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.

The Top 9 Best Beaches of Goa

Have you explored it yet? GOA is a destination of beaches. Explore till you get your peace and your favourite spot. Discover the ones, which have not been explored by many.

Butterfly – If you are planning a quite vacation, then this is the place to be.It lies towards the north of Paloeum beach. Best way to reach is via boat ride from Paloeum beach. Calm peaceful with no disturbance away from the hustle bustle.

Tiger – Located in South Goa. It is one of the most isolated beaches in Goa and truly a wild one. Taking a stroll with your loved one on the soft white sand is a delight here. Fresh breeze hitting the rocks, sea looking at you with all the brightness and shine is breathtaking. Ferry from Kola beach can be rented to take you there.

TIP: carry your snacks and water and other important items.

Hollant – This beach is a delight for travellers. It’s a great beach to go for nice swim unlike the others in Goa. Enjoy a swim and get your perfect tan here. It’s well connected and can be reached in your scooty or car from Vasco. Good cafes and hotel are around.

Betul – is a secluded beach and picturesque. The stunning side of the Mobor peninsula is around the Betul hills giving a spectacular view. It’s a great place to do some fishing the goan style. Trust me worth an experience.

TIP: carry your picnic basket

Cola – A romantic beach, it’s mesmerising and magical at the same time. It feels the sea is begging you to visit again and again. The beauty of the beach is the river flows very close to the beach. Highly recommended. Take a ride from Palolem- Cancona to reach here.

Arambol – It’s a non-crowded beach unlike the Baga and Candolium beaches. Away in the extreme North Goa this beach is located. You can take a long walk by the seaside. Heavenly isn’t it. Arambol takes care of the basic amenities from food to shacks and if you want to relax, then get a nice massage done by the sea.

Morjim – is the now called: Mini Russia, as lot of Russians prefer this beach. This beach gives bird enthusiasts a reason to keep coming back again and again. Great place for bird sighting and travellers thrill lies in dolphin sighting.A must visit place in North Goa if you want to watch turtles by your side.

Vagator – is a great place to enjoy the sunset by the rocks with a beer in your hand. Quiet yet a ravishing place to visit. Lot of tourists prefers this to Anjuna and other beaches.

Siradio – It’s a beach with all that can interest a traveller. A beach great for shell collection to a rocky sandy beach, which entices you to explore the caves around it. It has the great history, which is best explored when you are there.

Why Should You Go for Team Building in Bangalore?

Bangalore is not only an IT hub of India but it is also the party capital of India. It provides ample of opportunities for doing adventures, indulging in fun -activities, night parties and relaxation in luxury resorts. The city not only demands the hard work of the people but it also serves the people with some wonderful team building activities and places so that they can have fun as well as learn.

There are numerous team building activities in Bangalore. Manchinbele is an ideal spot for team building activities in Bangalore. It has some fun water and adventure sports in which the employees and employers can involve and strengthen their relationships with each other.

The city has many resorts as well which provides a luxurious home like stay, fun activities for team building, amazing food and all the other basic and amazing amenities. Staying in resorts makes the team members comfortable with each other. It also helps in establishing communication with the bosses. A thin line between the bosses and the employees can be broken while having fun activities as a team as well as staying in a comfortable environment.

Shilhaandara Resort is for rejuvenating the nerves of the team members. It is placed at the foothills of the Ramangara. It is surrounded by lush greenery and is a perfect place for nature as well as adventure enthusiasts. It has a swimming pool, space for fun-activities indoor as well as outdoor, different cuisines of food and many more amenities. There are many activities like zorbing, paintball, rope climbing in which you can take part with your team. There are many resorts in and around Bangalore that boost team building activities and are perfect for corporate team outings.

The city serves many opportunities for team building. There are many adventurous trekking and camping spots in Bangalore as well which helps to boost the confidence in employees. Adventure sports bring back power and vigor back in the lives of the employees. Savandurga is one of the best places in Bangalore for trekking. This place provides tranquil surroundings as well as thrilling treks which boosts up the employees. Similarly, there are many more trekking places in Bangalore. Employees can head and stay in night camps. They can play games around the campfire, roast food in the early man’s way, stay in camps among the wild animals, and enjoy the scenes of a bed of stars in the dark sky at night. Together with getting involved in camping and trekking enhances the bond and they get to work better as a team.

Bangalore is a perfect city for corporate outings. There are many other activities like archery, rappelling, rock climbing, boating, and much more in which the teams can take part and work as a team. It is rightly said that sports activities not only provide enthralling experiences but also build skills in people. Skills like teamwork, confidence, risk-taking abilities, better planning and development skills are inculcated while performing sports activities.

Peru Travel: Qeswachaka Festival and Alternative Inca Trails in Peru

Many people travel to Peru to hike the famous Inca Trail. There’s an undeniable allure to the idea of treading the same path once used by the ancient Incas as they traveled to the great citadel of Machu Picchu. However, the Inca Trail is not the only impressive remnant of the Inca Empire. In addition to the well-known Inca Trail path to Machu Picchu, the Incas built a vast and elaborate system of roads hundreds of kilometers long that traversed the entire Inca Empire.

The Inca construction, however, didn’t stop at roads. In addition to building paths, the Incas were master bridge builders, and these bridges were an integral part of the road system. Q’eswachaka, commonly known as the Inca Rope Bridge, is the last of these bridges still in use, and is located just outside of Cusco in the Quehue District. Though originally destroyed in an attempt to halt Pizarro’s attack on Cusco during the Spanish invasion, it was reconstructed and continues to remain in use to this day. The bridge spans the raging Apurimac River as it cuts through the breathtaking Apurimac Valley.

Q’eswachaka is made of fibers woven together to create a strong rope, and small slats of wood are used to reinforce the footpath. Part of the reason the bridge has lasted almost 600 years, however, is that every year, the people of four local Quechua communities come together to replace the old bridge with a new one. The Q’eswachaka Festival, four days of work and celebration, marks this occasion. This ancient tradition has been carried out annually since the days of the Incas, and continues to be an important connection to tradition and culture in the high Andes.

Every year, the four communities enthusiastically come together for the process of rebuilding the bridge- an important and ceremonial tradition. Certain members of the community hold the role of engineer, while others serve as weavers. One male holds the important position of “Chakaruwak”, meaning he is a specialist in braiding and construction. In order for the sacred art to be carried on from generation to generation and to keep the spirit of the bridge alive, fathers teach their sons the process, just as their fathers did before them.

Before the festival begins, community members collect the building material, primarily consisting of grass and natural fibers. These fibers will be woven into the cables used in the bridge’s construction. Before the festival and bridge building can begin, however, the spiritual leader of the community must ask the apus, or the mountain spirits, for permission to begin the process, and make offerings of coca leaves and corn to Pachamama, Mother Earth. After this offering, the weaving of the cables begins. In the afternoon, the men divide into two groups, one each side of the bridge, and begin braiding the cables towards each other.

On the second day, the engineers begin by untying the old ropes, which are attached to stone nails, and attach the new ropes to the nails. This is a time consuming and intricate process, but finally the base and handrails of the new bridge are in place.

On the third day of the festival, construction finishes on the handrails and footpath, and when the construction has finished, the bridge is officially opened to the tune of music accompanied by traditional dances.

The festival reaches its climax on the fourth day, which is a day of celebration. The communities once again come together to celebrate the completion of the bridge through song, indigenous dances, and eating traditional foods. This final day serves as a culmination of all the hard work, and a celebration of the lasting traditions that have allowed these communities to keep their vibrant culture alive.

This year, the Q’eswachaka Festival falls during the second week of June, with the principal day of the festival on the second Sunday of the month. The bridge reconstruction and subsequent festival will take place once again, as it does every year, as the local communities gather to honor both Pachamama and their ancestors, and celebrate their community and heritage.

TOP 10 Must Visit Places in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh

1) The Ridge:

This is one of the most popular points in Shimla. Located on the Mall road, at the heart of Shimla, this is a much appreciated and enjoyed stretch here, where visitors arrive and drench themselves in the views of mountains and surrounding Beauty.

2) The Mall:

If you love shopping and want to get yourselves bagged with some shimla arts and other accessories then the best place for you is THE MALL. One can shop for local handicrafts, shawls, woolens, exquisite jewelry etc. here.

3) Kufri:

Kufri is just 13 km away from the main town of shimla. You can book a taxi or catch a regular HRTC transport bus from the local bus stand. The views and sceneries here are amazing and the landscapes more flattering, a bit untouched with the tourist rush.

4) Toy Train to Kalka:

if you want something really different then here is a TOY TRAIN SERVICE FROM SHIMLA TO KALKA. This awesome beauty was all setup during British Rule. This route is one of the most pictorial train routes in the world and it passes through more than a hundred tunnels It is a narrow gauge train route and it connects Kalka to Shimla.

5) Jakhoo Temple:

This Temple is well known for its world’s largest and Huge Hanuman Statue. This awesome statue can be viewed from most part of the shimla city. one must visit this place once his/her visit during Shimla tour. Must Visit the temple, to view this statue upright and strain your neck a bit admiring its magnificence.

6) Chail:

This place is very famous for having the world’s highest cricket and polo grounds. Must visit place in chail is Chail Palace. Once the summer capital of the Patiala Kings, the palace has now been converted into a hotel and a tourist destination.

7) Tatta Pani:

“Taatta Pani ” is a hindi Synonym of HOT WATER. It is a very well known tourist spot situated at 51 km away from shimla. This place is very famous for its natural hot water springs.

8) Naldhera:

Naldehra is located around 22 km from Shimla and is famous for the Naldehra Golf Club. Situated at an altitude of 2200 m, this is a 18 hole golf course and is among one of the best golf courses in India.

9) Tara Devi:

Tara Devi is dedicated to the Deity of Stars. This Temple is located at a mountain peak near Shogi. Tara Devi place got its name after this Deity. There are legends and tales to the origins of the temple, making it a simple yet subtly fascinating experience.

10) Indian Institute of Advanced Study:

IIAS was originally built as home for Lord Duffein, who was the Viceroy of India during the years 1884 and 1888. A residential centre for higher education, the Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS), is located on Observatory hill – one of the seven hills of Shimla.

5 Major Attractions of Nepal

Nepal experiences a huge diversity in terms of tourists as different people are tempted to visit this country for a variety of reasons. While some fancy the adrenaline pumping of the Himalayas, some are intrigued by the outstanding culture and traditions of the country. A lot of travelers visit Nepal in a hope to rediscover the soul from within and in turn attain a spiritual awakening. The country is blessed with the stupendous beauty of nature, huge mountains, vivid landscapes, beautiful temples and monasteries, and vibrant places like Kathmandu. This article briefs about the 5 major attractions of Nepal among the wide choices to explore in here.

1. Kathmandu

The capital city of Nepal is a must-visit place as nearly every itinerary begins from here. The beauty of Kathmandu is incomparable and unmatched to any other city in the world. The lively ambiance, vibrant monasteries, with sights of looming snow-capped peaks in the backdrop makes it a sight to cherish forever. There are a lot of outstanding places to explore in Kathmandu, the Pashupatinath Temple, the Monkey Temple, the Buddhist Shrine are among the finest places to visit. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Durbar Square is a primary attraction in Kathmandu, which was damaged by the 2015 earthquake but still boasts the grandeur in the best way.

2. Pokhara

The gateway to the Himalayas at a distance of 200 km from Kathmandu, the Pokhara rests at the base of the foothills and is surrounded by supreme sights of some of the highest mountains of the world. The picturesque beauty of the surrounding Mt. Manaslu, Annapurna I, and Dhaulagiri makes the landscape postcard perfect. The region around the Lake Phewa is blessed with an unparallel serene ambiance ideal for a relaxing stay. The second largest town of Nepal is much less chaotic than Kathmandu and gifted with an enchanting landscape.

3. Chitwan National Park

Nepal gets a lot of attention for the enticing trekking routes and the high mountains, but the Chitwan National Park packs a different kind of thrill for the tourists. It is a beautiful place that showcases the best of wildlife of Nepal and homes to some amazing animals like the Rhino, Bengal Tigers, Sloths, Leopards, Bears, and many others. The elephant ride lets you explore the best of this National Park blessed with a Tropical Monsoon Climate. A journey through this amazing place creates a memory that will be etched in the heart of the travelers for long.

4. Trekking in Annapurna Region

Trekking and hiking in Nepal is a fascinating thing to do as this rewards the travelers with the bewildering and enthralling sights of nature’s extravaganza. The Annapurna Trekking route is the most popular trekking route of the country as it covers a number of outstanding locations and can be modified according to the wants of the trekkers. The Annapurna Region is also a delight to explore as it displays the enchanting glory of the Nepalese country side and even features of the Tibetan Plateau. This journey also gives an insight into the culture, traditions, and life of the locals at a large.

5. Trekking in Langtang

Another bewitching destination in Nepal is the Langtang Region. It is an outstanding place that ideally serves the travelers with an incredible hiking experience and some captivating sights. The high passes, vibrant landscapes, magnificent views, old monasteries, pukka mountain scenery, and the compelling beauty of the Rhododendrons are a delight for every traveler. A much easier and less tiring destination in comparison to the Annapurna and Everest Trekking trail, the Langtang Region packs some commanding sights that bask in its own glory.

Apart from these 5 destinations, Nepal is also well known and popular for many other mesmerizing locations that can make our extension from India a truly delightful experience. Experience the best of Nepal as it has loads and loads to offer.

Expat Clubs Groups and Associations

Expat Groups are a way for those living abroad to meet and make new friends with like minded people who are living in a country other than their own. Whether you are traveling the world for leisure or working for large or small global corporation, when you first arrive at a new country you can be ‘lost at sea’ and not having any friends can be both daunting and lonely. The challenge is to find and join expat groups, clubs and association to help you adjust to a new way of life, in what may be an exciting move, yet alien and strange at first. Expats, Travel, Food and Hospitality go hand in hand and many expats living abroad crave for their home grown foods and beverages whilst being away from home. Fortunately due to the world of online shopping and web surfing expats can order food and beverage, gift packages, fine wine, premium beers and ales and all kinds of alcoholic beverages and have them shipped directly to their door without having to leave their living room.

Additionally they can search for and find catering companies for their corporate function of social event. Whilst playing tennis and going to movies and enjoying many of the wonders of a new country may be fun, expats often still feel the loneliness, especially when they come to make friends only to find their friends have moved on to work in another county. And so the wheels of the merry go rounds continues to turn and the need for companionship and familiarity can be so powerful that it can often leave you sad depressed and totally alone. This is where familiar food and beverages from home can help to ease that void and Expats from around the world can now find many of the foods from their country of origin here at the worlds first and only dedicated directory for fine food and premium beverages.

Expats can buy directly from global specialty food stores and they can even find local and international logistics companies for all their logistics and transport needs. Be it the need to ship a case of wine from one Australia to China or a whole container load of personal effects. Be sure to visit our logistics platform to search our detailed list of the world’s most reputable and experienced freight forwarders, airlines, shipping lines, customs agents and global removals companies for all your transport needs.

Strategic Process for Site Planning

Real estate site selection can be a complex web of evaluating store attributes within a potential store trade area. The process utilizes both a science and an art to the overall selection process combining a number of factors that weigh on the viability of the location. Complicating the process is that each location has its own special attributes, which makes site selection more directional in nature as opposed to a cookie-cutter process. That being said, here are some key attributes that should be considered in the overall evaluation:

Traffic Counts – While these are clearly site specific (think of the difference between a rural site and an urban site), analyzing the traffic counts will help offer a predictability of volume. The key is to understand what the potential traffic patterns are for the site before one can look solely at traffic counts. If a road carries a number of cars, but that road does not feed well into the site, the traffic counts may be misinterpreted. Understand the natural flow into the site before assessing the traffic counts. One way to gain some perspective on how traffic counts mirror volumes is to compare existing site volumes with their traffic counts. Many operators jump right into new site selection without looking back at existing sites and creating a model based on their geographic areas. This may give you a more reliable predictive model for your future sites.

Population Counts – Population count is the next logical indicator for your location. Not only do you want to look at the population count as it stands today – and is it enough to support a site – but also how has it been trending. Positive growth indicates a viable marketplace while negative trends may raise a red flag. In addition, gaining a better understanding of the ethnicity and socioeconomic trends in the trade area will offer a better snapshot into the merchandising mix that should be presented at the site.

Seasonality & Geographic Nuances – Determining whether the site is seasonal or not should factor into your analysis. Operators shouldn’t necessarily shy away from seasonal type stores but rather not be surprised by them after they open. Closely related to seasonality would be a trade area driver – i.e., a mall or theme park – that may positively or negatively impact your store’s performance. Monitoring these outside forces will tighten up your model. In addition, look for the non-seasonal enhancements or barriers to your site. A river that bisects your trade area, for instance, will effectively cut your traffic to the store no matter how close in proximity the homes are. Even certain companies can impact your site. A large manufacturing facility that releases a number of employees at the same time can cause bottlenecks in the traffic flow that will cause potential customers to avoid the area at these peak times.

Visibility – This may be more anecdotal than the other attributes but should still be a consideration. Judging whether the site is easily viewed from afar as opposed to a site that is hidden by overgrown trees should be a factor. Driving the site from all four directions allows for the owner to gain the perspective of potential customers as they approach the location. Other considerations would include that speed of the traffic as it approaches the potential site. If the traffic flow is traveling at too great a speed or drivers are distracted due to complicated traffic patterns, the opportunity to notice your location is diminished.

Competitors – Obviously, understanding the competition within the trading area is critical. I would approach this competitive evaluation in a three-fold fashion: a) gasoline, b) convenience store, and c) quick-service restaurants. Look at the competitive landscape in degrees of competition – meaning, some competition has greater negative impact than other competition. Ranking your competition based on this impact for all three categories will paint a more holistic overview. Keep in mind, that some competitors may impact only the gasoline while others may have a greater impact on convenience product sales. With the c-store industry creeping further and further into food-service, mapping the quick service restaurants in the trade area will give you a better indication of the viability of your food-service operation.

Location – Location, location, location. There are many factors that come into play when picking the best location. Is it a premier corner? What day part side of the street is the site? Is there easy ingress and egress in and out of the location? Are there divided highways in front of the location that make access more difficult? Is this an inside lot location and not even a corner? What is the length of the property frontage? There is a myriad of considerations for the actual site location that need to be evaluated in the context of the other attributes.

Let’s face it; there are a number of variables that come into play. While one cannot be certain that accurately depicting all of these attributes into a real estate site evaluation model can guarantee success, it will at least put you in a better risk aversion position. That is the science of it.

I have been around the block long enough to know that some stores simply defy their science and just work. The art of site selection is far harder to quantify than the science. While those stores are the anomaly, evaluating new locations by putting their attributes through the litmus test above, helps minimize the downside risk of opening an under performing location.

Make More Sales By Being Contrary

Here’s something I’ve been playing with, and my results have been pretty good, too.

A few months ago a friend was launching a big product with lots of cash prizes for the top affiliates. I knew there would be tons of affiliate competition, with every affiliate trying to out-do the others with bigger and better bonuses.

How to compete?

I decided not to.

Instead, I thought about what every affiliate’s bonus pages would look like: Highly polished, slick, professional, lots of graphics, videos, etc.

Odds are they would all start to look very much alike, right?

So I thought… what if I did something different?

What if my page looked like something you might get in the mail – black and white sales letter, using the Courier typewriter font, very old-school looking…

And what if, instead of a highly polished professional photo of myself, I used one where I just woke up? Or one where I just finished exercising, or just finished the yard work?

In other words, I looked like the guy next door and not some slick marketer.

Taking this thinking to the next level, I decided I didn’t want to spend time or money on creating a bonus. Everyone else was doing that, so why should I?

Instead, I would hold a live class. The homework would be to go over the program before class. Then in class we would implement, step-by-step, what was in the program. And I would record the whole thing, so people could just follow along.

In case you’re wondering – it worked beautifully. My sales were a very decent 5 figure number, and my commissions were half that plus bonuses.

And one more thing – I cheated, too. I had my virtual assistant run the class for me. She got to learn some great new skills, and I put less than 2 hours into the entire project.

The takeaway: When you have a lot of competition, it’s time to stop directly competing and find another way.

If they are using tons of graphics and slick videos, you go with a 1980’s black and white typewriter look.

If they are offering bonus packages filled with 5, 10 or 20 products, you offer no products (I offered hold-your-hand training, which in my opinion is worth far more anyway.)

You get the idea.

Do you know what would work even better than that?

MAILING the actual letter. Yup. Talk about old school. If you collect real addresses of your BUYERS, you might consider doing this on big ticket items.

I know marketers who do this. They are few and far between, and they are KILLING it. They only mail to buyers, which greatly improves their conversions. They use a service to send out the mailers for them. And they make more on one of these mailings than most successful marketers earn in 6 months.

Which brings me to my second idea… if you don’t already have the mailing addresses for your buyers, start collecting those now.

When you have a sizable portion of them (at least 200, preferably 500) approach a marketer with a product your list would love. Make sure there is plenty of profit in that product. Take the sales letter, adapt it to a black and white mailer (cheap to produce) and send it to your buyers.

See what happens. Tweak, rinse and repeat.

You can easily DOUBLE your income using this method.

Know why? Again, because it’s contrary. It’s different. Almost no one is doing it.

Your customer gets maybe a half dozen pieces of mail in a day. Two are bills. Two are sales flyers from local businesses. One is a catalog.

And then there’s that mysterious white envelope. Yeah, it’s going to get opened. Yes, it’s going to get read.