Small Business Marketing – Giving is GOOD For Business

You’ve heard all the phrases about the virtues of giving, many with Biblical origins. You may even have experienced moments of selfless giving yourself that manifested in tremendous opportunities coming back to you. I love to give and I must say it’s always a wonderful surprise to see what comes back.One instance stands out for me because of the impact it had on my business. Last year I went the extra mile to help a stranger who walked into my office complex seeking assistance. Afterwards, he was so thankful for the generosity, he took me to lunch and it turned out he represented a prominent business contact for me and I have since benefitted personally and financially from this relationship…very effortlessly I might add because I initiated the “giving.” Giving is good all around, anonymously or otherwise, and is especially good for business. Here’s part of my formula for success.1. Establish some type of charitable giving modelAlign yourself with a local or national charity that would be representative of your industry and or target market. If you work with kids, then consider charities that support education, Toys for Tots, provide clothing, etc. Earmark a small percentage of your profits or a fixed dollar amount to the organization and let others know you’re supporting this group. You may also want to co-sponsor events and fundraising drives that are mutually beneficial. Besides being a good thing to do, you’ll receive more attention from the media and clients love it as well.2. Give to your customersConsider establishing a unique rewards program for existing customers and make them aware of the fact they’re getting something special. Could be a tangible item, additional services, or special discounts. It should be done “just because” and will not only build loyalty but may also inspire your customers to refer more often. There are companies I pay higher prices to for that very reason.3. Give to your prospective customersOffer something for free to prospects to immediately establish a positive energy flow and to allow them to experience you in a positive way prior to making a purchase. If you can impress them before they do business with you, chances are you’ll manifest a loyal customer when they’re ready.4. Give to your communityConsider positioning yourself as a giver in the community by hosting networking events, hosting online discussion boards, providing a free service that would benefit all, etc. Consider the popularity of a vet who opens a dog park next to his office practice. You can achieve instant celebrity status in the community and will experience an effortless flow of customers at your door.

What Is the Relevance of Technology?

“Technology in the long-run is irrelevant”. That is what a customer of mine told me when I made a presentation to him about a new product. I had been talking about the product’s features and benefits and listed “state-of-the-art technology” or something to that effect, as one of them. That is when he made his statement. I realized later that he was correct, at least within the context of how I used “Technology” in my presentation. But I began thinking about whether he could be right in other contexts as well.What is Technology?Merriam-Webster defines it as:1a: the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area: engineering 2 b: a capability given by the practical application of knowledge 2: a manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge 3: the specialized aspects of a particular field of endeavor Wikipedia defines it as:Technology (from Greek τέχνη, techne, “art, skill, cunning of hand”; and -λογία, -logia[1]) is the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, and methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a preexisting solution to a problem, achieve a goal, handle an applied input/output relation or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, including machinery, modifications, arrangements and procedures. Technologies significantly affect human as well as other animal species’ ability to control and adapt to their natural environments. The term can either be applied generally or to specific areas: examples include construction technology, medical technology, and information technology.Both definitions revolve around the same thing – application and usage.Technology is an enablerMany people mistakenly believe it is technology which drives innovation. Yet from the definitions above, that is clearly not the case. It is opportunity which defines innovation and technology which enables innovation. Think of the classic “Build a better mousetrap” example taught in most business schools. You might have the technology to build a better mousetrap, but if you have no mice or the old mousetrap works well, there is no opportunity and then the technology to build a better one becomes irrelevant. On the other hand, if you are overrun with mice then the opportunity exists to innovate a product using your technology.


Another example, one with which I am intimately familiar, are consumer electronics startup companies. I’ve been associated with both those that succeeded and those that failed. Each possessed unique leading edge technologies. The difference was opportunity. Those that failed could not find the opportunity to develop a meaningful innovation using their technology. In fact to survive, these companies had to morph oftentimes into something totally different and if they were lucky they could take advantage of derivatives of their original technology. More often than not, the original technology wound up in the scrap heap. Technology, thus, is an enabler whose ultimate value proposition is to make improvements to our lives. In order to be relevant, it needs to be used to create innovations that are driven by opportunity.Technology as a competitive advantage?Many companies list a technology as one of their competitive advantages. Is this valid? In some cases yes, but In most cases no.Technology develops along two paths – an evolutionary path and a revolutionary path.A revolutionary technology is one which enables new industries or enables solutions to problems that were previously not possible. Semiconductor technology is a good example. Not only did it spawn new industries and products, but it spawned other revolutionary technologies – transistor technology, integrated circuit technology, microprocessor technology. All which provide many of the products and services we consume today. But is semiconductor technology a competitive advantage? Looking at the number of semiconductor companies that exist today (with new ones forming every day), I’d say not. How about microprocessor technology? Again, no. Lots of microprocessor companies out there. How about quad core microprocessor technology? Not as many companies, but you have Intel, AMD, ARM, and a host of companies building custom quad core processors (Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm, etc). So again, not much of a competitive advantage. Competition from competing technologies and easy access to IP mitigates the perceived competitive advantage of any particular technology. Android vs iOS is a good example of how this works. Both operating systems are derivatives of UNIX. Apple used their technology to introduce iOS and gained an early market advantage. However, Google, utilizing their variant of Unix (a competing technology), caught up relatively quickly. The reasons for this lie not in the underlying technology, but in how the products made possible by those technologies were brought to market (free vs. walled garden, etc.) and the differences in the strategic visions of each company.Evolutionary technology is one which incrementally builds upon the base revolutionary technology. But by it’s very nature, the incremental change is easier for a competitor to match or leapfrog. Take for example wireless cellphone technology. Company V introduced 4G products prior to Company A and while it may have had a short term advantage, as soon as Company A introduced their 4G products, the advantage due to technology disappeared. The consumer went back to choosing Company A or Company V based on price, service, coverage, whatever, but not based on technology. Thus technology might have been relevant in the short term, but in the long term, became irrelevant.In today’s world, technologies tend to quickly become commoditized, and within any particular technology lies the seeds of its own death.Technology’s RelevanceThis article was written from the prospective of an end customer. From a developer/designer standpoint things get murkier. The further one is removed from the technology, the less relevant it becomes. To a developer, the technology can look like a product. An enabling product, but a product nonetheless, and thus it is highly relevant. Bose uses a proprietary signal processing technology to enable products that meet a set of market requirements and thus the technology and what it enables is relevant to them. Their customers are more concerned with how it sounds, what’s the price, what’s the quality, etc., and not so much with how it is achieved, thus the technology used is much less relevant to them.


Recently, I was involved in a discussion on Google+ about the new Motorola X phone. A lot of the people on those posts slammed the phone for various reasons – price, locked boot loader, etc. There were also plenty of knocks on the fact that it didn’t have a quad-core processor like the S4 or HTC One which were priced similarly. What they failed to grasp is that whether the manufacturer used 1, 2, 4, or 8 cores in the end makes no difference as long as the phone can deliver a competitive (or even best of class) feature set, functionality, price, and user experience. The iPhone is one of the most successful phones ever produced, and yet it runs on a dual-core processor. It still delivers one of the best user experiences on the market. The features that are enabled by the technology are what are relevant to the consumer, not the technology itself.The relevance of technology therefore, is as an enabler, not as a product feature or a competitive advantage, or any myriad of other things – an enabler. Looking at the Android operating system, it is an impressive piece of software technology, and yet Google gives it away. Why? Because standalone, it does nothing for Google. Giving it away allows other companies to use their expertise to build products and services which then act as enablers for Google’s products and services. To Google, that’s where the real value is.The possession of or access to a technology is only important for what it enables you to do – create innovations which solve problems. That is the real relevance of technology.

Outdoor Activities For the Family

Spending time outdoors enjoying family activities with your children is one of the best ways to pass a day. There are fun family outdoor activities that you can take part in year round. Doing things with your children in this way offers unique opportunities to communicate and reconnect while also having fun.Planning fun family outdoor activities takes a little preparation. It’s best to talk with your family and find out which activities they would enjoy, then plan outings accordingly. Medical conditions have to be a consideration also. A child with allergies probably won’t enjoy a walk in the woods as much as the rest of the family. You have to take everything into account so the whole family enjoys the activity.


There are quite a few outdoor activities to choose from. Here are some you might want to consider:o Boating: If you do have a family member with allergies, you might consider boating as an outdoor family activity. With boating you don’t have tree and flower allergens to deal with.o Hiking: Going for a hike is a great outdoor activity for the whole family. You can take traditional hikes in the woods of your local state parks, go to military parks and use the hike as an educational tool, or even go to botanical gardens and caves for day hikes. Hiking is an activity that you can partake in most any time of the year if your state doesn’t have bad winters. Just make sure you and your children have the appropriate clothing and gear.o Swimming: A day spent swimming at the lake is probably the ultimate fun family outdoor activity. Children love splashing around in the water, and going to the lake is usually a fairly inexpensive activity which is good for your wallet.o Fishing: Get the kids and the fishing gear together and head out to catch the big one. Fishing is a sport that everyone can enjoy. They even have pink fishing poles for little girls these days to make them more interested in the activity. Fishing offers great opportunities for reconnecting for the whole family. Sitting on the creek bank, or in the boat, waiting for the fish to bite, is the perfect time to ask about each other’s day.


o Skiing: During the winter months the family can go skiing together. Everyone can start out on the bunny slopes together while they learn the ropes. Being on top of the mountain and looking out at the vast horizon and beauty surrounding you is one of the best feelings in the world.Those are just a few ideas to get you started. There are numerous outdoor activities that families can enjoy. Being together is the most important thing. Spending time doing fun family outdoor activities will improve relationships, develop bonds that last a lifetime, and keep everyone active. Make outdoor family activities a part of your life.

Lifesaving Safety Tips For Water Sports Enthusiasts

Tips to Insure a Safe Fun Time with Water Sports and Boats!Water sports are very popular amongst athletes and non-athletes alike especially in the hot days of summer. After all, any of the water sports is an excellent way to keep cool and look cool, stay active and tanned as well as get your exercise and its health benefits.However, water sports can be dangerous, too. Reports of drowning and other water-related accidents worry us and yet we still fail to adopt certain safety guidelines to avoid becoming the next victims. Well, if you want your family and friends to be safe at all times while engaging in water sports while having fun, it pays to take heed of the following safety tips.Be a Strong SwimmerIn any water sport, it is important to be a strong swimmer. At the very least, you will be able to swim to shore or to avoid moving objects on the water such as boats. Likewise, you must ensure that the other participants in the sports are also strong swimmers not only because it is a competition where the strongest have the highest chances of winning but also because lives are at stake here.


Wear a Life VestMany drowning deaths in the open seas have been attributed to the failure to wear life vests. Even if you consider yourself a good swimmer, life vests are de rigueur in case you lose consciousness or get tired from floating on your own. And remember that not just any toy flotation device will do for the purpose.Learn CPRDo not rely on the lifeguards and other medical personnel to come on time to save the life of a family member or a friend. YOU must learn how to administer CPR at the soonest possible time because mere seconds can mean the difference between life and death.Your local college, hospital and Red Cross branch offer CPR classes so take advantage of them.Avoid Alcohol and DrugsAlcohol and drugs will never ever mix with water sports. Both substances have adverse effects on your mind and body, not least of which is slower reaction time, lesser focus and, worst, unconsciousness.If you must take alcohol, do so after the competition is over so that you are in no danger of drowning. Well, of course, you will be in danger of alcohol-related traffic accidents so you are better off staying away from it. Stay in Designated AreasOf course, one of the thrills of extreme water sports is facing death in the eyes and living to tell the tale. However, if you want another shot at that heart-pumping move, then do try to stay within the designated area of the competition.


For individuals who are swimming in the open seas, this tip is very important especially when strong currents and waves are present.Know the Safety Rules of the SportEach sport has its own safety guidelines and equipment. It pays to become familiar with them and then take heed.

For example, if your sport says that you have wear shoes and a helmet like wake skating, then do so. Better yet, you should undergo sufficient training before hitting the competition circuit.
Indeed, water sports accidents, injuries and deaths can be significantly reduced if only we know how to engage in them as safely as possible.