Monday, July 31, 2006

Green Seal

Both Van Morrison & Kermit the Frog know that bein' green isn't easy. However, for clients whose businesses are environmentally-conscious, there exists the Green Seal website to help them out.

Its home page describes this group as "an independent non-profit organization dedicated to safeguarding the environment and transforming the marketplace by promoting the manufacture, purchase, and use of environmentally responsible products and services."

If your client has an environmentally-friendly product, a link exists to information as to how they can get a Green Seal certification to add to the product's resume. If your client seeks a "green" product, a link exists to a member directory that'll help find out who sells it.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

CNNMoney.com Best Places to Live 2006

Two cities in New York State made the list: New York City and Ramapo. Have a look to see where your city ranks.

Top 100 finalists
City Population
New York 8,143,200
Ramapo 112,500
Other cities

City Population
Albany 96,253
Amherst 114,942
Brentwood 55,720
Buffalo 285,058
Cheektowaga 77,785
Clarkstown 85,350
Clay 59,679
Greenburgh 89,942
Hempstead 58,010
Irondequoit 51,903
Levittown 52,577
Mount Vernon 69,884
New Rochelle 74,320
Niagara Falls 53,728
North Hempstead 223,903
Rochester 216,598
Schenectady 61,698
Syracuse 146,404
Tonawanda 59,894
Union 54,827
Utica 57,721
White Plains 55,763
Yonkers 199,611

Also, check out http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/bplive/2006/faq/ for "how we picked fthe Best Places to Live".

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Exit 5A Corporate Woods Blvd mile 3.9


Have you ever tried to give driving directions and you just can’t remember the number of the highway exit you take everyday to get to work?

Here’s useful tool.

The Upstate New York Roads Site http://www.upstatenyroads.com/

An independent labor of love, this site provides massive amounts of information about New York’s highways. Find the highway you need, and the page provides a list of all its exits, complete with numbers and the towns or routes listed on the highway sign. You can even find out what vendors are in the rest areas! There is also a mileage chart, and links to other New York road web sites.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Of prototypes and other things

There's a column in the Wall Street Journal called "Small Talk", which currently appears every Tuesday. Readers are encouraged to send their small-business questions to smalltalk@wsj.com. A question last month was about prototypes. Columnist Kelly Spors recommended Thomasnet.com/, from the people who put out the Thomas Register. Click on Engineering & Consulting, then Prototypes. Also, the United Inventors Association makes recommendations.

Another more general useful tool from WSJ is the Startup Journal, from the paper's Center for Entrepreneurship, with tabs for franchising, finance, running a business and more.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Daily Candy

If you work at Central, you have the option of getting candy every day. However, that's not why I blog.

Recently, I did a request for a client who wanted to open an environmentally-friendly cleaning business. As with many research requests, this one included an inquiry as to how to begin marketing this type of service.

During my work, I came across the aforementioned Daily Candy site. It promotes itself as being "The Insider's Guide to the Sweet Life". It has several online "editions," each focusing on a specific metro area. One for New York City is available. Once there, the site fancies itself as a broadcaster of what's new, hip, or innovative in that city's scene - fashion, food & drink, beauty, etc.

So I read an article on a "green" cleaning service that promoted itself through this site. It exists for businesses to promote themselves (as long as they meet the site's criteria), as well as for people looking for such places. If any of your businesses have that element of "cool," then have them visit this page. They can click on "Contact Us" to read about how they can advertise on the site, or they can look around for innovative ideas used by others in their area.

Friday, July 21, 2006

What will those search engines do next?

While it is not particularly new, visual searching seems to be catching on. With a visual search, users type in their search string, same as always, but results are displayed visually and clustered into subtopics, related areas, etc. The goal is to conceptually organize results and to allow users to look beyond the top 10 that appears in a traditional results list.

Check out a couple of these engines on their own:
http://www.kartoo.com/
http://www.grokker.com/

Grokker’s homesite allows users to “Grok” (and get visual result displays) using Yahoo’s search engine, but more and more databases are using it too. EBSCO Publishing and Factiva now use Grokker to provide a visual results display for several of their databases, and even the Internet Public Library, http://www.ipl.org/, is now on board.

Read more about the use of visual searches in these articles:
http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6328082.html
http://library.stanford.edu/about_sulair/special_projects/stanford_grokker.html

Want to get rid of words all together? Information specialists are working on methods to search for images using images, just like those face-matching databases we see on TV police shows. Play with one yourself at the web site for St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum: http://www.hermitagemuseum.org/fcgi-bin/db2www/qbicSearch.mac/qbic?selLang=English.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

2006 Investment Company Fact Book

A Review of trends and Activity in the Investment Company Industry
46th Edition146 pages; PDF.
ICI Investment Company Institute
www.icifactbook.org


For an overview of the investment landscape, this report lays out what investment customers are doing, and how the various investment funds work, and industry employment facts. This 146 page report offers a detailed look at how people are investing. It also includes a description of the roles involved and a glossary of terms.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Census budget slashed

You may recall that I have mentioned the American Communities Survey (ACS) and other enhancements to the Census process, contingient on the budget process. Those improvements have been severely compromised recently this past week, when the House of Representatives shifted $50 million from the Census Bureau to the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program.

From Census Briefs:
Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA) countered that the amendment would "devastate the census" and "impact fundamental missions of the Census Bureau." "The immediate ramifications are a disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations, irretrievable loss of testing opportunities to identify problems," the chairman warned, referring to efforts to improve coverage of historically hard-to-count populations in the census. Noting that the Census Bureau is "vulnerable" to cuts to fund other popular programs, Rep. Wolf said, "There is not a lobby downtown for the Census Bureau."

Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV), ranking Democrat on the Appropriations subcommittee, also opposed the amendment, calling the offset of census funds "unacceptable." Rep. Mollohan pointed out that "law enforcement uses census data to determine how to allocate manpower and equipment."

Supporters of the amendment did not criticize the Census Bureau’s work, but several noted that the Appropriations Committee had increased the agency’s budget by $72 million over the 2006 funding level. "We are talking about funding cops, the war on drugs, homeland security, or $72 million more for the Bureau of the Census," Rep. Jim Ramstad (R-MN) offered. "To me that is a no-brainer: We fund Byrne grants, which every law enforcement official in America is pleading for." Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) called the choice a matter of priorities. "Right now, we need more help on the streets with crime than we do in the Census Bureau. The mandate for every 10 years is every 10 years." Rep. Souder, who had previously served on the census oversight subcommittee, also suggested that the private sector could pay for some of the Census Bureau’s "other tasks" if they need the data.

Reengineered census at risk, agency says: Following the House action, the Census Bureau issued an "impact statement," saying the proposed funding reduction would force it to abandon plans to use GPS-equipped hand-held computers to collect information from unresponsive households in the census. "Reverting to paper-based operations will add at least $1 billion to the overall cost of the 2010 census," the agency said. The bureau said it would put off aligning the TIGER digital mapping system with GPS coordinates in all counties, a project currently scheduled for completion in 2008. New initiatives to reduce undercounts and overcounts in the 2010 census also would be "compromised", the bureau wrote.

Funding at the House-passed level also would result in cancellation of group quarters coverage in the American Community Survey (ACS), according to the Impact Statement. Group quarters, which include nursing homes, college dorms, military barracks, and prisons, were first added to the ACS this year. "Ultimately not including the GQ population in the ACS means the ACS cannot fully be the replacement for the long form in 2010," the Census Bureau said.

Stakeholders convey support for census funding to Senate: A diverse group of census stakeholders, under the umbrella of The Census Project, sent a letter to all Senate appropriators yesterday, urging support for full funding for the Census Bureau. The letter was signed by 25 organizations representing local governments, scientific professions and researchers, the business community, housing and social justice advocates, and organized labor. The letter is posted here.

The Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank, published two editorials, explaining how census data are used to administer effective law enforcement programs and to prepare for and respond to disasters. To Take a Bite Out of Crime: Safeguard the Census and Anticipating the Unimaginable: The Crucial Role of the Census in Disaster Planning and Recovery are authored by Andrew Reamer, Brookings Fellow and Deputy Director, Urban Markets Initiative, Metropolitan Policy Program.

Monday, July 17, 2006

FindLaw.com

An advisor recently called me on behalf of a client, who sought legal information relating to commercial leases. I'm very leery about passing as a legal research expert (that's a whole other world of librarianship, unknown to me).

However, there does exist a site that attempts to provide insight into common legal issues (both individual- and business-related). It's called FindLaw.com, and its home page breaks down its contents into several recognizable broad categories (bankruptcy & debt, real estate, intellectual property, and so forth). By drilling down from there, you'll eventually encounter articles written in clear language that provide brief, introductory articles relating to a specific subject.

The site is also useful for finding attorneys in the numerous specialties within the legal profession.

FindLaw.com is similar in intent to the web site for Nolo Press. They're a publisher of self-help legal books, and have been mentioned in previous Research Network blog posts.

Friday, July 14, 2006

RN Summer Interns

By popular demand, a little bit about our summer interns:

Chunhui Song is a graduate student in the Department of Information Studies at the University at Albany. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Information Management & Information System from University of Science & Technology of China in 2000. Following graduation, she served as a Computer Support Consultant in China Construction Bank, Fujian Branch, and was responsible for providing technical assistance, support, and advice to the branch until she came to the United States.

Chunhui started attending the University at Albany in January 2005 and will receive her Master’s degree in August 2006. She has worked as a student assistant in the reference department in the Science Library at SUNY Albany for one year. She is also a member of American Library Association and Special Libraries Association.

"I like traveling. I have been to many places in China and plans to travel around the US as much as possible. My other interests include history, music, hiking and swimming."

Ben Ropp is from Worcester, MA. Prior to moving to Albany in January 2000, he lived in Chicago, IL, where he received a B.A. in music at the University of Chicago in 1994. Before going back to school, he worked in various library positions for 10 years. Most recently, he was a library assistant at the Albany Public Library where he continues to work on a temporary basis.

"I will graduate from SUNY’s Department of Information Studies in December of this year. I was interested in interning here at the NYS SBDC to hone my research and reference skills, and I’m learning a lot. I have tried to gear my coursework towards maximum flexibility, and though public libraries are probably my first choice of venue, I will keep all options open when seeking a permanent position after December. In addition to music, my non-professional interests include film and photography, art and literature. If I didn’t have to work, I’d probably just try to make films and play music – but I love working in libraries."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Clip Culture

With broadband Internet access, comes the ability to do more, share more, in particular, the sharing of short clips, vlogs etc. Like when brief segments of video were circulated of the tsunami hitting a coastal hotel, or various humorous tidbits, stupid pet tricks, sports highlights and now more regularly, ads, and news stories. These video clips have for the most part been supplied by amateurs but I’m sure will become more popular in the business world.
To help get businesses going, there is Coull, a British company, here to rescue those without video editing knowledge and get them playing too. They offer a software product called coullvlogger that allows the user to edit and upload video simply and quickly. Lycos offers JubiiBlog, a blogging service available in 7 European countries, is now using the coullvlogger tool to enable users to vlog for free. Another opportunity for business owners to get creative!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Different Kind of Demographic

Each year Beloit College releases the “Mindset List,” a list meant to show the world view of incoming freshman. The list presents many of the things this class has not grown up with (like rotary telephones) and the things that have existed all their lives (MTV). There’s nothing too scientific here, but it is an interesting way to think about a group of people and to explore what seems normal to them and what doesn’t. While its target audience may be college professors, this type of information would be useful for anyone marketing to a younger generation.

Check it our yourself:
http://www.beloit.edu/~pubaff/mindset/

N.B. Okay, my class is still listed on the site, and I have to admit that it is not all correct. I do remember the Challenger blowing up, and just because I didn’t see the original “Mork and Mindy” doesn’t mean I didn’t catch it on Nick at Night…

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Free e-books online

From our intern, Chunhui Song:

The World e-Book Fair, sponsored by Project Gutenberg and World eBook Library, will be offering up to 300,000 books online from July 4 to August 4, 2006. Fiction, nonfiction and reference books plus classical music scores and recordings will be available for free downloading.

Five Words to Never Use in Advertising

From the Brand Identity Guru:

Google the term "magic advertising words" and you'll instantly get over 8 million results. But caveat emptor -- don't buy into everything you read, because your prospective buyer certainly won't.

From the time marketing began, there has never been a shortage of self-appointed experts who claim to have identified the words that will unlock your customer'swallets. In the Internet age their advice is even easier to come by. They promise that words such as "you," "guarantee," "easy," "limited-time," and the old standby, "free," will generate surefire results. If only it were that simple.

As a smart businessperson, you probably know that there are no such things as magic words, particularly in a culture that has been saturated with advertising. But there's something else you should know: Not only do magic advertising words not exist, several of them actually work against you. And chances are, you're using at least one of them in your advertising now.

Brace yourself. Here are five of the advertising words you should never use:

Quality

This may be the most overused word in advertising, which is the primary reason why you should stay away from it. What exactly does "quality" mean? In a Lexus, it may mean handcrafted finishes, supple seats, or a smooth ride. In a Hyundai, it's more about the extended warranty than anything.

The point is this: every product worth buying is a quality product. It may be high-priced quality or it may be low-priced quality, but it's quality either way. That means every company believes it can use the word "quality" in its advertising. Too many have, and as a result, now it has become just seven empty letters.

Value

Like quality, value has been ruined by overuse. Go back to the Lexus and the Hyundai examples -- which car is the better value? It depends -- on the buyer, on the purchase occasion, and on what features and benefits value is being judged. Both vehicles are good values depending on the purchase context.

Or take another industry, retail: Wal-Mart provides good value, but so does Tiffany. Value, like quality, is in the eye of the beholder, and every product or service has its own value equation. Saying "we provide the best value" is, therefore, virtually meaningless.

Service

Have you ever heard an ad promising lousy service? Of course not, which is the reason why claiming good service just falls on deaf ears. It's funny, but the companies that make the claim of good service the most tend to be those that deliver it the least.

Of course, most organizations do have sincere intentions to provide outstanding service and commonly cite Nordstrom as the example to which they aspire. But Nordstrom is Nordstrom for a reason -- the company's entire culture and identity is built around the service concept. Nordstrom is the exception, most companies can't get there from here, and simply promising great service won't make it happen.

Caring

Do you really believe your company cares more about your customers than your competition does? It may feel good to say so, but the claim flies in the face of common sense. If your competitors didn't care about their customers, they couldn't stay in business.

It's particularly easy for service companies to get caught up in the "caring" self-deceit because they don't sell a tangible product. But to say, "we care more" in an ad presumes that your competitors care less, which is ascribing motivations to them that can't be proven. Consumers know this and are not only hesitant to believe your claim; they are likely to consider it bad form.

The above four words all fail for essentially the same reasons. Not only are they overused; they're based on variables that will be different for everyone. There's a quality/value/service/caring continuum in each person's mind for every purchase occasion, and it is a continually moving target.

But the fifth word is different. The fifth word doesn't work precisely because it's not variable. The fifth word is binary.

Integrity

A company either has integrity or it doesn't. It's either honest or it isn't. And most people give companies the benefit of the doubt in believing that they operate with integrity. When a company talks about integrity in its advertising it's for one of two reasons, neither one of them good: They're either trying to cover up some lack of integrity [which never works] or they're implying they live by a higher standard than their competition. That's impolite, to say the least. Every company needs to have integrity. No company needs to advertise it.

Do you want your customers and prospects to view your products and services as being high quality and of good value? Of course. Do you want them to appreciate your caring service and strong integrity? Absolutely. But every company wants those things. Those that win the hearts and minds of consumers don't talk the talk, they walk the walk.

What you think about your company doesn't matter. All that matters is what your customers and prospects think. The next time you're tempted to use one of these five words in an ad, stop and ask if there's a better way to get the message across. Using common words that have become empty clichs is a shortcut to nowhere. Just because you sell it doesn't mean people will buy it.

Copyright 2006 BusinessWeek

Other Tips:

The Marketing Recipe for Success

What Is Corporate Identity, Brand Identity & Brand Image?

What Is Branding? Are You Sure You Know?

Hear That Knocking, That's SEO [Search Engine Optimization] At Your Virtual Front Door, with a pitch for the company

Monday, July 10, 2006

Big.com

For those of us whose eyes strain at the end of the day from viewing the tiny text of Web sites, here's an option that might bring some relief. Big.com is a search engine that, among other things, enables a viewer to see search results (and photos) in a larger font. In addition, the site is now promoting their "Big Toolbar," a free download that can help you make any page look bigger. You can increase text size in Internet Explorer or Firefox, but this toolbar makes it an easier process.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Licensing

Licensing is a form of strategic alliance which involves the sale of a right to use certain proprietary knowledge (so called intellectual property) in a defined way. The intellectual property may be registered publicly, for example in the form of a patent or trademark, as a means of establishing ownership rights. Or, it may be retained within the firm: referred to as know-how, it is commonly based on operational experience.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Licensing_(strategic_alliance)

LIMA or the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association
Who publish the Who’s Who Licensing Resource Directory and compile statistics and other information on the industry as well as organize an annual convention. Their website has licensing database available to members and a database of licensing agents and consultants open to all.

Licensing and Licensing Agreements in a Nutshell
also The Royalty Deal
byRobert Townsend, Attorney At Law
Is a good overview article on licensing and other information for inventors from a legal standpoint.

About Inventors
Turning an Invention Idea into Money
From Mary Bellis, Lesson Nine: How Do I License an Invention?
Another source for information on licensing and inventing.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Tasty Business

Grants are not so easy to find. So when I saw an article about a grant awarded to a company that sold New York food products, I wanted to know just who it was giving out this free money. Turns out it was New York State’s Grow New York program, a “multi-faceted program that assists the economic development efforts of New York's agricultural production, processing and marketing industries.”
More information can be found at:
http://www.agmkt.state.ny.us/GROWNY/GNYHome.html
Looks like a good resource for those food entrepreneurs.

From this site it is just a hop to the Farm & Market Search through the NYS Department of Agriculture & Markets.
While the library has a paper copy of the Farm Fresh Guide, there is an online version as well: http://www.agmkt.state.ny.us/AP/FFGSearch.asp
This database has information on different farm products or services organized by region or county, particularly useful for restaurants wanting to use local products. There is also the Farmers’ Market guide, listing farmers’ markets by county, http://www.agmkt.state.ny.us/AP/CommunityFarmersMarkets.asp.

Yum!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Census of Government

Perhaps you thought the Census Bureau only tracked people and housing. Or perhaps you were also familiar with the Economic Census of businesses. But did you know that there was an Annual Survey of State and Local Government Employment and Payroll? The 2005 data on the number of government civilian employees and their gross payrolls is now available.


The 2004 report showed most full-time equivalent employees worked in education. Other employment categories include corrections, financial administration, fire protection, health, hospitals, judicial and legal, police protection, public welfare, streets and highways. For details, go to http://www.census.gov/govs/www/apes.html.