Misc Travel Tips

These pages (see other travel articles by Lance Chambers) have covered quite a lot of travel tips but no structured system of chapters can cover everything. So we have had to resort to a Misc. section to cover those items that are not amenable to separation into sections.Tipping is expected in some countries and not in others. Find out what is expected. In the USA for example the tip is often included in the bill, in others you are expected to offer a tip in cash or add it to the bill yourself and in still others people may be slightly offended (this does not often happen though). Often, where tipping is expected, you will discover that 15% is normal but that not always easy to calculate. We believe that 10% will always be acceptable and is far easier to work out – all you have to do is shift the decimal point one space to the left (eg $11.55 becomes $1.15). However, sometimes it’s not easy to pay those little bits and pieces like $0.15 so round the amount up to the next set of currency you have so $1.15 may become $1.50 if you have the right change. Be aware that in the poorer countries wages can be so low that it is the tips that allow someone to feed their family so please don’t be tight! You can afford it and the really need it.Electronic bits and pieces can be a real problem in some countries. Plugs can differ, voltages are all over the place (the EU was supposed to standardize on 220v but the reality is that it can range from a high of 240 in the UK to a low of 125 in some older buildings in Europe – do NOT plug a 220v appliance into 125v it can be dangerous. A 220v appliance is okay in 240v) and camera batteries can be hard to find.Plugs can be different around the world and therefore you may need to buy an adaptor before you leave home. Do not expect to be able to buy the correct adapter once you have left as each country only stocks plug that plug their electronic gear into sockets of other countries not other countries into their sockets. You may also need to make sure you have a transformer or, more likely today, equipement that can handle all the different voltage ranges.Buying DVD’s can be a problem overseas because different countries use different codexes – in other words the USA uses NTSC as a coding mechanism for video but others use PAL or SECAM and you may need the rightly coded DVD before it will play back home. Check your player before you go so you know what it will or won’t play just to be safe. There is also the ‘zones’ problem. DVD’s can be ‘coded’ to play on machines that have been set up with a particular regional zone and they will not play on players that have been set up with a different zone. So you may need to check which zone your machine has been set to. This is not so much of a problem these days as many players are now sold with ‘all zones’ as a default.Digital cameras are really the way to go when traveling unless you’re professional photographer and then you know exactly what you need to do and need no advice from us. Firstly make sure you use lithium batteries as the alkaline ones won’t last very long. Take a spare set of batteries with you and a recharger. Buy the largest memory module you can afford and have a spare (use the one that came with the camera, which is usually rather small, as your backup). To be safe burn your pics onto CD at every opportunity or take a hard-drive backup system with you.Keep in touch It is important to your loved ones and probably to you as well that you keep in touch. Your friends and relatives want to know you’re okay and what’s happening and we’re sure you want to tell everyone how everything is going. The easiest way to do that is to:
set up a free e-mail account with Hotmail, Yahoo ww.yahoo.com or Lycos. If you have never done this before it’s very easy. These sites will all need a few details and that’s it – nothing personal. We suggest you try it out for a few weeks before you head off overseas just so you know how to make it all work. Once you are on your trip you will need access to a computer to use your e-mail account and you will find available machines everywhere (even in the remotest parts of the 3rd world).
If you already have an e-mail account you can often access it from overseas. Ask your ISP if they have a web-based e-mail service. If they do then you can send and receive e-mails from anywhere in the world via your regular e-mail account.
Bargaining can be an art form but it can also be cruel and un-necessary. If buying a diamond ring in Milan then bargain for all you are worth but when in countries like India and Egypt it can be forcing someones child to do without an evening meal. Do not use your wealth and position to destroy us it to help. A few pennies is nothing to you but can mean a lot to some.Litter can be a real problem in some places. When you’re in towns and cities it’s easy to get rid of your garbage – it goes in the bin. But in some other places such as in the middle of a bush walk or climbing to Mount Everest base-camp you need to take your garbage with you and get rid of it in a proper manner.Stay on marked tracks if in wild or remote areas. Getting lost can be dangerous! In other areas such as national parks the tracks are often laid down because people walking all over the place can destroy what those people have come to see. Hardian’s Wall in the north of England is being destroyed by hikers walking on the wall itself – a monument to Rome that has survived for over 1400 years is being destroyed by those who love it – don’t join their ranks – please.Plant or animal items should not be taken out of countries unless you are sure it’s legal. They are often protected by law and may not be allowed into your own country either because of quarantine laws. You could end up in a foreign prison for a long time – drugs are not the only contrabands around.If you need to go to the toilet and there are no public conveniences make sure you dig a hole at least 15 cms (6 inches) deep and then cover it over once you have finished. Do NOT defecate or urinate into a lake or river, or even near one, as often this is a source of drinking or bathing water and the spread of disease this way can be fatal.Eat well (lots of greens and carbs). It is safe to eat what the locals eat in ‘unhygenic’ countries as long as it is HOT (temperature hot – if it’s steaming then it’s safe). Beware of food that is washed or wet as sometimes the water supply can be contaminated. If you’re worried wash the food yourself with bottled water which is safe and can be found anywhere in the world today.A hospital stay can really ruin your holiday. Not only could it mean that all your flight and tour connections are useless but your hotel bookings are probably all gone as well and the festivals have finished and you’ll have to try and get to them next year if you have the time and money. But that’s not the worst of it. You could, in some countries without a public health system, be up for significant costs and if you have to be repatriated home then there is the cost of that as well and it’s NOT cheap. There is also the problem that in some countries even if there is a public health system a requirement that your family bring in your food and see to your comfort – how you do that when your nearest family member is 5,000 miles away? The best you can do is either beg your room partners (in many hospitals you will not find private rooms but rather large wards filled with patients) family to look after you as well or pay a local to feed you and clean your clothes. Also sometimes the food you’re offered in foreign hospitals can look strange to say the least – ‘Green slime on dog droppings’ has been one description we’ve heard.Rest can be critical when traveling. Make sure you can get a good nights sleep and maybe take opportunities to relax during the day – sit down and have a break. Take a good book with you. Many a long train or bus trip needs a book to pass the time and there are always those dreary wet rainy days when you just can’t get out. Take a book that you KNOW you will want to read.In non-native speaking countries it can be very frustrating trying to communicate. But if you speak one of the worlds major languages it should not to be to difficult to find someone to help. But always be aware that finding someone who speaks your language is a privilege and not a right! Do NOT get angry, wave your arms around, speak loudly, be arrogant or rude if people cannot communicate in your language – after all you obviously can’t speak theirs otherwise they wouldn’t be a problem.Depressing days will come. There will be times you just want to Go Home! Don’t panic it happens to us all at times. Try to work out what’s going on. Maybe this is your first birthday away from home, it’s New Years Day and you’re stuck in the middle of a monsoon with rain running down your back inside your clothes. Sometimes you may feel overwhelmed because you haven’t heard a word in your own language for three weeks – read something, anything, in your own language. That will help a lot in these situations – or what about that book we suggested you take along?Myths
eggs are safe because they are protected by their shell – false – eggs can carry disease
skinned fruit like bananas and oranges are safe to eat – true – once you skin them
Because I’m a Westerner/Rich/Intelligent/Educated I will be respected – false – how would you like a foreigner coming into your country and telling you you’re wrong
I have money and so can do what I want – false – money does not mean you are invulnerable
I know better than the people I’m visiting – false – you are simply different not better
I don’t need a visa to go to ### – false – you may so check
I have to be careful because I am a Westerner/Rich/Educated – false – just take as much care overseas as you would back home; unless you live in a crime free area where everyone is wonderful
I’ll be safe – false – there are many unsafe situations even if we forget about crime such as illness or injury. Take out travel insurance. The cost of getting flown home from China or Tanzania because you have a crushed leg could cost you 10′s of thousands.
Traveling with friends will be better than traveling alone – false – it can become a nightmare. Habits you find cute back home can become insurmountably irritating after a couple of weeks. If you find yourself in this situation make sure you get some time to yourself.

Private Sale Property Pricing

The property price dilemmaAs a homeowner selling your home you are faced with a dilemma when setting the asking price for your property. Ask too much and you risk your property sitting on the market for months without attracting any offers. Ask too little and you lose out financially. Faced with this choice many homeowners set their asking price too high believing that they can always lower the price if the property doesn’t sell. However this can have disastrous consequences for the value of your home.Setting the correct price is the most important part of selling your home. Whether selling your home FSBO or through a real estate agent it is vital to get the asking price right first time. Your aim is to sell your property in a reasonable amount of time and to get on with living your life, in order to do this you must set a realistic price.Buyers know the real estate marketBuyers are often well researched when it comes to the current real estate market. Therefore if a property is overpriced, it simply won’t sell. As a homeowner you may well feel that a prospective buyer can always make you an offer but in many cases buyers will simply walk away. It is said that a reasonably priced property will attract reasonable offers but an excessively over priced property will attract no offers.If a property is over priced and doesn’t sell it will sit on the market and will quickly become stale. Buyers will recognize the property as having been on the market for some time and assume that there must be something wrong with it; the property will have gained the reputation of being a lemon. If you overprice the house to test the market and then reduce the price later, it signals to buyers that the property was and may still be overpriced. Homes that are listed through real estate agents are particularly vulnerable as many agents give homeowners inflated valuations on their property to try and secure the listing. The owner is later conditioned by the agent to accept a lower offer that is often less than the true value of the property.Factors affecting the price of your propertyThe amount of time that you have to sell your home will affect its sale price. Any property will sell if the price is low enough. If the real estate market is slow and you need to sell quickly you may have to accept a lower price to sell you property. By offering a property for sale at a lower price the pool of potential buyers is expanded as the property becomes attractive to real estate investors who either want to rent the property to tenants or renovate and sell at a profit. If you are not in a hurry to sell your property you can concentrate on appealing to homeowners rather than investors. Homeowners are less likely to be concerned about rental yield and profit margins and will pay more for a home that they fall in love with.Some factors other than time that affect the price of a property are:Location: You can’t get away from this one; the cliché location, location, location is well known because it is true. If your property is located in a desirable area that is in demand, you will be able to get a higher price than you can for the same house in a less desirable area.Condition: A house that has been well maintained and can be moved into without the new owners having to undertake any major renovations will always sell for more than one that has been neglected and needs work.Desirable amenities: If your house has popular amenities such as parks, schools and shops close by, it will sell for a higher price.FSBO and property pricesAs a FSBO homeowner you are in a fantastic position in that you can under cut your competition (properties listed with real estate agents) and still keep more of the equity in your pocket as you have no real estate agent’s fees to pay. However a significant number of FSBO owners erode their competitive advantage by asking the same or more than properties listed through an agent.Opinion is divided as to whether buyers would rather buy direct from the owner or through an agent. Some people feel that buyers prefer to negotiate through an agent, as they can be more honest in their feedback, therefore if these buyers are to be enticed to consider FSBO properties they need a reduced price to attract them. Others feel that buyers would rather deal direct with owner rather than have to put up with the deceit and games played by some agents. Having dealt with many agents and FSBO owners I would rather deal direct any day.Whether the prospective buyer prefers to deal direct or would rather be negotiating through an agent one thing is for certain. The buyer knows that the homeowner is saving a considerable amount through not having to pay commission and will expect the homeowner to share some of this saving with them.Any sensible FSBO vendor will share the saved commission with the buyer by accepting a slightly lower price. The homeowner is still ahead in terms of the equity they have in their pocket and can move on and get on with their life in their new home. It is important to focus on selling your home not how much you can save.How to determine the price of your propertyIn order to determine the price of your property it is necessary to compare your property to other homes that have sold in your neighbourhood. There are three ways that this can be done:1. Online valuation serviceThese services compile reports based on historic sales data for a particular suburb or street. They are a useful overview and provide information quickly and easily but provide fairly high level information e.g. you may be able to find out the average house price in a street but may not know how many bedrooms the average house has.2. A professional valuerA professional valuation is the most accurate way to find out how much your property is worth. A valuation from a professional valuer is not the same as a valuation that you might get from a real estate agent. A professional valuer has no financial interest in your property and is legally responsible for their valuation. Banks will require a valuation from a professional valuer in order to issue a mortgage. Banks will not accept a valuation from a real estate agent, as they know that these are not reliable.
In order to value your home the valuer will visit the property to make measurements and assess the condition. They will then consider how your property compares to other properties that have sold in the local area.3. Comparative market analysisIt is possible to conduct your own market analysis by comparing your home to others that have sold in the area. The key here is to compare to the selling price of other properties and not the asking price.
Find 4-5 houses similar to yours that sold in your area over the last 6 months. Ask agents or owners or use property records to find out what the properties listed and sold for. Keep an eye on newspaper property pages for examples of recent sales.
As no two homes are exactly the same it will be necessary to make adjustments for differences between your home and those in the comparison e.g. if the home in the comparison has a renovated bathroom and your property does not you will need to reduce the comparison price.Setting the asking price for your propertyIt is difficult trying to subjectively value your home because of the emotional attachment that you have. This can lead you to over emphasise the property’s good points and to overlook any shortcomings. In order to get the most accurate valuation we would recommend investing in a professional valuation.When setting the asking price it is important to remember that the only thing that is relevant is how much a buyer is prepared to pay for your home today. It does not matter how much you paid for your home five years ago, nor does it matter how much your new home is costing or how much you still owe on your mortgage. It is only your property’s value as determined by the current real estate market that is relevant.You may however wish to include a small buffer to allow for some negotiating room. 5% more on the asking price will give enough room to negotiate but will not overprice the property so much that buyers are scared away.How to maximise your equityIn order to maximise the amount of money that you end up with in your pocket we recommend using a professional valuer to determine the property value.Once you have decided how much to sell your property for listing with a good FSBO website (also known as private sale) means you avoid paying commission to a real estate agent and can maximise the amount of equity you are left with.

Choosing a Photography School

Available to many places you can learn picture taking, but what is the correct place for you? Sure there are online schools and courses, but they will not give you the hands on details you have. You will constantly other students and the teacher’s eye to turn into a better photographer. The online classes do have their uses as an example giving you the basic information to study. It can be hard to opt for the correct school. Some require recommendation while others are apart of colleges.The information you like to glean from a photography class will make part of the decision for you. For lasting in a college setting that does not specialize in photography will propose the base levels, but may not proposal you an internship with a specialist photographer in your field. If you bring searching for picture taking as a hobby these basic level classes will regularly give you the info you need to produce pictures you can be proud of.Specialized schools as with any others will provide more info on a specific topic. Most specialized schools will allow you to work alongside a professional to find out the specifics of your profession in addition to increase in size your knowledge. This helps you learn quicker and discover more details about the methods employed in picture taking while having hands on experience.The best way to select a photography school is to choose what you want from your picture taking. 170 chosen that you can deal with it to discovering how to apply. Some photography schools are part of a studio and admit anybody to enroll at a class. Other schools require you to attend a college or university first for basic picture taking and intern before you go any further to the specialized school.Searching online will let you the schools obtainable in your location and nationally. You will be in a position to find the coating as well as descriptions of every class they provide. The sites will likewise list the qualifications you must attend the school and what classes you will need to take on become a photographer. Although the experience you receive from a classroom is better, online classes teach you what you need to know.Some families that you will need to will be in lighting, composition, and other basics. Intentions of your field you will then must diversify in studying methods of capture the subject. Like portrait picture taking you will must understand angles, light, balances, and the way to elicit the reactions you want from the subject. Digital photography is the new journey to take pictures and there are some different techniques to watch the older manual cameras.Room schools can be of assistance you become more adapt at taking photos. At long last you settle on you have some assistance to step up from being the point and shoot type to a more complicated camera or you could settle on there is a career for you. Available to many types of schools for you and online sources will help you find it. Online photography families can be useful for you discovering systems, but you will still want others to help you see your eye for art. If you have worked with manual cameras previously prospects are you will would like to take a digital picture taking course when you switch.To talk about one more type of school we must delve into underwater picture taking. Most colleges and other photography schools associated with studios don’t specialize in underwater picture taking. It is sometimes best to seek out a dive school for a basic course. You normally find choose to delve further and find an underwater picture taking school. Underwater picture taking has always been a unique and interesting hobby or profession. Seeing the results of your work is like no other renovation one can imagine. When you view the color and the spectacular views, you will comprehend underwater photography more.

Four Benefits Available When Pursuing Do-It-Yourself Home Improvement Solutions

Many individuals pursue the unique opportunities that exist with investing in real estate. These forms of investment can vary between a person who buys and sells homes as a source of personal finance, to an individual who is looking for a long-term investment for their family to live within, and benefit from improvements in the housing market. Whatever your reason for investing in the real estate, there are many potential benefits when a person decides to pursue do-it-yourself home improvement solutions.

Benefit One: Saving Money

The first benefit that a homeowner will discover when they pursue the do-it-yourself opportunities of home improvement is saving money. Contractors and professionals have a tendency to cost a tremendous amount of money, as you utilise their services, pay their hourly rates, and are required to invest in products that sponsor their company. Rather than utilising this tremendous expense, do-it-yourself opportunities will help to save money by avoiding their hourly rates, choosing from products that best meet your home demands, plus you’ll get the changes completed in a timely manner.

Benefit Two: Expressing Creativity

The second benefit of do-it-yourself home improvement can be found with expressing your creativity. Every person has their own vision in relation to what they believe their home should look like, and the opportunities that are available through a do-it-yourself approach, will allow you to create this vision. You will not be subjected to the limitations of a professional contractor and will be able to do whatever you desire, when it comes to improving your home environment.

Benefit Three: Improving Your Home

The third benefit that a person will discover from the do-it-yourself home improvement opportunity is found with improving your home. While many individuals make improvements in order to prepare their home for sale, there are unique possibilities that are available when you can make improvements that will allow you to enjoy the home you are currently living in.

Benefit Four: Increasing Home Value

The final benefit that a real estate investor or homeowner can take advantage of, when pursuing the do-it-yourself resources of home improvement, exists with increasing your home value. This increase in value can be found in the amount of money your home is worth, in addition to the attraction it has with potential buyers. This combination can prove highly valuable, as you look to get the most out of your investment and seek to sell your home in the quickest time period.

Organise Conferences With Ease Using Event Management Software

Organising a conference can be a daunting and time consuming exercise. Whether it’s a small one day event for 20 delegates or a huge three day event in Earls Court, the general process and common problems are the same.So what are the stages of planning a conference?Booking a venue
Sending invites to a targeted list of prospect delegates
Organising and booking all the resources, such as catering, collateral printing, promotional items, A&V etc
Dealing with presenters and guest speakers
Taking registrations
Taking payment
Sending reminder emails to delegates
Printing badges
Organising staff on the day
Managing the budget throughoutThis is an extremely basic and simplified list to indicate the general check list event managers must consider. This process can start from 6 months before an event or even as long as 12-18 months before for really large, national events. Managing all these steps can be extremely complicated and it can be very easy for event managers to make major mistakes.To avoid costly errors, and to ensure conferences are organised in an efficient manner, many event professionals are looking to employ the use of an event management software solution. These solutions have the tools and capabilities to manage and track activities throughout the whole of the event and conference planning process, as well as the activities carried out as part of the event follow up (such as post event surveys and the creation of reports for intelligent analysis).Taking the above steps in planning an event, here is how an event software solution can help:1. Booking a venueControl to an event manager is key; whether it’s a meeting/conference room in your own office or a larger external venue, event software can help by ensuring the allocation has been made and that payment has been taken. For more complex conferences which require multiple rooms across multiple days, event solutions include a comprehensive planning, resource and scheduling venue software tool. A highly configurable and fully customisable function sheet and a multiple calendar feature which will give you the ability to manage your resources and venue from one central and flexible application. This helps to simplify the normally complex process of booking and managing the venue.2. Sending invites to a targeted list of prospectsThe event manager may know the exact number and names of the delegates they are targeting or in some cases they might have been told to invite a certain demographic (based on relationship, job title, location etc). Managing the selection of delegates to invite is made easy with event software, since it is able to be integrated their CRM package. Meaning that all corporate records and data can be accessed easily and records automatically updated, so others looking at that record will know that the contact have been invited and whether or not they have registered and paid.Event software also comes with sophisticated email marketing tools. Event managers are able to easily build and filter a selection of targeted delegates from their CRM and put these into a custom-made, HTML email which can be sent out. From the event management software platform, event managers will be able to track opens, clicks and other recipient activity.3. Resource managementEvent software will come with a Resource Management Module which is where event managers can track and control all the resources needed to manage an event. External suppliers can be given access to this module so that they can keep track themselves, rather than dealing with the event manager directly. For example, caterers can be given access so they can easily see current, up-to-date information on delegate numbers and any specific dietary requirements. Giving them direct access to this module in the event software means that event managers can deal with one less person and one less phonecall! Mistakes are also reduced since a layer of communication has been removed.Resource modules also contain multiple and powerful calendars enabling conference managers to manage numerous resources on these various calendars; this is all accessible from one central location ensuring all updates/amendments/additions are recorded in real time. From the information collated through this Resource Module, event mangers can run bespoke reports providing details such as the number of pods available, number of brochures etc. Event managers will no longer have to juggle multiple spreadsheets across multiple calendars which will ensure fewer errors.4. Dealing with presenters and guest speakersEvent software can also manage this process. Emails can be scheduled automatically to remind guest speakers about the event and to request certain information such as a bio for the marketing collateral and presentation slides for delegates. Speakers can also be given direct access to the Resource Management Module, where they can manage and update their own profile, and upload materials and other items. Again, this takes away the involvement of the event manager, freeing them up to work on more strategic activities.5. Taking registrationsA convenient way to take registrations is online. This suits both delegates and event managers. It is a fast, effective method and is increasingly becoming the standard method of event registration. But there are good and bad ways of taking registrations online. Ideally event managers should want to direct prospect delegates to their own website, where a specially created page, with the branding of the company and the event have been included. Taking registrations on your own website plays an important part in increasing delegate sign up rates – delegates will be more trusting and more likely to sign up if it’s on the same site, whereas taking them to an external site may cause trust issues. It’s also important to be able to amend the information requested at the point of registration. Some events will just require a name, telephone number and email address, whereas others may require more detailed information. Event software can easily handle these changes.6. Taking paymentHaving a registration and payment process that is easy, straightforward and efficient is vitally important if event managers want to ensure a high level of delegate attendance. Event software gives event managers the ability to take payments online, via a secure web portal – giving delegates an easy, trustworthy method of payment. Since the event management software can be integrated with the back end finance application, payment can be easily accepted, records updated and receipts sent out automatically, without any intervention from the event manager or accounts payable staff. If payment isn’t taken online, the event software can automatically sent out invoices to the delegate. For an even smoother payment transaction event solutions will include connectors allowing seamless integration with your internal finance system.7. Sending reminders to delegatesThe email marketing tool included in the event software can have emails created which can scheduled to automatically be sent to all delegates. These can be reminder emails, or emails with updates or event amendments. They can be created in advance and then forgotten about as the event software will manage the rest.8. Printing badgesThe production of delegate name badges is a small part of hosting a conference, but is one that can be extremely time consuming for event managers and can cause real issues on the day of the conference if any mistakes have been made. Event software packages will come with easy to use, effective badge production tools. Not only will the creation of custom badges be easier, but the section of delegate names will be done automatically since the event software will be integrated with the CRM – so it’ll know exactly what names and details to print.9. Organising staff on the dayThe effective Resource Management Module enables all staff to be accurately managed – it will be easy for event managers to delegate activities to individuals and log it in this Resource Module. Staff can access this module anytime and from any location (via the Internet) so they will always be aware of what their responsibilities are and where they need to be.10. Managing the budget throughoutEvent software is an excellent tool for managing finances and budget. All costs can be taken via the integration with the finance system. These can then be easily tracked and monitored, with alerts to warn the event manager if there are any issues or if costs are rising fast. Reports can be instantly created, with a click of a button – useful for event update meetings and if event managers need to compile any statistics for senior management.So we can see how event software can revolutionise the stages of planning a conference. Without event management software, a lot of these tasks would be manually created, tracked and organised via huge spreadsheets. There would be high chances of errors and mistakes and the whole process would be time consuming, stressful and ineffective for the conference manager and those associated with the event.

The Top 5 Referral Marketing Ideas for New Businesses

Do you have a brilliant business idea that’s taking off? Are you at a point where you have a product and your customers love everything about it? Have you considered leveraging the power of referral marketing to help even more people discover your product? There are numerous referral marketing ideas that can help you increase your sales.Consider this – nowadays, a business has to sell more than just a product. You have to sell a full customer experience; An experience that has inspired your customer to share your products with friends and family.Marketing conditions are continually changing. Unlike a decade ago, businesses these days do not only sell a product or service to customers, but also an experience. They are given a full experience that will inspire them to share the product or service with friends and family – all of whom are potential customers. Word-of-mouth referrals are the most effective way to grow your business, and this is especially true when you are just getting started as a business.According to Entrepreneur, an ever increasing number of businesses in 2015 and beyond will try to be more open to feedback from their customers. Here are a few referral marketing ideas on how you can make the most out of your customer referrals.1. IMPROVE YOUR REFERRAL MARKETING STRATEGYA Nielsen Trust Study from 2013 showed that referrals are the most trusted form of advertising. This information should be good motivation to establish a solid referral strategy, one based on various referral marketing ideas.Research is the foundation of any marketing strategy. When you want to craft a good referral marketing strategy, the initial research should include the basics, such as understanding customer desires and needs. But we also advise you to conduct research on any potential referral channels, such as news publications, influencers (bloggers and social media influencers), as well as finding all possibilities to produce customer reviews and opinions online.Once your research is done, use the data to find the right referral marketing ideas, and then craft a successful strategy which includes:- Exceptional customer service. Give customers or potential buyers a reason to engage, care about and tell others about your brand. Satisfied clients provide great referrals that are invaluable to small businesses- The 80/20 rule of referral marketing- Shareable product experiences. A simple Facebook post, Twitter tweet or Instagram selfie can now reach hundreds, if not thousands of potential customers in a few seconds.- Referral marketing program. Consider including an obvious incentive in your referral marketing program. Customers are more likely to refer friends and family when there is a valuable incentive involved. If the incentives are worthless or undesirable to the company’s existing customer base, the customers won’t be interested enough to participate in the referral program. Make the program more visible by placing signs in stores and using any internet marketing tools that apply.- Influencer. Find a person who is sufficiently influential in your niche. It doesn’t have to be a celebrity; A popular blogger, YouTuber or Instagramer will do the job.- References. Use references as referrals because people consider other people’s opinions before determining whether they should purchase a product or not.2. FOCUS ON ONLINE REFERRALSReferral marketing can be highly effective in an online environment due to the popularity of social media and sharing sites. Internet referral marketing can potentially spread information faster and to a wider audience than most offline marketing strategies.These days, average customer reach is much larger than ever before and for many people with strong social followings, it can be enormous. Customers now have the power to make or break a business by what they say about it online.According to research carried out by social media experts, 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations, whereas only 14% trust advertisements. Perhaps that’s why online communities are so good at generating business referrals.Dropbox, an online file storage company, implemented a very successful referral program in 2009 asking users to tell their friends about the service. The program offered rewards for both sides in the form of additional free space.This program came to be very fruitful. Namely, by 2010, 35% of daily sign-ups were the result of a referral, while signups had permanently increased by 60% overall. The company estimated that within a 30-day period (April 2010), their users had sent more than 2.8 million direct referral invitations.Dropbox debuted as a Y Combinator startup in 2007. It now has 300 million users and more than 500 employees. Follow the trend and take advantage of the variety of social media approaches to increasing your referrals. Brainstorm on various referral marketing ideas and try them out.3. USE CONTENT AS A REFERRAL TOOL TO FORGE STRONG REFERRAL RELATIONSHIPSMost often, customers are too busy to leave referrals, even though they are satisfied with the product or service. In situations like this, valuable content can generate referral introductions in ways that are constructive and valuable as opposed to shallow and fruitless.Valuable content is an effective tool for attracting strategic partnerships as well. While many business owners focus most of their referral efforts on customers, non-competing businesses that serve your target market can be one of the most potent sources of referrals.4. CONNECT WITH RELATED PRODUCTS AND SERVICESThe old premise “It’s not what you know but who you know” is still very popular in the business world. Even though you may be skilled and dedicated to your new business, your chances of success will rise exponentially when you connect with the right people.Many companies collaborate with complementary businesses and cross-promote to each other’s customer bases. In order to promote your business, identify a connection that would be interested in setting up a barter program with you, one in which you’ll work for them and refer new clients to their business and vice versa.Networking is the key to obtaining more customers and earning brand trust. For this reason, view every moment as a potential networking opportunity and watch your business grow.5. SEEK CREATIVITY IN REFERRAL MARKETING IDEASHaving a variety of electronic devices available to you and your customers, you have infinite possibilities of creating inspirational referral marketing ideas. If your client is willing, try to capture a testimonial on video. This can be a really powerful asset. Offer them an incentive to motivate them to make a creative referral.Another idea you can try is thinking of a witty way to ask for referrals. There is an interesting example of a computer repair company using stamps reading “We Crave Referrals” on every paper that customers receive – including newsletters, marketing material, and invoices.Remember, the best referrals are the ones you don’t even have to ask for. Thus, provide your customers with an exceptional experience that will make them eager to share it with others. Try various referral marketing ideas and see how they work for your business.

Vital Marketing Concepts

Marketing is nowadays a vital aspect of every business. The price of an item increases on account of marketing, but reliance on it has attained an inevitable aspect of buying/selling behavior of consumers/producers due to multiple reasons such as competitive market structures (e.g., monopolistic competition, oligopoly, and niche markets), economical communication technology, information revolution, MNCs, globalization, battle for competitive edge, and Brand Identity phenomenon. Marketing is the managerial effort through which goods/services move from producer to the consumer. The Effective Marketing is “The right product/service with right way, in the right place, at the right time, at the right price and making a profit in the process”. The American Marketing Association offers the following formal definition: “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” Encyclopedia Britannica defines, “Marketing is the sum of activities involved in directing the flow of goods and services from producers to consumers.” According to Kotler, the shortest definition of marketing is “meeting needs profitably”.Marketing is required for increasing sales and achieving a sustainable market segment for product or service. Customer gets satisfaction from the product or service, entrepreneur gets profit on sale, and business achieves reputation or goodwill. Effective Marketing materializes reputed business, profitable sale, and satisfied customer. The investigation of demand behavior is focal area of marketing. Consequently, marketing has two parents, economics and psychology. Economic considerations of demand behavior are pull or visible factors while psychological leanings are push/invisible factors behind any demand behavior. A marketing effort concentrates on customers’ propensities for psychological satisfaction and designs multiple incentives of economic benefits for customers. An effective marketing approach accommodates economic rules of selling/buying and psychological tendencies of sellers/buyers. There are seven major reasons of marketing:

To inform about new product/service or product awareness

To introduce a new business or business awareness

To motivate/persuade someone for buying or demand creation

To create stable customer account or achieving customer loyalty

To attain Sustainable Competitive Advantage

To achieve reputation or Goodwill,

To realize Brand Equity

Marketing vs. Selling: – The aforesaid concept of effective marketing covers the full experience of a business deal between seller and buyer; however, there are two distinct aspects of effective marketing, i.e., selling and marketing. Perceptually, Sellers and Marketers are two different groups in a marketing activity. They have distinct views towards the customers. Harvard’s Theodore Levitt drew a perceptive contrast between the selling and marketing concepts: “Selling focuses on the needs of the seller; marketing on the needs of the buyer. Selling is preoccupied with the seller’s need to convert his product into cash; marketing with the idea of satisfying the needs of the customer by means of the product and the whole cluster of things associated with creating, delivering, and finally consuming it.” The strategic alignment between marketing and selling is vital for better results. “A study from App Data Room and Marketo found that sales and marketing alignment can make an organization 67% better at closing deals, reduce friction by 108%, and generate 209% more value from marketing.”Marketing vs. Branding:-Branding is the marketing process by which a marketer or brand manager reduces a company’s reputation to a single word or phrase or design. The American Marketing Association defines a brand as “a name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors.” There is a well-known rule in marketing: “Sell what people are buying.” Similarly, the well-performing rule in branding: “Brand the attributes that people love.” An established brand creates consumer trust and emotional attachments; as a result, brands foster relationships among consumers, products and business that lead to the valuable benefits to a producer such as premium pricing, low promotion cost, loyal customer and constantly growing market share. In a nutshell, a branding effort enhances Brand Equity for sellers. Brand Equity is the brand’s power derived from the goodwill and name recognition that it has earned over time, which translates into higher sales volume and better profit margins against competing brands in the market. The vital strategic aspect of Brand Equity creation is internal branding. “Internal branding consists of managerial activities and processes that help, inform and inspire employees about brands.” In a branding effort, a marketer or an entrepreneur adopts four perspectives for an effective branding – Consumer Perspective (to ascertain desirability of product/service by multiple consumers), Company Perspective (to improve, technically and aesthetically, presentation and delivery process of product/service), Competitive Perspective (to understand and exploit differentiability/parity content of products/services with respect to competitors), and Brand Perspective (to work on creation of possible brand equity). It is noteworthy that, in branding, you create a perception of product/business while, during marketing, you motivate or persuade someone for actual buying. Branding is who you are while marketing is how you affect consumers’ decision process. More specifically, “Branding or Brand Management is a communication function in marketing that includes analysis and planning on how that brand is positioned in the market, which target public the brand is targeted at, and maintaining a desired reputation of the brand.”Marketing vs. Advertising: – Marketing deals with multiple business efforts to realize ‘Profitable Sale’ such as market research, pricing & distribution of product/service, branding, selling and public relations. Advertising is just one component of marketing. In advertising, an entrepreneur or business communicates to the potential buyers about his/her products or services. Advertising is defined as:”Any form of communication in the paid media”. The prominent advertising mediums are, print media, electronic media and social media. Conceptually, marketing is the way or strategy to convince potential buyers that you have the right product/service for them, while, advertising is conversion of marketing strategy into specific communication media. In advertising, you tell the potential customers about the existence and availability of right product/service for them. The greatest issue of present-day advertising is Cluttering. “An Advertising Clutter refers to the excessive amount of ad messages consumers are exposed to on a daily basis.” It is vital responsibility of a marketer to manage the clutter. The clutter management means to find the right time and place to connect with target customers and to send impeccable messages to them about your business or offerings.Marketing vs. Networking: – Networking is a systematic human interaction with fellow human beings to exchange information and opportunities. Business Networking is dynamically linked with effective marketing. Business networking is an outcome of socio-economic interactions of an entrepreneur. The networking efforts shape a business circle. It is noteworthy; a business circle is a sub-circle of a big socio-economic circle of an entrepreneur. A business cannot survive or flourish, at least with full potential, without proper interaction among all economic agents/stakeholders. Executives’ presence in a big socio-economic circle and related associations is vital to develop an effective business networking. The business networking, BtoB and BtoC, is the crucial aspect of effective marketing.Concisely speaking, the effective marketing is combination of networking, branding, marketing, advertising and selling. The networking earmarks areas of targeted customers, branding prepares ground through shaping/reshaping of perceptions/emotions of prospective customers, advertising informs them about product/service through multiple media, marketing motivates them for buying, and selling materializes the actual profitable sale.

3 Surefire Ways to Know If You’re Ready to Hire an Online Business Manager

Are you a woman entrepreneur who’s frustrated in your 6-7 figure business?

Are you feeling overwhelmed, over-stressed, and not sure where to turn?

Are you so busy doing everything in your business that you never have time to focus on those high level tasks that will truly bring direct growth to your business?

Your business may be ready to hire an Online Business Manager (OBM).

When your business has grown to multiple 6-7-figures, it will require that you begin to step into a CEO and Visionary role to lead your business to higher levels of growth. The business now has a life of its own and if you stay in the doing role too long, you will lose control of your vision.

If you’re like most women business owners, you started your business for some or all of the following reasons:

You wanted control over your time and the money you make
You wanted your work to have an impact in the world
Sick of the 9-5 grind
Have a business you can schedule around your family and personal goals
Commit to something bigger than yourself
Create financial and time freedom
If you have a multiple 6-7-figure business, it may be time to step out of the tasks of day-to-day operations and management. You’re the only one who can lead your company to the next levels. You alone know how to move your business forward. Time and focus are now in high demand for you to lead your company to the next level.
The result of not stepping up will be that the business will begin to stagnate – you’ll hit the ceiling in ability to grow any further. You’ll need to stop trying to do and manage everything on your own because it’s simply not sustainable. You need help in business. At this phase in your business, you have a team that executes tasks.

Now the role you’ll want to hire will be an Online Business Manager, an Integrator, who can take your dreams and goals and make them a reality. You need someone who can effectively step in and manage your team, manage your day-to-day operations and marketing management, manage projects, and analyze and report metrics to determine what’s working – and what’s not.

If you can’t get out from behind the manager’s desk, frustration will overwhelm you… if it hasn’t already. You’ll struggle with “hitting the ceiling” and “feeling stuck” – if you aren’t already. Your life and relationships will suffer because you’re working a crazy number of hours every day just to keep things going. You cannot keep up this pace, and eventually something will give. You’ll burn out. I’ve seen it countless times.

While reading all this article, you may be wondering if it’s time for you to hire an Online Business Manager.

Here are three ways to know you’re ready.

Financial Readiness

Hiring an Online Business Manager is a long-term investment. An OBM does not replace a team of people who are responsible for executing tasks – you can hire any number of virtual assistants for task completion. An Online Business Manager runs your business while you step into the CEO and leadership role.

Psychological Readiness

You’re ready to turn loose a certain amount of control in your business to someone you trust. You know you need help in business, and you don’t want to be the only one in charge anymore. You understand it may be uncomfortable to turn over some control to someone else, but you’re willing to do it because deep down, you know it’s time. And you’re ready to let go of what you don’t truly enjoy to return to using your unique gifts to grow the business.

Lifestyle Readiness

You’re ready to have balance and get your life back. You’re ready to feel a renewed sense of passion for what you do, and you’re looking forward to having the time to create and strategize. As you let loose of the manager’s role, you’ll feel refreshed and energetic, and you’ll step into focusing ONLY on what you can do to grow the business.

If you can’t get out from behind the “manager’s desk” in your business it may be time to hire an Online Business Manager. Life’s too short to be frustrated and over-stressed in your business

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