October 23, 2014

The M&Ms Of Marketing

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These colorful, cheerful, uniform and sweet candy coated chocolates that are the M&M candy are a perfect association for what we call the M&Ms of Marketing: your Marketing Mix.  Contrary to popular belief, marketing is not simply a fancy term for ‘sales’ or ‘advertising’ but rather a philosophy or better yet a strategy that guides your business.  The M&Ms of your marketing mix, like the M&M candy, must be aligned, colorful, creative, have an appealing or sweet message that is uniform and consistent through all your mediums.  Your marketing plan, therefore, is a focused, uniform guide that conveys a clear and consistent message to a chosen audience.  An audience that has been carefully selected because they are most likely to respond to your marketing message by acting on the desire you’ve created: the desire to buy M&M candies.  Isn’t that a mouthful!

Let us take it piece by piece.

The art of Marketing is defined as the management process that identifies, anticipates and satisfies customer requirements profitably.  In other words, marketing is having the right product, in the right place, at the right time, for the right price.

The term Marketing Mix was coined by Neil Borden (Borden, N. 1964) who first started using the phrase in 1949. Borden claims the phrase came to him while reading James Culliton’s description of the activities of a business executive:

(An executive is) “a mixer of ingredients, who sometimes follows a recipe as he goes along, sometimes adapts a recipe to the ingredients immediately available, and sometimes experiments with or invents ingredients no one else has tried.” (Culliton, J. 1948).

The basic Marketing Mix of the 60’s consisted of the 4Ps: Product, Price, Place & Promotion.  Product: define your product and which market segment it targets, Price: establish its pricing strategy, whether it’s  99 cent psychological pricing, penetration pricing which is a strategy to undercut the competition by setting lower prices, or skimming where you have an exclusive product that you can sell at a higher than market price.   Place:  which channels you use to sell your product. Promotion: the message you will use to create your brand image.  All four together are used to convince your target customer to buy your candy, rather than your competitor’s candy.

Based on the marketing mix variables above, a simplified version of the M&M brand candy Marketing Plan might look something like this:

Product: The first step in the marketing mix is to clearly define your product and which category you want to identify it with and essentially, compete in.  M&M’s markets itself as a candy with milk chocolate and therefore can effectively competes in two categories: candy and chocolate.  It is placed next to the chocolates as well as next to the candies on store shelves.  In this way it is associated with both chocolate and candy but also allows M&M’s to differentiate itself, thereby providing them with a competitive advantage.  Packaging is another factor inherent to the product.  The design on the package would be left up to the promotion people but the size and type of packaging is very much a core part of the product itself.   M&M’s candy offers different size packages, different flavors (nuts inside) and different size candy (think, M&M minis).

Price: within the range of candies per size they would persue a Penetration strategy to establish themselves firmly into the marketplace.

Promotion: big M&M characters in ads to appeal to the child-centeredness focus of a mother.  Economy size bags that appeal to households with children, and so on.

Place: sold in all grocery stores and pharmacies and bodagos.

The marketing mix of the 60’s has evolved into something more complex 30 years later and now includes People, Process, and Physical Environment in the mix.  Process came about to refer to the popular buzzwords ‘quality management’ or ‘continuous process improvement’ and is about how an organization is run, how streamlined and organized it is and how focused every aspect of an organization is on the organization’s strategy.  Physical environment refers to an actual physical structure that represents a very big part of an organization, if applicable.  The Googleplex, Google headquarters, is a perfect process example since it so developed and huge that it is a city and world and culture of its own.

Market segmentation and competitive advantage are two other basic elements of a marketing strategy.   In Market segmentation, consider the world your orange and each category of people a different segment.  We can segment by thousands of different variables but the most common marketing variables are age, gender, socio-economic status, spending habits and lifestyle.  So an M&M candy might target women (gender) who are mothers (lifestyle & age), who tend to buy brand name snacks (spending habits) for their kids.

A solid marketing strategy is a critical component to the success of any product or business and helps you stay focused and compete effectively in today’s marketplace.

Suzannah Raff is a business coach in private practice in New York.  She also teaches college Management, Marketing & Entrepreneurship courses.  You can visit her websites: www.koshershopaholic.com, www.eatingforreal.com and www.raffbusiness.com for more information about her businesses and coaching services.

 

How To Create A Business Plan For Free

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I recently got a phone call from a lovely woman requesting some business coaching. She mentioned to me that she happens to also be a single mom supporting a few young children while on welfare. She wanted me to help her start a business. She sounded like a very talented and creative woman. She has a wonderful business idea. But, she feeds her family from foodstamps. So, I found myself faced with a dilemma that people in my profession of business or life coaching are often faced with: can I conscionably accept money from her for business coaching? While the answer is yes, I have every right to collect money for my expertise and time, the bigger question becomes, is there another way for someone in her situation to accomplish her goals that might fit more within her budgetary constraints and if so, what is my obligation to share these resources with her? The answer to that question would be personal to each individual coach. For me personally, I wouldn’t feel ethical accepting her as a client, not when I know that she can first acquire a basic foundation of business plan writing by tapping into a few key resources, for free. And so, her free 30 minute consult lead her to a plethora of free information and to this article.
For many people, the mere difficulty involved in weaving your way through the Internet and its millions of websites, more than half of them promoting some ‘perfect way to make money’ and figure out who to trust is incentive enough to seek out professional guidance. And rightly so, therefore, I often begin my coaching with clients by referring them to some of my favorite trust-able free resources. Below is a list of some of these reliable resources for the new budding entrepreneur.

The best and most trusted resource for Business Plan advice available today, on the web and in person, is www.Score.org. SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. They are funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and have been in business doing this for nearly fifty years. They have a network of 12,000+ volunteers and deliver most of their services at no charge or at very low cost. I suggest that any budding entrepreneur take full advantage of all of their free services and training before investing in the pay-for services. It’s a good way to test the waters without losing the sox off your feet. One of my favorite services that they offer is free mentorships. You can visit their website to find your closest SCORE chapter, they have over 340 chapters around the country, and request to meet with a mentor in your industry – they have over 62 industries represented. You can also take advantage of free business tools, training, confidential counseling and tips available on their website. They also offer local workshops as well as online 24/7 webinars.
If you are in the metro New York area, you may qualify for Hebrew Free Loan Society’s Microenterprise Lending Program. The goal of this program is to help borrowers establish or expand a small business as a path to economic security. The program is geared towards immigrants from the Former Soviet Union and the ultra-Orthodox community – both among the most economically vulnerable Jewish populations in New York. The program provides loans up to $25,000, culturally sensitive, locally sited core business training, pre- and post-loan technical assistance, including help in writing a business plan.

The Hebrew Free Loan Society also has a new Entrepreneurship Program For Baby Boomers. There is a $200 fee for the Baby Boomer program but the program is based on The Kauffman Foundation FastTrac® NewVenturetm program with a proven track record of success by helping people hone skills needed to create, manage and grow successful consulting and other businesses.
The Orthodox Union Job Board is another vast and wonderful professional resource. They offer many free training courses like Quickbooks, PowerPoint, Time Management and LinkedIn Groups all of which can give you the tools you will need to not only run a successful business but to write a professional business plan.

Another great educational and networking resource available today is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a social networking website for people in professional occupations. One of the key features of LinkedIn are the many LinkedIn Groups that you can join, where guidance and information is readily shared and provided. Once you set up your LinkedIn Profile, the LinkedIn computer algorithms will begin to recommend to you different groups you can join based on the information you have provided in your profile. The Orthodox Union and Score both have LinkedIn groups that are chock full of guidance. Weeding through LinkedIn Groups will take time, especially until you find the ones that are most useful to you and aren’t trying to sell you something. But these groups are a smaller, more targeted pool than the global internet.

There is so much information available between the Score website, OU courses and LinkedIn Groups, you could easily find yourself spending 20 hours a day, 6 days a week on it. I recommend that you allot a certain amount of time each day or week to your research and training and then really stick to that time frame. Coming up with a good time management plan and sticking to it is another key to entrepreneurial success.
Before you have a working business plan, don’t worry about spending money on patents, copywrites or lawyers. Its simply not neccesary until you have a working busines plan on the table.  Once you reach a point where the resources listed here are too elementary for you, you are ready to move on to some fee based courses, webinars and coaching. But do yourself a favor and don’t engage in them until you’ve completed all the homework I’ve outlined above. As a budding entrepreneur, the skills of initiative, independent learning, research, time management and taking advantage of free stuff, will be very necessary for your business’ success.

There are times, however, for each of us, when the above resources just don’t cut it. When you find yourself struggling with managing your time and priorities or you need a real person to bounce your ideas off of, provide guidance and some hand holding then Business Coaching might be a very worthwhile investment for you. If you find yourself in this situation, I am always happy to hear from you. Feel free to contact me at the below numbers or email address to set up a free 30 minute coaching consult. I wish you much success in building your business, helping our economy and not being taken for a fool!

Shoshana Raff, MScA, MSW, is a Business Coach and Management Professor in private practice in Monsey, NY. She helps small to medium size businesses and entrepreneurs learn the best ways to grow their business and become the success of their dreams. You can reach her at: 973-393-5581 or sr@raffbusiness.com for a free 30 minute coaching consult to see if business coaching is right for you.

*Develop Your Strategy * Target Your Audience * Build Your Business * Create Yourself *

How To Make Money On The Web With Affiliate Links

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Here’s my latest post for my KosherWorkaholic series.  I hope you find it useful.  If you do, please feel free to share it with others.

Do you ever wonder how all of those blogs make money?

Here’s the simple answer.  If you have a website, email list or a strong social media presence, spending just an extra hour a week on some affiliate marketing can help you monetize your website; ie, make some money from it.  And don’t we all want to make a bit of extra money!?

Affiliate marketing is very simple and what you put in, is easily what you get out.  For example, if you spend an hour a week on it, and you already have a loyal blog following, or a nice size email list, a strong Facebook, LinkedIn or Pintrest following, then you will easily be able to collect anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars a month from it.  How much  you make will depend on how much time you put into it.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is when you recommend a website or a product to your readers on your blog or facebook page.  You have code attached to that product recommendation, what we call a ‘link’.  When a reader clicks on that link, called a ‘click through’ and purchases the product you recommend or clicks a few more times, (depending on the specific terms of that affiliate), you make a few cents or dollars.   Its very simple.  For example, if I tell you that CPA/DNA Dedicated Media is my favorite affiliate marketing program and the one I recommend you join first because they provide you with amazing support, training and hold your hand throughout your relationship with them, and you click here to join, I’ll make my commission at no cost to you.  Actually, I’ve helped you make money and in return, seemlessly, you’ve helped me.  Its that simple.  So, I hope you will join Dedicated Media’s affiliate program to test this out.

So, here are some of my favorite Affiliate programs that I recommend you join, if you are interested in making some extra money.  The list below is all affiliate links so if you click on one of these links and join I make a few dollars for providing you with what I hope is a quick and valuable lesson on affiliate marketing.  All of the affiliate programs I’ve listed below are free to join with no strings attached.  If you make a referral, you make your commission.  Straight forward and simple.

It is important to note that if you are using affiliate links on your website or blog, you must by law, comply with the FTC Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising have a disclosure somewhere on your site explaining that you are using affiliate links to help fund your website.  Here’s the disclosure policy I use on my KosherShopaholic site.

Here’s a list of my favorite affiliate marketing programs.  Click through, read up on them, start using them and begin to make some money.  And please do let me know how it goes!

CPA/DNA Dedicated Media

LinkShare

shareasale.com

Become a StudioPress Affiliate and Make Money!

MailChimp

BlueHost

What is Social Media, What is Twitter and How Can we use it for the Good?

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As I sit here working on my article about how Social Media was used to help raise thousands upon thousands of dollars and to rally thousands upon thousands of volunteers to help in the Hurricane Sandy aftermath, missiles are being launched on our Israeli brethren by Gaza.  And how do I know this?  Because I am watching a live twitter feed from the IDF.

Live Twitter Feed from the morning of November 15, 2012

“IDF@IDFSpokesperson,‘ Good morning to our friends in #America. While you were sleeping, 3 Israelis were killed when a rocket hit their house’.

IDF@IDFSpokesperson, ‘Breaking: A rocket fired from Gaza struck an open area near Rishon LeZion, a city with more than 200,000 people. #IsraelUnderFire’.

IDF@IDFSpokesperson, ‘Our latest count: 245 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel since yesterday. #IsraelUnderFire’.”

What is going on here?  Well, first its war.  May HKBHU protect all of k’lal yisrael especially those harmed by Hurricane Sandy and in Eretz Yisrael right now and may #PillarOfDefense be over with no casualties before this article is published. Second, it’s unadulterated news, a way to circumvent media biases and the miscommunication that occurs through the traditional media game of broken telephone.  Facts and information are being transmitted, or rather in social media speak are ‘streaming’ in real time, live, directly from the source.
@IDFSpokesperson is exactly that.  A spokesperson from the IDF who set up this twitter handle which is another word for a stage name (@IDFSpokesperson is a twitter handle) so that he can transmit information or have a conversation, open to the public, through the open media waves of social media, in this case, through Twitter.  And, I found this Twitter Feed through my Facebook Page.  I know, for those who are new to social technology, this may all be a bit confusing.  Let’s break it down.

What is Social Technology?

First, let’s explain social technology, otherwise known as social media.  Social Media is the revolutionary transformation of media, going from a top-down broadcast model to one that now allows what was once a passive audience to communicate with one another and take part in the content creation.  It is a new media-age form of communicating information, communicating news and facts or just chatting socially and passing on jokes, slogans or news articles through the technology we know as the Internet.  Social Media allows regular people to communicate with each other in real time. Officially, “social media is an umbrella term that defines the various activities that integrate technology, social interaction and the construction of words, pictures, video and audio” Wikipedia.org.   Similar to text messaging but with more visuals, video and audio, an easier flow and much more appealing user interface, social media is a new way people socialize, raise awareness, market, sell and advertise their products, businesses or information.  It’s also a new way to chat
with friends, keep in touch and be social.

The main social media platforms today are Facebook, Twitter and YouTube with Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pintrest also gaining in use and popularity.  While social media is a very important and increasingly necessary tool in marketing any business today, using it with filters and boundaries, as with anything on the internet, is very important.

Here are some very interesting social media statistics. Three out of four Americans use Social Technology.  Two out of three of the global internet population visit social networks.  Visiting social sites is the 4th most popular online activity (ahead of checking personal email). Time spent on social networks accounts for 10% of all Internet activity and is growing at 3x the regular internet growth rate, 13 hours of media is uploaded to YouTube every minute,  there are 100,000,000 YouTube videos viewed per day and 13,000,000 Wikipedia
articles.  In short, social media is not something that business owners can really ignore, if they are serious about growing their business outside of the heimish community.

What is Twitter?

Considered ‘microblogging’, Twitter is used to read, write and share messages of up to 140 characters. These messages, or ‘Tweets’, are available to anyone interested in reading them by simply following your Twitter handle like the one exampled above, @IDFSpokesperson.  Twitter offers a unique combination of open, public, and unfiltered information in the form of what’s been coined, ‘tweets’.  The @ sign represents your user name/twitter handle and the # represents a conversation thread that you can
post to or follow.  I’ve been following ‘ #IsraelUnderFire’ to stay up to date with the recent bombings in Israel through my Twitter Feed, which I showed you above.

Twitter is just communication in a new shape, but it’s also a platform for listening to the communication of others in new ways.

What is Facebook?

There are 5,000,000,000, yes, 5 billion minutes spent on Facebook each day.  Facebook is the largest social network in the world with over 950 million users worldwide. The average user has 130 Friends and spends about 20 minutes on the site 40 times a month.

Others

YouTube, Google+, Pintrest, Flickr and Instagram are other popular social media sites.  YouTube, bought by Google in 1996 for a whopping $1.65 billion dollars is a video-sharing website where anyone can upload, view and share videos.   Google+ is the social networking equivalent of Facebook created and owned by Google. It offers a different user interface and experience and is competing fiercely with Facebook for marketshare and leadership. Pintrest is a virtual pinboard or bulletin board designed for people to organize and share all the ‘beautiful things’ they find on the web.  People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.  Flickr is an online photo management and sharing application.  Instagram is a way to take photos and share them with other platforms like Flikr, Twitter and Facebook pages.

Hurricane Sandy Rescue & Relief Efforts

It’s no secret that technology can help us in many ways. What is amazing, though, is how wonderfully social technology has been
used to spread critical information and galvanize people into action.  During and in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, new facebook pages and Twitter streams were created so that average citizens and chessed organizations could follow live and in real time what was
happening throughout Hurricane Sandy and learn about the areas damaged, what areas were still out of power, needing relief and how to help.  One small example is Masbia.org, a Kosher Soup Kitchen run by a Chassidic Jew, who leveraged social media by sending out
Tweets and Facebook page updates to get hundreds of extra volunteers within hours to help them go from 500 hot dinners a day to 3,000.  At the last minute, after a request came in from the US Councilman, Masbia galvanized enough volunteers and donation money
to feed hundreds of relocated seniors hot meals during the heavy snow after Sandy on Nov. 7, 2012.  Masbia has continued to use the power of social media for the good by  raising thousands of extra dollars, galvanizing volunteers and gaining a much higher profile.  Social media helped numerous other organizations raise awareness, volunteers and money in relief efforts that are still ongoing today.

Social Media & The Israeli Defense Force

Perhaps the most breathtaking use of social technology has been seen this past week when the IDF declared war through their twitter feed, as shown in the examples above. They used social media as a way to spread the truth and create positive Public Relations. Calling it a ‘Twitter War’, combatting online Hamas’ use of social media to tell fabricated stories, the IDF used the same social technology the way smart businesses are using it today, to communicate the truth in a personal manner.  In doing so, the IDF and Israel has gained far-reaching support from around the world, changing again the face of war and brilliantly bypassing traditional media and create a flurry of positive public relations and support.  Consider this, from The Jewish Press on November 16, 2008

“Now the official Twitter account of the Israel Defense Forces’ live-tweeting its assault on Hamas may well be the most meaningful change in our consumption of war in over 20 years. This is something new…the other thing that makes this new, besides routing around the traditional media, is that we’re looking at a stream. This is truly war in real time. We’ve watched war “live” before, but not like this: There are no commercial breaks, no talking heads, no ticker tape running at the time. It is as unending and infinite and microsecond by microsecond as the speaker wants it to be, limited only by Twitter’s current technical limits.  Most importantly, though, consider this: A country can declare — via Twitter — that it is at war. If that doesn’t make the Internet real, I don’t know what does.”

Technology is shifting power away from the editors, the publishers,the establishment and from the media elite.  Now it’s the people who
are in control.  Here’s a beautiful request from ‘an Israeli citizen’ expressing the positive power of social media:

“You hear the news, you check on our safety, you care and you are worried. Your concerns and well-wishes are greatly appreciated and they strengthen us. Thank you. Big time. But we are at war here. A real, seriously real war. And you – each of you can, should, must help. We’ll take the rockets. We’ll endure the missiles. We’ll send in our soldiers on-foot to Gaza to destroy terrorist hideouts, to detonate missiles launching pads, and to target suicide bombers on-rout to kill more of us. Rest assured, we will do all this. But YOU have a role in this war too – an important role, in an important battle. It’s the war against lies and deception, the war against misinformation and ignorance, the war against cheap propaganda and sheer hatred spared by the Palestinians and the news media behind them. When you see a post you care enough to like, care enough to share. Share the truth, share the information, let everyone know. Its’ a battle as important as the one we’re fighting here, and can literally save as many lives if not more. Don’t just like. Share. Educate, and spread knowledge. Share. Do your part, help us, fight with us. It’s the littlest you can do, and it’s the biggest thing you can do. For us, for you, for peace.  Make your posts public, and share them.  Thank you, with much love.”

On the flip side, information always needs to be filtered and some wisdom or chochma should be used when you post things on any social media site.   As reports of bomb sirens went off in Tel Aviv, there were others warning not to share specifics about where the bombs were landing since Hamas was also monitoring social media and twitter feeds….

The Israeli Defense Force has issued a warning to all Israelis on all social networking sites. Their warning urges Israelis not to post information on Facebook or Twitter about where rockets are falling and where sirens are being sounded. Hamas intelligence, IDF is warning, is closely monitoring Facebook and Twitter for such information; they’re then using that information in recalibrating their firing angles in order to target the rockets more efficiently.  We are living in a new world, in which common citizens can distribute information to millions. Terrorists know it. And it’s changing the very nature of war.”

With that, I hope you have a much better understanding of how Social Media and Technology is playing an increasingly important role in the events that are reshaping our lives right now.

In my next article, I hope to discuss how to use Social Media to help grow your business.

Book Review: Briefcases And Baby Bottles

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I recently had the privilege or reading Briefcases & Baby Bottles, The Working Mother’s Guide to Nurturing a Jewish Home,  for my KosherWorkaholic series on my website.  I found it to be a wonderful resource of support, suggestions and tips for all Jewish mothers, whether they work outside the house or not.

Written by a very insightful Social Worker and mom to 4, Tzivia Reiter, who lives in Passaic, New Jersey, it is a deep and professional work on many levels filling a gap in parenting guides.  First, as a working mother in a helping profession like Social Work, Tzivia Reiter easily connects with the quintessential struggle of all mothers; struggles such as separation anxiety, guilt over leaving children with other caregivers, time management, burnout, balance, personal space and the desire to raise healthy, successful children.  The book takes a professional approach both in the way the research was conducted, by interviewing Jewish Orthodox working mothers to discuss both their struggles and triumphs, while also offering coaching and success tips throughout.

Briefcases and Baby Bottles, ‘The Working Mother’s Guide to Nurturing A Jewish Home’, was written through the lens of not just one working mother but the hundreds of Jewish mothers who were interviewed for the book and whose quotes can be found throughout the book.  For each struggle that a mother may discuss, there are also success tips to help deal with it.  Some of the topics discussed in the book book include:  learning how to let go of guilt, maintaining a
positive attitude, learning to create your own work/family balance, making the most of the time you do have with your children, giving your marriage the
attention it deserves.  The book also offers resources for the working mother, tips on finding the right child care provider, tips on easing the morning and evening crunch and even includes insightful interviews with what Tzivia calls, ‘The Real Experts’, children of working mothers.

Reading this book is excellent therapy.  To be expected as it is written by a well-seasoned therapist herself, Tzivia has a successful career as a Social Worker with OHEL Bais Ezra.  The guide helps Jewish Orthodox women recognize that their struggles, fears, and guilt along with their joys and hard work are normal and healthy.  The book provides us with a support system and benchmark to help us focus on successfully nurturing our Jewish homes.

While there are many, many parenting guides out there to help working mothers, before now there were none that focused on the Jewish Orthodox woman and her unique philosophical way of life.  In Briefcases and Baby Bottles, the struggles and triumphs of a woman who is both striving to provide her family with
Orthodox values  while also working outside the home has been nicely presented, providing our little frum corner of the Universe with a guide to emotional health and success.

This book makes for easy and enjoyable Shabbos reading.  It would also make a great gift for your sister, friend, mother, daughter or spouse.  Whether she works from the home, out of the home or in her home, Jewish mothers are always striving to nurture their homes and now we have a great resource to help us.

You can buy Briefcases and Baby Bottles online through these links on Amazon or Feldheim Publishers.

 

Michaelangelo and the Secret of a Satisfied Customer

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My husband and I went on a mini-vacation consisting of one night in a fancy hotel in the heart of Manhattan.  I heard a lecture a while back from a big Rabbi who said that every married couple should go away overnight, without their children, at least once a year.  So, following this sage advice, we left our kids with trusted adults and off we went.

My husband had done some research and booked us in a fancy 5 star hotel in the heart of Times Square for a great price, of course.  We arrived at the Michaelangelo Hotel, decorated in fine Italian style marble and paintings, true to its name.  After checking in and going up to our room, we opened the door to find ourselves in a lavish and huge 1 bedroom marble suite, complete with sitting room, desks, walk in closet/ bathroom and king size beds.  We could have easily slept our whole family in this suite.  My first thought was that my husband made a mistake.  Maybe he booked the $2,000 room instead of a $200 one?  He assured me that he hadn’t made a mistake, maybe the hotel just upgraded us?  Imagine, a free upgrade in the heart of New York city…it didn’t seem possible.

When we made our way back downstairs I stopped by the reception desk, just to make sure we weren’t going to be billed an extra $1800 for our room.  As I approached the desk, the receptionist said, “Mr. & Mrs. Raff, how can I help you?”  Impressed and beginning to really feel like a VIP guest, I told her, “wow, you remember our names?” to which she replied “I should remember your names you have the best room in the entire house”.  “Yes”, I said, “how did that happen?” to which she replied,  “Oh, well its our hotel policy to randomly pick a customer to upgrade on a regular basis and you were the lucky couple for tonight”.   Now, that’s customer satisfaction.  Imagine how special and happy we felt.  Not only did I feel like Hashem was smiling down on our little vacation away from the kids, thusly alleviating me of all my guilt for leaving them, but I knew that this story would also give me the material for a great lesson about the elusive yet important concept of ‘customer satisfaction’.

Most people who run their own businesses are often unsure about the best way to satisfy customers. The best way to satisfy a customer, ensure a repeat business from that customer and positive reputation (remember, with social media and blogging today the word about your business can spread fast) is by fulfilling the concept of  “Underpromising and Overdelivering”.  I expected a fancy hotel room.  I got a fancy hotel suite.   As a result of lowered expectations and the hotel delivery of superior service, my satisfaction and happiness with the hotel was over the moon.  So much so that I’m writing an article bragging to thousands of readers about how wonderful the Michaelangelo Hotel is.  Had the hotel done the opposite, “Overpromised and Underdelivered” where I expected a fancy suite and gotten a mere room, I would have been very dissatisfied and probably would have not only never returned but
would have warned others never to visit there as well.  So the hotel, in its wisdom, has a policy that whenever the best suite in the house is empty, they randomly give it to a customer for the night.  Rather then leave the suite empty, the small cost involved in cleaning it again is clearly worth it for them since its such a valuable opportunity to fulfill the best customer satisfaction adage of all time, “Underpromise & Overdeliver”.

By randomly upgrading patrons, the hotel turns an empty suite into a thousand dollar marketing opportunity to create a company culture and atmosphere that is focused on customer satisfaction.  As a business coach, I always advise my clients that in all that they do, from their mental checklist of values to
fulfill, make sure that their business actions lead to ‘underpromising and overdelivering’ to ensure that they have satisfied customers.  And if you’re not convinced that its important to your business’  success to satisfy customers, think about how much less it costs to retain an existing customer compared to the cost of going out and finding new ones…..

Creating A Website On A Budget

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Since my new Kosher Workaholic series was born from the feedback and questions I get from my readers and clients, it makes sense to begin the series addressing the most common question, ‘how did you create your website?” and my most common frustration – when I see people and businesses paying exorbitant prices for website services that they can do themselves, for practically free.

Here are some Basic Do-it-Yourself Website Creation Basics.

Basic WordPress

WordPress is the most widely used tool for website creation and management today.  It is very professional and technologically sound.  You’d be amazed at how many of the leading professional websites are running on wordpress.  It is also very current and features intuitive click & drag technology that makes it easy to use even for the most technologically impaired person.

WordPress is an incredibly powerful tool and the basic WordPress from www.wordpress.com is completely free!  There are the more professional upgraded Worpdress packages from www.Wordpress.org that require you to host your website yourself (which I discuss below).

If you are a real novice, use the FREE wordpress.com as your training center until you are comfortable with the technology, and then, upgrade to one of these inexpensive Premium WordPress packages.

Premium WordPress Packages

Using the free wordpress.com has serious limitations in terms of Search Engine Optimization (which I’ll write about soon) and limits your ability to generate income from your blog.  Therefore, if you want to take your blog or website up a notch an make it truly professional, there are many Premium WordPress Packages, most for under $100 that you can use.  My favorite of the Premium Wordpress packages is StudioPress with the Genesis Child Themes.  That’s what I used to created The Kosher Shopaholic and it has served me well, especially for Search Engine Optimization.  Did you know that 80% of my website traffic comes from Search Engines without me paying an penny for SEO?  Its because its built in to the premium wordpress package I use.

A package like the one I use costs about $60-$80 and is simple and intuitive.  Like I’ve said, they have SEO built into the design automatically so you don’t even have to worry about this complicated piece of it.  All you have to do is select your look & feel, click and drag and, of course, make sure to write your own unique copy.  StudioPress has excellent tutorials, help and support in place as well to assist you along the way.

Hosting

Once you begin building your website, if you want to begin making money from it from advertising and affiliates (which I will discuss in a later post), you will need to host it through a third party.  I have been very happy with BlueHost to host my site and colleagues have shared with me that BlueHost has been excellent at protecting them from hacking attempts as well.  The package I have costs only $10 per month and is incredibly easy to install and use.  They also have excellent tutorials and support for the novice users.  By hosting your website through a third party like BlueHost, you are also able to have your own domain name, like www.koshershopaholic.com instead of www.wordpress.com/koshershopaholic.

Domain Names

Having your own domain name is much more professional looking and is not as complicated to do as it might seem.   To purchase a domain name, go to a site like  GoDaddy.com and run a search on the names that you would like to use.  If someone else doesn’t already own it, you can buy it strait from GoDaddy.com for $10.  You can also purchase your domain names from hosting sites like BlueHost.

So there you have the basics of creating your website on a budget.  I wish you much success.  Please let me know if this post was helpful to you in the comments section below or by dropping me an email at coach@kosherworkaholic.com.  Feel free to ask me any business related question to be answered on the blog for my Coach’s Couch section here.

Win Your Dream Office!

dream office

Run your own business?  Have a home office?  Want to win a Free Office?  Staples has a really fun contest for you!  Anyone can enter to win their dream office by using their virtual office builder tool to build their dream office, selecting up to $5,000 in products for a chance to win these products along with an extra $500 gift card.  You can enter a new dream office each week to increase your chances to win!

You can visit their Win Your Dream Office App here to enter.

Here’s the dream office I created!

5 Quick Steps to Business and Personal Success

success2

Here’s another post for my KosherWorkaholic series.  I hope you will find it helpful.

What is success?  How do you define it?  Ask two different people and you might get two very disparate answers.  Why is that?  Because by definition success is very subjective.  Success can mean so many different things to many different people.  The way to your success, then, is by knowing yourself and knowing what success means to you.  Here are five quick steps to help you come closer to your true success.

1 – How do you define success?

The best way to achieve success is to really understand what success means to you.  It can mean something different to everyone – and that’s fine.  To the at home mompreneur, success might mean running a business that makes a $40,000 profit by the third year in business.  To the high powered executive, success might mean becoming CEO of a fortune 500 company.  To the rest of us, success might be somewhere in between.  You need to be aware and clear about what success means to you.  By defining your success and putting it down on paper, you are one step closer to achieving it.

2-  Focus on you

Feeling successful and achieving success is very personal and unique to you.  Don’t measure yourself on someone else’s terms.  Take time to figure out what will make you happy.  Determine what will make you feel fulfilled and let that be your personal definition of success.  Incorporate that into #1 – your definition of success.  Reaching your own personal definition of success is what defines success.

3- Set Measurable Goals

Specify some measurable goals that will help you reach your definition of success.  If you are running a web business, this might mean developing a website, creating an online marketing plan, expanding your product line and reaching 2,000 facebook fans in your first 6 months of operation.  If you have a retail store, your success benchmark might be to generate revenues of $100,000 by the end of first year and create a mailing list of 5,000 customers.

4- Make a list of actionable steps that need to be taken to achieve your goals of success.

This is often the hardest part – understanding what you have to do to achieve your goals.  If you are stuck here, which many people are, I always suggest to my clients to begin with research.  And with Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, facebook and all the others today, there’s never been an easier way to conduct market research and learn, learn, learn.  Join LinkedIn groups surrounding the topics that you need to take action on.  Run Google Searches and read up on how the experts do it, then begin to do what they tell you.  If you want to establish a mailing list of 5,000 people you will read up on creating a website, subscribe buttons and generating a following.  Research has never been easier and is the best first action to take.

5- Learn from failures and make course corrections when necessary - but don’t give up.

Everyone makes mistakes.  Everyone falls down a few times before they learn to walk.  Success is much like a baby learning to walk.  That baby gets up, falls and gets right back up again – sometimes immediately and other times a few hours or days later.  But no matter how many times that baby falls he’s eventully up and running as if he’s done it all his life.  So learn from your failures, get stronger, make corrections, redefine your goals if necessary but don’t let the bumps in the road deter you.

 

The 7 Habits Of Highly Successful Jewish Women Entrepreneurs

picture from www.freedigitalphotos.net

picture from www.freedigitalphotos.net

What is an Entrepreneur?

To understand what a successful Jewish Woman entrepreneur is, we should first define entrepreneurship.  Entrepreneurship is not reserved only for serial successes like Facebook billionaire Mark Zukerberg, real estate mogul Donald Trump, or Bill Gates or Henry Ford.  Nor to Anita Roddick (founder of The Body Shop), Martha Stewart (we all know her) or Ruth Handler Barbie (against her husband’s advice, she created the first Barbie Doll and featured it the New York Toy Fair in 1959).  An entrepreneur is, quite simply, anyone who starts or creates a new business – whether she’s a creative blogger, writes a book, invents a toy, opens a boutique, has a consulting business, or a therapy agency, she can be considered an entrepreneur.

Many Jewish women have and continue to be successful entrepreneurs.  The famous Schicks bakery in New York was founded by an jewish orthodox woman in the 1940’s.  As a US immigrant widowed young, with children to support, she wrote to her uncle in Hungary to let her return to war ridden Europe.  He wrote back and told her that Europe was no longer safe - she should to bake challah for the blessings it provides, especially in the area of parnassah (income).   And bake she did.  She baked and sold and baked and sold.   She became well-known not only for her delightful Challot but for her generosity and talent that resulted in an empire and legacy to pass down to her great grand-children.

It was also a group of wealthy Jewish women entrepreneurs who started the entire field of social work.  They got together and went door to door checking on the elderly and impoverished, bringing them food and medical aid during the Great Depression of the 1920s.  FEGS, one of the largest social service agencies in the United States today, is a direct result of these women’s efforts.

Entrepreneurship is defined as well as someone who “shifts resources from lower to greater yield.”  Sound familiar?  Jewish women are uniquely charged with the responsibility of creating something from very little – churning wheat into challah like Mrs. Schick and turning little children into responsible adults.  In essence, then, we women are all successful entrepreneurs:  as wives, mothers, and again as business women.  That being said, however, there are still some common traits that lead to exceptional success in business.  Here are the 7 Habits of truly successful Jewish Women Entrepreneurs, derived from my years of studying , teaching, and coaching entrepreneurs–not to mention being one myself.

The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Jewish Woman Entrepreneurs

1- Successful JWE’s are authentic – they are true experts at what they preach and market because, let’s face it, the market is transparent and copy-catters have very short life-spans.  They do what they are passionate about, and it shows.  They create expert organizations that are fun and safe places to work.

2- Plan – successful businesses are built on professional marketing and business plans.  Anyone who wants to run a successful business should at the very least, sketch together both such plans.  There are plenty of free templates that you can find on the internet and theJWE.com to help you do so.  Writing a business and marketing plan accomplishes three main goals:

  • It helps get you, the business owner, focused and thinking about  critical details that you may have otherwise overlooked
  • It helps you see if your idea is realistic and viable before you waste any more time and money on it
  • It allows you to raise capital and resources for your business.  The best way to raise capital for your business is by bringing a sound business plan to a bank and/or private investor.  When a potential investor sees that you are well organized, thought out and planned-out they will be much more likely to give you the money you need to start and grow your business.

3- “Just do it.” No, this isn’t an old Nike campaign and it doesn’t contradict #2 above.  While I’m a big advocate of using Marketing and Business Plans – spending too much time on planning and perfecting can take away from the organic and creative nature of entrepreneurship.  Too much time ruminating about something can be counter-productive.  A healthy balance is required.  Most successful entrepreneurs just begin building, creating, selling.  They don’t wait for the funding, customers, or even approval.  They move and keep things moving.  Market timing and instincts are as critical to success as anything else is.  Waiting and planning for too long can leave you on the sidelines instead of in front place.  It can also de-motivate your employees or partners.  Ever wonder why there are always ‘bugs’ in the newest tech gadget you are using?  Why it’s released only a few months before the next bug free version is ready?  Because time to market is critical.   Many people can say about the newest success – ‘I had that idea too’ but only few people actually ‘do it.’  The successful JWE’s marketing and business plans are usually developed while she’s in the midst of doing.

4- Perfection?  The  successful JWE is not afraid to make mistakes.   While she may demand perfection, she is smart enough not to wait for ‘perfection’.  Perfection is an elusive target that changes and grows along with us.  Waiting for something to be perfect will often mean that you never really do anything or you do it too late.

5- Commitment: Successful JWE’s understand commitment.  A big misconception is that if you run your own business you won’t have to work as many hours.   In fact, the exact opposite is true.  To start and run a business successfully, expect to put in over ten hours a day…for the rest of your life. The benefit is that your schedule can be very flexible and you can choose which of the +10 hours each day you are working.   There is a direct positive correlation to the amount you put into your business and the success you get out of it.  The same with children.  Meaning, the more time and energy you put into it, the more successful you will be.  And vice versa – as soon as you slow down, your personal investment of time, your business success will slow as well.

Another big misconception is that once you build a business, you can just sit back and reap the profits, letting it run by itself.  This only happens after 20, 30, 40 years, similar to investing smartly in the stock market.  Do not start a business if you are not willing to devote yourself to managing it for most of your day, every day.

6- Good Character traits- If anyone ever watched The Celebrity Apprentice, the highest rated TV series in America over the last few years, collaboration, support, and helping are not traits the celebrities model as they compete to build the most successful projects and businesses.  These TV shows are simply not realistic models of success.  Becoming a charismatic leader and creating a trusting, open, civilized corporate culture, along with collaboration, support and teamwork have been proven time and again in academia and real world case studies to be much more successful than what’s modeled on popular TV shows.

Good character traits may also be the only factor that is most unique to women and especially to Jewish women.  Such values are core Jewish values and women, by nature, exhibit these character traits.  While corporate America may try to stifle such traits, it is the confident woman who is always supportive of others, regardless of what they can get in return.  The successful JWE is successful because she has set up for herself a network of support and guidance and is at the forefront of supporting, mentoring and guiding others to success.  The successful JWE intuitively understands – her success means my success.  Her success is a model that I can learn from.   JWE’s network, teach, mentor, support, and motivate each other to succeed.

7- Finally, let us not forget the spirituality inherent in all Jewish women. This is the real secret to our success:  our intuition, character and understanding that all success comes from the One Above.  These traits, intrinsic to a Jewish women and bred in her value system, naturally lead us to success.

What do you think?  Can you see yourself in any of these traits?  What traits do you think lead to success as a Jewish Woman Entrepreneur?  Let us know in the comments below.