Business Planning – Do You Make These 5 Marketing Mistakes?

What is the one thing every business wants more of? Money! Are you struggling with how to take your business to the next level? Do you feel like you’re stuck in a stagnant place and are unsure of what actions to take to grow? You are not alone! As a business owner, you are busy constantly. There is not enough time in the day for everything. Making mistakes with your marketing efforts can only magnify some of your struggles. Read this to figure out if you are you making these 5 costly marketing mistakes.Mistake #1: Winging itEver hear the expression: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance? This ties right into your marketing strategy. If you want results, you have to put in the proper planning and formulate a strategy, then execute accordingly. This is why it is called a marketing strategy. It takes time, effort, and research to develop the necessary marketing plan. This is crucial to the success of your marketing efforts. Too many businesses “wing it” whether it be for lack of knowing how else to attack it or pure laziness. You worked too hard to get your business up and running. Put some effort and time into developing a formalized Marketing Plan. Figure out who your target customer is and the best way to market directly to that target audience. You may already be wasting effort and money on marketing to the wrong audience! Do your homework. We promise… you will save time AND headaches in the long run.Mistake #2: Giving Up Too EasilyWhat would we do without instant gratification today? Searching for answers literally takes seconds on our computers or cell phones. We have access to more knowledge at our fingertips than we could have imagined 10 years ago. Technology has embedded this need for instant gratification in our minds. It has created a society of people that give up way too easily. Like most success in life and business, marketing takes time and persistence. In fact most prospects need to be exposed to your company, its services, the benefits received or problems solved, 7-13 times BEFORE they will decide to purchase. Don’t think that one attempt at reaching out to a prospect will magically make them open their wallet. Don’t think that even 3 times of reaching out will do so. It make take 3, 6, or 9 exposures to get your prospects comfortable with you and your company. Marketing is a marathon and you have to be in it for the long haul.Mistake #3: Not Adapting to Current TimesRemember when newspaper or radio ads were the most effective way for a company to advertise? Well along came the 21st century full of technology. Embrace it. If you don’t have an attractive, user-friendly website, you’re making a mistake that could turn new customers away and inhibit your growth. If consumers find it difficult to navigate or looking outdated, they may leave with a negative impression of your company and never return. Don’t allow this to happen.Are you refusing to get your company on social media or advertise using video? This is also costly. The internet, social media, and video marketing are here to stay. If you want to have your business thrive for many years and generations to come, it’s best to get on board… now!Mistake #4: Lack of ConsistencyIn order for marketing to be effective it has to be creative and consistent. Think “Out of sight, out of mind.” This is true with any prospect. You don’t know what situational changes are going to occur in their life that may cause it to be… The Right Time. You don’t want to miss the opportunity when it arises. If you haven’t been planting those seeds and nurturing them all along, you won’t be there when they are ready to harvest. The goal of marketing is to be the company in the forefront of the consumer’s mind when they raise their hand and need help. Many businesses make the mistake of sporadic marketing or marketing only when business is slow. Marketing needs to be continual to smooth out the seasonality of business cycles. Don’t let your business fall into this trap!Mistake #5: Backing Off When Goals are AchievedFinally, the 5th marketing mistake you may be making is backing off when goals are achieved. This mistake may be the worst one. It’s too easy to breathe a sigh of relief and relish in the success you have achieved. Successful businesses get comfortable when things are running efficiently. However, the issue comes with being too comfortable. As stated earlier, marketing efforts can take 3, or even 6 months to start showing results. This lag time is why discontinuing your marketing efforts, then desperately trying to ramp them back up can be extremely dangerous. It is much wiser to consistently maintain your marketing efforts, then amplify and enhance them as needed. After all, customers may come and go for a variety of reasons. Focus on keeping lifelong customers, and a marketing plan that will help generate new ones during good times and bad.Marketing is not always fun to do or think about when there is so much else going on. At the end of the day though, marketing is important to the success of your business. Treat it as such and avoid these 5 marketing mistakes. Taking the time to plan and actually prepare with the necessary research will make it so much easier to perform the steps outlined. Don’t forget, persistence is needed for successful execution of your marketing plan. You believe in your business. Make sure your marketing efforts reflect that!

Summer Time Fitness Tips

It can become really hot and humid over the summer months depending on where you live. So how do you keep your fitness routine going during this hot and sticky time?

If your fitness routine was primarily performed outdoors see if you can change the time of day you exercise. Is it possible to fit it into your schedule before the sun is up, this way you can enjoy the cool freshness of the morning air. If not how about later into the evening, once the sun is setting?

If you cycle you can always set up an indoor cycle mount for those extremely hot conditions and quickly take your bike off and back outside when the humidity has passed.

Another option would be to take your routine inside or if not possible, how about doing something totally different during the summer months? Instead of walking or running, take up swimming. This is a great way to keep your fitness routine fresh and interesting. Maybe you can take in a few swimming lessons or join an aqua fit class. There is nothing as great as giving your body some new muscles to work.

If you love what you do and don’t want to change things then there are some easy things to do to avoid getting sunburnt or having to deal with sunstroke.

• Try to stay out of the sun if possible
• Use a protective sunscreen
• Drink extra water while exercising
• Allow your body to cool down slowly – no jumping into a cold shower while your body is overheated
• Exercise at a slower rate and intensity

Always make sure you are giving your body enough nutrition especially before and after you exercise. Feeding your body is going to give you the endurance to continue with your routine during warmer than normal periods.

Wear clothing that allows your body to breathe; you don’t want to be breaking a cold sweat out in the heat. The same goes for your shoes, make sure your feet won’t overheat and cause blisters to form.

It might be a wise idea to invest in a heart rate monitor so you can really see how your body is dealing with the heat and adjust your routine accordingly.

By taking precautions you can still keep your fitness routine going, you just need to be willing to make some adjustments when necessary.

Importance of a Complementary Educational Agenda for DR-CAFTA

LAYING THE GROUNDWORKIn September 2000, the member states of the United Nations unanimously adopted the Millennium Declaration. That document served as the launching pad for the public declaration of eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which include everything from goal one of halving extreme poverty to goal two of providing universal primary education; all to be accomplished before the year 2015. Progress towards the first seven goals are dependent upon the success of goal eight – which emphasizes the need for rich countries to commit to assisting with the development of “an open, rule-based trading and financial system, more generous aid to countries committed to poverty reduction, and relief for the debt problems of developing countries.”1At first glance, the recent actions of Central American countries and the United States to liberalize trade seem to support, at least partially, successful realization of MDG Eight. However, upon closer examination, the picture blurs and the outcome seems uncertain.Following only a year of negotiations, the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) or DR-CAFTA (as a result of its recent inclusion of the Dominican Republic), was signed by the governments of Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the United States in 2004. The agreement, committing each country to reduce its trade barriers with the other DR-CAFTA countries, was ratified by the United States Congress on July 28, 2005.2Rather than attempting to analyze all of the specific economic and social intricacies associated with liberalizing trade in Central America, this brief aims solely to cast light upon the overlap between countries’ efforts to implement the Millennium Development Goal Two/Education for All and their need to implement a complementary CAFTA agenda.Specifically, this document highlights the importance of educational priorities if economic development efforts are to be successful. The premise of the argument elaborated here is that without sufficient prioritized emphasis by Central American countries, multilateral organizations and targeted donor countries on a complementary agenda that directs resources towards education infrastructure, CAFTA will never succeed in assisting these countries in reaching an ever elusive state of “economic prosperity.” In fact, it may deter them from fully accomplishing the MDGs as well.CURRENT STATE OF EDUCATIONWith the need for collaboration between economic and educational efforts in mind, let us examine the current status of MDG Two implementation and broader educational reform in Central America:Over the past fifteen years, most Central American countries have implemented at least basic forms of educational reform. As a result, more children are entering school and spending more days and years enrolled than ever before. On an aggregate level, the larger Latin American and Caribbean region has made considerable progress toward the goal of universal primary education enrollment and according to the most recent UN Millennium Development Goals report, “Net enrollment rates at the primary level rose from 86 percent in 1990 to 93 percent in 2001. The region’s pace of progress in this indicator has been faster than the developing world average (which rose from 80 percent to 83 percent between 1990 and 2001). Net enrollment rates in 23 countries of the region (12 in Latin America and 11 in the Caribbean) surpass 90 percent.” 3 The reality is that, large scale disaster or other unforeseen event aside, all six countries are on target to reach the MDG enrollment targets.Unfortunately, progress towards the target of completing five years of primary education has been slower and few countries in the region can boast success in this arena. The lack of progress towards completion of this target is most directly related to inefficiencies in the education system and the socioeconomic conditions of poor children – both situations that result in high repetition and desertion rates and both situations that must be ameliorated if CAFTA is to succeed. Furthermore, while the number of children initially enrolling in school has increased, the poor quality of education throughout Central America is also certainly a factor in children’s failure to complete their primary education. Quality must therefore also be taken into account when considering educational infrastructure needs.While not necessarily relevant to MDG Two but quite possibly relevant from the CAFTA perspective of needing a skilled workforce, Central America’s educational woes most definitely extend beyond the primary school environment. In response to the recent Millennium Development Goals Report 2005, an Inter-American Development Bank representative wrote “It is difficult to avoid the impression that the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are falling behind with regard to secondary education. Although this is not included in the MDGs, it is the single most important educational indicator separating upper and lower income groups in the region.” 4
When less than one third of a country’s urban workforce has completed the twelve years of schooling that your or I take for granted, how can they hope to compete in today’s technology-dense free trade environment?HISTORY LESSON -HAPPENING AGAIN?Upon an examination of the Mexico of today as compared to pre-North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) times, a rise in the Mexican poverty rate over the last decade or so is apparent. Rather than being directly due to the implementation of NAFTA, it is more likely that this increase in the poverty rate is attributable to Mexico’s failure to simultaneously implement a complementary agenda; specifically, the inability of Mexico’s poorer southern States to improve their poorly trained workforce, infrastructural deficiencies and weak institutions in order to participate meaningfully in a liberalized trade environment. Rather than gain, the southern Mexican states lost even as the northern states benefited from the liberalized trade environment created by NAFTA.Dr. Daniel Lederman, co-author of the World Bank report entitled “NAFTA is Not Enough” (and issued ten years after NAFTA was originally enacted) explained in an National Public Radio (NPR) interview in 2003 that Mexico’s financial crisis in the 1990s was bound to deepen poverty there with or without NAFTA. Dr. Lederman said:Mexican income dropped in one year, 1995, by six percent. Wages across the board for all Mexican workers, on average, fell by 25 percent in less than a year…Still, NAFTA helped Mexico limit the damage, lifting per capita income at least 4 percentage points above where it would have been otherwise. The bottom line is, Mexico would be poorer without NAFTA today. Clearly trade alone won’t alleviate poverty. But if Mexico makes the right investments, especially in education, the next decade should be better. 5POTENTIAL FOR ECONOMIC SUCCESSAs was the case in Mexico, it is likely that the majority of households in Central American countries stand to ultimately gain from the price changes associated with removing trade barriers for sensitive agricultural commodities and other goods. However, in order for this to happen, as Dr. Lederman suggests above, each country must now make appropriate investments in development efforts (most especially in education) in order to guarantee an equitable distribution of the benefits of these efforts in the future.Simultaneously, it is of critical importance that each country provides for the needs of their most at-risk citizens. In order to guarantee that the children of these families are given the opportunity to be counted among those in school, countries must identify resources, both internally and externally, to provide incentives for families “to invest in the human capital of their children.” 6Examples of such incentives have been implemented through funding from the Inter-American Development Bank and several other organizations in Costa Rica (Superemonos), the Dominican Republic (Tarjeta de Asistencia Escolar), Honduras (PRAF), and Nicaragua (Red de Protección Social). Most immediately, these incentives (often in the form of conditional cash transfers) serve to increase food consumption, school attendance and use of preventive health care among the extremely poor. In the long run they are intended to assist with poverty and malnutrition reduction and to improve schooling completion rates. As reported by the IDB, “results are proving that it is possible to increase a family’s accumulation of human capital (measured by increased educational attainment and reduced mortality and morbidity) and, as a result, also raise potential labor market returns for the beneficiaries, as well as overall productivity. The programs have had a substantial positive long-term impact on the education, nutrition and health of its beneficiaries, especially children.” 7In the World Bank’s expansive document analyzing CAFTA’s potential impact on Central America, entitled “DR-CAFTA – Challenges and Opportunities for Central America” the authors repeatedly reference technology and emphasize the importance of a complementary educational agenda that is tied to each country’s stage of development and innovation. For example, “for those countries farthest away from the technological frontier -such as Honduras and Nicaragua– the best technology policy is likely to be simply sound education policy… in the more advanced settings of Costa Rica and El Salvador, where adaptation and creation of new technologies is more important, issues of education quality and completion of secondary schooling are more important.” 8 In fact, without ever making specific reference to the MDGs, the authors recommend that the former countries focus on the goal of achieving universal primary education while the latter countries focus their energy on expanding and improving secondary level education. Failing to do so is choosing failure in the open market.Ultimately, rather than seeing CAFTA as a first class ticket to a better economic end – with no strings attached, countries must acknowledge the critical importance of first implementing MDG Two – target three. This target, which says “by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling” 9 is a critically important step towards guaranteeing the emergence of a workforce that can respond to increased marketplace demand and evolving technologies. Without immediate investment in that future workforce via the education system, CAFTA will surely flounder and drag MDG Two along with it.Furthermore, as mentioned above, educational infrastructure must be put into place now that will not only guarantee a higher quality education but will also be made accessible and desirable to Central America’s most at-risk citizens. After all, based on Mexico’s experience, the likelihood of a positive outcome for both CAFTA and MPG Two is slim. Yet the possibility of economic success does exist if we agree to truly choose “Education For All.”CITATIONS1) Millennium Development Goals, Goal Eight, http://www.un.org2) At the time this brief was written (Dec 2005), the agreement still hadn’t been ratified by the Parliaments of Costa Rica, Dominican Republic and Nicaragua.3) The Millennium Development Goals Report 2005, http://unstats.un.org/unsd/mi/pdf/MDG%20Book.pdf4) The Millennium Development Goals in Latin America and the Caribbean: Progress, Priorities, and IDB Support for their Implementation, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, DC, Aug 05, http://idbdocs.iadb.org/wsdocs/getdocument.aspx?docnum=5910885) National Public Radio, All Things Considered, Interview with Daniel Lederman, Monday, December 8, 2003 http://web.lexis-nexis.com/6) The Millennium Development Goals in Latin America and the Caribbean: Progress, Priorities, and IDB Support for their Implementation, ibid7) The Millennium Development Goals in Latin America and the Caribbean: Progress, Priorities, and IDB Support for their Implementation, Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, DC, August 2005, p. 568) DR-CAFTA – Challenges and Opportunities for Central America, Chapter VII: Obtaining the Pay-off From DR-CAFTA, p199.9) Millennium Development Goals, Goal Two, http://www.un.org