Product Positioning Strategies

Positioning is what the customer believes about your product’s value, features, and benefits; it is a comparison to the other available alternatives offered by the competition. These beliefs tend to based on customer experiences and evidence, rather than awareness created by advertising or promotion.

Marketers manage product positioning by focusing their marketing activities on a positioning strategy. Pricing, promotion, channels of distribution, and advertising all are geared to maximize the chosen positioning strategy.

Generally, there are six basic strategies for product positioning:

1. By attribute or benefit- This is the most frequently used positioning strategy. For a light beer, it might be that it tastes great or that it is less filling. For toothpaste, it might be the mint taste or tartar control.

2. By use or application- The users of Apple computers can design and use graphics more easily than with Windows or UNIX. Apple positions its computers based on how the computer will be used.

3. By user- Facebook is a social networking site used exclusively by college students. Facebook is too cool for MySpace and serves a smaller, more sophisticated cohort. Only college students may participate with their campus e-mail IDs.

4. By product or service class- Margarine competes as an alternative to butter. Margarine is positioned as a lower cost and healthier alternative to butter, while butter provides better taste and wholesome ingredients.

5. By competitor- BMW and Mercedes often compare themselves to each other segmenting the market to just the crème de la crème of the automobile market. Ford and Chevy need not apply.

6. By price or quality- Tiffany and Costco both sell diamonds. Tiffany wants us to believe that their diamonds are of the highest quality, while Costco tells us that diamonds are diamonds and that only a chump will pay Tiffany prices.

Positioning is what the customer believes and not what the provider wants them to believe. Positioning can change due the counter measures taken at the competition. Managing your product positioning requires that you know your customer and that you understand your competition; generally, this is the job of market research not just what the enterpreneur thinks is true.

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How a Business Can Benefit From the Internet

With today’s advances in technologies and the rapid growth of the Internet having an online presence for a business is very beneficial. A business can benefit in many ways from owning its own Web site. Only a few years ago, if a customer wanted to do business with a specific company he or she would have to physically go to the business or, in less common cases, they could order from a catalog. The development of Internet technologies has created an environment where collaborating with clients, communicating with employees, marketing, and training have evolved to reach a broader group of clients in a more efficient manner.

With development and growth of Internet search engines, the way people find businesses has changed a great deal in the past few years. Someone in need of a product or service in a geographical area could go on the Internet and search for what they were inquiring about. The Internet search would give the person a list of Web sites to choose from. For example; if he or she were in need of a plumber they would use the Internet to search for a plumber in their city. In the search results he or she would find a plumber’s Web site and obtain their telephone number. The use of paper-back phone books to find businesses is slowly disappearing.

Internet technologies and Web pages also help businesses with when and where they can sell their products. With the recent development of online shopping Web sites, also known as ecommerce sites, companies are able to sell products anytime and from anywhere over the internet. The need for the old brick and mortar store is not always necessary. For example; if he or she wanted to buy a certain book they could go to the book store and buy it. With the Internet and shopping Web sites, he or she could find the book virtually and have it mailed to their house. Another type of shopping Web site is the auction site. An auction site allows an individual to bid on something over a period of time, normally for a reduced price. Having an online shopping Web site will greatly benefit a business when selling products, whether that is through an on-line store or through an auction site.

Marketing and advertising a business has changed recently because of the Internet. The traditional methods of advertising a product or service was usually done through printed ads and radio commercials. With the Internet, companies are advertising their products and services on popular Web sites. The more popular a Web page, the higher the charge for advertising space. Other Internet advertising options allow a company to advertise at specific times and specific geographic regions. Internet marketing can expand business advertising to the entire world.

Another great Internet based advertising system is social media. Social media Web sites could be good for a business by linking together groups and other businesses to share information. This can drive new clients to a business. People share information about a product they like and others share it. This type of advertising spreads quickly and can benefit a business.

The Internet and use of a company Web site helps a business communicate. A company can easily communicate with its clients and employees through the use of Internet technologies; such as, email, Web site content, and help forums. If he or she has a question about a product they could easily send the company a message through the help forum or email portal on the Web site. Business communications have changed with the use of online collaboration tools. Using the Internet, a sales person can have access to company contact lists, documents, and calendars that are embedded into the company Web site.

Employee information and training has changed with the use of the Internet. A company can have training modules built into their Web site for initial and recurring employee training sessions. This saves the company time and money. Communicating with employees by using email is also helpful to a business. Policy changes and other information can easily be sent throughout a business by using electronic communication. When a business uses technologies and electronic communication methods it saves money by not wasting paper.

The next generation of Internet technologies and Web sites are the mobile type. Businesses that have traveling sales people need access to company resources using smaller handheld devices. The Web applications made for mobile devices are smaller, fast loading, and do not rely on heavy graphics. The computer as we know it is changing into a smaller, hand held, mobile device. These smaller devices help a business become mobile. Imagine being a traveling business person and having to go through airport security everyday with a large laptop and all its equipment. Now imagine just carrying a handheld device and how much easier it becomes.

Internet technologies and the use of business Web sites are constantly changing and evolving. When a company can adapt and change with the technologies it will benefit because, using quick and effective communicating methods, marketing and advertising strategies, and efficient customer service systems allows a business to move from a brick and mortar store to a potentially global business. Today, if a business does not evolve and keep up with the technology, it will be left behind.

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Great Gifts For a Girlfriend

What can you do to find a great gift for a girlfriend? Although some guys seem to have a kind of built-in radar to help them find the perfect gifts for girlfriends, others suffer through the serious repercussions of trial and error-error being the key word.

Of course, there are different degrees of girlfriends, which can make a difference as to how much you are willing to spend on gifts. Take, for example, the woman in Philadelphia who refers to everyone she sees as girlfriend or boyfriend, even when she has never met them personally. She isn’t likely to buy gifts for everyone simply due to her choice of vernacular.

To most people however, the term girlfriend means more than a simple passing acquaintance. So how can a guy find a great girlfriend gift? Much depends upon how much he has available to spend. A college student who is already struggling with paying rent is not going to have the same funds as someone working fulltime in the professional arena.

Even if you are looking for great girlfriend gifts on a budget, you still have many options. Be sure to take the interests of your girlfriend into account. If she loves to smell good, the major national discounters as well as hundreds of other mom-and-pop srtores sell budget friendly bubble baths, soaks, perfumes, eau de toilette and other bath items such as soaps and creams.

If your girlfriend likes to look good, you can find makeup, brushes, and other beauty products for under $30 at most stores. Another option for looking good is clothing although buying clothing for any girl, girlfriend or just a friend is a bit risky. You don’t need to blow your wad though if you do choose to go this route. You can find real deals on clothes at stores such as Ross Dress for Less, Old Navy, Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx. All these stores sell nice brands at reasonable prices.

If your budget is a little looser, there are eye-poppers available most anywhere that make a great birthday gift for a girlfriend (or any other occasion for that matter. Remember to focus on what your girlfriend enjoys. Most women love jewelry. The great thing about jewelry is that it can say many things for you even if you never open your mouth. Popular jewelry items include pieces with birthstones, and most women love anything with a diamond in it. You may want to opt for a nice bracelet or necklace rather than a ring or earring.

Although electronics can be nice, make sure it’s something she likes rather than something you like. Many friendships are stretched thin because a guy buys his girlfriend the DVD player or iPod he loves rather than the romantic item she craves.

Gifts from the heart also make great girlfriends gifts. Such gifts make the longest lasting impressions. Spur of the moment flowers for example, will melt most any woman’s heart. Even a romantic night out can be just the gift to get her heart pounding in appreciation.

If your girlfriend has a sense of humor…and a sense of adventure, you could also buy her land. Yes, land! Land in each of the 50 states too. You won’t be buying real land simply one square inch in any or all of the states. She’ll get a deed to each piece of her estate but cannot build on it, and it holds zero investment value, but she won’t have to pay taxes on it, nor upkeep it either. But she’ll probably ask you to take you from state to state one day and visit her properties? This is available only on the Internet and is bound to surprise her.

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6G Pipe Welding: A Hard Look at What Makes A $100K Pipe Welder Rock Star

There is a pipe welding boom coming.

With the coming approval of the Keystone Pipeline, plus all the shale oil activity, and even President Obama saying he likes natural gas, the demand for 6G code pipe welders is going to go through the roof. The question is, how do you get hired to weld pipe?

The traditional road to employment doesn’t work so well.

For decades, a pipe welder is an apprentice in a union, becomes a journeyman, and during his or her entire career, most of their jobs come from the union book. You get on the book and when your name comes up, you get a call.

Sure, some unions play games and politics with the book, but the system has served union workers well for a long time. However, it isn’t the only or best way to get work any longer. This article isn’t about if unions are good or bad, it is about YOU getting work.

How does a top actor or athelete get work?

There are four types of people who are looking for work of any kind at any one time. You may be one type now. You can change your marketing of “You Inc.” and change your world, it’s up to you.

Did I say marketing?

Have you ever said something like, “I hate salespeople” or “I would never sell anything”? Look, the one fact you and all of us have to face right now, no matter what anyone tells you, is that we are all marketing everything to each other. You are already marketing, you just may not be very good at it.

Want proof?

If you’re married, it is ONLY because you market yourself to your spouse good enough to be still married. If you like your kids, it is because they market themselves to you well enough, that you like them. The same is true with your dog. Do you believe me now? Here are the four styles that are out there.

6G Code Pipe Welder Type #1:

True-Blue Union Pipe Welders Who Know Who, What, Where, When.

These are the people who are in the union loop, and count on union clout on union jobs to get hired. They are not the welders who are knocking on the door to join the union in tough times. These welders would never work a non-union job. These guys are so well connected, that as long as they can strike an arc they’ll be working as much as they want to.

6G Code Pipe Welder Type #2:

They welded pipe a while back.

These are the welders applying with every union and applying for every job out there that they might have a chance of getting a chance to test. They have a problem. They think if they get a chance to test, they will pass, even though it’s been two years since they ran a root on pipe.

6G Code Pipe Welder Type #3: Fresh pipe school graduates.

These are the students who just graduated from pipe school. They managed to certify at the end of school after welding 30 test joints or less. They can’t understand why they won’t be welding pipe any time soon, and why they are finding it hard to even get on as a pipe welder’s helper.

6G Code Pipe Welder Type #4: Rock Star Pipe Welder.

If you’re going to weld pipe, stand out. If you’re currently a pipe welder or you want to be one, determine now to practice enough that you are in total control. How can you do that? Practice at the edge of your ability, and do it a lot.

Frankly, welding up 200 6G test joints AFTER you certify would be a good idea. Next, film yourself welding pipe that is in the 6G position with you welding in a mirror, with you welding upside down, with you under a pipe, with you in a tight spot. Put the clips together into a single clip that’s about 90 seconds long.

Think about rock stars.

Do they screw around with their guitars once a week? Do they do the most reserve and minimum thing to get gigs? Heck no! They practice by LIVING with that guitar 24/7. They find crazy and wild schemes to get noticed. (No, you don’t have to smash up your welding machine). The intensity of your practice and the number of joints you weld does make all the difference.

Make pipe welding ROCK for YOU.

Once you have certified 6G, and then practiced enough to make the video described above, put that video on You Tube, and every social page you can. Put it on your website with your written resume. Get a simple to say (over the phone) and easy to remember URL.

Bottom Line:

There is no substitute for practice. On the other hand, anyone of average ability can become a master pipe welder if they just focus like a Rock Star on what matters. Once you get it down, the next step is more marketing. You have to get noticed, and get those who hire pipe welders to see your video.

Think about this:

If you’re hiring pipe welders, and you have the option of hiring a pipe welder who just got out of school, and then a resume comes in with this pipe welder rock-star-like video, who ya gonna call?

Want Proof?

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In Direct Sales – Ditch Your Frank List and Use Target Marketing

For most of us in Direct Sales, 10 new recruits equals a promotion – either for someone in our organization, or for ourselves. Sometimes it equals qualifications for a special incentive – perhaps a trip to some exotic locale, or maybe some designer jewelry.

Most of us, who follow the out-dated ideas that our upline offers have been spinning our wheels watching THEM earn trips and recognition, while we sit scratching our heads, wondering why we aren’t getting in on the action. I mean, after all, we’re doing exactly what they told us, exactly the way they told us to do it.

Is this happening to you?

Our upline said make a list of 100 people. Check.

Our upline said contact them all and ask them to “help” you get started. Check.

Our upline said it’s a numbers game, talk to everyone. Check.

Our upline said to stay away from running ads in the paper. Check.

Our upline said to do 3 way calls. Check

Our upline said bring our recruits to the opportunity meetings. Check.

Our upline said pass out 500 business cards each month. Check.

Is your team growing by leaps and bounds?

Our upline never told us to be an authority on our company’s best product (that would be YOU!).

Our upline never told us to market ourselves first, and the company second.

Our upline never presents us as the authority. They become the “guru” instead of us!

Our upline never told us we could use the Internet to build our businesses on autopilot.

It means you need to position yourself as the expert. Set yourself apart and start thinking and acting like a leader NOW. Change your mindset – even if you’ve been in the business for years, start thinking like a leader at the next pay level. Already at the top of your game? Great. Start thinking like the owner of your company.

By the way, YOU are the owner of your company. You have the best product to offer anyone – and that is YOU. You can’t get that product from any other company.

Christie Northrup, the Lemonaid Lady, is a champion of ditching the FRANK list. She talks about using “WILMA” instead:

“Who

Is a

Likely

Marketing

Audience?”

Target marketing is the best way to see desirable results. The Shotgun methods still work, but the amount of time and energy you put into growing a business that way is, to me, excessive.

Let’s break down the numbers. ASSUMING you can buy 500 business cards for just the cost of shipping (there are online companies that run specials periodically), You’ve got a $10 investment in materials, plus the time it takes to deliver all of them. From here, we have to make a lot of assumptions:

  • Assume you give away 30 at every party (3 to each guest – who needs 3 business cards?)
  • Assume you have 8 parties per month (that’s pretty standard in Direct Sales)
  • Assume you give away 1 to every person you meet outside a party (that’s another 260 people each month)
  • Assume it takes 1 minutes to deliver each card outside a party (and really, you’re not building a relationship, you’re just shoving a card into their hand)
  • Assume a 1% conversion rate

You’re spending 4 hours each month just giving away cards, plus the additional 24 hours you’ve spent preparing and doing your parties. And I must reiterate – who really needs 3 of your business cards? More to the point, who’s going to TAKE 3 of your business cards?

And if you give away 6,000 cards each year, you’ve got 60 new leads (about 5 per month) that may book, buy or recruit. Most of those will probably come from your shows anyway, to be honest. For $120 in business card expenses (plus other show and travels costs) and 336 hours of your life. Each POTENTIAL lead costs you $2 and 5.6 hours of your life!

Is your head spinning yet?

Now if you really, truly have no other method of building your business, it’s a start. But I hope you realize that there are other, better options to growing your business. You could definitely be putting that time (and money) to better use elsewhere.

Find a niche and fill it.

In direct sales, there are targeted groups of prospects for every product line available. All you have to do is ASK your home office what the target demographic is for your direct selling company. If they can’t tell you, you’ve got bigger problems. If you sell kitchen tools, who it your target market? Men? Women? What about age, income, ethnic origin? The more you focus, the smaller your market will be.

Smaller market=bigger return on investment

If you invest your time and money wisely in your target market, you can easily bring your time and money cost to less than half of what you would have paid for the shotgun business card method.

Think of it this way, would it be wise for a retailer to send advertisements to everyone in an entire city, when all they sell is children’s clothing? Absolutely not! A better use of their advertising dollars would be to focus on places where there are mothers of children who want/need their kind of clothing. Moms buy the clothes, not the kids (in most cases), so it’s wise to find out where they buyers are.

Think about your product? Who are the most likely buyers? Yes, contrary to what your upline has told you, it IS okay to pre-judge. At least for now. Focus in on that market. You know where they are most likely to spend their money (with you!), now figure out where they are most likely to spend their time. Go there. Market yourself THERE.

You’ve heard it said before that parties/demos are the life blood of a direct sales business. Your most targeted market is right in front of you – in a semi-captive group. This is a place where you would NOT want to pre-judge. Everyone is there for a reason. That reason may be you.

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Book Summary Start-Up Nation – The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle – By Dan Senor and Saul Singer

This book is about innovation and entrepreneurship. Israel has been successful despite of the pain the nation has endeared. They have thrived because their survival depends upon it. This book is a story that embodies tenacity, insatiable questioning of authority, and determined informality, with a unique attitude toward failure, teamwork, mission, risk and cross-disciplinary creativity.

Why is this important to me?

Have you ever used PayPal or a computer with an Intel processor in it? If yes, then those innovations came from Israel. Regardless of your political view, it is undeniable that the business innovation coming out of this small country is second to none around the world. The proof is in the amount of Venture capital that pours into the country. In 2007/2008, Israel received more venture funds per capita then all the other nations combined. Two main drivers of this innovation are:

1. Survival – Look at any map and you will see that Israel is surrounded by nations that want it destroyed. The citizens have learned to live and thrive in this environment through ingenuity and shear guts. Every male is required to go into the military thus they are battlefield tested entrepreneurs.

2. Questioning of Authority – this quality was surprising. If you have every watched Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm then you know what a pain in the ass the questioning of authority can cause. It can be downright annoying but the level of clarity created is proof of what gets accomplished. It is common in Israeli military for every soldier to question authority. This is in stark contrast to American Military. I am not saying one is better than the other but the level of questioning / arguing creates great solutions.

Start-up Nation is a great book and there are tons of excellent examples in it. For the sake of time, I will profile three innovations that came out of Israel.

1. Fraud Sciences – Shvat Shaked and his small team came up with a cool technology to identify computer fraud. The venture capital firm setup a meeting with PayPal now owned by eBay. The PayPal VP basically did not want to have the meeting because he figured his team was way ahead of any startup in terms of fraud detection and protection. Long story short, Shvat and his team had one simple idea. The world is divided by good people and bad people and these people leave digital footprints. The PayPal team did not believe it so they gave them test data to run against. They figured it would take Fraud Sciences 60 days to plow through it. Two days later, Shvat sent them an email with the results and their results were 17% better and took 95% less time then what PayPal could deliver. When they asked Shvat how he learned this skill, his response was that he had to hunt down terrorists in the military. eBay bought the company for $125 Million. They were at least 5 years ahead of PayPal.

2. Intel – Do you remember the chip race wars? All computers were measured by clock speed from megahertz to gigahertz. This caused one huge problem – HEAT. Basically the way computer chips used to work for speed was similar to your car transmission being stuck in first gear and you wanting to go full speed. The Israeli R&D group for Intel came up with a simple concept. Why not design chips like transmissions. The faster you go step them up from 1st to 5th gear. This change required the whole company to change its marketing message and direction. According to the Intel leadership, this innovation saved the company.

3. Mash ups – The multi-tasking nature and the combination of disparate technologies breads true innovation. In my own business, we combined Voice, Email, Chat and all communication types to be the first on the market to offer one platform for all communication archiving. This is a simple example of a mash up because other vendors just do one communication type. The innovations seen throughout the book are great examples of combining expertize from different areas to come up with a better mouse trap.

Battlefield Entrepreneurs – According to Eric Schmidt CEO of Google, “The Israeli tank commander who has fought in one of the Syrian wars is the best engineering executive in the world. The tank commanders are operationally the best, and they are extremely detail oriented. This is based on twenty years of experience – working with them and observing them.

Start-Up Nation is a must read for anybody interested in true innovation. The ideas in the book can help any entrepreneur grow their business. The balance between pain and incentives is seen throughout Israel’s history. Success for them is the only option.

I hope you have found this short summary useful. The key to any new idea is to work it into your daily routine until it becomes habit. Habits form in as little as 21 days. One thing you can take away from this book is the concept of the mash up. Mash ups are very strong. Are you familiar with Ray Charles or Kid Rock? Their music is all based on mash ups. Ray Charles combined R&B with Gospel which was revolutionary and controversial at the time. Use the mash up concept in your business to innovate.

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Free Book Summary One Simple Idea – By Stephen Key

Stephen Key was a mentor to Tim Ferriss. If you are not familiar with Tim, he wrote two bestselling books, The 4 Hour Work Week and the 4 Hour Body. One Simple Idea is a “how to” book on licensing your ideas. Licensing is one of the most lucrative business models in the world. Think about these companies, Microsoft, Oracle and Apple. These companies all license their ideas and make more money per person than 99% of all other companies. I am a big fan of Real Estate but if you need to make money with less risk and less capital requirements, then licensing is the way to go.

Why is this important to me?

Most people are not familiar with the power of licensing and royalty checks. This book shows you how to do it and I will expand on the why.

Why licensing? I have had several businesses and I can tell you that licensing is by far the most lucrative of all. When you own the IP (intellectual property), your marginal revenue of the next license sold is infinite. That is a very good profit margin by anybody’s standards.

Inversion is one of the most powerful learning strategies in the world. Inversion means to look at the opposite or reverse of something. I told you above that Licensing is one of the best models out there. Let’s use inversion to show you why. When you sell somebody else’s stuff, you are only as good as your next sale. This means that no matter what, you have to buy what you sell every time. Thus your gross profit can be anywhere from 0% to 50% based on your cost structure and the competition level. This is what Wal-Mart does. Note that they are the best cost cutters in the world and competing with them head on would be a disaster.

Let’s suppose you are a consulting or service based company. Again, you are only as good as your next consulting gig. I know that consultants make a ton of money but for every hour they consult, they lose that hour of opportunity to do something else. Thus you are trading hours for dollars.

One Simple Idea is packed with great information and Stephen’s 10 step plan that shows you how to do it. We will touch on a few points.

First of all, there are two major reasons to license. Number 1 is royalty checks. You can make money while you sleep. Now you are NOT trading dollars for hours because you can be doing something else and still receive checks. Number 2 is omnipresence. You can do this from anywhere in the world. You do not have to be handcuffed to a desk in some vaulted locked building. All you need is a computer and ideas.

Stephen outlines several key factors to being successful at licensing. For the sake of time, I will highlight a few of the topics in this review.

1. Look for ideas – You do not have to be Einstein to have a break through idea. If you have ever been shopping, then you can come up with ideas. The key here is to focus on thins that really annoy you. If they annoy you then maybe they annoy others. This is a starting point for a new idea. Think about problems and come up with solutions. This also gives you a reason to go shopping.

2. Prove your idea – The traditional licensing model works like this. Find an idea, build an expensive prototype, spend a small fortune for patent protection and hope it sells. This is why most people don’t think of licensing as a viable career because the barriers APPEAR too big to bridge. Proving your idea before you spend any money is now easy to do. Google has built in traffic. It is a ready-made platform for idea creation and proof. One simple way to do this is to create a video of your idea and ask for feedback. You can do this for a few hundred dollars. This process alone will save you tons of heartache and money. You need to prove the idea before you do anything else.

3. Protect your idea- Contrary to negative belief; most companies do NOT want to steal your idea. The traditional way to protect your idea was to submit for patents. This is a very expensive endeavor. One thing Stephen points out to avoid this is a PPA. This is a provisional patent application and costs $110 to submit. This gives you Patent Pending status which is all you need for 1 year to prove your idea and get it to market. This one concept can pay for this book 5,000 times.

4. Pitch your idea – If you decide to bring your idea to market then you need to be schooled in business. This means you need money, management, and accounting, production, sales and marketing. Then after you have all this, you need customers. This is like a beginner climbing Mount Everest in the winter time. The odds all point to your death with this approach. Pitching your idea to the big guys is the way to go. They have the name brand, infrastructure and distribution channel to hit millions of people NOW. Pitching your idea is the best way to go and causes the most fear. Everybody hates to cold call but this is required for you to pitch your idea. This is much easier than it seems because companies want new ideas and that is the hook for you to get in.

One Simple Idea is an outstanding guide to help you turn your ideas into a royalty check.

I hope you have found this short summary useful. The key to any new idea is to work it into your daily routine until it becomes habit. Habits form in as little as 21 days. One thing you can take away from this book is the PPA. The biggest obstacle to ideas coming to market is the shear cost of getting protection and the fear of somebody stealing your stuff. For $110, you can protect it for one year and if it makes you money then you can protect it longer. Remember, in this game, the first to market wins.

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Tips For Attractive Book Covers

As important as it is to write the best book possible (quality will lead to word-of-mouth sales), the book may never leave the bookstore shelf if the cover doesn’t grab the reader’s eye. Bottom line, what your book cover looks like is probably the most important aspect of the entire book design and marketing process.

In designing your book cover, remember, “Less is more.” A simple straightforward concept on the cover will do more than complicated designs and fancy artwork. If the cover doesn’t grab the readers’ eyes and make them curious about your book within a couple of seconds, the sale is lost.

Here are a few tips to make sure your book cover is as visually effective as possible.

Study Similar Book Covers:

Go to your local bookstore (you can look at books online as well but you do not get as immediate an effect nor see books next to each other). Look at books in the same category as yours, whether it’s romance novels, cookbooks, self-help, or fishing. When you go to the section of the store where someday your book will be, what’s the first cover that grabs your eye? Why that cover? Is it the color, the people or scenery on the cover, the boldness of the title? What makes the cover stand out compared to the other covers? Look at what you consider the best cover(s) and also the worst covers. What makes you judge a book by its cover the way you do?

Colors:

Think about the psychological effect of the colors you will use on your cover. If you’re writing a book on meditation, you probably don’t want a black or red cover because those colors traditionally suggest danger, fear, guilt, death, or anger. White or blue-colors that are more soothing and peaceful, are probably more appropriate. Again look at other books in the same category and consider the colors they use. How do you want people to feel about your book’s content? What color makes you feel that way?

As an interesting side note, in the 1980s when Helen Hooven Santmyer’s bestseller “…And Ladies of the Club” was published, the publisher printed four different covers. Each book had the same artwork, but the book came out in different colors-pink, yellow, green, and blue. I’m sure the multiple colors resulted in more sales because the blue cover appealed to people who might not have paid attention to the yellow one. I remember seeing all four versions beside each other in the department store on a center aisle table. It was hard not to pay attention.

Title and Author’s Name:

Unless you’re Stephen King, your name should appear at the bottom of the cover. Your name is unlikely to be what sells your book so it shouldn’t be the first words the customer reads. Instead, put your title at the top and make it as large and preferably larger than your name. Make sure it is easily readable, clear, and stands out. Simple fonts are better than fancy scripts that might make a letter difficult to read or your title misunderstood. Make sure you choose a neutral color like white or black, but one that will not blend in with the color behind it.

Artwork:

Make sure the artwork matches the content of your book and does not distort what the book is about. An excellent example of what not to do is the marketing that has been done for some of Agatha Christie’s murder mystery novels. Christie is not a bloody or gory writer, but various publishers since her death have created book covers that have mouths with blood streaming out of them and knitting needles in people’s heads. These covers may be sensational and grab attention, but they also do a disservice because readers who might otherwise enjoy the books will stay away under the impression the books are gruesome. Similarly, people who like a gruesome story will feel cheated when they pay for the book only to find no guts or gore in it.

I have seen books with pictures on their covers that have nothing to do with the book’s content, but the author simply liked the artwork. While the author should have a say in the cover, they should give some ideas or concepts to the artist and then let the artist, the expert, create the cover. Make sure the artist hired has designed book covers before and is willing to give multiple samples and will continue to tweak the cover until you are satisfied. Especially if you want to have people or animals on your cover, ask for samples of the artist’s work-nothing looks worse than a poorly drawn person.

Do not hire an amateur to do your book cover. It will look unprofessional and may even be laughable. Do not let hurting the feelings of your niece, the art major, stand in the way of your book sales. Do not try to save money by doing your own cover. Book covers are not a reason to become sentimental, nor should you spare expense on them. Paying a professional to design the cover is the best investment in your book that you will make.

Make sure the cover is not too busy. Do a distance test. Have the cover reduced to one inch in height, about the size it will be on the Internet. If at that size the artwork cannot be easily distinguished, the artwork is too complicated. Also take the cover art at book size and stand ten or twenty feet away from it to make sure it is distinguishable.

Occasionally, photographs are used on book covers. Photographs are fine if the photograph clearly represents the book. Nature scenes are preferable for self-help, spirituality type books. Historical books, fiction and non-fiction, might use a historical photograph. Authors should avoid putting photographs of themselves on their covers unless their faces are well-known (Dr. Phil, Bill Cosby, or Barack Obama well-known). Sadly, unless you’re drop-dead gorgeous, your face will probably hurt your sales.

Spine Design:

What to include on your back cover will be a separate article, but I’ll include what to do with the book cover spine here. Chances are that only your book’s spine will be visible in the bookstore, so make sure your name and book title are clear and easily readable on the spine. Do something simple to make the spine stand out, such as including a small version or detail from the front cover. I’m a big fan of book covers that carry the artwork from the front cover across the spine and to the back-this design makes books feel lush and exciting in my opinion. This larger picture will make the spine stand out, but make sure it does not make the spine too busy. You might have a ship on the front cover and a lighthouse on the back cover, but on the spine, just have some ocean waves toward the bottom so it does not take away from the book’s title.

Final Tips:

No book cover is perfect, and different covers will appeal to different readers. Do your best to create the cover that will appeal to the largest number of people. Don’t settle for the first option, but look at your book with various covers and various colors, and get as much feedback from people as possible. Don’t just ask friends, but take your samples to bookstores and ask the workers what they think will sell. Once the book is published, if you get positive comments on the covers, great. If sales are slow and you get no comments on the book cover, consider changing it for the next print run.

Remember, your cover is your first selling point so take the time and invest the money needed to make sure it’s done right.

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The Slight Edge – The Story of the Water Hyacinth and How it Applies to Running a Business

A child’s favourite word is story. In fact the same could be true of everyone. We all love to listen to a story or to tell a story. In the book, The Slight Edge, the author Jeff Olson often uses stories as analogies to deeper meanings.

The Slight Edge, as the name would suggest, suggests that to be successful, you just need to have a slight edge in a number of different aspects of your life.

In this article, I will aim to mirror the analogy created by Jeff Olson to Starting a Business for yourself, or even running your existing business. We run both online and offline business. We have experienced failure and success and as a result, can relate very well to the author.

In this particular story, the author tells about a Water Hyacinth and how it can grow exponentially in a relatively short period of time but not by all its own efforts.

It would be a brilliant way to demonstrate how a typical MLM business owner could explain the potential growth in an area.

The lesson that I took from the book, in relation to starting a business was that you must be prepared to persevere and with this you simply will not experience the joy and rewards that success brings.

Every person that starts a business wants to be successful. But are they prepared to crank the pump and put massive effort in to the business until it start to grow exponentially.

In the case of the water hyacinth, the plant uses the art of leverage to grow each day. Instead of planting its own seeds and waiting, it sends out its own daughter tentacles which enable it to use leverage. Ever more with ever less. It’s the key to business Success.

Look at McDonalds restaurants – by using a system for running a restaurant which covers every aspect of the business, they could leverage it and grow it quickly without ever losing consistency or quality. It is often said that a 17 year old could run a McDonalds for you – the same one that will not tidy up their bedroom.

If you are thinking about starting a business, either offline or online, think leverage before you think “I’m the only person that can do this”.

By thinking this way, you will give yourself room to grow and develop beyond your own capabilities and will reap the reward.

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What Are the Pre-Production Stages in Publishing a Book?

Publishing a book is a scary prospect for many authors, particularly if they are going the indie route. The good news is that it’s a straightforward process that doesn’t need to be intimidating. However, it is something you need to do properly. It takes effort, and time, to publish a book properly, so having a good flow of work will make the difference.

1. Editing

Your first stage of publishing is going to be editing. Four passes is a common number in the industry, and it works well. The first pass is to close any plot holes and address macro problems. The second looks at smaller things like individual scenes and sentence structure. On the third pass, an editor looks at the grammar and small details. Finally, at the fourth, they go through just to make sure there are no typos or small punctuation errors.

2. Interior Design and Typesetting

After editing, you are going to need to begin laying out the book. For some (like graphics-heavy nonfiction books or children’s books) this includes locating an artist or graphic designer to assist you in creating the images you will use inside the work. In addition to that you will need to typeset the book and format it for whatever mediums you are going to use. Typesetting for print and typesetting for eBook require two sets of skills and two different programs, so it is wise to make sure you know what format(s) you are going to go with before you finish this process.

3. Cover Design

Hiring a cover designer or creating one yourself is one of the last stages of the book process. You can start it during editing, but you will not need the cover art until you are finished with the typesetting and layout of your book. This is particularly true of print books because the number of pages in the final product will determine the width of the spine. You also need to know what trim size you will be using in order to determine the size and shape of the cover.

4. Pre-release Marketing

Before your book is published and for sale, you need to begin marketing your work. This includes soliciting reviews from major sources as well as drumming up hype on social media, your blog and website, and telling your friends what exciting things you are up to.

While each of these elements has a great deal of work involved, the flow of publishing and the tasks required to put the book into its final form are straightforward. Make sure you pay attention to detail and do not rush through any part of the process, however, because your book will show a lack of attention that readers will pick up on.

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