Nelson Mandela casts his vote

first_img22 April 2009 Voting came to a temporary halt at the Killarney Country Club in Houghton, Johannesburg as South Africa’s favourite citizen, former president Nelson Mandela, cast his vote in the country’s 2009 general elections. Wearing his famous Madiba shirt in a bright yellow, and a black overcoat to ward off the morning chill – with his trademark 46664 Aids awareness badge pinned to it – Mandela walked into the voting station with the help of his cane, assisted by Gauteng Premier Paul Mashatile. Over 100 journalists, photographers and voters witnessed as he cast his vote in the presence of Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) chairperson Brigalia Bam. After casting his vote, Mandela cast a glorious smile and waved at the cheering crowd. Mandela, now 90 years old, could have qualified for a special vote on Monday or Tuesday, but chose to brave Wednesday’s chilly weather to make his mark, an inspiration to all citizens that if he could do it, so could they.Jacob Zuma’s daughters Meanwhile, outside the voting station, a queue of hundreds of voters snaked its way around the block. Among those present at the venue were African National Congress (ANC) president Jacob Zuma’s daughters, Duduzile and Phumzile. “It feels fantastic to witness Madiba casting his vote,” said Duduzile, who voted earlier that morning at the Holy Family Convent – where former president Thabo Mbeki also voted. Duduzile joked that her sister Phumzile, 22, who was a first-time voter, couldn’t find the ANC block on her ballot. “She could not recognise her own father,” laughed Duduzile. Speaking to BuaNews after Madiba had cast his vote, Bam said that initial reports were that the voting process was going “amazingly well” countrywide. At some voting stations, she said, voters had started queuing from before dawn. Bam said the IEC expected as many as 20-million South Africans to visit the polling stations countrywide before they closed at 9pm. Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

Turning LP Personnel into Retail Business Professionals

first_imgEDITOR’S NOTE: Samuel J. Rowell is vice president of loss prevention for Pep Boys. His department is responsible for the development of shortage reduction programs, internal and external investigations, store auditing, background clearance, and the company’s employee awareness program. Rowell has been in retail loss prevention for over 30 years. He joined Pep Boys from Marshall Department Stores, where he was regional manager of investigations. Previously, he held other regional management positions at both Neiman Marcus and The Broadway Stores. Rowell is active in promoting the loss prevention industry. He is vice chairman of the LP council of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). Rowell was recently appointed to the board of the Loss Prevention Certification Council. He is also on the editorial board for LP Magazine and has published articles in this magazine as well as Integrated Solutions for Retailers.- Sponsor – EDITOR: Lets start off with the question on everyones mind. Just who are Manny, Moe, and Jack?ROWELL: They are the true founding fathers of this company. People may think that theyre not real people, but they are. They established the company almost eighty years ago as the neighborhood place to shop for automotive parts, and its grown into the company today with 593 stores and 6,000 service bays in thirty-seven states with 2.2-billion dollars in sales.EDITOR: While you are a vice president of loss prevention today, you started out at an entry-level position. Describe your first job in LP.ROWELL: I started out as a fitting room inspector with the Broadway Department Stores back in 1975 when I was just 18 years old. My role was to clean out fitting rooms and make sure that the right number of items went in and out of a fitting room. I think I made a whopping $3.95 an hour.EDITOR: Did you have any idea at that time that you would make a career in loss prevention?ROWELL: Absolutely not.EDITOR: What caused you to stay in loss prevention?ROWELL: I think the first thing was just the excitement of the job. As a fitting room inspector, I wasnt supposed to make arrests. But I did anyway, which almost got me fired. I was totally intrigued when I watched the investigators come in to identify who was stealing from the company. I wanted to be a part of that investigative group.I was promoted relatively quickly at the Broadway. I was a regional manager by age 21. I went through a number of positions at an early age, because I had an inner fire to be a part of something. Plus, in those cops-and-robbers days of LP, there was that adrenaline rush. Now my excitement is being part of the evolution from where we were then to the profession we are today.EDITOR: How do you counsel young people regarding the career opportunities in loss prevention?ROWELL: When I talk to people coming into the business, especially right out of college, I give them a little history lesson to educate them about where we were versus where we are today. I describe how we contribute to the success and profitability of our company; how we add shareholder value. Sure, we are still catching bad guys, but were much more a business partner contributing to the success of a retail organization. If people understand that concept, I think they can see that theres a valid, long-term career opportunity in loss prevention.EDITOR: You and Pep Boys have a reputation in the industry of having a LP program with a lot of balance, by that I mean that you are involved in several different areas of the business that others may not. Audit is one. Tell us about how youve organized audit in your company, and the value it brings.ROWELL: Our auditors provide the third-party review of each of our individual stores to measure operational compliance. We look at many different areas. For example, in our operational compliance auditour big auditwe look at cash handling, merchandise movement, service, commercial, as well as loss prevention, HR, and safety. Within each of those areas, we look at many different measurements. From a merchandise movement perspective, for example, we examine cycle counts, pricing; a number of the issues that, if not executed correctly, can lead to some type of profit drain to the company. The audit also looks for violations of policy from an individuals perspective, which can help us identify internal theft. So, our audit is basically two-fold, accomplishing objectives for both operations and loss prevention.EDITOR: The people doing these audits are loss prevention personnel, correct?ROWELL: They are all LP. They are not operations or internal audit or HR. They are loss prevention individuals.EDITOR: Do you also have LP-specific audits?ROWELL: This most recent year we developed our shortage audit, which is conducted not only by auditors, but also by our area LP managers [ALPM]. The shortage audit is strictly focused on different exposures within our world that add to shrink. But these audits are important outside of LP. These reports are published daily to our senior vice president of store operations, who funnels them back down through his pyramid to make sure operations is focused in the right place and to make sure things are corrected.EDITOR: Is your auditor position a stepping stone for promotion through the ranks?ROWELL: Absolutely. Our auditors have the ability to either work into an ALPM position, an investigators position, or a DC management position, should their career take them in that direction.EDITOR: You have for many years had a great commitment in the world of awareness training programs. Talk about that initiative and how important you see that in your organization.ROWELL: Our awareness program is one of our biggest initiatives, and one that Im very proud of. In the thirteen years Ive been at Pep Boys, my philosophy has always been keyed on education. Without education, you cant have expectation. If we dont educate people in how to do the right thing, how can we expect them to do the right thing?Our loss prevention and safety awareness program, called Refuse 2 Lose, is an extremely visible program within the company. We average about a 96 to 97 percent participation rate company-wide. That means 20,000 to 22,000 employees each month log online in the store, review the educational modules, and take the quiz. For the past seven or eight years the program has been in place, its been one of the most effective employee programs in the company.EDITOR: How has it evolved over that time?ROWELL: We went from the old paper-based, store-meeting process to IVR [interactive voice recognition] to web-based. Everything today is on our intranet, which provides a lot of data to measure participation and focus our training. If the response to a quiz question indicates that the employee population doesnt seem to have the proper understanding of, say, a particular safety issue, we can develop a training program that we take back to them to increase the level of understanding and, thus, minimize our exposure on that issue.EDITOR: This awareness program is aimed at the non-LP stores organization, correct?ROWELL: We actually do three separate messages one for retail, one for the service side of the business, and one for our distribution centers. Our commercial business falls under the retail side.EDITOR: What do you do for training of your loss prevention personnel?ROWELL: When I came here from Marshalls, I thought to myself, I dont know anything about Pep Boys. I really needed to know how this company functioned before I could apply my loss prevention background. We assume the same thing is true for our new hires today. So, regardless of their prior experience, a new LP professional goes through an eight-week training process. During that time, they are not allowed to do any investigations, interviews, audits, or anything else. The whole idea is to learn Pep Boys. After all, our business is significantly different from softlines, where a lot of our new hires come from. We have a retail business, a service business, and a commercial business. You have to understand the intricacies of those different businesses to understand how to be successful as a LP professional. We actually have them work in all three areas before bringing them back into the office for orientation with our shortage-control department, our risk management department, our finance, and our HR departments.EDITOR: Are there other training programs for the incumbent loss prevention people?ROWELL: We have put a number of people through the CFI [certified forensic interviewer] program. Ive sent some of my upper management executives through Dale Carnegie leadership workshops, as well as John Maxwell, Ken Blanchard, and Franklin Covey seminars. The whole idea is to get the LP team to understand they are leaders. As an LP executive, they need to know how to be a leader in order to influence our business partners. Leadership skills are whats going to make them successful individually, as well as make this company successful in the long run.EDITOR: Your emphasis on leadership and education extends beyond Pep Boys. You personally have been an active leader in the retail community, specifically, with the Retail Industry Leaders Association [RILA]. What is your role in that organization and why RILA?ROWELL: Im currently the co-chair of the loss prevention committee. Doug Marker of Michaels is the chair. The reason Ive been associated with RILA is based on education.Over the years, I have attended all the major conferences. But when I look at the takeaways from the conferences, RILA has always been the main conference that I made sure my team always attends. The content, the vendor participation, and probably just the sharing of information, to me, are phenomenal at RILA.EDITOR: The next RILA conference is the end of March in Orlando. What can people expect attending that conference?ROWELL: The main thing that anyone can get from it is the accessibility to all the senior executives who will be there. We are all loss prevention professionals trying to accomplish the same thing to make the retail industry more profitable. At RILA I know I can walk up to Paul Jones from Limited, Jerry Snider from Dollar General, Doug Wicklander, or whomever. There’s not anyone there who would not make themselves accessible to sit and talk about what makes them successful.EDITOR: You mentioned vendor participation. What do you mean by that?ROWELL: First of all, we have vendors represented on the steering committee, which may be one reason the conference is different. We’ve seen a significant increase in the number of vendors attending the conference, both as exhibitors as well as presenters. Their participation gives everyone the benefit of the knowledge and experience they bring to the table. In presentations, I have yet to see a vendor take advantage of the situation to promote themselves. Whether its background checks, keys and locks, whatever, they provide global-type information that benefits the entire industry.EDITOR: Vendors at RILA are also allowed to attend the seminars, correct?ROWELL: Vendors are not only allowed, but encouraged to participate in the seminars. By attending the seminars and hearing the presentations and the questions attendees have, it better equips them as to how their products or services can meet the needs of the retail industry as a whole.EDITOR: You are also involved in RILAs newest educational initiative certification. The magazine is proud to be a partner in this initiative as well. What is your view of loss prevention certification?ROWELL: Weve already talked about the evolution of loss prevention as a profession and a career. Certification is the next logical step. When you consider educating the rank-and-file LP professional, certification will be a phenomenal process. Think what it will mean to the individual who earns an accredited certification that indicates to the world that they have achieved specific levels of knowledge in the industry. I believe certification is really going to be a driving force to promote our industry moving forward.EDITOR: Why is education and communication within the loss prevention industry so important to you?ROWELL: This may sound like a clich, but I look at everyone in the retail industry and especially in loss prevention as being family. If I get an email or voice mail from another LP person, its usually because someone needs something. I will to the best of my ability try and get them what they need whether its just an answer, or whether its product like we did during Hurricane Katrina. If more people would recognize that each of us has a professional responsibility to the industry, just as each of us has a personal responsibility to our family, I believe we would be better off. After all, what would you not do for your family if they needed something? Youd do whatever you could. Thats part of what I try to do. Im not perfect, but I do the best that I can.EDITOR: Were there individuals in your career who exemplified that attitude and taught that perspective to you?ROWELL: There are three individuals who molded my mindset regarding loss prevention. One is Gary Manson, the vice president of loss prevention at Neiman Marcus. I worked with Gary for a number of years, and he certainly molded me from that perspective. When I moved to Marshalls, there were two individuals who influenced me.One was Rod Holm, and the other was a fellow named Jim Lee. When it comes to professionalism, when it comes to vision, when it comes to just who you are as a person, these three professionals were instrumental in molding my thought process and how I approach the industry.EDITOR: Thank you for that. Your approach must also have a positive effect on your LP organization since youve maintained a very stable senior management team. How have you managed to keep your team intact for so long?ROWELL: Im fortunate that the average tenure of my direct reports is about ten years. In fact, the overall turnover in the department is one of the lowest in the company. It has been as low as eight percent. But to your question, I think one thing thats important is a strong sense of democracy in the team. We make decisions together. Granted, I will have a strong opinion on things, but we talk out issues and listen to feedback from each other. We consistently review our business strategies together, and they’re a part of the decision-making process.Secondly, I give them as much autonomy as I can. As the executive running their division or operation, I expect them to come to the table with the ideas, plans, processes, and programs that will work in their individual situation. They need to have the latitude within the broad corporate umbrella to develop and work with their operations and HR teams to come up with what makes sense for that division. What Sharyn Copeland does in the Southern Caribbean division may be different than what Jim Grande does in the West. But, that makes sense when you consider Puerto Rico has a different dynamic to it than the stores in the states.I also think my people know that Im always there for them. We always work through the agree-to-disagree process out in the field. But if something ends up on my desk, its going to end up on our CFOs desk, the CEOs desk, or our senior VP of operations desk, depending on where it needs to go. All this falls in line with our department operating principles.EDITOR: What do you mean by operating principles?ROWELL: At Pep Boys, we have what we call our Loss Prevention Operating Principles, which consists of three key things, or legs, with some additional elements under each.Our main operating principle is, Develop business partnerships. Thats pretty self-evident. We cant accomplish our goals by ourselves. Unless we have the proper relationship with operations, HR, merchandising, finance, or whomever, were going to be pulling against each other instead of with each other.Our second principle is, Implement high-quality technical programs that will add shareholder value and make sense for the business.And the third one is, Be the corporate conscience. By that we mean that we understand what our business risks are, we demonstrate the highest standards in integrity, and we do what’s right for the business. That may mean you dont make the most popular decision, but youve got to do whats right for the business.EDITOR: How do you communicate these principles?ROWELL: Whether you are an area LP manager, a DC LP manager, or a division director, each of us carries what we call our role card. On one side of the card are the three principles. On the other side are those things that are expected of you in your specific role. It gives each person a road map of whats expected of them. By trying to keep people focused on some key principles, I think we dictate who we are as a loss prevention professional in the department and who we are as an organization within Pep Boys. Its one thing Im very proud of in our organization.EDITOR: What else are you proud of?ROWELL: Theres nothing that Im more proud of than when operations comes to LP for advice on how to run the business. Theres nothing that makes me more proud than when operations comes to LP because they want an LP professional to become a district sales manager or a retail sales manager. Because that just proves the point that we are global in our thinking; that were just not cops-and-robbers type people. We are retail business professionals who just happen to have a slant on LP. Stay UpdatedGet critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox.  Sign up nowlast_img read more

The Multiple Truths of Big Data

first_imgdavid strom Tags:#Big Data#hack Second, you may have multiple truths you are going after. Many firms depend on a single consistent version of the truth stemming from a centralized data repository, the report states. That might not be possible as your data scales up and is subject to different interpretations, or what Forrester calls localized or relative truths. Perhaps we need some kind of Colbert-like truthiness metric to figure this all out. Related Posts Last week, Forrester Research tries to grok Big Data with a report entitled, Expand Your Digital Horizon With Big Data. And while it is somewhat amusing to see how they approach the topic as they would a new network router or new version of Office, ultimately the report falls somewhat flat, especially for those of us that have been using these tools and writing about the subject for many years now. While you can obtain the report here for $500 or if you are a client of theirs, I’ll save you the money and highlight just a few areas that are of interest. You can also check out Brian Hopkins’ blog entry here (he was one of the co-authors). The report mentions five common Big Data usage patterns, as you can see in the table below. Some of these are just common sense, and already deployed by many companies across the Internet. There were some insightful things to consider, though.First, it isn’t just a matter of scaling up your existing databases, although that can be a temporary fix to your performance problems. The best Big Data solutions are where you need new ways of thinking about your data that just throwing hardware at things isn’t going to help. You might need to visualize your data in different ways, or start asking different questions. Finally, speed can trump accuracy. “Sometimes two plus two can equal 3.9, and that is good enough,” they state. For certain kinds of analysis, being able to quickly respond to a competitive threat, or to design a new marketing campaign to counter a Twitter-storm of protests, is more important than being spot on. One thing is clear: Big Data is here to stay, and firms who haven’t yet dipped their toes into this pool will be at a disadvantage in the coming years. Growing Phone Scams: 5 Tips To Avoid 7 Types of Video that will Make a Massive Impac… How to Write a Welcome Email to New Employees? Why You Love Online Quizzes Third, you don’t always have perfect business process knowledge. The more complex your business processes, the less you might really understand their relationships, and Big Data can be handy at revealing these insights and help firms deal with processes that can’t be easily tamed.last_img read more

Florida ~ Property Tax: Just Value Homestead Exemption Amendments Approved

first_imgCCH Tax Day ReportFlorida voters approved Amendment 5 in the November 8, 2016, general election to change the current property tax exemption that may be granted for property with just value less than $250,000 owned by certain senior, low-income, long-term residents to specify that just value is determined in the first year in which the owner applies and is eligible for the exemption. The amendment will take effect January 1, 2017, and will apply retroactively to the 2013 tax roll for any person who received the exemption before 2017. Individuals who were granted the exemption in prior years but became ineligible because the just value of the homestead rose above $250,000 may regain the exemption if they otherwise are still eligible and apply for a refund.PTO 16-08, Florida Department of Revenue, November 9, 2016, ¶206-228last_img read more

Annual Filing Season Program Survives AICPA Challenge

first_imgThe AICPA lost its bid to stop the IRS’s Annual Filing Season Program. The IRS created the program after losing its battle to regulate unenrolled tax preparers.Annual Filing Season ProgramThe IRS grants an annual Certificate of Completion to anyone who completes the program requirements. These include:obtaining a prearer tax identification number;taking the annual filing season refresher course or taking 18 hours of continuing education;passing an exam; andconsenting to be subject to the rules in Circular 230.As incentives for preparers to take part in the program, the IRS:lists unenrolled agents with a Certificate of Completion in its online directory of tax preparers; andgives them limited practice rights during audits of returns they prepared.Before the IRS began the Annual Filing Season Program, all unenrolled tax preparers had limited practice rights.Constitutional and Statutory StandingThe AICPA had standing to question the program because it injured some of its members. The program extends the scope of Circular 230 to unenrolled preparers, including those employed by AICPA members. Thus, it imposes new supervisory duties on AICPA members who employ preparers who complete the program. So, the AICPA had a grievance that supplied both constitutional and statutory standing.Authority for the ProgramHowever, the IRS has the statutory authority to establish and operate the program and publish its results. Contrary to the AICPA’s argument, the IRS does not tie Circular 230 violations to return preparation. Instead, it ties Circular 230 violations to the limited practice rights. Thus, the program did not run afoul of the restrictions in Loving.Also, the IRS followed the applicable procedure when it announced the program. The IRS did not have to adopt the program through notice and comment rulemaking under the APA.In addition, the program does not bind unenrolled preparers. Because the program is voluntary it provides an opportunity for those who chose to satisfy the requirements. Also, it does not impose any new or different rules upon supervisors of unenrolled preparers who do not participate in the program. .The procedure the IRS used to create the program was interpretive, not legislative, guidance. The guidance interpreted what the statute meant by competency.Also, the IRS gave unenrolled preparers limited practice rights through a revenue procedure. And, the IRS issued that procedure without notice and comment. Thus, the IRS did not violate the APA by failing to follow the notice and comment procedures.Program Not Arbitrary and CapriciousThe IRS’s Annual Filing Season program is not arbitrary and capricious. The IRS considered the AICPA’s concerns when setting up its return preparer database. Users can filter the directory to show each category of service provider. This includes those identified as Annual Filing Season Program participants.The IRS did not violate its obligations under the APA to consider reasonable alternatives to the program. The AICPA did not propose an alternative way to deal with:the problem of incompetent tax preparers; ortaxpayers who cannot tell whether an uncredentialed tax preparer is or is not competent.Reversing DC D.C., 2016-2 USTC ¶50,376.American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, CA-D.C.Other References:Login to read more tax news on CCH® AnswerConnect or CCH® Intelliconnect®.Not a subscriber? Sign up for a free trial or contact us for a representative.last_img read more

6 Ways to Leverage the Long Tail in Your Marketing

first_img Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Blog Optimization The Long Tail is like the Force(Yes, as in Star Wars). It permeates everything you do online and binds all facets of your internet marketing. Well, perhaps that is a bit farfetched, but it is a very important concept and relevant for anyone trying to create an online presence for themselves or their business.For those who came in late, the term “long tail” was coined by Chris Anderson to describe the business strategy of e-Tailers such as Amazon.com that sell a high volume of say thousands of popular items (the head portion in the graph below, in red) and low volume of hundreds of thousands of niche or unique items (the mustard tail portion in the image below).According Anderson’s long tail blog, over the course of time if you grow the tail portion of graph “the potential aggregate size of the many small markets in goods that don’t individually sell well enough for traditional retail and broadcast distribution may someday rival that of the existing large market in goods that do cross that economic bar.” The tag line of his book is aptly termed “Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More.”Now that you know about a bit about the long tail here’s how you can leverage the long tail in various parts of your day-to-day marketing:1. Optimize Your Site for Tons of KeywordsSEO is an important part of your inbound marketing strategy and you should optimize your site for hundreds if not thousdands of keywords, especially long tail key phrases.  e.g. “internet marketing for lead generation” would be a good long tail key phrase, compared to just inbound marketing.  Long tail key phrases may drive a low volume of traffic but as you can see in the graph above, the combined traffic of all the keywords in the tail portion really matter.  Also, in my experience, visitors to your site from long tail key phrases tend to be better leads as they are searching for something very specific.Avinash Kaushik, an analytics guru, recommends that you use SEO to tackle keywords in the head of your long tail graph and use PPC to drive traffic for long tail keywords.  Here’s a gritty but awesome article by him.2. Create a lot of contentIs it a surprise that sites with the most content also attract the most visitors?  Craigslist.org, eBay.com, Amazon.com, etc. are great examples of sites providing a huge variety of content that helps them attract millions of visitors. What are some of the ways you are leveraging the long tail in your marketing?  Please share your thoughts in the comments!HubSpot Free Trial Above is a snapshot of popular pages from the HubSpot blog. The blog home page and a couple of articles that made it to the Digg and Reddit home pages continue to drive a lot of visitors.  But over time look at how many page views we get for all the other pages!  Even towards the far end of the long tail the last 20 or so content sources drove more than a 1000 page views.  That is serious business!3. Grow Your Followers and Fans BasePart of your strategy should be to gain more followers and fans on various social networks and sites.  In the example below, Dan Zarrella shows us this incredible distribution of retweets per follower.Here you can see that there’s a core group of most engaged followers (the head) that does a lot of retweeting. At the same time, the sum of the retweets by people who only retweet ocassionally is also a force to reckon with!  Please bear in mind that the key to getting retweets is more about engaging people on twitter and sharing valuable content and less about gaining sheer numbers of followers.4. Invest in a Link Building StrategyNow I don’t mean that you should go out and pay a bunch of people to link to your site.  What I sincerely wish is that everyone actively works on trying to pubish good content so other people link to your site. Some of those sites will drive you a lot of traffic and visitors.  But as you can see above there are scores of site that can drive you a little bit of traffic every day and if some of those sites drive quality leads … you can invest time and energy in building a relationship with them so you can grow that funnel. 5. Spread Your Content AroundIn the first graph below you can see the traffic HubSpot gets from all the social media sites where we actively share or upload content.  If we did not share content on all the sites to the right of LinkedIn our site stats would be lighter at least a few thousand visitors.Taking that a step further, below are the leads we generated from the above sources.  What would you give to get an extra few hundred leads?6. Maximize Your Website FootprintAt HubSpot we do a great job at offering a lot of free tools and growing the traffic on those sites.  It’s like investing in real estate for investment purposes and over time we grow our portfolio of web properties each growing in reach.Agreed, it is not easy for everyone to build lots of tools and manage multiple sites.  But you could invest in a blog and you could build micro sites that serve a similar purpose.  The result of such an activity is the graph below — each site driving qualified traffic and leads back to your main hub.The Take-Away From the Long Tail for MarketersMaximize your opportunity by investing in a multitude of niche areas and sharing your content widely.Diversify your keyword, content and web asset portfolios.  You yield better results and reduce the risks by not putting all your eggs in one basket.There is significant value in getting bite-sized results from many sources.  center_img Topics: Originally published May 5, 2009 7:44:00 AM, updated March 21 2013 Optimize your website to get found by more prospects and convert more of them into leads and paying customers with HubSpot’s inbound marketing system. Start your trial now!last_img read more

Website Optimization Request: Rescue Mission Ministries Needs Your Help

first_img Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Website Grader Originally published May 26, 2010 3:00:00 PM, updated October 18 2015 – We’ve said over and over that the value of a blog is incredibly important for generating content.  What makes an organization or a company stand out is the value of new content. A blog makes it easy to post pictures, video, testimonials, appeals, stories, content that a search engine might decide has value. Rescue Mission of Roanoke –  As Kipp says, “Lots of low-hanging fruit here.”…this site does not have any meta descriptions on its pages.  Not its home page, not its interior pages.  By highlighting the new stand-alone building with a medical clinic to offer care to the homeless, a drug rehabilitation and recovery program, and a family shelter, this non-profit organization has the ability to create more visibility for itself quickly.  for optimization by HubSpot Experts! (3-4 will be selected for each webinar) Kipp This is the world of Monica, IT Manager at the Score of 69, Monica knew that she could improve the site.  If she had been able to attend, this is what Join HubSpot Experts for a live session for website review and optimization, providing tips for getting found online. Topics: 1. Start a blog Live Website Optimization: Using Website Grader For Marketing Success but had to deal with a down server for most of the afternoon. With a and I would have told her to work on to improve her site’s SEO visibility:center_img 3. They have 95 inbound links and a MOZ Rank of 5 Can you think of any other ways they could optimize their website to help this organization attract more SEO visibility? – This gives them a decent level of authority on the Internet.  They have a conversion form on their site to have people sign up for newsletter.  They have a way to donate, and they have a list of things that they could use.   website Submit your site now 2. Fix the meta descriptions on all of the pages As of yesterday, 283 men, women, and children found safe shelter and hope at the Rescue Mission.  Last year, they served 317,000 meals at their near-Downtown Roanoke site. Every Tuesday at 1:00pm ET + Thursday at 10:00am ET Lead Generation Imagine that you are an IT Manager for a 400-bed rescue mission.  Imagine that you are trying desperately to bring in volunteers and donors to help fund this important regional volunteer organization.  Imagine that you know the Website Optimization Webinar .  She wanted to attend yesterday’s Date & Time: is your main means of communication and you need to improve it dramatically.last_img read more

How to Overcome the Most Debilitating Nonprofit Blogging Challenges

first_img United Way of Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley “Our most widely read posts share several key aspects; they are connected to relevant news topics, they provide a look “behind the curtain” with anecdotes and emotions not shared elsewhere, they are written by leading experts, and the content is fresh yet linked to additional information that provides context and additional factoids.” . Last week, United Way’s Adams writes: Reach out to them with a first-time blogging assignment and due date. Having a One organization in Boston, The Do you know of a nonprofit blog that has overcome blogging challenges particularly well? Share your experiences in the comments below! amidst their multitude of other tasks. Here’s what they said, along with a few tips from HubSpot’s own blogging experiences. Each challenge is also followed by its difficulty rating from : repurpose content By inviting your entire staff and your network of volunteers and donors to Crittenton Women’s Union successful blog Originally published Jan 10, 2012 3:45:00 PM, updated October 20 2016 Lack of Time or Budget (31%) , who offered the following advice: which channels . But a number of other challenges emerged as well. I had the opportunity to talk to a few nonprofits about the survey and asked them how they handle managing a What to Do Right Now to Help Your Nonprofit Blog nonprofit Nonprofits have one of the most powerful sources for posts possible: the stories of their clients and participants. And though finding individual stories to highlight takes time, creating a channel for these voices gets to the heart of the mission and provides a direct line of sight to the impact donors and volunteers are trying to drive.   One way to save time and give your content a larger reach is to for you.” , the workload gets distributed in a more sustainable way, and the blog benefits from diverse voices and outreach opportunities. To keep things organized, we advise that one person act as a central blog editor. If you’re a nonprofit that deals with numerous causes, consider assigning different journalistic “beats” or topics to your bloggers and setting up a schedule that spreads out the posts evenly throughout the week and month. Christi Cahill of “Plan in advance. Set an editorial calendar and stick to it! If you’re running low on content ideas, find people willing to guest  Producing Content That Engages Supporters (27%) topic to write about “As the blog evolved, it became a broadcasting space for CWU program participants to use as a learning tool for their exposure to social media, especially as an advocacy outlet. This year, the blog will undergo yet another exciting expansion and will be transformed again to include the voices of our participants as well as keeping an active eye on anti-poverty reporting…” Create a recruitment list of staff, donors, volunteers, clients, and partners who would be good contributors to your blog. Examine your content challenges facing nonprofit marketers “Use your full network and staff to tell your stories. The informal nature of a blog means that there aren’t as many rules about what you post, provided it’s something that’s relevant to your audience.” blog center_img Nonprofit Marketing Cancer Foundation echoes this. She writes: on search engine optimization and community engagement are typically significant enough to validate finding the time. The question is, how? I talked with Brian Adams of  blogger Kivi Leroux Miller ran the results of a survey she conducted about the biggest to find your best channels for outreach. Topics: It’s no secret that nonprofit marketers often have to juggle an enormous workload. But the “We have had some success using the blog to preview content for an upcoming event. For example, our Women’s Initiative group held an educational panel about sexual exploitation, and we ‘previewed’ the content of the panel by featuring a guest blog post from each of the panelists in the week leading up to the event. It allowed those panelists some exposure on our blog (and hopefully gave us exposure through their networks) and also connected the on-the-ground marketing strategy with our online marketing strategy. During the event, we also shared quotes via Twitter and posted photos via Facebook.” LinkedIn Knowing Which Content to Use in Which Channels (7%) pasukaru76 Repurposing Content (7%) Create an editorial calendar and stick to it. Start with 1-2 posts a week if you can. It’s important to remember that the blog audience does not need to be restricted to just donors. It can be an important resource for the people your organization is trying to help, as well.  contribute posts benefits of blogging . Unsurprisingly,  for your blog from other channels, and vice versa. When doing so, nonprofits should keep in mind that repurposing is not a simple cut-and-paste operation. Think in terms of editorial campaigns, and leveraging the blog as one of many ways to get the word out about a particular topic of the week or upcoming event. Take this example from , you really need to dive into your marketing analytics to get a sense for the role each channel plays in your overall marketing and communications program. Channel behavior often varies by audience segment. What channels do your donors typically use? How does that differ from your volunteers or your constituents/clients? Do some research on your most active channels and their characteristics before creating your outreach strategy. For example, it might make sense to share content on ‘how to run a workplace fundraiser’ on time and money led the results with 31% of the responses MyLifeLine.org To know which content to use in always seems less daunting than a blank page. Kivi’s study has taken a unique approach to this. They not only invite their staff and network to contribute to the blog, but also the families they serve. CWU’s Kirsten Blocker elaborates: blog analytics Photo by: United Way of Massachusetts Bay & Merrimack Valley Pick a date (several months out) to evaluate your progress and choose next steps. The success of your blog will always depend on the quality and frequency of your posts. And while time can feel like a long lost luxury to nonprofit marketers, getting organized helps. As a final thought, here are a few things you can do this week to get started: , while personal stories of impact may be better shared with your email subscribers.  Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

10 Marketing Jingles That Make Your Ears Bleed

first_img Topics: Originally published Aug 3, 2012 4:30:00 PM, updated October 20 2016 I have a feeling I’m gonna lose a lot of friends with this post.While trying to enjoy some Boy Meets World this morning, a jingle (pre-coffee, granted) hit my ears that rattled me to the deepest, darkest recesses of my soul.It’s the first commercial jingle featured on this list, and simply put, it annoys the bajeezus out of me. But it’s certainly not the only one. And I know it’s not just me that can’t get these frustratingly catchy songs out of my head, because when I asked around the office for the commercial jingles that drive people nuts, the tunes rattled off their tongues like lightning.So if you’d like to start your weekend with a song in your heart and a spring in your step, this is the post for you — the only catch is you won’t be able to forget said song ’til around midday Monday. Here are the top 10 commercial jingles we just can’t stop singing … but desperately wish we could. Also, I’m sorry.10 Commercial Jingles You Wish You Never Heard1) Dixie Ultra (Ya, Ya!)Here’s my beef with this jingle that put a damper on my typical 90s-adolescent-drama morning routine. The lyrics devolve into non-words in order to maintain a rhyme scheme for the phrase “Dixie Ultra handles your messiest.” Also, it sounds like she’s trying to sing the entire song in one breath … that she’s rapidly running out of by the end of the song. When the jingle wraps up, it’s at a pitch only a dog could hear, using words no human could understand. Dixie Ultra handles my “butteriest?” My “twirliest?” … My what? Listen if you dare.2) JG Wentworth 877-CASH-NOW!!!It can’t be a good sign when your jingle needs subtitles. First of all, it’s opera. I’m wicked classy and all, but come on … opera? In a commercial? I guess the problem is that it’s not good opera. It’s more akin to some kids putting on an opera at school, mocking in no unsubtle terms the melodrama they perceive as characteristic of the performances. If it’s not your own kids (when they’re your kids, it’s adorable) you’ll sit through and watch, wriggle uncomfortably at the painful performance, and wonder when it’ll finally be over.3) Hefty Hefty HeftyWhoever wrote this jingle has got to be laughing all the way to the bank. The lyrics are as follows:StinkyHeftyStinkyHeftyStinky? Stinky.Hefty Hefty HeftyStinky Stinky StinkyHefty Hefty HeftyThis is not a joke. Oh, and it’s all backed by creepy carnival music. Enjoy.4) Sea Bond Denture AdhesiveThe lyrics of this jingle combined with the tone of the singers’ voices is just plain bizarre. It seems like they’re trying to sound like children — which is made far stranger when you realize they’re selling a denture adhesive product. “Bye bye yuckiness. So long ooziness. I thought I was gonna cry.” You’re adults. That’s just plain weird. And if you listen to it, it’s weird-sounding, too.5) The FreeCreditReport.com BandThe FreeCreditReport.com band had a lot of fans. Way more than they have today, though. Those original commercials were actually pretty cool! Unfortunately, they’re kind of beating a dead horse with this thing, and the music is starting to be … well … a bit of a reach. In fact, this “rap” with the terrible techno/pop/electronica beat is just plain obnoxious.6) Nationwide … They’re On Your SideThis jingle is a riff on their usual “Nationwide is on your side” tune. That one isn’t half bad; it’s short, straightforward, and when they have a nice voice singing it, it doesn’t make your ears bleed. Thing is, this is a weird riff on it in their attempt to display their commitment to personalized service. It turns into “NationPam is on your … Sam,” which just plain doesn’t work (HubSpot’s blog manager, Pam particularly hates this one). We’re used to singing your jingle the other way. Now we have this annoying, unresolved ending in our heads. Can’t you just go back to the original?7) Arby’s. It’s Good Mood Food.If one were to type out the way this jingle sounds, I imagine it would look like this:Arby’s. IT’S GOOD MOOD FOOD!And then imagine an angsty pre-teen is singing it. Or maybe a wailing calf. Talk about ears bleeding.8) NAPA Know HowI can’t put my finger on why this country-esque tune is so cringe-inducing — maybe it’s because the actor seems like he’s trying so hard to make the song engaging. But frankly, every time this song comes on, it’s that last part of the jingle, the repetition of “NAPA Know How,” that consistently grinds my gears. Have a listen.9) Denny’s NanerpussIt took all the courage I could muster to even watch this commercial again to write this blog post. This jingle just plain gives me the willies. It’s a weird combination between infantile and creepy. First of all, the name is weird. Nanerpuss. Blech.Then you have to consider that Nanerpuss is a singing banana, which kind of makes it like a creepy puppet … I guess that’s where the childish angle comes in. It’s made worse by the fact that it’s singing a song that introduces who he is, and what he does, which makes it sound like one of those educational songs puppets sing on children’s shows. That’d be fine if it was the Snuggles bear or something, but it’s a banana named Nanerpuss singing an annoying song on top of a stack of pancakes promoting a diner. Just … watch. Or don’t. I wouldn’t blame you.10) Get Connected (For Free!) With Education ConnectionAfter Hefty, this has to be the most ridiculous set of lyrics used for a commercial jingle … except that this is the exact opposite of what Hefty has done, yet it’s somehow equally absurd. Basically, they’ve told the entire story of someone’s complex decision to pursue higher education based on where she is in life at that point in time.You see, she didn’t get awesome grades in high school. And so now she’s working an hourly job as a waitress … where she makes money and everything but it’s not really the kind she needs for the life she has in mind for herself. That’s when she thought to herself, “Self, maybe if I got a degree I could get the salary I’m looking for.”Wait wait, I’m not done. That was all just the backstory.So then, she went online, and started researching her education options — well, not just her education options — her “direction.” You know, in life. That’s when her life changed in the best way, because she was matched (For free!) with the right kind of college for her lifestyle. One that would let her take classes online at the times of day that work with her schedule. That kind of flexibility is key for her success.This is all told in the jingle. That’s uh … that’s quite the in-depth jingle.Alright, it’s time to reap what I’ve sown. Leave the jingles that drive you crazy in the comments. They’ll be stuck in my head all weekend, I promise.Image credit: Evil Erin Brand Slogans Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

Go Beyond Blogging: How to Become a Great Storyteller

first_img Storytelling This post originally appeared on Inbound Insiders, a new section of HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Blog.Opinions are like blogs: Everyone has one.In fact, most of the business world has finally caught on to the fact that in order to succeed in a post-outbound world, you need great content.But what happens once everyone has caught on and businesses are blogging simply to stay healthy, kinda like eating their green beans?What happens is you get a ton of boring, uninspired, mediocre content polluting your RSS feed.As Maximus famously proclaims in Gladiator, “Are you not entertained?! Is this not why you are here?”Well, no.We’re here to be inspired, right? I mean, I’m not talking the last twenty minutes of Rudy inspired, but rather inspired to read more, and maybe buy something. We have a challenge. A question. A need or even a want. And we’re looking for that moment of inspiration to help make our purchase decision easier.Somewhere along the way of this mass information age, many forgot this. They forgot that storytelling is the main ingredient for inspiration.It’s why we cry at the end of Forrest Gump. It’s why we cheer at the end of Rocky (all six of them). It’s also why some of us buy Dunkin’ Donuts over Starbucks (or vice versa).We’re here to be told a story. And in the process, be inspired to take action or behave in certain ways. And while storytelling goes far beyond just your blog posts, it’s often your most shared resource; therefore, it’s the best place to start.Story vs. ArticleLet’s consider the difference between marketers and journalists. Journalists remove themselves from articles to ensure objectivity — but marketers? Marketers should be inserting themselves into their stories. That’s what differentiates an article, from a story.Great brand stories are not objective. In fact, the most successful ones are highly subjective.Is Snapple really made from the best stuff on earth? Of course not. However, millions of people buy into this story every single day.Shift your focus from writing articles to telling more stories. Start by asking yourself, “What am I trying to accomplish for my customers?” Then consult your buyer personas and focus on key personality traits to identify the type of tone and language that will be most effective at appealing to them.Get creative. Insert yourself into each story. Detail your experiences.This makes you and your brand much more relatable. Hyperbole vs. JargonOften we get caught up in those industry buzz phrases we think are necessary in order to attract business.”Achieve Your Goals and Experience an ROI.”… As opposed to those other companies that vow to not achieve your goals and guarantee no ROI?No company is saying that. As a result, we all end up saying the same thing. How are you supposed to separate yourself from the competition with a strategy like that?No one understands this concept better than the household brands we all know and love. Part of the reason we do know and love them is because we identify with their story.Does America really run on Dunkin’?Is Folgers really the best part of waking up?Probably not. However, we buy into these stories because of the way they make us feel.A healthy dose of hyperbole never hurt anyone. In fact, it’s highly effective in telling a remarkable story and differentiating your brand.Experience vs. WordsStories don’t always have to be about words.In fact, great storytelling encompasses your entire brand experience, not simply what is written about or said.Take Starbucks, for instance — I know, I know, I’ve got caffeine on the mind — who goes after an entirely different audience than Dunkin’ Donuts. This effectively separates them from an already massively successful brand. Starbucks targets a more affluent audience and aims to create a more high-end, “our barista remembers the way you like your coffee,” type of atmosphere. Everything from the furnishings, to minimal drive-thrus, to a menu most people have a hard time pronouncing, stays consistent with the overall story.Starbucks customers are willing to wait a little longer. They’re even willing to pay a little more.Is the coffee that much different? Or is it the story and experience these particular customers are buying? It’s certainly debatable, however, these two massively successful coffee chains have managed to dominate completely separate markets and attract two different audiences all through the act of storytelling.So while many of us may not be able to match their marketing budgets and overall reach, we can certainly learn a lot from the manner in which household brands separate themselves from the noise with hyperbolic, unique brand stories.Developing Your StoryIn developing a unique story, consider your buyer personas and focus on both personality and behavioral traits in order to develop a story that resonates.Who are you trying to attract?How can you tell a story that inspires them to act?This story will be the core of your entire marketing strategy.Your story shouldn’t be about what you sell, but rather how you sell it.This is a guest post by John Bonini (@Bonini84), marketing director at IMPACT Branding & Design. Visit the IMPACT Blog for more content from John and the agency. Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Oct 15, 2013 11:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017last_img read more