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Smaller companies can make employee newsletters work for them by using some special strategies and by taking advantage of the Hawthorne Effect.

Employee Newsletters for Small Companies

Employee Newsletters for Small CompaniesA newsletter for 60 employees? A visitor to the Manager═s Guide Web site asked for about buying content for a newsletter that would serve a group of 60 professionals; the department responsible would not have time to write a complete newsletter. I emailed the following response (slightly edited): You have asked a good question. With 60 employees, your staff is big enough to need a newsletter, but not big enough to make a major spending commitment. On that basis, let me share a few observations with you. First, while I═m not sure why you want to communicate with these employees, I assume it is to maintain their loyalty and to increase their productivity (both common objectives for employee newsletters ). To maintain (and perhaps increase) loyalty, I would recommend that you or some other appropriate person sit down once a month and simply write a letter. Think of it as a letter to a friend or colleague, and report any news of interest to them. You might report on hiring, about changes in policy, how to apply for benefits, or any other information they would find useful. Again, I would stress the need for an informal approach, perhaps something mirroring this letter to you. Avoid making it sound like a memo, if possible. And, I would laser print or copy and mail it, rather than use electronic mail. Turning to productivity, I would not buy articles from third parties unless you come across something that really impresses you. You say these are people are professionals, which suggests to me they will have access to the Net, and probably no end of information already. Instead, I would prepare a modest budget and then offer to pay the employees for providing useful tips and articles that their colleagues can use to be more productive. For example, $20 per employee per issue would give you a budget of about $1,200; offer to buy two articles of 500 to 1,000 words for $500 each, and four tips of 100 to 200 words for $50 each. Or if you want to spend $10 per employee, then you could buy one article and two tips. Once you have the material in hand, print and distribute it to the employees. It can be sent with, or separately from, the letter about internal issues. Finally, you may wish to consider the Hawthorne experiments, which took place in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Researchers set out to find which internal environment changes (such as lighting, etc) increased productivity the most. They found, to their great surprise, was that productivity went up regardless of the type of change that was made. For example, productivity went up when they increased the amount of light, as expected. But, it also went up when the amount of light was decreased; that was not expected. All of that led researchers to realize that it was the attention the employees received, not the changes, that made a difference. We now refer to this phenomenon, in which employees respond to the attention they receive, as the Hawthorne Effect. All of which is a roundabout way of saying that the act of communication is often more important than content or style. As long as you do something, it may be better than nothing.

Choosing A Vending Machine Company What To Look For

Choosing A Vending Machine Company  What To Look For

A vending machine company will supply you with the vending machines you need if you are thinking about starting your own vending machine business. It may be difficult for you to choose a company to deal with if you cannot find a company for vending machines near where you live. There are many of them with an online presence, but you have to consider the cost of getting the machines to you. A "vending machine company" sells both new and used vending machines so you will have different prices to choose from. Starting a vending business is not the same as starting any other type of business. You will be home based and just travel your route to service the machines on a regular basis. Servicing means taking the money out of the machines, restocking the products and making sure that the vending machines are working properly. To get started in a vending machine business, you first contact a vending machine company to purchase the machines that you want. You will find both new and used vending machines for sale, so you can make the decision both on the products you want to sell and the cost of the machines. A vending machine company can take the form of one person operating a home based business or a large company with many staff prepared to take your order. If you choose a company that you find online, you really have to size up the website to help you make the decision. Ask yourself if this company has a wide range of vending machines and whether or not it also sells the bulk vending products you will need. You should be able to browse the list of "used vending machines for sale" as well as get valuable information about starting a vending business. If the vending machine company that you start with treats you well, you will of course stay with that company. Changing companies in the middle of "starting a vending business" will not project a very good image of you to the business associates you make when placing the vending machines in locations. Therefore, it is important that you do research the company before you make a commitment to buy or rent any of its vending machines. If you buy the machines, then you can choose any supplier you wish for the products, but if you lease the machines, you may be stuck with the company until the end of the lease. Any vending machine company that continually puts roadblocks in your way when starting a vending business is one that you should steer clear or. If you cannot get clear answers to your questions about the used vending machines for sale or about how they operate, you will not be able to develop a good relationship with this company. Since each vending machine company does have different prices for the machines, it is a good idea to check out several companies before you make your final decision.

Joining The Conversation

Joining The Conversation

Brand marketing is all about enhancing the mindshare of one's products or services. The aim is for your brand name to be at the top of the consumer's mind at the mere mention of generic terms relating to your company's services. Arguably the best way of keeping that mindshare is by having a constant presence where your customers are. In this day and age of electronic commerce, there's no better place to turn to than the World Wide Web.Markets are conversations, so it is said. And the Web is perhaps the biggest conversation taking place, with exchanges of information going about the world in lightning speed, as people please-whether they be in email messages, forums, chats, or blogs. How people talk about your brand on the Web can make or break your reputation as a company, or your brand's reputation as a product or service.This is where blogs come in handy. The advent of the so-called Web 2.0 ushered in a concept previously unheard of in media and related industries-the massive democratization of content. Web 2.0, among other things, basically lets the consumers of information become the creators of content themselves. The Web is moving away from content with central editorial control, such as newspapers and magazines. Today's most popular websites are not those controlled by one central group, but include mostly community- and enduser-managed sites, such as Wikipedia and DIGG.com.Blogs let any individual or group join in on the big conversation. You write about anything online, and someone will eventually read your posts. That person can choose to talk back, and if so, a conversation is started. What's great is that this conversation is open to the public, and anyone can join in or at least read what's been going on.In starting a blog, you can talk about your company's services, or about the industry you are presently in. It would be fantastic for people to read what you write, and to respond by writing on their own blogs, or commenting on yours. You now have a direct line to your consumer-base. Isn't that great? You are now able to get a feel of what the consumer wants. What's more, your presence on the Web boosts recognition of your brand. Consider adding more people to your army of bloggers-employees, partners, clients (or even hired freelancers), and the effect is multiplied. Your company is no longer represented by a stone-cold establishment. Your brand is represented by names, by faces-that of bloggers!One notable success story in a "brand" blogging endeavor is Microsoft, the software giant considered by many people to be the "evil empire." For so long, Microsoft has been the epitome of the stone-cold establishment. It had no human face, save for key persons like Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer-executives and officers whom people don't really know. Microsoft's brand name had also been suffering because of anti-trust lawsuits being filed here and there. Something had to be done, or Microsoft's brand might be further associated with "evil."In its desire to shift away from all this, Microsoft, in 2004, decided to let employees blog publicly-about their work, about technology trends, about anything under the sun. One mid-level manager by the name of Robert Scoble, stood out, with his profound views and innovative ideas on technology. He was able to successfully communicate with the rest of the world about the inner workings of his company, and along the way dispelling myths about the company. He is now considered to be the persona of Microsoft in the blogosphere. Blogging has now become part of his job description. He is also one of the world's most popular blogging personalities.Any business enterprise-no matter how big or small-can use blogs to the advantage of their brand. Whether you're a startup needing exposure, or you're an established company that wants to better relate to shed its stone-cold faade in favor of a more human approach to doing business, blogging will definitely help your brand go a long way.

An Easy Way To Make Your Small Business More Visible-For Free

An Easy Way To Make Your Small Business More Visible-For Free

No two small businesses are alike, but most want to be like their larger counterparts in some key respects. For example, even if you own a company with only a few really great customers, you want to be visible enough to attract new customers, boost your odds of securing repeat business and do all you can to improve customer satisfaction. The key, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), is having a business Web site. The SBA's own Web site notes that the Web "levels the playing field between small business and big business" because it is such a dynamic, inexpensive medium for advertising and customer service. "The Internet is making it possible for small- to medium-sized businesses to compete with the big guys," the SBA said.Conventional wisdom says that any business without a Web presence these days is at a distinct disadvantage, but the latest International Data Corporation (IDC) small-business research exposes a surprising gap. The IDC research found that of the 6.8 million businesses in the United States with fewer than 10 employees, only 3.8 million have a Web site. "That means 3 million U.S. small businesses-or 44 percent of the total-aren't using the Internet to promote themselves online or engage customers and prospects," said Ray Boggs, vice president of Small/ Medium Business and Home Office Research at IDC. "In today's connected world, companies that take that step generally find that having their own Web site can deliver a significant opportunity to grow their business, especially if the site is updated regularly."Clearly, small businesses (and many of their customers) are online, yet more than half aren't exploiting the full power of what the Internet can do to help build their business. That power includes creating a dynamic Web site to attract and retain customers, taking advantage of search engines to heighten awareness of a company in today's global marketplace, and communicating with customers around the clock or at their convenience.What stops small businesses from stepping up to this level? For many, the barriers are cost, complexity and inconvenience. By its nature, a small business typically has a small budget and an equally small staff. Unlike the larger companies it competes with, a small business generally can't afford to spend thousands of dollars to buy a server, create a complicated infrastructure and hire an IT technician to keep it all running smoothly.The good news is that some new offerings are cropping up that allow you to establish a Web presence without heavy-duty in-house technical resources and a big cash outlay. For example, Microsoft Corp. has a new Internet-based service called Microsoft Office Live, which at the most basic level provides a small business with a domain name, e-mail accounts and a Web site for free.* It's one of the quickest and easiest ways today to get your business on the Internet. And, because it's supported by advertising revenue, and the advertising is designed to be unobtrusive and not appear in the customer's public-facing Web sites, the basic offering is free. Yes, it's free, and you can sign up to test-drive the service at http://www.officelive.com."I need an attractive, easy-to-navigate Web site that I can update frequently and efficiently. With Office Live, I can create a slide show of a sailboat race and have it online before the boats even get back to the dock," said Elizabeth T. Becker, a freelance writer and photographer and owner of Seaport Photography. "That means I get to spend less time in front of my computer and more time behind my camera. It's smooth sailing." Becker's Web site can be seen at http://www.seaport photo.com.With such an all-in-one solution, a small-business Web site really is a no-brainer. Look at it this way: In a day and age when the majority of Americans use the Internet regularly, it's highly likely that a large percentage of your customers do, too.

Small Business Grants Are Very Attainable

There was a time when the concept of free money was a very American notion. But, as the economy has tightened and budgets decreased, there are very few avenues towards capital to start up a new business that do not involve loans and interest. This makes the path towards financial independence all but impossible for many working Americans. However, the small business grant is still available (even in these very lean times!) as a potential source of funding for you dream of self-employment.A small business grant is part of a program funded by the federal government which provides capital for start up businesses. Sometimes a small business grant will simply give the money to a recipient with no requirement of repayment. Other business grants will require you to repay them with a minimal amount of interest over a period of years. Whether or not a small business grant requires repayment will depend on the nature of the grant itself.Obtaining a small business grant is certainly no simple matter. In truth, over a million applications are received every year with only hundreds being awarded. However, the fact that only a few hundred are awarded does not necessarily mean that the others were turned down for lack of funding. Quite the opposite, it is very common for a small business grant to be turned down due to filing mistakes as opposed to lack of funds. In fact, it is a common occurrence for funds to be returned at the end of the year because not enough people qualified for the grants available.But, the government is not the only potential source of a small business grant. Businesses will frequently form a private foundation which is responsible for disbursing funds set aside for grants and other useful community needs. The incentive for a company to use a private foundation is simple: tax savings. A company will pay less in corporate taxes when it gives away a small business grant than if it merely reported the income. Therefore, the private business community is an excellent grant source and is expected to be so in the future unless the tax code is significantly altered.The best way to ensure that your small business grant is approved is to be organized and very thorough in filling out the application. A winning small business grant will generally include a business plan that includes a detailed explanation of what funds are needed and why. But the most important thing to remember is to fill out the application thoroughly and exactly as directed. Attention to detail is what will separate the winners of a small business grant from the losers.

How To Budget For That Graphic Designer

As with any service, the costs involved in hiring a graphic design company will vary depending on your needs and the graphic design company quoting you. Factors influencing the fees charged by each graphic designer can include;- Whether they are insured or not (it's common for some freelancers to not bother with insurance to protect you against issues such as copyright infringement for instance.- Value added services such as online payment of your invoice with a trusted provider.- Standard of design; it stands to reason that the better the designs created compared to others in their industry, the more a designer is likely to charge for them.- Experience; a more experienced designer will charge more for their knowledge and experience; this represents value for the customer still as a more experienced designer is less likely to struggle with meeting timescales, understand how to compile a design brief without relying on you to do it by yourself, and not get tripped up by issues such as print colours, printing bleeds and file compatability with the printing firm.A standard graphic design company will be able to meet your web and print graphic design needs and cover at least minimum design services such as logo design, stationery design, and web site design.Some firms may in addition offer more creatively orientated design work such as graphic illustrations which can be incorporated into your website design, stationery and branding.Using illustrations as part of your business branding can be a powerful way of setting yourself apart from your competition.Budgeting for your projectIt can be difficult to assess which graphic company offers the best value service when each graphic design company charges vary so much, however the following pointers may help you to focus on some of the important considerations:- What is the reputation of the graphic design company you are considering; have you ever heard of them before, have they been recommended to you by someone you trust, do they appear to have an existing client base you can potentially contact, or any client recommendations/testimonials you can view?- Are there any red flags in evidence that should make you wary of using a particular graphic design company such as a lack of contact details for the firm (address, telephone numbers and so on), poor customer service from the outset of your initial communication with them, or an unprofessional manner in their telephone or email conversations with you?- Does the graphic design company have a portfolio for you to view; ideally you should steer away from using a firm that does not have a portfolio as without a portfolio you have no evidence that they can provide the level of professional design work required, whether they have experience of working with other clients on similar projects, or even if their particular design style (most firms lean towards a particular style) meets your needs.- What support are they willing to offer you? A high quality graphic design company will offer ongoing support with the graphic designs they have completed for you ideally for free. This support is invaluable over the long term as in many cases you will use your graphic designs over and over for several years.

Summary

Smaller companies can make employee newsletters work for them by using some special strategies and by taking advantage of the Hawthorne Effect.