Small Business Marketing Mistakes-Trying to Build a Brand

I talk to business owners from time to time who get caught up in the idea of building a brand for their product or company.Most of them don’t really know what branding is. They believe it’s about repeatedly putting their company name in front of prospects in the hopes that those prospects will remember them when it comes time to buy.So they’ll create a fancy logo, letterhead or sign, and plaster it on their business card, in their advertising and in their customer communications.And, more often than not, the results are dismal, so they give up on advertising (and branding) altogether, figuring it’s a waste of time and money.When Branding Makes Sense… and When it Doesn’tThis is both a misunderstanding of branding and a lousy way to advertise your business.In the simplest terms, real branding involves building a market identity around your company name, logo or signage that immediately makes people think good things about their company and gets them to choose your product or service when it comes time to buy.And you cement this brand image into your prospects’ minds by hitting them again and again with your advertising – and then, of course, by delivering on your promise, which further cements the brand image in the prospect’s mind.For big, consumer companies with deep pockets brand building makes perfect sense. There’s probably no other approach that will work for the likes of Proctor and Gamble, McDonalds and Nike.Millions of people buy their products every single day and they’re more likely to buy from names they know and trust – which largely explains why brand-name products routinely outsell generic products, even when the generic is just as good.The Terrible Truth About BrandingThe problem for the small business owner is that building a brand that resonates the way McDonald’s does cost millions upon millions of dollars. And it’s not as if you can stop once you’ve built the brand. You have to spend millions more to sustain it.Worse yet, it takes time. I recently read an article on branding that lauded Nike’s branding strategy. The problem is, it took Nike 15 years to build the brand we know and love today. I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t have that kind of time!Now, of course, to build a local brand you can probably get away with spending less money and a lot less time – but that doesn’t mean it’s time or money well spent.The Profitable Alternative to Building a BrandSo instead of using your advertising to build a brand, use it to drive sales – immediate sales. And that means crafting benefit-oriented direct response ads, sales letters, e-mails and landing pages.Direct response advertising reveals all the benefits your prospects will get from responding to your ad, make a specific offer (buy now, request more info, come in and save 10%, etc.) and ask them to take action immediately by calling you, going to your web site or stopping by your store.Direct response advertising may not be as romantic and exciting as building a brand, but for a small business owner, it’s more effective at making the cash register ring right now. And you don’t have to mortgage your kids to pay for it.

National Center for the Performance Arts

The newly opened National Center for the Performance Arts, formerly named the Chinese National Grand Theatre, is the largest performing art center in the world. It is shaped like a massive, silvery dome in the heart of China’s capital that offers Chinese and international art performances of the highest standards. It hosts opera, ballet, musicals, dance, dramas and traditional Chinese performances.Situated west of Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the National Center for Performance Art occupies an area of over 149,500 square meters. There are three gigantic halls located inside: a 2,416-seat opera house, a 2,017-seat concert hall and a 1,040-seat theater. Its goal is to become the center of Chinese performance art culture. The National Center for the Performing Arts took nearly five years to build at a cost of over 2.69million RMB.Designed by the famous French architect Paul Andreu, this imposing building is a fine example of modern architecture. It has been thought of as resembling an eggshell, a baozi (Chinese steamed bread), or even a giant bubble. The National Center for Performance Arts has been listed among the top ten architectural miracles by the USA, for its energy-saving and environmentally-sound design. The center has three firsts: it is the largest sky dome in the world, the deepest building in Beijing, and is home to the largest pine organ in Asia. As its prompters have said, the National Center for Performance Arts has a lush dazzling interior, sophisticated acoustics and a design that that is superior to most of Europe’s or America’s performing arts centers. This building is so unique that it stands out amongst the nearby government buildings in central Beijing and the imperial grandeur of the centuries-old Forbidden City.


The interior design of National Center for Performance Arts, it is quite spectacular. The dome’s interior is paneled with long Brazilian mahogany spans, giving the expanse an amazingly warm feeling. While the walls of the theater, the smallest of the performance spaces, are covered in thick padded silk which is divided into red, purple and tangerine strips. The ceiling of the grey-white color-schemed concert hall consists of undulating waves of acoustical panels that resemble abstract art. On the exterior shell of the center, there are over 500 lights that shine like the stars in the sky, making the National Center for Performance Arts looks like a visitor from the outer space.Even though the exterior appearance of National Centre for Performance Arts is futuristic in design, it does not clash with nearby buildings. Surrounded on one side by a large pool of water, the reflections in the water form an impressive sight day or night. For this reason, National Centre for Performance Arts is said to appear like a “bright pearl resting in a lake.Most visitors to the National Center for Performance Arts, come for the performances, but there is much more to this beautiful building than just the three gigantic halls. There are also many smaller places located inside the National Center for Performance Arts such as: an underwater hallway, an exhibition hall, olive hall, library center, Press-release hall, souvenir shop, and a coffee house. In these locations, visitors or audience members can enjoy other aspects of this amazing building other than just performances.The Center’s management has hired the best performers from throughout China to perform. Musicians such as pianist Yundi Li, and Lang Lang are regulars to the National Center for Performance Arts’stage. Many foreign troupes are vying for a chance to perform during the center’s opening season. The first foreign troupe to perform on the stage of the National Center for Performance Art was the Mariinsky Ballet Troup of St. Petersburg(still marketed in the U.S. under its Soviet-era name, the Kirov Opera and Ballet). Although the center’s musical groups,ballets, symphony orchestras, and Chinese opera have received far less attention, they are also performed by some of the best artists in China.


To allow each audience to fully and comfortably appreciate each performance, the National Center for Performance Arts has makes great effort in its design of the opera house, concert hall and theater. The materials used in the construction of the opera house were chosen for their ability to control sound. The ceiling of the concert hall is designed so that each audience member will enjoy an unforgettable experience. The theatre, the place with the most distinctive Chinese characteristic, has the most advanced stage facilities and the largest auditorium. Each seat in the National Center for Performance Arts is placed over an air vent which will allow each audience member to enjoy perfectly controlled temperatures, and each seat is designed with a muffling devise so that no sound will be made when audience members stand up,or sit down. These many different features of the center has been put in place to insure each audience member will receive the most from each performance they see.Even if visitors to Beijing have no interest in watching a performance at the National Centre for Performance Arts, a visit to the center will leave a deep impression on them. It is one of the most brilliant architectural designs in the world, and worth a visit.

Why Personal Finance Software Is Important

Why personal finance software is important These days, technology has really revolutionized people’s way of life, including their financial life. Back in the day, most people used a pen and paper to document their earnings, spending, and finances.What is personal finance software?Home finance software refers to a financial tool that enables you to prepare a budget, track your expenses, and check your overall finances. These days, there is no valid reason why you should be disorganized and mired in debt because there are many good personal finance programs that you can use to keep track of your money, plan your future, and completely control your finances. If you have a PC or laptop, you are lucky because you can easily find good home finance software at little cost. Application programmers have now catered for the high demand for these applications as they now come with all sorts of functions and capabilities that can save your money, time and effort.


AnalysisYou can now analyze your finances unaided. However, this kind of analysis can be much easier if you have some accounting background. Finance software will analyze your important financial details. Details such as your monthly expenses will stick out. Many personal finance applications also allow personalization. If there is one particular aspect you want to know about your finances, you can simply create a specialized analysis. Many personal finance programs can also give you a monthly analysis-an excellent way to see how you actually spend your money on a monthly basis.Budget creationWe all know the importance of a personal budget. But creating a real budget that you’ll stick to is easier said than done. You can find a personal finance application that creates a realistic budget for you. Simply enter your basic information into the software and quickly create a simple budget.Checkbook balances and bill paymentsSometimes you’ll fail to pay bills on time. When it happens, interest rates are more than likely to shoot up. Fortunately, you can avoid this mistake once and for all. Look for a personal finance application that’ll remind you when to pay your bills. Likewise, you can accomplish balancing your checkbook by just ticking a box. Sum up any amounts withdrawn from your account and check carefully anything that seems suspicious. Once you have everything on record, it becomes much easier to know how your finances are faring.


Trust yourself and no one elseWhen it comes to finances, it is best to keep track of all you have carefully. You may trust your finances with your financial adviser, but it is still important to know where every cent is at, always. With a personal finance application, your money will never be far away from you. Whether you are paying bills, balancing your checkbook, tracking your paycheck, or creating a personal budget, you should not live without personal finance software.

‘Sexting’: A New Crisis for Relationships?

‘Sexting’… So what is it anyway? ‘Sexting’ by definition is sending or receiving sexually explicit messages or photos by mobile phones or other social media. This is a trend that has increased steadily through the years as more and more people have utilized phones as their main method of communication. In fact, 88% of adults have engaged in some kind of ‘sexting’ within the context of a relationship according to a paper called: “Reframing Sexting as a Positive Relationship Behavior.” 2Is ‘sexting’ more common than we believe or are these research studies just turning up coincidences with this type of behavior? Emily Stasko, at Drexel’s University in Philadelphia, surveyed 870 heterosexual individuals and found that more ‘sexting’ was associated with a higher level of sexual satisfaction. 2These are just two studies, you might say, and don’t represent the population at large. Well, another way to look at this is that technology is something that most people (in larger cities or suburban areas) concentrate on daily. People are very involved with social media on mobile phones, computers & tablets. They are using these social media applications for various reasons (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Tumblr, Vine, Snapchat, etc). Is there any reason to think, even for a minute, that people are not using technology to date or enhance their present relationships? People all over the country (and the world) have access to texting/messaging, social media, and video chatting (Facetime, Viper, etc.). It is extremely easy to use any of these modalities in the context of a relationship.So how do people view ‘sexting?The problem is that not everyone defines ‘sexting’ the same way. Is it the sending of sexually explicit or provocative messages? Is it primarily the sending of sexual images? Some people see it as one, the other or even as both. This has been unclear because there have been various opinions about the subject. ‘Sexting’ may not be limited to just messaging but could also include the use of Twitter, Facebook, Skype and Facetime, as well as, other social media platforms. This could also mean sending sexually explicit video or showing nude body parts while video conferencing. This complicates matters even more and broadens the current definition.Most people have really warmed up to the idea of ‘sexting’ and according to the research, previously cited, a very high number of people have engaged (and continue to engage) in this behavior. These research studies and surveys have focused on how ‘sexting’ can improve relationships and rekindled sex lives. However, there is a darker side as well. This article focuses on those individuals that use ‘sexting’ as a way of seeking excitement, sex, and/or attention outside of their present relationship. The lines are sometimes blurred with regards to virtual or internet relationships because they are not viewed as being “real.”Is ‘Sexting’ outside of a relationship considered cheating?That is a good question. We already know that ‘sexting’ or sending these sexually provocative messages can really enhance a committed relationship. However, what happens when people send these types of messages outside of a committed relationship? How is ‘sexting’ viewed among the general population?”A 2013 Huffington Post article of 1,000 U.S. adults found that 85 percent of women and 74 percent of men consider ‘sexting’ a form of cheating.” 1′Sexting’ outside a relationship can be exciting especially for those individuals that are looking for ‘that extra something’ in their lives. Perhaps these individuals love their spouses or partners but seem to have ‘lost’ the passion or excitement in their relationship. For other individuals, maybe they are looking to find someone else online or in a virtual sense (i.e. via texting, online websites or other media) that they can flirt with and is considered “safe.” That could fall into the “grass is greener on the other side of the fence” scenario. A person may be very happy or mostly satisfied with their partner but think that they might be able to find something better outside their relationship.Other scenarios could include men or women that seem to feel as if they are invisible to their partners or spouses due to over demanding careers, children, mental illness, physical illness, alcoholism, etc. These individuals may find that through ‘sexting’ with a 3rd party that they can feel loved, desired and even sexy. It is through this media (and possibly other reasons) that people justify their actions and tell themselves that they are not cheating because there is no physical relationship.Is this behavior wrong? Is it cheating? There are various reasons why an individual may decide to engage in ‘sexting’ outside of his/her relationship but what is the intention exactly? Some people may believe that due to the virtual nature of ‘sexting’ that it isn’t necessarily wrong. ‘Sexting’ doesn’t have to involve physical contact and it could just be chalked down to a simple fantasy (or something that they don’t intend to pursue). It may have started as something very innocuous (like work-related messages sent to a colleague, coworker or fellow student) but then it moved forward to a more sexual type of relationship.However if a person is deleting texts, hiding cell phone bills, or being secretive about this virtual relationship then it seems that he/she has become more involved with someone other than a spouse or partner. This person is now thinking about another person, sending pictures to that person, and possibly wishing he/she could spend time with that other person. If we are looking at the health of a marriage or relationship, any time someone else becomes involved, that health has now been compromised. We could also argue that the commitment toward the relationship or marriage has waned because of the 3rd party that is now part of the equation.Case Examples:Maria and Thomas (not their real names) have been married for 3 years but have been together for about 12 years. Thomas had been dealing with anxiety issues for his whole life but had developed a drinking habit to numb the intense feelings that he dealt with on a daily basis. This drinking problem had become so bad where Maria had found him passed out on the couch a few times after work and he spent a good amount of time drinking with colleagues. This situation caused her to feel very detached and distrustful of Thomas. She didn’t feel as if Thomas loved or desired her and that his drinking had become his new relationship. Maria decided to contact a former male friend from school with which she began a ‘sexting’ relationship. She never sent any sexually explicit photos of herself to this other person but the messages they shared were very provocative.Maria never had any intentions of actually cheating on Thomas but she just felt lonely and unattractive. She sought companionship with someone that showed interest in her and chose to continue this ‘sexting’ relationship for a couple of months. She mentioned that this person made her feel sexy and desirable. She also felt good that someone was interested in her and although this person requested to meet her in person, she never did. Maria had some guilt that she was busy sending messages to someone other than her husband yet she continued. She got so frustrated with Thomas that she even ‘sexted’ this friend of hers while her husband was next to her on the couch.Now, although this behavior of Maria’s was not having a physical affair it was an emotional affair. Maria was tired of trying to get through to her husband about his drinking and lack of interest in her. She spent a good amount of time looking for affection outside her relationship because her husband was not available to her. When Thomas found out about this ‘sexting’ relationship that Maria had started, he was devastated that she would do such a thing.Maria made the decision to seek therapy to discuss her concerns and disappointment in herself and her relationship. Obviously she realized that while her marriage was not in the best state that she needed help to put things into perspective. After a few sessions, Maria wanted to bring her husband to join in the sessions. These sessions were spent having both of them discuss their feelings and how they were each disappointed with one another. Maria was able to discuss how she felt undesirable and lonely while Thomas received validation for his anxiety issues. Thomas was confronted for his alcohol abuse and how that was affecting their relationship. This couple was able to communicate, forgive each other and move forward.—A second couple, Julio and Gabrielle (not their real names) were not so lucky. Julio started ‘sexting’ with another woman he met online just after the birth of his daughter. He had been unhappy with Gabrielle for some time however just didn’t know how to communicate his feelings. He had come from a family in which communicating feelings was highly discouraged. So while his wife was pregnant and tired a good portion of the time, Julio was online looking for some attention.At first, things were very mild. He sent a few texts here and there just looking to see if other women were interested. However, once his daughter was born, Julio spent a lot of time on his phone. He ‘sexted’ with a particular woman with whom he had a connection at work and in the car. He also deleted all of the messages because he didn’t want his wife to become suspicious or to find them ‘by accident.’ So he was able to keep up this front for some time…a good 6 months.However, one day he wasn’t so careful. Julio forgot to delete some messages and his wife looked at his phone while she was up in the middle of the night feeding the baby. She was appalled and devastated at what she found. Gabrielle chose not to say anything right away because she wanted to see if she could catch him or get him to admit to this behavior. And one day she was able to do just that. She found him in the bathroom taking pictures of his genitals and sending the pictures & messages. She confronted him on the spot and but he denied ever meeting up with this woman. Gabrielle realized that they needed some serious help and sought therapy.She communicated that she loved Julio and wanted to keep their marriage intact but was not going to accept this type of behavior from him. Julio was able to finally, after some encouragement, to communicate that he had been unhappy with Gabrielle for years. He stated that he only married her because she had become pregnant with his daughter but he didn’t feel that the two of them were very compatible. She also found out in therapy that Julio had lied about meeting up with the woman that he was sending messages to and that they had been dating. It was at this point that Gabrielle and Julio decided to separate because their relationship was not reparable.So what should you do?If you have found yourself interested in finding attention outside your marriage or relationship, it is important to ask yourself some important questions.What do you want to accomplish? What are your intentions? Have you found that you are not interested in maintaining your marriage or relationship? What is the reason you are trying to connect with someone else? Are you looking for some attention because you are not getting it at home? Are you seeking out something more exciting or compatible than your partner/spouse? Or is your relationship salvageable with the help of someone who can encourage better communication and engagement? Are you just looking to make you’re your partner/spouse jealous? These questions need to be answered before the relationship deteriorates past the point of no return.If you decide that you are simply not interested in continuing with your present relationship, then some honest dialogue needs to occur with your spouse or partner. It is important to communicate your feelings and to allow this other person the opportunity to hear that the relationship is over. This allows your partner to start the process of grieving the relationship and eventually moving on. Hopefully, you are able to provide some support and compassion for your spouse or partner and allow for a more amicable separation.————-However if you have recently found out that your spouse or partner has been involved in a ‘sexting’ relationship, it is important for you to maintain composure. It is completely normal to have intense emotions regarding the situation however it will not help in the communication process. Please ask questions about this other relationship and find out about your partner’s intentions. It is important to know if your spouse or partner is interested in continuing with your relationship and ending the other one or not. It is helpful to have an objective 3rd party there to help both of you to determine in which direction you both want to travel.Emotions will be high in either situation especially for the person that has just found out about this outside relationship. If you are too deeply hurt by your spouse or partner’s ‘sexting’ relationship to stay with him/her, then this must also be addressed. Each person deals with highly emotional situations in different ways. One couple might be able to communicate effectively even in difficult situations while another couple might not be able to be in the same room together. So it is important to know how your spouse or partner will react in this situation and find a way to come to a workable conclusion that best fits both of you.ConclusionSince ‘sexting’ has become such a popular activity among adults in monogamous relationships and with those that are dating based on the research provided in this article, it is important for everyone to be more knowledgeable regarding the topic. The research shows that ‘sexting’ can enhance a monogamous relationship. The case examples show two different scenarios that can ensue. If people are unhappy in their present relationship and choose to utilize ‘sexting’ to find excitement with another person, the end result could be relationship or marital dissolution.Couples are encouraged to seek out help. A counselor, therapist or psychologist can help couples to find their way through this situation. If a relationship has been extensively damaged by ‘sexting’ (through which a physical relationship may or may not have begun), there are important feelings on both sides that need to be addressed. Depending on the desires of both people involved, these relationships can be saved but does take time to rebuild trust and confidence. Since most of these relationships consist of one (or both) persons seeking out someone else, it is vital to encourage verbal communication about the things that each person views is lacking in the relationship. Feelings need to be communicated and each partner or spouse needs to have the opportunity to express him/herself. Forgiveness plays a HUGE part in this type of situation. Each person has to ask him/herself if forgiveness is an option and if so, they can proceed toward creating a new relationship together. They can do this by spending time together and discussing how to satisfy each other’s needs. Only after these important issues have been brought up can the couple begin to move forward on a new path toward happiness.References:1. Rebecca Adams, “A Look Inside The Insidious and Adulterous World of Sexting,” Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/02/sexting-cheating_n_6185288.html?utm_hp_ref=sexting2. Rachel Zimmerman, “Sexting Among Adults May Be More Common Than You Think, Survey Suggests,” WBUR’s Common Health Reform & Reality, http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2015/08/sexting-adults-relationships