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Retailers Get Tables Turned On Them For Black Friday

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Marketing Agency Lets Retailers Know How Their Customers Feel   

 As more and more shoppers head out to beat the holiday rush to get discounts on ‘the world’s greatest gifts’ for those on their shopping lists, Black Friday sales continue to increase each year. This, in itself, may not seem like news until you look at where this is happening. What IS surprising is that this sales juggernaut is not just taking place in the United States anymore. Rather, Black Friday is now becoming an accepted, highly effective sales tool for retailers throughout Canada.

An over-simplified distinction between the U.S. and Canada is that while Americans tend to adopt Canuck ideas, and, even people, Canadians are more likely to adapt an idea from elsewhere by making slight alterations…thus making it somewhat unique in their own way.  Case in point, Black Friday, which started off as a holiday sales event tied-into the U.S. Thanksgiving, is now becoming a part of the Canadian sales culture—despite the fact that Canada’s Thanksgiving Day takes place almost six weeks earlier.

“As recently as just two years ago, there were probably only a few dozen early-adopter businesses participating in Black Friday marketing in this country. This year, however, we expect almost a majority of retailers to participate based on last years’ observation and the abundance of TV, radio, print and online advertising we’ve been seeing this past week,” said Andrew Sharpe, founder of Vancouver-based marketing agency Brandspank.

And while retail sales on Black Friday in Canada have increased, the sales have not been restricted to traditional advertisers, like retailers. In fact, retailer marketing agency Brandspank has leveraged the idea of a Black Friday sale by adapting it into a B2B promotion.  The result is #BrandspankFRIDAY and it’s targeted squarely on retailers; the promotion provides them with a chance to save up to 40% off the agency’s most popular marketing services—including websites or experiential campaigns. It literally reverses the roles for retailers by allowing them to experience what their own customers usually experience—deep discounted savings.

To promote the event, Brandspank is employing some marketing techniques that retailers are quite familiar with—including an eCommerce site (http://bit.ly/1950neN), flyers (http://bit.ly/1aSYsxL), relationship marketing and online advertising…not to mention posters in the storefront windows of their boutique office located in a shopping mall.

As a marketing agency, Sharpe and his team were very familiar with the toll Black Friday can put on a retail organization, as well as the heightened stress that is experienced by the marketers within those retail organizations.  And it is for this reason that Brandspank felt that retailers deserved a little bit of retail therapy themselves.

“Most retailers are usually on the giving end of a Black Friday sale. So we wanted to give these retailers a chance to experience the same sense of satisfaction and excitement that their own customers experience during their own sales.” Sharpe went on to say, “Given the success that our retail clients have had with Black Friday, we felt it was only fitting for us, a retail marketing agency, to create an entire promotion featuring the lowest prices of the year on our most popular services…for a limited time, of course.”

With the invasion of Black Friday into the Great White North, and it now being embraced by non-traditional service providers, it appears that in the coming years this particular time of the year could even surpass Boxing Week as Canada’s premiere sales period.

About BRANDSPANK

Brandspank is a user-experience marketing agency specializing in the retail sector. They combine shopper marketing with storytelling to help retailers to make their brands more engaging—both in-store and online.  Staying true to their retailer-focused niche, Brandspank has created a working boutique at the front of their offices—located in a shopping mall.  For more information about Brandspank, call 604-608-0880 or visit www.brandspank.net

 

 

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Are You Prepared to Leave the Business You Built?

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More and more small business owners are selling their companies, with sales hitting a four-year high earlier this year in the United States, and Canada predicting its largest small business turnover ever in the next five years.

“Many of our CEOs are baby boomers approaching retirement age,” says Kathleen Richardson-Mauro, co-author with Jane M. Johnson of a practical new guide, “Cashing Out of Your Business,” (www.richardsonmauroandjohnson.com).

“We’re about to see a tsunami of ownership transitions and Kathleen and I worry that too many of these small business owners are not taking steps early enough to plan for it,” adds Johnson.

Richardson-Mauro, a Certified Financial Planner, and Johnson, a Certified Public Accountant, specialize in helping business owners successfully transition out of companies and achieve their goals. They recently launched an educational website, Business Transition Academy, to help owners plan their exits on their own.

“Most CEOs don’t realize they need to start planning years before they might, potentially, be ready to sell or hand off their business,” Johnson says. “And while a lot of that planning is to ensure they’ll have the money to meet their lifestyle goals, there are other equally important considerations.”

Small business owners tend to pour their lives into their companies and it doesn’t take long before their identity is entirely defined by their job, the women say. In order to achieve a successful after-life, they need to start laying the groundwork early for their emotional separation.

Johnson and Richardson-Mauro suggest these steps for small business owners of any age to begin preparing mentally for their non-CEO future:

• Start now. You never know when you might receive an unsolicited purchase offer or what life events might rock your world. Most owners do not start thinking about transitioning out until some event gives them a jolt: a significant birthday; children graduating from college or starting their own families; illness or injury.

“Planning improves your chances for a successful outcome and gives you more control over the process,” Richardson-Mauro says. “We sometimes don’t realize just how much our lives revolve around our business – or we do realize it and don’t want to think about it because the future looks scary.”

With planning, you can ensure you still have a social life, a sense of accomplishment, challenges, and the other intangibles that make us satisfied and gratified.

• Identify what you want to get from your ownership transition. You’ll have both financial and non-financial goals and objectives. Financial may include receiving enough money to live on for the rest of your life and creating a foundation to further a cause important to you. Non-financial may include regaining balance in your life and following a passion you gave up when you started your business.

Consider goals in every area of life, the authors say, from health, to family, to social connections.

“This is about remembering your true passions, determining what’s most important to you, and deciding what you want to do when you can spend less or no time with your business,” Johnson says.

“This will re-energize you and provide you with direction as you figure out the best way to transition the ownership of your business. It will also enable you to minimize any chance for regrets.”

• Identify your fears, concerns and other barriers that prevent you from planning. Many owners fear what will come next and worry about losing their life’s purpose. Most wonder if they will have enough money to live the lifestyles they desire, and they’re concerned about their employees’ futures, Johnson says.

“Take proactive action to address these concerns by having a family meeting; discussing the future with your spouse; and identifying your actual financial needs. That will allow you to find solutions and work through them,” says Richardson-Mauro.

The two women say they’ve met many business owners who one day just decided they were tired of the headaches and ready to relax. They sold their business or otherwise transitioned out, only to discover they were bored, lonely and unhappy.

“After all of your years of work and sacrifice, you deserve a happy life after business,” says Johnson.

“It’s completely doable,” adds Richardson-Mauro, “with planning.

About Kathleen Richardson-Mauro & Jane Johnson

Kathleen Richardson-Mauro, CFP, CBEC, CM&AA, CBI, has owned and operated five small companies and has successfully assisted more than 150 business owners in achieving their transition goals.

Jane Johnson, CPA, CBEC, CM&AA, started her career in public accounting and finance at General Electric, then established her own practice. Fourteen years later, she negotiated the sale of her firm, retaining all of her clients and team members. In 2010, Jane received the Excellence in Exit Planning Achievement Award from Pinnacle Equity Solutions.

 

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Hate Your Job? Here’s How to Fix It

When we’re in a terrible job we think we’re the only person who is in a terrible job, and everyone else loves their job, and everyone’s life is great, and our life is terrible. But, in fact, every single person, no matter where they are in their life now, has had a job that they hated.

The only people who don’t have jobs they hate are people who don’t take any risks and end up having terrible careers, because part of a good career path is having moved through a job that you hate.

Here are three steps to make a horrible job good.

1. Befriend the best-networked person in the company.

The problem with a really terrible job is that it doesn’t have the three things that are most important in a job, which are engaging work, manageable goals, and control over your results. So what you need to do is create your own engaging work with manageable goals. So do that by deciding that you’re going to be friends with the person who is most able to help you get this job. Look around the company and decide who’s got the most potential.

The worse the company is, the quicker it will be to find this person, because people with huge potential don’t stay at terrible companies, so odds are, there’s only one to find. Find your one person, and then each day do one thing to get closer to that person.

There is a wide range of steps you can take that, usually in the how‑to‑get‑a‑mentorcategory. Even if you don’t want this person as a mentor, the best way to get someone to pay attention to you is to let him know that you admire him and want help from him. So act like you want a mentor and your job will suddenly become meaningful because you might actually get a mentor.

2. Look for the most terribly managed areas of the company and fix them.

A tell‑tale sign of a horrible job is that it’s a horrible company, and a tell‑tale sign of a horrible company is that almost every single thing is managed terribly. Usually what has happened when things are so terrible is that someone ruined a project and then dumped it.

So in the terrible company there are dumped projects everywhere. You should pick one up and start fixing it. Even if you can only fix it a tiny little bit, on your resume it’s going to look really good. It will say increased efficiency 20 percent, increased revenue 21 percent, decreased staffing costs 30 percent, because it’s really easy to have this type of achievement when you’re dealing with complete stupidity at the onset.

3. Start rewriting your resume.

At a horrible company there’s no accountability, and when there’s no accountability you can do nothing all day, and that really opens up your schedule. The first thing you should do with your open schedule is to start job hunting, but do it in a systematic way.

Go find the job that you want and make lists of all the bullets they say that they want from somebody who’s qualified. Move all of those bullets onto your resume and say to yourself, “How can I make these bullets true on my resume?” So each day is a game to try to make one of those bullets true by doing things that nobody cares

 

 

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7 Steps To Reducing Employee Sick Leave

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There’s really no way of completely avoiding germs – they’re everywhere, year-round. Alas, this means your employees are just as likely to fall ill in balmy summer months as they are in the bleak midwinter. Fortunately, conscientious employers out there can do their bit to help by implementing strategies to boost employee health and fitness, thereby heading off any pesky illnesses at the pass. Here’s what you as an employer should do to cut down on employee sickness…

Light & Green

As unlikely as it may sound, introducing more greenery around the workplace can have a positive effect on employee mood, productivity, and health. Sourcing office plants can be cheaply and easily done and will certainly brighten up the workplace – plus, studies have demonstrated that proximity to nature increases alertness and well-being. Likewise, exposure to natural sunlight has equally positive effects, so an office layout that allows for lots of natural light is beneficial, too.  It’s really the little things that make a difference.

Healthy Snacks

Office vending machines tend to offer easy access to fizzy drinks and sugar-laden sweets, the consumption of which results in sugar bursts that eventually leave employees tired and possibly moody. Try to offer healthy alternatives like fresh fruit, peanuts, and suchlike – whether in your company cafeteria or simply in the kitchen or break rooms.

Provide Health Incentives

If your employees bike to work, offer them incentives in the form of subsidies or through the provision of secure bike parking and other useful facilities. You could even take this a step further and encourage energy-saving practices like carpooling, using public transport, or walking to work.

Encourage Exercise

If your company doesn’t already have gym facilities, why not strike up a deal with nearby gyms and negotiate discounts for employees who choose to work out there? People are more likely to head to a gym that’s close by their work or home, since it makes travelling easier. A quick workout in the morning leaves employees energised and ready to tackle the tasks ahead, and even if they go after work an overall increase in health reduces the likelihood of falling ill.

Stay Clean

Encourage employees to wash their hands, dispose of used tissues, and be as hygienic as possible in using bathroom and kitchen facilities. In a place where many people spend all day indoors together, breathing the same air, drinking out of the same mugs and touching the same door handles, germs can spread super fast. The cost of employee sick leave is a major expense for businesses, so forking out for better cleaning services can save you money overall.

Options For Sick Leave

Ensure that in the event your employees do fall ill, they’re aware of what they’re entitled to in terms of sick pay and leave. This isn’t possible in all industries, but to prevent employees from coming into work even when they’re sick and could infect co-workers, you could come up with a system that, for example, allows employees to work from home for reduced pay while they’re still contagious but able to remain at least somewhat productive. That way, any urgent work can still get done on time without the expense of other employees’ health.

Step In

If an employee is stressed, struggling to stay on top of things, and constantly working long hours, it may be necessary to take him or her aside and talk through things. This is especially true when it comes to new hires or recent in-house promotions, who may be finding it difficult to adjust. If possible, help them come up with solutions to manage their work more effectively, remind them of the relevant people they can ask for help, and if they’ve been unfairly loaded down with work, try and redistribute assignments so that the work isn’t getting done at the detriment of one person’s health. It’s not always possible to keep an eye on these things, but generally taking the time to check up on employees can mean that stressful situations are easily and efficiently sorted out. Oh, and did I mention stress increases your chances of falling ill?

Got any other tips for reducing ill-health in the workplace? Share them in the comments!

Featured images:

James Duval is the business and tech editor at GKBCInc.

 

 

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Transitioning from CEO to Retiree: Why You Need a 5-Year Plan

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Today’s 50-something CEOs tend to have vague dreams of  more fishing, traveling or sailing  when they retire, but they don’t know when that might be so they haven’t begun planning for it.

That’s a mistake, say a trio of specialists: wealth management advisor Haitham “Hutch” Ashoo, CPA Jim Kohles, and estate planning attorney John Hartog.

“Whether you’re selling your company, passing it along to a successor or simply retiring, that’s a potentially irreversible life event – you’ve got just one chance to get it right,” says Ashoo, CEO of Pillar Wealth Management, (www.pillarwm.com).

A 2012 survey of CEOs by executive search firm Witt/Kieffer found 71 percent of those aged 55 to 59 have no retirement plan, although 73 percent look forward to more recreational and leisure activities when they let go of the reins.

“A lot of baby boomers have the idea that they’re just going to work till they stop working,” says Kohles, chairman of RINA accountancy corporation, (www.rina.com). “If they hope to do certain things in retirement and maintain a certain lifestyle, they’re likely to end up disappointed.”

Planning for the transition from CEO to retiree should incorporate everything – including what happens to your assets after you’re gone, adds John Hartog of Hartog & Baer Trust and Estate Law, (www.hartogbaer.com).

“Many of my clients worry about what effects a large inheritance will have on their children – they want to continue parenting from the grave. You can, but should think hard about doing that,” he says.

The three say smart planning requires coordinating among all of your advisors; that’s the best way to avoid an irrevocable mistake. With that in mind, Ashoo, Kohles and Hartog offer these suggestions and considerations from their respective areas of expertise:

1. Ashoo: Identify your specific lifestyle goals for retirement, so you can plan for funding them. To determine how much money you’ll need, you have to have a clear picture of what you want, Ashoo says. Do you see yourself on your own yacht? Providing seed capital for your children to buy a business? Pursuing charitable endeavors?

Each goal will have a dollar amount attached, and you (or your advisor) can then determine whether it’s feasible and, if so, put together a financial plan.

“But you can’t just create a plan and forget it. You need to monitor its progress regularly and make adjustments to make sure you’re staying on course, just like you would if you were sailing or flying,” Ashoo says. “We run our clients’ plans quarterly.“

It’s also imperative that you don’t take any undue risks – that is, risks beyond what’s necessary to meet your goals, he says. “You may hear about a great investment opportunity and want in on it, but if you lose that money, you may not have a chance to make it up.”

2. Kohles: Don’t sell yourself short when selling your business. “If you’re banking on money from the sale of your business, know that it’s unlikely you’ll have investors just waiting with the cash for the chance to buy it when you’re ready to sell,” Kohles says.

Buyers are more likely to offer to pay over time from the company’s future earnings — which leaves the retired CEO with no control over the business and utterly reliant on the new owners to maintain its profitability.

A good alternative is to establish an S corporation combined with an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), Kohles says.

“You’re selling the company to the employees while retaining control until you phase yourself completely out,” he says. “The ESOP doesn’t pay income taxes – the employees do when they retire. And you don’t pay taxes on the money or the stock that you contribute.”

3. Hartog: What do you want your kids’ inheritance to say? If you have children, this decision can change their lives for the better – or the worse.

“How your assets are disposed of should reflect your values,” Hartog says. “A lot of people prefer to think in terms of taxes at the expense of values. I advise against that.”

For children, incentive trusts can encourage, or discourage, certain behaviors.

“If you’re concerned your adult child won’t be productive if he has a lot of money, set up a trust that will make distributions equal to what the child earns himself,” Hartog says.

“Or, if you want to be supportive of a child who’s doing something socially responsible, like teaching in an impoverished area, you can set it up to pay twice his salary.”

There are many creative ways to establish trusts, Hartog says. Plan about five years out and change the trust as life events dictate.

About Haitham “Hutch” Ashoo

Haitham “Hutch” Ashoo is the CEO of Pillar Wealth Management, LLC, in Walnut Creek, Calif. The firm specializes in client-centered wealth management for ultra affluent families.

About Jim Kohles

Jim Kohles is chairman of the board of RINA accountancy corporation, Walnut Creek, Calif. A certified public accountant for more than 35 years, he specializes in business consulting, succession and retirement planning, and insurance.

About John Hartog

John Hartog is a partner at Hartog & Baer Trust and Estate Law. A certified specialist in estate planning, trust and probate law, and taxation law, he has been selected to the Super Lawyers Top 100 list for nineconsecutive years.

 

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What Does A Great Promotional Product Say About Your Company?

Many differences in life – value, opinion, etc. – can be whittled down to perception; we all perceive things differently, and perception tends to be subjective in most cases. Determining value of an object or idea in the world of business can be a divisive issue – ask the financial manager what defines a valuable promotional product, and they will likely say getting the most mileage for the lowest possible investment cost. Pose the same question to the head of marketing and they’ll probably tell you it’s a promotional giveaway item that sells your brand via word of mouth.

Finally, ask the recipient of the promotional gift, and they’ll tell you that it should be something that’s useful and/or entertaining.

With a multitude of differing opinions, where does the truth lie? Here’s the thing – a great promotional item should meet all three requirements, not simply cater to one of them. The trick is to find something that encompasses all three. Keep the following in mind when you’re looking for the next great promotional item to assist in building your company’s reputation.

Familiarity – Research Your Target Market

Having a great promo item doesn’t mean much if you don’t know who to give it to. Knowing who you are specifically targeting with your promotional items, and why, is very important – ask yourself two questions when considering a promotional item:  Will the product capture the recipient’s attention and/or interest? Will it establish a positive association between the recipient and your business?

Spending some time researching your target market may also help you come up with additional ideas. For example, your research may indicate that your target market enjoys the outdoor activities. You can then focus your search for promotional products accordingly by choosing things that cater towards those interests.

Spare No Expense Or Come In On Budget?

It doesn’t help to covet a fantastic promotional product if it’s ultimately going to crush your budget. If you’ve just got to have it, what will happen is that you can only order half the quantity of a similar but lesser priced item and your campaign won’t be able to reach as many recipients as you’d planned. There is an enormous amount of promotional items available to today’s business owners – you can almost certainly find a great promotional product that fits within your budget if you are persistent and willing to search. Adhering to a budget is just as important (*if not more so) as selecting the right type of item. The bottom line – a great promotional product is one that fits your budget requirements while doing an effective job of promoting your company simultaneously.

Can You Effectively Brand The Promotional Item?

Thanks mainly to ever evolving technology; virtually all promotional products can be branded with your company logo or slogan. While there are still limitations – some items may only be available in limited colors, sometimes it may not be possible to print with more than one color – you should strive to reproduce your logo with total accuracy. If single color branding is all that is available, consider getting the promotional item made in equal numbers that are divided by the same amount of colors used in your company logo. The point is, your logo should always be instantly recognizable, even when small compromises are made.

Does It Properly Represent Your Company?

The perception of the promotional item, your company identity and the marketing campaign are all tied together – if you are a business that specializes in emerging tech and has a reputation for quality service, you will not want to use a cheap plastic promotional product that can be ordered by the thousands. Promo items are meant to bolster your reputation, brand and ultimately, your revenue, but it can be effective to present yourself, and your business, as though you have already attained these goals – in other words, be what you want others to see you as. Let that be reflected in your choice of promotional product – make it something useful that will show you anticipate their needs. Promo items that are trending or very of the moment should be avoided, but even a gimmick can be effective sometimes.

Will Your Promotional Product Be Highly Visible?

Never lose sight of the fact that marketing and promotions are all about building your brand, creating awareness and expanding your revenue. While you of course will want the recipient to actually like and use the promotional product you’ve given, a truly effective promotional product will be one that is seen by your target or intended market. This will meet your goal of giving your business greater exposure to your intended target market.

AblePromos.ca is a trusted provider of unique promotional items Canada. Create strong, lasting brand recognition with high quality corporate gifts for your valued clients and potential new customers. Choose AblePromos.ca for your next brand marketing campaign.

 

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