Monthly Archives: September 2013

Please help with Survey

Please click the link and respond to the short survey I have posted. I’m doing some research for a future blog post and would like to get some input from people. Thanks.

SURVEY

Research Assistance

Please click the link and respond to the short survey I have posted. I’m doing some research for a future blog post and would like to get some input from people. Thanks.

SURVEY

Research Question

Please click the link and respond to the short survey I have posted. I’m doing some research for a future blog post and would like to get some input from people. Thanks.

SURVEY

Research Survey

Please click the link and respond to the short survey I have posted. I’m doing some research for a future blog post and would like to get some input from people. Thanks.

SURVEY

Tis The Season For Shopping

It’s a wonder Santa Claus hasn’t taken a cue from Costco and Sam’s Club and started making his rounds in August.

santa_claus_lounge_on_beach_11_30_08_pc_proBut even as ol’ St. Nick spends his final three months of vacation in a thong somewhere on a Bermuda beach (Yeah, try and get THAT mental picture out of your head) we’re turning the corner on that time of year when we our thoughts turn to presents, snow and tons of great food.

And with all of that we’ll spend a ton of money.

That’s right, beginning October 1, we’ll begin the biggest single spending quarter of the year. What with presents, big meals and people traveling everywhere, Americans spend more in the last three months of the year than at any other time.

So as consumers and small businessmen, how can we take advantage of that?

As business owners, finding new ways to attract customers is key. If we can get them now we may be able to keep them well into the new year.

As consumers, we know that businesses are fighting for our hard earned dollars. So we should be looking for the best deals and savings and any way that we can increase our buying power.

Lyoness gives both sides of that equation just what they’re looking for.

I Buy, Therefore I Am

Think about all of the stuff you’re going to buy in the next few months. For most of us the expense of gifts alone with be several hundred dollars, if not a thousand. We’ll probably hit a few dozen stores to collect just the right gifts for the people on our list, even though one in seven of our recipients (14.3%) will return them.

christmas_presents_bouncing_lg_whtYeah Aunt Edna, I’m watching you.

Gift cards have grown in popularity over the years, with one study showing that nearly 61% of adults would rather have one of those than something they may end up returning or not using.

As a gift giver, Lyoness gives you the perfect opportunity to make the best of both scenarios. Whether you shop online or in person, whether you’re buying actual gifts or loading up on gift cards, Lyoness can help you save money and earn extra cash.

If you remember from a few posts back, we saw a stat that showed the average family of four spends about $1,500 a month on things that a Lyoness membership would help save money on. So over the final quarter of the year that would be $4,500. And for the sake of argument, let’s say that same family is going to spend about $2,500 extra on presents, food and travel to get to grandma’s house (driving over the river and through the woods is not cheap). So all in all, about $7,000 in expenditures.

I think my wallet just had a seizure.

But then it remembered it had a Lyoness card in it and all is well.

Over the course of the coming quarter a Lyoness member could earn as much as $140 in cash back, not to mention what could be going into his piggy bank (aka Back Office). With some retailers giving as much as 10% in Loyalty Benefits, that could add up to an additional $700. That’s almost 10 shopping units.

But remember the Lyoness mantra – Shop, Share and Repeat!

So if you make any kind of an effort to share Lyoness and they made similar expenditures in this final quarter, your Friendship Bonus for their purchases would net you $35 per family. Share it with just 5 people and that’s $175. Share it with 10 and its $350.

And if your five friends share it with five friends, all of similar family size, that’s $1,050 in Friendship Bonuses. If you had shared it with 10 and they shared it with five, (that’s 55 people contributing to the bonuses) you’d earn $1,925.

That simple act of shopping and sharing could  pay for your normal $1,500 in expenditures for all of January, and leave you a few hundred bucks to start planning your wife’s Valentine’s Day gift.

Yeah guys, I’m lookin’ out for ya here.

Ummm … What’s In It For Me?

So I’m a business and all these shoppers are able to make money by using Lyoness over the holidays. Can I use it to make money too?

Lyoness will hit more than 100,000 members in the U.S. well before year’s end. At this time last year when I first registered I was member 28 thousand and change. And at that time, there were only a few hundred businesses online. Now there are more than 2,000 merchants in the states and thousands more around the world.

man_riding_graph_higher_lg_whtLyoness is growing and growing fast. And as a business, you need to take advantage before the opportunity passes you by in more ways than one.

First, don’t miss the opportunity this holiday season to become a Lyoness Loyalty Merchant. Lyoness members are looking for deals, for ways to save money and make money while they shop. They are fiercely dedicated to finding deals. Become one of their choices.

Secondly, Lyoness will only allow up to 50% of the businesses in a given industry to become part of their network in each city. That allows their loyalty merchants to have a leg up on the competition. So if you owned one of 10 restaurants in a given city and five of them registered, you’d be out of luck unless two more came along.

Don’t sell your hair to wig shop, become a Lyoness Loyalty Merchant today.

Another big advantage of getting on board before this holiday season starts is that you can register customers as Lyoness members when they come in. They’ll shop with you and get cash back and loyalty benefits. They’ll be happy, come backl and tell their friends.

But they won’t likely spend all $2,500 of that extra money in your store (but if they did, WOO HOO!). So as they scurry about getting gifts and fruit cakes for their loved ones, you’ll be earning Friendship Bonuses on all of their purchases with other Lyoness merchants.

The average person maybe has eight or nine friends they’ll be able to easily register for Lyoness. As a business, you have hundreds of customers every day that are all looking for savings. What better way to help them out by offering them a free Lyoness membership that saves them money in your store and thousands more around the world?

And what a great gift for your employees? Register them, let them register your customers and they could start earning a great holiday bonus that will show up every month throughout the year!

If you get any of your suppliers to become Lyoness Loyalty Merchants, or maybe you already shop at some place like Sam’s Club for a bunch of your stock and supplies, you could be earning even more cash back.

Joining Lyoness is smart move any time of the year, but getting on board now with the holidays closing in is a great chance to take advantage of the extra shopping you and others are going to do anyway. Don’t miss out.

If you’d like more information on Lyoness or would like to get registered so you can start turning your expenses into income, leave a comment below or drop me a line via email. The information  and the membership are always free.

Are You Ready For Some Business?

It’s really a shame that Hank Williams Jr. wasn’t able to communicate his political views as effectively as his love for football. I really miss him opening up Monday Night Football games.

But tell me, are you ready to do business? Really, really ready?

With all due respect to those like my wife who go through life making plans that have all the attention to detail of a third-grader’s water color project, making a business work takes detailed planning and effort. So let’s take a look at what we’ve got to do to get things moving in the right direction.

And in business, the right direction is any upward movement in the bottom line.

To be successful we have to consider the four basic elements of any good marketing plan. Dr. Jabs at California Baptist University (Riverside, Calif.) drilled these into my head over and over back in the day, and no matter how hard you try everything boils down to them.

Product. Price. Place. Promotion .

Goods and Services.

What you’re selling is perhaps the most important of these four. Dr. Jabs might beg to differ, but over the years I’ve found that if you don’t really believe in what your trying to sell, you’ll never give it 100 percent. Oh, you might for awhile to impress some supervisor, but eventually you’ll slack off because you just won’t be that passionate about it.

Pet Rocks circa 1975

Pet Rocks circa 1975

Over the years I’ve had the good fortune to be involved in several industries where I really loved the business I was working for and the products we were promoting. When I was teaching, that look of accomplishment and understanding on a student’s face was the best high ever. When I was giving seminars on financial literacy in schools and to the community, hearing stories of how I had effected someone’s budget and quality of life did it. And as a sports editor for nearly nine years, getting to tell exciting game stories every day was just incredible.

For me the trigger seems to be making a difference. And that is a big reason I latched onto Lyoness when it was presented to me. Lyoness allows people to earn a few extra bucks back on their every day shopping without any buy in whatsoever. And with that same free membership, they can share the program at a minimal cost and create a small to medium revenue stream.

Lyoness helps people help themselves.

So what is it that drives you? Is it making a difference? Is it the pride and prestige of being the leader? Is it the almighty dollar? Look at your past jobs and what has made you really happy in them. Ask people you’ve worked with when they thought you were at your best. You might  be surprised.

Now that good feeling aside, you really do have to have a product that people want and, at least in their mind, that they think they need. Real need versus perceived need is unimportant, as the latter becomes the same as the former if people believe it. Don’t believe me? Why do you think we have a gazillion fast food places? It ain’t because we really need them, it’s because we think we need them. Get rid of them and America’s obesity problem ceases to exist.

My nephew once had a great idea for a trash can that stopped the bag from bubbling up with air when you put a new liner in. It was a plastic can like every other one you see in the grocery store, except it had small holes in the bottom to let air out to prevent the bubbling problem. He had a patent company give him rave reviews and they took some of his cash and even got to a development stage before finding out that no one really wanted the product.

Why? Well, there were two reasons. First, anyone with a hand drill could easily punch a few holes into their one plastic trash container and solve the bubbling problem. Second, anyone who has done that knows that no matter how clean you are, the inside bottom of your trash container gets stuff on it and starts to stink. And when there are holes in your can, you whole kitchen stinks.

Nice idea. Bad execution.

So check your idea to make sure it meets an actual need, that it works and that it can’t be easily replicated. That’s a great start.

But as P.T. Barnum once said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” And as a culture, Americans are some of the biggest suckers around.

I say that to point out that not every product is going to have some logical use or function. Don’t believe me? I leave you with two words: Pet Rocks.

I rest my case.

How Much Is That Gonna Cost Me Again?

As Madonna told us, we’re living in a material world, and we’re all pretty much material girls.

Price is really the center point of whether or not your product will survive. It’s the key player on the Supply-Demand Curve that will determine whether you make it big or make nothing at all.

quarter_guy_walking_lg_whtI’ve always found price to be a funny thing. You can have a great product and determine that you want to make just a little on each sale, but sell a lot of them to make a substantial profit. But when the consumer looks at it they say, “Well, it doesn’t cost very much so it must not be very good quality.” It makes no sense to the businessman trying to crack into a new market, but we’re not selling to ourselves. Again, the perception becomes the reality and reading what the consumer is thinking is the key.

Most recently I saw this in my freelance photography business. I take great pictures but couldn’t get enough gigs as my prices were evidently too low. I actually had people tell me they thought I must be giving them a cut rate product, when what I was trying to do was make the youth sports picture buying process more affordable for the masses. Having been through that as a player and a parent, I knew how much is spent on my kid’s athletic endeavors.

But when I raised my prices, the gigs started coming. It made no sense, but it made me more money.

It’s been my experience that people will buy into a 10%-20% discount on the going price and not think there is a drop off in quality. But go much beyond that and their wheels start turning, even if its done with bogus inferences and information.

And that may be one of the biggest hurdles that Lyoness faces. While multi-level-marketing (MLM) companies keep trying to bring people in with promises of big money only after some initial buy-in, Lyoness seeks to do exactly the opposite. The returns are small at first and are completely dependent on your business savvy and effort.

The price is definitely right, its just not what people expect.

Where’s Waldo & Your Product

Where you plan to sell your product is also important, but less so in today’s internet-driven market. But unless your Chris Henson, a buddy of mine from college, you better look into it closely.

travel_map_lg_whtChris was a unique guy who I’ve always said could probably sell anything to anyone. One day while chatting I told him just that, stating “I bet you could sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo.” Without missing a beat he replied, “You bet! To them its a heater.”

That kind of thinking eludes me most days. I have flashes, but that thought process is rare and does not come easily for most of us.

I’ll state the obvious by saying that you’re likely not going to do well selling snow cones in the middle of the Christmas rush, unless of course you’re below the equator. So look for a natural fit – either one that seems logical or one that people think seems logical.

One of the great aspects of Lyoness is that it can be used just about anywhere. From groceries to autos to travel and everything in between, you have a lot of options that can help Lyoness work for someone. You simply have to show them the places it works and let those that referred you and the program do the rest.

And delivering it is very easy. Moments after they are registered they have an electronic version of the membership card they can use on their phone or one they can print out if they really need something in their hand.

Takin’ it to the Streets!

Once you’re ready with the first three P’s, get the word out. Many a great product has died on the warehouse shelf because no one ever knew it was there.

The Internet makes it really easy to get the word out these days. Places like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are great avenues to tell people what you have and where to get it. But everyone is using them, so how do you make yourself stand out?

For starters, be unique. Now that sounds obvious, but its not easy. There has to be something special in what your product does or how you present it. Your product may be an updated version of some old standby, but if you give it a twist that catches the attention of your target market, it could be a winner. Even a flash in the pan could be enough capital to get you to the next bigger project.

One of the trends today are viral videos. Something weird is always making its way around the net, so get creative. If you can find the hook that becomes the next Harlem Shake, you’re in.

Lyoness’ hook is what we talked about earlier – its free. That tends to bother some people because they immediately hear the old adage in their head about “You don’t get something for nothing.” True enough. Lyoness is free, but it requires the shopper to be a little more discerning in their purchases to make money when they shop. And if they want to make a little more at it, Lyoness requires that you share the program with others.

But it’s overall uniqueness is what drives Lyoness ahead of the others. Merchants drive the benefits, not the members. And that make it very unique.

Product. Price. Place. Promotion.

In large part these four items will determine just how successful you’ll be in any business. Knowing how to address each and how to best represent your product within those four areas is a big step in getting your product off the ground.

If you’d like more information on Lyoness, or would like to get registered for a free membership, leave a comment or drop me a line with one of the links on this page. As always, the information and the membership are free.

Smart shopping can lead to dividends

Like a run away truck on a steep mountain pass, we head to the store weekly, sometimes daily, to buy the things we think we need to survive. And like Wilma and Betty, we seldom think twice about what we purchase or where we buy it from.

But in this day and age, we have find a way to stop our expenses from going higher while our income gets smaller.

And Lyoness is that answer.

In previous posts we’ve talked about how Lyoness is the world’s largest shopping community with more than 3.5 million people. And we’ve discussed how merchants are looking for loyal shoppers and are willing to give some of their advertising dollars back to customers who shop with them.

Today we’re going to look at the practical application of how a family can make their expenses turn into income. That first step is changing how you shop.

And remember, the savings may look small but collecting them all up in an easy and systematic way can payoff big down the road. Just like Gus Gorman (aka Richard Pryor) in “Superman III”, you just have to know how to get them all working for you.

The Internal Revenue Service has compiled some shopping numbers that are very interesting, using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to figure out just how much we all spend on the basics of life each month. Here’s what the table looked like as of September 2, 2013:

Common Expenditures ~ Bureau of Labor Statistics 09/02/13

Common Expenditures ~ Bureau of Labor Statistics 09/02/13

For the basis of this post, we’re going to look at how we can use Lyoness to affect the expenditures above for a family of four. According to the BLS chart, additional family members would be an additional $281 each added to the bottom line for the total.

Chowin’ Down

Food is the number one thing we all think about when we consider our monthly expenditures. After rent or a house payment to make sure we have shelter from the elements, we have got to get some food to keep us going.

As yet, Lyoness doesn’t have any major grocery chains as loyalty merchants, well if you don’t count Walmart. Walmart will figure into just about every other category in this budget discussion, and offers some great options to make your dollar go farther when used in conjunction with Lyoness. But as far as food goes, if you have a Walmart that can handle most or all of your grocery needs, you’re in good shape.

On that $777 projected spending for a family of four, you can earn 1% cash back. Not a ton, but remember that Walmart’s coupon policy is that they take everyone’s coupons. So just think of your Lyoness card acting as an extra 1% on every coupon you clip as well as the stuff you don’t.

But in the end, that $777 turns into $7.77 in your pocket. If there is a local Lyoness loyalty merchant that can satisfy your grocery needs, you’ll likely double your cash back to 2% and a total of $15.44.

And don’t forget – Near many a Walmart there is a Sam’s Club next door with great prices on bulk items and gas. One more way to save.

Home (and everything else) Is Where The Cash Is

Guys, once you purge the bachelor mentality from your head and start getting serious about finding that special girl, you’ll totally get this. Until then, You’ll just keep asking yourself, “What’s he mean, cleaning supplies?”

Cleaners, soaps, deodorants and everything else that makes your house a home are also available through Lyoness loyalty merchants. And while Walmart is great at 1% cash back, its chief competitor Kmart is trying to get some of their action with a 2% offering. So while the ‘Big K’ may not have a blue light special on meat, they will likely have it on just about everything else.

So on the remaining $688 in household, apparel, personal care and miscellaneous items you can glean another $13.76 without a lot of effort.

On The Go

The IRS’ chart leaves out one huge monthly expense from their estimate – Gasoline. You’ve got to have some go-go juice to get to your job, school and everywhere else. And at a national average of $3.78 (www.fuelgaugereport.com on 09/03/13) it’s certainly nothing to be overlooked.

AutoSpies.com reports that the average American family has 2.28 cars per household. We’ll round that down to two for the sake of our post and my less than stellar math skills. But let’s figure that will all of the commuting going on that each vehicle gets filled with $50 in gas three times a month. That may be a little high, unless one of your drivers is a teenager and then you’re probably thinking, “I spend that in a week!”

Believe me, I feel your pain. I can’t wait my teenage son gets a job and starts paying for his own gas, which will unfortunately mean he’ll never leave the house again.

But my problems aside, most of the gas stations in Lyoness will give you 1% cash back or $3.00 on those monthly purchases. Again, it’s not a lot, but its better than a poke in the eye with a stick.

Adding It All Up

adding_machine_dollars_hg_whtNow these are the basic needs that a family has and doesn’t include a night out once or twice a month or even gifts throughout the year. But on those essential purchases – things you’re already buying anyway – you could be making $24.53 a month on the low end. Find that 2% grocery store and it could jump to $32.30.

Now take a good, hard look at that number. If we use the $24.53 number, we’re talking about a free tank of gas every other month. That’s $294.36 a year. If we use the bigger monthly total it becomes $387.60.

Now who’s laughing at the small change?

But it ain’t over until the fat lady in the back office gets done singing.

La La La

In previous posts we’ve discussed how Lyoness gives you cash back with every purchase and puts money into your back office. And that’s exactly what’s happening with every one of the purchases we talked about above.

On every purchase on those essential items made through a Lyoness loyalty merchant, you’re earning the cash back plus at least 1% into your back office or “piggy bank”. That means that every month another $24.53 (yes, Kmart pays 2% into the back office too!) would be getting added to that piggy bank until it hits $75 total. A night or two out or maybe a gift purchase once a month would easily push that $24.53 to $25.00 and you’d be making a Lyoness Shopping Unit every three months.

I’m going to let those who wish to catch up on how units work do so by reading my post “A Unit by any other name“, but needless to say that they are a great bonus from the merchants for being loyal to them. As those units build and you share the program with others, they will pay big dividends down the road.

Oh, did I mention sharing Lyoness right there? I sure did.

Remember that if you shared Lyoness with just 10 people who shopped like what we’ve described above, you’d be getting 0.5% of all of their qualifying purchases with loyalty merchants in the program. So on $1,465 in purchases each month you’d realize $7.32. Multiply businessman_woman_shaking_hands_lg_whtthat by 10 and you’d earn an extra $73.20 in cash for sharing.

And if your 10 friends shared with 10 friends of their own, your Friendship Bonus would balloon to $805.75 a month.

That’s more than a few tanks of gas. In fact, it’s almost enough to keep my 18-year-old son in chicken nuggets and Gatorade for about a week. I swear that kid has a hollow leg.

So you can see that just by shopping and sharing the program, you can actually turn your expenses into income. It takes a little work, but then again anything worth having in life requires at least a minimal effort.

If you have further questions on Lyoness and how to earn cash back with every purchase, please post a comment below, drop me a line or follow this blog. As always, the information and the Lyoness membership are absolutely free.

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