What Is A Marketing Initiative?

Marketing is not as simple as many may lead you to believe. In order for your business to be effective, you need to understand what is involved in promoting what you are offering in terms of products and services. That is where a good marketing initiative comes in to play. A marketing initiative is essentially anything that is clearly defined as a marketing effort. Simple, isn’t it? It is basically anything specific in your marketing plan. So what types of things are considered marketing initiatives? Here are a few examples that may help you.

For larger companies, a marketing initiative can be a theme. For instance, a set of commercials that use a specific character or funny situation over and over may be considered a marketing initiative. This, though, would certainly be more common with large businesses. An example of this is the Geiko commercials that feature the cute talking gekko. The initiative is to associate their car insurance services and products with a character that sticks in your head. Being cute is an added advantage. This is why many commercials use cute, cuddly characters such as babies and puppies etc.

Another example of a marketing initiative is undertaking a certain method relentlessly. Sometimes you may wish to focus your efforts solely on one method of marketing. If, for instance, you decide to implement email marketing with great fervor, then you can call that your email marketing initiative. You will outline a plan very specific to that initiative. And you will carry it out. Focusing your efforts into a sole initiative demands that you understand it intimately. You better know what you are doing if that’s the ONLY initiative you’ve got. In addition you also need to have a backup plan in case your initiative does not come through for you as you hoped. Often, when you put all your eggs in one basket, you better have more eggs!

Another type of marketing initiative you may invoke is a large scale shift in what you are doing. If you are going away from traditional marketing to exclusively use the internet that is a whole new marketing initiative you are putting in place. Though not as specific as other examples, it is certainly something that directly affects the marketing of your company. These types of initiatives are usually done parallelly with your existing marketing initiatives. The old initiatives are slowly phased out as the new one takes over.

A marketing initiative can also be as simple as a shift in an idea. You can have a new marketing initiative that simply changes the way you promote your company, or more specifically what about the company you are trying to promote. A shift in positioning is a good example.

Marketing initiative is a broad term that is used often. However, if you understand what it is you will be more able to effectively put an initiative in place if you need to. Changing or implementing an initiative is a big part of the promotion of your business. So it’s important that you understand what it means in the first place.

Which Wood is Best For Outdoor Furniture – Teak Or Cedar?

If you are looking to landscape your backyard, reinvigorate your tired porch or patio, or even create a warm and welcoming living area out of that new deck, you may need some new furniture.  After all what good is having a great place to entertain if your guests don’t feel comfortable while they’re there?  When you need a few chairs to fill some space on the porch, or that plush, comfortable, deep seating sofa for the veranda, chances are that Teak or Cedar will be your best choice for this outdoor living furniture.  Which to choose will depend on a variety of factors however most importantly you will need to consider the look you are hoping to achieve, maintenance required, and the price you can expect to pay in order find the best fit. So read below and you’ll be lounging by your new poolside bar in a new sun lounger in no time at all!

The Look

One of the most important features of any new furniture is the appearance that it gives off.  Is your outdoor patio living space better suited for a rustic appeal or luxurious contemporary style?  Perhaps neither.  Maybe just a simple, yet warm, elegance speaks to you more.  But whether you’re looking to create a fun, relaxing environment with a pool side bar and some sun loungers or a simple conversational seating area you will have many choices with both Teak and Cedar.

Cedar usually has a very natural look, accenting your living area with soft red, light brown, and gray tones.  Lightweight and porous, cedar can easily accept a stain, sealer, or even paint, but most commonly is left in a raw finely sanded finish to preserve its natural look, feel, and smell.  Cedar is aromatic by nature which not only adds to the ambiance of a relaxing evening, but also helps preserve and protect the wood from insects and weather.

Teak is almost the polar opposite of cedar in terms of just about everything.  Teak is by nature a hardwood and as such, is more dense and heavy than cedar.  Grown exclusively in subtropical and tropical regions, and most commonly in the dense jungle of Indonesia and other Asian countries, teak is almost always imported and therefore is also more rare.  As a result of the exoticism associated with teak furniture it has achieved a perception of rarity and wealth and thus portrays a look of luxury and prestige.   Teak outdoor furniture is commonly purchased in one of two ways.  It can either be oiled, to achieve a darker “stained” look, or it can be left in its natural unfinished state where it will gracefully age and turn a soft patina gray color.  This color, unique to teak furniture, contributes to its exotic appeal.

Maintenance

Another very important factor to consider when deciding to purchase outdoor patio furniture is the level of maintenance that you wish to employ in living with your new furniture.  Luckily the maintenance factor, or lack of, is one of the main reasons that both teak wood and cedar wood are top choices of furniture manufacturers and consumers. 

Cedar, by nature is a very resilient wood whose properties help to resist weather of all climates but specifically heavily climates with heavy precipitation.  Snow, sleet, and rain are no concern for the long lasting properties of cedar, which will maintain its brilliance for many years.  This is one of the reasons why leaving cedar furniture in a sanded unfinished state is by far the most popular finish.  Like with many other woods though, some wish to finish their cedar furniture to achieve an altogether different look.  Several refinishing options are listed below in order of popularity.

  1. Stain - many prefer the finished look of a nice stain on their outdoor furniture.  The benefits of using a stain include being able to change the color of the furniture to virtually any color for which stain is available.  Stains are now offered in many shades through the dark to light color spectrum.  The stain may also provide a slight protection from the elements although with cedar it’s not really necessary and so mainly should just be used to alter the color.  The disadvantages of stain are that in order to maintain the original stained look, the stain needs to be reapplied every 2-3 years as the stain itself is not as resilient against the suns UV rays and weather elements as the wood is.
  2. Sealer – some prefer to “lock in” the natural look of their cedar furniture and so choose to use a high end sealer.  Sealers are made by many companies and are available at any hardware or big box store.  The sealer will prevent the cedar patio furniture from fading and will slow down the aging process.  Keep in mind though that this aging is often a desired affect of the cedar.  The downside to sealing the cedar furniture is consistent with the drawback to using a stain.  In order to maintain its effectiveness, it must be reapplied every 2-3 years which can be tedious and cumbersome.
  3. Paint – like any wood surface, cedar can be painted with a fine outdoor wood paint.  This is not as common as staining or sealing the furniture because paint will crack and chip, and also drastically alters the appearance of the furniture from its natural state.  Once the paint cracks and chips the entire painted surface must be completely sanded and repainted, sealed, or stained.

Teak is also a very weather resistant and ultra resilient wood due in part to its propensity to secrete a natural teak oil which helps to self condition it and protect against the harsh demands of a wet and/or humid climate.  Many shipbuilders choose teak as a main wood for the decks of their ships for this very reason.  Many sunken ships have been raised from the depths of the ocean only to show the teak beautifully preserved and in tact.  It’s this property that makes teak more commonly found in its natural unfinished state as there is no functional reason to apply any external finish to the surface.  Some customers however choose to apply additional amounts of this teak oil to achieve a darker more stained look.  While this will preserve the “new” look of the furniture it must be reapplied every 2-3 years to maintain this appearance and so can become burdensome.  Also by leaving the teak in its natural state, the often desired patina gray look is naturally achieved where it cannot be, if a teak oil or other finish is applied to the surface of the furniture.

Price

While price is often a concern for consumers, sometimes it is not such a factor for consumers of wood patio furniture.  As with everything else, price is a measure of perceived value.  The more valuable a product is perceived to be in the mind of the consumer, the more it will cost.  This reason alone is why both teak and cedar patio furniture are generally more expensive than other common outdoor furniture materials such as plastic, wicker, or rattan furniture.  Teak and cedar themselves have a price difference too though which can be quite significant depending on the individual furniture item.  Here’s why.

Cedar – because of its lightweight, proximity, ease to harvest and availability, cedar is the cheaper choice of the two wood furniture types.  While it will last a long time and is very durable, typically teak will last longer.

Teak – for all of the reasons opposite cedar, teak is the more valuable wood.  Simply not having the availability of cedar or other woods helps to create this elite, rare, sort of feeling that teak carries with it, which raises the price.  The purchase of teak furniture is often perceived as a sign of affluence or wealth because teak has a widely known reputation for commanding a higher price.  More expensive to harvest, more expensive to ship, and its long lasting appeal coupled with its novelty together contribute to its higher cost to produce which in turn creates a higher price for the consumer.

In summary, “better” or “best” can only be determined by the customer.  However taking appearance, maintenance, and price into consideration, teak and cedar can easily be compared and contrasted for similarities and differences.  Cedar, the more light weight, commonly used wood makes great patio furniture because of its ability to resist insects, rot, and weather elements (specifically rain, sleet, and snow) and also because it is relatively inexpensive to produce.  Teak, the hardwood of the two, is more exotic, rare, and will last longer.  Therefore, it commands a higher price, but also delivers a greater perceived value in terms of prestige, longevity, and maintenance free ownership experience.

Simple Rules For Personal Health and Hygiene

Have you been following a plan for your own personal hygiene, or do you get up in the morning, take a bath, brush and blow dry your hair, use the bathroom through the day, and go to bed at night? If you only do the latter, you need to put more planning and preparation into your personal care and grooming.

Cleanliness is seen nowadays as next to Godliness, and neglect of your own personal hygiene may cause health and social problems of which you are not even aware. Bad breath, for example, is a common problem–the perpetrator is often accused of it, but he or she may not be attending to it. Problems such as dandruff are forgivable, but good looks are usually the result of great care and attention paid to personal grooming. You should put some time and effort into it if you want to feel and look your best every day.

All external parts of the body need time and attention. Below is a partial list of the body parts which you should be taking care of with your grooming plan. Here are some tips as to how to attend to your most common and ordinary daily grooming needs.

HAIR

First of all, keep your hair at a length and style which you can properly maintain in a cleanly manner at all times. Wash your crowning glory at least twice per week, using a mild shampoo devoid of borax or alkalis. It is not a good idea to use soap, as it can leave a fine film of stickiness in your hair. Shampoo is meant to wash totally out of your hair. Be sure and carefully towel dry your hair after you wash it, and be cautious with the blow dryer. You don’t want your hair to become too dry and brittle. Especially if you have long or thick hair, brush it three to four times per day, using a soft bristled brush or wide toothed comb. Be sure to wash your hair grooming tools every time you wash your hair. And oil your scalp with grooming oil once per week, preferably one hour before you wash it. A hot oil treatment is fine–if you know exactly what you are doing.

Hair coloring or dye is not recommended, as no current dyes have been found to be completely safe for long term use. They contain chemicals which can seep into your scalp and even cause premature hair loss. So we recommend not using hair dye if possible. Also, try not to wear a hat for a very long period of time. Wearing hats has also been shown to cause premature hair loss. Redheads need to be particularly concerned, as they are subject to early hair loss.

SKIN

A good bath once or twice per day is essential for cleanliness and good grooming. You should always bathe after any strenuous physical activity. Mild soaps are best, and you don’t need to use a germicidal or antiseptic soap unless you have a medical or “smelliness” problem. Bath brushes, bath sponges, and mildly abrasive scrubbers are recommended. You must also pay special attention to your genitals and anal area, as lack of care paid to these can lead to serious infections–as well as an inadequate sex life. Rinse yourself thoroughly after washing, and be sure to use a dry and clean towel to properly dry yourself. Don’t ever share towels, try not to share bathing equipment, and wash all of your equipment after each bath. Putting a teaspoonful of bleach in one gallon of warm water, rinse your bathing equipment in the water, and then under warm running water. And always change into completely clean underwear after each bath.

It’s good to use a fine organic moisturizing oil or cream every day, especially as you get older. Put it on at night to avoid that sticky feeling, and so as to not attract dust and filmy dirt throughout the day.

TEETH

Brush your teeth two to three times every day, or after meals or snacks as needed. It’s important especially to brush right before bedtime. Pay attention to getting rid of the food particles stuck between your teeth. Flossing is highly recommended over toothpicks for this. You only need about a pea sized dab of toothpaste on your toothbrush. When brushing, brush down on the upper teeth and brush up on the lower teeth, using a circular motion. Also, brush the inner as well as the outer surface of your teeth, and before you brush each time, carefully brush your tongue.

Your toothbrush should never be shared with anyone. It should have resilient bristles, and it should be well rinsed and left somewhere completely sanitary to dry after each usage. Try to use organic toothpaste, one that’s completely safe and free of harsh abrasives or strong antiseptics. Baking soda has been found to be a very effective substitute for toothpaste, if you don’t mind its strong flavor.

HANDS

You should always be washing your hands. There’s no such thing as too often. Use a good hand cream if they become dry. Pay attention to your fingernails when you wash your hands. A good nail brush placed near your bathroom sink is a sound investment. Use soap every time you wash, and always wash before and after meals–and after you go to the bathroom. Many infections such as E. coli are caused every day by people who don’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom. You should also keep washing your hands while preparing meals.

NAILS

Your fingernails completely replace themselves every five to six months. You need to keep them well trimmed, and preferably buffed and polished too. Men can buff their nails and use a nail shining tool instead of polish to give their nails a healthy glow. Women may of course polish their nails with beautiful colors, which can hide the discoloration that comes with age. Clip your nails to the length you want them, but don’t ever trim too close to the skin. If your nails chip easily, consider adding more protein to your diet, as finger and toenails are all made of protein. Eating gelatin can work for this.

Very brittle, highly yellow or discolored nails can be a sign of a serious health problem. Please see your doctor immediately if you have this. Also, do not always keep your nails painted with polish. This can lead to stripping of the natural keratin of the nails. Also, either go out or give yourself a home manicure and a pedicure once every couple of weeks. Be sure and buy a very good manicure kit for this purpose.

FEET

Many people take no care whatsoever of their own feet, usually to their detriment. Always keep your toenails clipped, shaping the nails but not cutting too close to the skin. Always give your feet a good scrubbing with a pumice stone or mildly abrasive brush when taking a bath, and before you put on your socks, dry carefully between your toes. Try wearing a clean pair of cotton socks every day; this will pamper your feet and keep them dry and not smelly. Powder your feet after you take a bath. Try not to wear the same pair of shoes every day, and alternate wearing your shoe pairs. And make sure you wear comfortable shoes. Comfort and safety should come before stylishness. High heels can lead to the shortening of important calf muscles.

DEODORANT

Your underarms don’t emit an odor until you hit your preteens. That’s when your apocrine glands, which are located under your arms and around your genitals, begin to function, producing a milky, oily type of perspiration. Bacteria then thrive in this sweat, causing the familiar underarm odor.

To control strong odor, you can wash daily with an antibacterial soap such as Lever 2000. You should always wear clean clothes that are free of staining and sweat. Use a deodorant that is also an antiperspirant, which will dry up moisture in the armpits. Cut back on your caffeine intake-it puts your apocrine glands into overdrive. After a bath, dust yourself liberally with a fine talcum powder. Always drink plenty of water, both to flush your system of toxins and to regulate your bowels. This alone may end some problems you may have with “smelliness.”

TANNING

Getting a “healthy tan” is not considered to be healthy anymore. Now doctors are telling us that you shouldn’t mind your pale skin. Skin cancer, which is often deadly, is not a fair trade for good looks. When sunning, protect your fair skin with an at least SPF 30 sunscreen lotion. Keep your skin oiled and moisturized during the summer, and don’t bother with the “bronze look.”

BODY HAIR

Around puberty, your hair follicles respond to hormones raging in your body. You can end up with hair around your belly button, on your back, near your breasts and for both women and men, on your upper lip. If it’s especially coarse, show your doctor, as you may have a treatable hormonal imbalance. Some such “peach fuzz” is normal for girls, and if it seems unsightly to you, you can try bleaching or removing it. Nair is known to be a gentle permanent hair remover.

I hope you found these simple rules to be helpful to you. If you follow your own careful grooming and personal care plan, you will feel better, look more attractive, and probably live a longer, happier and more fulfilling life.

Living in the Philippines – Best "Passive" Businesses to Start

For those OFW’s and foreigners wishing to start a business, but not wishing to involve themselves with the stress of a business involving day-to-day operations, employees, landlords, inventory, and so forth, there are several available opportunities for foreigners living in the Philippines. Buy fixer upper properties, improve them, then rent or sell them.

1. Buy Fixer Upper Properties, Improve Them, Then Rent or Sell Them. This is a great business for those of you who have experience in your home country in buying, fixing up and renting or selling properties. Over the past 10 years, a lot of people got involved in this kind of business in their homeland.

With the overall economic problems in the world the past couple of years, the Philippines has not been immune, and there are a lot of properties in a state of disrepair, as well as lot of distressed and foreclosed properties.

2. Build An Apartelle. An Apartelle is an apartment building where all but one of the units are rented out long term, and you are left to operate on a nightly or weekly basis, like a hotel – hence the combined name of apartelle. These are common in the Philippines.

This business will require a heavier capital investment, yet with the right property and by focusing in the more rural areas or smaller cities, you can construct a small 4 unit apartment building for Peso 3,000,000 – not counting cost of the land.

You would want to rent out 3 units on a long term rental basis, and keep one for short term rentals – for the many traveling salesmen that frequent the countryside. They like booking into such short term apartelle units rather than the much more expensive hotels in the area.

3. Condotels. I have not given this business my “thumbs up” in all instances. Condotels have been heavily touted and promoted the past several years and there have been many, many new condominiums built in Manila, and now even in Cebu and starting in Davao.

The problem is that although the developers offer great down payment terms (usually around 30% down financed over 3 years) and in some cases carry back the mortgage and finance for perhaps 10 years, the interest rates are incredibly high, and the split of rentals with the management team runs around 50%/50%. There is also always a nominal monthly maintenance fee.

What looks like “cheap” entry point and cash flow out each month, in many cases simply becomes a bet on long term property appreciation – finding someone willing to pay you more for it than you paid for it.

This is because with all the inventory on hand, there is a surplus of condos which have been into hotel type rental pools, but not enough visitors to rent them all.

Consequently, what an investor thought would be a good positive cash cow, turns out to be a continuous negative cash flow – not what a new retiree to the Philippines is looking for to supplement his pension or annuity! This type investment will only drain you pension.

However, having written all this, I HAVE FOUND the past several month two exceptional condotel investments which DO meet my criteria of creating good ongoing rental income.

4. Farming. The likely cessation of the Agrarian Land Reform Program (CARP) will give the rural sector renewed confidence to invest in agricultural production capacity. CARP has held back investment in both production capacity as well as farm acquisition. An end to CARP will mean higher land prices since land will be valued for its higher income producing potential.

However, higher land prices are simply a “serendipity”, an added value, to the type of farming business I am writing about. I have found an extremely unique business opportunity, which will generate a great ROI (return on investment) and is completely passive. It has been structured by the developers (all foreigners) to be a one turnkey investment price. The price includes cost of the land, plus all

Clearing, planting, cultivation and harvesting for the first 5 years.

The business has been priced to fit the capital investment budget of the average foreigner retiree, and all landowners will be members of a cooperative which will share the farming equipment (tractors, equipment shed, and others). The farm will be “farmed” by the developer’s management team

The hottest trend now is in organic farming, and yet it is only in its infancy stage in the Philippines. There is one export product in particular which has caught my attention – the pili nut. The Philippines is the ONLY country with which produces and processes this nut in commercial quantity.

The current status of the pili is equivalent to that of the macadamia some 30 years ago. It has huge potential to develop into a major industry. They are in demand not only in Hong Kong and Taiwan but also in Singapore, Korea and Austria.