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September 27, 2011

Written by Bob Meyer, Editor of BarterNews

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From the desk of Bob Meyer... 09/27/2011

Barter Industry Anticipates Excellent Holiday Sales, Given Forecast

Shoppers are expected to make fewer trips to stores and when they do show up, to head straight for bargains they have researched in advance. Given such a forecast, trade exchange owners expect to see their savvy members taking advantage of the numerous barter offers within their exchanges this holiday shopping season.

FedEx Sees Stalled Growth

According to reports by the worldwide package delivery company FedEx Corp., the U.S. economy is treading water, at best. (The sheer volume of goods moved by FedEx makes its shipment trends a bellwether for consumer demand and economic growth.)

They report that businesses continue to keep inventory lean based on weak consumer sentiment, thus containing shipment volume and heightening the focus on cost controls to boost profits.

Hotelier Bartered For 1/3 Of A Multi-Million Dollar Empire

Last week BarterNews reported on how hotelier Laurence Geller had recently, through a string of clever deals, rescued Strategic Hotels & Resorts and its 17 trophy hotels from the brink of financial ruin. What we didn’t include in the article was how the 63-year-old Englishman acquired his empire through barter — by teaming with Goldman Sachs Group and its partner famed real-estate investor Bill Sanders’ Security Capital, to form Strategic Hotel Capital back in 1996.

It occurred when Goldman and Security Capital each contributed $200 million, while the wily Geller chipped in $4 million plus his hotel expertise for a third of the action!

Advice From All-Time Most Successful Coach

Former UCLA coach John Wooden’s accomplishment of winning 10 consecutive NCAA college basketball championships, will likely never be duplicated. Known for his ability to communicate, one of Wooden’s succinct suggestions was this, “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”

All back issues of "From the Desk...” can be accessed by clicking here.

(Please feel free to forward our newsletter to your friends and colleagues. We have a “box” at the end of the newsletter for your convenience. See you next week. . .)


Getting The Most From Your Ads

For an advertisement to be successful, it must grab the reader’s attention. Here are seven suggestions to make your advertising more attention-getting:

  • Busy layouts often pull better than neat ones. One split-run test showed busy layouts out-pulling neat ones by 14%.
     

  • Vary the shapes, sizes, and colors. People will get bored, and turn the page, if there is no variety.
     

  • Color will attract attention. But usually, it isn’t cost-effective. Tests show that color is not a good idea in four out of five cases.
     

  • Putting something odd into a picture will attract attention. In a Hathaway shirts campaign, the model wore an eye-patch. That odd detail made the campaign famous, as well as successful.
     

  • Too many extraneous props divert attention. One company ran a curtain ad with a cute teddy bear. They got more calls about the bear than the product.
     

  • Photographs are more convincing than drawn illustrations. Photos can increase response by over 50%.
     

  • Before-and-after pictures are very persuasive. This technique is a great way to show the benefit of your product.


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Is Your Trade Exchange Missing Out On Valuable New Business?

If your barter company’s listing on BarterNews.com isn’t current, you are definitely missing out on new business. The web site BarterNews.com receives heavy traffic — with over 150,000 page-views every month. Entrepreneurs and corporate executives check the thousands of articles, the weekly “Tuesday Report,” and the “Contacts Section” of our site. They use the latter to find barter companies with which to do business.

Is your barter company’s listing up-to-date?

To keep your listing current is very easy. See the links below to (A) update any changes to your company’s listing, such as new location, phone number, web site or other information, and (B) if your company has not been listed.

Here’s how to get on board:

To make changes to your listing click here.

For new listings click here.


Baseball, as a metaphor or analogy, can teach us about many things. “Hitting a home run” could mean making a big sale in the business world. “Reach for the fences” inspires people to achieve their dreams. A “ballpark” figure allows for a broad area of approximation. But can baseball really be used as an analogy for the retail industry?

Industry thought leader Mark Ryski shares new and innovative techniques for extracting powerful insights from basic store traffic and customer conversion data, delivering a game-changing look at this crucial retail information.

The Trouble with Traffic — What Retailers Can Learn from Baseball

By Mark Ryski

When a retailer is asked if traffic is up or down, there’s a very good chance that the answer provided actually refers to the store’s “transaction count” or what is sometimes ambiguously referred to as “customer count.” No one seems to probe on this, so by default transaction count has become an acceptable proxy for store traffic count. But there’s another rub: transaction count is not the same as traffic count.

Transaction Counts vs. Traffic Counts — Hits vs. At-Bats

To say that transaction count represents a reliable proxy for store traffic is analogous to saying that hits are a reliable proxy for at-bats in baseball. Yes, the two stats are related, but they are not proxies — not even close.

If baseball statisticians only tracked hits, without considering at-bats and batting average, how much less would we understand about the greatness of players like Ty Cobb or Babe Ruth? A lot less. The same is true for retailers. Transaction counts (hits) may be up, but knowing if it was a result of an increase in store traffic (at-bats), or that the retailer was more effective at converting the store traffic is an important distinction. This is not a subtle point. Here’s why.

Why Store Traffic Matters

Store traffic is a measure of all the people who visit the store, including buyers and non-buyers. Traffic is a leading indicator that tells us something about a chain’s sales opportunity — more traffic, more opportunity. If traffic is trending up, this is clearly a positive sign. It suggests that the brand is in favor and opportunities abound. The converse is also true. If store traffic is waning, this is disconcerting and it could indicate that the banner is falling out of favor. The number of sales opportunities is decreasing.

The problem with relying on transaction counts as a proxy for traffic is that they could be going up regardless of whether actual store traffic is going up or down. To understand this apparent paradox, you need to consider the retailers’ batting average.

Conversion Rate — Retail Batting Average

As mentioned, store traffic count defines the sales opportunity and is analogous to at-bats. Transaction count represents buyers only and is analogous to hits. Therefore a retailer’s batting average, or conversion rate, is calculated by dividing the transaction count by the store traffic count — just like in calculating batting average.

Store traffic and conversion rates tend to be inversely related. When store traffic falls, associates are able to deliver a higher level of service, check-out lines are shorter, and generally it’s easier to buy. The transaction count often goes up, despite the fact that there is actually less traffic in the store. In this case store traffic didn’t increase, but if the retailer only has transaction counts to rely upon, then he reports “traffic is up.” But it’s not. And yet all parties — the retailers and the inquisitive analysts – seem to tolerate the ambiguity.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

One Wall Streeter told me that you can’t ask a retailer about traffic counts if they don’t track traffic in their stores. True, but you also can’t have two definitions for this basic metric either. If you want to ask about transaction counts then ask for transaction counts, and if you want to ask about store traffic, then ask for store traffic. This shouldn’t be open to interpretation.

There is a simple way to inject clarity into what has become a convoluted question. Instead of asking retailers if it was “ticket or traffic” that drove results, analysts should ask if it was “ticket, traffic or conversion.” While most retailers don’t track store traffic and so won’t be able to answer, at least it will be clear that they don’t and you will know they mean transaction count — which on its own tells us little about what drove results.

As for the retailers who do track store traffic and measure conversion rates, you will have a much deeper insight into what actually drove sales results. Maybe retailers, and Wall Street, need to take a page out of the baseball playbook.

Mark Ryski is the founder of HeadCount Corporation and author of Conversion: The Last Great Retail Metric and When Retail Customers Count.

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The Character-Driven Company:

Five Simple Rules To Help When It Matters Most

Author Dave Anderson shares his thoughts on the business implications of issues like white lies, false impressions, and forgiveness in his book A Biblical Blueprint to Bless Your Business (A revised and expanded edition of Anderson’s How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK.

“Character does matter in business,” he advocates. “And there’s no time like the present to sit down and define your goals for the character of your company with your employees. When you really think about it, many of the transgressions we see in business today, from CEO scandals to terrible customer service, boil down to a lack of solid character.”

That’s right. Anderson is asking business leaders to get serious about defining what their company stands for — and share those values with employees. “It’s amazing how few leaders take the time to do this,” says Anderson. “They may feel uncomfortable discussing character issues, or maybe they’ve never given a lot of thought to what they really stand for themselves. But just resolving to sit down and articulate your beliefs is a powerful exercise — and one that yields powerful results.”

Not exactly certain what constitutes good character? Anderson says there are five simple rules that every employee should follow to ensure that they have a rock-solid character:

Don’t tell white lies. We’re all guilty of telling a white lie or two. In fact, most of us do it on a daily basis and hardly even notice anymore! And while we may consider those little untruths to be harmless, consider that instructing your receptionist to tell a caller that you’re out of the office when you really aren’t is a reflection on your own character. White lies are still lies, after all. Think of how many business scandal stories there were this past year, and how many of them were the result of dishonesty — and how that dishonesty shattered the lives of so many people.

“White lies are like the gateway drug to bigger offenses,” says Anderson. “And even though telling the truth is often the hard and unpopular thing to do, honesty is rule number one to developing sound character. Tell the truth because it is the right thing to do, and encourage your employees to do the same. In the end it protects your personal integrity, and honors, rather than diminishes, everyone who hears what you have to say.”

Keep your commitments. Have you ever made a business promise that you didn’t keep? Perhaps you didn’t follow through with a promised promotion, or skipped out early on a day when you promised to work late. And given the present turbulent economy, it’s even more likely that you found yourself in a situation where your mouth wrote checks in the good times that your bank account can no longer cash. Cutting expenses is necessary and understandable, but Anderson warns that breaking promises is not — even if it turns out to be more costly —  inconvenient or more time-consuming than you estimated.

“Don’t take your promises casually,” asserts Anderson, “and explain to your employees that they shouldn’t either. This is a real test of ‘practice what you preach,’ as your employees will be less inclined to follow this guideline if they don’t see you doing the same. Before you commit to anything, make certain that you can live with the worst-case scenario resulting from what you’re agreeing to, and always, always follow through. Do what you said you’d do, regardless of the cost.”

Go the second mile. One of the most common character flaws in leaders and their employees is that they do just enough to get by; they come to work and do just enough to get paid and just enough not to get fired. That’s not good enough, says Anderson.

He suggests thinking about it this way: If the majority of people are doing only the minimum, then those who give just a little bit more of themselves will stand out and be highly valued — a great asset for any company or individual to have. So think about what you can do to go the extra mile each day. It may mean volunteering to take on an extra project, coming in on a Saturday once in a while, or taking a night class to improve your skill set. Whatever that extra mile may be, the benefits will be well worth your sacrifice.

“Some of the most successful business people will readily admit that they are no smarter than their less successful counterparts,” explains Anderson. “They simply outwork them, out-think them, and, as a result, outperform them. By doing what others were unwilling to do, going where they were unwilling to go, saying what they were unwilling to say, learning what they were unwilling to learn, and risking what they were unwilling to risk, they earned a success and a lifestyle that the ‘just enough’ crowd was unable to attain.”

Don’t give false impressions. When it comes to business, false impressions are everywhere. From misleading advertising campaigns to padded resumes, you won’t be hard pressed to find examples of people trying to make others believe things are better than they really are. But Anderson says that you have to be upfront and honest with those you work with, or you may lose your credibility and build up bitterness and resentment in a once-valuable business relationship. Think about the ways that you or your company may be misleading others, and find ways to stop it.

“There are a few simple things you can do to get your employees and organization on the road to transparency,” explains Anderson. “For starters, stop any misleading advertising you may be engaged in — and if you’re not sure if it’s misleading, then it probably is! Make sure that you aren’t spinning feedback to make someone feel as though they’re doing better or worse than they really are. And certainly don’t mislead any potential job candidates or employees about realities concerning compensation, advancement, or future plans. Cultivating a culture of honesty in your organization will only bless your business.”

Reconcile and forgive immediately. Holding grudges is a common and unfortunate consequence of competitive business. Resentment builds up when employees leave organizations, mistakes are made, or when coworkers feel slighted. Take an inventory of grudges you may be nursing, people you’re resenting, and those with whom you must reconcile. It doesn’t matter how far back the offense was. If you’re carrying it around, it’s affecting your performance, whether you realize it or not. Suggest to your employees that they think about any hard feelings they may be harboring, and encourage them to make amends.

“When you are busy harboring resentment and holding onto grudges, you are taking time and precious energy away from the things you could be doing to increase your productivity and your business,” asserts Anderson. “Bring closure to past offenses. Identify amends you must make, with whom, and do it quickly. By holding onto these hard feelings, you aren’t hurting the other person; you’re hurting yourself! And having a clear conscience and a sound heart is a key component to having a solid character.”

Still skeptical about your ability to pull off this company character assessment — not to mention how well received it’s likely to be? Just give it a try, urges Anderson. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results. But if you can’t bring yourself to discuss these matters openly, just living them sends a persuasive message.

“It’s one thing to sit down with your employees and share your values, but the best way to get the message across is to make sure you are setting the example yourself,” Anderson concludes. “You have to walk the walk. If you haven’t been doing so, make a point to change. Others in your organization will be sure to follow. And you’ll see firsthand that a business that is based on strong core values and a shared vision is one that’s headed for long-term success and prosperity.”

Dave Anderson has given over 1,000 leadership presentations in fourteen countries. He is the author of numerous business-oriented books and the TKO business series. He and his wife, Rhonda, are cofounders of The Matthew 25:35 Foundation, which helps feed, educate, and house under-resourced people throughout the world.

For more information click here.


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The Growth and Use of Secondary Capital (New Money) Creates Unprecedented Wealth In Today’s New Age Of Possibility

There are many forms of secondary capital—which can be defined as any financial instrument that measures and communicates value in a common language. Would you like to see and learn more about the many forms of secondary capital?

 We have 70 free, informative and inspiring, articles for you in our “Secondary Capital Section.”

Check it out... www.barternews.com/secondary_capital.htm.


Get New Money-Making Ideas And Valuable Contacts!

You can obtain useful, informative ideas and contacts in every available back-issue of BarterNews.


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