Friday, January 29, 2010

10 BRILLIANT Marketing Ideas!

I would like to point out that Entrepreneur Magazines did not capitalize the word "brilliant" in the title to this blog. Although the title of the article is 10 Brilliant Marketing Ideas, the magazine only capitalized the first letter. After reading the article, I felt that it was important for me to highlight how truly brilliant the 10 marketing ideas were for the world of business. I have highlighted a few below, but I highly recommend checking out all 10.

#1 - A Diamond is Forever - The popular De Beers campaign in 1939 "brazenly promoted the idea that every marriage required the gift of bling...[and] invented the "two months' salary" spending rule." Another example - "Just Do It".

#6 - Absolut Vodka - "The product was clear, flavorless and more or less indistinguishable from any of its competitors. But the agency TBWA's clever use of the bottle's shape and name made Absolut the first breakout premium vodka - and inspired barloads of imitators...It's stunning, actually, that these ads moved millions of Americans to pay more for a product they couldn't identify in a taste test."

#7 - 1984 - "A roomful of drones stares at a large screen where an authority figure bleats propaganda. Suddenly, a strange woman bursts into the room, hurls a hammer at the screen and smashes it to bits. The scrolling text: "On January 24, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like 1984."" This single commercial that aired during the 1984 Super Bowl not only introduced Apple to the world as a Rebel, an image it maintains to this day regardless of it's enormous market size, and created "a new annual short-film festival (aka commercial breaks during the Super Bowl)."

The William and Joan Schreyer Business Library at Penn State

Every now and then I like to write a blog post about general business resources that I use. A few months ago, I discovered a very useful resource that I recommend bookmarking for future use.

The William and Joan Schreyer Business Library at Penn State has compiled Industry Guides for various industry. The guides are organized industry sector or alphabetically. Check out the guide for the Biotech Industry. Guides provide NAICS, scope of the industry, databases to use for further research, U.S. and World companies and resources that provide industry data, related reference titles in the library, trade associations and journals, and occupational information sources.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Top 10 Gadgets of the 00s

A list from ABC News, reminding me of just how long ago 1999 really was:

http://tinyurl.com/ycjabyb

Nonetheless, I can't believe the Snuggie didn't make the cut.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Thrall Special Coverage Guide: Haiti Earthquake

Mary Climes, Head of Reference at the Middletown (NY) Thrall Library, and Thrall reference librarian Robert Tiess have created (and continue to update) a resource guide concerning the earthquake crisis in Haiti.

They have done so, as they have done "in the past with other guides in our Special Coverage Center, for the dual benefit of our local library system members and the larger world of online users."

Topics include:

◦About Haiti
◦About Earthquakes
◦Charity & Relief Organizations
◦Contact Information
◦Embassies & Consulate
◦Health Information & Issues
◦Photographs & Photojournalism
◦Maps of Haiti & Earthquake Zone
◦Missing Persons Searches
◦News & Special Coverage
◦U.S. Government Information
◦U.S. Military Support Missions
◦United Nations (UN) & International Information
◦Library Resources & Research Keywords
***
IRS Notice 2010-16 designates the Haiti earthquake occurring in January 2010 as a qualified disaster for purposes of § 139 of the Internal Revenue Code.
Notice 2010-16 will be published in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2010-06 on February 8, 2010.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Employment Law Guide

Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor released an updated version of its "Employment Law Guide". Here's a description of it, from a DOL press release:

"The Guide helps the public - workers and employers - understand many of the laws affecting the workplace. For instance, it helps small businesses develop wage, benefit, safety and health, and nondiscrimination policies . . . The updated version addresses recent and important changes in employment laws, including the increase in the federal minimum wage and an expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act . . ."

They also stress how helpful this guide can be to those businesses that do not have a dedicated human resources person on staff. Keep this in mind for clients who fit that description, as they (obviously) are still beholden to labor law.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Branding Highs & Lows

It's getting a little late in January to be talking about bests and worsts of 2009, but here's a couple of lists that I enjoyed.

Brand New, a division of UnderConsideration, provides commentary on brand identity work, and has a couple of interesting lists with logo and brand analyses.

Check out:

The Most Relevant Identity Work of the Decade

and

The Best and Worst Identities of 2009

Do you agree with their assessments? Give you any good ideas?

Census: Postal posters and BBB scammed


The USPS will be displaying this poster nationwide from Feb 19 - May 31, 2010.

When a “warning” from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) about how to avoid census scammers started circulating on the Internet, many educated and otherwise savvy people bought the message and passed it along. Several well-meaning friends sent the missive to me, asking in an innocent effort to be helpful (and maybe to impress their census-crazed friend), “Is there anything we should add before sending to our e-mail list?”

My answer: TRASH IT, before this doctored message hoodwinks more unsuspecting readers!


More here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Got my box office mojo working

In honor of OSCAR season.

The movie Titanic, released December 19, 1997, had a production budget of $200 million, and had a domestic total gross of $600,788,188. But what if I wanted to know its gross for every single one of its 287 days in release?

The foreign gross for the film was $1,242,091,767. But when was it released in Bulgaria, and how did it do?

For all things involved with movie box office, I go to Box Office Mojo. "There are currently over 9,000 movies listed and more are on the way."

BTW, Titanic was released in Bulgaria on March 27, 1998 and raked in $1,024,062.

Other useful movie sites:
Wisconsin Center for Film and Theatre Research
Motion Picture Association of America
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Screen Actors Guild

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Website Development

An effective, creative, and well-designed website for your small business is a critical marketing and sales tool that is essential in the Internet age. There are some consumers who do everything online, from watching TV to communicating with loved ones to purchasing services and commodities. Below are some tips to make the most of your online presence.

Business Unusual: Take One Website, Add Stroke of Genius (Entrepreneur)

For More Sales, Create a Landing Page (Entrepreneur)

35+ Usability Resources for Web Designers (DESIGNM.AG)

Friday, January 15, 2010

2010 Business Trends

It's a new year and although I am not a psychic or business expert, I am predicting a prosperous and successful year for small businesses. Of course, not everyone agrees with me but I like my predictions more. The articles below will give you information on what business opportunities the real "experts" are saying will be hot for the coming year.

10 Hot Business Opportunities for 2010 - Anything "Green" is hot right now. Also pay attention to health, seniors, and education.

Franchise Trends: The leading franchise categories poised for growth in the coming year. - The franchise trends follow the business trends above, with "Green" being one of the fastest growing franchise categories.

2010 Trends: 10 (and 1/2) trends to watch. - Further reiteration of the power of "Green" in the new year.

And for a little leisurely reading...

How to Be Happier in 2010 - It's easy to do. Just give away more money, be happy with less, and indulge occassionally.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What Makes an Entrepreneur Succeed?

This week's New Yorker features an article by Malcolm Gladwell (author of The Tipping Point, What the Dog Saw, and other really interesting reads) called "The Sure Thing". I've always liked Gladwell's writing - not just for its clarity, but the way his iconoclastic approach never sounds contrarian just for the sake of being different.

This article is more of this style. Its premise is that entrepreneurs don't succeed because they fit the romantic image of the reckless daredevil who doubles as a business savant, but rather from their innovative insights into an opportunity, combined with an aversion to risk and a predatory approach to getting the big deal done.

The article cites numerous examples to back up this belief, and spends quite a bit of time detailing the exploits of John Paulson (a hedge-fund manager who made a huge fortune on short-selling credit default swaps just ahead of the housing collapse), and Ted Turner (to whom the myth of the populist businessman-as-cowboy has been best - but wrongly - applied).

Here's my favorite quote - much of this might sound familiar to our advisors:

"The economist Scott Shane, in his book 'The Illusions of Entrepreneurship,' writes, yes, many entrepreneurs take plenty of risks - but those are generally the failed entrepreneurs, not the success stories. The failures violate all kinds of established principles of new-business formation. New-business success is clearly correlated with the size of initial capitalization. But failed entrepreneurs tend to be wildly undercapitalized. The data show that organizing as a corporation is best. But failed entrepreneurs tend to organize as sole proprietorships. Writing a business plan is a must; failed entrepreneurs rarely take that step. Taking over an existing business is always the best bet; failed entrepreneurs prefer to start from scratch. Ninety per cent of the fastest-growing companies in the country sell to other businesses; failed entrepreneurs usually try selling to consumers, and, rather than serving customers that other businesses have missed, they chase the same people as their competitors do. The list goes on: they underemphasize marketing; they don't understand the importance of financial controls; they try to compete on price. Shane concedes that some of these risks are unavoidable: would-be entrepreneurs take them because they have no choice. But a good many of these risks reflect a lack of preparation or foresight."

I'll be buying Shane's book shortly. Gladwell's article is not available for free online, but I recommend buying the current issue (or, better yet, reading it at your local library). There's much more to this than what I've written here, but this is at the very heart of what we do as an organization.

Traveling Tips

I thought this was an interesting article - a brief list of tips for the traveler:
October 13, 2009

28 things I wish I'd known before I started traveling
Posted: 09:38 PM ET

Chris Guillebeau, AC360° Contributor


I found a few things on this list that surprised me. For anyone traveling internationally, it is a good reminder of what to watch out for to ensure you are not taken advantage, you insult no-one and you stay out of trouble.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

"What we've got here is failure to communicate"

Marketing, sales and customer service don’t share information, according to Economist Intelligence Unit surveys. A series of surveys across six industries— financial services, technology, telecommunications, utilities, consumer goods and retail —reveals that most companies still fall short when trying to deliver value consistently in all the functions that interact with customers.

In other words, cautionary tales.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Thanks, Everyone

It's been go-go-go here at the Research Network since the beginning of October. As a result, I've not had much chance to look at the usage statistics since then (nor has there been much in the way of blog posts lately, either . . . sorry about that). However, with the dawn of the new year, things have calmed down just enough for me to take a peek.

Whoa.

We've been running this library since October 1991. Among other things, I've a spreadsheet that breaks down requests from you for every month since then. From what I'm seeing, we just finished the busiest December in our history. And the busiest November. And the busiest October.

I appreciate your ongoing trust in asking for our help with your clients. Discovering this is just the motivation I need during the cold, cold doldrums of early January. (And the average turnaround for each request has been just under 7 calendar days, a pace that also helps keep us warm up here.)

(And sorry, again, for the lack of posts. Happy New Year. Feliz Ano Nuevo.)

Friday, January 08, 2010

Getting your product into stores - a case study

I rather randomly came across this CNNMoney article this afternoon, but I thought it told a nice story about how one inventor managed to get her product into stores. In this case we’re talking about educational software, but the steps this entrepreneur took would likely be helpful in other fields.

In a nutshell, the designer identified software publishers, and “stalked” them at trade shows. Deciding to self-publish instead she looked for major distributors and ultimatly chose to work with an aggregator.

Read more here:

How to get your video game into retail stores

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Tax Season

I am already thinking about tax season and wanted to point out a couple of sources:

How to Reduce Your Small Business Tax Bill
A look at helpful year-end tax tips, advice on making smart elections, and good tax resources for the small business owner.
By Elizabeth Wasserman
Inc. Dec 1, 2009

Of course, the IRS has the Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center.
This page within the IRS site covers highlights and law changes as well frequently asked questions, forms, and workshops like the one for distinguishing betweeen an employee and an independent contractor.
There is also a link to SBTV, and online TV network:

SBTV.com

SBTV.com
is a television network on the Web devoted exclusively to providing engaging streaming video content to small businesses. It provides technical information on how to run your business, inspirational stories from entrepreneurs across the country, information about small business conferences and events, and resources to help solve day-to-day business challenges.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Contract Reporter is FREE

The New York State Contract Reporter is "New York’s official publication state procurement opportunities from state agencies, public authorities and public benefit corporations. The NYSCR is now free of charge for general access."

Also check out OGS' Procurement Law, Guidelines and Procedures and Seller Information & Bid Opportunities. Just as important, when you find a contract that may be expiring in the next several months, TALK to the purchasing officer associated with that contract. There is a window during which they can help a prospective business, but another during which they cannot.