Tuesday 8 October 2013

E - Report! TIMAYA drops new video UKWU!

Nigerian artist Timaya drops new video for his track Ukwu. The video was shot by video director Moe Musa. I don't how much the British policemen were paid to feature in this video o"

 watch it here.

Oyo partners Japan to improve teachers’ training, teaching of science

"Oyo state, the "pacesetter" is living up to its name in taking a bold step to make sure that its student are well educated. This is a step in the right direction"

The Oyo State Government is collaborating with Japan to improve the teaching of some subjects in its schools across the state. The subjects will be English Language, Mathematics as well as Science and Technology.
Abiola Ajimobi, governor of the state, who disclosed this while receiving Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), who paid him a courtesy call in his office, said that the collaboration would also include the training of teachers, provision of physical infrastructure and education equipment. The governor said this had become necessary in view of the fact that Japan ranked high in the areas of science and technology as well as development of intellectual capital.
While reaffirming his administration’s commitment to the provision of qualitative education in the state, Governor Ajimobi said emphasis had been on human capital development as one of the means of unleashing the potentials of the people, particularly the youth. In his remarks, Seki Jetsuo, the leader of JICA, described education as the bedrock of development in any society, stressing that efforts must be made by government at all levels to improve the system from the beginning.
He said that the intervention programme of the Agency in the State would include strengthening Mathematics and Science education, improving the quality of teachers through in-service training, especially in Mathematics and other science subjects.
Jetsuo also pledged the readiness of his agency in constructing classrooms in some schools in the state.
 By: Remi Feyisipo

AMCON battles to sell N4bn private jet

" AMCON is the company set up to buy out the debt incurred during the last financial crisis in Nigeria where some notable Nigerians took out loans and did not repay while some bank CEOs embezzled its customers fund. It is believed that a private jet seized by AMCON from one of the bank debtors cannot be sold"

The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria is facing major challenges in selling its N4bn private jet, which it put up for sale through a public notice about four weeks ago.

Our correspondent learnt that one of the difficulties in disposing of the airplane was the current slow demand for private jets globally.

Findings by SUNDAY PUNCH also showed that potential buyers were reluctant to approach AMCON for fear that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission might come after them, questioning the source of their wealth.

Sources close to the deal, therefore, said it might take a longer period of time for the bad debts manager to sell off the N4bn jet.

A source said, “The way things are going, it might take some time for AMCON to get the aircraft sold. The reason is that the private jet market globally is very slow now. The demand is very slow now. People are now buying private jets. This is why you even see some foreigners bringing in private jets into Nigeria to do illegal charter.”
The source added, “Also, some Nigerians who have the money to buy the AMCON jet are not willing to show up because they are afraid AMCON may come after them to question the source of their wealth.

“And majority of Nigerians who could afford it are currently having debts issue with AMCON. That is why AMCON may be forced to sell the jet probably below profit if it is in a hurry to sell it.”

The spokesman for AMCON, Mr. Kayode Lambo, told our correspondent on Friday the jet had yet to be sold.
AMCON had, through newspaper advertorials about four weeks ago, put the Canadian-made Bombardier Challenger 605 private jet up for sale.

There had been speculations that the aircraft was confiscated from an oil mogul, Mr. Femi Otedola, following a settlement of transfer of assets he made as a result of his alleged indebtedness to AMCON.
There were also speculations that the plane might have been taken over from the Capital Oil and Gas Industries’ Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah, over an alleged N48.014bn debt.

However, the AMCON spokesman described all the speculations as rumours.

“The plane belongs to AMCON and now we have decided to sell it off. It is an investment,” he said.

Sources had said that a former military governor, two eminent Nigerians from the North and a chartered aircraft company had indicated interest to buy the N4bn ($27m) brand new private jet.

The corporation was said to be insisting on selling the luxury plane at a particular price, while the former governor and the two prospective buyers were offering below this amount.

Lambo said some people were showing interest in the jet, but did not give the details of the interested parties.
Whoever buys the plane will also contend with a $4,000 luxury tax recently imposed on private jet owners by the Federal Government.

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority had directed the owners and operators of private jets to pay the sum of $4,000 for every flight departure within the country.

According to a memo to all private jet operators and obtained by our correspondents, the NCAA ordered that Nigerian-registered private jets would henceforth pay the sum of $3,000 for every departure, while foreign registered private jets would pay $4,000 per departure.

The memo, dated August 28, 2013, and signed by the Director-General, NCAA, Captain Fola Akinkuotu, was titled, ‘Order charging certain fees on operations in general aviation.’

The memo, with reference number: NCAA/DG/OR/GA/VOL.11/2013/06, reads, “In compliance with the provisions of Section 30 (2) (q) & (s) of the Civil Aviation Act of 2006, the Authority hereby orders: All foreign registered aircraft engaging in non-scheduled operations shall forthwith pay $4,000 as fees under the provisions of the law set out above for every departure, except round trips without changes in passenger manifest, or return ferry. Such fees shall be paid in advance and prior to departure.

“All Nigerian-registered aircraft engaging in non-scheduled operations shall forthwith pay $3,000 as fees under the provisions of the law set out above for every departure, except round trips without changes in passenger manifest, or return ferry. Such fees shall be paid in advance and prior to any departure.

“This order shall be effective and in force immediately upon the date of issuance. Failure to comply shall result in denial of operations and or privileges.”

The memo is, however, generating controversy in the aviation sector, with some operators arguing that the levies are illegal and, as such, they will not pay.

But the NCAA has filed a suit at the Federal High Court, Lagos, challenging the reluctance of foreign and locally-registered aircraft operators to pay the levies.

In an originating summons dated September 23, 2013, the plaintiff (NCAA) is praying the court to determine whether by true construction of sections 30 (2) (q) and 30 (5) of the Civil Aviation Act, 2006, it is empowered to impose fees on all foreign and Nigerian registered aircraft engaged in non-scheduled operations.

The agency deposed that the payment of the said fees was to take effect from the date of the issuance of the order.

The affected airlines and aircraft operators under the aegis of the Airline Operators of Nigeria have described as draconian the policy, which they say amounts to double taxation and an illegality.

If the move by the NCAA becomes successful, it will affect pastors, business moguls and other private jets owners in the country, who will be expected to cough out about $1.4m annually as luxury tax.

by Oyetunji Abioye

BlackBerry drop reveals biggest discount

Investors are growing more skeptical that a tentative $4.7bn bid for smartphone maker BlackBerry Limited will succeed, with the stock trading at the biggest discount among similar North American takeovers.
Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited’s $9-a-share tentative offer for BlackBerry is 17 per cent higher than the current stock price, the widest spread of 109 announced deals worth $1bn or more, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Bloomberg News reported on Friday, that BlackBerry fell by 0.4 per cent to $7.70 at 1 p.m. in New York, dropping its market value to $4bn. The stock closed at $7.69.
The slide reflects shareholder concerns about Fairfax Chief Executive Officer Prem Watsa’s ability to secure his partners’ commitment and financing before a November 4 deadline.
Watsa said when he announced the September 23 offer that he had yet to secure financing and would only name his partners after they had done the due diligence and were fully committed.
“The reservations are adding up,” Sachin Shah, a strategist in special situations and merger arbitrage at New York-based Albert Fried & Company, said in a telephone interview.
“It keeps on trading based on people’s interpretation of what other people think is going to happen rather than what Prem is saying will happen.”
Since Toronto-based Fairfax announced its letter of intent, BlackBerry has given more details about its deteriorating financial situation.

EVENT - Odoh to Headline 3E Actuaries Pro-Am in E/Guinea

Two Nigerian regular professional golfers, Oche Odoh and Gift Willy, are on the list of 18 international golfers expected to feature at the 3E Actuaries 1st International Pro-Am Golf Tournament at the Sipopo Golf Course in Malabo Equatorial Guinea.
The tournament which will be held from October 18-20 is sponsored by Olawale Opayinka, MD of 3E Actuaries and Consultants Limited Nigeria.
The field of professional players was pooled from a list of 34 applicants from six European countries including Spain, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Switzerland and, Portugal. The six African countries that will feature at the event are Morocco, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon.
The professionals will be joined by 54 amateur golfers with the maximum of 36 handicaps to make up the field of 72 golfers.
Aside from Odoh and Willy, Ghanaian stars Emos Korblah and Vincent Togah are on the invited guests list.  Instructively, Korblah and Togah are the two top ranked players on the Nigerian Order of Merit table for the current season.
Other notable golfers that will feature are French trio of Dauchez Fredric, Dufresne Valerie and De Aizpurua Christophe. Spain will present Piug Giner Xavi while Rice Matthew will represent the UK.
The professionals will provide clinic for the amateurs on the driving range at the Sipopo Golf Club on the first day of the tournament on October 19.
The occasion is significant as it will herald the maiden entrance of professional golf into Equatorial Guinea which borders Cameroon, Nigeria eastern flank neigbours.
THISDAY gathered that 3E Actuaries has also signed an exclusive extended agreement with the Golf Federation of Equatorial Guinea (FEGUIGOLF) starting with the Pro-Am event. Under the agreement, the Pro- Am event will become the 1st Equatorial Guinea Open in 2014 and will witness a broader international participation.
Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, the President of FEGUIGOLF has already assured the visiting delegation of a memorable time playing the golf course in a warm atmosphere of sportsmanship.

Fashion designer or film director? Why not crowd fund your business idea?

"There is always a new way of doing things, raising funds for your business or project has definitely taken a new turn in the 21st century"

Fashion designer or film director? Why not crowd fund your business idea?

More and more entrepreneurs, like fashion designer Jane Bowler and indie film director Henry Scriven, are crowd funding their business projects. Could you?

Press Association Images - EDITORIAL USE ONLYTo get in to the spirit of London Fashion Week, model Aspen Glen-Cross poses in a dress adorned with around 5000 LEGO bricks designed by Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design student, Anne-Sophie Cochevelou, in central London.

Been turned down for a small business loan? Had your firm’s overdraft withdrawn by the bank? Then you’re not alone. Many small business owners are still finding it tough to get funding as banks are less willing to lend following the credit crunch and because new banking regulations dictate that they have to hoard more cash on their balance sheets. 

Although the latest Bank of England figures show lending to small firms rose slightly between May and June this year, year-on-year borrowing by small and medium-sized businesses is still down by 3.3% on last year. 

The Federation of Small Businesses reckons three in 10 small businesses are refused finance each quarter and last week it was revealed that Britain had slipped from eighth to tenth place in a survey of the best places in the world to do business, purely because of the lack of access to finance for smaller firms. 

So where else can entrepreneurs turn to for financing when the traditional routes have dried up? One alternative which is rising in popularity right now is crowd-funding. Social media savvy business owners are increasingly turning to it to fund their projects. 

According to website Crowdsourcing.org, $1.5bn was raised via crowd-funding in 2011 and the area is flourishing. A range of different websites, including Kickstarter.comWefund.com andCrowdcube.com provide platforms for entrepreneurs looking to raise money for projects as diverse as a new gentleman’s card game, A Duel Betwixt Us, which raised $50,000 more than its $9,500 target, to film projects. 

Crowd funding works by enabling website users to pledge or invest a small amount which could be as little as £10 or as much as £500 towards a project. 

There are a number of different funding models – on some sites, like Kickstarter.com, users effectively donate money, receiving a non-cash gift in return, such as tickets to a play or a copy of an album, while on other sites, such as Fundingcircle.com and Trillionfund.com, website users lend money to new companies with the aim of receiving a return on their cash. 

On other sites, such as SyndicateRoom.com, investors receive a share of the firms’ equity in exchange for their money. As a rule, in crowdfunding, entrepreneurs or project owners have a fixed period in which to raise the cash they need – which could be three months or less - and if the project doesn’t hit its target amount then the money is returned to the investors or donors. 

Fashion designer Jane Bowler used Kickstarter to raise the funds for her show at Somerset House which opens at London Fashion Week this week. 

“I’m an emerging fashion designer – I’ve only been going a couple of years,” she said. “This is my second showing at Somerset House. I trained as a textile designer so my work is quite different. I do clothes and accessories as well but the clothes are quite unusual. There are some pieces that are show pieces and other accessories that are a bit more wearable.”

However, it can be tough for new designers to find the cash to fund their own shows at London Fashion Week. 

“It’s really hard for new designers to be able to do things like this,” she said. “It’s really expensive – the space is £1,000 for the week, then you have to pay for the plinth and the models cost £500. It’s never ending spending for me.” 

“It gives the illusion that it’s really glamorous in the fashion industry, but nobody knows what it’s like. It’s like any business but there’s no funding. I teach, I run workshops – I don’t think people realise how hard it is.”

Jane turned to crowd funding after using it successfully last year. “Crowd funding worked so well for me last season that I thought I’d do it again,” she said. “Kickstarter worked really well for me because I’ve gots lots of followers on Twitter. As well as them helping me, I can give something back to them. People can get hold of different collections.”

Her pledges have also increased compared to last year. “Last season pledges were averaging at £15-£20, but this season it’s £30-£40,” she said. “I’ve had a few people return again from last year to help the cause but I’ve also had different pledges this year.”

The model also helps in providing feedback on products. “You can see what people are liking in terms of product,” she explained. “It helps to build the brand awareness.”

Film director and writer Henry Scriven turned to the same website to fund his film project How to Become a Criminal Mastermind which premiered in London this week. The comedy, starring Sam Massey and Phillip Weddell, centres around a desperate man who hires a criminal coach to help him become the perfect crook.  

“We shot the film a couple of years ago and initially raised £12,000 from private investors to fund it,” he said. “But when we got to the post-production stage we needed money for DVDs and marketing and we hadn’t got any money left. There’s been a lot of publicity about Kickstarter – Spike Lee and Zach Braff have both raised money through it – so we thought this was one way of raising some money.”

Zach Braff, star of TV show Scrubs turned film director raised $2m in three days via the site for his film Garden State. Meanwhile, in July legendary film maker Spike Lee raised $1m for a yet untitled new film, saying that current climate in Hollywood, which is focused on big budget “superhero” productions that spawn sequel after sequel, was not “encouraging” for independent film directors. 

Henry’s target was to raise £1,250 over 30 days, but he was “overwhelmed” by how many people were interested in the project and in the end raised £3,700. “It’s not just the money,” he said. “It’s like free PR and marketing. It’s very easy for people to see what we’re doing.”

The site enabled Henry, who directed, co-produced and co-wrote the film, to post film trailers and behind the scenes footage for potential donors to watch.  After raising the funds, he and his team have also decided to distribute the film themselves. 

As well as ‘donating’ money to entrepreneurs and projects in exchange for non-financial gifts, some high net worth individuals and private investors are also investing in companies via crowd funding sites. 

SyndicateRoom calls itself a ‘next-generation’ crowd-funding platform which enables private investors to invest alongside professional business angels. The company claims it is different from competing websites because the businesses it promotes have already been thoroughly vetted by investors. 

“Crowd funding is very much geared up for entrepreneurs, but this doesn’t mean it’s good for investors,” said Gonçalo de Vasconcelos, founder and CEO. “And until it’s great for investors, it won’t grow.”

Due diligence – the vetting process that professional investors put companies through before parting with their money – is key, says Gonçalo, as is the mentoring support that business angels can provide entrepreneurs.  

“If someone is putting in £100,000 then they will carry out more due diligence than someone investing £10,” he said. “The crowd doesn’t have the people to dig really deep [and investigate companies before investing]. Crowd funding platforms will tend to ask a few questions online but businesses angels will help companies for a few months before they go onto our platform. They do a lot of due diligence on their ambition and the markets side, calling potential customers.”

The business angels involved with the site also invest their own money in the companies. “This gives people great peace of mind,” said Gonçalo. Firms funded so far include biotech data firm Eagle Genomics, which raised £1m in a fundraising supported by angel investors Cambridge Capital Group, and Psonar, which raised £250,000 to develop its music streaming service. 

However, Gonçalo believes one area of crowd funding that needs more attention is regulation, pointing out that on some equity-based crowd funding sites investors do not always receive voting rights with their shares or preemption rights, meaning that their shareholdings could be diluted if a firm issues more shares in the future. 

“I think what people are really overlooking is the regulation,” he said. “People are not always aware that protection is not in place. That’s what regulators need to be looking at.” 

- YahooFinance

How SMEs can stand out from the crowd

"It is every business's dream for its brand to stand out and be recognized by many. The text below will give you an idea of how?"

Press Association Images - EDITORIAL USE ONLYSteven Greenall, founder of Warwick Music Ltd and inventor of the pBone - plastic trombone, demonstrates the musical instrument with junior members of the Ratby Brass Band at the Ratby Bandroom in Ratby, Leicestershire, after being named as Innovation of the Year in the Nectar Business Small Business Awards 2013. 

Hijack PR stunts, such as the projection of Disney cartoon characters on the White Cliffs of Dover, are not just the preserve of super brands. When it comes to creative marketing, small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) often have an advantage over larger firms.
Being nimble gives SMEs the edge, says Frazer Thompson, chief executive of Chapel Down Wines: “There is no arduous, corporate decision-making process, an idea over a glass of wine can be implemented quickly.”
The Kentish wine maker with a £5m turnoverand 41 m+
embers of staff has built the UK’s largest bottle of sparkling wine to celebrate the one millionth visitor to Margate’s Turner Contemporary Art Gallery . The 15 litre, celebrity-signed nebuchadnezzar, was designed to be a symbol of Britishness in a Champagne market dominated by the French. It will be auctioned off for charity on St George’s Day 2014.
Mr Thompson, formerly of drinks giant Heineken (Other OTC: HEINY - news) , believes all PR should be cost effective but unusual: “The nebuchadnezzar cost a couple of grand and no one else is doing it,” he says.
SMEs need to seek a good return on their marketing investment, according to Mark Cropper, chairman of the family-run paper-maker James Cropper. “Budgets are limited. We can’t afford to take out adverts,” he explains.
The answer for the Lake District-based business was strategic collaboration. Working the link between luxury paper and art, the 170-year-old manufacturer sponsors the London-based Frieze Masters Art Fair, and earlier this year hosted a private viewing in New York exhibiting its creation Gerald the paper dog .
The show exhibited a collection of more than 100 versions of the origami canine, with an accompanying limited edition hardback book, and an arthouse short film on YouTube.
Mr Cropper has consigned many traditional business-to-business campaigns to the marketing archives “Trade shows are totally hit or miss,” he says. But he espouses the virtues of traditional values. A handwritten letter “on good quality paper” got him through the door with the chief executive of an €800m Italian fashion house.
Robyn Exton, 27, the founder of Lesbian dating app, Dattch, also believes in the personal touch when it comes to PR. She printed fliers with a twist for the UK Pride festivals. Festivals are notoriously poor when it comes to marketing engagement or supplying enough toilet paper in the portable loos. “So we’ve stapled toilet roll to each flier to show we understand women’s needs,” explains Ms Exton.
Bloom & Wild the online florist that posts whole bouquets to its customers through the letter box combined guerilla campaigning with old-fashioned chivalry.
Aron Gelbard, CEO, says: “We surprised people by giving out free flowers in the street and tracked whether it worked using a discount code.”
And then there’s the inescapable lure of social media. Mr Gelbard successfully targeted lifestyle bloggers such as queenieandthedew and oldfashionedsusie who showed their followers how to arrange a Bloom & Wild bunch.
Caitlin Ryan , entrepreneur and creative director at Karma Communications, also champions the free and fast nature of digital PR. “Small businesses must use social media to tell their story,” she says. “Digital (Milan: DIB.MI - news) should not be an afterthought.”
When her first independent coffee shop was under construction in London’s Fitzrovia, she put a sign in the window saying “Coming soon a reason to get up in the morning” and a link to her sister-cum-business partner’s blog “Scrambling eggs” .
“As the renovation developed, we put pictures online of the oven being installed we wanted to engage and make the local community feel part of our story” she says.
Social media is now the fastest forum for word of mouth with small business reviews reaching millions in seconds.
But, for Ms Ryan, one of the big marketing mistakes made by SMEs is to blurt out their tale on social media
with no consideration of 'what’s in it for the consumer’. Another reputational faux pas is the dogged hunt for new patrons, neglecting existing customers.
“If you’re not creating good customer service, people will talk about it,” she says, citing the recent example of when a passenger bought a promoted tweet through Twitter’s self-service advertising platform. The Tweet simply said: “Don’t fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous.”
Google’s dashboard tools enabling free tracking and analysis of social media mentions are a must, according to Ms Ryan.
Traditional methods of promotion still have their place, she adds, but only once a reputation has been established. She still engages in old-style sampling of baskets of cakes, loyalty cards, and a mention in Time Out still guarantees a spike in custom.
While these small businesses hail from industries as diverse as paper manufacturing to dating apps, they are bound by a common approach to promotion to keep costs down while standing out from the crowd.
As Mr Thompson, concluded: “You can’t be the best forever but you can be different.”

Dangote to chair World Economic Forum

President, Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, has been appointed a co-chair of next year’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos-Kloster, Switzerland.
The Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum, Prof. Klaus Schwab, in a letter inviting the business mogul to co-chair the sitting, said the WEF was of the belief that Dangote’s participation would contribute significantly to the substance of the discussions.
Schwab said in the letter, “The discussions aim to stimulate an unparalleled global dialogue among the relevant leaders from the government, business, academia, civil society and the media.
“In these unprecedented times, I feel that as co-chair, you will contribute significantly to the substance and relevance of the exchanges. You are well positioned to take on this role. Co-chair would in principle consist of your presence and participation in activities to be defined with you.”
Themed: ‘The reshaping of the world: Consequences for society, politics and business,’ the global meeting is scheduled to hold between January 22 and 25, 2014.
In the same vein, Dangote has been appointed to the steering committee of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative.
The Global Business Coalition for Education is a forum connecting businesses to make a lasting impact on the lives of children and the youth through education.
Launched on September 26, 2012, the Global Education First Initiative is a five-year initiative sponsored by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon.
A global advocacy platform at the highest level, it aims to generate a renewed push to achieve the internationally-agreed education goals set for 2015 and get the world back on track to meet its education commitments.

How to make your small business brand 'cool'

" A cool brand is a people magnet" - Oladapo Opayinka

Apple has topped an annual list of the ‘coolest brands’ in the UK, with car maker Aston Martin making second place and luxury watch brand Rolex third. Despite a subdued share price and concerns from some quarters that its growth may be waning, the tech giant made the top spot for the second year running. 

Other well-established brands failed to maintain their 2012 position on the list, with Haagen-Dazs, Vogue and Ben & Jerry’s slipping down the top 20, replaced by Chanel at 13, Prada at 14 and Alexander McQueen at 19.  The CoolBrands list is voted for by 3,000 shoppers and a panel of 38 ‘key influencers’, which this year included Dragon’s Den star Kelly Hoppen, fashion designer Julien MacDonald and actor David Harewood. 

Of course, these major corporations can afford to invest heavily in marketing their products to make them appeal to fashion conscious consumers. So how can small businesses, often with far fewer funds available, make their brands or products similarly ‘cool’ on a limited budget? 

The language your firm uses to communicate with its customers, whether on product packaging or your website is crucial, says award-winning advertising copywriter, Victoria Crump, who has worked on many brands including Adidas, Soap and Glory and Clearasil. 

“It’s all about tone of voice,”she said. “Most businesses don’t want to be quirky as they’re worried about alienating their audiences. But it’s about understanding what the customer wants and telling them the benefits of their product without using jargon. 

“People think that jargon makes them look clever but it doesn’t. The way to be cool is to speak in a really distinctive way. Apple is a tech brand so it could be saying things in a very complicated way, but it says them in a simple way.

Victoria points to smoothies maker Innocent which has created significant buzz about the humorous messages it uses in its packaging. 

“Remember the cool kids at school,” she said. “They were happy to be themselves and maybe even funny. Innocent, for example, has a sense of humour. Being cool is about being confident. Innocent created that tone of voice themselves in-house [rather than paying an advertising firm to come up with it] and everyone in the industry was really impressed.” 

Small businesses should also beware of wasting their marketing budgets on expensive one-off advertising or public relations campaigns, say London-based brand experience experts I-am Associates

“Putting all your budget in one great PR pot or spending out on an advertising campaign that isn’t niche enough are some of the biggest mistakes SMEs can make,” says Mel Connell, Director of 'i-am' Beyond, the firm’s  experiential marketing arm. 

“SMEs need to think less about overarching brand awareness and more about generating brand advocacy.”  

Mel recommends that instead of building an community based around their brand, firms should instead tap into existing communities or “influencer groups” to generate word of mouth interest in their products, developing what she calls “advocacy soldiers” – individuals who will vouch for your brand. 

The firm, which works with Diageo as well as smaller companies, typically creates events around client’s brands, such as pop up events and parties, to which it invites influential bloggers with the aim of creating a ‘buzz’ about a product. 

However, these events don’t have to be expensive, says Mel. “We’ve done lots of low cost guerilla marketing events,” she said. “It could be at a music festival, it could be in the street, a flashmob, projections onto something, etc. or even chalk spraying on the pavement,” she said. 

To achieve ‘coolness’, it’s crucial to target the right audience, she says. “Gaining traction within a target community is vital to gaining credibility,” Mel said. 

Social media is another area which, while low cost, is where many firms – large or small – can easily become unstuck. “There are a lot of brands trying to fabricate content online and a lot of misconceptions about buying fans online,” said Mel. 

“It’s important to sit and work out your online strategy before doing anything because you can’t oversaturate. Oversaturation of your brand message can be off-putting [to consumers on Twitter, etc.] and if you do so I can turn you off my filter.”

I-am also argues that small firms should concentrate on producing good quality content that is of interest to their target audience and features the right ‘tone of voice’, rather than bombarding users with sales messages. 

Meanwhile, Iwoca, a small firm which provides funding to online sellers, which combines more tradition direct marketing to clients with an online presence, reckons it’s possible for SMEs to create a ‘cool’ brand on a small budget. 

“You don’t need big budgets to do this,” says Tracy Waxman, the firm’s chief marketing officer who previously worked at HSBC where her marketing spend was larger. “Surprise and delight your customers. We used a ‘graze box’ [a box of snacks designed to fit through a mail box] as a marketing tool around the theme ‘food for thought for your business’. That was a way to take a marketing tool such as direct mail and make it interesting.” 

She also recommends that companies put a friendly face to their brand name by organising events and maintaining a dialogue with their customers. 

“We have a blog and personal account managers for each of our customers,” she said. “Even as a small business there are things you can do online that make you approachable and ‘cool’. Iwoca holds presentations around the UK to help customers network, but instead of holding them in hotels we hold them in bars. Small businesses can also get involved in their local communities.”

However, it’s not enough for your product simply to look ‘cool’ or for your company to have a ‘cool’ philosophy, your firm also has to walk the talk. 

“Don’t just act cool, be cool in what you do,” said Tracy. “You can create a cool brand but you also have to be cool. A lot of brands have a really good logo but it’s also about living up to your philosophy and doing something different to other companies in your industry. Don’t just say but do.”

- YahooFinance

Salary vs. discretionary income

" A bit of Finance 101"

One of the ways we measure our financial success (and, in some cases, success as a person) in our society is to look at our salary. However, just looking at your salary provides an incomplete picture or your financial situation. This is because your salary does not always provide an accurate representation of how much discretionary income you have.
Discretionary Income
In the most traditional sense, disposable income is meant by what you bring home for saving or spending after taxes are paid. Discretionary income takes it a bit further, including what you have at your disposal for saving or enjoyment after you have made your credit card payments, your housing payments, loan payments (such as a car loan or student loan), your utility bills, insurance and maybe even your groceries. If you have money automatically deducted from your paycheck for savings or retirement investing, this is also taken out before you calculate your discretionary income.
Discretionary income is what you have the freedom to spend as you wish, on things that you enjoy, rather than on bills and other obligations that may not give you much pleasure. In terms of personal finances, I believe that discretionary income offers a better picture of your situation than your salary.
Factors that influence discretionary income
Yes, your salary is related to your disposable income. But what you have left over from your salary to use as you wish depends on a number of other factors, including:
Cost of housing.
Cost of transportation.
How much debt you have.
Cost of food in your local area.
Expense of your utilities
These items, and others, that influence discretionary income can vary, depending on where you live. My husband’s cousin recently complained that his salary is smaller since he moved to our town in Utah, than the salary he had where he used to live in California. My husband and I asked him, though, to take a step back and look at his discretionary income

- BDay

The Oloja Blog Fan Box