Perfect Gifts for People Who Have Everything

All of us have those people in our lives who seem to have everything. Ties? They've got hundreds. Candles? Watches? Books? Good smelling lotions? They already have so many, they had a rummage sale last summer to sell all the extras. Even gift cards seem silly in these situations. To make matters worse, with the ever-growing health-consciousness in America we can not just fall back on the huge box of chocolates. For the holidays this year, I found the perfect solution: down feather beds! Five of the dearest people in my life got feather beds, and one down comforter and down pillows. All of them were rushed!

Down bedding makes wonderful gifts for several reasons. First, they are gifts that you know will not be stuffed in a closet somewhere and forgotten about. The hardest part is simply putting the feather bed on the bed. Once that is done, all the recipient has to do is crawl between the sheets! My favorite gifts are the ones that I can use for years and remind me of the person who has it to me. For example, a coffee mug tree has been on my kitchen counter since the day I received it from my aunt. I love it because it saves space, displays my favorite mugs and reminds me of her every time I have my morning coffee! What better way to show someone you love them, than by giving them something they can sink into each night and drift to dreamland thinking of you?

Second, feather beds truly improve quality of sleep when sleeping on one. By providing extra loft, the feathers take the pressure off your body and let you sleep longer in one position without having to toss and turn. With improved technology, down filled beds and comforters no longer come with a host of allergens attached either. Down used to be an impossible potential for allergy sufferers. Now, manufacturers have found ways of removing the allergens completely. Some of them even wash the feathers up to 800 times! (I have allergies myself and have never had a problem with either my feather bed or down pillows.) For the health-conscious people in your life, this is perfect. Forget the chocolates, bring on the feather beds and some high quality Z's!

Third, feather beds are one of those things that most people will not buy for themselves. It's not a necessity, so those on your gift list are not going to make room in a budget for it. On the other hand, I have never met someone who does not want a feather bed . What a joy to watch your loved one tear off the wrapping and open something he / she has always wanted, but never had! And it is not just adults who love them- my best friend bought one for his 11 year old son for Christmas this year and he squealed with delight almost as much as he did when opening the Dsi he was being asking for all year!

Birthdays, Christmas, Valentine's Day, any time you want to show someone you care is the perfect time to get a perfect gift for that someone who has everything!

The Benefits of Non-Profit Branding

To the uninitiated, branding is synonymous to the image of a logo. Yet, branding is much more than a logo. What then, is branding? “Branding is endowing products and services with the power of a brand” (Kotler & Keller, 2015). One can clearly tell from this definition that branding is much more than a logo, a website or a brochure.

In times past, non-profits adopted the concept of branding mainly for fundraising purposes. Today, branding has evolved beyond fundraising purposes and offers the following benefits:

1). Builds Trust

An effective branding strategy that communicates the impact of a non-profits work engenders trust. By sharing its’ activities and progress, people become aware of the role the non-profit plays in its’ community. With the trust earned, a non-profit can easily garner support for its’ causes.

2). Advocacy / Expanded Support Base

Once people become aware of a non-profits’ work, it becomes easier for them to connect with its’ brand. Consequently, they not only become loyal adherents of the non-profit but they also become its’ advocates. This can serve the non-profit in many ways. For instance, success stories shared on a non-profit’s social media page can be re-posted by loyal adherents and shared with their friends. Such activities have the power of expanding a non-profit’s support base since a wider audience is reached through the act of sharing.

3). Increased Funding Opportunities

A strong brand improves the rate of success of a non-profits’ funding endeavors. By creating a positive brand image, it becomes easier to engage favorably with funders and stakeholders alike.

4). Facilitates Partnership Formation

A strong brand makes it easier for a non-profit to forge meaningful partnerships. The ability to collaborate with other organizations enhances a non-profits ability to implement projects that have a wider reach/scope. This in turn creates a favorable perception for the non-profit and influences its’ fund-raising potential.

5). Reflects a Non-Profit’s Identity

According to Nathalie Kylander & Christopher Stone (Spring 2012 Blogpost), a ” brand embodies the identity of the organization, encapsulating its mission, values, and distinctive activities”. In essence, a thoughtfully planned and executed brand image will convey the ideals of a non-profit to its’ constituents and the general public in an effective manner. It will aid in reflecting the unique value proposition of a non-profit while differentiating it from other entities.

Thus, its’ constituents and the general public will be in a position to familiarize themselves with the vision of the non-profit while keeping track of its’ achievements. As a result, the process of nurturing relationships with supporters(such as volunteers) and sympathizers to its’ cause while entrenching its’ position will be greatly improved.

It is essential for a non-profit to develop a compelling and consistent brand since it engenders trust among its’ audience, expands its’ support base, increases its’ funding opportunities, facilitates its’ ability to forge partnerships and reflects its identity.

References:

Kotler & Keller: Marketing Management (2015), American Marketing Association (AMA)

Nathalie Kylander & Christopher Stone (Spring 2012). The Role of Brand in the Non – Profit Sector[Blogpost]. Retrieved from https://ssir.org/articles/entry/the_role_of_brand_in_the_nonprofit_sector#bio-footer

How the Internet Affects Traditional Media

Traditional Publishing, REST IN PEACE

This is the headline that greets you when you land on a web page erected as a memorial to commemorate the decline of Traditional Media. A photograph of a man who seems to be in distress and who’s possibly just lost his job accompanies this headline. If this does not paint a bleak picture, go on to read the 548 headlines that all sing to the same tune as the following:

  • Bad Times: NYT Says Revenue Fell 13.9% Last Month

    – Forbes.com

  • Men’s monthly magazine Arena to cease printing after 22 years

    – Guardian.co.uk

  • Cosmopolitan UK publisher to cut 100 jobs

    – Guardian.co.uk

There’s even a website entitled Newspaper Death Watch that chronicles all the publishing and newspaper houses that close down. All rather morbid wouldn’t you say?

The Deadly Spell

Let’s take a quick look at Traditional Media and how the Internet cast it’s deadly spell.

Back in the old days, we’re talking 500 years ago; Gutenberg revolutionized the printing industry by inventing the printing press. This meant bibles could be produced at a fraction the time it used to. This also meant more copies in a shorter time and the Word of God got further reach in a shorter time. Newspaper houses and Magazine publishers still use a printing press today (well thank you captain obvious).

Much later, shortly after the advent of electricity, the world was blessed with another few media breakthroughs, namely radio then a few years later, television. Marketers and Advertising agencies had it all figured out as they devised Integrated Marketing Campaigns with astronomical budgets. Ah, the good old days. Well, much to the dismay of many of these agencies, this media landscape started to change.

Behold! Enter The WWW

At first a website was seen as a cute way to put your company brochure online and on top of that the disastrous dot bomb era created skepticism that labeled the Internet as a bad media and business channel.

Fortunately, since then the Internet has matured. Now, in countries where broadband has achieved high levels of household penetration, the web has become the consumer medium of choice.

Why? Because people can do research, shop online, watch videos and connect with friends all in the comfort of their own homes. People can choose what media they want to consume, where and when they choose too, especially with mobile connectivity. Marketers can no longer dictate what advertising messages people get subjected too.

Social Media, The New Black

Then there is the phenomenon of Social Media. It changed the media landscape forever. Social Media websites have allowed consumers to connect with friends, family, colleagues and peers in ways that were never imaginable a few decades ago.

Technology has empowered the consumer to become the Prosumer. Prosumers are consumers who produce content such as videos, photos and blogs that can be instantly distributed and shared amongst millions of people via social media platforms. This is also known as user-generated content or UCG.

Here is an interesting bit of trivia about the reach of Traditional Media vs. the Internet and Social Media.

Years it took to reach a market audience of 50 Million:

  • Radio – 38 Years
  • TV – 13 Years
  • The Internet – 4 Years
  • The iPod – 3 Years
  • Facebook – 2 Years

So How Does The Internet Affect Traditional Media?

The Internet has decreased the need for Traditional Media because it enabled consumers to join social societies within their neighborhoods, across their countries and internationally. It has empowered them to converse at their leisure, 24/7, with friends.

Considering all that’s been said, the demise of Traditional Media can largely be attributed to the following factors:

  1. Decline in readership: The distribution of free news and information on the web has led to the decline in readership for traditional publications.
  2. Decline in revenues: The decline in readership means advertisers will spend their money elsewhere and this leads to a decline in ad revenue.
  3. Real-time updates: Traditional Media can’t compete with instantly updated user-generated content that’s immediately available for the world to see.
  4. The rise of UGC websites: People have the freedom of unlimited real time commentary on content while Traditional Media is static and is a one-way communication tool.
  5. Online Audio/Video channels: People can choose what they want to watch and listen, when they want to and where without any advertising interrupting their experience.

Simply put. The Internet has revolutionized the way things get done today. It has revolutionized the way we do business, the way we communicate and has broken down the walls of Traditional Media.

A recent example is the decision by Unilever UK to fire Lowe, their Ad agency of 15 years, in favor of crowdsourcing – which means it has thrown the brand creative pitch open to agencies and basically any person who can think of an idea, worldwide. This is done on the Internet of course.

Traditional Media will still be around for a while, but the Internet is getting more and more integrated into our daily lives.

Think about this. You could do without the Mail & Guardian or the MensHealth Mag for quite some time, perhaps live quite happily without it? But you just dare cut that ADSL connection…

Low Cost Hosting

If you are thinking about getting low cost hosting then you are most probably new to the internet, and new to designing websites. When people first start out they think that they should look for the cheapest option for them to get started. This is by no means a bad idea, as we are all trying to save money in this economy. But you have to take many factors in to consideration when you want to develop a site.

There is basically two types of hosting, paid and free and a lot of people that start out go down the free route. Free hosting gives you the option to upload files to the host server, but it is limited to how much you can upload. The speeds of the server will be a lot slower than a paid host, so for example, if you have a few pictures that you have uploaded to the server for your site, it might take a little bit longer for them images to appear on your website.

Because you use free hosting you do not get a domain name from a registrar, so if you were to start a new business, you would be greatly hampered in trying to compete with other sites in your niche. Customer support is non existent in free hosting also, so if you were to ever have problems, you would basically have to try and work it out for yourself.

Free hosting works if say you are a person that wants to share files to friends or family, or you have a hobby and would like to share to people, you do not mind the restriction that free hosting serves. But if you are serious and want to make a real business online then paid hosting is the way to go.

It is the old saying you pay for what you get, and within the hosting business this term applies exactly the same here. It comes down to what you get for your money, so you need to look in to this very carefully before choosing a provider. What you should be looking for in a provider is the following.

  • Unlimited domains: You need to know if you can have as many websites as possible on the hosting package. It is pointless having the host, if you can only say have five domains, so you could only build five websites.
  • Unlimited Disk Space: This is also very important, say you have a photography business, and you want to upload hundreds of photos on to your site. You need a good host that has unlimited disk space.
  • Unlimited bandwidth: You need a host that has good speeds and this depends on the bandwidth.
  • 24 hour live support. I consider this to be very important, if they do not offer live support like this then I would not use the company.

On a final note all the big hosting companies offer different types of packages to suit the individual. They offer packages such as Baby plan, hatchling plan, then they go more advanced with options like reseller hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated servers and so on.

Low cost hosting is only as low as what you are prepared to give to your website, there is some great packages out there right now, ranging from $4 a month up to $10 a month. It is up to you the consumer to make your choice.