Posts made in September, 2013

What Kind of Guy Are You?

Posted by on Sep 22, 2013 in Blog | Comments Off on What Kind of Guy Are You?

What Kind of Guy Are You?

He is independent and determined, and does what he wants when he wants! Seeking validation from others about what kind of guy you are is not necessarily about gaining control. Movers and shakers of global conglomerates, innovative inventors and men of note did not achieve their formidable status by being sweet, tolerant and patient. Their formative years, from gawky adolescence to celebrating their birth year at age thirty, were fraught with yearnings to be accepted, admired, adored and acknowledged, not unlike the rest of the male population. Yet these achievers chose to live life with intent, kept their eye on the prize, threw caution to the wind, scoffed at doomsayers and soldiered on despite major intolerable waves of ignorant resistance. Theirs is a proud history of exploring life way beyond the normal parameters of mundane society, embracing the seemingly impossible in the midst of a vicious storm that threatens to destroy the fragile structure of what has already been painstakingly attained. These Rebels of Society acknowledge their success and standing in life as sacrifices worthy of their triumph. They have no regrets, only a wealth of tried and tested experience. Every endeavour has its rewards. Young, vibrant males brave the unknown with eyes wide open, a heart filled with courage and optimism, and an attitude that is single-minded yet beckoning new awareness. The world needs more strong-minded visionaries who stand firm on their convictions; men, who turn their back on staid principles, and defy manipulative threats of imminent failure if they reject conformity. It’s a myth that in order to get ahead you must be a compliant team player and dance a slow tango with corruption and betrayal as your partner, or compelled into achieving fixed milestones within a 10-year plan like graduating cum laude, earning a six-figure income, signing up for membership to the right kinds of social club, starting a family, moving in the right circles, keeping healthy, and building that elusive nest egg to ensure a comfortable old age. Finding your passion is everything. Every young man, even the warrior, stumbles upon challenges that make him feel insecure, stupid and a dismal failure. Don’t believe that every battle is easily won purely based on the audacious image he presents to the world. Despite his rogue exterior, good looks and style he does not earn favour with every woman he desires. A daily diet of rejection, limitation and ridicule nourishes his soul to nurture ever higher expectations of himself and an understanding of how cause and effect rally to make him stronger. Yet, on many occasions his dreams are crushed and need to be recycled, often reduced or reinvented. Disappointment rains daily on his scarred ego, making him more determined than ever to delve in the unfamiliar and the unknown. A scarred ego is a badge of honour. To succeed in life you have to stand up and take some blows, to be a warrior. Yet, even brave warriors fall along the way, chip a tooth or break a limb, but they get up, brush themselves off and emerge victorious. His rogue public image masks a secret life that advances selective inner aspirations. He knows what he wants and searches relentlessly for opportunities to expand his knowledge about things often labeled peculiar and outrageous. He intentionally shuts his mind to the eternal mad chatter of the world and welcomes the inner-connectivity of Spiritual Awareness. While it’s not his intention to be viewed as rebellious, the growth process is often painful. And while not willfully looking for trouble, there’s an aura of danger about him. He is independent and determined; and...

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Customer complaints can be turned around!

Posted by on Sep 14, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Customer complaints can be turned around!

Ever-changing consumer expectations necessitate that service providers continually reassess their product offerings, marketing tactics, and customer service. Even companies that boast minimal complaints from unhappy clients recognize that they need to regularly update their customer understanding to keep the process streamlined. They also need to identify fundamental changes in market environments and customer preferences if they are to avoid falling into the complacency trap of ‘business as usual’ in the face of dynamic change. However, even if a company makes every effort to market quality products and deliver exceptional customer service it’s not possible to please everyone all the time. Eleanor Roosevelt said it best with her quote,“Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.” When faced with challenging customer complaints a company’s first reaction is that their public image will be irreparably damaged. Although this might be a real possibility, negative feedback from customers should be viewed as a welcome wake-up call, an opportunity to renew their brand, maximize customer service, revamp their image and market focus, implement an annual employee-value survey and an ongoing staff training program, monitor consistency between departments, identify needed improvement in policies and procedures, keep senior management and stakeholders informed, explore new business opportunities, build customer loyalty and reinstate company ethics. In a bid to protect their reputation and maintain a competitive edge, many companies pinpoint what differentiates their products and services relative to their competitors in terms of price, product packaging, multiple product options, and quality of service options. Common sense tells us that customer service is important to any company’s survival. We are hearing more and more complaints from customers about frontline staff who are surly, ill-informed, and unable to resolve a query or return; complaints are met with resistance and excuses, and worst of all, customers are accused as being technologically inept or ignorant about how the company in question operates. Surely customers, the lifeblood of any organization, should not get the short end of the stick if sales and service people are agitated from an unrelated issue or have poor people skills. With so many buying choices today managing customer expectations in a polite and constructive way can make a huge difference to whether a customer remains loyal to a company or not. Bear in mind that satisfied customers might tell 3 friends about their positive business experience, while disgruntled customers have the power (especially using today’s social media tools) to ‘spread the word’ to at least 3-thousand other people. When a company receives a customer complaint its staff has two options: dismiss the problem as trivial or pull out all the stops to rectify matters. When dealing with a difficult customer make sure you stay calm and polite. Allow the irate customer to vent; just by listening will dramatically improve their mood. Take notes of what the complaint is about; when the customer is done explaining go through your notes to verify the complaint. By discovering the root cause for the complaint the company can then work to fix the problem as deemed appropriate. Aspire to develop exceptional CRM by keeping the lines of communication open between you and your customers. Make it easy for unhappy customers to tell your company what their problems are. Keep records and analyze why complaints occur. (originally published on imagi-nation.co.za) Words by Theresa Lutge-Smith. Contact Theresa (ecottage@gmail.com) for any writing and...

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Do You Dream of Writing a Book?

Posted by on Sep 13, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Do You Dream of Writing a Book?

Many people dream of writing a book, particularly those who are of an age where they have collected wonderful memories and a good perspective of life. How would you advise such a first-time writer to proceed practically? Set up a workstation in a corner of the quietest space in your home. If domestic time constraints limit free time it might be preferable to write when everyone else is still asleep (an hour or more before the rest of the household starts their day) or when they are away. If you do write when family members are about, make it clear that you do not want to be disturbed while you are at your computer. It might help to play soothing music on a headset to block out noise. An alternative to a home office is to rent a small office or studio. Carry a notebook and pencil with you to jot down notes and ideas. Spend time browsing magazines and newspapers. Browse the Internet to keep abreast of emerging trends. Become an avid reader; expand your general knowledge on diverse topics. Talk to people and ask what they are interested in. Writing a compelling story or non-fiction is hard work and it helps to have a reliable PC or laptop with an ADSL connection at your disposal. The sheer range of information and opportunities on the Internet to help writers is staggering.  Once you are clear about what your proposed book is about, create a framework by making up a list of the various areas you will explore; this will help keep you focused when gathering information. Try to maintain a set routine for working on your manuscript, for instance, from 5 – 6 in the morning and from 8 – 9 in the evening. You will achieve a sense of personal accomplishment as the manuscript develops. Are there trends and tips on getting publishers to read your manuscript? Publishers are generally very busy people and receive piles of manuscripts on a daily basis. However, instead of submitting the entire manuscript for review rather forward a concise synopsis/proposal, which is much quicker to read; make sure the content has the power to ignite an editor’s imagination and get them involved in what you are trying to convey. Editors commonly define a book proposal as “an outline and at least two random sample chapters” but what they really want is anything on paper that will give them some sense of how you write and some reason to believe that your subject, when developed, will interest a large group of readers. Since salability is a vital consideration, direct an editor’s attention to several possible markets and suggest ways of reaching them. Talk realistically about similar books in the marketplace and how your book is different. Indicate the breakdown by chapters and sketch your primary sources of information (with whom you will talk, what statistics you will gather). Explain your credentials. Cite publishing credits as evidence of your ability to write, and any experience or training that qualifies you especially well for the chosen subject. Enclose a sample of your text (twenty pages are about the norm) that reflect your book’s content and style. Express any passion you may feel about the project. What about self-publishing: what are its advantages and disadvantages? More and more writers are opting to self-publish their books mainly because they are unable to find a commercial publisher interested in contracting their work. This is often because the topic is aimed at a small niche market; a commercial publisher looks at a large group of readers. Yet, some...

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Ideas to promote your business

Posted by on Sep 8, 2013 in Blog | Comments Off on Ideas to promote your business

Ideas to promote your business

Promotion is an important element of the marketing mix of any business. There are thousands of ideas to promote your business, whether it is a new start-up or an established concern. Revise your marketing plan; Revisit your research and development strategy; Refine your target audience and unique selling proposition (USP); Expand your product and service offerings; Update your business cards, website, brochure; Write an elevator pitch; Rent a booth at a trade show; Launch a direct mail campaign; Expand your social media management; Set up Google Analytics on your website and blog; Start a customer relationship program; Write a book; Design an innovative logo that compliments your business and builds your brand; Design branded letterheads, envelopes, business cards and office stationery; Design an illustrated brochure or pamphlet that looks professional to explain the benefits of your product or service. Ensure that the print quality is superior Register a domain name and create a Web site that draws attention. If possible, include e-commerce capability; Get listed on all major search engines; include carefully selected words in your Meta tags that prospective customers might enter during a search when looking for the type of goods or service you provide; Advertise in the type of magazines or newspapers your target customers are likely to read; Print handbills (leaflets printed on size A6 sheets) and place on car windshields and in mailboxes; or hand out at traffic lights; Customize your marketing to niche customers. Talk to potential customers to find out what their needs are, their likes and dislikes, and what they are prepared to pay for a product or service like yours; Build a client database to collect information about clients, such as their comments about the product or service, regularity of orders, complaints, etc.; Design branded promotional items such as t-shirts, mugs, pens, balloons, calendars, fridge magnets, etc. that can be distributed to customers in your area, at a trade show, etc.; Run a special offer on your Web site and mail a complimentary (branded of course) promotional item with each order; Sponsor a community event, which will give your business exposure in your immediate community and is a great opportunity for word-of-mouth advertising; Consider donating branded t-shirts and caps to an underprivileged sports team; contact the editor of your local community newspaper to request media coverage; Build solid relationships with suppliers. Being on friendly terms with them will encourage them to promote your business to other clients; Send out a monthly newsletter to highlight new products and specials on offer. You can also send out e-mail messages to locals to visit your store or to place an order online; Create (or have a graphic artist do it for you) an attractive point-of-sale display or an eye-catching poster. This will attract the attention of pavement traffic and get them into your store; Initiate a telemarketing campaign. Write a to-the-point opening and rehearse it well so that when you make a call the words are spoken from memory (and come across as sincere) and not read like a robot. Even when making cold calls, just be yourself; start with a friendly greeting and introduce yourself and your company. Briefly describe your product or service and relevant benefits, and where your store is located; Identify cross-promotional opportunities by seeking other businesses that are not direct competitors, but whose products or services compliment yours. The idea is to combine products or services from various sources to make up a comprehensive package that customers want and offers them convenience; you can do a promotional deal that will benefit all participating businesses. An example is a Pizza Take-Away...

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Frugal people enjoy life!

Posted by on Sep 8, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Frugal people enjoy life!

It is apparent that frugal people enjoy life because they are not burdened by debt; they pay their bills and have some money left over for savings. Living frugally does not mean doing without; it’s about not accumulating unnecessary material possessions. It’s about deciding what you want in life, and making the most of what you have, instead of complaining about what you don’t have. Frugal living is a very rewarding way to live. An effective way to start saving is to deposit at least 10% of your income in an interest-bearing savings account. Get rid of debt and trim your expenses. Can you save on petrol? Can you restrict eating out? Can you live without DSTV? The basis of Frugal Practicality lies in re-thinking life choices up to this moment to embrace a lifestyle that is more financially responsible and organized. This does not mean adopting a “poverty” mindset but rather maximizing what you have got. Create a budget plan and stick to it; don’t waste money on things you don’t need or buy things on credit, but don’t skimp on things you do need. Be alert when grocery shopping; opt for the generic equivalent of brands you normally choose or store specials. The same applies to clothing; avoid expensive brands when you can buy similar items of equal quality for less. Adopt a habit of recycling and reusing. We all know that we should become debt-free but many of us don’t know where to cut corners. Initiate a frugal lifestyle one step at a time; prepare a healthy lunch box at home to take to work; organize a lift club to commute to and from work; plan shopping outings to avoid random trips. De-clutter your home; sell or donate items you don’t use. Hold a yard sale; auction items online; sell to second hand shops. Small lifestyle adjustments can make a big difference in your bank account. Cutting expenses allows you to save money for an emergency, pay off credit cards faster, or grow your retirement fund. Run your washing machine on cold. Avoid using the tumble dryer. Turn down the thermostat on your geyser. Make inexpensive healthy meals; according to the “food pyramid” many of the things we should be eating the most of — grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables – are affordable; it’s often the stuff that’s bad for us (at least in large quantities) like red meat, dairy products and processed foods that are expensive. Grow your own fruit, herbs and veggies; a personal favorite of mine is upside down tomato planters. You’re probably thinking why anyone would want to grow tomatoes (or anything else) upside down. Well, there’s no need to stake the vines, no weeding, fewer soil diseases, overall healthier plants, and you can grow year-round. All you need is a 5 gallon bucket, a plant, and a bag of potting soil. Drill a big enough hole in the bottom of the bucket to fit the stalk of a full-grown tomato plant. Cover inside of bucket with a layer of shredded newspaper. Insert the plant in the hole (from the outside); wrap paper around the base of the plant and hold in place while filling bucket with soil. Hang bucket in sunny spot, water well. Peppers, chilies, cucumbers and eggplants also grow well upside down. Spray plant with a solution of 1 teaspoon Epsom salts dissolved in 4 cups warm water (mixed in a spray bottle); repeat 10 days later – it produces more fruit due to the boost of magnesium, especially for tomatoes, peppers and roses. Words by Theresa Lutge-Smith...

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