The World of Branding Never Stops – Ongoing Education is Required For Success

For those that wish to succeed in the branding and marketing business at any level, whether it is a small business chain or extremely large Corporation with outlets and sales in hundreds of countries – it is imperative to never stop thinking about your relationship and brand in the eyes of your customers. Perhaps it is for this reason that I attempt to read at least one branding and marketing book each and every month, and I have for years.Some are good and some are not so good, and occasionally you read a great one. Nevertheless, you will always learn something in each and every one – a different insight from a different perspective from a different author. Many of these authors have decades of experience behind them in various industries, and it is wise to borrow their knowledge and apply it to other industries, even your own. One book I’d like to recommend to you about branding is;”Married to the Brand – Why Consumers Bond With Some Brands for Life,” William J. McEwen, Gallup Press, Princeton, NJ, 2005. (135 pp) ISBN: 1-59562-005-2.This book has hundreds of examples of great companies, great branding, and success stories – for instance, the greatest wine company in the world by Earnest and Julio Gallo. Speaking of which, I am not sure who is doing their current branding and marketing, but they are on fire and accelerating the value of that brand, perhaps they read this book as I have. I am especially impressed with their work in the Spanish Gallo Wine division and the other Spanish wines. Amazing how well branding works when it is practiced by the best in the business.The author of “Married to the Brand” made examples of Southwest Airlines, Nike, DW, FedEx, Disney, Nordstrom, Singapore Airlines, Guinness beer, Ritz-Carlton MasterCard, Intel, British Petroleum, Apple Computers, Starbucks, Wal-Mart Morton Salt, Gallo, and even their own branded Gallup Polls. In fact, this book is filled with statistics as well as discussing the reality of “loyalty programs” and how well they actually work, or don’t. William makes light of the fact that there is a need for personal connection and that will determine how the consumers marry brands and make it part of their personal identity.There were some very interesting statistics that most entrepreneurs would be interested in for instance 58% of the population believes that all banks are the same, 45% of the population believes that all airlines are the same, and 54% believe that all website marketers online are the same. There is a need for these companies to trigger an emotional attachment. Once they do that it behooves them to concentrate on a justification for the purchaser – in other words, first, they must concentrate on what the customer wants, and then what the customer needs allowing them justification for themselves, family, and friends.One of the main rationales behind this book was customers need to be treated as if they are on first dates, and then work on building a relationship, and then prepare for the marriage – in that regard I would say the title of the book says it all. Branding is something that is pervasive in our everyday lives and the average grocery store has between 40,000 to 50,000 branded items on its shelves. Even the unknown name brands actually have a brand, such as; plain wrap, special store brand, no-frills brand.Companies must make good on their brand promise and then provide a connection with the customer opening up the door for the brand experience and in engaging the customer in a brand relationship. It doesn’t matter if it is a normal brand such as a Ford Trucks, or a prestige brand like Rolls Royce Luxury Automobiles. There are many different categories for brands such as membership brands, personal identity brands, memory triggering brands, and self completion brands, as in “I have arrived,” by displaying the product, or using a service.Trust in a brand and the promise of the brand is the key, which leads to respect of the brand. All these things are as important in branding as they are in a marriage. It is not just the car but also the dealership in service too. It takes people power, positive employee attitudes to build a brand. Positive experiences even when customers return items, employees must show gratitude and enthusiasm.The author also cites another very good branding book; “Loyalty Rules,” by Fred Reicheld, who states that 5% of your brand loyalists will create between 25 and 95% of your profits if you do it right. I’d say this is not only true in the coffee business but also even in a service business like a car wash.The authors also bring up the Brand pyramid, where the foundation is based on confidence and integrity, and then it is followed up by employee pride, and finally consumer passion. Williams suggests that without the foundation passion by the consumer it is not possible, and you can’t live without it in your company. Passion can be found in the most interesting places, for instance in India 31% of the buyers have a passion for a particular brand of food. Indeed, it can be as simple as that.This book also explains how to go about engaging customers and how to survive on trust, and lastly he explains the problem with diluting of brands, and sub brands like General Motors. Indicating that it is possible to pull it off, but it’s not easy as it confuses the belief system and passion of the consumer. I think I’d recommend buying this book to anyone, and it also comes with a free password for Gallup Management Journal for six months online, which is probably worth as much as the book itself. I hope you will please consider all this.

8 Reasons to Invest in Australian Property

Property and especially Australian property is an excellent investment. Not only is it much harder to lose money in property than in the stock market, but with property you also benefit both from steady capital growth and from rental income. And as rental income increases over time it protects you from inflation. At the same time you can borrow money to buy property and despite Australia’s high taxation environment, property investment can be very tax efficient.Let’s have a look at these advantages and some more beneficial aspects of residential property investment in a bit more detail.1. An investment market not dominated by investorsFirst of all, you need to realize that some seventy percent of all residential property is “owner occupied” and only thirty percent is owned by investors. That means that residential property is the only investment market not in fact dominated by investors, which means that there is a natural buffer in the market that is not available in the share market. To put it simply, if property values crash by 10%, 20% or even 40% we all still need a home to live in and so most owner occupiers will simply ride out any major crash rather then sell up and rent (compare this to the stock market where a major drop in prices can easily trigger a serious meltdown). Sure, property values can and do go down but they simply do not show the same level of volatility as the share market and property offers a much higher level of security.And if you don’t believe me when I tell you that residential property is a safe investment, then just ask the banks. Banks have always seen residential real estate as an excellent security and that’s why they’ lend up 90% of the value of your property; they know that property values have never fallen over the long term.2. Sustained growthProperty prices in Australia tend to move in cycles and historically they have done well, doubling in cycles of around 7 – 12 years (which equates to about 6% to 10% annual growth). We all know that history is no guarantee for the future but combined with common sense it’s all we have. There is no reason to think that the trends in property of the last 100 years would not continue for the next few decades, but to be successful in property investment you must be prepared and capable to ride out any intermediate storms in the market, but that applies to any investment vehicle you choose.Australia’s median house price between 1986 and 2006 as published by the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) shows that back in June 1986 you would have bought an average home for $80,800. That same home would have been worth $160,500 in 1986, which is pretty much double of what you paid 10 years earlier. Another 10 years later in 2006 that average home was worth some $396,400. So between 1986 and 2006 that average home went up by nearly 400% or about 8.3% per annum.Not bad. And quite in line with the longer term history.In fact, as Michael Keating points out in his blog on 24th January 2008 (Why Melbourne’s properties will keep rising), it is actually on the low side compared to the historical average. Australia’s property prices have been tracked for something like the last 120 years and on average they have risen 10.4% per year. Just in case you might believe that had to do with Australia being a newly found colony, and don’t believe this would be sustainable in the long term, consider this. In the UK records of property sales go back till 1088 and analysis of the data shows that in those 920 years UK property on average has gone up by 10.2% per year.3. Buy It With Other Peoples Money (OPM) Now just in case the above has not been enough to convince of the value of residential property investment, let me tell you one of the great secrets of creating wealth, which also applies to investing in property. The secret is OPM. Other Peoples Money.Secret? No – that’s just marketing hype you see on the web, but the power of Other People’s Money or more common referred to as leverage or gearing is absolutely critical to building wealth. And, in the case of property the leverage you can apply is substantial. As I mentioned above, banks love residential property as security and therefore will easily lend you 80% or 90% of the value.It was Archimedes who said, ‘Give me a lever and I’ll move the earth’. Well, as an investor you don’t want to move the Earth, you just want to buy as much of it as we can! When you use leverage you substantially increase your ability to make profit on your property investments and, importantly, it allows you to purchase a significantly larger investment than you would normally be able to.Let’s have a look at how this works. Imagine there are five investors each with $50,000 to invest. Say they all buy an investment that achieves 10% growth per annum and has a rental yield (or return) of 5% per annum. Investor A borrows 90% of the value of his investment property (Loan to Value Ratio or LVR of 90%) and investors B, C and D borrow 80%, 50% and 20% respectively. Investor E doesn’t borrow at all and goes for an all cash transaction.Let’s start with cashflow, which is here simplified to rental income minus interest paid. Investor A, who geared 90%, has a negative cashflow of $15,500 for the year whilst Investor E who borrowed no money at all has a positive cashflow of $2,500. But that’s not the whole picture because each of the properties increased in capital value and once we include that the picture changes significantly, Investor A has a net worth increase of $34,500 whilst Investor E who didn’t gear increased his net worth by only $7,500. In terms of return on investment Investor A achieved a 69% return on his initial $50,000 whilst investor E achieved a return of 15%.That’s pretty impressive for one year. And if the investors let their properties grow one or two full cycles we’re talking about serious wealth creation. And once the investors have enough equity in their investment property they can use that to fund a second purchase which after a few years growth will allow the purchase of a third and we’re on our way to wealth! That is, those investors who geared as Investor E is not going anywhere fast.However, it is not all that easy. As you saw Investor A incurred a negative cashflow in his first year and would continue to do so for a few years until the rental income had grown sufficiently to pay his interest. He has to fund this annual shortfall from his salary. And this is called negative gearing – you borrow money to generate capital growth in your property but incur an annual shortfall in the near term. For most investors this means there will come a limit on how many properties they can buy with negative gearing, as they don’t have too much spare income. If you look in our strategy sections you can read more about negative gearing and techniques to avoid paying the shortfall out of your own pocket. We also address cashflow positive properties.But let’s get back on topic and have a look at some more compelling reasons to invest in Australian residential property.4. Income That Grows We’ve discussed that Australian residential property vestment is safe, with long term growth prospects and combined with the right level of leverage can create significant wealth. We also briefly touched on the fact that it generates a rental income. The good thing is, that over the years the rental income received from property investments has increased and this increase has outpaced inflation. In fact the last few years have shown tremendous increases rents – I know because the rent on my investment properties has been booming. Still is actually.Ok, but are rents likely to keep growing? Well, statistics show that the level of home ownership is slowly decreasing in Australia. There are a number of reasons for this like demographic trends but, in particular, as property prices keep rising, fewer people are able to afford their dream homes. The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures confirm that more and more Australians are renting and many industry commentators are suggesting that the percentage of Australian who will be tenants in the near future will go up to 40%. So demand is growing. We also know that supply of good quality rental properties is limited (very low vacancy rates across all of Australia) and the government is having difficulty providing public housing. So all in all, it is very likely that rents will continue to grow at a pace faster than inflation – good news if you intend to become a property investor!5. Tax EfficientWhen it comes to investing in property, your best friend is the bank as they provide the leverage you need to accelerate your wealth creation. Your second best friend is your tenant, as without a tenant your investment property would stand empty and your third best friend is the taxman.The taxman? Absolutely. How can that be when Australia is not know for attractive tax rates, in fact the opposite?Well, first of all the interest you pay on the loan to buy an investment property is fully tax deductible and if you own the property longer than a year you only pay capital gains tax over 50% of the gain. Add to that various depreciating allowances and you have the makings of a very tax efficient investment. If you do your homework, the bank will happily give 80% or 90% of the money you need to buy your investment property and once you own it, your tenant and the taxman will pay your interest and your rental expenses. Guess who gets to keep the capital gains, you! Talk about OPM.6. Millions of Millionaires And if the above doesn’t get you going, consider this: most of the world’s richest people got rich by investing in property. Those that didn’t get rich from property typically invested their newfound wealth in property.So, if the majority of wealthy people have used investment property to increase their wealth than why not use that knowledge to you advantage and do the same! There’s nothing wrong with seeing what successful people do and applying those principles to your own life.Even McDonalds make more money through its real estate than through selling burgers and fries as it owns most of the land and buildings in which it’s franchises are located!7. You Can Do It Too Before you say, it’s OK for the rich, but how the heck am I going to get into property investing, let me tell you this. You do not need to be very wealthy to get into property investment; it really doesn’t take large sums of money to get involved. And that’s because many of the banks will lend 80%, 90%, 95% and sometimes even 100% or more of the value of a residential property. As long as you have a steady job and a little starting capital (spare equity in your home) you can afford to buy investment properties.It has been shown over and over again that careful and intelligent use of real estate can enable ordinary people, like you and me, to become property millionaires in about 10 years. If you truly intend to become one of the wealthy people in the future, you should probably take a serious look at using property to your advantage.8. Too Much Hard Work? There are many ways to make money and some say that property investment isn’t that easy and takes a lot of time and effort. It takes time to get an understanding of the property market and how to go about investing in property. It can take weeks if not months to research areas and find the right investment property for you. And then it only gets worse, you have to organize finance, get a solicitor to deal with all the legal work. Just the finance and legal work can take 30 to 60 days. And once you own the property the work isn’t over, as you need to look after it and do your tax!Nobody said it would be easy. Nobody said you didn’t have to get your hands dirty.It will take time and you will have to work at it and educate yourself. But hey, if you are serious about creating wealth and retiring early then property is a great way to achieve that. And once you’ve started and get some experience under your belt, you’ll see that I gets easier, and actually the process of building a investment property portfolio can be very rewarding and a lot of fun too.So, to come back to the original question, my choice for property investment is based on the low level of risk and robust long-term performance property compared to the alternatives. Investing in property, if done well, is Simple, Safe and Reliable.Please note that this article does not include the charts and tables of the original article.

Managing Health Care

A major theme throughout this text is that you can control many factors that influence your health. An outgrowth of this attitude is the self-care movement, which is the trend toward individuals taking increased responsibility for prevention or management of certain health conditions. Armed with correct information, you can manage many aspects of your health care that were once thought possible only with the help of a physician.Answers to the following questions provide clues to the use of health-care services, providers, and products and facilitate the self-care approach to wellness:When should you seek health care?What can you expect from a stay in the hospital?How can you select a health-care professional?When To Seek Health CareMany people tend to fall into two extreme groups regarding health care: those who seek health care for every ache and pain and those who avoid health care unless experiencing extreme pain. Both groups unwisely use the health-care establishment. Those in the first group fail to understand that too much health care can be ineffective or even harmful. They also fail to recognize the powerful recuperative powers of the body. An estimated 80% of patients who seek medical care are unaffected by treatment, 10% get better, and 9% experience an nitrogen condition in which they get worse because of the medical treatment. Those in the latter group fail to recognize the value of early diagnosis and detection of disease. This is especially true for men; 30% of men have not been to a doctor in a year or more, one-third have never had their cholesterol checked, and three fourths have not been checked for prostate cancer during the previous year.Perhaps the best way to find a balance between too much and too little health care is to establish a physician-patient relationship with a general practitioner. The general practitioner may be a family practice physician or an internist who specializes in internal medicine.It is important to visit your doctor while in good health. This permits your doctor to serve as a facilitator of wellness and provides a benchmark for interpreting symptoms when they occur.A second important way to balance health care is to trust your instincts. Nobody knows when some thing is wrong with your body better than you do. Health and illness are subject to a wide variation in interpretation. If you are attuned to your body, you are your own best expert for recognizing signs and symptoms of illness.Several signs and symptoms warrant medical attention without question. Internal bleeding, such as blood in urine, bowel movement, sputum, or vomit, or blood from any of the body’s openings requires immediate attention. Abdominal pain, especially when it is associated with nausea, may indicate a wide range of problems from appendicitis to pelvic inflammatory disease and requires the diagnostic expertise of a physician. A stiff neck when accompanied by a fever may suggest meningitis and justifies immediate medical intervention. Injuries, many first aid emergencies, and severe disabling symptoms require prompt medical care.There is debate as to when medical care is needed in the case of fever. An elevated temperature may be a sign that the body’s immune system is responding to an infection and working to destroy pathogens, or disease-producing organisms. On the other hand, if left untreated for an extended time, a fever may cause harm to sensitive tissues in the body, such as connective tissue found in joints and tissues in the valves of the heart.The normal body temperature of 98.6° F was studied at the University of Maryland. Findings involving 700 temperature readings of 148 adults over a 3-day period suggest that the normal body temperature is 98.9° F. The study attributed the difference to less accurate techniques when the earlier standard of 98.6° F was established. Body temperature varies with exercise, rest, climate, and gender. Fever means a reading over 99° F. It is not usually necessary for an adult to seek medical care for a fever. Home treatment in the form of aspirin, acetaminophen, and sponge baths usually lowers fever. You should consult your physician if fever remains above 102 0 F despite your actions or, in the case of a low-grade fever (99 0 to 100 0 F), if there is no improvement in 72 hours. You should consult a physician if fever lasts more than 5 days, regardless of improvement. Symptoms, such as sore throat, ear pain, diarrhea, urinary problems, and skin rash, may be the cause of the fever and should be treated as such. Fever in young children should be discussed with a physician.