Monday, April 29, 2013

Men Are Most Attractive With 'Heavy Stubble'

A 10-day beard is the sexiest facial hair combination for men, according to a new study.
Personally, I agree. But, let's see what science says, from Science Magazine:

Researchers photographed 10 men at four stages of beard growth: clean shaven, 5-day "light" stubble, 10-day "heavy" stubble (shown), and fully bearded. Three hundred and fifty-one women and 177 heterosexual men viewed the photos and rated each face for attractiveness, masculinity, health, and parenting ability. 

Women ranked heavily stubbled faces as the most attractive. Participants said that the clean-shaven men looked about as healthy and attractive as those with a full beard, but rated the bearded men higher for perceived parenting skills. Light stubble got the short end of the stick, garnering low scores across the board from both men and women

The study was published in the May issue of the journal Evolution and Human Behavior. Here is a sample picture of one of the participants. The researchers said that a light beard may be too patchy to really get the manly effect through, while a full beard gives the impression of macho aggressiveness:

Thursday, April 4, 2013

How to become influenced

Influence is a funny thing. Once it required leaping through certain hoops: Winning political office, say, or starting a large business. But technology democratizes anything it touches, and now, thanks to social media, you can have followers even if you haven't done the sorts of things (like starting a major religion) that won you "followers" in the past.
I was thinking about this while reading the recent Inc cover story on Tim Ferriss, whose 4-Hour Workweek empire has turned him into the ultimate Silicon Valley lifestyle guru. Then there's Suze Orman and a host of other personal finance gurus, whose advice is very similar, but whose personalities are all outsized enough to win them followers and fans.
How can you build up the sort of influence that opens career doors for you?
There's luck involved, of course, and a lot of hard work -- more, alas, than 4 hours per week. But here are a few ideas that seem to help.

1. Define your brand. Gurus need a topic. After all, few people become gurus in multiple unrelated areas. Anne Lamott writes fascinating fiction, but it's her writing on religion that gets her invited to churches -- which then become packed with adoring fans. What topic can you own? Ideally, it's one that's broad, but not too crowded with other gurus. Though even if it is, you can carve out your own niche (money for millennials; time management for entrepreneurs; fitness for the 50+ set).

2. Spin a good story. You don't need a degree in your guru area, but you do need some reason that people should listen to you. Often, this is a conversion story -- the sort of St. Paul on the road to Damascus narrative that humans intuitively like. I used to be awful with money, and here's what I learned! I used to work around the clock, then I figured out how to outsource everything!
3. Go direct. Traditional media is great (see below), but even major media hits have a limited influence if you don't have a good way to capture people's information and keep them part of your world. That means spending a lot of time on social media and blogging and building your database of names and email addresses.

4. Be easy to reach ... at first. If you are quoted in one major news outlet as an expert, chances are you'll soon be quoted in another soon. Why? Because journalists often Google their story topics, and find their expert sources by seeing who other people have quoted. If your email address comes up easily in a search, you'll get on the contact list fast. The more media mentions you get, the more credibility you have. After all, once you're quoted in, say, CBS MoneyWatch as a financial guru, it's not just you calling yourself a financial expert. It's a trusted source. Of course, after you get famous enough, you can be a little harder to reach, to build mystique. But in the beginning, it helps a lot.

5. Network like crazy. Influence is best shared. If influential people write or talk about you, some of that influence rubs off on you, which you can then share with others. Oprah has launched gurus in just about every major category (Nate Berkus in design, Peter Walsh in organizing, etc.) but usually it's a result of multiple influential people giving someone a nod. Do what you can to be interesting enough to get on the radar of the right people -- and the effect will start to multiply.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

7 Steps to Planning a Productive and Successful Promotional Campaign

When planning a promotional campaign keep in mind that a campaign generally consists of three desired outcomes: 

Outcome 1: Your promotional message reaches your intended and targeted audience.
Outcome 2: Your message is understood by your audience.
Outcome 3: Your message stimulates the recipients and they take action.
The question is how do you achieve these outcomes with your campaign? The process is easy, but it takes "planning" time.
Here are seven steps that will get your campaign off to the right start.
  • Step 1: Assess Marketing Communication Opportunities.
    It's important in this first step to examine and understand the needs of your target market. Who is your message going out to? Current users, influencers among individuals, decision-makers, groups, or the general public?
  • Step 2: What Communication Channels Will You Use?
    In the first step of planning you should have defined the markets, products, and environments. This information will assist you in deciding which communication channels will be most beneficial. Will you use personal communication channels such as face to face meeting, telephone contact, or perhaps a personal sales presentation? Or will the nonpersonal communication such as newspapers, magazines, or direct mail work better?
  • Step 3: Determine Your Objectives
    Keep in mind that your objectives in a promotional campaign are slightly different from your marketing campaign. Promotional objectives should be stated in terms of long or short-term behaviors by people who have been exposed to your promotional communication. These objectives must be clearly stated, measurable, and appropriate to the phase of market development.
  • Step 4: Determine Your Promotion Mix
    This is where you will need to allocate resources among sales promotion, advertising, publicity, and of course personal selling. Don't skimp on either of these areas. You must create an awareness among your buyers in order for your promotional campaign to succeed. A well rounded promotion will use all these methods in some capacity.
  • Step 5: Develop Your Promotional Message
    This is the time that you will need to sit down with your team and focus on the content, appeal, structure, format, and source of the message. Keep in mind in promotional campaigns appeal and execution always work together.
  • Step 6: Develop the Promotion Budget
    This is the exciting part. You must now determine the total promotion budget. This involves determining cost breakdowns per territory and promotional mix elements. Take some time to break down allocations and determine the affordability, percent of sales, and competitive parity. By breaking down these costs you will get a better idea on gauging the success potential of your campaign.
  • Step 7: Determine Campaign Effectiveness
    After marketing communications are assigned, the promotional plan must be formal defined in a written document. In this document you should include situation analysis, copy platform, timetables for effective integration of promotional elements with elements in your marketing mix. You will also need to determine how you will measure the effectiveness once it is implement. How did the actual performance measure up to planned objectives. You'll need to gather this information by asking your target market whether they recognized or recall specific advertising messages, what they remember about the message, how they felt about the message, and if their attitudes toward the company was affected by the message.