How A Pink Bowl Created Buzz

Just Salad's Pink Bowl Promotion

Just Salad’s Pink Bowl Promotion

Just Salad gave a great example of how to create buzz with people who already love their product: Faithful Customers.

They sent out 100 skip-the-line pink bowls to faithful customers and then promoted the concept and the buzz took things from there.

A happy Customer who blogged about his pink bowl experience!

Personally I’d never heard of Just Salad, but that may have something to do with me living in a third-world-country. However, I felt myself wishing I had a pink bowl from this restaurant and I could skip lines for a fresh salad! In fact, I think the TSA should  provide this sort of thing for lines at the airport! I can see it now…” Hey! You can’t cut in the line…Oh, sorry, I didn’t see your pink carry on bag. Come right on in!”

Ok, so that’s dreaming a bit. However, I think Just Salad did a great job of getting their name out there AND rewarding those who have been faithful to their business.

“For the cost of a bowl, shipping, and a free topping, $20? the small business reached thousands of customers and prospects.”

via How to Create Word of Mouth Magic | LinkedIn.

Our Debt: A Fire Out of Control

This is a short essay I wrote while a freshman at college in 1996. Things have gotten worse since then.

Our national debt began like a necessary, comfortable fire but has grown into a blazing inferno that is devouring our resources. Some have said that debt is the price of freedom or a “necessary evil” because that money was needed to kindle the financing of our fledgling nation and our war for independence.
According to Robert Burn’s article, “Born in Hock” in The Kansas City Star on March 1, 1993, our debt began with the Revolutionary War (1775-1783) and by 1789 was at $77 million. That was 38 times larger than our governments yearly revenue! Because of government concern about the debt, they were able to reduce the debt to a mere $38,000 by 1893, even after the costly Civil War.
Since 1893 our nation has increasingly lost consciousness about our financial status. Our debt has increased with each war and even reached the $1 trillion mark in 1981. Looking back we can see that our nation went through two World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam, but the shocking fact is that since 1981 our debt has more than quadrupled and now stands at the enormous amount of $5.2 trillion. The Linn County News of August 28, 1996 quotes our debt at $5,213,488,943,748.22, a nearly incomprehensible number. On a scale where five inches equals $1 billion, $5.2 trillion is more than 2,085 feet away. That is longer than six football fields end to end or $19,629.55 for every man, woman and child in America (based on a population of 263.5 million people)! Continue reading

How to: Banking in Guatemala

Banking outside of your home country can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. With a little help and patience, you can transfer, access and use money anywhere in the world. Especially with online banking, it’s easier than ever to manage your finances from wherever your road takes you. Here are some tips from my experience as a foreigner living and banking in Guatemala.

How to get money from the U.S. to Guatemala

1) You can bring cash with you (Up to US$10,000 can be brought in  with out declaring it.) but then you’ll have to go to the trouble of

keeping it and yourself safe until you can deposit it in a bank or use it. (Note: you’ll need your passport with you to exchange this money into local currency at the bank.

2) You can use an ATM card to withdraw up to your daily limit. Just be sure to notify your bank that you’ll be doing this or they’ll lock your card down like Fort Knox.

3) I recommend that you have a bank account in the U.S. that receives funds for you and then take checks with you to Guatemala. By writing a check to yourself you can deposit money to your account in Guatemala (see more on this below). Continue reading

The Importance of Intercultural Communication Skills

Why Intercultural Communication Skills are Important to Me

I have often heard people say, “The world is getting smaller.” Yes, in a sense it is true more people are coming into contact with different people as travel and communication across the globe increases Since each of us will, no doubt, be coming into contact with someone from a culture different from our own, it is necessary for us to be able to communicate.  If we are unable to communicate with other cultures, we will become completely centered on our own culture and miss out on the blessings and ideas found in other cultures.

Intercultural communication is important to me, not only to gain from other cultures, but so I can understand others better.  Each person I meet has different backgrounds and a culture different from my own.  Whether as part of an occupation or in a friendship, understanding differences in culture helps me to be more understanding and enjoy the value of our different qualities. Continue reading

Carefully newsjacking your way into the public eye

Looking for that news hook? Newsjacking may be exactly what you’re looking for!

Read David Meerman Scott’s book…’cause he wrote the book on Newsjacking! His perspective on connecting news stories with your product or business can be a great way to get yourself in the public eye. Just be careful what news you jack or you could end up with a black eye.
On Nonprofitmarketingguide.com, Kivi Leroux Miller describes how how you can get yourself in the second paragraph of news stories if you learn how to respond quickly to the news of the day!

It works like this: a news story breaks. Journalists are under pressure to update that story for the next edition or broadcast. So while the core of the story (the first paragraph) doesn’t change all that much, the second paragraph does, with additional details or insights or related quotes. That’s your chance to swoop in with something a reporter can use that’s related — but not necessarily essential — to the main story to freshen it up. Then your part of the story gets repeated as other media outlets pick up the story. ~ Miller

Newsjacking can be done by commenting on the newstories and hopefully getting picked up like Remco described in the comments here.

I prefer the idea of having a relevant connection to the story that is interesting enough that it caches the attention of the reporter. It’s OK to use a bit of humor with this as long as you don’t go overboard, You can even newsjack serious stories as long as you keep them in good taste.

Here are some great examples from Scott’s book

I love how the London Fire Brigade newsjacked the story of Kate Winslet saving Richard Branson’s 90-year-old mother from a fire.

Oakley Sunglasses did a great job of newsjacking when they jumped on an opportunity to give glasses to the sun sensitive 33 Chilean miners. They each received Oakley Radar sunglasses to protect their eyes as they exited the mine after their long ordeal below ground.  Estimates say that Oakley garnerd about $41 million in promotions for the $6300 worth of product they donated.

Newsjacking  can be a great way to tie-in your organization to the latest news, but just be wise about how you use this technique. There will eventually be a news story that relates to your organization but it may be one you want to stay away from or at least be really careful how you tie-in to it. For example, if the local pound burns down, announcing your hot dog dinner to raise funds to spay and neuter dogs in the county would be less than advisable.

Have you newsjacked a story? Tell me how you did it in the comments below!

~ M

 

Drop It To Me Tool for Dropbox

Dropbox logo

I like Dropbox.

I can automatically have files backedup on line, share them with specific customers or friends, and still maintain at least a  level of security.

Lately I ran across a need to have a easy way of letting other people send files to me when I headed up a t-shirt design contest. I needed some way for contestants to turn in their entries. That’s when I met dropitto.me, an add on for Dropbox that gives an easy entry point for people to send me files.

dropitto.me

I found dropitto.me and discovered exactly what I was looking for. I can give people my Drop It To Me URL and they can send in their files directly to a folder in my Dropbox. I even get an e-mail notification when files are dropped off!

Ahh! The joys of apps and companion programs that play well together on the internet…for free!!!!

Navigating the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala

We needed a validated copy of our passports from the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala for some our residency paperwork so we can stay in Guatemala longer term.  So we showed up at the U.S Embassy with our passports in hand at about noon on a Monday. Here’s some basic info on the Embassy and lessons we learned there.

HOW TO GET THERE:

The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala is located:

Embajada de los Estados Unidos de América
Avenida Reforma 7-01, Zona 10
Guatemala Ciudad, Guatemala

View Larger Map

 

LESSONS WE LEARNED:

Lesson #1 The office is closed from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

In a modified ally that has a nice cover to shade the crowd that gathers while waiting to get in, we stood in the disheveled line for about an hour and then were kindly ushered in through the security check. (They’ll take any cellphones, cameras, cords, even headphones, flashlights, ipods, etc. that you have with you. You’ll get them back but they don’t let you take them in with you.)\

Embassy Office hours are:

Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. –  5:00 p.m. (but there are exceptions so keep reading)Click for Embassy Contactinfo for the embassy.
Lesson #2 Ask questions.

We didn’t really know how things worked so we asked questions to find out. At security they have the airport style x-ray machine and metal detector. Then you pass through a secure rotating gate. Then we went up the stairs in to the main waiting room. There was a small sign with an arrow pointing to the left indicating that Citizen Services are around the corner (Windows 1-3). We missed this at first and had to ask directions. People at the embassy were helpful though things were slow at times.

Lesson #3 Get there in the morning.

We got there in the afternoon and had to wait 24 hours before we could pick up our validated copies. Had we come in the morning, we could have gotten them the same day.

So, here’s what we discovered: Go to the U.S. Embassy early, get an appointment if you need one:

(Note: You will need an appointment if you’re going for:

  • Reporting the birth abroad of a child of a U.S. citizen
  • First-time passport issuance
  • Renewal of passports for minor children under the age of 16
  • Renewal of passports for applicants who are over 18 years old and whose previous passport was issued before the applicant turned 16 years old
  • Replacement of passports issued more than 15 years ago)

Lesson #4 Friday schedules are different

I arrived shortly after 11 a.m. on a Friday to pick up my son’s passport and report of a birth abroad. Turns out that on Fridays they close the American Citizen Services office at 11 and do not open in the afternoon. I had to wait two weeks until I was back in the capital to take the 5 minutes it took to pick up the paperwork.

Lesson learned: Get there early.

—————————

Comment below and share your experience and how you navigated the U.S. Embassy!

Finding a car in Guatemala

While there are hundreds of car lots all over Guatemala, if you’re in the business of buying a car you may want to check out the vehicles that are for sale at GPautos.com.

This web site gives you online access to thousands of vehicles in a searchable layout. You can pick from cars, pickups, SUVs buses, trucks and even boats from all over the country.

If you’re selling  a vehicle, this site can be a great place to present your vehicle to the rest of the country.

OLX’s logo

You can also buy and sell vehicles at the OLX site here. Many vehicles are available and you might find better prices on OLX than on GPautos.

Continue reading

Cafe Baviera, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Cafe Baviera Logo

Cafe Baviera is a quiet cafe/restaurant with several locations to choose from in Xela / Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Known for it’s European feel, cafe, and casual feel, Baviera is also the home of some great sandwiches, specialty coffee drinks and some very smooth banana shakes. Their cakes and desserts are also very refreshing to he traveler’s taste buds.

Interior at Baviera Cafe I

Often frequented by expatriates and featured in Lonely Planet, Baviera I is a great place to quietly study or strike up a conversation or discuss this city’s unique history and stories. Although, you have to be careful where you sit. If you want to study your Spanish, the upper couches are a bit more private than the lower couches. We were sitting on the lower couches when we ended up in lengthy English conversations with other expatriates when we were really there to study.

The frames of Baviera Cafe I

The downtown location (in Zona 1) has an eclectic feel with walls plastered with framed photos, posters and more depicting Guatemalan history and international imagery. Decorations also include many old memoribilia, cameras, metal banks, car parts and nostalgic radios.

Baviera Cafe II (in Zona 3) has a beautiful courtyard with seating for guests. We enjoyed taking guests to this location. It doesn’t look like much on the outside, but like many buildings in Guatemala, the exterior seldom hints at the treasure within. This location was converted from a house into a restaurant. The conversion really turned out nice.

Prices for sandwiches, crepes and salads are in the Q20-30 range and my favorite shake is Q20.

Continue reading

Online donation options for non-profits

Several online payment services offer many useful tools for businesses and for non-profit organizations too!

As e-commerce becomes more and more common and is embraced by many as the norm. It is not time to sit back and wait for people to send checks to your organization. When it comes to fundraising, it is time to take that same ease of payments that for-profit organizations use and bring it into the non-profit world. Put online giving within easy reach of donors. Here’s a breakdown on three options for online donations.

Thanks to PayPal,  Amazon.com, and other sources like Facebook’s FundRazr App non-profits have the ability to collect individual donations or even schedule ongoing gifts with tools that e-consumers are already familiar with.

PAYPAL

PayPal Donate Button

PayPal Donate Button

PayPal offers several options that give non-profit organizations the ability to accept donations in a simple way that consumers are already use to using PayPal accounts or credit cards. See a guide on how to setup online donations on PayPal.

FEATURES:

PayPal features include:

  • Configure buttons and copy HTML code for use on your website or HTML websites
  • Enable one-time donations at donor-determined amounts,
  • Schedule regular online giving at pre-determined amounts and cycles
  • Management of funds
  • Auto receipt
  • Optional info collection for followup

DONATION ACCEPTED:

PayPal accepts donations from people with or without PayPal accounts through:

  • PayPal Account transfers
  • Credit Card Processing

COST?

With PayPal’s fee structure  you receive a discount if you verify your 501(c) 3 status. The regular rate is 2.9% + $0.30 but while the non-profit rate is just a wee bit less:

YOUR MONTHLY
DONATIONS
YOUR FEE PER
TRANSACTION
EXAMPLES
$0 to $100,000 2.2% + $0.30 $2.50 fee on a $100 donation
$100,000+ 1.9% + $0.30 $2.20 fee on a $100 donation

AMAZON.COM

Amazon Payments Logo

Amazon.com offers a similar non-profit donation plan. Amazon’s no start-up cost option  includes the ability to configure your own donation buttons (to be posted on your site or in your html e-mails).  Amazon also provides flexibility to set fixed, minimum, or donor-determined donation amounts along with scheduling ongoing gifts.

Donors will have to either open an Amazon Payments account or have one already to use this service.

Amazon supports giving through:

  • Credit Cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, Diners Club, and JCB).
  • Bank Account debits (only supported by Amazon FPS)
  • Amazon Payments balance (only supported by Amazon Simple Pay and Amazon FPS)

Cost?

Amazon charges no start-up fees, but neither do the other options listed here so that’s no big deal. The key is to compare per-payment charges. At Amazon they’re pretty similar to PayPal:

  • For credit card transactions >= $10: 2.9% + $0.30 for credit card
  • For transactions < $10: 5.0% + $0.05 for credit card

I couldn’t find good info on their charges for non-credit card transactions, but they provide a pretty good FAQ page.

FundRazr

FundRazr provides a unique option of embedding your giving links into Facebook and providing goal-oriented giving with on the fly followup charts so donors can see how the donation project is progressing.

I like this idea, but have found it to take some work to setup (though recent reviews say it’s easy now!). Still with the popularity of Facebook this could reach a lot of people on the social network.

Payment sources?

  • Credit Card
  • Debit Card
  • Paypal Account

Cost?

Recipients pay a fee of 4.9% + $0.30 on every payment. The fee includes all PayPal transaction fees. This is higher than either Amazon Payments or PayPal’s regular service, but the ability to integrate with Facebook is really attractive even at nearly 5% in fees per payment.

Conclusion

I like PayPal but it doesn’t hurt to have several options as long as they’re displayed in a user-friendly way.  In unofficial numbers PayPal had more than 153 million accounts worldwide in 2008.  Amazon has about 615 million and Facebook has over 500 million users. That puts Amazon in the lead with users by evaluating your audience may be a good idea if you just want to use one service instead of all three.

Keep in mind the fees involved. You’ll need to account for these as you keep up on your records since this will be a reduction in the total donation you receive when transferring the donations to your organization.

Do you have a different source that you use for online donations? What’s working well for you?