14. December 2012 · Comments Off on Forex Daily Pivot Points · Categories: Business · Tags: , ,

Forex daily pivot points:

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19. December 2011 · Comments Off on Moral Decay · Categories: Business · Tags: , ,

I recently went out to dinner with a business friend who owns a medium sized manufacturing company with just over 50 employees. Over a couple of cocktails he started to express to me his frustration with his people. He claimed to pay them well, provides a comfortable work environment, and offers a respectable benefits package. Regardless, he wished his people were more dedicated and professional in their attitude. He yearned for the old days when there was more pride in workmanship (and you thought I was the last of the whiners). I’ve known my friend for a long time and know his management style; he works well with people and although he insists on organization and structure, he tends to empower his workers to assume responsibility as opposed to micromanaging them to death. Frankly, I know a lot of people who would love to work in his environment, yet he still had this problem of employee attitudes and asked me for my thoughts on it.

I told him what he was experiencing was a simple matter of moral decay. Regardless of the work environment he provided and his interpersonal relations with his employees, there are other forces at work, namely our eroding system of values. I explained the following to illustrate the point:

* It used to be a person’s word was his bond. If he made a verbal commitment, you could count on it. Today, lying and deceit are commonplace in just about every corner of our society. Consequently, our expectations to honor a commitment have been lowered and, even worse, we have lost faith and trust in our fellow man.

* We used to have dedicated workers who cared about their work and doggedly saw a task through to completion. Now, we no longer associate our reputations with our work products. This may be because we have laws today making it difficult to reprimand or fire anyone regardless of their performance. Further, we now suffer from the “99% complete” syndrome whereby we never seem to finish anything with the excuse that, “We’ll get around to it.” In other words, determination and pride have been replaced by indifference which erodes production and opens the door for competition.

* We used to respect our bosses and were loyal to our companies. As long as you were employed by someone, you bit your tongue and endeavored to help the company succeed. For example, I knew a loyal Boeing employee who steadfastly refused to fly on anything but Boeing aircraft. Today, concepts such as corporate loyalty and respect are a thing of the past as employees no longer trust management, and management doesn’t trust its workers, all of which leads to an inordinate amount of back stabbing and political maneuvering. It’s no small wonder that today’s employees are regarded more as free agents as opposed to team players.

To me, morality means giving of one’s self, putting aside our self interests for the common good of all. However, if in fact such things as honor, courtesy, pride, respect, sacrifice, courage, dedication, commitment, loyalty, honesty, perseverance, integrity, and professionalism, are adjectives of the past, then we are indeed witnessing the moral decay of our society. Actually, it’s rather remarkable we have progressed as far as we have as a species, but it makes you wonder how much farther we would be if we had the moral fortitude to overcome greed, corruption, and other vices. As Samuel Clemens correctly observed, “Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.”

Interestingly, American morality seems to change whenever we change presidents from one political party to another. I can think of no other single event which benchmarks a change in our culture than the passing of the presidential torch. Consider for example, the social changes incurred in the transition from Eisenhower to Kennedy, from Carter to Reagan, and Bush to Clinton. A change in Presidential party signals a change in social norms and moral priorities.

So what can be done about deteriorating moral values? You would think that our religious institutions would have a significant role to play here. Not necessarily. There are those who go to church simply to absolve themselves of their sins from the preceding week, not to correct any character flaw. After being “cleansed” they revert back to their indiscretions. No, we need to lead by example, reward accomplishments and truly penalize violations as opposed to looking the other way. There will always be those who are morally handicapped and persist in attempting to undermine our system of values, but we owe it to ourselves and our posterity to persevere. Our ability to surmount moral corruption defines who we are as a civilization.

Years ago, Arnold Toynbee said succinctly, “Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder,” meaning our social problems are actually self inflicted. If we can cause the problems, I would like to believe we are strong enough to solve them, regardless of the price to be paid. Going back to my friend’s problem, what is needed is a little inspiration, hope, belief in ourselves, a little brother/sisterhood, and a legal system that doesn’t stifle morality, but rather promotes it. Regardless of the magnitude of the job, from major to menial, workers must believe they are leading an honorable and worthwhile life. There is nothing wrong with ambition, as long as it doesn’t lead to incessant politics. There is nothing wrong with personal achievement/recognition, as long as teamwork doesn’t suffer. There is nothing wrong with criticism, as long as it’s constructive, not destructive. Basically, we just need some common sense and respect for the human spirit.

So, the question comes down to this; Do we still possess the fortitude to do what is morally right? That is a question for each of us to answer and for our heirs to judge.

10. November 2011 · Comments Off on Create an Eye-Catching Hook For Your Print Ads · Categories: Business · Tags: , ,

When people see a print ad, they usually take two seconds to evaluate it before they decide whether they’re interested in learning more. This means you need to create a great hook to pull people in to your ad. The best way to hook people is with a great image.

High-impact images
A high-impact image makes people stop scanning and pay attention to your ad. It makes people curious to learn more. Images are better at hooking people than a well-written headline because images are easier to digest. People can read about 10 words in the same amount of time they can process an image. When people look at ads, 90% of them look at the image before they look at the words.

A common mistake is to use an eye-catching visual that has nothing to do with the product being sold. That just leads to confusion. People don’t like to feel confused because they feel like they are dumb if they don’t “get it” and can’t make the connection. Don’t make people think too hard to connect your image with your product and brand. Your image should reflect the main message as well as get people’s attention.

In an antismoking campaign aimed at pregnant women, a health center used a black-and-white photo of a baby with a smoking cigarette hanging out of his mouth. Not only was this an eye-catching visual, it also clearly contributed to the health center’s message: “Smoke when you’re pregnant and your baby smokes with you.”

Not only using interesting images, but interesting color schemes can gain people’s attention. Using different color printing techniques like a black-and-white image with only your product in color can create visual interest.

When you’re choosing an image, choose one that reinforces your message or adds a deeper level of understanding to the words of your message.

Beware of negative associations with your image
A spaghetti company once used an ad with a photo of a naked man lying in a bathtub of spaghetti that certainly caught people’s attention, but didn’t make anyone want to eat the spaghetti!

An ad for a computer company showed a computer next to a turtle to show that the computer would have a long life, just like turtles. Of course, most people took the ad to mean that computer would run as slow as a turtle – not good for business. How no one saw that connection, I don’t know.

These examples are perfect reasons why you should always test your ads with focus groups or at least ask colleagues for their opinions!

Don’t let your image take over your brand
It’s amazing how often a brand gets thrown to the wayside in favor of a creative image. Be sure that people know immediately after looking at the image that it’s for your company. An eye-catching ad won’t do you any good if no one knows it’s for your company! Put your logo in a prominent place on the ad or use your company’s name in the headline to ensure people know whose ad they’re looking at.

24. December 2009 · Comments Off on How to Get Customers in This Crappy Economy · Categories: Business · Tags: , ,

You probably won’t find “Crappy” in Webster’s Dictionary, but it’s the exact wording used when I was emailed this topic to offer my insight. So, here goes.

I’ve learned that the way to get customers in a bad economy is not a lot different than the way you’d do it a good economy. A bad economy just forces you to do it better. “Better” means smarter and more creatively. Because in business, as in battle, the spoils don’t always go to the biggest or richest. They usually go to the smartest and most innovative. But being effective at it depends on the specific business and situation. For example, are we talking about a law firm, or a car dealership? Is this about a national branding effort, or a personal job search? Whatever the scenario, however, you must be really clear about who your prospect is and then devise a way to get their attention in an exiting, positive way. Once you do that, then comes the fun part – convincing them.

A key point about attracting customers is this: Information, no matter how complete, is not enough. You won’t convert prospects into customers if you don’t excite them. Your message needs to touch your prospect on an emotional level. Otherwise, they simply won’t respond. How you do that is an expertise that a talented, creative, advertising or marketing person, or agency, can help you with.

Bottom line: No One Give a Damn About Your Product unless you Give them a Reason to. Unless you’re selling cold drinks in a desert your product benefits may not be as obvious to your prospect as you’d like to think. And, this is where business owners really need help. Entrepreneurs and business owners, as a rule, are passionate, ego-driven people. As a result they tend to have a blind spot when it comes to seeing their business or product as nakedly as their prospects do. So, besides lacking marketing expertise, they lack something equally critical to their success in getting customers – objectivity. I’ve seen it time and time again when a business owner’s ego blinds, or distorts, the realities. Some examples are… not knowing or respecting your competition… not acknowledging a poor presentation of your product… or thinking you can write compelling ad copy because you majored in English. These things will not help get more customers. If you’re truly looking to improve your odds at getting more customers start by being as clear as possible about how your product or service is being perceived. You may not have the thousands to invest in research, but spending a few hundred to get a trusted, qualified outside perspective is a wise investment.

Besides creativity, and objectivity, and knowing how to appeal to prospects on an emotional level, it also takes persistence, patience, and occasionally a little luck. Here’s a true story of how I landed one of my biggest projects.

If “who you know” is the way to get more business then Networking is one good way to know more people, right? Well, that depends. There’s no shortage of networking events that, I think, are a big waste of time. After a year’s worth of my active membership in one particular networking group I was sure that my experience was falling into that category. The organization was NYWICI … NY Women in Communication.

Yes, I know. I initially attended as a guest and thought it was a joke when I was asked to join. I was told that, yes, men could join and they’d love to have me. The female membership was close to 900. When I asked how many men were members, they said 7.

I was convinced that I had to do more networking and pondered the idea of membership for several weeks. I even talked with another male member who encouraged me to join. Did he get any business out of it? No. But he did get a girlfriend. Hm. So, with reluctance, I joined figuring that at least I’d stand out hoping that my mere existence would act as an automatic conversation starter. At the very least, I figured, I’d get a couple of dates out of it.

Not the case. Month after month, for 12 months, I’d throw on my best suit and make the trek to the events only to be ignored by a professional sisterhood that I felt no part of. I felt like I was a wedding crasher and it was unnerving. As I discouragingly shuffled out of the final networking event of the year, regretting my $350 membership, I found myself sharing an elevator with the incoming president. Just moments earlier I’d enjoyed her impassioned speech about the importance of business integrity and camaraderie. So, as I stood watching the elevator lights count down the seconds of my membership, I suddenly turned and complimented her on her speech. With a who-the-hell-are-you glance back I quickly explained that I actually was a NYWICI member. We exchanged cards.

Now I must tell you that my business card is not your normal business card. So, when she was stopped by it, and impressed by the attention-getting creativity, her demeanor quickly warmed up. And for the next 18 floors down I found myself in the most engaged dialogue that I’d been in all year. By the time we hit the ground floor we’d talked about lunch. It took the next three months to actually have that lunch, but a month after we did I signed a contract for a very cool 2-month project that netted me $86,000.

Was it luck? That’s part of it. But effective marketing is all about doing whatever it takes to be in the right place at the right time with an engaging, creative piece of communication. And, the better you do that, the luckier you’ll get. Through positive press, good G-Cred, good word-of-mouth, multiple websites, speaking, article writing, blogging, podcasting, online networking, helping associates, and, most of all, a commitment to doing exceptional work that gets great results, we continue to attract smart new clients who know and appreciate the value of great marketing.