Business Growth Leveraging Your Personal Brand

Marketing is like sex. Everyone thinks they’re good at it.

– Steve Tobak

We are in a golden age of solopreneurs: independent, innovative experts who are turning the traditional working model on its head. No longer content with working under layers of organizational management, workers around the globe are increasingly making the decision to take full control of their careers. To carve their own niche and capitalize on their skills. To join the solo revolution.

And you are one of them. A revolutionary!

Creating your own brand has never been easier. With the explosion of social media, solopreneurs have immediate access to billions of people around the world. You can speak directly to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Likewise, the number of services and products consumers have instant access to is infinite. Neither business nor buyer is bound by location anymore.

It is an incredibly liberating age. But it’s also one that some entrepreneurs and businesses find overwhelming.

We’re Living in a Digital-First World

In his book Ctrl Alt Delete, Mitch Joel discusses the term “digital first”. He reveals the five key movements that organizations must embrace to future-proof themselves – or go out of business. One of these shifts is the fact that now, the first place your brand and business are validated is online. Essentially, the internet and social media have the power to make or break your chances of success.

Serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk is a great example of how to cultivate a successful business by leveraging digital media. Born in the Soviet Union in 1975, Vaynerchuk immigrated to the United States in 1978. From humble beginnings, his father went on to own a liquor store in New Jersey. In the early days of the digital-first world, Vaynerchuk could see the burning potential of his father’s business. After graduating from college, Vaynerchuk transformed the liquor shop into a retail wine store, which he named the Wine Library. In 2006, he started a daily video blog, Wine Library TV. This hugely popular webcast turned him into an internet celebrity. It attracted 90,000 viewers a day and led to a flurry of TV and speaking engagements. In just six years, Vaynerchuk grew the family business from $1 million a year to a whopping $50 million a year.

Not too bad for a small family business, right?

So, as you can see, traditional marketing has been blown out of the water. We’re no longer restricted to cold calling and setting up meeting after meeting to generate leads and sales. Digital marketing has opened an array of cost-effective avenues for self-promotion and lead generation. Sales are now about leveraging your social networks, engaging with people online and educating.

This is, essentially, the social sales model: (see link below)

Today, the businesses and entrepreneurs that make the most impact on their audiences are role models. They’re trusted advisers who create tribes – powerful online communities that help their brands grow. They educate and provide solutions. They’ve jumped on board the social sales train and embrace the connection economy whole-heartedly. Because if you don’t, you get left behind.

But we can’t rest on our laurels. We must build on this massive sales reform and look to the future. We must become industry ambassadors. We must become thought leaders who engage meaningfully with our followers, share generously of our expertise and regard our audiences not just as leads or dollar signs, but as lifetime partnerships.

Why Stand Out from the Crowd

Solopreneurs are the way of the future. They account for 61% of Australian businesses[1]. And with the advent of freelance sites such as Upwork, 99designs, Freelancer and Airtasker, an increasing number of Australians are freelancing. According to freelance marketplace Elance-oDesk, 30% of the Australian workforce – or 3.7 million people – undertake some sort of freelance work[2].

Digital marketing presents an enormous opportunity for solopreneurs. According to Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange, the average person spends two hours a day on the internet. Furthermore, IBM’s Global CEO Study found that CEOs believe social media utilization for customer engagement will increase by 256% over five years. This means social media will become the second-most popular way to engage customers after face-to-face communication.

Social media has created a level playing field. It’s cheap and readily available. You don’t need large amounts of money to build a business. You don’t even need an existing client base – you can start one from scratch online. The internet has given everyone the potential to create a successful solo business.

But there’s a downside to this equal opportunity. Despite the accessibility of social media, one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs continue to face is finding leads and retaining clients.

The digital marketplace means you’re competing against everyone else with a business like yours. You can’t simply create a LinkedIn or Facebook account and expect clients to come to you. How will they know you’re there? What makes you stand out? When everyone else is pushing their own unique selling point, what will make people choose you?

In a world where customers have immediate access to information on every kind of business around the world, it’s hard to cut through the noise. To gain that competitive edge, you must create a connection.

Being a solopreneur is not enough. You must bond with your audience by offering more than your products and services alone. You need to educate, lead and gain trust. You need to make a real difference to the lives of your clients.

Position, Position, Position

Positioning is fundamental to creating trust and having influence. It’s more than just creating an image. It’s about owning your space in your industry. It’s about flexing your expertise, starting conversations, changing the game, creating engaging content and enlightening others. It’s about being the go-to expert for peers and clients needing guidance.

And it’s what leads to sales.

When you have a rock-solid positioning, your return on investment is second to none. Digital media and technology company Burst Media’s 2014 Influencer Marketing Benchmarks Report found that on average, marketers who implemented an Influencer marketing program in 2014 received $6.85 in earned media value for every $1 of paid media.[3] The primary tools used in Influencer marketing were:

Blog posts
Social syndication and branded content distribution
Influencers and influential content

Blogs. Content. Social media. These are indispensable, cost-effective tools if you want to elevate your positioning from business owner to leading industry expert. And they are what will build your audience’s trust in you.

Tips for Professionals in the Construction Industry

Preparing a resume that is organized, succinct, and eye-catching is one of the best ways for construction professionals to launch a fruitful job search. Eye-catching resumes typically feature highly desired skill sets, relevant certifications, and impressive projects that were completed ahead of schedule and within budget. Below are ten simple resume writing tips that everyone in the construction industry should follow.

1) Tailor your resume to the type of position you are seeking. Employers are often searching for candidates with a specific set of skills. Review commonly required skills for the type of position that you are seeking and be sure to include references to your skills in those areas. Examples of specific skills that are frequently sought in the construction industry include:

Expertise in construction law
Incorporation of sustainable design strategies
Equal Employment Opportunity Employment expertise

2) Include the number of people you managed. It is particularly important to mention work experience that involved supervision of multiple teams of people or a large number of workers. Hiring managers recognize that there is usually a big difference between a candidate who has managed a team of 15 laborers and a candidate who has overseen 150 laborers.

3) Highlight relevant certifications. Industry certifications set professionally trained candidates apart from the pack and often instill confidence in recruiters and hiring managers. Examples of key certifications to consider including are as follows:

Certified Construction Manager (CCM)
Construction Safety Certification
OSHA Hazardous Waste Operations & Emergency Response (HAZWOPER)
Any CPR or First Aid related certifications

4) Highlight three or four of your most notable projects. Be sure to reference the budgets associated with each project to provide hiring executives with an idea of the magnitude of the ventures that you have overseen. You can also showcase your flexibility and breadth of experience by including a diverse collection of projects within the public, commercial, and residential construction arenas.

5) Showcase successful projects that were completed ahead of time or under budget. Continued construction labor shortages are leading to an increase in project delays and overspending. Completing projects ahead of time or under budget is more impressive now than ever, so construction professionals should not be shy about highlighting their ability to exceed client expectations.

6) Reference familiarity with special tools or software. Remaining competitive in the construction industry requires a commitment to learning the latest cutting-edge

Building Information Modeling (BIM) software
Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software
Familiarity with 3D visualization and architectural animation

7) Prepare an impressive portfolio of references. Include people who can provide feedback regarding your skills and aptitudes. Additionally, if a specific skill is required for a position you are actively pursuing, be sure to include references who can discuss your achievements in that area. For instance, if a position requires a candidate with a history of supervising 100+ workers, make sure that the references you include can speak about your ability to oversee multiple teams of workers.

8) Include your LinkedIn URL. A growing number of hiring managers and recruiters are looking at LinkedIn profiles to confirm candidates’ legitimacy and industry connections. Make sure that your profile is up to date and that there are not any consistencies between information on your LinkedIn profile and your resume.

9) Reference any awards or special recognition you have received. Awards that are relevant to the company or position for which you are applying are especially helpful. Examples of relevant awards include the following:

Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc (ABC) awards for excellence in construction
Construction Industry Safety Excellence (CISE) awards for safety improvements
Any local or state awards received for outstanding achievements in the construction industry

10) Seek the input of an expert staffing professional. Enlisting the assistance of a staffing agency is one of the best ways to ensure that your resume is professional and complete. A dedicated agency representative can also provide assistance with career coaching and other job-related activities. Ideally, the agency you choose should have decades of experience providing guidance to professionals within the construction industry.

The role of a well-organized resume should not be understated. By following the tips above, construction professionals can enhance their chances of grabbing the attention of hiring managers.

Maximize the Potential of Your Business Presentation

Business presentations are a collateral reflection of who you are. A glimpse of your personality could be seen in the ways and the content of your presentation.

The way you carry yourself, the way you speak, deliver your sentences, tackle tricky questions with confidence and successfully convey your message, speak volumes about your personality.

Still, there are much more ways in which you can support your business presentation to reach its maximum potential.

HIGHLIGHT YOUR SUPERPOWER

A positive way to keep your audience attentive to you is to show them that you are worth their time and trust. Rather than speaking about your achievements and future goals, speak about your credibility because if even little points will exist with which the crowd will not feel connected to then the tables will instantly turn.

Talk about your goals within the first few minutes of the presentation

Choose your presentation design which corresponds with your goals, which should be introduced to your audience as early as possible. This will help your audience to correlate what you are expressing with the ‘why’ and ‘what’ you want to achieve.

Never underestimate the impact of a powerful image/quote

A business presentation is usually a collection of fertile ideas, knit together as one to illustrate a larger picture. So, the smart use of different images/quotes to introduce different ideas will supply more power to your presentation. Vocalizing the quotes or speaking few important words out loud will bring your presentation to life, especially if the presentation has numerous bar graphs, bullet points, and pie charts.

GIVE YOUR AUDIENCE THE POWER TO BRAINSTORM OVER YOUR QUESTIONS

One of the unbeatable ways to make your presentation more interactive is to begin it with a question which you, yourself will answer. Like you can start with “I asked myself what all can my team will be able to do and contribution for making this project a success?”. So, based on this question you can build up your presentation. Be alert to all the questions from your audience as they are icebergs of curiosity. The more you will suffice your audience, the stronger their trust will grow in you.

Be ready to tackle tough questions

Always be confident and logical at answering the questions from the audience. There will always be questions whose responses if given without solid facts and coherence, will put your image down in your crowd’s eyes. If you know your topic as well as you’re your audience, then always keep your business binary clean and do not ever shelve any question from the audience.

KEEP YOUR OWN QUESTIONS READY IF NOBODY ASKS YOU ANY

It could be a possibility that your audience is shy or somewhat hesitant to ask you questions about your presentations. Always remember, if you face this kind of a situation, then always compose a question to yourself because ‘zero curiosity’ turns into ‘zero interest’ overnight.

Take your crowd on a final journey

Always take your crowd on a final journey before you wrap up the presentation. Highlight all the important points and tell the crowd how they will be productive if given proper attention by the appropriate crowd.

Keeping the immense support in mind which we get from the PowerPoint presentations, one should also be able to support her/himself equally well during the closing moments of the presentation because humans invented the PowerPoint and not vice versa.

Writing For Professionals

Having a great resume is the first step to landing that ideal job. Resume writing can be the most stressful part of the job search. But it is also the most effective way to share your experience and qualifications. The purpose of your resume is to create enough interest that the employer will want to see you for a more in-depth face to face interview. Those resumes receiving the most attention are structured with the following components:

Value Proposition Statement

This section should state to the employer the immediate value you will bring to their organization. If you are a business development professional with successful experience working with companies in the medical industry you should have this listed in this section. An example of this statement would be “an experienced business development professional with established existing relationships in place with key regional medical equipment companies. These established relationships will allow me to gain immediate access to key decision makers early within the sales cycle”. The value proposition statement allows the employer to visualize you in this position and as an immediate contributor to their organization.

Keywords In Resume Writing

Effective resume writing should be done in a way that allows you to stand out from the crowd. One of the most effective ways to do this is to make sure you use the appropriate keyword (s) for the job posting. So we know that most companies are using parsing software in reviewing resumes. This software is designed to filter for keywords from the resumes they receive. This software will look through resumes for these keywords.

So simply put keywords are those words that easily describes the position you are applying for. In the example above the position is business development professional. So what words immediately come to mind with this position? Correct, business development. Therefore you will want the keywords to be the words business development. To tell your story you should use these keywords in a natural story telling manner.

Highlight Your Experience

Many professionals have a wealth of valuable relevant experience to share. The key is how much of this experience should you share on your resume? Resumes are parsed and if selected will be reviewed by the employer for about 20 seconds or less. In resume writing it is totally acceptable to construct a 2-3 page resume if you are applying for an executive level position. All other positions 1-2 pages are common. Remember most employers know that the average job seeker has three plus jobs in their career. The length of the resume is not as important as the use of keywords and highlighting your relevant experience and qualifications. The only experience you should highlight are those experiences that apply to the job. As mentioned above you should naturally tell your story using keyword and relevant job experience.

Having a great resume is easily accomplished and doesn’t require fancy words, design or layout. There are many free resume writing templates on the internet that can help you with layout etc. Because this document is so important in getting you closer to your new job we encourage you to devote the necessary time to get it right. Most importantly before you send your resume to a perspective employer you should have a trusted person review it and provide feedback. Be sure to use spellcheck and look for grammatical errors etc. Remember you only get one chance to make a great first impression.

Resume Writing Made Affordable

Many professionals choose to write their resumes and with tremendous results. But if you feel the need to use a professional service know that these companies and professionals fees range in price from $300-$1500 based on the required technical copy writing skills. In other words if you are applying for an IT or Medical position you would want a resume writer with that level of experience to write impact copy or content on your behalf.

You are now closer to securing that position that most fits your skills and qualifications. Wishing you the very best

We hope this article clarifies some of the confusion in the use of keywords and value proposition statements. Resumes are designed to gain the attention of the prospective employer. Take some time in listing your qualifications and skills. With this article you are now equipped to tell a great story about your qualifications and experiences.

Your Business Need A Sales Funnel

It may sound obvious but often a business will forget the fact that the only way to make money is to get customers to buy. And the best way to get customers to buy is to have am effective sales funnel.

A sales funnel is set of steps where you guide a prospect through a series of communications that results in them buying from you.

But what happens after that first sale is made? Existing customers are the people who are most likely to buy from you again.

How Does A Sales Funnel Work?

At the top of the funnel, you offer something for free in return for getting a prospect’s contact information. This could be a report, checklist, video or eBook. Then you begin marketing, following up with emails and other communications to attempt to make a sale.

Throughout your sales funnel process, you should have several offers that complement each other. For instance, before you buy a car, you take it for a free test drive. If you like the car and buy it, the salesman doesn’t just hand you the keys and then vanish. You’re offered extended auto warranties, enhancements like upholstery and wheel options.

After a couple of months the salesperson will contact you to see if you’re happy with your new car, and let you know about a discount or sale going on.In the future, you’ll be contacted with opportunities to trade in your vehicle and the sales process goes on and on.

How Many Levels In The Sales Funnel Process?

As you can see from the example above, there can be many different levels in a sales funnel. A one level funnel is where after a customer buys from you, you move onto the next prospect.

But this a critical error.

It costs 6 to 7 times more to get a new customer than keep an existing one. It makes sense to market to someone who has already purchased one of your products, rather than try to convince new people to buy your services. An existing customer already knows you and your business. If they have received excellent value from you once, they’ll be more prepared to spend money with you again, rather than somebody who has never heard of you.

There is no “ideal number” of sales funnel levels. Each business, product and service is different. Just make sure you are continuously providing your prospects and customers opportunities to improve their lives or solve their problems with future purchases from you.

Finding a Great Job

Many businesses have high turnover rates due to unhappy, unsatisfied, and/or unappreciated employees. There are several ways a company can create loyalty, happiness, and more positive attitudes towards employee’s jobs. One such approach is through increased company functions and gatherings that help develop office friendships throughout the company. Also, the creation of management teams and developing a teamwork mentality will help employees gain the feeling of ownership in their company. Instead of an us versus them attitude between departments, friendships throughout the company will also help build a complete team attitude. Many prominent companies create outlets for their employees to volunteer, fundraising, and help their community. The following suggestions will also increase employee pride, happiness, and ownership of their responsibilities at work.

• Family Atmosphere – This type of environment creates a climate of fairness, equality, respect, and makes it safe to express dissent. This atmosphere is welcoming and creates a friendly environment to introduce new ideas. Employees teams may encourage a challenging but supportive environment and strengthen loyalty and teamwork throughout the organization.

• Recognition Programs – Company programs that recognize hard work, commitment, effort, and contributions breed organizational success and loyalty. The recognition program should include monthly awards and gift cards or a free lunch. Recognition from a supervisor at least two ranks above an employee makes a meaningful, engaging difference in employee morale.

• Organizational Pride and Belonging – Promote activities that development and establish pride and loyalty which is the backbone of any businesses long-term success. Employee turnover is extremely expensive and productivity and product or service development suffers. An engaged employee is a person who is enthusiastic about their work. Improving employee engagement directly impacts measurable business outcomes. Employees who are committed to success, emotionally attached, and socially involved with a company demonstrate qualities that business managers thirst to have. Engaged employees are more productive at work, take less sick days and exhibit other favorable behavior, promote the business to others and show their happiness to customers.

• Mentor Programs – Thinking long-term for future company success. A mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser that assists in developing competent employees and future leaders. Mentoring program train and encourage seasoned employees to be mentors. A mentoring program can facilitate dynamic skill growth throughout an organization. Informal learning can be as important as formal learning programs.

• Volunteering Options – Look for opportunities for your company employees to get involved in the community. Allow your employees to volunteer their time or fundraising for a good cause. It is good public relations for companies to show their communities they care about their customers. These activities will create good-will among the local community and your employees. Create a team to decide what cause your company will offer financial support for a charity or cause.

Employee engagement can be improved by aligning the goals of individual with the goals of the business. Employee motivation should be associated with traditional rewards, such as pay and compensation, but also with emotional rewards such as personal growth, working for a common cause, being part of a high-performance team, and being recognized for achievements.

Quick Payback With Cheap EDDM Marketing

Every business needs a marketing plan to be successful. An effective way to get a fast return on promotional marketing campaigns is Every Door Direct Mail, (EDDM), a U.S. postal service for local business that can benefit from targeted zip codes to every house or house and businesses right down to the individual carrier route. Compared to traditional direct mail has very low distribution costs. The cost is $0.183 for each piece. This is cost-effective marketing solution that generates fast sales to new and old customers. Another benefit to EDDM is that it is delivered the day after it arrives at the post office. Direct mail can take weeks to be delivered and you may not know when it is delivered.

There are 6 standard sizes for EDDM: 4.5 X 12, 6 X 12, 6.5 X 12 6.5 X 9, 8 X 6.5 and 8.5 X 7. All sizes cost the same to mail. In addition to cheap mailing fees, there is no need to buy expensive mailing lists and address imprinting. Just select the zip codes in your target areas right down to the individual carrier route. To make this even easier, let your printing service handle the paperwork and delivery to post offices of your choice.

With this EDDM marketing, you can mail directly to local residential customers in the address area of the card. The maximum quantity allowed in this retail program is 5,000 to 25,000 a day at any one post office. Mailers must be bundled in 50 or 100 so they can be quickly distributed to the right carrier.

Put in your target zip codes and choose using breakdowns showing residential, business, total, age 25-44, size, income and cost. This free easy-to-use demographic guide map lets you select the best neighborhoods to give you a fast return on your investment.

You can deliver to other post offices as long as you send a minimum of 5,000 to each. This is so the post offices are not overloaded with EDDM mail. Another advantage is that many printing services offer full service mailing. They do the paperwork, bundling and delivery to your post offices of your choice. Having your printing service do the mailing for you allows you to not pay sales tax as you are not taking possession of this printing.

This quick return marketing plan is best with local businesses such as take out and restaurants, realtors, dry cleaners, retail stores, auto dealerships, contractors and home services, medical professionals, health and beauty services – to name just a few business that can benefit from this promotion.

One very important tip is that this is not a one-time test to see if you can recover your cost in your first mailing. If you offer a valuable discount sale you should get your investment back in a short time. The best way to get high returns is by making your EDDM campaign a monthly mailing to keep you brand in front of people’s eyes so they remember your business.

Using this EDDM program is a great way to get a fast return on your promotional marketing campaigns. It can save you in mailing costs as well as saturate any area you want to concentrate sales. Whether you use full service EDDM printing or do it yourself, this is a successful way to target your audience without spending a lot of money.

Nonprofit, Civic and Church Leaders Can Help Us Heal

There is real human suffering happening in our country and around the world, but we all have to step up to help because here’s the reality, we’re all in this thing called life–together. No one is better than anyone else. And, as the adage goes, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

Is it just me, or are you tired of the relentless stream of neurosis, disrespect, screaming and shouting that is dividing us on almost any and every level? If there’s an idea or statement made, there seems like there’s going to be someone out there who will take on the issue and as quickly as you can snap your fingers, there’s debate, particularly on social media. Often, these “debates” devolve into online name-calling, trolling, and utter disrespect. I have seen several conversations shut down in nonprofit and church social media groups, which is ridiculous when you think about it, because if people can’t have substantive and productive debates and discussions in these areas, where can they discuss critical social issues?

Here’s my message: We’re better than this.

I believe that nonprofit, civic and religious leaders can play a part in elevating the civil discourse.

Social networking has been great because, in practical ways, it has broken down borders. Connecting with people around the world is easy. For many organizations and groups, social media has brought down marketing and advertising costs considerably, raised awareness and leveraged resources.

But, I think that as we’ve become more “connected,” there’s incredible division. Divisiveness has got to stop.

Church, civic and nonprofit leaders can help our communities heal.

Do you remember the Golden Rule?

The Golden Rule was simple, and I think leaders should remember it each morning as they head to work and ask that their teams adhere to its tenets.

The Golden Rule has a religious origin. It came from the words that Jesus said in the “Sermon on the Mount.” The principles became religious teachings incorporated into the Bible.

Matthew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Those words are so simple–treat others as you would like to be treated.

I think our society is in a precarious place. We are not listening to each other. We are shouting and screaming past each other. We are ignoring each other.

And, here’s the bigger thing for me–many of us are expecting attention and the world to hear us, and we are not giving others the same respect.

This has got to stop.

I think nonprofit, civic and church leaders are in a unique position. Often, because of their position in communities, they are leaders.

Constitutes Ethical Company

I wanted to explore the meaning behind the word ‘ethical’ in this day and age, and how some companies manage to slip through the net using marketing tactics.

I have recently read articles praising companies who are considered the most ethical – there is a list of these illustrious and successful business ventures of 2013, 2014 etc. – and they are set up as the benchmark for the rest of us. I opened the list in anticipation of seeing estimable companies mentioned, but was horrified to see a number of corporations on the list who are known to create products that compromise health or are involved in deforestation or child labor – to name but a few crimes against humanity.

Even if a company is taking steps to become more ethical, surely they shouldn’t be allowed on such a list until they have some substantial history in ethical practice. These questions immediately came to mind – “who on earth compiles these lists and what is their agenda?” “Are they genuinely ignorant of the practices of these companies, or is profit the only criteria?” Or even worse – “Is ethical practice now being judged by the 80/20 rule?”

So, what is considered an ethical company in this day and age?

Employment

Is it all about how a company treats their employees? If the people that work for them are treated well, getting decent salaries and benefits – does that make the company ethical?

If their employees have protective clothing while they are spraying the planet with toxic chemicals – does that make the company ethical because it is looking after its own?

If employees are given the benefit of cheap food and clothing in the form of company discounts, is the company ethical if the food is the end product of compromised ingredients and tortured animals?

If job opportunities and helping the economy is stated as being a valid reason for companies to start business ventures that poison the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat, I have to ask – who benefits?

Marketing

Or maybe being seen as ethical is all about a brilliant marketing campaign. A campaign which makes the general public feel all warm and fuzzy – full of cute animals, young children or a celebrity or two – or maybe all of the above if the company has unlimited finance to throw at it. We are presented with an emotional roller coaster ride which dulls the senses and convinces people of its sincerity and authenticity, because it’s just so darn pretty!

For example, the food and drink industries are money machines that can employ the most ingenious and brilliant of marketers who are capable of blindsiding the uninformed into believing every word they say. A lot of them churn out addictive products which lack nutrition and create severe health problems through the addition of ingredients which kill brain cells, and generally attack the organs of the body. However, that seems to be acceptable because their marketing campaigns bring people together in happy food and drink related ways, and their packaging is so bright and colorful and the wording so reassuring – natural, farm fresh – got to be true, yes?

It comes to mind that some of the most successful confidence tricksters and serial killers come in a very pleasing physical package. It is because they are good looking that they are able to get close to their victims, but beautiful on the outside doesn’t necessarily mean beautiful on the inside. I think this rule applies to companies and their marketing campaigns as well.

We are surrounded by marketing images which promote ‘beauty’! These images not only corrupt and destroy people’s self-confidence, but they also set the precedence that beauty is best. Therefore, in our subconscious we link beauty to all that is good, and we dismiss all that is not beautiful, according to the current standards set by the media and marketing industry.

I lived in the Algarve, Portugal for a couple of years and while I was there I knew people who had orange trees on their land. They were the sweetest oranges I’d ever tasted in my life, yet none of those oranges would have reached supermarket shelves. The reason why is that they were all ‘ugly’ fruit – they weren’t tampered with in order to make them visually pleasing. I was told by the owner of the orange grove that the ugly fruit were the sweetest, and that is something I think is worth remembering, because it opens our minds and we won’t so easily be seduced by beauty if we know there is a viable alternative.

Charitable Donations

If a cosmetics company donates money to eradicate skin cancer they have to be ethical, right? People will think that they are wonderful and more readily buy their products. However, what if that same company includes ingredients in its products which can cause cancer – aren’t they just creating a market for themselves? It bears thinking about!

If a food or drink company gives donations to schools in the form of IT or sports equipment etc., is it really an altruistic act? They often get returns in the form of advertising on the premises and massive hikes in sales as the word spreads about their good deeds. Not forgetting that they are creating a new generation of people who will be addicted to their products.

Charitable donations also need to be a win/win situation. The people needing help are no lesser beings than the people giving it, just because they don’t have financial wealth. They shouldn’t be exploited in the name of profit.

I think we need to remember that the companies that give lots of money to charity are usually companies that can easily afford it. It doesn’t hurt them at all, in fact it often benefits them – they don’t feel the pinch. There are many companies that give money open-heartedly and genuinely help everyone they touch, and there are those that give money in order to gain goodwill and a rise in sales. It is our job to find out which is which.

So what percentage between donations and damage constitutes ethical by today’s standards? Is it 25%/75% or does it need to be 50%/50%? Who makes these decisions and what is their agenda? It doesn’t seem to be the health and well being of the planet, that’s for sure.

Conclusion

I suggest that before we decide that a company is ethical we look deeply into the face of that company, look into its eyes and see its soul. Remember that a beautiful face is no indicator of a beautiful soul – the eyes are the windows of the soul and by looking deeply into them you will be able to discern whether it’s transparent or deceptive.

My father was a magician, a member of the Inner Magic Circle, and when I was growing up I used to watch him practice. He told me to always watch the hand that seemed to be doing nothing – and that has taught me a valuable life lesson. So when a company or institution of any sort puts forth a spectacular display which draws my attention, I drag my eyes away from where the lights are shining and look into the shadows to see what they are hiding, what is it they don’t want me to see? If after careful scrutiny and research I find there is nothing being hidden, then I deem that company ethical and sit back and enjoy the show!

I am not for one minute telling anyone what to think, or what to do. What I humbly suggest is that everyone looks carefully at the decisions they make, and the companies they support by either using their services or buying their products. Then each of us will know that we aren’t being led by the nose into compromising our own set of values and what we personally believe in.

The bottom line is that if people, animals and the planet are being negatively impacted by a company’s products or services, that company is not ethical – no matter how much they give to charity, or how many heart-warming marketing campaigns they launch. They are shirking their responsibility towards all living things in the name of profit. That is the truth!

I would love to hear your comments and what the word ‘ethical’ means to you personally.

Sue is the Founder of Soulfully Connecting. The idea behind Soulfully Connecting is to demonstrate that there are other ways of living which can heal the earth, the animal kingdom and ourselves. She is passionate about people having freedom of choice, which is only possible when they know about all the options.

Quality Furniture

Events are synonymous with real-world marketing for businesses across industry verticals. They are being leveraged by brands small and big alike to reach out to customers and convey their messages. A growing number of firms trust events to build their base, expand their horizon and tap into the potential in the market. Quite clearly, a lot is at stake when a business decides to host an event and penetrate the market deep. Right from launching a new product or service to enhancing the goodwill of the existing resources, businesses know where to turn to in the need of hours.

With so much benefit to take, it’s natural to expect your event to be successful so that all goals are realized with ease. For that, an expert agency will be needed familiar with every aspect of event, including from planning to strategics to hosting to customer servicing. The job at hand is not that easy for the agency as well as it has to take care of a lot of aspects to ensure success for the planned event. Among other things, it has to make sure that the brand messages are conveyed in the way they should be.

Further, a good event is one that seamlessly merges the concepts of aesthetics and functionality in true sense. And this is where furniture do have a role to play as they often add a great deal of value to any occasion. Their market is stuffed with inventive, high quality event furniture which can really make a big impression on your product launch party or customer get-together occasion. Right from chairs, sofa seating, stools, benches, poseur tables, dining tables, bars and plinths, your event can benefit from a wide range of furniture and surely stand out from the crowd.

Further, event planners know how to place furniture at right places and positions to have maximum impact out of them. They add a creative approach to occasion and make guests and potential customers impressed in true sense. It’s also a cost-effective approach to not buy all of those furniture and rather hire them and add great value to the whole affair. Whether classic touch or contemporary styles, you can select what suits your interests and events the best and win maximum attention out there. After all, the purpose is to create a vibrant atmosphere and let the brand benefit in more ways than one.

In overall, furniture hire is a very helpful and innovative concept to benefit from as make the event a big success. It has the potential to enrich your business even without asking for resources to be put at used. So, your business can benefit from furniture by adding value to the event for brand building efforts. For that, you have to find a right agency with years of experience in the domain and you will also need a company that rents out furniture. This is how your event can become as successful and impact as you’d expect it to be in a real sense.