A Brand New Recipe For Branding

In a recent article, I told the story of when I was a young whippersnapper, attaining classes at what was then and still is called "one of the more famous hotel schools in North America", the marketing professor gave us an interesting, but quite challenging assignment.

We were to find a hospitality business that marketed itself by using the participation of the owner as part of the "distinctiveness" of the business. At the time, this seemed like a most difficult assignment, because in those days, it seemed that not too many people really stood out in this field. At least that what it seemed like to me in my youth. Or maybe it was just that they did not want to either make a fool of themselves. There seemed little need to drive the world to their door. I chose a very different restaurant enclosed within an old 19th century Mansion in this very cosmopolitan city. It was called Julie's Mansion and was owned and operated by a very eccentric, but wonderful showman who knew that he had to differentiate his restaurant from all the rest. He knew that the best way to do that – after the assumption of great food, entertainment and service – was to turn himself into the "brand."

My job, as a young hospitality student, was to watch him carefully and learn as much as I could. One Saturday night I showed up and Julie was trying to 'insert' himself into the home team's pro hockey uniform. It was immediately obvious that Julie had never played hockey. To see a middle-aged man struggling to get into and then have to have me extricate him from the jersey, equipment, elbow pads et al, was hilarious for a young guy like me, who had been on skates and playing the game since age four. He certainly was not afraid to make a fool of himself. When I showed up that night, he had less than no idea what piece of equipment went where, and was struggling with the shin guards. He had got himself all tangled up with what he thought were hip guards, when in fact they were shoulder pads, worn over the shoulders. It was indeed the first time I had ever seen a 'player' wearing shoulder pads, stretched around his butt.

I helped him get 'dressed'. Next came the taping of the hockey stick. This was really hilarious, watching this fellow trying to figure out the right way to tape a hockey stick without making a mess of it and looking foolish to his customers. He had a special plan for that stick.

I taped his stick and now he was ready. He had on his uniform, equipment and helmet, borrowed from one of the local NHL players who were a frequent guest at the mansion. Now, he actually looked like a real NHL hockey player … in black and white running shoes, sans skates!

Then Julie 'flew through' the different alcoves and floors of the restaurant with a big ball of foodservice aluminum foil as his 'puck'. He stick-handled in and out and between tables, took shots with the aluminum ball off the walls, cross-checked his own waiters trying to serve tables, all the while yelling cheers and the phrase made famous' round the world, by Foster Hewitt : "he shoots …. he scores!" All this, at the top of his lungs. Then he had planned for a horn to sound loudly indicating that the 'period of play' in his imaginary 'game' was over. It was now time to go to the dressing room. In a flash, just like an on-stage magician, he quickly disappeared into thin air, hidden in his office.

My face was covered in tears. I could not stop laughing! The restaurant was in an uproar. Guests were laughing so hard … one guy literally fell off his chair. The waiters were laughing, the guests were laughing, I was laughing and all the while Julie was having a ball too. Here was a restaurateur who made his work fun.

I had not met one of these types before. I really liked and respected this fellow. But I figured then, and still today, that anyone who had that much fun … and made that much money … must know something the others did not. And he did. He became his own brand. 'Distinctive. 'Differentiated. 'There is attractive to people who are sick of seeing the same old, same old every day. People are attracted to differences not similarities. Take a look at what you can do with yours. It's right under your own nose.

© Copyright, Roy W. MacNaughton, 2006

What Makes a Fine Wedding Portrait?

Your wedding is bound to be one of the most memorable days in your life. Even when the privilege of having a portrait made was reserved only for the very wealthy, people often did their best to have some sort of reminder of their big day, even if it was a simple daguerreotype, sketch or miniature. Today, couples are far luckier. They can have a wedding portrait made quite easily, and even have it customized to suit their fancy.

Having a wedding portrait painted in oil is one great way to ensure that your wedding is immortalized in a medium that is more lasting than paper. It is also an excellent piece of interior decor that you will be proud to display in your living room for many years to come.

But what exactly are the ingredients for a fine wedding portrait? The answer, of course, can simply be a matter of personal taste. It often depends heavily on how the couple perceives themselves. For some people who have no-fuss, happy-go-lucky personalities, a good portrait painting can be one that shows them in a relaxed, casual pose that is imbued with a little humor.

Meanwhile, some couples would prefer a wedding portrait painting that is more classic and formal. This is a sensible option, because people do not stay twenty-five forever. The day is bound to come when you're older and more serious, and when it does, a formal portrait makes a better display piece than a casual one.

Whether you prefer a casual wedding portrait or a formal one however, a good portrait painting should tell a story about who you are as a couple as well as be a faithful likeness of you and your partner. It is always a good idea to make sure that your artist documents your clothes, jewelery and flowers. This is especially important if you're wearing family heirlooms or designer pieces. Of course, the artist should also be able to capture the looks on your faces – these expressions are priceless reflections of the pride and joy you and your partner feel at finally being committed to each other for the rest of your lives.

A fine wedding portrait painting should also tell a story. The artist can accomplish this by the composition he chooses for your picture, the lighting, the poses and even the props and backgrounds he uses in the picture.

Education Based Marketing

We are a society of information junkies. We thirst for information every single day. When we consider our own buying habits, where do we go? If it is a big item we might go to Consumer Reports or search for information online. We will certainly go to Google or Yahoo and search for whatever it is we want.

One of the very best examples of "Education Based Marketing" is seen at http://www.askthebuilder.com . That web site is packed full of information on the how to's of home improvement. People gravitate to vendors who supply the greatest amount of information.

A Simple Example:

If we were going to buy a pizza and we were standing right in front of two identical pizzerias, side by side, and one of them had a big sign in the window that read: "FREE Pizza Recipe Book," which one we would walk into first? We would probably all be interested in what ingredients are in the pizza and how the pizza is made.

What comes into play here? First of all we probably would never see two pizzerias side by side and we will more than likely NEVER see a pizzeria owner "divulge any secrets." The fact is, not very many people are going to ever try and make a pizza at home and it will certainly never taste the same as it does when you buy if from your favorite pizza vendor. The pizza vendor could have a business card with his web site address taped to the box with instructions on how to claim your free "Pizza Recipe Ebook." Of course there are "More Coupons" inside the ebook.

Many restaurant owners do not have much time to spend online. If the owner just had a printed recipe every week, (with his next week's coupon on the other side) he would create a customer loyalty and a following. All of his customers would look forward to the next recipe and would have to come into the restaurant to get it.

Most of us that have an e-mail address have bought something online or subscribed to an e-mail invitation for "specials" that the vendor offers. When we get their e-mail, all it includes is the items that they are selling and often times it is quickly deleted. If we were to buy something from the local craft store and they asked for our e-mail address and said: "We will be happy to send you the free" how to project of the month, "along with some coupons. up? Most likely we would if we had an interest in crafts. Of course that e-mail is going to include the "Special of the Month!" We might just head right back to the craft store to grab the new set of paint brushes that are on sale.

Yes, we are playing in the digital age. That brings up the power of educational ebook marketing. Ebooks are being made all the time and distributed freely all over the Internet. Along with the free information is an opportunity to purchase the vendor's products or services. Ebooks are easy to make or easy to have made for you. A simple example of ebook marketing is seen at: http://www.investigate.net The vendor gives away a free ebook that is useful for locating unclaimed funds held by the states. In it, there is an opportunity to buy unlimited access to public databases. Someone who uses the ebook can access it over and over without ever buying a thing. However, if that customer ever needs to find someone or find some secret public record, where are they going to go?

The salesman or woman who sells to business owners can be a welcome sight if he or she always shows up armed with some written information or "little known secret" about that particular owner's business or industry. That information is always given freely without any expectation of a sale resulting from it. In addition, if the salesman or woman took the time to send a one page piece of mail to all of his customers every month with the "Idea of ​​the Month" on how to increase sales, (along with a business card) who do you think the business owner would want to buy from?

The mission is simple. Educate your customer every chance you get. Provide the most valuable information you can to your customers. Continue to educate your customer the best way you know how and you will develop a customer loyalty that is worth its weight in gold.

4 Ways to Lose Weight Before and during the Holidays

Here are 4 tips if you are trying to lose weight before or during the holidays.

When the holidays are approaching, you might be worried about how much weight you might gain. Perhaps you started a diet during the summer and are doing well, but now the trips and big holiday dinners are causing concern. Or you lost weight in the spring and now all those July 4th and summer barbecues are looming. Do not worry! You can still lose or maintain your weight through any holiday season.

Drink Only Water

One of the best ways you can lose weight and continue losing even through the holidays is by drinking more water. The majority of what you drink on a daily basis should be water. We have all heard the 8 cup of water a day rule, right? Another recommendation is to drink half your weight in ounces of water each day. Also try to drink a glass of water before and after any other type of drink. So if you are at a holiday party and want a glass of champagne, drink a full glass of water beforehand. You are not allowed another glass of champagne or wine until you have another glass of water. This helps to limit how much alcohol you end up drinking.

Indulge, But Not Too Much

The problem with wanting to indulge during the holidays is that you feel left out if you can not have trees. If you keep denying yourself too much, you might find yourself on Christmas Eve, (or New Year's Eve, or Labor Day weekend), eating everything in sight because you went without for so long. A good way to remedy this is by letting yourself taste everything, but not over-indulging. If you are at Thanksgiving dinner, have a small small portion of each food item, but not a full portion.

Remove 1/3 of Your Meals Immediately

When you are eating out for the holidays, this is another time when you might indulge a little too much. This can make it really hard to lose weight. If you decide to order something that is not as light and fit as it could be, separate your meal immediately. Ask for a to-go container when your food is served. Then take 1/3 of the meal and place it in the container. This decreases how much you end up eating. It also lets the meal last longer.

Top Food With Salsa

Instead of putting cheese, sour cream, or guacamole on top of your food, consider adding some salsa. This adds a lot of seasonings and is extremely low in fat and calories. The majority of salsa is just tomatoes, jalapenos and onions, so there is not much to it.