The Positve Benefits of Dog Day Care

Dog day care programs benefit the dogs of owner’s who have busy lives and are not able to socialize and exercise their dogs. Owners benefit from a guilt free day of work or play and can come home to a calm, relaxed pet. Dog day care provides the best of both worlds for dogs and owners alike.

Getting its start in California in 1987, dog day care has exploded to virtually every small town in America. Started by dog enthusiasts, owners apply the same principles of running any business combined with their love of dogs to the create the ultimate day care business.

An article in the online magazine described the benefits of dog day care this way:

“The guiding principle behind dog day care is simple – provide a safe and healthy atmosphere with lots of interaction, both with other dogs and with people. Dogs can participate in group play, gnaw on a favorite toy, hang out with humans in the office, or just lounge on a couch and watch television. The point is that they’re not at home by themselves.”

Other benefits of dog day care include a social environment where dogs can play together, loads of activity, an excellent release for high energy dogs, year round daycare operation (except for major holidays), attention by trained staff members, and piece of mind for the working owner.

Dog day care centers are mostly held in large, open spaces that have some separation system for both size and temperament. Most dog day care centers have an outdoor exercise area as well. Some day cares provide furniture for dogs to climb on, agility equipment, and lots of toys.

Some things to consider when looking for a dog day care are the professionalism of the staff. Make sure they love dogs, know a lot about dogs behaviors, and interact with those in dog day care each day. Also, note the availability of space and “time-out” areas for dogs who do not get along. Make sure your dog will be comfortable with air condition, heat, and bedding. Also, check affordability and general dog day care policies.

Kelley Blackston

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Not All Real Estate Brokers Are Members Of The Local MLS

Did you know that not all real estate brokers and not all agents are necessarily members of your local MLS (multiple listing service), where you may live in the US? What does it mean if a broker is not? Let's consider the implications.

Most people know that the MLS is where real estate agents post their listings. This is the first step in marketing a property. Putting the listing in the MLS gives other agents who are members of the MLS the ability to view the details of that listing and share the listing with their potential buyer clients. All of this poses the listed property to more potential buyers.

So why would not a broker be a member of a local MLS? There are three logical reasons. First, it is too expensive. That is not likely, since it is not an expensive service. In fact, it is the least expensive marketing an agent will ever do. The second possible reason is that the broker has a better marketing plan. That could be, but this also not likely, since the best marketing plan would include first listing it in the local MLS. The third possible reason would be that the broker's membership was suspended or revoked by the local MLS board. If that is what happened, we do not even want to discuss going further with that broker. Anyone who list with such a broker either does not know about the suspension or revocation or they are on Ritalin.

For the consumer, there are several more important considerations in deciding to list with a non-MLS participating broker.

  1. What is the broker's plan to market your property? Does he or she even have a plan?
  2. How are the listings exposed to the rest of the world, or are they at all?
  3. Does the broker depend almost entirely on just hanging poor photos of your listing in the window at his or her office? How many buyers will that exposes your property to?
  4. Is the broker's effort at marketing focused only on local buyers in a limited marketing effort, or is there any national exposure to the many out-of-state buyers?
  5. With no exposure to all the other local brokers and agents, how does the broker intend to expose your listing to all potential buyers, or even many of them? Most buyers will be working through other agents, right?
  6. What is the broker's relationship with other local agents? Good? Bad? Non-existent?
  7. If the broker is not part of the local broker network, understand that it is highly unlikely that other local agents will ever tell their clients about the broker's listings. Why should they, they do not get paid.
  8. A non-MLS broker will not have an IDX (public) search capacity from their website and your listing will not show up in other agents' websites through their IDX public property search tool.
  9. Does the broker have many other agents who will help market your property, or is the broker a loner?
  10. A non-MLS broker may try to entice customers with discounted commission rates. One question here. Would you pay a discounted price for a burnt steak, a rotten potato, and freezer burnt vegetables? What's a discount if you do not get the service, can not sell your home, or do not get the best price?
  11. Last question. What is the broker's relationship with past clients? I do not mean just 2 or 3, I mean many of them. Anyone can end up with a few happy clients, but what about dozens or 100's of clients? Are there a lot of burned bridges? Do not you want to know?

When it comes to hiring a real estate agent, do your due diligence. Do not cut corners. There's no such thing as a free lunch, but there is such a thing as getting a broker who wants to list your property, but is not a member of the MLS.

Your logical goal when selling your home is to get the highest possible price in the least amount of time. I recommend choosing your real estate agent carefully. It's a very important decision for you.

Playing Cards – Almanacs Of A Bygone Era

Playing cards have been with us since as early as the fourteenth century. The mysteries that are yet to be found in them are so numerous. These game implements can give us an idea of ​​the typical attributes & culture of an era, its beliefs, ideas, experiences, and way of life.

Medieval playing cards display a lot of individualism and the freedom of expression. When the Renaissance came the curiosity of the world around grave, the art became truer to life, and explorers were born. Then during the Industrial Revolution the production of the cards were made by power-driven machines in factories.

From playing cards we can learn about craftsmanship, the assembly and amalgamation of elements & materials. These cards have been the focal point for design, invention, or advertisement almost like a cigarette pack-sized almanac of a bygone era.

These decks have a remarkable educational value, an extensive history and myriads of types & styles all over the world. Some have historical value, others political, then there are souvenir decks for tourists.

The early allusions to playing cards in Europe came from Brabant, Catalonia (Spain), France, Florence, southern Germany, Sienna, Switzerland, and Viterbo (Italy) in the 1370s. No cards from this era have survived but some sources point out that cards were gilt or painted in gold as well as various other colors all done by hand. This hints on the fact that these were luxury packs.

The Medieval theme took pleasure in ornate & colorful designs and miniature art was very much appreciated and applied. But that does not mean that people of this age were less in intelligence & sophistication and did not value art & culture as we do nowdays. Their designs are indicative of vivacity & refinement. This practice reached a plateau then the designs shifted to the grotesque, mechanical, or privileged.

The earliest cards that have survived the passage of time came from the 15th century. A deck from the collection of the dukes of Bavaria in 1430 had suits of stags, ducks, falcons, & hounds in reference to the courtly hunt. The original set included 52 cards-the number cards (1 through 9 plus a banner card) design by repeating the sign of the suit. The court cards illustrated the suit symbols in harmonious relationship with the human figures- falcons & ducks with masculine courts while stags & hounds with feminine courts.

Whether we regard them as a game or a merchandise, an artifact or something that keeps people together, the fascination with imagery, balanced symmetry and disciplinary symbols, is the binding cord that we have in common.

How Do I Stop My Cat Scratching the Furniture?

Firstly, why do cats scratch?

Cats scratch their nails in order to sharpen them but also, and just as importantly, to clean them. Cats that live indoors will invariably use furniture to do this unless they are trained from an early age to use a cat scratching post instead.

To limit damage to your favorite furniture, it is necessary to train your cat to use a scratching post as soon as possible. The best way to do this is to place the post near to where your cat likes to scratch. You may find that using catnip on and around it will also help to encourage your cat to use it.

What is a Cat Scratching Post?

A cat scratching post is a wooden post that allows your cat to scratch her nails. All cats have a natural urge to scratch in order to sharpen and clean their claws and also to sc mark their "territory". Unfortunately, most indoor cats take this urge out on their surroundings, resulting in your furniture or carpets being ruined. The best way to prevent this is to give your cat a suitable post to scratch. A good post will provide stability for your cat to scratch and allow your cat to stretch and exercise; all whilst distracting it from your furniture and carpets!

It is also an ideal way to encourage your cat to exercise its paws and claws and to use the scents glands under its front paws to mark its scent in a hygienic setting.

If you have more than one cat, you may find it easier to have more than one post as otherwise, the more dominant cat may refuse to use the same post as the less dominant cat.

How to teach your cat to use a scratching post?

#Step 1 – Place a treat or your cat's favorite toys on top of the post to try her to climb it. The higher the scratching post you buy, the more challenging she will find it.

#Step 2 – Cats are curious creatures so you may find that tying some string to the top of the post and allowing it to dangle down will catch your cat's eye and encourage her to climb. If this does not work, try tying her favorite lightweight toy to the string and see if that works.

#Step 3 – If that still does not work, consider rubbing some catnip over the post.

Where should I position it?

As mentioned earlier, your cat has a natural inclination to mark her territory, so basically place the cat scratching post where your cat currently goes to scratch. If your cat regularly uses more than one area to scratch, you may need more than one scratching post to train her.

Do not hide the scratching post in a remote corner somewhere; you can always move it to a more convenient position later, just do it gradually so your cat is not confused. Please ensure that you use a good quality post; your cat will not use the post if it is not stable and she does not feel safe and secure.

Your cat will grow to love her scratching post if you feed her near it and play with her near it; give her a treat when she plays with it and soon it will become a favorite plaything. We have found that a post near where your cat sleeps is very successful as cats love to stretch and scratch when they wake up.

Traditional Watford Hotels

Watford is one of the most beautiful towns and districts in Hertfordshire, England. Watford has everything to offer to like any other town of United Kingdom. This is a great place for tourists as well. They love to visit Watford because it looks like a traditional town and has a lot of beautiful locations for visitors to visit.

Watford is primarily a residential town but it has shopping malls, parks, schools and everything that is necessary to have good life. The best thing about Watford is that you can use all mediums of transport. You can use roads, trains or can also travel on water or by air to different places.

Watford is famous for its publishing and has produced many of England's periodicals. There are several sites for you to view if you are visiting Watford for the first time. Watford offers the best accommodation around. You will find a lot of hotels, both contemporary and traditional in Watford.

The traditional hotels in Watford are worth checking out. If you plan to visit Watford you should stay in one of the traditional hotels to learn and experience more about Watford. Some of the hotels are said to be the best in Britain.

Traditional Watford hotels will provide you with the best services. They take care of every need of the visitor and also keep you entertained with all the music and other traditions that they have. The hotels are not very expensive and are easily affordable. Just because it is affordable, does not mean that they will not provide you with good services. There are no compromises on quality. Following are known to be the best traditional hotels of Watford and if you are planning to visit Watford, do stay in one of these hotels to feel the true essence of Watford.

1. Park Inn Watford Hotel:
Park Inn Watford Hotel is located 20 minutes away from central London and is among the best. Not only does the locality of the hotel is really beautiful, the building and the services are extra ordinary as well. They have beautiful, well decorated rooms. The hotel is on walking distance from Watford junction main station which makes it easier for people to find a place to live in. The hotel is easily accessible and is located in the heart of Watford. It offers you every facility such as internet services, gym, newly renovated guest rooms and excellent hospitality.

2. Hilton Watford hotel:
Hilton Watford hotel is one of the best hotels of Hertfordshire. They have everything that makes the place worth visiting. Not only are the rooms beautiful, it has huge halls, ball rooms and is only 3 minutes drive from M1 and from London. You can reach the hotel within 25 minutes. Services and amenities are excellent. It has elevators, room service, lounge, gift shop and a lot more.

Other traditional Watford hotels are Jurys Inn Watford, Holiday Inn Express, Premier Inn Watford, Village Prem Hotel Elstree and many more. If you are planning to visit UK, do not forget to visit Watford and its traditional hotels.

All About Outdoor LED Lamps

Outdoor LEDs.

LED lighting has been embroidered in the recent past due to its widely dependable nature as compared to the other types of lighting. LED is an abbreviation for light emitting diode , these diodes, are assembled to form a lamp which is considered to last longer and beam brighter and faster when compared to incandescent bulbs.

These lights have been used both for general lighting and for decorations; examples are in the interior lighting of club houses and restaurants, street and parks. The outdoor lighting is a common trend since the camp fires and torches in the stone age. However, it has been used more for enhancement and decoration purposes. The type and the color of lighting used depends on the use.

Advantages of LED lamps

· The diodes usually produce light of a single color; this allows these LED bulbs to be perfect decoration tools mostly where colored lighting is required.

· The light beams generated are more focused and more taper.

· The LED bulbs are more durable and therefore best to use in both indoor and outdoor lighting.

· The led lamps have higher electric energy efficiency, in that they generate more light with the similar amount of current, compared to other bulbs.

· LED bulbs are more compact and smaller in size, allowing lighting fixing and well even aportion in a room or outdoor.

· The diodes light up immediately and do not require warm up time.

Types of outdoor LEDs

· Street lighting, LED lamps are better over the other model of light bulbs due to their energy saving abilities.

· Landscape lighting, this is where it is used outside like in parks sites or picnic sites or gardens. it's commonly done for decoration reasons and to create ambiance in this places.

· Floodlights, these are used to light up areas such as sports arenas and work stations at night. Led lamps are best at such sites due to their brightness and focal light emissions.

· Security lights, these are where these lamps are mounted on the walls or gates of a building to ensure security and safety by discouraging unwarranted intrusions.

· Underwater lighting, mostly used for decorations in pools, fountains, and ponds. These types of lamps must be water proof and water resistant.


For outdoor and indoor lighting LED lamps are the best way to go, to experience the purpose and the efficiency of LED lamps use the right light fixture.Together with saving you a lot of money the experience with these bulbs is worth to be called the next big thing.

Owning a Kennesaw Home

One will not make a mistake in availing a house in Kennesaw, Georgia – which is considered to be one of the most peaceful cities in the United States. Founded in 1887, Kennesaw boasts of its rich historical value that was founded on the railroad industry. It is considered a part of the Atlanta Metropolitan Area, under the Cobb County, and was formerly known as Big Shanty.

Being one of the safest and cleanest cities, Kennesaw was also awarded by a respected, long running and well known family magazine authority as one of the country's best town for families. It has a substantial livable suburban setting that is ample enough to grow and nourish one's family – being a community with good social, economic and moral foundations that is further strengthened by good and affordable housing, top of the line schools, strong local unit governance and facilities that provide one's family with a stress-free environment.

With a very good and stable social environment like this, owning a house in Kennesaw is also a very worthwhile investment. The city's good economic standing provides good jobs, business opportunities and educational institutions that can suit every family's needs. The robust demographics of the city provide the growth of the community that may mean positive economic progress.

Various sources of activities are also found in the city. Sport minded children and teenagers can enjoy competitive outdoor sports leagues while parents can enjoy moments together strolling through the Smith-Gilbert Gardens which some say, is the most relaxing walk they had. Historical buffs can further expand their knowledge in the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History. There are a lot of activities that are organized by the local government depending on the season – but surely, it guarantees excitation all year round.

The Kennesaw Real Estate scene promises to showcase beautiful and affordable suburban houses. One would be overwhelmed by the seamless integration of classic and modern architecture to these wonderful homes at surprislyly, lower rates than downtown Atlanta. Websites, Search engines and Multiple Listing Services for real estate can help you save time and cost on deciding which house you are interested to purchase. You may also deal with a local licensed broker so he or she can arrange a tripping schedule to the houses that fit your requirements. The broker can also help assist in the purchase, transfer and moving-in process – making the move to your new home trouble and hassle free, keeping your plans straight on how to enjoy such advancing and delectable new environment.

With its serene, calm and peaceful environment, Kennesaw is also ideal for people wanting to retire. The city offers tax exemption to those aged 65 and above, provided that they file their claim before the city's financial division. In a nutshell, Kennesaw can cater to ages 0 to 65 – being a very ideal environment for a family to grow, cherish and spend life together. With a population of 32,000, the city is fast growing – promising more opportunities for employment, business and education.

Architecture at the Beijing Olympics

With the Olympics being held in Beijing this year Westerners have seen a fierce change of architecture.

New additions to the skyline include a new air terminal by Norman Foster, Herzog & de Meuron's National Stadium aka the bird's nest, PTW's National Aquatics Center with a translucent exterior, Paul Andreu's egg-shaped National Theater and Rem Koolhaas' CCTV headquarters with its interconnected slanting forms.

Each of these buildings intensifies and embodies the struggle Beijing has over further public space but have realized what they initially set out to create which was to give shape and substance to the nation's identity.

A good example of this is Norman Foster's airport terminal which is the largest in the world and is one of the purest creations. The form which is similar to two boomerangs placed side by side has been compared to that of a dragon. Its original architectural concept and design was inspired by that of the Tempelhof Airport in Berlin in 1930 which was established as the gateway to new Europe. The terminal building exudes the glamor of flying with sweeping shapes and a stylish interior. Foster has taken the original design and created an idea of ​​mobility and travel to the next level. On entering the terminal you are guided by embedded lights in the ceiling and encouraged to the ramped floors and led over bridges to the elevated platform. From there you have the option for your onward travel with all roads, trains, subways and canals meeting in one central place creating a travel hub into the city.

Beijing has been completely transformed for the Olympic Games 2008 since it was awarded in 2001. Like some cities under regaining the drive from the new airport terminal towards the center was surrounded by ugly new towers which is a real shame for architecture and the city as most were of poor construction quality and only widened the gap being the rich and the poor.

With Great Britain having been awarded the 2012 Olympic Games what architectural wonders will we see, what cutting edge design from which established architects? Watch to see how the skyline changes with new buildings rising.

Beijing has created designs to aspire to.

Repair and Maintenance Services for Steinway Pianos

Steinway & Sons is one of the leading piano brands worldwide. As a prominent piano company, it is known a manufacturer of premium pianos which recognized musicians and composers prefer. Famous artists like Harry Connick, Jr., Diana Krall, and Sergei Rachmaninoff even perform exclusively on Steinway pianos. If your family owns a Steinway piano, taking good care of one of the finest pieces of musical instrument should be top priority.

Basic Piano Care Tips

According to experts, hot dry air can damage the mechanisms and components of your piano. To avoid this, place your piano away from heat ducts, radiators, or windows. If the piano has a wood grain outside case, keep it from the window to avoid discoloration. Clean the wood finish with a soft cloth slightly dampened with furniture polish. Keep the interior regularly dusted and free from any toys, coins, and other foreign objects. Try playing it simply to inspect if the strings, dampers, and sound board are in good condition.

Piano Tuning

Pianos require tuning after months or years of regular use. Piano technicians make minute adjustments to the piano strings' tensions to properly align the intervals between their tones. Fine piano tuning requires a comprehensive interaction among notes, requiring slightly different pitches for various kinds of pianos. Independent piano technicians, rebuilders, and hobbyists need professional training and certification to tune upright or grand pianos. You can ask relatives or friends to refer trusted piano technicians to you.

Rebuilding and Restoration

Although pianos age gradually, you need to take it to a professional rebuilder to check its condition. By the time a piano reaches the thirty year mark, its hammers are harder to be voiced properly. Steinway piano restoration experts deal with the three main parts of a grand piano when reconditioning, rebuilding, or remanufacturing-the case, the action, and the cabinet. Rebuilding and restoration services include restoring, soundboard shimming or replacement, bridge recapping, as well as replacement for hammers, hammer shanks, and pinblocks.


The Steinway grand piano action is the mechanical component that consist of around 10,000 parts. This action is made of keys and a system of moving parts that translates the movement of the keys into movement of hammers, which in turn strike the strings and produce sounds. As the action wears, other components also deteriorate, reducing the quality of your piano's sound. You can contact professionals that regulate the piano's components to fix this problem.

Climate Control Systems

Since Steinway pianos are made of wood, they are vulnerable to the humidity or atmosphere around them. Advanced climate control systems regulate internal humidity levels, maintaining the ideal relative humidity of forty to fifty percent external external conditions.

Enjoy Physics With Gravity Games

Physics games are a great way to experiment some of the laws of physics and have fun at the same time. Gravity games are physics-based games in which you have to use or even defy gravity in order to reach the gold of each game. Here are a couple of gravity physics-based games that you can enjoy for both fun and learning.

In Gravity Master, you are given a black ball which you need to use in order to collect rotating circles. The aim of the game is for you to get the black ball moving using gravity by simply drawing shapes with your mouse that will get the ball moving. You have to go through 15 levels in order to be able to design levels of your own. The only limit is your imagination!

Negative Mass is a jump-and-run type of game in which you use the laws of physics or defy them in order to safely guide your character through various levels and a couple of complex challenges.

Gravity Shift is another gravity-based physics game in which you have to match bricks of the same color by shifting gravity around them. You can even use a track-pad to shift gravity along your keyboard's arrow keys.

Desktop Gravity is a puzzle game in which you get to bend plasma balls and bounce them off objects by the use of various gravity generating devices which range from low to high in gravity levels. The game requires lots of practice but it's very challenging and entertaining.

If you enjoyed the above games, you can play more than 200 physics-based games in your web browser.

How Power Yoga Benefits You

Doing power yoga after you wake up in the morning, gives you energy for the whole day. If you pair it up with short, nightly routines, it would be relaxing for you. A few asana can help you to sleep and also, make you feel energized in the mornings. Because yoga starts with breathing, it helps you to learn proper breathing. Proper breathing helps you maintain your rhythm and also keep good habits. Your breathing exercise during the asana will keep you energized and aware throughout the day. Practicing yoga with others makes you honest as well as makes you comfortable in being a team. The target of power yoga is strength, weight loss, flexibility, and many others. It also helps during pregnancies, training sportsmen and others. Power yoga also helps you become patient because of the breathing exercises in it. It helps you calm you nerves and soothes your entire being. Some of the power yoga are mentioned below.

1. Extended Side Angle Pose – Also called Utthitha Parsvakonasana, it can greatly help those of you who want to shed the kilos from your sides. Stand straight upon the floor. Turn the right leg making a 90-degree angle; keep the left leg as it was then, make your body lower a little. Place the right hand over the right thigh and lift the left hand high up. Then, stretch it on your right side, atop your head. Look on your right side. Repeat this activity on your left side too. Hold it for one minute then, relax.

2. Eagle Pose – Another good pose for weight loss, it is best for those of you wanting thinner legs, arms, hands and thighs. Stand up straight on the ground, with your hands on the side of your body. Lift up the left leg and bend it at the knee. Next, drape it around your right leg. Lift up your hands, bringing them over your chest and then, wrap your left hand over the right hand. Look straight for several minutes and relax.

3. Pigeon Pose – Better known as Mayurasana, it is good for shedding the extra fats in abdomen region. At first, kneel over the floor then, squat over your heels. Keep the hands up on the floor, with the fingers facing your body, palms against the floor and thumbs pointing outwards. Place your elbows such that they remain pressed by your belly. From behind, make your legs straight and then, stretch them. Lift up your body so that, it is balanced on your legs and hands. Your legs and body should remain parallel with the floor. After holding it for three to five breaths, relax.

4. Cow-face Pose – Another name of this asana is Gomukhasana. It tones the muscles of your and makes you lose fats. Thus, it is a healthy exercise. Do it by sitting over the floor and spreading your legs out in front, fully stretching them. Bend your knees and then, keep your feet upon the floor. Position the left foot below the right knee so that, it remains outside your right hip. Keep the right leg over the left leg. Now, bend both hands backwards from your elbow and stretch it upwards. Make sure to place your left hand’s palm behind you, over your back, exactly under the neck. Now hold it for some breaths and relax.

5. Seated Forward Bend – Called Paschimottanasana, it is one of the best options to lose weight especially those of you who want to do away with belly fat. You need to squat upon the floor maintaining a straight posture then, spread your legs out on your front. Next, exhale and then, bend your torso towards the front till your hands are reaching your toes. Try to touch your toes by your hands. Keep your forehead over the opposite side of the calf or, over your knees. Be steady for a minute then, relax.

Power yoga burns your calories, increases your stamina, flexibility, tone and strength. It promotes circulation of blood as well as boosts your immune system. Apart from this, it helps to alleviate tension and stress and also to eliminate toxins from your body through sweat.

Insurance Agency Marketing Report Card for Web Marketing Initiatives

How is your agency progressing with your insurance agency marketing plans? Are you talking about executing these important insurance marketing initiatives or actually accomplishing these tasks? Are your marketing efforts yielding the results you seek, and are you measuring the campaigns to determine ROI? Are your programs traditional or web based, or some combination of both? Review the key insurance agency web marketing activities below, and see if your agency receives a passing grade. Check off each item and add your total below to determine your web marketing grade.

___ Insurance Agency Emarketing – Your agency utilizes professional e-marketing campaigns offering a monthly webinar, newsletter or case studies and has developed substantial opt in email list (5,000+). You closely follow CAN-SPAM regulations and measure the efficacy of each campaign. You have no spam complaints and honor opt-out requests immediately.

___ Insurance Agency Website – You have an up to date website, attractive, easy to navigate, browser compatible with compelling and sticky content. Social media icons are prominent and link to your social media venues.

___ Agency Blog – Your agency provides at least one blog, prominently displayed on your website, with 2-3 postings each week. Extra credit if you’re adding images to your blog postings.

___ Agency Video – Your agency has invested in website video vignettes, providing information about your value proposition, products and services. This video is leveraged on your website and blog (insurance agency vlog).

___ YouTube – You have created a YouTube channel leveraging the website video mentioned previously, and are working on expanding views of this channel.

___ Insurance Agency Social Media Marketing – Agency executives, agents, producers, account managers and service teams are using LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to expand your insurance agency web marketing reach. Extra credit if you have standardized your employee profiles on LinkedIn and have created a professional company page on both LinkedIn and Facebook.

___ Agency Webinars – You have created a professional webinar series for your prospects (and clients) and have established a following where you receive 50 – 500 registrants per webinar.

___ Client Testimonials – You have professionally branded client testimonial PDFs, describing how your insurance agency improved service, coverages or solved a unique problem for a multiple accounts. Extra credit if you have both written (PDF) and video testimonials and have added them to a private or public area of your website.

___ Value Proposition, Elevator Pitch & Telemarketing Pitch – Your agency has vetted all three versions of these pitches, published them across your agency and practices them periodically at sales meetings and company meetings. These are refined and polished over time as your agency and the marketplace continually change. And, of course, the value proposition is the theme of your insurance agency website, prominently displayed on your Home Page.

___ Collateral – This is actually eCollateral, electronic fulfillment that can be printed on demand if needed. This eCollateral is professional, branded and conveys your value proposition and services. It is used for email information requests and for producers as they work their respective pipelines. eCollateral is critical for lead response and professional lead handling.

___ SEO – Your insurance SEO long tail keyword analysis is complete and your website has been professionally optimized. Your insurance agency appears prominently in organic search results (SERPS).

Now it’s time to determine your grade. There are 11 insurance agency marketing initiatives listed above. When we refer to “ongoing” initiatives in the grading, it means that your agency is providing an ongoing monthly webinar series or biweekly e-marketing campaigns for example, not simply one or two of these campaigns per year. Here is your grading criteria:

Web Marketing Report Card

A – 10 or more of these are completed and ongoing. Congratulations, you’re a top web marketing agency and are well on your way to creating an enviable marketing foundation.

B – 8 or 9 are completed and ongoing. Great job, you are moving your agency toward the creation of a powerful web marketing machine. If video or SEO is a missing item, tackle this quickly, these initiatives offer great marketing value to agencies.

C – 7 are completed and ongoing. You receive a passing grade, but there is important work to be done.

D – 6 are completed and ongoing. About half of these web marketing initiatives are in need of attention – and your agency should find a path to tackle these as quickly as possible.

F – 5 or less of these are completed and ongoing. The web marketing train has left the station, and you are not aboard. Determine which of these open initiatives can be done quickly, assign them to a competent internal source (or outsource that function) and move forward. Social media and SEO often work in tandem and you can move from an “F” to a “B” for example, very quickly.

Many agents and brokers lack the internal resources and expertise to accomplish these initiatives. Even if the tools are available, they often lack the knowledge to properly use them. In these cases, agents and brokers can opt to outsource these types of tasks to a competent insurance agency marketing firm

Get an Internet Marketing Plan

Do you have a home business? Do you conduct a little bit of business, but really want to take your company to the next level? If this sounds like you, the number one thing that you can do to help yourself is set up an internet marketing plan. If you already have an internet marketing plan in place, you will want to look into revising it. Many people think that they do not need an internet marketing plan to be successful. This may be true, but for the majority of home business owners, an internet marketing plan is a huge key to success. Follow the tips below when you are setting up an internet marketing plan.

1. Make sure that you put your internet marketing plan on paper. Many home business owners claim that they have an internet marketing plan, but cannot show it to you because it is only in their mind. By having an internet marketing plan in place you will be able to stay on pace without any trouble at all. An internet marketing plan is a key to staying on course without getting lost along the way.

2. Your internet marketing plan should be diverse. Many home business owners fall prey to only using one internet marketing strategy. By doing this you will be hurting yourself because if your strategy stops working you will have no chance of recovering quickly.

3. When putting together an internet marketing plan you want to make sure that you use strategies that have been proven successful time and time again. These include strategies such as affiliate marketing, and placing ads in different ezines.

Affiliate marketing is particularly successful because you do not have to pay any money up front in order to get started. With this program, you will pay affiliates to send traffic to your site. But the main advantage is that you only have to pay your affiliates when the customers that they send actually purchase something off of you. This means that you are getting free marketing, and only have to pay up when you make a sale. This is one of the most popular internet marketing strategies.

Another internet marketing strategy that works is placing ads in ezines. Ezines go out to subscribers on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. The great thing about using ezines is that you can market to people in your industry. If you are selling office equipment, you can put your ad in an ezine for people who may be looking for your products.

Overall, by having a top notch internet marketing plan you will be increasing your chances of being successful. By putting an internet marketing plan into place and then following through with it, you will see more profits rolling in every month!

Alternate Energy Lighting

People who want to minimize their carbon footprint and cut their energy costs at the same time are always looking for other ways to light their worlds. Sure, electricity is ‘right there’ at the flick of a switch, but it is also expensive and let’s face it, there are just some places where you need a more portable option for lighting. Enter alternative energy lighting.

The sun is our ultimate heater and our major light source during the days, but once that giant orb goes down we are left in the dark and while those in previous generations may have thought that signaled the end of the working day, we today go on trucking right into the night, so we need sources of light.

Fuel based lamps may seem old fashioned now, but they are in fact a great alternative energy lighting option. They are portable and easy to use and they give you light when and where you want it. They are also easy to find and purchase and they are usually locally made which is another thing that people are more cognizant of these days. Simply fill your lamp with kerosene or another fuel, light it up and you’re good to go. The candle is the simplest form of this kind of lamp, but they can be hazardous and it is not wise to leave them burning unattended.

And then there is solar power, grabbed from the sun itself and then used to light our way when the sun has gone down. Solar lanterns incorporate a solar module, a light and a battery all in one unit, they are portable and they are a great source of back up energy. Solar lanterns and lights are wireless meaning you can put them anywhere you choose and they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Best of all, there is no environmental harm and no pollution that comes from using solar lighting and they don’t have black out periods like electricity can. Once installed the energy is free which is yet another bonus.

Generators that run on gas or diesel are another form of alternative energy lighting. They are stand alone units that you can use instead of the regular electricity for hours at a time for lighting and heating all without using the electricity in your home.

Electricity may be the easy option, but it can also be the expensive one, what about looking into alternative methods of achieving the same thing?

Barriers to Do Market Research in Small Business

Any business is in search of growth opportunity to earn more profits and expand more. Market research is one of the ways to find more business opportunities. Collection of data regarding niche condition, customer preferences etc. benefits business get to know about market statistics, competitive strategies, and selling opportunities.

Companies have launched R and D department especially for performing market research work. Whether a business is small or large it needs to know latest market statistics for deciding future business strategies. To gain competitive advantage, search out for hidden places to sale of products and retain customers is also important. There are some companies who have not gained success after research. The reason behind it can be improper way to do research. Following are common barriers for small businesses.

Low financial capability:

Small business owners always find it difficult to invest in research activity. Although they are well know the advantages of market research reports, they can not spend more on research work. In depth analysis of market requires to pay high and it is found to be taxing for business owners. Due to this common barrier, they divert to poor research reports prepared by them; so that they can not get global perspective while taking decision.

Relying on only secondary research:

Market research can be of two types as primary and secondary. Primary research requires data to be collected by market survey, observation, market analysis etc. whereas secondary research can be done by reading and analyzing previously collected data. Secondary data has a time limitation but it can be used to start your business. After a period you need to shift towards primary research as it gives current and direct knowledge about rapidly changing market trends. You may not remain informed about current and future trends of marketplace by relying on secondary data for more time.

Exploring on internet:

One of most cost-effective way to get information about anything is exploring information on internet. Although searching on Google is economic, it gives just an overview. It digs out only a part of information, which may be ambiguous, and presents it to you. But to get more and exact information, you will have to pay for it. There are various searching hubs, research report providing portals which offer you valuable search data given by market intelligence. The problem is that business owners are either unaware of such portals or not able to pay for it.

Influence of obsolete thinking:

Friends and family members always give obsolese suggestions without knowing market trends. Industry analysis gives you a real insight into industrial policies and plans for increasing sales in market. But differences in marketing strategies are neglected by these people and they try to convince you not to go for any consumer survey.

By knowing all these barriers a new-age executive must try to over them. Any kind of product to be launched in market, supported by thorough market research, certainly uplifts its sales in unknown niches too. Along with that any business with higher sales margin can sustain in global competition only if it use market research reports.