Business Articles

September 20, 2016

Fraud Trends & How to Protect Yourself: Hacked Email & Fraudulent Payment Request

A company employee received an email from a vendor. The email stated the vendor needed help with a payment request to a vendor in that they wanted to know "the cost and details required for you to help overnight a check to a designated address today …
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July 26, 2016

Topic: Retirement & Social Security

10 Years and Counting: Points to Consider as You Approach Retirement

If you're a decade or so away from retirement, you've probably spent at least some time thinking about this major life change. How will you manage the transition? Will you travel, take up a new sport or hobby, or spend more time with friends and …
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July 26, 2016

Topic: Retirement & Social Security

Deciding When to Retire: When Timing Becomes Critical

Deciding when to retire may not be one decision but a series of decisions and calculations. For example, you'll need to estimate not only your anticipated expenses, but also what sources of retirement income you'll have and how long you'll need your …
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July 26, 2016

Topic: Retirement & Social Security

Investment Planning throughout Retirement

IntroductionInvestment planning during retirement is not the same as investing for retirement and, in many ways, is more complicated.Your working years are your saving years. With luck, your income increases from year to year as you receive …
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July 26, 2016

Topic: Retirement & Social Security

Required Minimum Distributions

What are required minimum distributions (RMDs)?Required minimum distributions, often referred to as RMDs or minimum required distributions, are amounts that the federal government requires you to withdraw annually from traditional IRAs and …
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May 11, 2016

Risks of Ransomware

The FBI recently released a brochure acknowledging that, as ransomware evolves and becomes more sophisticated, there is no guarantee one will not fall victim to it.  The FBI recommends that, in addition to having a plan for preventing such …
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May 06, 2016

FBI Spotlights Rise of Ransomware

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has released an article addressing the proliferation of ransomware campaigns. Ransomware is a type of malicious software that infects a computer and restricts users' access to it until a ransom is paid to …
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April 25, 2016

FBI Warns of Dramatic Increase in Business E-Mail Scams

FBI officials are warning potential victims of a dramatic rise in the business e-mail compromise scam or “B.E.C.,” a scheme that targets businesses and has resulted in massive financial losses in Phoenix and other cities.The schemers go …
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February 08, 2016

Topic: Estate

It’s Personal! 5 Tips for Avoiding Family Conflict Over Personal Property

by Cymbre Van Fossen, Vice President - Trust & Investments, First Business Trust & Investments We’ve all heard “it’s not personal” when it comes to keeping emotion out of business and money matters. But …
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November 25, 2015

Topic: Estate

Year-End Charitable Giving

With the holiday season upon us, and the end of one year and the start of another approaching, we pause to give thanks for our blessings and the people in our lives. It is also a time when charitable giving often comes to mind. Charitable giving can …
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November 17, 2015

College Saving Options

College costs For the 2014/2015 college year, the average annual cost of attendance (known as the COA) at a four-year public college for in-state students is $23,410, the average cost at a four-year public college for out-of-state students is …
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November 17, 2015

Determining Eligibility for Social Security Benefits

What is it? Before you receive any Social Security benefits, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will need to determine your eligibility. Remember that Social Security is an insurance system designed to pay you benefits during times of …
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November 17, 2015

Determining the Value of Your Business

What is valuation? Assignment of price or dollar value The basic concept of valuation is to determine a justifiable dollar value or price for a total or partial interest in your closely held business. It is the process of answering the …
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November 17, 2015

Estimating College Costs

What is the forecast for college cost increases? You've seen the charts--a college education is expensive. All those benefits of personal growth, expanded horizons, and increased lifetime earning power come at a price, a price that increases …
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November 17, 2015

Inheriting an IRA or Employer-Sponsored Retirement Plan

What is it? When the account owner of a traditional individual retirement account (IRA) or employer-sponsored retirement plan dies, the remaining funds in the account pass to the named beneficiary (or beneficiaries). Unlike many other inherited …
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November 17, 2015

Introduction to Estate Planning

What is estate planning? Simply stated, estate planning is a method for determining how to distribute your property during your life and at your death. It is the process of developing and implementing a master plan that facilitates the …
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November 17, 2015

Introduction to Investment Planning

What is investment planning?The investment planning processIf you're fortunate enough to have money left over after paying the costs of living, you may be able to make that extra money go to work for you by investing it to earn a financial return. …
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November 17, 2015

Life Insurance: Estate Planning

What is life insurance? A contract Technically, life insurance is a contract between the policyowner (which can be you, "the insured," or a separate party) and an insurer. The policyowner agrees to make premium payments, and the insurer …
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November 17, 2015

Minimizing Estate Taxes

What is minimizing estate taxes? The act of giving away your property, either during life or at death, will probably be subject to one or more of several types of taxes (collectively referred to here as estate taxes), either on the federal …
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November 17, 2015

Organizing Your Finances After Your Spouse Has Died

What is it? Even if you've always handled your family's finances, you may be overwhelmed by the number of financial matters you have to settle in the weeks or months following your spouse's death. While you can put off some of these tasks, …
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November 17, 2015

Planning Concerns of Divorcing Couples

Why is it important for you to understand the basics of divorce law? While divorce is certainly a time of emotional turmoil, it's a time of financial upheaval as well. The financial change brought about by divorce can be particularly …
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November 17, 2015

Planning for Remarriage

What is it? If you're planning to remarry, you must decide how you and your fiance will combine your finances, and you'll need to plan a financial strategy that considers the assets, liabilities, and financial responsibilities that each partner …
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November 17, 2015

Planning for Succession of a Business Interest

Business succession planning--what is it? One of the important decisions a business owner must face is when and how to step out of the business--in other words, business succession planning. Do you expect to retire from your business? Do you …
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November 17, 2015

Saving for Your Retirement

Major considerations How much will you need in retirement? When do you plan to retire? What kind of lifestyle do you desire? How much do you have right now that you can count on for your retirement? What about Social Security; do you know …
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November 17, 2015

Setting Financial and Investment Goals

Setting financial and investment goals Setting goals is a very important part of life in general and in financial planning in particular. Before you actually invest your money, you should spend some time considering and setting your personal …
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November 17, 2015

Trusts

What is a trust? A trust is a legal entity that is created when you transfer property to a trustee for the benefit of a third person. The trustee manages the property for the beneficiary in accordance with the terms and the instructions in the …
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November 17, 2015

Will You Outlive Your Money?

Will you outlive your money? Before you retire, take the time to figure out just how much money you'll need for retirement. One of the biggest concerns for retirees is whether their retirement savings will last the rest of their lives-- will …
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November 17, 2015

Wills

What is a will? A will may be the most vital piece of your estate plan, even if your estate is a modest one. It is a legal document that lets you direct how your property will be dispersed (among other things) when you die. It becomes effective …
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November 04, 2015

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015

On November 2, 2015, President Obama signed into law the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, legislation that raises the federal debt limit and establishes the framework for a two-year budget deal. The legislation, needed to avoid an impending default on …
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October 02, 2015

Heightened Counterfeiting

We are aware of reports coming from multiple sources and regional anti-fraud groups of various types of counterfeit credit card use throughout Wisconsin. A heightened level of counterfeit credit card activity is being used for over-the-counter cash …
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October 01, 2015

ICBA Encourages Consumers to Protect their Data during Cyber Security Awareness Month

Washington, D.C. (Oct. 1, 2015)—Americans live in a mobile society, relying on smartphones, tablets and computers to gather news, make purchases, interact with friends and family, and connect with financial institutions. Increasingly, …
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August 24, 2015

Market Update - Keeping You in the Loop

In light of recent financial market headlines, we want to share our most recent thinking with you. After a relatively uneventful summer, volatility has returned to financial markets around the world in recent days. At the beginning of last week, the …
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July 24, 2015

Small business loans resume after Congress lifts guarantee cap

U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday signed legislation renewing federal loan guarantees for small businesses that were exhausted last week and also raising the overall cap on the program.The House of Representatives on Monday unanimously approved …
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July 07, 2015

June 2015 Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®

The national report's information reflects the entire United States, while the regional reports contain primarily regional data from their local vicinities. Also, the information in the regional reports is not used in calculating the results of the …
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July 07, 2015

Local Area Unemployment Statistics

This tool, published by Wisconsin's Worknet, enables business leaders to query unemployment, employment, unemployment rate, and labor force statistics for specific time frames. 
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July 01, 2015

Searching for Top Company Cultures

Entrepreneur.com is looking for companies that instill a high-performance culture in the workplace. These environments encourage employees' growth and development, outperform competitors, provide mentorship opportunities, exceed expectations …
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June 08, 2015

May 2015 Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in May for the 29th consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 72nd consecutive month, say the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM® Report On …
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November 13, 2014

5 Things That Drive Interviewers Totally Nuts

What are the things that drive interviewers nuts? Listen and learn.
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November 13, 2014

What to do when you have too much or too little time

If you have too much to do, you can either let your health decline or learn to say 'no'.
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July 26, 2013

How to Use Factoring for Cash Flow

Companies facing a cash-flow squeeze and slow-paying customers often sell their invoices or accounts receivable to specialized companies called factors. The factor advances most of the invoice amount — usually 70% to 90% — after checking …
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July 02, 2013

Should You Rent Or Buy A Home In Retirement?

By the time many of us retire we’ve become so accustomed to owning a home, that the idea of renting one might never occur to us.But if you’re pondering a change of address in retirement, it’s worth considering all the angles of …
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July 01, 2013

How to Prospect via LinkedIn Groups

When you first got involved with LinkedIn, if you’re like most, you eagerly started signing up for Groups, wanting to be part of the discussion with others who shared a common interest. Anyone can start a Group and there are now approximately …
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June 28, 2013

5 Coaching Skills That Every Manager Needs to Have

Whether you’re a manager trying to develop your people or trying develop yourself and build a career, you need to know that one of the key ways you can have a positive impact on the business is by operating more as a “Coach” than a …
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June 28, 2013

How Healthy Is Your Customer Base?

Customers are a business's most important asset, especially for start-ups, where each customer relationship builds on the next. When a company is founded, it fights to get the first customer. Then it works to turn the first customer into two and …
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June 28, 2013

The Most Effective Ways to Make It Right When You Screw Up

After promising your boss you would complete an important assignment on time, you realize you're behind and it's going to be late. You unintentionally leave a colleague out of the loop on a joint project, causing him or her to feel frustrated and a …
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June 28, 2013

Why Would Hackers Target My Little Company?

If your business is relatively small, keeps a low profile, and isn't involved in financial services or national defense, you might assume that data security isn't a big issue for you. Why would someone in the presumably limited pool of hackers take …
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June 25, 2012

Human Resources: Would You Recommend Your Kid Go Into IT?

I found myself wondering what I'd say to my son if he asked me whether he should go into IT. Now, obviously, I'm going to be supportive about almost any legal activity he really wants to pursue. But say he was in college, on the fence, and asking my …
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June 24, 2012

Management & Leadership: How Extremely Successful People Turn Obstacles Into Assets

At Forbes, we arent big on clichs like every time God closes a door he opens a window, or there are no problems, only opportunities.People who succeed at work and in life believe and act as if everything is a gift. Well, maybe not every single thing …
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June 20, 2012

Information Technology: Good IT Architecture Means Knowing When to Take Control

Should the management of your IT architecture be centralized or decentralized?Last week's Advice Line took the position that ETAM (enterprise technical architecture management) is a regulatory function, and that this is a good thing. Regulation is, …
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June 19, 2012

Human Resources: The 7 C's: How to Find and Hire Great Employees

A founder cant grow a winning enterprise singlehandedly. Some may try, but it is nearly impossible to do so. Every famous entrepreneur has built a flourishing company with great employees by his or her side.An entrepreneur can invent and even …
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June 18, 2012

Risk Management: Most Companies Do Not Expect – And Remain Unprepared For – Director Lawsuits

Seeing a chasm between risk perception and risk reality has ceased to surprise me. Virtually every survey, study and report I come across reveals that executives either (a.) dont understand the risks they take or (b.) understand the risks they take …
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June 12, 2012

Sales & Marketing: Do Mobile Users Pay Attention to Mobile Ads?

Nearly three in four mobile users (74.0%) say they fully pay attention to mobile ads while browsing the Web, either on a regular (35.3%) or occasional (38.7%) basis, according to a recent survey from Prosper Mobile Insights.In addition, 59.5% …
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June 11, 2012

Information Technology: What IT Can Do Now That User Passwords Aren't Safe?

The parade of revelations of passwords stolen from online services -- LinkedIn (where poor implementation meant nearly two-thirds could be descrypted), eHarmony, and Last.fm most recently -- has many workers and IT pros alike questioning the …
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June 08, 2012

Information Technology: 6 Ways CIOs Can Make Peace with CMOs

There's a natural tension between IT and marketing. But these days the CIO and CMO need to collaborate and focus on what's best for the customer.CIO It seemed so straightforward. The marketers at Genworth Financial Wealth Management wanted to …
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June 08, 2012

Sales & Marketing: How Social Media Is Changing CRM

Its big news these days for tech watchers: CRM software stalwarts are rapidly acquiring startups that enable businesses to manage the increasing number and variety of social media platforms better. In May, Oracle (ORCL) bought Vitrue to help it …
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June 06, 2012

Management & Leadership: 4 Things Great Leaders Do Better Than You

We've all met them. That one person who is not just a great leader, but who also makes a lasting impression. We remember them, quote them, and refer to them long after our interaction has ended.These are the leaders who become our mentors and role …
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June 02, 2012

Human Resources: When Companies Honor Employees, Profits Result

Have you heard of the Service Profit Chain? Several years ago I learned of this tremendous model at a seminar sponsored by Omnicom(NYSE: OMC), who purchased the company I founded, MarketStar Corporation.Several distinguished Harvard professors …
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June 01, 2012

Management & Leadership: 5 Things You Shouldn't Do on Email

Whether its a client or a co-worker, there is no more efficient tool to fostering misunderstanding than email. Without the benefit of tone and body language, messages can be easily misconstrued and people can take offense to statements that might …
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May 21, 2012

Human Resources: Overusing Email

Email is the workhorse of the workplace. Despite the talk that Millennials and younger workers are moving away from it, email continues to be a powerful and widespread business tool.And, thats why when I read a story about some company banning the …
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May 21, 2012

Management & Leadership: How To Bounce Back From Failure

Anyone who claims to have built something of lasting value--be it a business, personal relationship or a body of critical knowledge--without suffering serious pain and disappointment is either a liar or dangerously nave. At some point on your …
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May 21, 2012

Management & Leadership: Success in Succession Takes Planning and Execution

Succession is tricky. Most business owners are too busy fighting the fires of the day to invest the time or energy in succession planning. But if you were hit by the proverbial truck tonight, who would replace you? If your response starts with, I …
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May 21, 2012

Sales & Marketing:Five Tips for Using Your iPad on Sales Calls

These days, B2B sales teams are carrying their product demos, order forms, cool presentationsyou name itwith them in handy tablet form. And the tablet of choice is often the iPad.Dealmaker 365 blogger Donal Daly has been using the iPad on sales …
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May 21, 2012

Technology: Who owns what when employees use their own tech

My Twitter colleague Brian Katz (@bmkatz) relayed to me and his other Twitter followers a question asked in various forms at this week's Interop conference: Who owns the phone number for a BYOD item? Who owns the Twitter handle when an employee …
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May 14, 2012

Management & Leadership: Why Leaders Should Tell Stories

A woman from the audience followed me into the hallway. I think were married to the same man, she said. Successfully fighting the urge to fire off the snappy reply, Could be. I travel a lot, I simply smiled back. Id heard this before.I had been …
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May 14, 2012

Sales & Marketing: 12 Ways to Strengthen Your Call to Action

Think of the elusive call to action as a lead-generation gateway. Creating a great call to action can be tricky, however. Clearly identifying what you offer and how you want to convey that offer requires thoughtful consideration and good timing.Here …
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May 10, 2012

Human Resources: The 8 Things You Do Wrong On LinkedIn

Some years ago, I was chatting with a prospective employer, sharing tales of my experiences and selling him on the many reasons he should hire me, and doing it by using very specific examples. At one point in the conversation he turned quickly …
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May 10, 2012

Sales & Marketing: Powerful Ways to Overcome Brand Fragmentation

If it aint broke, dont fix it, is such a clich that it has spawned its own clich: If it aint broke, break it. Unfortunately, thats just what many companies do unwittingly to their branding programs, playing into the hands of public enemy No. 1 in …
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May 01, 2012

Technology: Pick your strategy for BYOD

Two main schools of thought guide the adoption of BYOD in the enterprise. One is to reduce the risk of the devices themselves by managing them closely through policy and software. The other is to reduce the risk to data that may be exposed or lost …
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April 16, 2012

HR: Six common hiring mistakes and how to avoid them

Ive recently been writing about business leadership and strategy, and I began thinking about something one of my mentors taught me about being an executive.He said, the most important decision you make is when you choose WHO.Hiring top talent is the …
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April 16, 2012

IT: How to optimize your iPad for business

Are you thinking about snapping up a new iPad? The post-PC lifestyle is especially intriguing for business owners who travel on a regular basis and want to travel lightly. Its easy to forget that the tablet, for all of its shiny tech and workable …
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April 16, 2012

Management & Leadership:Six time-management tips from accelerator programs

For startup accelerator programs, teaching wannabe entrepreneurs time management skills is critical. These camp-like incubators have one of the steepest learning curves of any professional environment, and making sure entrepreneurs stay productive …
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April 16, 2012

Management & Leadership:The magic of doing one thing at a time

Why is it that between 25% and 50% of people report feeling overwhelmed or burned out at work?It's not just the number of hours we're working, but also the fact that we spend too many continuous hours juggling too many things at the same time.What …
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April 16, 2012

Sales & Marketing: Five tips to increase direct mail leads

Myriad marketers are so enamored with social media that theyve forgotten the golden oldies of marketing that still deliver reliable results. One of the tried and true is direct mail.The next time youre writing or evaluating direct mail copy, make …
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April 16, 2012

Sales & Marketing: Forget "Mad Men" - now is the golden era for advertising

Oftentimes when people ask me what I do for a living and I tell them I work in advertising, they ask, Dont you wish you got to be an ad man in the golden era, like on Mad Men? I usually smile and respond with What makes you think the golden era was …
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April 16, 2012

Sales & Marketing: How to let customers go without ruining your reputation

If you've never shown a customer to the door, consider yourself a rarity and read on anyway, because chances are good that someday your turn will come. Sooner or later, most businesses reshape their clientele for one of two reasons:On the proactive …
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April 13, 2012

IT: IT pros name their favorite products

Each year we ask IT pros what they love -- which tech products make their lives easier, provide stellar security and compliance, and help keep end users happy and productive. IT pros answered our questions and raved about a range of different …
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April 10, 2012

Management & Leadership: Five painless ways to raise prices this year

It may sound odd, but small businesses are increasingly handing out pay raises. Unless they're crazy, those business owners probably also plan to either simply sell more units or raise their prices in the coming year to cover that added payroll …
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April 09, 2012

HR: What recruiters look at during the six seconds they spend on your resume

Although we may never know why we didn't get chosen for a job interview, a recent study is shedding some light on recruiters' decision-making behavior. According to TheLadders research, recruiters spend an average of "six seconds before they make …
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April 03, 2012

Management & Leadership: Four rules for pricing products

Before pricing your products and services, you need to understand how customers perceive value. I continually find business owners price their products or services based on what they cost, versus what their customers are willing to pay.Even worse, I …
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March 23, 2012

HR: A positive work climate is key to organizational success

As organizational structures become more complex and expand globally, the need to establish a positive climate is increasingly critical to employee satisfaction and productivity levels. Employees in large organizations today often work on multiple …
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March 22, 2012

Management & Leadership: Is kindness a business strategy?

A friend recently described a remarkable travel experience. Strange to say, the story was about an airline, and it wasn't a travel nightmare. Instead, it involved the recently bankrupt American Airlines doing something extraordinary by putting …
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March 21, 2012

HR: Why networks are better than teams

In most businesses, the prevailing assumption is that teams are the best way for leadership groups to go when solving a problem. Whenever possible, form a team. That's what most people believed a decade ago, when Doug Smith and I wrote our book The …
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March 12, 2012

HR: Nurture the love of the workplace

Valentine’s Day reminds us of the message of love. However, we generally don’t think of love as it applies to business. Yet there is so much to gain when we bring “love” into the workplace. Much like a long-term relationship, …
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March 12, 2012

IT: 4 things every storage admin should know

The evolution of tech is all about replacing manual tasks with automation, which enables you to perform tasks that were impossible or impractical before. You're suddenly freed from mind-numbing manual configuration -- only to face a fresh load of …
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March 12, 2012

IT: Mobile apps are IT pro's new power tools

Think the mobile revolution is all about word games and social networking apps? Think again. Heavy-duty apps for IT pros have arrived on mobile platforms and they're quickly changing the face of IT systems management.Want remote desktop access from …
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March 12, 2012

Management: The happy secret to better work (Ted Talks)

What we're finding is it's not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but the lense through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. And if we can change the lens, not only can we change your happiness, we can change every single …
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March 11, 2012

HR: Everything your employees need to know about social media

Who needs an expensive social media consultant when you can train your employees in Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn best practices yourself?This Mindflash infographic breaks down the types of social media users youll find in your company the digital …
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March 05, 2012

Management: CEO's time is like a sack of cash

If you’re a CEO, your time is like a sack of cash. Where you spend it can have defining impact on your organization. How you spend that time is a subject of a new study conducted by scholars from the London School of Economics and the Harvard …
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February 20, 2012

HR: Top executive recruiters agree there are only three true job interview questions

The only three true job interview questions are:1. Can you do the job?2. Will you love the job?3. Can we tolerate working with you?Thats it. Those three. Think back, every question youve ever posed to others or had asked of you in a job …
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February 20, 2012

Marketing: Test your new initiative

With the continuous introduction of new technologies, platforms and communication channels – each heralded as the next big thing, those charged with promoting an organization or increasing its sales are feeling more pressure these days to get …
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February 16, 2012

Management: How to create a profitable business idea

Breakthrough entrepreneurship is about solving problems -- but it's only half the battle. If you've brainstormed a business idea and have a sense of the customer pain your product can solve. The next step in your billion-dollar business generating …
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February 14, 2012

Sales & Marketing: Be wary of online ad campaign metrics

The first client I ever worked with was president of a restaurant chain with locations around the world. He was famous in our firm for demanding advertising that makes the cash register ring. Theres nothing to argue with there and we were determined …
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February 08, 2012

Marketing: How Pinterest is changing website design

Even if you havent ever visited popular visual bookmarking site Pinterest, you might recognize its design elements which have been popping up everywhere since the startup burst onto the mainstream scene in 2011.The site doesnt use traditional web …
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February 07, 2012

IT: After infection - new schemes to restore your systems

In the computing world, detecting problems is far easier than fixing them. Take antimalware software: It's always been better at accurately finding viruses and the like than at cleaning up and repairing infected systems. That left security …
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February 06, 2012

Management: 3 numbers all entrepreneurs should know

To make good decisions, you need good data. Thats a given, right? But in a start-up, what data should you be looking at?In the early days of a startup, sometimes there isnt much to measure. A comparison of this years sales compared to last years …
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February 06, 2012

Marketing: 5 easy ways to drum up PR coverage

Ill admit it, I wasnt a public relations expert when I started my e-mail marketing company, VerticalResponse. Im a marketer; more specifically, a direct marketer. I need to have a result and attach it to how much Ive spent to get that result. PR is …
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February 03, 2012

IT: Organize your iPhone or Android home screen for smarter daily use

The folks who designed your life-capturing, brain-augmenting smartphone did the best with what they had, which was a phone meant to appeal to everyone. But you probably do some quirky things with your phone: shoot more photos than most, use very …
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February 02, 2012

Marketing: Pinterest becomes top traffic driver for retailers

Pinterest, a two-year-old social bookmarking site that lets users collect and share things they like on the web, is driving increasingly significant amounts of traffic to retailers websites.The service enables users to create online bulletin boards, …
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February 01, 2012

HR: Four reasons to allow social media at work

Last week, Cisco launched their annual research project to track how technology is changing the workplace. Arguably, the most notable finding from the survey is data showing just how connected young people are to social media; so much so that they …
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February 01, 2012

IT: Business continuity and disaster recovery planning

Good business continuity plans will keep your company up and running through interruptions of any kind: power failures, IT system crashes, natural disasters, supply chain problems and more.Disaster recovery and business continuity planning are …
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