Post-Post Education – Learning Never Stops!

Education. It is the key ingredient to the survival of mankind. Without the capacity to learn, we would not have figured out how to make the very basic, yet essential things in life work, such as make fire, hunt for food, or shelter ourselves from harsh weather. It is what sets us above other species. In fact, when a person loses the ability to think for him or herself completely…we refer to them as “vegetables”, or as being in a “vegetative” state. Not only is it often seen as the necessary trait to be declared a human being, or person, but it also enables a people to become organized, civilized, and prosperous down to an individual level.What has struck a chord with me is how a bit “watered down” the concept of education has become. What do I mean by this? Well school as an institution, and education have become one. It is as if many people only see education as something attainable in a traditional school setting. This is a flawed idea in several respects.Consider the fact that just because someone goes to school, does not automatically means they are receiving education, there are failing schools all across the country, and a learning deficit within these schools is becoming a growing problem like the national debt. This leads me to my next point. Schools may not be teaching relevant topics. The school system in America has not improved much over the years and it is starting to show when we look at things from an international perspective, which is especially important in this age of globalization. And the list goes on and on. I’m sure you can think of a few things wrong with the school system yourself as well.The purpose of this article places its focus elsewhere within the realm of education, and that is education OUTSIDE OF THE CLASSROOM AND INSTITUTIONS. It is important to remember that education doesn’t end when class is no longer in session, or when that degree is hung on your wall. On the contrary, that is when the real education begins.

For Restaurants, Marketing Must Be Blended

I was in a meeting with a friend who is a prominent entrepreneur last Friday. This gentlemen started his first business (an advertising agency) at a young age and grew it to the point where he could sell it and make a nice buck. He then parlayed that cash into a successful career of starting restaurants/pubs. As a business owner who has advertising experience I was shocked to hear that he does very little advertising outside of the local independent magazine. In fact, his budget is less than $500 a month. He tells me that this is common amongst his industry. Advertising does very little for these kind of businesses. Seeing a billboard for your restaurant a week ago will not influence my decision tonight about where I will go to eat. However I did learn that most of his reticence is due to his lack of time and resources. Like himself, most restaurant owners don’t have the knowledge or the time to manage their marketing strategy. So, they resort to posting things on Facebook & Twitter, often sporadically and with little to no results.We started talking about the kind of advertising that would be effective. We discussed a recent experience he had with Yelp, the popular online review website. He worked with the local Community Manager of Yelp to host an event for Yelpers where he invited them to try his knew menu and seasonal cocktail list. Although at first he was skeptical about the outcome the Yelp event would have, he explained that was incredibly impressed with the results; here’s why.He Found a Digital Sweet Spot – unlike Twitter and Facebook, Yelp is largely geared around reviews of restaurants. Yelpers are notorious foodies who love to discover and frequent independent restaurants. In fact, some of the best reviewed places on Yelp are total hidden gems that without the help of Yelp may have never been shared. And even though Facebook and Twitter are great for branding they reach a wide segment of people from all kinds of demographics. Yelp on the other hand is a digital sweet spot for restaurant owners. Although some see it as a complaint board, smart business owners know this is a gold mine.He Had Expert Help – as I mentioned, the Yelp Community Manager was there to provide direction and support for the event. My friend did not have to take time out of his busy schedule to organize, plan and execute the minutia of the event; he just had to check-off on the concepts and direction it was heading. This put him in the driver seat without needing to worry about the road. He had the expert on call to help him make decisions and that seemed to make him feel comfortable and more open minded.It Blended Online & Offline Marketing Strategies – the event was promoted via Yelp’s newsletter and social media channels but a lot of the buzz came from word-of-mouth. People who found out about the event shared it family, friends and co-workers to drive even more awareness. The results was more people at the restaurant than he had all year. This is essentially blending the online and offline promotional model to drive results. My friend has never been happier with a marketing campaign and thanks to an approach that had tangible, visual ROI (people buying food & drink) he could determine immediately if it was worth it. That gave him closure and a willingness to try something else.What I learned from this that social media and digital marketing can be combined with offline events to create revenue opportunities for restaurants. It’s great to share a happy hour special on a Facebook page but going the extra mile to make it an event is another ball game.One key takeaway I had was that the hospitality industry would benefit from having a dedicated community manager to organize these kinds of events. This person should have a good mix of both digital and event promotion skills, on and offline. Furthermore, if you are unable to locate such a person or cannot afford to have one on staff, consider reaching out to your local social media mavens to see what opportunities there are.

Free Yelp Business Marketing – How Yelp Can Help Local Businesses Dominate The Local Competition

Social media marketing has taken the world by storm in recent years and many businesses and services have flourished because of it.For local businesses and services, there is one website giant that rules them all and every local business owner should look to be “king of the hill” in their industry on this particular website.That online giant is Yelp which commands a monthly 25 million visitors…and growing.You will see how, as a the local business owner, you should “claim your business” and you can immediately get some exposure to the millions that visit Yelp each month in search of good recommendations. Claiming your business on Yelp is free and you can start the process of building a good solid reputation that will attract more customers.As a business owner, you spend a lot of time and energy focusing on operating your business. You have also spent countless hours thinking of ways to advertise and set yourself up for customers to come through the door. You have probably even spent money advertising in phone book directories, sent out flyers and postcards, bought ads in local newspaper, and even spent money advertising online using Google AdWords.Yet, since the beginning of time, the best way to get people interested in your business or services you have to offer is and always has been word of mouth advertising.Some things never change and this is still the best way to promote your business.Typically, word of mouth advertising takes time and builds slowly and can take years to build momentum as more and more people learn about your business or service “through the grapevine.” But in today’s world, with a combination of your focus on customer service & satisfaction and websites like Yelp, you can spread the good word about your local business immediately.Here’s how in 2 steps.
1.) Let’s say you have a restaurant or just opened a restaurant this month and you just found out about Yelp today. Let’s also say you want to focus on your customers being completely satisfied with their “experience” at your restaurant. So, you put on a friendly smile and walk to each table as they are enjoying the food that was brought to them and you asked “How is everything? Are you enjoying the food?” Then listen for any feedback, good or bad, and be ready to correct ANYTHING that will help the customer have a better “experience” in your restaurant. Then walk to the next table and do the same. You don’t have to stay for a long conversation, but a quick “hello” (followed by the simple questions I mentioned), will give your customers that feeling that they’ve hit the jackpot and found a great restaurant where even the owner and or his staff took their time to walk around and chit-chatted with them. If you can’t do it regularly, have your employees do it regularly. A tiny genuine effort like that will go a very long way and will bring your customers back.
2.) As your customers are leaving, or better yet, as they pay their bills, have your waiters ask your customers to take a moment to go to Yelp and give your restaurant (or business) an “honest review.” You can even have your waiters write at the bottom of each receipt “Please review us on Yelp.com!” Another option is to have one designated person like the host/hostess to pass out your little restaurant/business card to every table and they can be that daily persons who will ask the customers to “take a minute to leave a review of your restaurant on Yelp.com- tonight (while the experience is fresh in their heads).”
Can you see how if you started this procedure with 20 customers today and 3 of them actually took the time to go to Yelp and leave great reviews, you would have about 100 reviews by the end of the month! But you have to do it diligently everyday.In addition, with you and or your staff trained to “want the best experience for your clients,” by interacting with your clients in that way (as opposed to just reciting the specials and bringing out the food and saying “enjoy”) you’re ingraining into their subconscious minds to always look to improve your customers experience, your business reputation, and your overall customer relations.Here’s a quick note. Starbucks built its reputation not by offering daily discounts and specials, but rather they focused on the “customers experience” while they were there. This is why when you walk into Starbucks, they’re usually very cheery and you feel like you’re in a nice big lounge and you’ll pay the high price for coffee over and over again because of this “experience.”So, to build an effective “online word of mouth” campaign about your local business or service remember, you have to initiate this. You have to decide to want extremely satisfied customers (all businesses should strive for this) and work hard to make sure they leave completely satisfied, and you must also ASK for your customers to leave reviews. Ask everyone, because only a fraction will ever take the time to do it.Can you see how, if you fully executed these 2 steps faithfully and religiously, your business could be the talk of the neighborhood within the next 30 days?Start now and take control of your business and steer it in the right direction. Regardless of how long you’ve been open, it’s never too start working on improving your image and quality of your products or services, building customer relations, and asking your customers to give you an honest review on Yelp.Make it happen now and reap the rewards of great business practices.

Yelp for iPad

Yelp democratized restaurant reviews by allowing peer evaluations of restaurants and business on the Web. For those who are not familiar with Yelp, before its creation previous attempts at creating such a platform did not succeed. Most of Yelp’s competitors were lacking large quantities of quality reviews, of any but the most popular restaurants and businesses.There are countless social networking sites (i.e. Facebook and LinkedIn) as well as popular restaurant reviews (i.e. Zagat) but there is only that meshes both concepts into a fun and usable website, Yelp. If you are familiar with the site and use it regularly, you’ll find the iPad version of Yelp an upgrade.How Yelp for iPad brings an enhanced an in our opinion, superior user experience compared to its own website is the location awareness feature. This allows the Yelp app to give recommendations based on where you are located. The app shows what you need to know, stripped down for faster and easier browsing, display, and reading. While the app is simplified for an enhanced user experience, you do not lose any of the core features that make Yelp the most important website of its kind. You will still have the insightful comments and reviews of millions of Yelp loyal user base. The only negative about the Yelp App is while you can write drafts of your reviews; you can only submit them on the website at this time.Highlights & Key Features:Yelp for iPad has numerous features but most of the advanced features require you to have an account to use them. A Yelp account is totally free so there is no excuse not to have one! Below is a list of features we enjoyed using on this app:Talk – Yelp has a Talk feature that allows you to discuss topics of your choice with other Yelp users close by. The discussions are threaded and allow for orderly discussions.Bookmark – When logged into your Yelp account, you will be able to bookmark locations and also retrieve any links you have saved.Quick Tips – Instead of writing long reviews, you can quickly add a “quick tips” via the app. Quick Tips has a Twitter like feel (without the 150 character limitation) that allows you to give your opinions on a restaurant while its fresh on your mind. Quick Tips doesn’t have the limitations of a Full Yelp Review, so you can have them posted via the App without having to log into the website.Nearby – You can tap the Nearby tab to choose the type of business you are searching for with the option to sort by distance.Check-in – The App allows you to broadcast to your friends where you are. You can also win badges for being a regular at a restaurant, bar, or other place of business.Monocle – Monocle mode is located in the Nearby tab’s upper right hand corner. This weird, but fun feature, allows you to see opinions and other items such as video as you go from place to place. It tries to predict what you want to see but also serves as a walking guide. It’s not perfect, but it will expose you to new and different things.OpenTable – Yelp for iPad integrates with OpenTable. If a restaurant participates in the Opentables network, you’ll be able to see if you can stop by or make a reservation on your iPad. This is a great feature that saves you time without having to call around but at this time the number of participating restaurants is limited.

Managing Your Managers

Despite the importance of pay, the overwhelming number one reason an employee will quit is because of his manager.There has always been a strong belief that the main reason an employee quits a job is because he was offered more pay elsewhere. Survey data from sources such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Management Association and the Society for Human Resource Management suggest that employees will leave for more pay, but the amount must be at least 10% more than they are making to even consider quitting.When we have conversations with employees, their satisfaction with the company is based directly on their satisfaction with their manager.As companies grow and owners get further away from running day-to-day operations, opportunities increase for a manager who does not adhere to the company culture or method for taking care of your employees.Layers of management create a greater risk that the culture will be compromised and that an employee could have an unfavorable experience with a subpar or even horrible manager.Well over 50% of all people in management roles have received little to no supervisor training. Many times they were the best ___________ (e.g., technician, programmer, nurse, accountant, cashier, etc.) when the management position needed to be filled.Managers often become managers because of what we call a “battlefield” promotion. A manager quits and the job needs to be filled as soon as possible. So the best “blank” is promoted without any training. Many times that promotion works out just fine but sometimes we unwittingly create the manager from hell.How do you spot a situation in which the manager is not managing the way you want him to manage?Don’t look only at results, as it is often the case that the some of the best performing groups or locations will have an Attila the Hun running the show. Your good employees will still perform in that situation because they are good employees.Sometimes employee turnover will tell the tale, although many times good employees will hang on for awhile, hoping that things will change or that the manager will just go away.Possible signs of problems can be picked up if your company conducts performance appraisals. Look at the wording used to describe employees’ performance or the ratings they receive. Also pay attention to increased used of write ups or unfavorable comments about individual employees.What do you do if you determine you have a bad manager?First, you need to decide if he is worth saving. That process is a difficult one but assuming you decide to keep him, you need to go back to the drawing board and get him the fundamental training that every supervisor needs.The manager needs to understand that managing is achieving success through the work of others and doing it in a way that leaves the employees satisfied with both the direction they receive and the results they accomplish.If you are going to leave that manager with the group or at the location in which he struggled to manage before training (usually not a good idea), you would need to create a reintroduction plan.The real lesson to be learned is to prepare for the growth and development of your management team before you actually have the need to promote someone to that team.(C) 2011 Jerry Ballard, Perfect People Solutions

Market Research – Why It Should Be Considered Before/During Prior Art Search

An invention is a set of ideas and thoughts to ease the way people perform their daily tasks. An Inventor can be a business or an individual who has an objective behind the invention. A lot of money is required to present the invention to the world, thus, investors who find it interesting fund the R & D operations.The invention process is very wide. There is no fix time when an invention is converted into useful products. It can take 5, 10 years or even more. The R & D department performs a series of operations one after another – describing the business vision, creating strategies, describing the R & D processes, identifying resources, and drafting designs. The R & D teams comprehensively study all areas of the invention, collect different ideas, which are then combined to build products and services. Thus, the research to development of invention comprises a wide range of processes, which need thousands or millions of dollars.Patenting an inventionAn invention is patented to prevent it from being theft by others. The inventor can restrict individuals and companies from using his/her invention for making or selling products during its life. When filing a patent application, the inventor needs to mention a set of claims, which he/she should choose carefully. So, it is recommended to know the market trends, new technologies, applications, etc. at the time of performing the R & D operations, which will help in getting great claims.An invention can only be patented if it doesn’t contain any part of the previously patented technology and meet certain uniqueness standards. To find if your invention is already known or not, prior art search is conducted. The innovator can do prior art search on his/her own, or hire an expert for this purpose.What is prior art search?Prior art search can be defined as collecting information about the technologies associated with the invention. It’s main objective is to know whether the invention is patentable or not. Sources of prior art search include previous patents, filed patents, scientific reports, research papers, textbooks, newspapers, journals, and internet publications. There are many inventions that are never used in products and services, and these should also be considered during the patent filing process. On the internet, a wide range of tools are available that can help you conduct an efficient prior art search.Prior art search can provide details about previous inventions in the field, new products and services, etc. It prevents reinventing the already existing inventions. With this, the R & D department can know the already existing technologies, and focus the activities, processes, and tasks to innovate them or research the new ones.Know the market well before conducting prior art searchThe main objective is to get the invention patented with broadest possible claims. Prior art search collects existing knowledge in the fields that belong to the invention. But, this is not enough. One should know the market and companies that are already working on the technologies the invention is based, which will help in choosing the right areas for R & D.Patent filing is a broad process, and a little wrong move can convert into a big mistake. Thus, from planning to execution, every step should be put wisely. Before going for prior art search, it is important to know the markets in which the invention can bring revolution in, current market trends to focus on, activities of competitors, etc. All these details can be obtained through market research. Thus, it is recommended to conduct a market research first to know the technologies trending in the market.Why market research?Market research can help in proper utilization of all the elements of an invention. It provides comprehensive analysis of different markets associated with the invention, patent environment, and existing and future products. Thus, market research can add value to the research and development operations, making them more advanced.There are many reasons why the inventor should consider market research before starting R & D operations and prior art search. Please have a look at them -Detailed information about the markets: Market research reports not only provide information about different markets that belong to the area of invention, but also tell the top active markets. Suppose, an invention can be used in manufacturing products in 10 different industries, out of which 7 are in the growing phase. Thus, there is need to spend extra time and money to obtain patents in these 7 industries to get maximum ROI. Thus, market research reports can suggest you the right industries to continue research and build products.Competitor analysis: To emerge as a leading player in the market, it is necessary to know the activities of competitors. With market research reports, the inventor can get in-depth understanding of his/her competitors, technologies they are working on, and their existing and upcoming products and services. Thus, the R & D department can broaden their research to the areas untouched by the competitors.Helps in patent drafting: Patent drafter is the person who can help you get a patent with great claims. With extensive knowledge of market trends, active industries, and customer needs, he can write broadest patent claims possible. Thus, with market research reports, your patent drafter can prepare a clear, accurate patent application, and your get a patent, which will have great market value, and you can earn a lot from it.Top players:Market research reports provide information about the top companies using the technologies similar to that of the invention. This makes easy to know how advanced the invention is, the technologies that can be innovated, and how to plan R & D processes. After obtaining the patent with significant claims, the inventor can contact the top companies for business partnerships or licensing.

Digital Marketing As A Subset Of Business Development Strategies

One point that it is wise to focus on when considering developing and refining top level business development strategies is that…… The Integration Of The Digital Marketing Activities Into That Of The Top Level Business Development Plans Are Essential For Success With Any Tactical Activities… It is indeed quite possible for organisations to be taking part in daily social media or online internet marketing activities taking place on a daily basis and for these activities to be shown to be having little [in some cases none at all] effect on key marketing parameters such as…>>> Marketing Funnel Interaction>>> Lead Generation>>> Target MarketingThese are but a few of that which we consider to be business fundamentals and how these key business imperatives dovetail into the core internet marketing activities are fundamentally important to the organisation’s overall marketing activities effectiveness.If the case exists where the top level business strategies have not been clearly defined and there are significant online marketing activities [in terms of social media interaction, paid advertising and content creation and publication for search engine marketing purposes] then the conclusion may be drawn that as a consequence there is no real foundation on which to base the digital marketing activities.In the cases where the business has taken the steps to develop and to base their activities on foundational marketing planning then in these circumstances – these plans can be used to serve as a basis on which to base the digital marketing; search engine and social media activities upon.Main point being – We Cannot Forget The Marketing within the “Digital Marketing” phrase. With so many daily activities that can be executed such as…

micro blogging

email marketing

blogging

guiding prospects through specific marketing funnels

video marketing

keyword analysis

… more and more the higher up the organisation that ‘over the internet’ marketing is visited then the great effect will be seen in terms of product / service awareness; increase in brand equity which culminate in revenue generation.With so many digital marketing tools out there that the digital marketing professional can make use for customer interaction, brand development and product / service promotion and; with the ‘noise level apparently increasing on a weekly basis,the case for increased focus on the integration of digital marketing with core business development planning must be highlighted.Taking this one step further by factoring in search engine and social media marketing at the strategic business phase will ensure that the online marketing implementation serves the company to maximum effect.

Office Property Financing – Available Options

Office property financing is fairing relatively well in the credit crisis compared to other property types. The success is attributable to the general use nature of the building type, and that many of the owners are occupants of the property.

Currently owner occupied financing is easier to get done than investment financing. Owners of office building need to occupy, with their business at least 51% of the subject property to qualify for the best financing. Owners can still expect to get 90% financing on purchases and 85% on refinances, with good rates that are often tied to the Prime rate. Currently Prime is at historic lows at 4%. These loan programs that are still closing are often tied to government sponsored programs, which explains a large reason for their stability.

By general use, most lenders and banks are referring to the building, not being special purpose like a hotel or a restaurant for example. With a restaurant, the only potential business type that could occupy the space would be another restaurant. Thus limiting the pool of potential buyers and making the property type more risky for lenders in the case of borrower default. And, making it more difficult for the banks to sell the building and re coup their capital. Banks, when considering a making a loan assume that the borrower will default and structure their offering accordingly.

Office property financing will likely continue to whether the storm as the government continues to back small business in general. Also, due to the wide verity of business types that occupy office properties including strong segments of the economy like health care or fortune 500 corporations should help keep the stability of office building financing.

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