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Monthly Archives: November 2013

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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Reduce Your Stress in 2 Minutes a Day

Bill Rielly had it all: a degree from West Point, an executive position at Microsoft, strong faith, a great family life and plenty of money. He even got along well with his in-laws! So why did he have so much stress and anxiety that he could barely sleep at night? I have worked with Bill for several years now and we both believe his experience could be useful for other capable, driven individuals.

At one time no level of success seemed enough for Bill. He learned at West Point that the way to solve problems was to persevere through any pain. But this approach didn’t seem to work with reducing his stress. When he finished his second marathon a few minutes slower than his goal, he felt he had failed. So to make things “right” he ran another marathon just five weeks later. His body rejected this idea, and he finished anhour slower than before. Finally, his wife convinced him to figure out what was really driving his stress. He spent the next several years searching for ways to find more joy in the journey. In the process he found five tools. Each was ordinary enough but together they proved life-changing and enabled his later success as an Apple executive.

Breathing. He started small by taking three deep breaths each time he sat down at his desk. He found it helped him relax. After three breaths became a habit, he expanded to a few minutes a day. He found he was more patient, calmer, more in the moment. Now he does 30 minutes a day. It restores his perspective while enabling him to take a fresh look at a question or problem and come up with new solutions. Deep breathing exercises have been part of yoga practices for thousands of years, but recentresearch done at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital document the positive impact deep breathing has on your body’s ability to deal with stress.

Meditating. When Bill first heard about meditation, he figured it was for hippies. But he was surprised to find meditators he recognized: Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Marc Benioff and Russell Simmons among them. Encouraged, he started with a minute a day. His meditation consisted of “body scanning” which involved focusing his mind and energy on each section of the body from head to toe. Recent research at Harvard has shown meditating for as little as 8 weeks can actually increase the grey matter in the parts of the brain responsible for emotional regulation and learning. In other words, the meditators had increased their emotional control and brain power!

Listening. Bill found if he concentrated on listening to other people the way he focused when he meditated his interaction immediately became richer. The other person could feel he was listening, almost physically. And when they knew he was listening they formed a bond with him faster. Life almost immediately felt richer and more meaningful. As professor Graham Bodie has empirically noted, listening is the quintessential positive interpersonal communication behavior.

Questioning. This tool isn’t about asking other people questions, it’s about questioning the thoughts your mind creates. Just because your mind creates a thought doesn’t make it true. Bill got in the habit of asking himself “Is that thought true?” And if he wasn’t absolutely certain it was, he just let it go. He said: “Thank your mind for coming up with the thought and move on. I found this liberating because it gave me an outlet for negative thoughts, a relief valve I didn’t have before.” The technique of questioning your thoughts has been popularized by Byron Katie who advocates what she calls “the great undoing.” Her experience and research show there is power in acknowledging rather than repressing negative thoughts. Instead of trying to ignore something we believe to be true, questioning allows us to see our thoughts “face to face” so to speak and to discredit them because they are untrue.

Purpose. Bill committed to living with purpose. Not so much his life’s purpose. It was easier than that. He committed to purposefully doing whatever he was doing. To be doing it and only it. If he decided to watch TV he really watched it. If he was having a meal he took the time to enjoy the meal. There is research to support Bill’s experience. In “A Pace Not Dictated by Electrons: An Empirical Study of Work Without Email” Gloria Mark and Armand Cardello cite evidence to suggest knowledge workers check email as much as 36 times an hour. The result is increased stress. Giving each activity your undivided attention ensures you’re in the moment and fully living that experience.

An important key for Bill in all of this was starting small—very small. It’s important because you can’t take on stress in a stressful way. Often we try to bring about change through sheer effort and we put all of our energy into a new initiative. But you can’t beat stress using the same techniques that created the stress in the first place.

Instead, the key is to do less than you feel you want to. If you feel like breathing for two minutes, do it for just one minute. If you are up for a day of really listening to people deeply, do it for the next meeting only. Leave yourself eager to try it again. What you want is to develop a sustainable habit: a stress-free approach to reducing your stress.

More like this? Get a free excerpt from Greg’s upcoming book, “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by subscribing here.

 

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Oil price drops after Iranian nuclear deal

DAX hits another record high as markets welcome Iranian nuclear deal – as it happened

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The City of London.
The City of London. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA
Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal speaking during a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Riyadh yesterday.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal speaks during a joint press conference with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Riyadh. Photograph: Jason Reed/AP

The historic deal over Iran’s nuclear programme agreed yesterday is driving down the price of oil and gold, and giving another nudge to already buoyant stock markets.

The price of a barrel of Brent crude slipped by over 2.5% already today, currently down $2.3 at $108.77/barrel. It follows the news that the tense negotiations in Geneva had delivered an agreement to restrict Tehran’s nuclear work –which some analysts believe could be the most important breakthrough in the region in years.

Hopes that tensions in the Middle East will be diminished by the deal are proving costly to gold bugs too.The bullion price shedding 1% to $1,229 per ounce, its lowest level since July.

The dollar has strengthened, pushing down the Japanese yen — cheering news for the Tokyo stock market where the Nikkei surged 1.5% to almost its highest level of 2013.

Stan Shamu of IG said the Iranian deal could have added to the “risk mood” in Asia today.

If sustained, lower oil prices could give the global economic recovery a helping hand, by lowering fuel costs for consumers and firms.

In Europe, the major stock markets have all opened a little higher – up around 0.5% in early trading.

Our latest news story on the deal, and how it was achieved, is here:

Secret US-Iran talks paved way for nuclear deal

It explains that Sunday’s deal will release restrictions on Iran’s trading of gold, petrochemicals, car and plane parts. In return, it will:

• Stop enriching uranium above 5%, reactor-grade, and dilute its stock of 20%-enriched uranium, removing a major proliferation concern.

• Not increase its stockpile of low-enriched uranium.

• Freeze its enrichment capacity by not installing any more centrifuges, leaving more than half of its existing 16,000 centrifuges inoperable.

• Not fuel or commission the heavy-water reactor it is building in Arak or build a reprocessing plant that could produce plutonium from the spent fuel.

• Accept more intrusive nuclear inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, including daily visits to some facilities.

The deal has been cheered in Iran, where negotiators were met by cheering crowds. But with Israel calling it a ‘historic mistake’, caution may still be needed.

 

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Report: Employers Created 40,000 New Jobs For Existing Employees Last Month

WASHINGTON—In a promising development for the nation’s workforce, a report released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Labor shows that employers created approximately 40,000 new jobs, additional responsibilities, and miscellaneous tasks for their existing employees last month. “Despite unwavering unemployment figures, I’m proud to report that private sector companies continue to add many, many new jobs to their employees’ workloads,” Labor Secretary Thomas Perez told reporters, saying that managers and supervisors across the country are actively increasing the number of commitments and obligations expected of their staff. “In every industry, companies are drastically increasing the amount of work that needs to be completed, as well as tacking on thousands of assignments previously performed by departed employees. In many cases, we are even finding that employers have brought on several unpaid interns to share in the abundance of job duties.” Perez noted that, as an added benefit, the increase in the amount of work being performed by the nation’s jobholders has enabled these same individuals to accumulate millions of hours of unpaid overtime.

 

 

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TOP FIVE MISTAKES TO AVOID WHEN CREATING VIRAL INFOGRAPHIC MARKETING CAMPAIGNS

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According to Google, searches for infographics have increased 800% in the last two years.  As more companies than ever use infographics as a tool to grow their brands, the elusive question of how to go viral remains.

The fact is, even the savviest experts can’t always predict what will catch fire.  That is why it is critical to avoid common mistakes that have proven to immediately turn off media and consumers alike.

Top Five Mistakes to Avoid:

  1. Make it About a Topic, Not the Company: The number one turn off is having too strong a company presence on the infographic.  It is only natural for brands that pay money to create a campaign to want as much exposure as possible. However, they must ask themselves whether you would rather have 10 logos on a graphic that only lives on their homepage, or one well-placed logo on an impactful graphic that is being shared around the world?
  1. Playing it Too Safe: As social media gaffes steal headlines and damage careers, companies are very careful about what they put out, and they absolutely should be.  At the same time, when constructing an infographic you have the opportunity to walk the fine line on controversial issues.  Smart and controlled depictions of issues will spur debate and kick start a viral campaign.  Make sure to consult with the experts before releasing anything that could be damaging.
  1. Overcrowding: Cramming too many facts and angles into your infographic is a recipe for disaster.  The beauty of infographics is that they take complex subjects and visually tell the story in a succinct way. In the new 140 character world, we must keep it short or loss the reader.  Keep is simple.
  2. Being Inaccurate and Outdated: If even one statistic is wrong or outdated, media outlets and readers alike will dismiss the graphic and create a bad taste about the brand in general. Getting it right is crucial.  Citing stats from 2009 when we are heading towards 2014 will make visitors close out, not forward.
  1. Poor Planning:  As Thanksgiving approaches, a light bulb may go off about a great infographic that ties into turkey day. Great, right!?  In theory, but the problem is that infographics will require sound research, creativity, editing and approvals.  Scrambling to create something last minute will not give you appropriate lead time to promote it and let it go viral.  Nobody wants to run the Thanksgiving graphic after the last bite of turkey.  It is crucial to plan ahead and allow the infographic time to pick up speed.

By identifying and mitigating these five common faux pas, you will be closer to producing a flawlessly produced infographic that has the opportunity to go viral and create a huge splash for your business.

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About Infographic World:

Infographic World is a leading information graphics company based in New York City.  The company, which launched in 2009, is projected to make $1.75 million in revenue in 2013 and is experiencing triple digit annual revenue growth.

About Justin Beegel:

Justin is the 28 year old Founder of Infographic World, a leading information graphics company based in New York City.  The company, which launched in 2009, is projected to make $1.75 million in revenue in 2013 and is experiencing triple digit annual revenue growth.

 

Empowering Your Workforce: Bringing Your Company Together through Thought Leadership

downloadBy: Mitchell Levy

Thought leadership is often viewed by marketers as a platform that is focused externally. But while thought leadership is an effective means of influencing customers, it’s also a very successful way of empowering employees.

Over the last decade, various organizations have shifted their policy towards encouraging employee empowerment. Studies have shown that organizations with empowered employees perform better than their competitors by up to 202%. Empowered employees are known to be more engaged, inspired and productive in their work. They are more likely to take initiative and are expected to last longer within the company.

Though thought leadership is a great tool for spreading your brand message, it can also be used as an effective means of empowering your staff from inside your organization.

How Thought Leadership Empowers Your Employees

Influence is the currency of thought leadership. That’s because an effective thought leader can have a profound effect on the people they influence. As a tool for change, influence has a longer lasting effect than simply giving out orders on the office floor or through e-mail. It can refocus your company and empower your entire workforce. Here are just a few of the ways thought leadership can empower your employees:

 Thought Leadership allows employees to see the bigger picture of the organization by sharing the company’s long term goals and long standing principles.
 Thought Leadership encourages employees to excel at their responsibilities, inspiring them to come up with solutions that allow them to go above and beyond their roles.
 Thought Leadership provides employees incentives outside of monetary gain. They understand the larger, more intangible goals of the organization: success, satisfaction and service.
 Thought Leadership allows employees to discover the importance of their roles in the organization. It allows them to see the worth in their actions and become proud of their accomplishments.

This is why thought leadership should help influence the organizational culture beyond one that is geared towards customers, but one also focused on staff and employees. The infusion of thought leadership into an organization’s culture can unite and empower the organization.

Empowerment through Influence

As mentioned earlier, influence is the currency of thought leadership. But to gain influence over your employees, it’s important to equip them with the right tools, skills, and responsibilities to make sure they perform to the best of their professional abilities.

On average, only 29% of employees are actively engaged in their work. While managers can increase salaries, improve benefits, and promote key staff, nothing takes the place of genuine leadership.

Thought leadership utilizes edu-training tools that empower your workforce by making them advocates of the organization. These internal initiatives provide insight and ideas that are of value to employees. They are activities and platforms that help inspire the staff and bring the organization together. Whether it’s through an internal social media platform, speaking, training or other forms of internal communication, these are all means of introducing a culture of empowerment into the organization.

Followers are the lifeblood of any thought leader, but followers can be found inside as well as outside of the organization. In truth, empowered employees are the most effective followers of all. They look to their leaders for more than just their next pay check. They look to them for inspiration and ideas.

About the Author: Mitchell Levy is the CEO and Thought Leader Architect at THiNKaha who has created and operated fifteen firms and partnerships since 1997. Today, he works with companies who are active in social media to leverage their IP and unlock the expertise of the employee base to drive more business. He is also an Amazon bestselling author with eighteen business books, including the recently released #Creating Thought Leaders tweet. Mr. Levy has provided strategic consulting to over 100 companies and has advised over 500 CEOs on critical business issues. Get a free copy of his latest ebook at http://mitchelllevy.com.

 

 

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Two Days Of Weekend Is Too Much

It’s Sunday, and one of the things I notice every Sunday is that interest in the news is significantly higher than it is on Saturdays. 

Twitter feels more active on Sundays. Traffic to Business Insider is almost always meaningfully higher on Sundays than on Saturdays. And of course, traditional media has always used Sunday for big marquee products, whether they be the New York Times Magazine or Meet The Press.

It seems that totally disconnecting for two days is too excruciating for a lot of people, so that by Sunday morning they’re eager to start getting back into the swing of things.

Why don’t people want to disconnect more?

Kit Juckes, an economist at SocGenwrote a post on his personal blog yesterday on the blurring of work and leisure in modern life that may explain some of this. In his post he talks about spending his weekend writing and reading about … economics (which is what he’s paid to do during the week):

We still go to ‘work’ for money, but quite a lot of people would do the same thing in their leisure time as they do at work. One of the tragedies of our society is that so many old people suffer from loneliness and that’s one reason why people work. You go to work to get paid, but it becomes a centre of your social life. I’ve seen too many men retire and then age 5 years in a few months and slowly vegetate because they have no idea what to do with their time, to believe that a life of enforced ‘leisure’ is so appealing that it should be the dominant goal of my working life.

I choose economics as a way to spend time, for work or in leisure. It would have been nice to have played golf this morning but frost having intervened, I’ve spent a couple of enjoyable hours reading. Was that work or leisure? The answer is that today, it’s leisure because I’m not being paid. And that’s a good thing because otherwise, I’d have to count all the hours I spend thinking about financial markets as ‘work’ and that would immediately make me less productive.

Far from everyone has a job where they’re truly stimulated, and get to be around people who provide them an invigorating level of social interaction. But for the people who do have that, two days is a long time to totally shut that out. After a day, it’s time to start warming back up and getting into work mode.

For many professionals it seems, Sunday is less a “day off” than it is to do similar things as you might do while “at work” but without the infrastructure and bureaucracy of being “on the job.”

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/two-days-of-weekend-is-too-much-2013-11#ixzz2l1cQUkvd

 

 

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