Proper Care For Crystal Chandelier

One of the top decorations that you can install is the crystal  chandelier  because of the different appeal that it can give your home. Most of the time home owner that makes some home improvement changes their lighting fixture into an elegant piece and everything comes so perfect.

Because of the crystals of the  chandelier , that is why the house looks so elegant and appealing to the eye. But crystals will not stay sparkly and shiny unless you know how to maintain it. You have to clean those crystals in order to be shiny and maintain its condition.

You have to clean those crystals even just once a year. You have to allot time and your effort in cleaning those crystals. If you plan to use it for many years you have to do some cleaning process to keep its shiny and sparkly condition. And ere are some guidelines to keep it clean and sparkly.

You can use feather duster or piece of cloth in clean those  chandelier . In this way you will be able to dust off the dust in order to keep in good condition.

You can also use wet cloth in cleaning your  chandelier . You must use lint and scratch free cloth to prevent the crystals from unsightly marks and scratches. In this way you can maintain the sparkly image of the crystals.

In cleaning this lighting fixture you have to use soap and water together with the piece of cloth. You have to wipe the crystals one by one so that you will not miss even a single part. After cleaning the crystals you can clean the other parts of the  chandelier .

Another ways to clean it is to dismantle the  chandelier . But this method requires a lot of effort and time but you are sure enough that everything is clean. In doing this you have to use the manual. You have to follow the step by step in dismantling the  chandelier  in order to be organized so the installing it will be easy.

There are also service people that can do the cleaning for you but of course you have to pay this service man a certain fee. Although this means an additional cost for you but you are sure enough that it has been clean in the right way and you can be spared from the effort of cleaning it. You have to simply call the manufacturer of this lighting fixture and ask them if they have such service. They can even make a home service or bring it to the shop.

Whatever methods that you use, what is important is that you know how to maintain this very important lighting fixture. You have to be careful in handling this in order to extend its useful life.

Playing Spades For Real Money Can Be Very Rewarding

Of late, it is being seen that the game of Spades is growing exponentially on the Internet. Many online casinos and websites are now offering Spades to anyone who is interested in playing this fast paced and fun game. With this growth of Spades, it is also seen that it is a good way to make substantial amounts of money if you are knowledgeable and have the skills.

Earlier Spades was a game that was limited to being played at home with family and friends. However, with the advancement of the Internet, Spades can now be played online against live players. No longer are you bored with playing the game against a computer or automated bot. In fact, many websites and online casinos also hold regular tournaments for cash prizes for Spades players from all over the world. If you are good and you have an equally good partner, you can win handsomely at these tournaments.

As mentioned previously, Spades is a fast paced game that hardly takes around half an hour to finish. It is played with a deck of 52 cards a minimum of 2 pairs are required. However, the game does not allow partners to communicate across the table. That is why when people are playing Spades with their regular partners, they form some type of communication that is under the radar. In other words, the silent communication between the partners cannot be detected. In traditional Spades, this form of communication can be a gesture, a raised eyebrow or even a cough. However, when you are playing the online version of the game, you do not have the benefit of seeing your partner. Therefore, any form of communication is always judged with the cards that your partner discards.

The rules of Spades are fairly easy to comprehend. Basically you and your partner have to say how many tricks you will take at the beginning of the game based on that the pairs play. The bidding and scoring system make the game interesting. You have to be careful how you bid as it is important that you do not go beyond the tricks you specified at the beginning. This is where the fun and excitement comes in, and makes the game more interesting than most other card games.

No doubt you need to be a skillful player to make money when playing Spades. Your chances of winning are quite good if you can beat your opponent. There are many websites that offer live play for money and all you need to do is download the free software for the game onto your website and begin playing. It is also quite possible for you to find a partner online. Of course, you would require some form of camaraderie between yourself and your partner if you want to win each time you play. The best bet to win substantial sums of money while playing Spades online is to rope in your regular playing partner. However, this does not mean that you cannot win if you are playing with a completely new partner. If you are smart and skilled at the game, and are able to understand your partner’s card throwing, then there is no way you can not win money while playing the game.

When you are playing with a good partner, he or she will feed you a card of a suit that they know you are cutting. If you are planning to cut a trump card, make sure that you go only as high as you need to. Usually all it takes is a two of Spades or three of Spades to win a hand in the initial rounds. Make sure that you keep your high valued Spades for rounds that have more at stake. Also, never cut your partner. This is the number one rule that you should always follow.

If you are truly interested in playing Spades for real cash, then check out 4spades.com. It is a website that offers tournaments for cash. However, if you want to get to know the software that the site uses, you can first practice playing the game for free. This will also help you hone your skills if you are not familiar with the game or if you have not played it for sometime. The site allows players playing for real money to deposit up to $500 a month into their accounts. In addition, the site holds regular tournaments which increase the odds of winning more money when playing Spades.

So, if you thought that it was not possible to win real money while playing Spades online, you are mistaken. You can win and win substantial amounts. However, you need to be a skillful player with a good observant partner.

Low Back Pain – 7 Tips For Shoveling Snow

You use your lower back for everything. And when you injure it, you really find out just how much you rely on a strong and healthy back. You use your back for sitting at the computer, brushing your teeth, washing dishes, driving a car, and even holding up a cup of water. It is your main support system for your whole upper body (the lumbar region and core muscles).

As this winter rolls in, beware of injuring or straining your back from  shoveling  snow. If you have a snow blower or somebody else to do it for you, you can stop reading this article right now. But for the select few of us who still  shovel , here are several ways to help lessen or even do away with the pain, simply by making some changes.

I need to preface the below with some facts about our body. First, the main muscle systems used while  shoveling  snow are the lower back / core, arms, and legs. If you were to order those muscle groups from strongest to weakest, it would be: 1) Lower back / core, 2) Arms, 3) Back. The majority of the following tips and tricks to lessen lower back pain is simply to take advantage of your stronger muscle systems. Remember, the first link to break in a chain is the weakest one.

1. Warming Up

Before performing any type of physical activity, our body needs to prepare for what we’re about to do to it. At rest, most of the blood in our bodies is not in our muscles, but flowing very slowly in our insides, keeping our internals oxygenated. If were to jump into  shoveling  (or any demanding activity), we increase the chances of using a poorly prepares muscle, which may lead to muscle tears and or soreness for days to come. Warm up simply by doing a few torso twists, body weight squats, and even some jumping jacks. By incorporating your whole body into a warm up, you start pumping blood faster, get the blood out to your muscles, and warm them up. Remember what happens to a cold rubber band when you stretch it…

2. Stretching

In conjunction with warming up, stretching is key. Just like in a golf swing, you use a full range of motion during the swing, and so you have to warm up by doing light resistance stretching. By having an increased range of motion, you are less likely to use weaker parts of the body and rely more on your stronger ones (legs and arms). Start out by thoroughly stretching out your legs, torso (side bends and twists), and shoulder rotations.

3. Favor the Legs

As mentioned in the preface, our legs are the strongest in our body. If a person can bench press 300 pounds, he can typically leg press 500 lbs or more. It’s a fact that our legs are stronger. Now compare this strength range to our lower backs. Imagine trying to lift even half the weight of a leg press… ouch! Now why in the world would we rely on our lower back when we have huge pistons below us, able to lower our bodies to pick up some snow, and then raise our bodies to pick up the snow. Throughout your  shoveling , make sure you are lowering yourself with your legs. This may look goofy and feel awkward, but you’ll be thankful that you took advantage of your strongest muscles.

4. Straight Forward Motion

Your legs are generally positioned to go in a straight up and down motion. Your back can rotate, swivel, turn, and bend. If you rely on your back to do all the above, you’re asking for trouble. Instead, here are two tips you can use to lessen the workload of the lower back and core. 1) Once you have picked up the snow, turn your whole body and face the direction you want to toss the snow. In this manner, you are tossing the snow in a straight forward way, completely taking out the torso rotation and hence saving your back. 2) Use more arms. Your arms have a large range of motion of tossing snow. With the help of pushing with your legs and the range you have available with your arms, you are free to toss snow with minimum lower back involved.

5. Static Arms

Using arms is better than using the lower back, but I caution you with the workload you may be placing on your arms. Let me explain what a rower does. When rowing, there are three motions involved: the thrust with the legs, the lower back extension to straighten the body, and the arms pulling the ores at the end. Beginner rowers often begin the arm pull motion at the beginning, which leads to arm soreness before anything else. It becomes their bottleneck. This is because they are not relying on their strong leg power to do the first and hardest part of the job. Same ting goes for  shoveling  snow. When squatting down to get some snow, don’t stop half way and rely on your arms to do the rest. Keep your arms flexed in a static (not moving) position, squat down, push the  shovel  to pick up some snow, then using your legs, pick up the snow. Again, this might look goofy and awkward, but believe me, your legs are much better suited for such a job as this.

6. Alternating Sides

Any repetitive motion for a long period of time is bound to cause soreness (i.e. tennis elbow). Well, to lessen lower back pain due to a repetitive tossing motion to your left, for example, why not try tossing to your right every other toss. Also, try changing hand grips so that if your  shovel  was to your right, leading with the left arm, change it to the left side, leading with your right arm. This makes sense if you are facing the snow on one side of the driveway / sidewalk, and then switching sides and  shovel  position.

7. Smaller Portions of Snow

This should be a no-brainer. In order to move 1000 pounds of snow, we could lift massive amounts of 50 pound-fulls of snow in the  shovel  with each toss and get it done it 20 tosses, with the added bonus of low back pain for days ahead. OR, surprise surprise, you can decrease the load, increase the tosses involved, and avoid the dreaded low back bonus. I’d much rather be tossing 20 pounds at a time, making my work easier, quicker, less strain, less pain, walk away without a limp, and have no need for an ice bag or massage. However, the massage could still be a good bonus if you ask me.

I wish you all the best this winter season in  shoveling  snow. With the above seven tips, you should be well on your way to a lot less back pain, if any. Thank you, and God bless!

Knowing Lift Chair Recliners Inside and Out

Wondering what a lift chair recliner is? Seems like a natural question. Lift chair recliners have been in use for over 20 years and they are now made by a number of manufacturers in numerous makes, models, sizes with innumerable customization options. The plethora of their availability and reasonable prices should allow most people in need to find them within their purchasing range.

Notably, if you require lift recliners you need some sort of assistance in order to come to a full standing position. Most chairs, couches and even conventional recliners don’t offer the person in need the ability to stand on their own after having been seated on that style of furniture.

In addition to aiding its users into the standing position, lift chair recliners, well, recline. Many of the models available today have electric motor systems which provide the user the capability to relax in the chair in an infinite number of positions.

Some of the more advanced options in lift chairs allow for the foot rest to be controlled separately from the back. This provides for added dimensions of comfort and control when the user needs it to be most comfortable.

What type of lifting system should you purchase in your new lift chair recliner? For the most part there are only 2 types of lift mechanisms still available. And that number is decreasing every day. In the early models of lift recliners, the actual lifting mechanism was a contraption of heavy duty springs. These springs, once activated, lift the user up and out of the chair and would not stop until the entire chair was in the upright position.

Unfortunately, for some users this might not be the best way to be self assisted out of a recliner. Depending upon ones body weight, the catapulting action of spring loaded lift chairs could project the occupant up and away from the chair with potentially disastrous effects. Since these types of chairs don’t have motors that control the back rest or foot rest, their operations come down to the users ability to have enough body strength and weight to force them into position.

Fortunately, there are very few companies still making spring powered lift chairs. Be sure, however, that you are asking the right questions when it comes to your next lift recliner purchase. And one of the very first things you should know about the chair is whether or not it has an electric assist motor to help with both the lifting motions as well as the recline and foot rest operations.

Which type of lift chair recliner will provide you with the best results? Well, typically the answer to this question depends upon your needs. If it is important for you to be able to lie horizontally (for better sleeping comfort) you will want to look at the 3 position and infinite position recliners.

As you might have guessed, infinite position lift chair recliners have the luxury of being able to come to rest in just about any position that makes the chair’s user feel most comfortable. Three position recliners are limited to just that, 3 positions.

Additionally, infinite position recliners usually come with added conveniences like massage and heater add ons. These additional features may be just what you need in order to get the comfort and therapy that you need from your lift chair.

There are also 2 position chairs which only recline to about a 45 degree position. If your needs don’t require you to rest or sleep for extended periods of time, the 2 position chairs may provide the perfect functionality of aiding you into and out of a chair, as well as comfortable seating while watching television or reading a book.

Elevator Pitches: Not Just for Elevators

You’ve probably heard of the “elevator pitch”, a speech you would make to someone about yourself if you happened to share a 20-30 second elevator ride with him. Most people never expect to find themselves in an elevator with the CEO, so they never bother to create this short sales pitch for themselves as a job candidate. However, doing so can be very helpful to you during your job search.

SO TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF

Many hiring managers start off interviews by saying, “So, tell me a little about yourself.” This moment is your time to shine, but if you’re not prepared, this simple question can be fairly nerve-wracking. What does the other person want to know? Where you went to school? Where you’re from? How many kids you have? If you don’t prepare an answer ahead of time, you may end up providing the interviewer with a lot of information he doesn’t need, while omitting things that would be helpful for him to know. Hint: keep it professional and about your career progression; don’t get sucked into the trap of talking about your personal life.

HELLO MY NAME IS…

Your elevator pitch will depend on where you are in your career and where you’re trying to go. Just like your resume, it needs to take into account the audience who will be hearing it. If you’re introducing yourself to someone at a networking event, you should offer them a brief snapshot of who you are as a professional, today. For instance, “Hi, my name is Joe Smith. I’m a technology consultant who has spent most of my career designing Web sites and networks for private and public sector companies in the mid-Atlantic. I’m currently looking for a role as an internal IT manager to cut down on my heavy travel schedule.”

IN THE INTERVIEW

Let’s say the person on the other end of your pitch likes you enough to get you an interview with their buddy. When you get to the interview, the hiring manager asks you to tell him about yourself. You would then adjust your elevator speech to be more relevant to an industry-specific audience. For instance, you might say, “Hi, my name is Joe Smith. I started designing Web sites while I was working on my history major in college, and at about the time of my graduation I realized that the job market valued my IT skills more than my history degree. I went to work for a consulting company, and during the 15 years I’ve been there, I’ve done a little of everything from Web design to help desk support to network administration. Your IT manager position caught my eye because it would allow me to utilize a lot of the different skill sets I’ve had to pick up during my years as a consultant.”

If you’re stumped about where to start with your elevator speech, take a look at your resume and cover letter. Do they tell a story about where you’ve been and where you want to go? If not, they should. Need help telling your story? Talk to one of our academy certified resume writers today or visit our Web site to find out how we guarantee job search success.

What Is a Personalised Number Plate?

Shakespeare once wrote “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.”

I’ll answer this over four-hundred year old question – a name is something unique to us, every person; an identity that we bring to the world which separates us from everyone else. Each of us was named individually by our parents or guardians and everything that we come into contact on a daily basis has a name.

Including our cars. Particularly our cars. Every car that we see on the road has an individual number. You could actually say that it has it’s own name because no two cars have the same number.

Every car has a registration number which identifies the vehicle, first and foremost for taxation and law enforcement. It stays with the vehicle until it is destroyed or exported.

Exceptions to the rule

However, there are two exceptions. Firstly, when a registration number is transferred, replacing the original one assigned or secondly, when it is retained. Private, personalised or cherished marks all describe a registration mark that is assigned to the owner rather than the vehicle. They can be transferred from vehicle to vehicle or retained by the owner.

Vehicle registration plates Vehicle registration plates have been in existence since 1904 and almost every motor vehicle, used on public roads are required by law to display them. Exceptions to the rule include vehicles used by royalty as they have no number plates.

A car owner can have an assigned registration mark or a private, cherished or personalised one.

1. Assigned Registration Number Plate

An assigned registration number plate currently consists of two letters, two digits and three letters. Generally speaking, the first two letters show which local office issued the mark. The numbers indicate the six-monthly period the plate was issued. The final three letters are individual to the vehicle but have no special meaning.

2. Personalised Registration Number Plate

Private and personalised number plates are generally associated with the rich and famous as they tend to pay a premium for their uniqueness. They generally don’t follow any particular format, e.g., AMS 1 is the registration for Lord Alan Sugar’s car.

Another term for personalised registration plates is cherished number plates. These are traditionally associated to old dateless car plates which have been on vehicles for many, many years. However, these days, cherished marks now include the more recent current style registration, e.g., JH06 SRL (Jayne Henry for me, 06 for my month of birth and SRL for Speedy Reg Ltd).

In summary,

Whatever your choice of term for a private plate, they work. With over 31 million cars on British roads as per road statistics at the end of 2009, private, personalised or cherished marks allow a car to be unique, to stand out from the crowd or have its own identity in the world.

3 Ways to Get the Maximum Return From Your Wood Stove

If you’re interested in owning a wood stove, you probably done some research. Maybe you’ve heard the buzz about the efficiency of modern stoves and their small environmental footprint. Or you may already be a stove owner, in which case you’ve started basking in that radiant heat. Either way, you’re wondering how to ensure that your stove turns out to be one of those peak performers–and a smart investment to boot. If so, you’re asking the right questions, because today’s stoves a designed to pay great dividends. Capitalizing on your stove’s potential begins with choosing the right type of fuel. But beyond that, here are three steps to help stoke your stove to its full heating potential.

First, take the temperature of your wood burning stove. A lot of today’s stoves come with thermometers preinstalled, which makes this step easy. If this isn’t the case, it’s not difficult to attach a stack thermometer to your stove’s flue–that pipe that carries the exhaust outside. Once you have a thermometer in place, you’ll be able to check the temperature of gases as they exit the stove. For the average wood stove, the ideal temperature range falls between 300 and 400 F. If the stove is burning within this range, it is producing heat efficiently while causing the least pollution possible. You can target this optimum spectrum by adjusting the stove’s burn rate or changing the quantity of fuel.

Second, do stove maintenance. This a simple step, but easy to overlook. Modern stoves don’t create a lot of waste, but from time to time you’ll want to clean out wood ash. When excess ashes start to build up, it’s time to service your stove with the equivalent to a quick oil change–only it’s much, much easier! Collected ash can obstruct the air vents of your stove, depriving the fire of oxygen. This makes it hard to control the burn rate of your fire, and compromises efficiency. Heating your home is hard work, so the last thing you want to do is making your stove short of breath.

Third, take an outsider’s perspective on your wood stove. By “outsider” I mean outside your house. When a wood stove is burning with maximum efficiency, it creates almost no visible smoke. So when you have a good blaze going, walk outside and inspect your stove flue or chimney. If you see dark fumes, you should vary the stove’s oxygen flow and wood supply, then check again. A well-tended fire with good fuel will eliminate that smokiness. When there’s no smoke, and just a shimmer in the air, you’ll know your stove is reaching its potential: burning clean and hot.

Feel like you’re getting the idea? Modern stoves are designed to take most of the guesswork out of all this. Feeding your stove the right woods and following the “common sense” tips above will turn your stove into a radiant heating machine.

The Lacanche Cooker – In a Class of Its Own

When you find an item that combines the two – a solid history with impeccable craftsmanship – then you know you’ve found something in a class of its own. In this case, the Lacanche range cooker: which marries more than 200 years of making with the kind of artisanship one normally associates with French wine making.

The Lacanche cooker is named for the village of Lacanche, a tiny settlement in the Burgundy region of France, where a family owned smithing and forging business has been making the appliances for more than 200 years. That’s an awfully long time to perfect anything – and the Lacanche is perfect, in every way. There has probably never been a cooker with so much style, such build quality and so much reliability: and all rolled into a quite staggeringly beautiful package too.

The Lacanche range cooker offers a selection of professional and semi professional features to its users. The original Lacanche cooker, or at least the modern original, was built entirely for professional use – which is why big name top French chefs are using them in their kitchens. The professional variant of the Lacanche is a whopping two and a half metres long, boasting two full 74 litre ovens for cooking, plus a specialty 84 litre simmering oven – and bristling with a fearsome array of hobs and burners for top cooking. Lacanche have basically just taken this tried and tested template and made it work for their smaller ovens: the domestic Lacanche range cooker is available in a normal home range size, or a compact size that is capable of fitting into spaces of 700mm wide or less. In every case, the Lacanche cooker uses the same forging quality and superb components to deliver cooking that makes meals look irresistible (and taste pretty good too).

Lacanche has successfully created a series of domestic cooking appliances that bring the right parts of the professional kitchen into the home. The wall mounted grill, for eye level grilling perfection; a selection of built in hobs to complement the range itself; and of course a range of excellent accessories, each one capable of making the Lacanche range cooker experience utterly perfect. Try out a griddle plate; a simmer plate; a professional quality roasting dish insert; a trivet; a wok ring; a pastry plate; and an oven dish crafted from the same fine irons as the Lacanche cooker itself. Cook for the masses with a twin oven, twin grill model or just raise the game of a standard sized home kitchen with a compact Lacanche. Every way you look at it, and every way you cook, there’s a certain something in these 200 year pedigree ranges that your average appliance just can’t match. The Lacanche range cooker is that rare item indeed: the ultimate example of its own class. Happy cooking.

DIY Solar Panel Made Simple

As electricity costs continues to skyrocket out of control, many of us are left with the dilemma of how to keep from throwing our hard-earned money down the drain, and still utilize the household electrical devices we’ve grown accustomed to. With a fairly large handful of energy option available, thank God for the DIY solar panel! Basically, this system stores radiated energy into special battery units and turns it into a power source we can actually use to run our everyday appliances and gadgets, to add significant supplemental electricity to that which you receive from your local power company.

Solar panels give people a means of reaping the vast benefits of the greatest natural resource known to man, while remaining “green” in terms of the ecosystem – and saving TONS of “green” in terms of cold hard CASH!

If you feel the time is right to install your very own DIY solar panel, first you’ll want to know exactly WHAT power you’ll need for your intended use, and just WHERE the best location is to install it. Naturally, you’ll want a location close enough to your house to be MOST effective. You’ll need a space large enough to fit your panels. And, of course, the area should be abundant with sunlight for a significant part of the day. Understand that one panel alone is not enough to power EVERYTHING in your home. You CAN, however, dramatically reduce your electric bill by hooking up the solar panel to certain specific power-draining appliances. You could have NO-COST electricity in no time!

DIY solar panel kits are available all over the net, so get online today and begin checking out different instructions on installing your very own system for your home. With just a few clicks of the mouse, you’ll find TONS of useful information regarding DIY solar projects. You’ll find many extensive step-by-step instruction manuals, assorted building supply options, and a wealth of knowledge pertaining to various ways you can get the MOST out of a solar panel. Please understand that the initial capital investment may seem quite pricey, and installation will be somewhat time-consuming. The advantage of saving some SERIOUS MONEY in the long-run, though, will certainly be the big pay off for all your diligent work and initial expenses!

Plank Floor Installation

Installation of the wood flooring adds beauty to your home. They are in fashion nowadays. It was considered as an expensive option, but with the help of the latest advancements of technology, new and low-cost engineered hardwood and vinyl flooring has been introduced. These types of floors are equally beautiful and are affordable.

Advantages of plank floors:

A known advantage of this type of flooring is that they are waterproof. Hence, they protect your floor from the damage from water. The solid wood floors are damaged in the presence of moisture and become stained. So, plank floors are the best option to be used in kitchen and bathrooms. It is easy to clean and maintain. It inhibits the growth of moth and mildew on it. They are also available in numerous designs and styles to make your home look beautiful. These floors are available in different colors, such as mahogany, maple and oak. You can select the design and color according to your choice and theme of the decoration. They are more durable than the solid wood floors.

Installation of plank floors:

The main advantage of this flooring is that they are very easy to install. With the help of new techniques of flooring and awareness among people, you can easily install them at home. If you know the basic techniques of floor installation, this can be a piece of cake for you. It takes only a few hours to completely renovate the floors of your home with the plank floors.

The following tips should be followed for the easy installation of the vinyl plank flooring.

1. Always start installation of the floor from the walls and corner walls.

2. Start from one corner first, and then slowly more toward the other corner of the room by placing the planks on the floor.

3. You can use adhesives recommended by the manufacturer to properly install the floors on the surface. In certain cases manufacturer also makes self-sticking planks that do not require additional adhesives during the installation process.

4. Highlight the boundaries with the chalk.

5. Use a floor roller to smooth the surface after placing the plank on the floor.

6. Before installation measure the area of the room accurately.

7. In case of the presence of any holes or cracks on the surface of the floor, use a patching compound before putting your vinyl plank floors on that surface.

Hence, they are very easy to install. By following the above mentioned tips, you can neatly place your plank floors on the surface to increase the beauty of your home. This will also save the money of hiring a professional for this purpose.

The e-Marketing Plan – Brief Overview and Working Scheme

I. Summary of a marketing plan

The marketing planning (concretized in the marketing plan) is an essential organizational activity, considering the hostile and complex competitive business environment. Our ability and skills to perform profitable sales are affected by hundreds of internal and external factors that interact in a difficult way to evaluate. A marketing manager must understand and build an image upon these variables and their interactions, and must take rational decisions.

Let us see what do we call a “marketing plan”? It is the result of the planning activity, a document that includes a review of the organization’s place in the market, an analysis of the STEP factors as well as a SWOT analysis. A complete plan would also formulate some presumptions on why we think the past marketing strategy was successful or not. The next phase shall present the objectives we set, together with the strategies to achieve these objectives. In a logical sequence, we will further need to evaluate the results and formulate alternative plans of action. A plan would consist in details of responsibilities, costs, sales prognosis and budgeting issues.

In the end, we should not forget to specify how the plan (or plans) will be controlled, by what means we will measure its results.

We will see how to build the marketing plan, what is its structure: after we will see how to build the traditional marketing plan, we will take a look at the e-marketing plan and see how the unique features of the internet will require some changes in the approach of writing a marketing plan.

But, before we continue, we must understand and accept that steps of the marketing plan are universal. It is a logical approach of the planning activity, no matter where we apply it. The differences you meet from a plan to another consist in the degree of formality accorded to each phase, depending on the size and nature of the organization involved. For example, a small and not diversified company would adopt less formal procedures, because the managers in these cases have more experience and functional knowledge than the subordinates, and they are able to achieve direct control upon most factors. On the other hand, in a company with diversified activity, it is less likely that top managers have functional information in a higher degree than the subordinate managers. Therefore, the planning process must be formulated to ensure a strict discipline for everyone involved in the decisional chain.

II. The general marketing plan

The classical marketing plan would follow the following scheme of 8 stages:

1. Declaring the mission: this is the planning stage when we establish the organizational orientations and intentions, thus providing a sense of direction. In most cases, this is a general presentation of the company’s intentions and almost has a philosophic character.

2. Establishing current objectives: it is essential for the organization to try to determine with preciseness the objectives to be reached. These objectives, in order to be viable, must be SMART. SMART is an acronym and stands for “Specific”, “Measurable”, “Attainable”, “Realistic” and “Timed”. The objectives must also convey the general organizational mission.

3. Gathering information: this stage is based on the concept of marketing audit. After performing the audit of the macro-environment by analyzing the STEP factors (social, technologic, economic and politic), we should turn the focus upon the immediate extern environment (the micro-environment) and analyze the competitive environment, the costs and the market. Finally, we will conclude with the SWOT analysis, by this way we will have a general view upon the internal environment compared to the external one. The SWOT analysis combine the two perspectives, from the inside and from the outside, because the Strengths and the Weaknesses are internal issues of an organization, while the Opportunities and Threads come from the outside.

4. Re-formulating objectives: after the close examination of data gathered in the previous stage, sometimes it is needed to re-formulate the initial objectives, in order to address all the issues that might have come up from the previous stage. The distance between the initial objective and the re-formulated objective will be covered by appropriate strategies. We must ensure the re-formulated objective is SMART as well.

5. Establishing strategies: several strategies are to be formulated, in order to cover the distance between what we want to achieve and what is possible to achieve, with the resources at our disposal. As we would usually have several options, we should analyze them and chose the one with more chances to achieve the marketing objectives.

6. Plan of actions: consists in a very detailed description of the procedures and means to implement the actions we want to take. For example, if the strategy implies a raise in advertising volume, the plan of actions should establish where the advertisements will be placed, the dates and frequency of the advertising campaigns, a set of procedures to evaluate their effectiveness. The actions we plan to take must be clearly formulated, measurable, and the results must be monitored and evaluated.

7. Implementation and control: consist in the series of activities that must be performed in order to run the marketing plan in accordance to the objectives set by the marketer. At this stage, it is critical to gain the support of all members if the organization, especially when the marketing plan is due to affect the organization from its grounds.

8. Performance measurement: constitutes the last but not the less important stage of the marketing plan, since we can achieve only what we can measure. In order to measure the performances achieved through the marketing plan, we need to constantly monitor each previous stage of the plan.

The marketing plan that has a feedback cycle, from 8th stage back to the 4th. That is because sometimes during the planning process, we might need to perform stages 4 to 8 several times before the final plan can be written.

III. The e-marketing plan

The e-marketing plan is built exactly on the same principles as the classical plan. There is no different approach, but there might be some formal differences given by the uniqueness of the internet environment. Many of these differences come from the necessity to ensure a high rate of responsiveness from the customers, since the e-world is moving faster and requires faster reaction from its companies, compared to the traditional offline marketplace.

Even though it is perfectly acceptable and is a common practice to use the 8-stage classic model for the e-marketing plan as well, you might want to consider the simplified version proposed by Chaffey, who identifies four major steps to build the e-marketing plan:

1. Strategic analysis: consists in continuous scanning of the macro- and micro-environment. The accent should fall on the consumers’ needs that change very rapidly in the online market, as well as on surveying the competitors’ actions and evaluating the opportunities offered by new technologies.

2. Defining strategic objectives: the organization must have a clear vision and establish if the media channels will complement the traditional ones, or will replace them. We must define specific objectives (don’t forget to check if they are SMART!) and we must also specify the contribution of the online activities to the organization’s turnover.

3. Formulating strategies – we do that by addressing the following essential issues:

– develop strategies towards the target markets;

– positioning and differentiating strategies;

– establish priorities of online activities;

– focus attention and efforts on CRM and financial control;

– formulate strategies for product development;

– develop business models with well-established strategies for new products or services, as well as pricing policies;

– necessity for some organizational restructuring;

– changes in the structure of communication channels.

4. Implementing strategies: includes careful execution of all necessary steps to achieve established objectives. It could refer re-launching of a website, promo campaigns for a new or rewritten site, monitoring website efficiency and many more.

Note: a common strategy to achieve e-marketing objectives is the communication strategy. The steps to built a coherent communication plan will be presented within a further article.

IV. The e-marketing plan (sample titles)

1. Executive Summary

a. overview upon present conjuncture;

b. key aspects of the strategic e-marketing plan.

2. Situational Analysis

a. characteristics of the e-market;

b. possible factors of success;

c. competitors’ analysis;

d. technological factors;

e. legal factors;

f. social factors;

g. possible problems and opportunities.

3. The e-Marketing Objectives

a. product profile;

b. target market;

c. sales objectives.

4. The e-Marketing Strategies

a. product strategies;

b. price strategies;

c. promotion strategies;

d. distribution strategies.

5. Technical Issues

a. website content;

b. website “searcheability”;

c. logging security (for customers and staff);

d. customer registration procedure;

e. multimedia;

f. autoresponders;

g. order forms and feedback forms;

h. access levels to online resources;

i. credit card transactions;

j. website hosting;

k. website publishing;

l. technical staff (size, requirements)

6. Appendix

7. Bibliography

What You Need to Know About Handrails

 Handrails  are mostly a little noticed but important part of a building’s layout. When properly installed and maintained, they increase the welcoming feel to seniors, persons with disabilities and others with mobility issues.  Handrails  are frequently a visitor’s first physical interaction with the building structure and can set the tone for the person’s experience with the facility they are about to enter.

Inside a building,  handrails  provide needed support on staircases and in hallways and common spaces. While an incident-free experience will probably go unnoticed, an accident caused by improper  handrails  will command unwanted attention and leave the building owner possibly facing a costly litigation.

 Handrails  are a key safety device in the prevention of slips and falls. Most people normally associate them with stairways and elevated surfaces, but they also are very important on level surfaces as a provider of additional support.

 Handrails  also make a facility more accessible. A mandatory inclusion in wheelchair access ramps,  handrails  help those utilizing mobility enhancement devices safely navigate entry into facilities which are higher than street level. They also provide important support for seniors and other people who have a difficult time walking.

 Handrails  play a pedestrian management role at large events by channeling guests in an orderly fashion through desired entry points. They are an important safety consideration on wide staircases. Additional railings must be erected if the staircase is more than 88 inches wide, but operators of arenas and other public venues install them in much narrower areas to encourage guests moving in opposite directions to use separate sides. They also ensure a safety point is close by for those needing it.

There are several important safety considerations to keep in mind when choosing and maintaining  handrail  systems. The first is to make sure they are kept free of locked bicycles. This is most easily accomplished by having sufficient bicycle stands nearby. Eliminate the need to use the  handrails  and you have less need for patrolling or signage requesting patrons not lock their bicycles on them.

The site owner must be vigilant in keeping the protected area free of snow, ice, and debris which can obstruct the pathway, increase the slippery feel of the  handrail  and heighten the chances of an accident.

 Handrail  placement must also facilitate easy use by small children. In areas where small children are likely to use the stairs, an initial unit should be placed no more than 28 inches high, as measured from the floor to the top. Mandatory rails at a height between 34 and 38 inches must be present for adults.

 Handrails  must also extend beyond the top and bottom of a flight of stairs. This curtails the risk of clothing, purses and other possessions getting caught on them. While they naturally have to be interrupted at each floor,  handrails  must be closed off at each end to prevent objects from catching on them and to allow a hand continuous access to the railing so people with walking difficulties are never without needed support.

There are steps you can take to make  handrails  safer to use for persons with visual impairments. The most important factor to consider is the color contrast between the rail itself and the background. This is measured by Light Reflectance Value (LRV), where jet black is given a score of 0 and perfect white is 100. The LRV difference between the two surfaces should be a minimum of 20 points to be of benefit to people with visual impairments. The previous standard was 30 points so try and use that as your benchmark.

The quality of grip is another factor frequently ignored by facility designers. Railings need to be able to be securely grasped by a complete range of hand sizes, and quickly, in the event of a fall, so they cannot be too large or they will not be easily gripped. The recommended width range for railings is between four and six and one-quarter inches in diameter. If the grip area is too small it is liable to put the hand in constant contact with the railing supports underneath, meaning the hand will need to be frequently off the rail in order to move past each support. This increases the chances of a fall.

 Handrails  also need to be a specified distance from the wall. This is to ensure hands can quickly reach around them in the event of a fall, to prevent someone from getting stuck, or when extra support is needed. The minimum distance between the railing and the wall is 1.5 inches.

When selecting and installing a  handrail  system make sure you pay attention to the amount of weight pressure the unit can withstand. Most safety standards mandate that  handrails  must be able to support at least 200 pounds of pressure.

It is important to note that variations in building codes may exist depending on where you live. Your municipality’s property or planning department should have staff and building inspectors available to answer any questions related to the local building codes. It is best to check before installation in order to avoid a costly renovation and service disruption later on.

How to Build a Simple Wooden Deck Rail

Decks over 30″ above the ground usually require railing as a safety measure. There are many different ways to build a rail but this article will discuss the easiest, fastest, and cheapest method. This rail system uses 2″x 2″ wooden balusters and a 2″x 6″ top railing.

Use either an outdoor wood made for exposure to weather, redwood, or cedar, which is my personal favorite. I prefer cedar because it’s easy to work with, has a long life expectancy, and is almost impervious to weather.

Most building codes require a maximum of 4″ between the balusters. If your balusters are 1 ½” wide, they will need to be 5 ½” on center to maintain the 4″ minimum spacing.

To get an idea how many balusters you need, measure the perimeter of your deck where railing will be installed. Multiply that number by 2.5 and that will tell you approximately how many 2″x 2″ wooden balusters you need.

The next step is to cut the balusters to the proper length. The minimum height of the top of the rail is 36″ in most locales. The top of the baluster should be 34″ above the deck floor and extend a minimum of 7″ onto the side board of the deck. If your deck joists are larger, you could extend the baluster even further for more stiffness.

Layout the baluster positions by making pencil marks every 5″ to 5-1/2″ apart around the deck perimeter. Draw a vertical line on the deck joists using a speed square.

Once the layout marks are drawn on the deck, cut 2″x 6″ top rails to the correct lengths. Stand the top rails vertically around the exterior edge of the deck and transfer the layout marks from the deck rim joists onto the top rail. Use a speed square to draw light pencil lines.

Pre-drill two holes with an 1/8″ drill bit about 1″ and 6″ from the end on each baluster. With the top end of a baluster 34″ above the deck floor, insert two 3″ screws through the baluster into the deck side board. Make sure each baluster is plumb using a short level. Repeat this for every baluster.

Now, holding the 2″x 6″ rail vertically against the balusters and 36″ above the deck floor, fasten the balusters to the top rail with 2-1/2″ deck screws.

Repeat the same procedure above for all the top rails, screwing each baluster to the top rail. Also fasten the ends of the horizontal rails together with 3″ deck screws.

Advantages Of Using Precast Concrete Balustrades

Balustrades are used at homes as railings and poles in balconies and stairways for protection. They also play a key role in enhancing the beauty of the homes. They are of various types like balustrade designs like wood, iron, concrete and aluminium.

Balustrades must be made from resistant material as they are continuously exposed to rough weather conditions. This is the reason why people are opting for precast concrete balustrades for their homes and offices. If you require railings for internal areas of the home then those made from softer materials like steel or aluminium are more suitable. While selecting balustrade designs for the interiors of your home you have to keep the decoration aspect in mind. Only those railings which will enhance the beauty of your home must be considered. In this criteria, the more costlier supports might be better. But if you can choose the right designs, even the cheaper railings can work well. Precast concrete designs are also available in different colors and designs. There is no shortage of eye-catching designs of precast railings.

One of the advantages of using precast concrete railings is that they are easy to assemble. This helps in reducing the time involved in the installation of railing at home, thus also saving energy and money. They are also easier to maintain as they are made from stronger material. Such railings are known to last for decades, thus making them cost-effective. Another benefit of using these balustrades is that unlike railings made from natural stones, stainless steel and marble, they are less costly.

There is always a chance of homes and commercial properties catching fire. Precast concrete balustrades are naturally fire-proof and don’t require any additional costs for installation of fire-protection materials on them. Fire accidents could lead to huge losses, so it would be wise to use these type of railings at your homes or offices.

But a few maintenance requirements are necessary for precast concrete railings. Like any other kind of railings, they also require to be made water proof. This will help in keeping rust and corrosion away. While doing routine household and office cleaning, strong brush should be used. Any debris or moss accumulated must be removed on a daily basis.

After going through this article, it would be easier for you to make a decision regarding which railings are more suitable for the stairways and balconies of your home.

Inventions – How To Get Your Invention Idea Into The Right Hands

Whether your goal is to land a licensing deal with a major manufacturer, sell your product to Walmart, or find an investor with deep pockets to fund your project, you will need to create a proposal to convince someone to do something.

Your proposal must convince your target that your product will benefit them somehow. Entrepreneurs lose sight of this when trying to sell or license their products. No one wants to know how cool or great your idea is, they want to know that people will buy it.

Step 1: Research your target

You first need to determine what your target’s needs are by researching their history from beginning to end. You can generally find a summary of a company’s history at the library in the periodicals section or online. You can search Google, Yahoo, or go to Hoovers.com. You can also locate the company’s website and look up their ‘about us’ page. Look at their press releases, especially the most recent ones.

Through these sources, you can determine the direction a company is going, and whether or not your product fits their current or future product line.

Step 2: Locate the decision maker

Find out who the key decision makers are. This is usually the product manager, Vice president, President, or owner. The best way to find out who is in charge of licensing or adding new products to a company’s product line is to call and ask. Many companies have departments for this now.

Whether it is a department or individual, someone is waiting for your call. Most companies are looking for new products, and even if your target company is not actively seeking out new product ideas, No one will turn down a money maker. Good ideas never have a hard time finding a home, especially if they come professionally presented.

Step 3: How to contact your target

After you have researched some companies in your preferred market and determined which ones you want to present proposals to, begin contacting them. Phone calls are more effective and quicker than emails. Call and ask for the name of the person in charge of adding new products to the product line. Ask the name of every person you talk to, starting with the receptionist. That way, you can say, “Hello Mr. Downs, Marianne said that you are the person to talk to about adding new products to your company’s line.”

If you do this in a natural tone, it comes across as a referral from Marianne. Now, you do not want to be dishonest, but perception is quite important, and you want to appear confident and in the loop.

Step 4: Making your initial pitch

Once you reach the right person, introduce yourself, and say, ” my company has developed an item that we feel will fit your current product line. What is your protocol for reviewing potential new products?” Then just listen and write down all the key information and follow it to the letter.

To avoid feeling intimidation if you have never done this before, keep in mind that they are hoping to receive a phone call from someone who really does have a unique money maker that will increase their company’s revenue and make them look like trend spotters.

So tell them that, “I believe this product will significantly increase your company’s revenue.” Every company loves to hear that phrase, and it immediately piques their interest. Now you can tell them what product category it fits into, but you do not need to describe your invention.

Step 5: Confidentiality Agreement

Ask him/her to sign a Confidentiality Agreement, or he/she may ask you to sign theirs. Either way, enter an agreement that says that you will show them confidential information to be considered for their company’s product line.

Step 6: Send your proposal

Now you can send your proposal with the comfort of knowing that:

1) they are expecting it,

2) they want to see it, and

3) they are not going to steal your idea.

Always remember to be professional, well informed, and flexible to negotiate. Send your package with a cover letter restating what was discussed. Stamp or print ‘REQUESTED MATERIAL’ on the package, and then call to let them know that it is on the way. Contact the company about two to three weeks later, plenty of time for them to review, digest, make judgments, and arrive at conclusions.