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An Encouraging Week For Investors!

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After a strong rally in September and October, the stock market topped out short-term four weeks ago, with the Dow then declining 4% in just seven days.

In the process it broke below key short-term support levels that market technicians watch, and entered a very narrow sideways trading range, locked between 11,000 on the downside and 11,200 on the upside that it couldn’t seem to break out of in either direction.

Then came this dizzying week.

Early in the week it looked like the market might be breaking out of the range to the downside. The Dow dropped below 11,000 by as much as 70 points in intraday trading on both Monday and Tuesday. Both days it recovered before the market closed, but to levels just fractionally above 11,000, leaving traders still worried.

A break out of the range to the downside would be seen as a negative development, and that possibility seemed justified given the dire reports from Europe indicating a domino effect is potentially underway in its debt crisis, and reports from China of more moves by the Chinese government to significantly slow its globally important economy (in an effort to prevent asset bubbles and ward off inflation).

However, on Wednesday the market instead reversed and surged to the upside, the Dow gaining 249 points, its biggest one day gain since September 1. On Thursday it surged up again, the Dow gaining another 106 points, breaking it clearly out of the previous narrow trading range to the upside, just two days after it had appeared to be breaking out to the downside.

The dramatic move to the upside also seemed justified, since the bad news from Europe and China had dropped out of the headlines, replaced by very positive U.S. economic reports, including gains in consumer confidence, manufacturing activity reports, retail sales, auto sales, pending home sales, and so on.

But the week’s drama was still not over.

The improving economic reports of the last couple of months had economists convinced that the big report of the week, the Labor Department’s employment report for November, would show that 155,000 new jobs were created in November.

When the much anticipated report was released Friday morning it was a huge disappointment, showing that only 39,000 jobs were created in November. The economy needs roughly 150,000 new jobs a month just to keep up with the growing population, as more young people join the workforce.

Perhaps a bigger surprise and disappointment was that the already high unemployment rate ticked up to 9.8% from the previous 9.6%.

The report threw a curve at economists.

The dismal employment situation, and what to do about it, has been the main focus of economic and political debates, particularly since the summer’s temporary scare that the economy might be slipping back into recession. One of the most common statements in those debates has been that the economy cannot recover until more jobs are created. And on the surface that seems to make sense.

Yet history shows that employment is a lagging indicator, one of the last areas to begin improving in an economic recovery. And that makes more sense. Employers do not begin hiring additional workers until well after the economy has recovered enough that they can no longer handle improving business by simply increasing the hours of their current employees and hiring temporary workers.

So the dismal employment report should not overshadow the string of very positive economic reports of the last couple of months; gains in consumer confidence, manufacturing activity, retail sales, auto sales, pending home sales, and so on. They are the leading indicators that must improve for quite some time before employment finally begins to turn the corner.

Not that everything is wonderful in those leading areas. Investing is never worry-free.

The main leading indicators in both directions, into recessions and back out, are almost always housing and autos. That makes sense since they are the two largest purchases consumers make, usually with most of the purchase price financed, significantly multiplying the economic effect of the cash down payment, while increased home construction and auto production results in significant new business for the long stream of suppliers to those industries.

Only one of those economic engines, auto sales, seems to be functioning well so far, with the housing industry still mired in the mud. Nor have the market’s worries earlier in the week regarding Europe’s debt crisis and the intention of China to slow its economy, gone away.

So still plenty of potential bumps in the road.

But an encouraging and dramatic two-day upside reversal from the downside break that threatened the first two days of the week.

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Driver Safety – Mobile Phone Usage Whilst Driving

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Driving is an extremely dangerous activity and requires our full focus and attention at all times. A single driver error could potentially lead to a catastrophe and loss of lives! Whilst many motorists think they have full control of their vehicle whilst talking on a mobile phone, research suggests that using a mobile phone whilst driving significantly increases the risk of causing a road traffic accident.

Over three quarters of the UK population are mobile phone users, and subsequently there has been a dramatic increase in the number of motorists who use a mobile phone whilst driving. According to research by the Department for Transport, the reaction times for drivers using a mobile phone are 30% worse than for driving under the influence of alcohol at the legal limit. In fact, you are four times more likely to crash when using a mobile phone whilst driving.

Majority of motorists are aware that usage whilst driving is illegal and those drivers who commit this offense will be prosecuted. However, under the new legislation many motorists are unaware that they may still risk prosecution if they are involved in an accident whilst talking on the phone and using a hands-free kit, for failing to have control. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (“RoSPA”) have stated that “research shows that hands-free phones are no safer than hand-held phones. The main danger of being on the phone whilst driving is disruption of concentration”.

According to research carried out by the RoSPA, using a mobile phone whilst driving can affect your driving in many ways. Drivers tend to veer out of their lane whilst on the phone, even if there is no traffic on the road ahead. They also tend to decrease their speed which clearly illustrates that they are having problems concentrating on their driving whilst talking on the phone. Many are simply unaware of the impact this has on their judgment and drivers often tend to react slower to changes, (e.g. the car in front slowing down).

Many motorists argue that talking to a passenger is equally as dangerous as talking on a mobile phone whilst driving. This is not entirely the case, and whilst talking to passengers can be quite distracting, research suggests that a driver would stop or slow down a conversation if they are faced with a hazard in front. Any passenger would also slow down the conversation as they are in a position to appreciate what is happening on the road ahead of them.

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Introducing The Affordable Website

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I believe web-as-a-platform services have matured to the point of offering exceptional value, and in my opinion, have moved the needle on affordable website design. I also believe this is good news because just creating a website and not marketing it in some fashion is like building a beautiful building in a field without any roads or even a footpath. To say the least, such a location is not going to do much good finding customers or vice versa! Yes, your website may be “beautiful”, but what good is it if no one can find it?

I have seen countless websites go bust-that is-not provide any kind of return on investment. This is why I broke away from the old paradigm of “if you build it they will come” and created Buzz Marketing. I believe in straightforward and modern web design that is easy to access on any kind of device, but the big question that people don’t ask is, what comes after that? My answer: Every website needs buzz factors to drive the best possible traffic. These buzz factors are different for every business and there are no silver bullets. Here are some common website buzz factors that can move the needle on a small business website.

As with any web project, it takes some research and experience before considering which marketing approach may yield the best results for finding desirable web traffic. Even though most business owners don’t like to hear this, it’s important to note that most marketing, despite all of the digital drumbeats promising this and that, is still an exercise in trial and error. Don’t believe that? You are likely 30 years younger than me-just a guess.

Of course, a website does not market itself. It has to be tied into your business model in a way that makes sense for your business. This takes effort and costs money, and it is as important as the website itself. If you’ve been in business for a while this insight is likely redundant, but I’m primarily writing this for new business owners who are at the mercy of many suspect services all clamoring they have “the best” marketing solution.

I’m here to tell you there is no best marketing solution. Every factor that makes marketing work for a company is a variable, and learning to understand those variables for your particular business will be a likely indicator of your future success.

Anyway, to make an affordable website happen for a reasonable design fee, the basic website may lack some goodies like professional copywriting, logo design, virtual tours, e-commerce, a blog, a booking system, a food menu, an event calendar, SEO, and the list goes on! No worries, as I often tell clients, it’s OK to build your website as time and money allows.

If you’re a new business, I don’t recommend going in debt for a website unless you are planning an online business–which in this case–is your virtual storefront and you need what you need to be in business.

What’s important for most non-eCommerce businesses is that you purchase only what you need when you need it. The DIY website is a possibility for business owners that have the time to figure out how to make a website. It’s not for everyone, however.

Consider finding a reasonably priced website starter package from a website design expert that gives you time to focus on growing your business income-not your expenses. If you don’t have the patience and skills to do this yourself, consider a freelance partner who has a pedigree to make it happen for you.

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How Text Message Marketing Helps Small Businesses

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In the modern world, mobile technology and its applications are being aggressively adopted by all and sundry. Of all the mobile applications, text messaging is the most basic and important one, which the mobile users can’t do without. Being aware of this popular option for communication, many businesses have already started taking advantage of text messaging for their marketing activities. Its cost effective nature and high reach is a boon for small businesses, which cannot afford high budgeted promotional strategies. Here, let us learn some of the advantages of text message marketing to the small businesses.

Reaches potential customers directly

Mobile phone is being considered as one of the basic necessities of life by many people today. It is must carry for almost everyone. Small business owners can precisely send messages to mobile phones of specific groups or subgroups in the local area which they serve. They can be rest assured knowing that their messages will reach their potential customers irrespective of the environment, time and location. Since, small businesses do not have large labor or infrastructure to communicate with every customer, this application is very important for them.

Provides brand awareness

Extravagant advertising to promote their brand is definitely not a cup of tea for businesses. In such cases, sending bulk messages to all sections of people describing the brand will for sure be the best strategy in spreading awareness in a very cost effective manner. Text messages can be delivered virtually immediately to a large number of people. No other marketing method has this ability by sending the details right into the potential customers’ pockets. Using this messaging, businesses can get instant and continuous recognition of their brand.

Easy business promotions

Text messaging is simple in nature and has high reach. Due to its simplicity, the communication is precise and up to the point without any gimcracks. This makes text messaging a right tool for small business promotion. Small businesses can use mobile text marketing for a wide range of purposes such as new product launches or arrivals, one day specials, special events, or anything else than can promote their brand in the market.

Encourages repeat sales

Sales are the life givers of small businesses. Without sales, it is difficult for a small business to survive in this competitive world. Since small businesses are not equipped with huge capital, aggressive marketing of their goods is a difficult task, resulting in decreased sales. Small businesses can treat their subscribers and already existing customers as an exclusive group by sending special offers and regular updates on products or services. This increases loyalty and encourages repeated purchases.

Increases customer loyalty

Acquiring a customer is a difficult task, maintaining an existing one is even more difficult. Holding on to customers is the biggest challenge for any business for that matter. However large companies can manage it by various means, but the problem aggravates in small businesses, where losing even a single customer can impact on the entire business. By sending regular updates including offers, discounts and others using text messages, small businesses can maintain a regular personal communication with their customers, which increases loyalty among them.

Reliable performance

Text messaging can be considered a reliable option as more than 90 percent of all text messages are read by the recipients. Various statistics prove that text messaging plays a vital role in generating profits for a company. Small businesses cannot experiment with other marketing methods such as billboard advertising, distribution of flyers, advertising in TV or radio, whose results cannot be measured.

Inexpensive

For one reason if the small businesses are bound to rely on text message marketing, then it would definitely be its low costs. Text messaging demands low investment but generates significant profits. Text message enables wide reach, direct communication, aggressive and repeated promotions, customer acquisition and retention at very low rates which otherwise would require huge budget allocations.

A business without communication is just impossible. In this context, low capital firms can blindly rely on text message marketing that spreads the word generating huge returns on investments.

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XPPS Review – What is the XPPS System?

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The Xtreme Postcard Profits System or XPPS for short is a brand new marketing system that hit the marketing in January 2010 and is generating a lot of buzz in the home business industry.

The goal of most entrepreneurs is to somehow to AUTOMATE most aspects of their business especially the lead generation and sales process of their business. The reason for this is because most people do not want to be on the phone cold calling strangers, harassing friends and family or setting appointments to meet people at their homes.

Yet most people do not have a choice because they have not been taught other effective ways to market. Well the Xtreme Postcard Profits System fills that gap in the industry.

What makes XPPS so powerful is that for a small one time fee you get to use a high converting system with top notch copywriting, excellent programmers, and built from the ground up by excellent marketers. This system was put together to generate multiple $100 sales on a daily basis.

The system launched less than 30 days ago and already the numbers that are coming in are amazing. You need absolutely no previous skill, knowledge, or experience and the system will work the exact same for whoever uses it.

With XPPS there is only one thing you need to do to make it work for you and that is to MARKET the system so that you always have an unlimited supply of people taking a look at the your copy of the system. If you do that then you will make $100 sales on a regular basis and so will your team members. The best part is…’massive’ advertising is built into the system. The system gives tons of resources such as the highest converting ads, the best postcards and offline marketing resources to use they also will be launching a massive advertising co op, so you can simply contribute your part and get tons of traffic sent straight to your copy of the extreme postcard profits system.

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Using Unique Customer Service to Improve Business

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My family owns a small antiques business and, although I don’t work there full-time, I’ve learned that they get and keep most of their customers by using a unique brand of customer service.

It all starts with the coffee aisle. My mother keeps a counter with coffee, tee and snack foods in the middle of her main room. In an antiques shop, that’s usually unheard of. After all, those sorts of things have the potential to damage the merchandise. However, my mother would rather have happy customers and a very occasional accident and the strategy works well for her.

Another thing that makes her shop unique is that it’s pet-friendly. In fact, she has a chihuahua dog, Toby, who loves to greet her customers. Many of her regular shoppers bring in their dogs and some even bring in unique companions, like parrots. People love being able to shop with their entire family, including the family pet.

In addition to those things, there’s also a counter with free items, raffles to support local causes, like the fire department, and complimentary newspapers and magazines about area attractions. In general, the place has a very friendly and memorable feel.

Having a memorable feel is what owning a small business is all about, after all. In this economy, you better hope that your business is as memorable as my mother’s. So, start a suggestion box or a poll to see what your customers want and do your best to give it to them. That way, they’ll keep coming back.

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How to Do Digital Marketing for Local Business

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Local marketing can work for any online business whether you really are only local to the place you want to market to or whether you’re a global business.

Start a Local Niche Group on Facebook

The remarkable thing about Facebook is that you can create as many groups as you want to. You can create them for different locations so that you can learn more about your audience in those local areas. Doing this will give you an inside into their thoughts and problems that you can use everywhere.

Add Your Business to Local Directories

One thing you must be careful about is that many directories don’t let you have more than one listing per phone number. You can get more numbers via some of the online services like Google Voice and others.

Contribute Content to Local News Outlets

Locally there are magazines, newspapers, TV shows, radio shows and more that you can be interviewed on, submit content to, and more. Give them a reason to want to feature your story, and you’ll soon become a local celebrity.

Host a Local Contest

You can kick things off by hosting an online contest for your audience who live in specific locations only. Choose a contest that causes buzz. For example, get participants to make a video that can be easily shared.

Optimize Your Site for Local Search

This won’t cost you much at all. Set up your site, or at least a page on your site with local search terms. Don’t keyword stuff, think about the words and the content you put on that page before doing it. You want visitors to feel special when they visit.

Be Easily Accessible

If you want to be trusted by local people, you need to communicate with them. You need to allow them to email you and contact you easily. Don’t hide any of your contact information and make sure they can do it easily.

Get More Reviews

Set up a system that enables you to get more reviews. Set up your autoresponder to automatically ask for reviews after your customer has had enough time to experience results.

Create More Locally Focused Content

When you are focusing on a location consider creating more locally focused content. You may have to get creative doing it, but adding local events, and other related information to your content will help.

Create an Influencer Marketing Campaign

One fast way to break into any local market is to find local influencers to mention your name or product. You can often work with multiple influencers at the same time too.

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