personal assistant because they find themselves writing virtually everything down. This is a good philosophy for anyone in any position to follow; the information age is so drowned in information that not writing down the important notes threatens to see that information become background noise we cannot grasp. If you get an idea brilliant enough to never forget, ignore your instinct and write it down; same for dates, meetings and telephone numbers.

Finish Tasks Once

One amazing thing personal assistants learn in their careers is the work ethic of only ever having to go over something once. By that, it means a system that has been tried and tested is extensively used by most personal assistants and that is only ever looking at a document once. You see a bill, you observe it, address it and then file it but never half-half it by looking at it, putting it down and coming back to it later; you open yourself up to losing it and never addressing it at all later on. We can apply this to any task in our lives to make it easier; pack those groceries away immediately, do the dishes as soon as they need to be done or hang up your laundry immediately after a wash – these examples make life easier. A personal assistant is someone we can all learn a lot from to make life easier, after all their perspective is one of both observer and participant.

Eugene Calvini is a writer who has been involved in a Singapore serviced office among others around the world his entire career; he enjoys sharing tips and tricks he has picked up over the course of his career.

 

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Help Your Staff Offer a Better Service

Training staff takes time and commitment. It is necessary to train employees so that they perform the job well, have a good understanding of health and safety and to ensure they are able to provide the best possible customer service. One of the areas to focus on is offering excellent customer support to everyone and making them have a strong disability awareness that will benefit them to understand how to provide the best service to everyone that walks through the door.

Give Your Employees the Confidence They Need to Provide Excellent Service

When providing disability awareness training you should aim to make your staff comfortable when serving all disabled people. They must be able to provide help without being patronising in any way, and it is important that they don’t make assumptions about the customers. Employees need to be prepared to give extra assistance but never to impose their ‘helpfulness’ to those who don’t require it.  One of the most important things is to train your staff so they are fully aware of any adjustments that can be made if necessary.

When I train my new employees I focus on the following points when it comes to what they may be required to do:

  1. Role playing is a wonderful way of teaching staff to be able to confidently communicate with customers. We have a couple of customers who cannot understand speech very well and for them we provide written information. We have a pen and paper by the counter at all times for times like these.
  2. I like my employees to speak directly to the customer and not to their carer.
  3. Patience is always required for all customers and it’s also important to make sure customers understand everything being said to them.
  4. My staff know that they may be required to provide assistance such as offering an arm for support or for guidance around the store.
  5. Having a seat near to the counter is excellent. My employees are trained to provide seating to customers who may have to wait longer than usual, or who have many bags weighing them down.
  6. In some circumstances it is necessary to speak privately with customers, and you should keep their information confidential. If you have a busy shop or office make sure you have a place for your employees to take customers so that the conversation doesn’t have to be overheard.
  7. We use a portable ramp for our customers to use if they wish to reach our back room.  If you have any portable equipment such as ramps make sure your employees are able to set it up safely, know where it is kept and how to store it safely when not in use.

We have recently worked hard on our printed information to provide materials for all of our customers. In the past we had many leaflets on our counter and we would often pop them into the carrier bags of our customers, but it dawned on me that not everyone was able to read the information. I worked with a company that helped me to create leaflets with larger font.  We also changed the font so it looked a lot clearer and less flamboyant. We added some additional signs at our counter, and around the store that provided information for our customers. These signs are located at a low height so they can be read by everyone and are in large text.

Positive Service for the Entire Community

By training employees to be more aware of the needs of all of the customers we have been able to improve our business, our reputation and our revenue. Currently we are waiting to see if our planning permission for better access to the store has been accepted, and hopefully this will benefit our customers and our business further. Clear training, essential information and solutions available for multiple situations only helps to establish your organisation within your community.

One useful way to help your business provide a better service is an access audit. Highlight areas where improvement is needed and train your employees to provide brilliant customer service.

 

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Small Portions of Hope for the Construction Industry

For building firms and their suppliers this week’s “Government Construction Summit” has offered some mixed messages for the future.  The summit focussed closely on government procurement policies and efficiency savings; but amidst a rash of cuts in government spending, what do these efficiencies amount to?  Both the cabinet office minister Francis Maude and his chief construction advisor Paul Morrell outlined the current position for the construction industry and their own thinking on government building contracts, strategy and procurement.  The summit had a keen focus on both saving money, with some suggestions of possible opportunities for the building industry.

Government Streamlining

Building firms, however, may be less interested in how the government proposes to streamline its processes and more on the availability of construction contracts.  The summit showed that last year the number of contracts for new schools fell by thirty per cent while for roads the figure was nearly fifty per cent.  For many this is no surprise as the government’s austerity measures begin to bite and the effect on the construction industry has been clear with big names such as John Doyle going into administration last month and the subsequent loss of 290 jobs.  Like many other suppliers to the construction industry Doyle’s disappearance from the industry is a significant indicator of the effect that the lack of large scale projects is having on the industry.

Future PFI Contracts?

The Private Finance Initiative (PFI) sector has provided a good market for construction firms in the past, however, at the summit the Treasury’s Infrastructure Unit could only announce that plans for the successor to the initiative will be made clear well before the autumn, and could be available in the next few weeks.  If this raised hopes for construction firms the statement was qualified by the statement that ‘we have had the largest successful investment in s social infrastructure since the Second World War already.  That “already” may be one that suggests there may not be much more on the PFI front planned for the near future.

It’s taking part that matters (if you’ve paid your entry fee)

Despite a cast of thousands in construction terms, the Olympian task of constructing the facilities for the Games Atkins remains the only construction company permitted to use its involvement in the project for marketing purposes.  This was confirmed at the summit, although smaller contractors were advised they could always tell prospective clients that they had been involved.  Sort of along the lines of “It was this big. Honest”.  Having paid for the privilege, it seems that Atkins intend to hold onto their exclusivity, while the smaller firms who have helped to make the Games possible will receive marginally less recognition than your average torch bearer.

Good Tsunamis

Tsunamis are not normally considered a great idea, but Terry Fuller the Homes and Communities Executive director promised one is on its way for construction firms, as housing finances are handed back to local councils.  This particular mega-wave is expected to come in the form of a flood of building contracts, according to Fuller, as councils rush to spend their new found rental income.  On the same theme Fuller disclosed that social housing landlords who fail to meet construction targets may have their funding removed and passed onto others, to ensure enough homes are built on time.

Mixed Messages

Overall the summit provided a glum picture of the construction industry at present, despite the major construction projects promised in the form of nuclear power plants and at least one high speed rail link in coming years.  While the government’s plans to rationalise its spending may not be of much interest to building firms, the changes to funding for housing could offer some hope, as could changes in the way grants are administered to social housing.  For construction firms, large or small, finding their own efficiency savings seems to be the order of the day.

For all sectors in the construction industry, from concrete batch plants suppliers to scaffolding firms, the governments summit this week has provide small portions of hope and some very mixed messages.

 

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Breaking Bad Reviews: How to Protect Your Small Business Online

 

It happens all the time: The hard-working crew at a small business loses customers thanks to the sour grapes of one person.

It could be a disgruntled employee, an angry customer or even a competitor, says V. Michael Santoro, coauthor with John S. Rizzo of Niche Dominance: Creating Order Out of Your Digital Marketing Chaos (www.NicheDominance.com).

“Anyone can post a bad review online and hurt your business,” says Santoro, who is a managing partner with Rizzo of Globe On-Demand, an internet technology company. “Unfortunately, most business owners are not even aware that these bad reviews are out there.”

Seventy-two percent of buyers trust reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 70 percent trust consumer opinions posted online, according to a recent Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising Survey.

“A bad review published in a newspaper, or broadcast on radio or TV, is short-lived, but a bad review posted online can live indefinitely,” says Rizzo. “With consumers now researching an average of 10 reviews before making a buying decision, and 70 percent trusting a business that has a minimum of six reviews posted, business owners need to be proactive in developing their online reputation. You need several positive reviews.”

Online searches have been streamlined, combining reviews with maps, pay-per-click advertising, local business directories and Facebook Fan pages, Santoro says.  As damaging as bad reviews can be, positive reviews can be equally constructive, he says.

Rizzo and Santoro offer an Internet marketing strategy called “reputation marketing,” described in the following steps:

• Develop a 5-Star Reputation: Begin by having your happy customers post great reviews about your business. Strive to have at least 10. Have each post to one of the following: Google Plus Local, Yelp, CitySearch, SuperPages, YP.com, your Facebook Fan page, etc. This needs to be a continuous process. Proactively ask your customers to post reviews.

• Market Your Reputation: Once reviews are posted, use a well-designed online marketing strategy to drive targeted traffic to your website. Ensure that your website can convert this traffic into customers. Additionally, showcase these third-party reviews on your website.

• Manage Your Reputation: Regularly check that the reviews being posted are positive. You can use Google Alerts for your business name; however, you will need to check the local directories, too, since they’re not picked up by Google Alerts. By building up the positive reviews, you can counter a poor one by sheer volume. You should also quickly post a reply to a negative review if they occur. Always be professional and indicate what action you have taken to remedy the situation.

• Create a Reputation Marketing Culture: Train your staff to proactively ask customers for reviews and to deal immediately with any customer who appears unhappy. A positive culture will encourage customers to post positive reviews about your business.

About John S. Rizzo & V. Michael Santoro

John S. Rizzo obtained his bachelor’s in business administration and spent three years as a consultant for Amazon.com’s publishing group. He has assisted several businesses with digital marketing strategy and has served in leadership positions for multiple initiatives for the Charleston, S.C.-Area Chamber of Commerce.

V. Michael Santoro has more than 10 years in the digital marketing field. His prior experience includes international senior marketing positions in technology fields. He has a master’s degree from Central Connecticut State University and an undergraduate degree from the University of New Haven. Santoro was an adjunct professor with the computer science department of Western Connecticut State University.

 

 

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Modernizing Your Human Resource Strategies to Fit the Digital Age

Whether it’s a small business or a large enterprise, a start-up or an established corporation, the influence a competent Human Resources Management team have on a business’ success should never be underestimated. After all, the people in this team have a hand in how new hires view the company and how old-hand employees feel about their employment. An effective HR team will be able to help promote and maintain a work environment that not only makes it conducive for employees to perform efficiently but also stimulates creativity and initiative.

It is essential that a member of a Human Resources team know and understand their established responsibilities and tasks. That’s a given. What experienced HR managers sometimes neglect, however, is the need for continued evolution in strategies and practices in order for the department to stay updated with the changing work force. You can’t expect to use the same coaching methods or recruitment processes from ten years – or even five years – ago and expect it to yield the same outstanding results now as it did then. Especially in today’s digital age, modernizing your strategies is a sure way of demonstrating growth and adaptability.

Here are some tips, tricks, and modern techniques you can employ to help boost your HR management skills.

In Employment and Recruitment

Utilize social media. It is a well-known idea that people in Human Resources are notoriously slow in making use of advances in technology. It’s about time you prove this idea wrong. Gen-Y prospective employees spend more time online and hanging out in social media websites than they do anywhere else. A more established online presence – and publicity for the company – is not the only reason to take advantage of social media in your recruitment processes, though. Prompting conversations and discussions online pertinent to your industry will also introduce you to people with brilliant ideas. People who might be a perfect fit for your company in the future. People from everywhere in the state or the country. You don’t need to post ads on Illinois newspapers or check out Louisiana human resources websites to find the perfect prospective hire. They’ll find you.

Be proactive; not reactive. When it comes to finding talent, waiting for applications is not exactly giving your business the best advantage. It doesn’t have to be a fresh face; the idea is to actively look for people that will fit the role rather than just posting a job ad and sorting through the willing. Taking note of special skills employees have will also help you in identifying the perfect fit should a position matched with the skill open up.

Hire for culture fit as well as skills. This is an often overlooked criterion in picking the perfect new employee. Most HR people will focus on skills and experience, education and background, and forget to pay attention to how exactly the applicant will fit in the current company culture. On top of the required skills and experience, you want someone who can adapt to the established culture within the organization. This will help the employee view the company in a more long-term light.

Training, Development, and Employee Relations

Motivate. That’s pretty general, but motivation is also relative to position, age, length of stay in the company, and the industry. Of course, no matter the mentioned factors, financial compensation is always a factor in motivating employees. That’s not the only thing an HR team should be focusing on, though. Generation Y workers are pretty vocal in their preference for a more dynamic workplace, transparent management, and non-financial benefits rather than just a high salary. In something as subjective and relative as this, it helps you to come up with better methods when you can measure the level of success. Try a motivational technique with one employee and see if there are results. It is then up to you to adjust based on the outcome.

Embrace technology. It doesn’t bite. A well planned and competently executed merging of high tech help with your HR duties will not only save money and time, but should serve as a perfect opportunity for you to say hi to the digital age. Use online payroll apps, software geared towards HR management, and even applicant tracking. Technology is not only for those in the IT industry. By making use of different software and apps, you’re not only making your job smoother but also lessening your carbon footprint – what with your reduced use of paper and other office supplies – while you’re at it.

Consistency is key. No matter what policy you enforce, it is essential that you not only be transparent about it, but consistent as well. You hold everybody responsible – including yourself and everybody in your department. Consistency in leadership promotes trust and is one of the reasons why employees stay.

Be open to changes. Words like flexible hours and telecommuting might be thrown around. It doesn’t mean these will be enforced, but it doesn’t hurt for you to be open to the possibilities. This just helps you adjust accordingly and be ready for when the company decides to go for the changes.

Cedric Loiselle is an experienced writer who enjoys imparting useful information to many readers. The topics he usually writes about include business and finance, home improvement, and health.

 

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Importance of Statistical and Experimental Design

 

Importance of Statistical and Experimental Design

Every operation in a system requires careful planning and every experiment that yields a result requires verification and validation. Statistical and Experimental design by CAMO Software is based around this concept, to assist other companies and research centers in their experimentation, throughout the world. It deals with the design of experiments containing variables, under the full control of technical experts and designers who are responsible for many tasks such as A/B testing, split testing, multivariate data analysis and graphic design.

Role of CAMO software in Experimental Design

CAMO Software and tools related to experimentation are designed with all major types of manufacturing businesses in mind, such as food and beverages, software and hardware, pharmaceuticals, mining, paper and plastic industries. Planned experimentation is a part of chemical formulations, components, elements, materials and physical objects. The company, through its statistical analysis and experimental design, offers multiple data screening and evaluation, product management support, integration of technology into productivity, and assessment of economic returns. The services thus offered are meant for long-term use of requirements involving various elements with varying objectives. The fluctuating nature of expectations demand for caution during the design. For example, if the project undertaken with CAMO Software is based on agriculture and farming, the trials include :

- Assessment of land availability

- Determine the soil heterogeneity and guidance for modification of its characteristics

- Determine the effect of change in soil fertility on the land

- Ensure combined analysis and maintain consistency in the design

- Reduce or eliminate unnecessary previous factors during the experiment

- Integrate farmers’ trials to the experiment wherever necessary

- Determine the size of farming plot with possibility of errors taken into consideration

Important Experimentation Steps

Following are the seven major tips that are crucial in any experimentation in order to find a solution to a given problem:

- Define the problem and ready the variable

- Define objectives and check with the hypothesis

- Test the hypothesis including the stated variable

- Collect the data

- Analyze the data

- Interpret the target result

- Conclude the hypothesis.

CAMO Software engages in statistical methods to ensure proper execution of the above seven steps in the assigned experiment. The steps also touch on crucial areas of data such as samples collection, screening, coding, transformation, variables, parameters and analysis.

Collection, Screening and Analysis of Data in Detail

It’s a common idea that every data collected in an experiment becomes the part of that experiment in question. This is not true because some data do not adequately represent the matter under study. For example, a faulty sampling technique may ruin the whole observation or an incorrect calculation, a faulty measuring apparatus may wrong the data. Efficient data collection and screening involves weeding out such faulty data. The screening procedure approach makes sure that the data is rechecked, which may involve re-examining the collected data or revisiting the site when there is a doubt. A good successful practice means re-computing the extracted values and ensuring consistency throughout the process.

Another professional way to determine the appropriate value of a data is through drawing a relation between the input data and statistically acceptable data. This screening process, also known as spurious observation, depends on statistical distribution theory. It is based on classifying the data where maximum confidence lies. If the outlier falls outside this limit, the suspected data is rejected.

James is passionate about Experimental Design, he works as a data analyst for Camo.

 

 

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