Importance of Branding for E-Commerce Businesses

October 11, 2016

E-commerce businesses are becoming a reliable way to buy products online. Branding plays a direct role in improving chances of e-commerce business success. An increasing number of global customers are switching to e-commerce sites to purchase everything from groceries to apparel, and electronics to lifestyle products. The e-commerce industry has completely transformed the way in which consumers around the world access products and services. It has suddenly brought a world of options to the fingertips of end users. The future seems bright for the e-commerce industry, with major players branching out into newer product categories frequently (thus setting the standards for smaller brands).For e-commerce businesses, things are going well enough, but the competition is also fierce. New e-commerce brands are launching every day and persistently trying to get a foothold online. When it comes to branding, e-commerce companies are leaving no stone unturned. In this scenario, it is vital that you build and implement a high quality branding strategy for your e-commerce business.Branding Strategies For E-Commerce BusinessesBy having a result-oriented, effective branding plan for your e-commerce business, you can stand out amongst your competitors. To achieve that, you must determine what makes your e-commerce business a unique player in the industry. Are you offering high quality products at the best available rates? Do you organize regular discounts and offers for your customers? Are you adding new product categories to meet more customer demands? What are the factors that would convince customers to choose your brand against others? E-commerce business owners must strive to highlight the unique selling points of their brand. Only then can an e-commerce brand be boldly promoted to larger audiences.

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As an e-commerce brand, you have to be at the forefront when it comes to attracting product vendors as well as consumers to your e-store. Vendors would be interested in using your marketplace, if it has a strong brand that keeps providing value to customers. The number of sellers and customers you bring in to your network depends on the strength of your e-commerce brand, and how well it delivers on its promises. If you are intelligent in your branding, and consistent in your service quality, your e-commerce brand can achieve considerable success.E-commerce branding, like all branding, is influencing the perception of your brand and its services, in the eyes of the customer. Effective e-commerce branding will make marketing easier, retain more customers, drive up loyalty, and create better potential value for steady, long-term success.The way you must approach an e-commerce branding strategy is by highlighting some key points. With branding, you must uphold your business’s core mission, the problems you aim to solve for your customers, standards that it adheres to, and proof of the quality of services you provide. What are the factors involved in business branding and their importance?E-Commerce Branding – Methods and Importance1. Your Brand Image – A stellar, uniquely identifiable brand image helps customers attach value to your e-commerce brand’s personality. This includes various things such as logos, banners, taglines, marketing captions, social content etc., which should always represent your brand the best. This is quite important if you want to create value for potential customers and convert them into loyal customers. A good brand image goes a long way in retaining customers, by continually generating interest for your e-commerce brand’s offerings.2. Customer Satisfaction – Customers are everything, when it comes to e-commerce or any other type of business. You can actually enhance customer experiences and drive up satisfaction (and loyalties). This is a big part of establishing your e-commerce brand. Put your best foot forward while marketing, deliver on your promises you make, and provide unmatched service and support to enhance your brand’s potential value. Remember that satisfied existing customers can and will bring in newer customers to your e-commerce business. Maintain your integrity and keep reinventing to bolster your brand’s chances of business success.3. Find Your Unique Selling Proposition – As an e-commerce business owner you must determine the USP of your brand. This will help you brand and promote it better to larger groups of potential customers. Think about what sets you apart from dozens of competitors vying for true e-commerce glory. Is it your service quality or support? Is it the trust of your customers and your track record? Do you provide innovative offers, discounts and promotions on special occasions? Do you house the widest variety of rare products? You must determine why customers would choose your e-commerce site. What extra value can you offer to your potential customers that convince them to use your platform again and again? Find your USP and use it to strengthen your brand.

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4. Utilize All Channels – Technological advances in the past decade demand that your e-commerce business maximizes its presence on all social, web-based and mobile platforms. More and more potential customers buy and sell through handheld devices, and almost all of them are on social websites. All your competitors are doing it, and so should you. It will help you make your brand easily accessible to larger audiences, which in turn will bring more conversions and significantly better revenues. Social and mobile should be the front and center of your branding strategy.E-commerce sites can benefit from the above mentioned branding strategies. By using the concepts provide here, you can establish your e-commerce brand and take your business to the next level.

Advancing the Next Big Idea in Animal Health

August 29, 2016

Smallpox, polio and even influenza-these deadly diseases once ruled the earth, killing by the millions. Today, thanks to scientific research, their impact is far less. The same holds true for animal diseases such as canine parvovirus and feline leukemia. One day, a host of other diseases that affect humans or animals, and sometimes both, may meet the same fate.When major medical breakthroughs happen, such as the promising bone marrow treatment for humans with sickle cell anemia announced last December, we often don’t realize the time and effort behind a new prevention, treatment or cure. The reality, though, is that medical advancements usually take years, even decades, to come to fruition-and along the way hundreds of ideas are attempted before one of them opens the doors. Morris Animal Foundation (MAF) is committed to finding and funding the next big ideas in animal health research.We know that a novel idea goes nowhere without proper funding-and funding for the unknown is often tough to come by. The Foundation is one of the few organizations helping cutting-edge scientists gather data and test promising concepts that could one day lead to major health breakthroughs for animals.Innovative Ideas Take Flight:
Through its pilot-study program, MAF provides funding up to $10,800 for one-year studies that test a new idea and gather preliminary data to determine if the idea merits further investigation. This program provides timely funding for innovative ideas, speeds up scientific discovery and advances the Foundation’s mission to improve the health and welfare of animals.

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“Pilot research study grants are designed to support innovative research ideas and early-stage projects where preliminary data may not be available,” says Dr. Wayne Jensen, MAF chief scientific officer.One benefit to the pilot-study program is that MAF accepts these study proposals multiple times per year rather than through the traditional grant cycle of once per year. As a result, the program helps researchers respond more rapidly to emerging diseases and contemporary questions in animal health research.Funding for pilot studies is desperately needed to advance veterinary medicine for companion animals and wildlife. Dr. James Moore, chair of the Foundation’s large animal scientific advisory board, explains that most funding agencies only support proposals that already contain a sufficient amount of preliminary data to suggest that the expected outcomes will be achieved. But scientists need funding to gather preliminary data. So it was no surprise that MAF received an overwhelming response-161-to its two 2009 calls for proposals. Yet the Foundation can fund only 12 to 18 projects each year.”The greater than expected response to the request for proposals for pilot studies suggests that there are a lot of good, untested ideas out there,” Dr. Moore says.A History of Funding Health Breakthroughs:
The Foundation has a long history of funding breakthrough projects. For example, in 1999, MAF was the first to fund research to look at why California sea otters were dying off. Over the next decade, we funded several grants looking at disease risks in sea otters. What scientists learned from these projects helped them win a $1.86 million grant from the National Science Foundation. In an interview for AnimalNews 6.4, lead researcher Dr. Patricia Conrad noted that, “the Morris Animal Foundation grants were critically important. Without that support in the project’s infancy, we wouldn’t have been able to compete for bigger grants.”Beyond uncovering information about the infectious diseases that were killing sea otters, these studies also led to increased state legislative protections for the playful creatures and trained numerous up-and-coming wildlife health researchers.A current study funded by our Canine Cancer Campaign is testing a new drug therapy for bone cancer in dogs. This major project encompasses multiple facets and institutions and could eventually save the lives of thousands of dogs-yet it began as a small pilot effort. Additional pilot projects may soon lead to a promising treatment for eye cancer in horses, improved nutrition for brook trout and better pain management for reptiles.

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Current pilot studies address gastrointestinal problems, urinary infections and heartworm in dogs; osteoarthritis pain in cats; laminitis in horses and overpopulation and drug-resistant infections in pets.”Pilot studies like these are important for moving veterinary medicine forward, primarily because they can be accomplished relatively quickly and relatively inexpensively,” Dr. Moore says.Who knows where this year’s pilot projects may lead. Perhaps they will give veterinarians a tool to help them diagnose and manage osteoarthritis in cats or an inoculation that prevents certain strains of Escherichia coli from causing recurrent urinary tract infections in dogs. Or maybe equine veterinarians will get an inexpensive method for treating laminitis, a painful, life-threatening condition.The possibilities for advancing animal health are truly endless as long as we continue to support pioneering scientists with innovative ideas. These promising projects may one day change the face of veterinary medicine and help create a healthier tomorrow for animals.Learn more about the current pilot studies.

How to Make It As a Fitness Model!

August 23, 2016

So You Wanna Be a Fitness Model?People that follow my stuff know I generally write about nutrition, supplements, training, and other topics that are more science based than subjective topics, such as what is covered in this article. I decided to shuck my science geek persona, and write on a topic I know will be helpful to thousands of would be and want to be fitness models.As well a known “hard core” science based no BS writer, why I am writing what some will perceive as a “fluff” article? Over the years I have gotten hundreds, perhaps thousands, of gals that ask me via email, letters, or in person “how do I become a fitness model Will? You have been in the business a long time, surly you of all people should know.” I get this from newbies and I get this from women that have been at it a while but have been unable to “break in” effectively.The fact is, I have been in the fitness, health, and bodybuilding biz a long time, and though I am known as a science and nutrition based “guru” type, I have trained many a fitness athlete, and judged fitness and figure/bikini shows for the NPC, Fitness America, Fitness USA, and other federations as well as given marketing and business advice to all sorts of athletes, including fitness models. So, it’s not as far fetched as it might seem that I am going to use this space to cover a non scientific topic, which is, how one goes about being a fitness model.This article will be useful to both experienced and novice types looking to “break in” to the biz. If you are already a professional and successful fitness model, I am sure you may still glean some useful information from this article.First the bad news, there is no one way to become a successful fitness model. There is no single path or magic secret. There are however some key things a person can do to greatly improve their chances of “making it” in the fitness biz as a model, and perhaps using that success as a launching pad to greater things, such as movies, TV, etc.Several of the top fitness models (Trish Stratus and Vicki Pratt come to mind but there are many others) have gone onto careers in entertainment of all kinds. Bottom line, though there is no magic secret to being successful as a fitness model, this article will be about as close to a blueprint for success as you will find.”Do I need to compete?”This is a question I get asked all the time and it’s not an easy one to answer. In fact, the answer is (drum roll) yes and no. The person has to deicide why they are competing in the first place to answer that question. For example, do you need to compete if your goal is to be a successful fitness model?The answer is no. Many of today’s well-known fitness models have never competed, or they competed in a few small shows and it was clearly not part of their success as fitness models. However, competing does have its potential uses.One of them is exposure. At the upper level shows, there will often be editors, publishers, photographers, supplement company owners, and other business people. So, competing can improve your exposure. Also, competing can make sense if you are trying to build a business that is related to your competing or will benefit from you winning a show.For example, say you have a private training gym you are trying to build. Sure, having the title of say Ms Fitness America, or winning the NPC Nationals and being an IFBB pro, will help your reputation and the notoriety of your business. There are many scenarios were it would help to have won a show for a business or other endeavors.On the other hand, it must be realized that winning a show does not in any way guarantee success in the business end (and it really is a business) of being a fitness model. The phone wont ring off the hook with big offers for contracts. Also, it’s very important to realize that it’s common that the 4th or 6th or 8th place finisher in a fitness or figure show will get more press than the winner. Why? Though the winner might have what it took to win that show, it’s often other gals the editor, publishers, supplement companies etc, feel is more marketable.I have seen it many times where the winner was shocked to find she didn’t get nearly the attention she expected and other girls who placed lower have gotten attention in the form of photos shoots, magazine coverage, etc. Something to keep in mind when you ask yourself the important question “do I need to compete and if so, why am I competing?” Answer that question, and you will know the answer to the heading of this section. Winning a title of some sort can be a stepping stone, but it is not in itself any guarantee of success in the fitness industry. It’s like a college degree; it’s what you do with it.Now. If you compete for the fun of it, then by all means go for it, but the above is focusing on competing as it relates to the business aspect of being a fitness model.

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Right body, wrong federation?Ok, so after reading the above you have decided you are going to compete, or will compete again. If you don’t plan to compete, you can skip this section. The biggest mistake I see here is so many gals have the right body for the wrong federation. Each federation has its own judging criteria and a competitor will do poorly simply because they didn’t bother to research which show would be best suited for them.I will give you a perfect real world example of this. Recently I judged a show whose criteria for the figure round was the women should be more on the curvy softer side with some tone, vs. being more muscular and athletic with less bodyfat that other federations might allow. At this show one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen came out. She was very proportional, great muscle tone, lean, and athletically shaped with narrow hips and waist and wider shoulders. How did she do at this show? She didn’t even place in the top ten!Why? Because she was not what we were instructed to look for and didn’t fit the criteria. After the show I informed her that she looked great, but this may not the federation for her. I told her she had much more of an NPC type body, where a little more muscle, athletic build, and less bodyfat is rewarded.The following week I was judging an NPC fitness, figure, and bodybuilding show and there she was. How did she do? She won the entire show with all judges voting her number one unanimously.Conversely, if your body type tends to be more rounded and toned, but with a little more bodyfat, wider (but not fat!) hips, you may be better off competing in say the Fitness America Pageants. If you are going to compete:(1) find out exactly what the judging criteria is for that federation and(2) go see those shows as a spectator for several different federations and see which one your physique, style, etc will fit into best.(3) You have to decide if you truly have the athletic abilities to compete in a fitness competition (which requires a routine) or a figure/bikini competition.I often see women who would do well in a figure show but really don’t have the athletic abilities do the routines required to be competitive with other athletes in the show. Some shows will allow you to do both competitions and some wont.Networking 101: dos and don’ts…In so many respects, this is the area that will make or break you in any business, and yet, people in the fitness industry do an amazingly poor job at it. If you don’t network and market yourself properly, you can pretty much forget about having any real success as a fitness model, or a success in virtually any business. For the sake of space, we will stick to fitness.When I first started out, I was a self marketing machine. I could be found at every show I thought might be an opportunity, walking the isles of trade shows, bodybuilding, shows, fitness show, and others. I gave out a zillion cards and I took a million home with me, and followed up on each and every one. I went to as many industry related meetings, outings, parties, etc. as I could get into. I now have the reputation and experience in the industry that I don’t have to go to such a show unless I feel like it, or have meetings, but they were quite helpful in the beginning.I am always amazed at the number of fitness models who contact me who have never even been to the Arnold Classic Fitness Weekend, or the Mr. Olympia, or the trade shows like the NNFA Expo West and others. If you want to make it in the fitness business you sure as hell had better treat it like a business.I have seen many a pretty girl who wants to be a fitness model who thinks if they stand there looking pretty long enough, someone is going to offer to put their face on the cover of a magazine. News flash, there are millions of beautiful women out there and to be noticed, you have to hussle to get that business like everyone else by networking your butt off, or having a good agent (if you can afford such a thing) who is doing it for you.Pick a few major industry shows to attend (some of which were mentioned above) and go to them every year. Have a plan of attack of exactly how you plan to market yourself and network. Many fitness models, bodybuilders, etc see a show as one big party. If that’s you, then have fun at the party, but don’t think you are really marketing yourself as a serous business person or athlete.Another thing that always amazes me is the number of fitness models who either have no business cards, or have some cards they printed up on their bubble jet printer at home! They ask me to help them or what ever and I say “give me your card” and they look at me like “I am so pretty I should not need a card you fool.” This attitude turns off editors, photographers, writers, and industry people faster then if they found out you were really a transvestite. Don’t do it. For every pretty girl out there who thinks the world owes them a favor, there are 100 who are ready to act like professionals.Ever wonder why some fitness model you know is doing better than you are even though you know you are prettier than her? That may be why…never ever go to a show to network without good cards, bios, and professionally done head and body shots you can give to said editors, publishers, photographers, industry types, etc. Don’t stand around looking pretty assuming they will find you, find them first and introduce yourself. And of course it should go without saying you should be in good condition and have something of a tan to look your best.You want to go to the shows and party? Fine, but do it in private after the work is done and don’t make a fool out of yourself at some industry sponsored get together. Hell, I was virtually poured into a cab at last years Arnold Classic after going to a sushi place with some well know industry types and companies owners (you know who you are!) but at least no one saw me! We had our own little private get together after the show to let loose.Let me give you one final real world example of how NOT to market yourself. Last year I was on retainer as a consultant to a mid sized supplement company. The owner of the company asked me if I knew a couple of fitness model types that could work his booth for a trade show. In fact, he requested “unknowns, some new faces people had not seen yet but had real potential to grow with the company.” I went and found him two such gals I thought fit the bill.He offered to pay their flights, room, and food plus a thousand dollars each for the days work. The two girls were told to be at the booth 9am sharp. The night before at the hotel, I saw the two girls getting in a cab at 11pm or so dressed to kill, clearly on their way out to party. The next day they showed up at the booth an hour and a half late and hung over! What was the result of this? (1) it embarrassed me to no end as I had recommended them to the company owner (2) they would never get work from that company again (3) they would never get any work from me again and (4) they would not get a reference from either of us for other jobs.I see this type of thing all the time in the fitness biz, and it’s not limited to fitness models. Amazingly, a few weeks after the show they emailed me and the company owner wanting to know when their next job would be! Amazing…Who loves you baby?If there is one universal truth, it’s that the camera either loves you or it does not. Any professional photographers will tell you this. For some unknown reason, some people are very photogenic and some are not. Truth be known, there are some well known fitness models (who shall remain nameless as they would probably smack me the next time they saw me) who are not all that attractive in person. It’s just that the camera loves them and they are very photogenic, but not terribly pretty in person.Conversely, I have seen the reverse many times; a girl who is much better looking in person than in photographs. Such is the fate of the person who wants to be a model of any kind, including a fitness model. If you find you are not very photogenic, keep working with different photographers until you find one that really captures you well and pay that photographer handsomely!Now, to be bluntly honest, there are also some want to be fitness models who are not “unphotogenic”, they’re just “fugly”! There are some people out there who have no business trying to be fitness models. It does not make them bad people, it just means they need to snap out of their delusions and find a profession they are better suited for, like radio personality….”How do I get in the magazines?”This section sort of incorporates everything I have covered above, and adds in a few additional strategies. For example, as I mentioned before, competing in fitness shows and or figure/bikini shows can increase your exposure, thus getting the attention of some magazine publisher or photographer. Networking correctly at the various trade shows may also have the same effect, and of course having a good portfolio done by a photographer that really captures your look, a good web site, etc., will all increase your potential for getting into the magazines, or getting ad work, and so on.However, all of these strategies are still somewhat passive versus active in my opinion. It’s still the fitness model waiting to be “discovered.” As far as I am concerned, waiting is for bus stops and pregnancy tests. Success waits for no man…or woman as the case me be. So, after all the above advice is taken into consideration as having an added effect to getting you magazine coverage, what else can be done?For one thing, you should read and be familiar with all the magazines you want to be in so you know who is who and what the style of the different magazines are. I can tell you right now, if say the Editor-in-Chief of a good sized fitness or bodybuilding publications and says “hi, I am the Bob Smith what’s your name?” and the fitness model has no idea who Bob Smith is, Bob will not take kindly to that. Why should he? You should know who the major players are in the publications you want to be seen in. He is doing you the favor, not the other way around. You should know who the major players are and actively seek them out, don’t wait for them to “discover” you.

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If you look at the masthead inside any magazine, it will tell you who the publisher is, who the Editor-in-Chief is and so forth. The mailing address for that magazine, and often the web site and email, can also be found. What is to stop you from looking up those names and mailing them your pictures and resume directly? Nothing, that’s what. If you see a photo spread you think is really well done, what is to stop you from finding out who the photographer is and contacting them directly and sending them your pics? Nothing, that’s what.My point being, you want a get a break in the business, make the break, don’t sit there thinking it’s looking for you, because it’s not. Be proactive, not reactive! Luck is the residue of design. Be successful by design. As my older brother used to say to me as a kid when I told him I was too scared to ask out a pretty girl “what’s the worst that can happen Will? All she can say is no.” That’s the worst that can happen to you also.Beware of web idiots, schlubs, morons, perverts, scum bags, and sleazoids!This part is sort of self-explanatory but worth mentioning. As with all industries that deal in entertainment based media (e.g., television, theater, modeling, etc.), the fitness industry attracts its far share of web idiots, schlubs, morons, perverts, scum bags, and sleazoids, to name just a few.There is also the class of person known as the schmoe, but we will leave that for another place and time. Point is you want to meet the right people while not getting involved with that group of worthless types who will only drag you down, delay you, or just flat out screw you up and over.For example, a guy comes up and says he wants to “shoot you” for the magazines, but what do you really know of this guy? He has a camera and some business cards, so that makes him a photographer right? Wrong! If someone want to shoot you and they are not a well-known name (and you should know who the well known photographers are because you researched that already!), find out who they are. Do they have references you can call? Girls you can contact he has shot before and were happy with the work? What magazines has he published in? Does he do it professionally or as a hobby? That type of thing.Another thing I see is the big web scam. I’m amazed how many girls get scammed by these web idiots. Lesson here is you get what you pay for, so when some person wants to build you a web site for free, you are getting what you pay for. Yes, there is good money to be made on the ‘net, and the net can be great for marketing yourself and making contacts, but most of it’s a scam.You are better off paying a good web designer and web master who has experience with other fitness model types and has references you can talk to. I can’t tell you the number of girls who have been screwed over by some internet thing that went to hell, like the “fan” who volunteers to build a free web site and either runs off with any money made from the site or puts their picks on porn sites and any number of other things that made them regret like hell ever agreeing to the site in the first place.Clearly, I can’t go down the list of all the possible pitfalls of the web idiots, schlubs, morons, perverts, scum bags, and sleazoids out there to be found in the entertainment business, but you get the idea. Be careful!Conclusion.Well that pretty much concludes my down and dirty guide to the basics of “making it” as a fitness model. Of course there are tons of business related issues I could cover and tricks I could give, but the above is the best advice you are going to find in s small space and will do more for you-if properly followed-than you may realize.Good luck and see you in the magazines!More articles like this at:FIGURE/FITNESS MARKETING EXPLAINED

The 7 Pillars of Branding

September 13, 2016

Although the question of branding has always been essential part of marketing and has been approached with multi-dimension models, sometimes these studies have been made without systematic approach or with full of redundancy or ad-hoc views. Unlike marketing which has the widely-known and usable, practical 7P-model, branding still misses such a sort of basic structure which makes the skeleton of all branding story.Here I am making an outline of such a simplified model to help people in successfully designing brands and also to better understanding the already existing ones. I collected 7 layers of the branding with 7 different tasks to be completed in everyday actions. I hope this can be useful for the readers, too.Right before entering this syllabus, we need to define what brand and branding is: in our view brand is a vision that is related to a specific company, product or any specific entity which lives in people and materializes to them. Branding is the art of deliberate control over the whole process.First pillar: Publicly knownA brand always defines a smaller or bigger group of people who are somehow aware of the product or the service in question. This is the prerequisite or trivial condition of all brands: if you are the only one who knows a specific service or uses a specific product and no information is publicized, the service or product is unable to evolve into a brand. This is the primary task of all marketing efforts, making our specific product or service (along with its whole branding costume) widely known on the addressed market: the majority of the marketing budget is used for this purpose. At this point we normally pay attention to the details of the publicity of all brands: target segment(s), its content, geographic, demography, media, communication methods, timing etc.Task 1: design and make your publicityHowever, the fame of a product or service is not exclusively based on the publicity gained (mostly depending on the money available for promoting the brand) via frontal, push-type of promotion. Money spent on communications is a very important factor to reach the second stage of publicity: the people involved in the communications flow will probably share the information with each other and start a – sometimes very simple and few words – discussion about the product or service heard. The act of sharing the information with each other happens or has happened with all known brands. Suggestions, opinions made in public are very important in articulating brand and thus creating or strengthening/weakening brands. This is why the importance of Facebook in contemporary marketing cannot be overestimated enough, or, with similar effect, the customer service/problem handling has always been focal point of customer satisfaction and branding, too.The publicity of branding therefore incorporates all means of sharing the information related to a specific brand or service. There are two basic type of publicities: there is of course the strictly controlled information sharing method (typically: marketing communications) and we also have to face a second publicity, the huge uncontrolled means of communication. When we are thinking on designing a new brand or just examining an existing one, we have to enlist all the ways how the specific brand gains publicity and sort them by relevance with regards to the public coverage and effect, making special attention to the uncontrolled ways of publicity.The success of controlling publicity is a key to profit from branding, however, public control will never mean information monopoly over the media and over the outcome: even situations when a company has theoretically 100% control over the situation (e.g. customer care desk at the office or shop), it is always a challenge to control what is exactly happening there, what is going to be told or heard. Thus, from micro to macro level the publicity always carries a huge uncertainty factor with regards to reach, direct effect and future implications.Second pillar: Associative and narrative – stories aroundThe discussions initiated and information shared publicly about a brand (or a branded product or service) would show up the next major characteristic of brands, that is, the power of the coupling or association related to the branded products or services. In other words, branding means that we create stories around a brand. Brand identity or personality, brand vision, brand promise are the official stories reflecting the narrative of a generic brand on different levels. Marketing creative planning is exactly doing the same around a specific product of a brand (e.g. ‘The environment friendly Toyota Prius’ as a story), while general brand stories (I mean the Toyota brand in the example) or associations are on higher level only. We therefore have to consider several layers of brand stories or narratives when examining them. It is very useful when these stories are consistent and formed professionally and are not contradicting to each other.

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Brands are incorporating many stories and ideas not just from individual products and services determined by the company but stories and ideas also coming from the public. Unfortunately – as we mentioned above – we cannot control the majority of the perceptions of our brand. Individual opinions, perceived qualities, good or bad experiences are building the narrative universe, or more simply, the stories of a brand.Task 2: define and drive brand storiesNotwithstanding the above, we can drive these brand stories and narrow them to the desired ones on at least two-three different areas. The mission statement of a company/organization is the very source of official brand stories and determines the branding direction via its written values and operational reasons. Secondly, the slogan or the tagline of a brand (like LG’s Life’s Good) is meant to embody the driving narrative story and works like a magnet: collects all the associations around a brand. The third layer of story comes along with specific products or services: repeating the slogans, taglines while inserting the logo of the brand on individual products/services makes the specific product or service painted with the general brand’s associations and qualities. The individual story of a product or service is like a topping on the branding cake. Pure brand campaigns on the other hand are always aiming outlining and fixing the desired main stories and narratives of qualities in the customers.Controlling publicity cannot be done without controlling the stories attached to a specific brand and seems the major task of all branding and communications managers. Here, we have to highlight a related issue which behaves like the blind spot of the branding: rebranding. Rebranding campaigns are to change the very basic story of a brand. This is the reason why these campaigns fail many times and real rebranding is a very seldom event.Third pillar: Concrete and multiplicative formIn real life we always give tangible forms to brands because we want to make profit from our money spent. Brand without concrete product/service to buy (or without a related person when we talk about personal brands) is useless or just a promise (like the newly planned Jolla mobile OS with only a demo video). The embodiment of a Brand is an essential part of its very nature.Normally we use the power of a general Brand Name for many individual products. An already existing brand hands over its potentials (its stories of qualities, usage, value etc.) to specific, individual products and even when we see a new product of an already known brand we are already having a presupposition or sense of certain expectations towards the brand new product. A VW car is perceived for many as a reliable one; however, it may happen that a much lower quality is introduced in a new model than what the brand had fulfilled at its predecessors.Task 3: make several appearances to utilize brand powerMost times we may say that a brand is transferred into several products and therefore it is multiplicative. It is very seldom that an earned reputation of a brand represented in only one product or service. For example the perfume 4711 seems to be transferred only into one product for a long time, but the brand’s product portfolio today consists of more than one item: after shave or even shower gel is also produced. Start-ups typically own only one product and normally the first product is the one that determines and forms the brand later on. Initially, the brand is typically built upon on only one product or service and this is why it is very sensitive when entering a market with a new company and a new product: it also determines the future brand and products the company assessed with.Personal brands, seen superficially, are not multiplicative: a person who has double face (see politicians) and therefore not able to form a consistent and concrete personal brand, are subject to lose their reputation and their face rapidly. This is because brands can have only one concrete (credible) story, without major contradictions. The multiplicative nature of personal brands should be investigated from another perspective. In case we regard a person’s appearances in public as concretizations and multiplications of his/her brand, we are closer to the truth and we understand better why celebrities and politicians are so keen on public appearances.Fourth pillar: Unique propositionThe history of branding is stemming from the wish of making a producer’s goods identifiable. This is not just to ensure the identity of goods but also to prevent from copying and forgery. The brands around us are still carrying these old attributes: the logo of the company/brand is expressing the uniqueness of a brand (supported by law as trade marks) and helps us to identify a specific brand in the universe of brands and signs.Sometimes it is very hard to make distinction based on the products/services alone: Pepsi and its rivals put in a neutral glass next to each other are unidentifiable, so the use of branding techniques is crucial for gaining profit for both companies. Just like in the cola case, the technological industry also heavily relies on the branding when selling its products or services: PCs, laptops, smart phones or internet accesses are very similar to each other. Or, a tax advisory service consultant firm is facing real challenges to provide specific brand vision.Task 4: find and use the means of brand differentiationsThe unique proposition of the brands has to be built up and shown for the public: the individual logos of brands on devices for example help the company to make distinction from their competitors and help the customers to identify different market players in order to make a personal choice of preference. Most times companies heavily rely on the unique brand distinguishers, like stories about their unique market segment, tailor-made products, additional services they provide etc. Sometimes, when stories among a group of competitors are very similar or compatible (like the Big Four Auditors) and even their service is similar, a common story may evolve around them focusing on more the similarity and indirectly expressing the exclusivity of the group members.Fifth pillar: ValueWhen we identify a brand on its telltale signs (e.g. design) or logo we do not think on what we see first (the product itself) but rather we focus on the brand value represented by the specific product or service. We may say (even without seeing the product) that if you are having Martin Logan stereo speakers that is very cool, but if you are having Philips that is not so awesome. Different brands represent different values: there are low-end and high-end brands with many in between. Start-up companies have to position their brand value on the axis predetermined by the existing market players. Making decision on positioning the companies’ services or products on the lower or higher end of this axis has nothing to do with ethical values: a low-end, cheap car helps many disabled or poor people without doubt. Rather, making the choice of brand values determine the market we are about to target. And this target market decision affects our business outlooks directly. When Toyota launched it Lexus series and decided to focus on the higher end cars they probably considered the higher profit option.The value of a brand is also expressed in a more measurable way. In general ledgers brands are valued as a part of the company’s goodwill and are very sensitive for new product introductions and for amortization, too. From financial point of view brands regarded as assets that have been created due to investment and are also subject to lose or increase their values.Task 5: define and carry brand valuesThe value of a brand emanates into individual products of a company and the value of the sold products affects the value of the brands. More surprisingly, the value of a brand may transfer over the buyer persona influencing the perceived value of a person in a certain group of people (see Apple fan-effect) while the network-effect of the public also modifies the brand value (exclusivity, limited models are also able to increase brand value).The relative price of a product or the whole branded portfolio both has very special connection with the brand value: the higher the price positioned the harder to imagine low brand value. This is because the narrative of the price (see Second pillar) influences the brand value. Other narratives of a brand (how durable it is, for instance, or which celebrities are using this brand) heavily effect the brand value, too. Similarly, the extent of public spread (see First pillar – how much the brand is known, how much spent on advertising) also effects the brand value.Brand value is determined by several other factors even not listed here. It is partly the result of deliberate actions of the company (market positioning of the brand and its products) but also exposed to external factors (like time) and public opinion.( LG’s rebranding from the low-end Goldstar brand to the higher positioned LG showed that value propositions of a brand require efforts in both areas. Grundig made the opposite U-turn when sold to Chinese company.)

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Sixth pillar: personal relationAll the pillars encountered previously are summoning on personal level because the nature and the definition of branding 100% relates to human feelings and perceptions. Most cases we can translate this personal effect and feelings to perceived brand values and the position of a brand in the customers’ head. People know or do not know, like or dislike brands, become haters or fans of brands, recommend or just accept certain brands.Task 6: turn personal relation to actionAs a result, this personal disposition of a brand clearly ends up in the relation to the act of buying. We, marketing professionals should not deny the aboriginal intention of our branding efforts to influence buying decisions on personal level. We are not just simply influencing people in business for the sake of general human aims: we do not want world peace; we do want to have our specific products and services sold. We want to convince John or Clair Smith as individual customers to select our service or product. This is the action we – or more generally: the investors – expect from any investments (including brand campaigns) made.Fortunately we not all live in the business sector, not all follow business aims (i.e. sales) in our lives. Surprisingly, non-profit organizations are not so much different from business ventures from this point of view. Non-profits also want to have a specific action to be reached: an action that is maybe appearing directly (like giving donation for starving people) but can be mental action or change to be targeted (for instance diversity campaigns).The personal relation to a branded entity can be outlined in a matrix where on the first axis we can define the readiness or probability of buying action (or in a non-profit: readiness for action) and on the second axis we may highlight the level of brand’s emotional acceptance.The personal relation to a specific brand with regards to the ultimate sales reason can be mapped as shown, but we should not forget that personal emotions and relations to brands are much wider than presented above: some people feel that their beloved brand is expressing also their way of life, involving several other actions well beyond a simple shopping; or just feeling neutral about a brand while the person is not going to be represented in any commercial situation (like myself with any hunting brands, although I know some of them).We should therefore identify very precisely the personal relations to our brand of our existing and potential customers and we should make focused actions to harvest the branding efforts we have previously made.Seventh pillar: Exposure to timeWe have already mentioned before the amortization as an important factor in brand values. The simple reason of amortization is that the brands (via materialized products/services) and the customers live in time.The general life exposure to time factor represented in concrete shapes with regards to brand itself and to its specific products/services. (Amortization is only the result of that process.) Brand perception very much effected by the products/services in timeline (e.g. how much up-to-date the product is reflects the brand’s state-of-the-art nature) and on the other hand the brand itself (without looking at individual products) also has an individual character which has its own life-cycle (how old a brand is, what type of products they represent).Task 7: Consider time: plan and replan over timeBrands do not last for ever and are changing over time, even without deliberate actions. Amortization expresses the time-factor in economic terms but all the pillars mentioned before has a time layer. The repeated actions of marketing campaigns, the product developments or changes in market environments change the face of the brand even if it is not perceived by the company. The sad story of Nokia is a perfect example of how this specific brand was effected by the time factor in all possible way, from the publicity of its phones (a complete new generation has skipped Nokia phones), through the changes in the narratives attached to the brand, with the refreshed need to be unique again to the sharp decline of the brand value.

School Security – Reviewing Your Options

September 26, 2016

University, College and School SecurityFirst, our heart goes out to the family, friends and my niece at Virginia Tech.Consultant vs. SalespersonWhen you have a security related problem, where do you go for answers? Many people turn to a security salesperson. This salesperson may offer a service like security guards or a product like security alarms. To receive total security protection, it is best to speak with a security consultant and not a security salesperson. A consultant can advise you in all areas, where a salesperson can only advise you on products or services their company offers.ConsultantA security consultant is a person trained in many areas from communications to alarms. They can review, advise and provide solutions to many problems. If you have a security problem, you first need to speak with a security expert. After you receive options, then you can seek out a security salesperson that meets your requirements. Never go to a salesperson first. This is where 99% of the public makes a mistake. If you want to buy a car, would you talk with a tire salesperson?A consultant will visit your location, conduct a detailed inspection and create a full report on their findings. Such a report might include things like employee habits, ease of access, landscaping problems, communication weakness, visual needs, and much more.To get the full picture of your security needs and solutions to correct problems, you need an expert in many areas. A security consultant can provide you with options and sources to meet your requirements.Consultants may also review details like placement of camera’s, types and needs for lighting or security film on glass. They can also review things like emails related to threats, student interaction and area warning systems.A consultant will promote their background and your needs in all areas, where a salesperson will only promote their product or service as related to one or two areas.Salespeople are Not ConsultantsSecurity SalespersonA security salesperson is a person which offers a product or service that their company sells. Many times, this is the extent of their job. Some salespeople are just starting in the business and lack the knowledge. Some salespeople have been in the business and have a limited amount of knowledge. Then you may encounter the expert salesperson. This type of salesperson will make you think that their product or service will be the answer to all your problems.Now, we do not want to put down security salespeople, as they do play a major part in the security industry. You as the customer need to understand that a security salesperson may only be able to talk about their product or service. Many states have different requirements for consultants and security salespeople. Ask to see your salesperson’s state security id. If the id says consultant and sales, then they can consult. If it just says sales, then they can just sell.There is no single solution to security at a location. No salesperson should ever advise a customer that their product or service will cure all. Just because you were sold camera’s does not mean a person can not break in a window. Just because you were sold an alarm system does not mean your student’s cars will not be damaged. For good security, you need to look in all directions, not just one or two.There are more security salespeople than are security consultants. Many salespeople try to act like a consultant, but a consultant will not act like a salesperson. A salesperson will sometimes be given a basic level of training, where a consultant may receive years of training in many subjects. A security consultant is many times former military or a former police officer. A security salesperson could have been a golf pro the day before. I have seen all types.Before you risk lives and property, you need to check out your security advisor. Ask your local police department to review the advice given by your security expert. Most of all, understand that good security will require several solutions.Good Luck!P.S.Yes, there is a former golf pro out there selling electronic security system to business sites in our area. So just because they sell it, does not mean they know it. Check them out and forget the business BS they feed you at times.Human ErrorWho is watching? You may have camera’s or guards protecting your site. One of the biggest problems with security is human error. People tend to sleep on the job, play on the job, look the other way or even think an event is not important enough to report. This is wrong and should be corrected.Lives and property are protected by people that make just above a basic wage. Many of these people have limited education and skills. Many of these people do not care about you, your people or your property. Face the facts, these people are there for the paycheck and that’s it.Do you know what a real security expert makes per year? A real security expert makes on the average over $100,000 a year. A real security expert will use their former training to protect you and your property. A security guard makes on the average about $8 per hour or about $8,000 per year. They will use their one day training to protect you and your property.

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Which would you rather have protecting you and your property? Why would you cut cost to protect lives so important to others? Real security will cost. There is an old saying; “You get what you paid for”.ProtectionThe best level of security you can have is to hire off duty police officers to work at or patrol your location. An off duty officer still has full arrest powers and knows how to handle many types of problems. Speak with your local police department for more information.The next option you have is to hire Conservers of the Peace (COP). These are special police officers approved by the court system in your area. The officer has full arrest powers, but is limited to covering a single area. This area can be your site or even a city block.You could use armed security officers. These officers have limited arrest powers. They may be able to arrest if; (a) on your site only, (b) with owners permission, (c) with security company’s permission, (d) approved by the state. This option puts great risk on the property owner for legal damages if things go wrong.Last option is to use an unarmed security officer. This is the worst thing you can do if you are looking for security. An unarmed security officer is acting as a regular person. Many state do not allow them to make an arrest. They are good only for id checks, to open a door or to give someone directions. Many companies will use unarmed security guards because they are cheap. Then the company will complain when they have security related problems. You get what you pay for!Related ProblemsSecurity related problems may include: Lazy people, Sleeping on the job, Looking the other way, Failure to report all events, Tampering with equipment, Stealing from property owners, Giving out secure information, Thinking it’s a joke, Failure to follow SOP, Leaving the site without approval, Unprofessional toward employee’s and guest and much more.GuardsSecurity company’s will enter into a contract with a business or site. The contract may require people to sit at the site and monitor events. The contract does not state how much training a person needs. It does not state how long a person has been in the industry. It does not state how much sleep the person got the night before working. Because many security contracts do not reflect these areas, a security company will put just about anyone on the site.I have seen security guards be interviewed on the spot, be given a reading test, handed a uniform that did not fit and placed on a site to work that night. The security company’s only requirement is to keep the proper number of bodies on a site. They could care less if the person knew anything or not. It’s business and profits to them.If you contract or hire guards, you need to test them. Once a month, you should have someone unknown to them, try to get past the guards and then follow the trail. Did the guard stop the person? Did the guard report the events? Were the proper people notified? Test like this can help imporve your security and force guards to become ready for a real event.Another method you need to use is monitoring. You need to link any camera’s to a private location. This can be your office or the internet. Once every few days, look in on the camera images and then call a guard. Tell them they did a good job checking an id or let them know you were watching and just wanted to say they were doing a good job. This does two things for you. One thing it does is let the guards know you are watching them and the other thing it does is lets them know they are doing things right.Last thing you should do is watch the outside of your building. Many guards think they are out of camera view and will try to do things they should not do. Some will go to their vehicle and sleep, some will meet a friend outside and chat for an hour or so. Other will try to sneak things out or into the building. Watching outside once a week will let you know what is really going on at your location.One company I know had a problem with missing laptops. They advised the guards to check each person with a laptop to see if they had approval to remove it from the building. After a week, the guards relaxed on their duties. The owner then had someone enter the building, pack up all the laptops on one floor and hide them inside the building. When the guards checked the floor, they noticed all the laptops were gone. The owner then advised he was the one whom hid the laptops to prove a point. After that event, there were no more missing laptops. Sometimes you have to scare the guards into doing their job.InstallersYou may be having an alarm or camera system installed. Do you know if the installer is legal? Many company’s fail to check out their installers. They think the security company has done their job and the person is ok. This is the wrong way to think. This is your building, your security or camera system, your protection against crime, why would you not check out everyone.The state and federal agencies check out everyone connected to the installation or service of their security equipment. They look at the company, the salesperson all the way down to the person pulling the wire. You should do the same thing.When it comes to a security equipment installer, many installers must pass a background check conducted by the state. Once a person is approved by the state to install security equipment, the state will issue them a security id. The installer is required to carry the id anytime they are installing.As the property owner, you can check out to see if the installer is legal or not by asking to see their state security id. They are required by law in many states to show the id when requested by the property owner. If they refuse or give you some lame excuse, then call the police. A police officer can check to see if the person is approved by the state to install security equipment.Now, you may say “Why do I need to check their id?”. Some companies will use unlicensed or unregistrated people to install systems when the workload is high. Others will use illegal contractors to cut cost. Giving out secure information or information related to a customer’s security system, to an unapproved person is against the law in many states.This shady person can get your security code, learn placement of devices, learn when you are there and much more. They may return later to clean you out. Always check to see if the installers are legal. Do not trust the security company’s word. I have seen some top security companies use illegal contractors to install security equipment.The ReviewThe first thing you should do is walk off your property about 20 feet. Turn around and look. You need to make notes as to what you see. Are there trees blocking the view from a police car driving by the site? Are there items laying around that can be used as weapon? Is all the lighting working? What else do you see wrong?Doing things like this is called a security check. This should be done once a week. Keep records of any changes made by your staff.You can start with adjusting shrubs and trees. This is one of the biggest problems. People hide behind them, they have done this for 50 years and will continue to do so in years to come. Do not help them out. Never install a high shrub fence near a doorway. Keep all tree branch’s about 10 feet away from the building.Pick up any items laying around. Have all ladders stored away and secured after being used.Wait until dark and check all outside lights. Look for dark areas near the building and any parking areas. If using camera’s, you may want to install IR spotlights.You want to look at the windows and doors. Are there broken windows? Are doors left open? Are people holding doors open for others? Have locks been improved and are they being used? Is there security film on the windows or glass areas?Look at the parking area. How far does one have to walk to get to their vehicle? Do security officers walk people to their car? Do you offer a mobile security patrol unit to tour the outside of the building?Do you need to install barriers to direct vehilce or human traffic in another direction.Hidden CamerasAre there strange people sitting around outside watching your building? Are there people using video cameras?Have you conducted a RF video sweep for hidden cameras. Visitor’s and students can install hidden video cameras inside your school and learn when you enter an area. Some students install or even wear hidden cameras to record illegal images of women undressing. Do the sweep, you may be surprised at what you find.A simple wireless video receiver is connected to a small handheld monitor. Walk to an area and tune the receiver from one end to the other, very slowly. Watch the monitor to see if you get a picture. If you get a picture, then use the image to id the location. Do not remove the camera. Wait to see who goes to check the camera. That should be the person whom installed it. Once you id the installer, then you can contact the police.Monitor internet traffic at your school. Many people know about the internet, but there are only a few of us whom remember the newsgroups on the back of the internet. Some students will post threats and other information on these newsgroups. Have your computer expert install a keyword monitoring system. This will alret you when special keywords are used on your computers.Threats by CellphoneStudents have turned to making threats by cellphones. This can be a threat toward another student or to the school. Place signs up that restrict cellphone use while on school property or during main school hours. Talk with students about getting threats by cellphone, let them know you are there to help.There are so many areas outside of a building, that relate to security. Speak with a security consultant for advice.EquipmentThe list of equipment that can be used is very long. On the outside you can install IR Beams to alert you of people walking near a building or use hidden microphone’s to hear someone walking across the grass. You can use motion activated camera’s to see movement or install thermo sensors to pick up a person’s body heat.

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You can look at the option of driveway sensors, air pressure sensors, contact sensors under door mats, grounding sensors on handrails and even use sensors that detect body odor.For the inside, you have camera’s, door contacts, card readers, bio sensors, pressure mats, glass breaks, microphone’s, heat sensors, changing air pressure sensors, motion sensors, IR beams, microwave sensors, RF sensors and many more.Think FirstA security consultant can review your site and provide you with options. We have listed just a few things that may improve security at your school. Each location is different and should be reviewed on it’s own merit. Once you have the list of corrections that are needed, you can then contact a security salesperson in that field.Other areas to consider are computer security, area horns, paging systems, panic button keychains for insturctors, RF taging system for instructors and students location while on the property, cellphone 211 notification system, emergency locking system for inside doors, able to lock classroom doors, security doors or safe rooms, classroom emergency phone system, microphone’s in classroom ceiling, outside emergency video patch for police.You may also want to use an RF remote command control center. This is a wireless unit worn on the arm or held in your hand. You can open doors, view camera’s, lock out card readers, lock doors and more, all from up to 1/4 mile away from the site. It is a system used in some jails to take back control of a command center if taken over by inmates.Always look into and report any person or students that you consider a threat to others. Set up your own security team. Update your SOP to meet today’s students and technology. Spend the money for a consultant. They may save you money in the end. No site, not even a jail is 100% secure. You can only do your best and that is all anyone will ever ask of you. Do not go the cheap route, it may cost someone their life.Read more at http://www.securitytoday.netAbout MeI just wanted to share some of my knowledge with everyone and hope you have learned something. I write a weekly magazine at http://www.securitytoday.net for anyone interested in learning more.Over 15 years in the sales, design, install and service of electronic systems. Background in secure communications, electronic security systems, cctv, matv, card access, fiber optics, Bio systems, fire, professional audio/ video, gate controls, wireless devices, RF uplink/downlink and more.Most recent major position was to repair security systems for 40 locations to include a bridge and 2 tunnels damaged by the attacks of 9/11 in NY/NJ. I was picked out of over 10,000 people for the contract due to high skill level in many areas. This contract was funded by an emergency act of Congress. I then worked to design a new electronic security system to withstand future attacks.I provided supporting design for a $10 million electronic security proposal for British Airways property at JFK airport.I was requested to sit in on the first phase for the restructure of nationwide airport electronic security, under a new TSA contract with Lockheed Martin in Virginia, USA.I have been a major installer on high security jails in Virginia.I have built a broadcast station for the US President at a military post and linked it back to the White House.I installed a broadcast TV station for the US Coast Guard in NC, USA.I was former communications coordinator for World Cup Soccer ’94 in Florida and before that I was a Secure Communications Expert with the US Army, teaching and repairing major communication systems.I have several awards from the US Pentagon and the military for new inventions.I am willing to work under contract with your site to review your need of electronic system improvements.I am CEO of Young Media Group, LLC and produce several publications and video’s related to the electronic security industry and music industry.Visit www.securitytoday.net or www.youngmediagroup.net [http://www.youngmediagroup.net]

Budget Travel and Hotel Considerations – Travel Industry Making Changes To Compete For Consumers

October 20, 2016

If you are like most Americans, you having difficulty saving money while prices are rapidly increasing; things like college tuition, food and fuel. So, when it comes to traveling you are looking to shave off costs and find ways to travel on a budget, and well, no one can blame you for that. What you may not be aware of or have not considered is that in the travel business; everything from airlines and rent-a-cars to tourist destinations and hotels are trying to find better ways to accommodate the budget traveler.

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For instance, many airlines have had their fuel prices boosted to record costs and many family budget and business travel hotels are making changes in management and in their operations. Recently, Choice Hotels named a new COO and President; Stephen P. Joyce, 48. Additionally they named a new Executive VP of Global Branding. Why, because they know that they must hold their American clientele and find ways to cut costs, while still attracting their overseas travelers who are paying in high valued currencies.There are many ways to cut costs in traveling and staying on a budget and hotels, rental car agencies and airlines are working very hard to compete for fewer travelers with fewer dollars, while still retaining a profit. Easier said than done, especially when jet fuel has almost tripled in cost since 2000 and recently the number of families traveling on vacation is being cut by a good 35% this summer, all due to cash strapped consumers, credit crisis and outrageous fuel costs. Airline Industry analysts are predicting one or maybe two major airlines filing bankruptcy in 2009 and some hotel chains have pulled back construction of new hotels in many locations.

Energy Explained Simply

October 7, 2016

Energy, it is fair to say, is a very vague concept. So where does one go to learn more? Does one have to take a physics course? I don’t think so, and to test my theory, I have tried to explain energy as briefly as I can, right here.Energy 101Energy is what makes the world go round. Literally. Every neuron that sparks in your brain, every electron that fires down a wire, every molecule burning in a fire, carries with it a sort of momentum that it passes on like a baton in a complex relay race. The batons are flooding in all directions all around us and across the universe – they are energy and we have learned how to harness them.The actual word “Energy” is a much abused term nowadays – because energy is used to represent such a disparate range of phenomena from heat to light to speed to weight, and because it seems to be able to change forms so readily, it is cannon fodder for pseudo-scientific and spiritual interpretation. However, you will be pleased to hear that it actually has a very clear (and consistent) nature.I like to think of energy being a bit like money – it is a sort of currency that can be traded. It takes on various forms (dollars/pounds/Swiss francs) and can be eventually cashed in to achieve something. However, just like money, once spent, it does not vanish. It simply moves on a new chapter in its life and may be reused indefinitely.To illustrate the point, let’s follow a ‘unit of energy’ through a visit to planet Earth to see what I mean. The [number] shows every time it changes currency (see the key below).The energy in our story starts off tied up in hydrogen atoms in the sun [1]. Suddenly, due to the immense pressure and heat, the nuclei of several atoms react to form a brand new helium atom, and a burst of radiation[2] is released. The radiation smashes into other nearby atoms heating them up so hot [4] that they glow, sending light [2] off into space. Several minutes pass in silence before the light bursts through the atmosphere and plunges down to the rainforest hitting a leaf. In the leaf the burst of power smashes a molecule of carbon dioxide and helps free the carbon to make food for the plant [3]. The plant may be eaten (giving food ‘Calories’), or may fall to the ground and settle and age for millions of years turning perhaps to coal. That coal may be dug up and burned to give heat [4] in a power station, boiling water to supply compressed steam [5] that may drive a turbine [6] which may be used to generate electricity [7] which we may then use in our homes to heat/light/move/cook or perhaps to recharge our mobile phone [3]. That energy will then be used to transmit microwaves when you make a call [2] which will mostly dissipate into the environment heating it (very) slightly [4]. Eventually the warmed earth radiates [2] this excess of heat off into the void where perhaps it will have another life…Energy currencies:[1] Matter is energy, according the Einstein, and the quantity relates to mass according to E=mc^2 (c is a constant equal to the speed of light).[2] Radiation (like sunlight) is a flow of energy, and energy content relates the frequency according to E=hf (h is the Planck constant).[3] Chemical energy – the most complex energy, a mixture of different tensions in nuclear and electromagnetic force fields.[4] Thermal (heat) energy- this is really just a sneaky form of kinetic energy [6 below] – small particles moving and vibrating fast are sensed by us as heat.[5] Compression (or tension) energy – while compressed air is again a sneaky form of kinetic energy[6], a compressed spring is different – it’s energy is more like chemical energy and is stored by creating tension in the force fields present in nature (gravity, electromagnetism and nuclear forces).

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[6] Kinetic energy – is energy by virtue of movement (like a speeding bullet or unstoppable train)[7] Electrical energy – this energy, like a compressed spring, is stored as stress in force fields, in this case electromagnetic force-fields.This short story is testament to an enormous quantity of learning by our species, but there are some clear exclusions to be read into the story: Energy fields (auras) or the energy lines in the body that conduct the “chi” (or life force) of Asian medical tradition
Energy lines on the Earth (aka Ley lines)
Negative or positive energy (as in positive or negative “vibes”)These energy currencies relate to theories and beliefs that science has been unable to verify and thus they have no known “exchange rate”. Asking how many light bulbs can you power with your Chi is thus a nonsensical question, whereas it would not be for any scientifically supported form of energy. And since energy flows account for all actions in the universe, not being exchangeable would be rather limiting.Where exactly is Energy kept?This may sound like s strange question, we know Energy is kept in batteries, petrol tanks and chocolate chip cookies. But the question is, where exactly is it stored in those things?Energy is stored in several ways:as movement – any mass moving has energy by virtue of the movement, which is called Kinetic Energy
as matter – Einstein figured out that matter is just a form of energy, and the exchange rate is amazing – 1g = 90,000,000,000,000,000 joules (from E=mc^2)
as tension in force fieldsThat last one sounds a bit cryptic, but actually most of the energy we use is in this form – petrol, food, batteries and even a raised hammer all store energy in what are essentially compressed (or stretched springs).What is a force field? Why on earth did I have to bring that up?All of space (even the interstellar vacuum) is permeated by force fields. The one we all know best is gravity – we know that if we lift a weight, we have to exert effort and that effort is then stored in that weight and can be recovered later by dropping it on your foot.Gravity is only one of several force fields known to science. Magnetic fields are very similar – it takes energy to pull a magnet off the fridge, and so it is actually an energy store when kept away from the fridge.The next force field is that created by electric charge (the electric field). For many years this was though to be a field all on its own but a chap called James Clerk Maxwell realised that electric fields and magnetic fields are in some senses two sides of the same coin, so physicists now talk of ‘electromagnetic’ fields. It turns out that electric energy (such as that stored in a capacitor) consists of tensions in this field, much like a raised weight is a tension in a gravity field. Perhaps surprisingly, light (as well as radio waves, microwaves and x-rays) are also energy stored in fluctuations of an energy field.Much chemical energy is also stored in electric fields – for example, most atoms consist of positively charged nuclei and negatively charged electrons, and the further apart they are kept, the more energy they hold, just liked raised weights. As an electron is allowed to get closer to the nucleus, energy is released (generally as radiation, such as light – thus hot things glow).The least well known force field is the strong ‘nuclear’ force. This is the forces that holds the subatomic particles (protons) together in the nucleus of atoms. Since the protons are all positively charged, they should want to repel each other, but something is keeping them at bay, and so physicists have inferred this force field must exist. It turns out their theory holds water, because if you can drag these protons a little bit apart, they will suddenly fly off with gusto. The strong nuclear force turns out to be bloody strong, but only works over a tiny distance. It rarely affects us as we rarely store energy with this energy field.Now we understand force fields we can look at how molecules (petrol, oxygen, chocolate) store energy. All molecules are made of atoms connected to one other via various ‘bonds’ and these bonds are like springs. Different types of molecules have different amount of tension in these bonds – it turns out coal molecules, created millions of years ago with energy from the sun, are crammed full of tense bonds that are dying to re-arrange to more relaxed configurations, which is exactly what happens when we apply oxygen and the little heat to start the reaction.The complexity of the tensions in molecules are perhaps the most amazing in nature, as it is their re-arrangements that fuel life as we know it.What exactly is Heat then?You may have noticed that I did not include heat as a form of energy store above. But surely hot things are an energy store?Yes, they are, but heat is actually just a sort of illusion. We use heat as a catch all term to describe the kinetic energy of the molecules and atoms. If you have a bottle of air, the temperature of the air is a direct consequence of the average speed of the molecules of gas jetting around bashing into one another.As you heat the air, you are actually just increasing the speed of particles. If you compress the air, you may not increase their speed, but you will have more particles in the same volume, which also ‘feels’ hotter.Solids are a little different – the atoms and molecules in solids do not have the freedom to fly around, so instead, they vibrate. It is like each molecule is constrained by elastic bands pulling in all directions. If the molecule is still, it is cold, but if it is bouncing around like a pinball, then it has kinetic energy, and feels hotter.You can see from this viewpoint, that to talk of the temperature of an atom, or of a vacuum, is meaningless, because temperature is a macroscopic property of matter. On the other hand, you could technically argue that a flying bullet is red hot because it has so much kinetic energy…Is Energy Reusable?We as a species, have learned how to tap into flows of energy to get them to do our bidding. So big question: Will we use it all up?Scientists have found that energy is pretty much indestructible – it is never “used-up”, it merely flows from one form into another. The problem is thus not that we will run out, but that we might foolishly convert it all into some unusable form.Electricity is an example of really useful energy – we have machines that convert electricity into almost anything, whereas heat is only useful if you are cold, and light is only useful if you are in the dark.Engineers also talk about the quality (or grade) of energy. An engineer would always prefer 1 litre of water 70 degrees warmer than room temperature, than 70 litres of water 1 degree warmer, even though these contain roughly the same embodied energy. You can use the hot water to boil an egg, or make tea, or you could mix it with 69 litres of room temperature water to heat it all by 1 degree. It is more flexible.Unfortunately, most of the machines we use, turn good energy (electricity, petrol, light) into bad energy (usually “low grade heat”).Why is low grade heat so bad? It turns out we have no decent machine to convert low grade heat into other forms of energy. In fact we cannot technically convert any forms of heat into energy unless we have something cold to hand which we are also willing to warm up; our machines can thus only extract energy by using hot an cold things together. A steam engine relies just as much on the environment that cools and condenses water vapour as it does on the coal its belly. Power stations rely on their cooling towers as much as their furnaces. It turns out that all our heat machines are stuck in this trap.

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So, in summary, heat itself is not useful – it is temperature differences that we know how to harness, and the bigger the better.This picture of energy lets us think differently about how we interact with energy. We have learned a few key facts:Energy is not destroyed, and cannot be totally used up – this should give us hope
Energy is harnessed to do our dirty work, but tends to end up stuck in some ‘hard to use’ formSo all we need to do to save ourselves is:Re-use the same energy over and over
by finding some way to extract energy from low grade heatAlas, this is a harder nut to crack than fission power, so I am not holding my breath. It turns out that there is another annoying universal law (the Second Law of Thermodynamics) that says that every time energy flows, it will somehow become less useful, like water running downhill. This is because energy can only flow one way: from something hot to something cold – thus once something hot and something cold meet and the temperature evens out, you have forever lost the useful energy you had.It is as if we had a mountain range and were using avalanches to drive our engines. Not only will our mountains get shorter over time but our valleys will fill up too, and soon we will live on a flat plane and our engines will be silent.The Big PictureSo the useful energy in the universe is being used up. Should we worry?Yes and no.Yes, you should worry because locally we are running out of easy sources of energy and will now have to start using sustainable ones. If we do not ramp up fast enough we will have catastrophic shortages.No, should should no worry that we will run out, because there are sustainable sources – the sun pumps out so much more than we use, it is virtually limitless.Oh, and yes again – because burning everything is messing up the chemistry of the atmosphere, which is also likely to cause catastrophe. Good news is that the solution to this is the same – most renewable energy sources do not have this unhappy side effect.Oh, and in the really long term, yes we should worry again. All the energy in the universe will eventually convert to heat, and the heat will probably spread evenly throughout the universe, and even though all the energy will still be present and accounted for, it would be impossible to use and the universe would basically stop. Pretty dismal, but this is what many physicists believe: we all exist in the eddy currents of heat flows as the universe gradually heads for a luke-warm, and dead, equilibrium.=============If you liked this article, you might like my series on efficient motoring.

Shifting to Industrial Goods – How to Make it Hassle Free

September 18, 2016

Shifting of Industrial merchandise or goods to new location is not an easy task. It is quite different from office relocation or household shifting. During the process you may need the latest technology for packing, loading, unloading and unpacking. You need to be very careful during the shifting process as even a small mistake can cause huge damage. But this risky task can be made easier by following some of the following tips. It will help you to move the finished products or industrial merchandise in safe and secure way.Plan before you Move- Before moving any goods to new location you have to make planning. It is one of the most important task which will surly else the moving process. As we all known that moving of industrial goods or business to new location is different from household shifting. You have to do it in a time frame so that you get back to your work without losing much time and money.

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Packing Process – Should Be Done Professionally- Packing of goods should be done in a proper way. It should meet the standard at the same time else your relocation process. You can to pack the heavy machinery items, containers, boxes, etc which takes lots of time. So it is better to hire professional and reputed packers movers. This will not only else the packing and relocation process but at the same time helps you to move the valuable goods in safe and secure way.- Ask the packers or the professional to use high quality packing material. You presence during the packing is very important as it will let the packers to add more effort in packing of the machinery items, fragile goods, furniture and finished product with utmost care.Hire Professional Moving Company- Relocation of goods is not an easy job, especially when it is industrial or corporate moving. Entire belongings have to be moved, in proper way as every single goods are important. For this process hiring the professional moving company can prove to be very fruitful.- Reputed movers can make the shifting easier, smooth and hassle free. They have team of expert professional who do the entire packing, loading, unloading and transportation taking utmost care of each and every single goods.Transportation Lorry- Should be appropriate and specially designed- Once the process of packing gets over, you have to transport it in a final location. For this you need appropriate transportation lorry which will help you in moving the merchandise in safe and comfortable way.

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- Most of the packers movers company provide goods carrier and transportation services. Make sure that you advice them to provide appropriate lorry for moving the industrial products to new location.What you need to do after reaching the Final Location?- Once the goods reach the final location, don’t start unloading the goods. First take the staff members of the moving agency to the place, where merchandise has to be placed. Advice them and they start unloading the goods. Your presence during the unloading is very important and rest of the work will be carefully done by the packers.These are some of the tips that you need to consider before moving industrial or corporate goods to new location. It will surely help you in shifting and the relocation process of corporate and industrial goods in safe and secure way.

What Makes Horse Riding Different From Any Other Sport?

August 24, 2016

So, what’s the big deal with horse riding? Why do so many claim that it is so much different from any other sport? If you’ve never ridden or been around horses, questions like these are probably running through your mind. Don’t worry, you are not alone.Read on to find out what you have been missing… There’s Just Something About Working With a Horse:
Perhaps the best part of horse riding is the interaction that the rider has with his or her horse. Unlike spending time with a cat or a dog, interacting with a horse tends to feel very different; when people are riding they get the distinct feeling that this is not their pet, but instead their partner.

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Also, the fact that we build these partnerships with an animal that is undoubtedly much bigger and stronger than we are can be intimidating at first, but then becomes just another wonderful aspect of the sport.In fact, the teamwork aspect of riding a horse plays a significant role in making this sport so different. In addition to having to work with their horse, riders have to have a positive relationship with a variety of individuals that help both them and their horses moving forward, an aspect of the sport that brings us to the next unique characteristic about horse riding. Teamwork Is The Name of The Game:
While mainstream sports also require teamwork, horse riding could be considered to require the most teamwork of any sport out there. Although riding per se is not usually a team sport, as most riders compete individually, the amount of people it takes to keep a horse healthy and ready for competition is astounding. Most riders will have a farrier, vet, barn owner, and trainer to work with in order to keep their horse in the best shape possible and riders are also especially concerned about pampering and keeping their horses happy, too. For this reason, horse riding creates a unique team atmosphere. Not Just a Sport:
For most riders, the experience isn’t just about participating in the sport, winning competitions or getting the job done. The majority of horse riders end up spending numerous hours at the barn or stables; a rider’s relationship with his or her horse is often significant.

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When it comes to trying to demystify the lure of horse riding, a rider’s relationship with their horse is the biggest difference between horse riding and other sports.Last, but not least, the sport of horse riding is surrounded by a strong community of individuals that share the same passion. For this reason, the sport of horse riding has a supportive and unique atmosphere that welcomes anyone, young or old, looking to get started in the sport.

Modern Electronic Gadgets and Their Advantages

August 22, 2016

Today, no one can imagine a life without the electronic gadgets. These gadgets have so many uses and perform several functions. Often these gadgets are available in different and latest designs. There is a wide variety of gadgets including smart phones, music players, home appliances and more. These gadgets work with technology and are quick in their working. Most of them are easy to use and clean. The ease of using these gadgets, make us dependent on them. Most of the times, we feel helpless without these gadgets.Some indispensable home appliances include fans, Air conditioners, vacuum cleaners and more, without which we cannot imagine our lives today. With the advancement in technology, several new gadgets have entered into the market, which has made human being’s work much easier than before. Owing to this, modern gadgets have become a part and parcel of our lives and we can’t think of living without them for even a day.

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Benefits of Modern GadgetsThere are endless benefits that a gadget can offer to us. Usually gadgets are compact in size and can be easily brought at home. For example a coffee machine has a compact design which can fit any kitchen space. Moreover it also helps you make a number of coffee cups in minutes without having to stand. There are several other gadgets which also perform great and are designed to assist people and make their work easier.Where to shop for Modern GadgetsYou can shop great electronic gadget at online stores. The online stores usually offer a wide variety of electronic gadgets as compared to the local stores. The price online is also less as compared to the retail stores and you can save a lot of money. Besides saving a lot of money you also save time as you can simply order your gadgets online and instantly move to other important things.Gadgets reviews are available onlineBefore buying a gadget online you should do an online research first. You should read about the product reviews before purchasing it online. Various online websites offer reviews on the latest gadgets available. Exact product description and specifications are mentioned on the website which let the customers know about the product and make a wise choice.How to shop online for Modern GadgetsOnline shopping is a very easy process. You just need to browse a website to look for a gadget you require. Enter the name of the gadget into the search engine you will see a list of gadgets stores that sell gadgets. Every store has a different selection of the gadgets. You should look at different gadget stores before making a choice.Convenience in online shoppingOnline shopping is a convenient option when it comes to buying electronic gadgets. You can make a research by browsing different online electronic stores. All kinds of gadgets are available online at very low prices. You can easily compare prices offered by different online gadget stores. The advance innovation of search engine lets you check prices and compare with just a few clicks. Moreover, online stores also give you the freedom to determine which online store offers the best quality gadget at the most affordable item.

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Online shopping has become a popular shopping method ever since the internet users have increased. There are a number of customers looking for convenient online shopping ways and online shopping gives you an easy access to a wide variety of gadgets. There is a reason why online stores are becoming popular these days and improving every single day. Advantages of online shopping are an additional knowledge for all the online shoppers that are useful before shopping online.