Thursday, April 2, 2009

Eight Ways To Help Your Company Succeed in this Economy

In this economic downturn, many companies are still spending. To capture this new business and gain market share, market your company wisely. Focus on markets that show the most promise and maintain marketing frequency and consistency there. Understand what your customers are dealing with in this economy and how their buying processes and mentality are affected by it.

Eight Strategies For Success:

1. Communicate: Create Event Equipment Spec Sheets and Alternative Equipment Use Sheets related to the types of events that your current and prospective customers are working on and may need your equipment and services for. Put yourself in their shoes to figure out what is most important to them…being green: saving energy and reducing waste…or saving time, saving money, etc. List these benefits in the sheets mentioned above to gain greater acceptance. Then put these documents in their hands.

2. Get to the decision maker: Your customers are closely watching the costs for events and deciding which events they will even continue hosting. Discover who the higher-level decision maker is and appeal to their financial concerns. Explain the return on investment their event will create for their company. Show financial reasons for buying/renting your equipment/services. For example, how does working with your company improve their image or brand, save them money, or foster team building in their company?

3. Show value or savings: Become more important to prospects with limited budgets who have had to cut back on Event Services by showing value or cost savings you can provide in terms of customer support, flexible delivery and pick up, complimentary event design services or other value-added services.

4. Look at all your markets: If you have multiple markets you sell to, reduce the time and money spent on the markets that are not doing well in this economy (Car dealerships, Computer Parts Makers, Computer Systems) and spend more time and energy on industries that have the money to spend (biotechnology/ pharmaceuticals, utilities/energy, aerospace/defense).

5. Discover new markets: Your event equipment and services may be a good fit in a market where you don’t have a large presence and where companies are spending. Rewrite marketing materials in ways that appeal to these prospects. Use industry specific e-newsletters that are aimed directly at prospects in those markets. Explore new ways your products and services can be used in these new markets.

6. Frequency and consistency: Get on your prospects’ short list for event projects being researched now. Maintain frequency and consistency in your marketing so you will be found whenever prospects are searching for event equipment and services you offer. Keep your message clear and useful to your prospects and the repetition over time will cement your company in their minds.

7. Use “PUSH” and “PULL” Marketing: Push marketing: direct snail-mail, e-mail marketing, and e-newsletters that reach out to customers and prospects. Pull marketing: searchable online catalogs showing equipment/services, online directories, Web sites, and search engines your customers and prospects use when looking for information, products and services like those you offer. Find and advertise in media aimed at your target prospects that offer both push and pull marketing you can take advantage of.

8. Do Not Waste your marketing dollars: Do not waste money where your audience isn’t looking (print ads, trade shows and other traditional media) these are not as effective as they used to be. Customers and prospects are Internet savvy and are looking online. This is where you will find them and win their business. An online presence will put you in front of potential customers whenever they are ready to look for your event equipment and services (even at 2am). Internet activities from prospects are measurable: you can see how many clicks they made and how many conversions there were. Using this information, you can reallocate your marketing dollars on the fly and get immediate feedback. You needn’t spend thousands of dollars to make this happen. Learn about SEO (search engine optimization) and apply the techniques (or get some help from a knowledgeable friend) to get your company noticed on the web.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Save Money On Your Cable Bill. How about ditching it altogether! If you don’t want to cancel it you can reduce the service to Basic Cable and still save a bundle.

To cancel cable and still watch regular TV programming, you will need Internet service and a Laptop. You can hook your laptop up to your Flat Screen High Definition TV and enjoy watching free Internet TV shows. To see information about how to do this visit this site: .

Navigate to or to watch current TV Programming. Shows like The Office, Bones, Family Guy, Burn Notice, and more can be seen at these sites for free. Older episodes from previous seasons are also available here.

Movies can be seen at the same sites as well as clips and trailers for free. Movies such as The Fifth Element, Jumanji, and Men In Black are available. Other newer movies can be found at various web sites. Just Google “free movies” to locate the sites (one site is ).

Just think - sitting on your own comfortable couch or recliner with the family and saving on ticket fees, inflated popcorn and soda prices, and gas for the car! There is no waiting in line – and if you want to have a beer – go ahead, the usher won’t kick you out!

Movie costs for a family of four can easily top out at 50 or 60 dollars per movie.

So, lets say you watch five movies over the course of the year at $60 each (by the time you add tickets, popcorn, soda, and candy, it may be more). Five movies at $60 is $300. Now figure your cable savings – say you save $40 per month and still get basic cable. That’s $40 for twelve months, or $480. Combine the two and you have just saved $780 for the year! That is $65 per month average.

This money could be used to pay another bill or to help pay for a family vacation. Better yet, put it into an interest bearing savings account (or money market fund) for school or retirement.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

On The Last Lap

Circuit City "Heads Up":

They are having a going out of business sale. Anyone with a Gift Card has a limited time to use it. Make it a priority to use it now before time runs out. They will be honored for the duration of the sale.

Any gifts you have (bought before January 16th), which need to be returned, must be done by January 30th (or I guess you can regift). Anything bought after January 16th is a Final Sale.

You may want to visit a store to find great deals! The sales started Saturday January 17th and will run until existing inventory is sold. The expectations are that the sale will be done by the end of March.

Stores in Canada will continue to operate and will be available via the web for US customers.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Bad, The Ugly, and The Good


By the end of 2008 the DOW was down around 4500 points (about 34%) – the worst year since 1931. The S&P 500 was down about 39% - the worst year since 1937. The NASDAQ was down about 41% - which was worse than the year 2000 tech bubble. US Stocks overall were down in the range of 8 to 9 Trillion Dollars.

Because of this, long held beliefs about stocks are now questioned:

1- The Buy and Hold strategy, which was a “no-brainer” - now doesn’t seem so.

2- Stocks are now Down over 10 years – historically they were always up.

3- Other investments have higher returns than stocks – Stocks were always the way to beat inflation.

The “average Joe” investors and the professional investors are now shying away from risky investments. They are moving money out of stocks and into short term, less risky investments - or Cash. This is helping to keep stock prices down.


Large companies and agencies that dealt in credit went bankrupt (Like Lehman Bros), were bailed out (like AIG, Fannie Mae, & Freddie Mac), or (like Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch) were bought out by more stable companies. Government bailouts may not be enough depending on how long the economy stays weak. More bankruptcies are sure to come.

Banks, companies and individuals are borrowing less because loans are not available to them. This will hold down the credit markets, company growth, and the housing market.


In 2009 housing costs will fall enough to create demand, and along with the lower cost loans provided by banks, will help the housing market and the credit market.

The ever-increasing cash reserves held by companies and individuals are pent up future investment money. With stocks at historic lows, this money will find its way into the market and help to push stocks higher.

Government tax cuts, government spending and the Central Bank together are creating a very large economic stimulus. This is the grease that will allow the economic engine to turn with greater ease.

There are opportunities across the board to build wealth now. Whether you are interested in stocks, real estate, the credit market or bonds – research and follow your favorite investment vehicle. Create a decisive plan, which will allow you to invest before the massive up side is gone.

Invest in Banks !!

Invest the smart way by diversifying your investment dollars in great companies from different market sectors. The Financial Sector is one area you should be investing in as you build your portfolio.

Right now is a Great Time to invest in Banks. Bank stock prices are much lower than they were earlier in 2008. Citibank, for example, was at $20.60 in June of 2008 and as of December 5th 2008 it is at $7.71. That is $12.89 lower !! That is almost a 63% reduction in about six months!! Bank of America was $30.50 in June and in early December it was $15.24.

The reasons why you should invest in banks now are numerous.

All the banks have varying amounts of trouble with the sub-prime mortgage crisis, but the major players will not be allowed to get into irreversible trouble. The Treasury Dept. and the Federal Reserve will put together plans and use policy to ensure it.

Many banks have been taking advantage of the depressed financial sector to increase market share and broaden the services they provide by buying other distressed banks. Bank of America bought US Trust, Countrywide Financial Services (the largest US mortgage lender), and Merrill Lynch (Investing & Wealth Services). Citibank bought JP Morgan Chase (JP Morgan had recently bought Wamu, Bear Stearns, and Washington Mutual). Wells Fargo bought Wachovia.

This consolidation will result in increased value (read: “increased stock price and dividends”) for investors as time goes on. The banks will eliminate duplicate services and reduce costs through economies of scale to make this happen.

Future lending and the increased deposit base will become huge profit areas for these banks. The Banks’ investment strategies will move away from riskier investments toward safer havens to help them increase profit and weather the current downturn.

The predicted lower mortgage rates (4.5% or less !) that can be enabled by the Treasury buying Mortgage backed Securities from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would jump start the loan businesses for these banks. There would be the added benefits of allowing homeowners to refinance, allowing potential homeowners (with great credit) to buy, and stopping the fall of home prices (and maybe even partially reversing it) through increased demand.

The three large banks written about above can be invested in directly: Bank of America and Citibank through Computershare , and Wells Fargo through Wells Fargo Investment Plan .

Invest wisely by investing over time so you can benefit from any short-term low stock prices. Invest now so you do not miss out on this opportunity to create more wealth.

Use a Credit Card to simplify your life

A credit card is a good tool to have in your financial tool box. But, like any tool, you have to use it properly. Just as you are not supposed to use a screwdriver as a chisel, you should not use a credit card to buy things you can not afford. (Guess how the Banks got into their financial crisis!)

When you looking for a Credit Card to carry, make sure it has the features that work best for you financially. It should have no annual fee, it should have a payment grace period that is the same or longer than that of other credit cards. And it should have a flexible Rewards Program that allows you to earn points, which you can trade for air miles and merchandise you consider useful. Chase, Amex Blue, and Citibank all have rewards programs.

Once you have the right card, you should use it to pay as many household bills as you can. The electric, gas, phone, Internet, mortgage (or rent), food, etc. all have to be paid every month, so you might as well earn points while you pay.

After that, use your credit card wisely to pay for vacations and any other things you can afford to pay for in full when you receive your monthly statement. By paying off the entire balance each month you will not be subject to paying additional money in the form of interest (typically 10-12%). Otherwise, that item you bought on sale will end up costing you more than if you bought it when it was not on sale.

You will also earn interest on the extra money that stays in the bank during the credit card’s grace period (the time between when you buy something and when you pay for it – usually 20-25 days). The interest you earn during this “Float” time will compound over the years, putting you in a better financial position.

One of the best ways to earn good “interest” is by keeping your money in a Money Market Fund. The payout is called a “Dividend” and accumulates just as interest would. The rates paid by money market funds closely follow the interest rate in the market. As interest rates in the market go up, so do money market fund rates. Not all money market funds pay the same rates, so choose carefully (Vanguard Prime Money Market Fund is one of the good ones).

Banks, on the other hand, tend not to follow the market so closely, and pay you less interest. So keep your “Float Earnings” in a place where they will do you the most good.

Many money market funds have a minimum amount that you can write a check for. One such fund has a $250 minimum – but your monthly spending will easily be more than that. An additional benefit of using your credit card is that you will write one check to pay many bills – what a great time savings !

Remember to Never Carry a Balance ! If you miss a payment once every other year, call your credit card company, they will be happy to remove the late fee because you are such a good customer !

Buy Low ... SELL HIGH

Time is running out for catching the market at historic lows (across the board). Any investment you make now is certain to gain - as long as it is in a well known company with a good track record.

So you have decided you have some money you would like to invest (maybe earned from the various blogs you write). You should not dump it all on one stock (no matter what company it is) unless you like to gamble. It would last longer than betting it at the tables in Las Vegas, but it may lose a lot of value.

You have to last for the duration of this down cycle and make small "bets" based on how much money you have to invest. You have to figure this cycle to last at least most of 2009. So, you want to divide the money for a particular investment by maybe 10 or 12. If you have $10,000 you may choose to put $1,000 per month over ten months into the market. That way, in this volatile market, if stock prices go lower you can take advantage of them. You have to make your plan when you start and stick to it.

Because the amount above is not a great sum of money, it makes a lot of sense to invest it in a mutual fund - something like a Wilshire 5000 Fund [Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund (VTSMX) is one such fund] - where you are investing in 5000 companies. This way you get automatic diversification across different industries. You would be investing in health care, technology, consumer goods, energy, the industrial sector, telecommunications, biotech, and more. You would not have to worry about balancing the portfolio because the managers do that for you. It is also an index fund which means the expenses you pay per year are extremely low (about 1/10th of an actively managed fund).

You can sign up with a mutual fund company online with your computer in a matter of minutes. Then you must fund the account and set up automatic withdrawals to pay the money into the fund over time.

So what are you waiting for? Choose a mutual fund company with low fees and get going !

Or you can visit Las Vegas - Its fun, but does not have as much long term upside.

Time to jump into the stock market !

The opportunity being presented in the stock market right now is a once in a lifetime event. You will not see this again unless you have the longevity gene.

Any extra money not needed for living should be carefully invested in today's market. By carefully, I mean in small enough amounts so you can keep on buying throughout this downturn - and in only the best of the best companies (which pay dividends).

Mutual Fund companies can take most of the guesswork out of it for you since they are managed by professional, full time people. Choose the Mutual Fund Company with the lowest fees because large fees will eat away at the money you can invest (one such company is Vanguard -

You can also invest directly in stocks by getting involved with a company's DRIP (Dividend Reinvestment Plan) which you can find on the Internet. Companies stock purchases are handled by companies such as Computershare ( where you can find many DRIP plans. You invest in these either whenever you want by filling out the coupon and sending it in, or by periodic automatic investing.

It has been proven that investing over time (once a week or once a month-called dollar cost investing) is the best way to maximize your earnings because it does not allow you to try to time the market - which does not work over the long run. You will end up buying the low priced stock more often using dollar cost investing because you won't be trying to wait it out to see if the price goes lower. You also won't have to spend the time tracking the stock price every day so you can enjoy your life more.

Investing in stocks can also be done through a brokerage, where you go online and buy through the brokerage web site. First you have to have money in an account (usually a money market fund which earns dividends-kind of like interest). Then when you make buys, the money comes out of this account. Any earnings from the stocks are paid into this money account. You can track all your stock investments from the brokerage on one page.

No matter which method you use, you want any dividends or gains to get reinvested. That way your stocks will automatically grow even while you are not actively investing. For stocks, dividends are paid out four times per year. Each time you get dividends, they buy stock shares which earn more dividends at the next quarter. This snowball effect is exactly what you are looking for.

If you are not extremely close to retirement age (or if you are and have extra money lying around getting 2% in a CD). You should be buying stocks while they are ON SALE. If you are in the market - HOLD ON - if you have selected the best of the best companies which pay dividends, you will be buying shares on sale with every quarterly dividend.