Advertising – Precious Information Or Vicious Manipulation?

Is advertising the ultimate means to inform and help us in our everyday decision-making or is it just an excessively powerful form of mass deception used by companies to persuade their prospects and customers to buy products and services they do not need? Consumers in the global village are exposed to increasing number of advertisement messages and spending for advertisements is increasing accordingly.

It will not be exaggerated if we conclude that we are ‘soaked in this cultural rain of marketing communications’ through TV, press, cinema, Internet, etc. (Hackley and Kitchen, 1999). But if thirty years ago the marketing communication tools were used mainly as a product-centered tactical means, now the promotional mix, and in particular the advertising is focused on signs and semiotics. Some argue that the marketers’ efforts eventually are “turning the economy into symbol so that it means something to the consumer” (Williamson, cited in Anonymous, Marketing Communications, 2006: 569). One critical consequence is that many of the contemporary advertisements “are selling us ourselves” (ibid.)

The abovementioned process is influenced by the commoditisation of products and blurring of consumer’s own perceptions of the companies’ offering. In order to differentiate and position their products and/or services today’s businesses employ advertising which is sometimes considered not only of bad taste, but also as deliberately intrusive and manipulative. The issue of bad advertising is topical to such extent that organisations like Adbusters have embraced the tactics of subvertising – revealing the real intend behind the modern advertising. The Adbusters magazine editor-in-chief Kalle Lason commented on the corporate image building communication activities of the big companies: “We know that oil companies aren’t really friendly to nature, and tobacco companies don’t really care about ethics” (Arnold, 2001). On the other hand, the “ethics and social responsibility are important determinants of such long-term gains as survival, long-term profitability, and competitiveness of the organization” (Singhapakdi, 1999). Without communications strategy that revolves around ethics and social responsibility the concepts of total quality and customer relationships building become elusive. However, there could be no easy clear-cut ethics formula of marketing communications.

ADVERTISING – PRESCIOUS INFORMATION OR VICIOUS MANIPULATION?

In order to get insights into the consumer perception about the role of advertising we have reviewed a number of articles and conducted four in-depth interviews. A number of research papers reach opposed conclusions. These vary from the ones stating that “the ethicality of a firm’s behavior is an important consideration during the purchase decision” and that consumers “will reward ethical behavior by a willingness to pay higher prices for that firm’s product” (Creyer and Ross Jr., 1997) to others stressing that “although consumers may express a desire to support ethical companies, and punish unethical companies, their actual purchase behaviour often remains unaffected by ethical concerns” and that “price, quality and value outweigh ethical criteria in consumer purchase behaviour” (Carrigan and Attalla, 2001). Focusing on the advertising as the most prominent marketing communication tool we have constructed and conducted an interview consisting of four themes and nine questions. The conceptual frame of this paper is built on these four themes.

THEME I. The Ethics in Advertising

The first theme comprises two introductory questions about the ethics in advertising in general.

I.A. How would you define the ethics in advertising?

The term ethics in business involves “morality, organisational ethics and professional deontology” (Isaac, cited in Bergadaa’, 2007). Every industry has its own guidelines for the ethical requirements. However, the principal four requirements for marketing communications are to be legal, decent, honest and truthful. Unfortunately, in a society where the course of action of the companies is determined by profit targets the use of marketing communications messages “may constitute a form of social pollution through the potentially damaging and unintended effects it may have on consumer decision making” (Hackley and Kitchen, 1999).

One of the interviewed respondents stated that “the most successful companies do no need ethics in their activities because they have built empires.” Another view is that “sooner or later whoever is not ethical will face the negative consequences.”

I.B. What is your perception of the importance of ethics in advertising?

The second question is about the importance of being moral when communicating with/to your target audiences and the way consumers/customers view it. In different research papers we have found quite opposing conclusions. Ethics of business seems to be evaluated either as very important in the decision making process or as not really a serious factor in this process. An example of rather extreme stance is that “disaster awaits any brand that acts cynically” (Odell, 2007).

It may seem obvious that the responsibility should be carried by the advertiser because “his is the key responsibility in keeping advertising clean and decent” (Bernstein, 1951). On the other hand the companies’ actions are defined by the “the canons of social responsibility and good taste” (ibid.). One of the interviewees said:

“The only responsible for giving decent advertising is the one who profits at the end. Company’s profits should not be at the expense of society.”

Another one stated that “our culture and the level of societal awareness determine the good and bad in advertising”.

The increased importance of marketing communications ethics is underscored by the need of applying more dialogical, two-way communications approaches. The “demassification technologies have the potential to facilitate dialogue”, but the “monologic” attitude is still the predominant one (Botan, 1997). Arnold (2001) points out the cases of Monsanto and Esso which had to pay “a price for its [theirs] one-way communications strategy”. In this train of thought we may review ethics in advertisements from two different perspectives as suggested by our respondents and different points of view in the reviewed papers. The first one is that it is imperative to have one common code of ethics imposed by the law. The other affirms the independence and responsibility of every industry for setting its own standards.

THEME II. Which type of regulation should be the leading one in the field of advertising?

The next theme directs the attention towards the regulation system which should be the primary one. Widely accepted opinion is that both self regulation and legal controls should work in synergy. In other words the codes of practice are meant to complement the laws. However, in certain countries there are stronger legal controls over the advertising, e.g. in Scandinavia. On the other hand the industry’s self regulation is preferred in the Anglo-Saxon world. Still, not everyone agrees with the laissez-faire concept.

One of our respondents said:

“I believe governments should impose stricter legal frame and harsher punishment for companies which do not comply with the law.”

Needless to say, the social acceptability varies from one culture/country to another. At the end of the day “good taste or bad is largely a matter of the time, the place, and the individual” (Bernstein, 1951). It would be also probably impossible to set clear-cut detailed rules in the era of Internet and interactive TV. Therefore, both types of regulation should be applied with the ultimate aim of reaching balance between the sacred right of freedom of choice and information and minimizing possible widespread offence. Put differently, the goal is synchronising the “different ethical frameworks” of marketers and “others in society” in order to fill the “ethics gap” (Hunt and Vitell, 2006).

THEME III. Content of Advertisements.

Probably the most controversial issue in the field of marketing communications is the content of advertisements. Nwachukwu et al. (1997) distinguish three areas of interest in terms of ethical judgment of ads: “individual autonomy, consumer sovereignty, and the nature of the product”. The individual autonomy is concerned with advertising to children. Consumer sovereignty deals with the level of knowledge and sophistication of the target audience whereas the ads for harmful products are in the centre of public opinion for a long time. We have added two more perspectives to arrive at five questions in the conducted interviews. The first one concerns the advertisement that imply sense of guilt and praise affluence that in the most cases cannot be achieved and the second one is about advertisements stimulating desire and satisfaction through acquisition of material goods.

III.A. What is your attitude towards the advertisement of harmful products?

A typical example is the advertisement of cigarettes. Nowadays we cannot see slogans like “Camel Agrees with Your Throat” (Chickenhead, accessed 25th September 2007) or “Chesterfield – Packs More Pleasure – Because It’s More Perfectly Packed!” (Chickenhead, accessed 25th September 2007). The general advertisement, sponsorship and other marketing communications means are already prohibited to be used by cigarette producers. Surprisingly, most of the answers of the respondents were not against the cigarettes advertisement. One of the respondents said:

“People are well informed about the consequences of smoking so it is a matter of personal choice.”

As with many other contemporary products the shift in communications messages for cigarettes is oriented towards symbol and image building. The same can be said for the alcohol ads. A well-known example of emotional advertising is the Absolut Vodka campaign. From Absolut Nectar, through Absolut Fantasy to Absolut World the Swedish drink actually aims to be Absolut… Everything.

Advertising of hazardous products is even more harshly criticised when it is aimed at audiences with low individual autonomy, i.e. children. Two main issues in this respect are the manipulation of cigarettes and alcohol as “the rite of passage into adulthood” and the fact that “sales of health-hazardous products (alcohol, cigarettes) develop freely without much disapproval” (Bergadaa, 2007).

III.B. What is your attitude towards the advertisement to children?

Children are not only customers, but also consumers, influencers and users in the family Decision-Making Unit (DMU). Additional difficulty is that they are too impressionable to be deciders in the DMU. At the same time it is not a secret that marketers apply “the same basic strategy of trying to sell the parent through the child’s insistence on the purchase” (Bernstein, 1951). It is not a surprise then that “spending on advertising for children has increased five-fold in the last ten years and two thirds of commercials during child television programs are for food products” (Bergadaa 2007). In the US alone children represent a direct purchases market of $24 billion worth (McNeal cited in Bergadaa, 2007) which certainly is on the top of the agendas of many companies. While exploiting children’s decision-making immaturity advertisers often go too far in dematerialising their products and “teleporting children out of the tangible and into the virtual world of brand names” (Bergadaa 2007). Teenage virtual worlds like Habbo where snack food brands run advertising campaigns are already a fact of life (Goldie, 2007). The imaginative worlds are popular not only online. Hugely successful for creating a fantasy world is Mc Donald’s. The company tops the European list of kids’ advertisers while more than half of the children’s adverts are for junk food.

In some countries there are harsher restrictions to the children advertising.

• “Sweden and Norway do not permit any television advertising to be directed towards children under 12 and no adverts at all are allowed during children’s programmes.
• Australia does not allow advertisements during programmes for pre-school children.
• Austria does not permit advertising during children’s programmes, and in the Flemish region of Belgium no advertising is permitted 5 minutes before or after programmes for children.
• Sponsorship of children’s programmes is not permitted in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden while in Germany and the Netherlands, although it is allowed, it is not used in practice.” (McSpotlight, accessed 20th September 2007).

According to a research by Roberts and Pettigrew (2007) the most frequent themes in children advertising are “grazing, the denigration of core foods, exaggerated health claims, and the implied ability of certain foods to enhance popularity, performance and mood.” But the junk food is not the only reason for parents’ preoccupation. According to a study of Kaiser Family Foundation (Dolliver, 2007) parents are concerned about the amount of advertising of the following products (in order of importance): toys, video games, clothing, alcohol/beer, movies, etc.

The interviewed respondents were unanimous: “The advertising to children should be strictly monitored.” Similar results were obtained in surveys by Rasmussen Reports and Kaiser Family Foundation. Nevertheless, the legal means are just one part of the children’s protection. The other part involves “the decision-making responsibility of parents and teachers” which is “to assist their children in developing a skeptical attitude to the information in advertising” (Bergadaa 2007). The marketers themselves should also be involved in shaping the moral system of our future and “each brand should have its own deontology – a code of practice regarding children – rather than rely on industry codes” (Horgan, 2007).

III.C. Do you think there are many misleading, exaggerating and confusing advertisements. Are many ads promising things that are not possible to achieve?

It will not be exaggerated to state that advertising is in a sense “salesmanship addressed to masses of potential buyers rather than to one buyer at a time” (Bernstein, 1951). Since “salesmanship itself is persuasion” (ibid.) we cannot merely blame advertisers for pursuing their sales goals. However, in the last twenty years or so advertisers have increasingly applied semiotics in their messages and as a consequence ads have begun to function more and more as symbols. One extreme case in this stream of advertising is the creation of idealised image of a person who uses the advertised product. Bishop (2000) draws our attention to two “typical representatives of self-identity image ads” which entice consumers to project the respective images to themselves through use of the products:

- “The Beautiful Woman”;
- “The Sexy Teenagers.

Through setting of such stereotypes advertisers not only mislead the public and exaggerate the effects of products but also provoke low self-esteem in consumers. At the same time they promise results that in most cases are simply impossible to achieve. Instead of promoting “‘glamorous’ anorexic body images” communication messages should use “varied body types” and should drop the idea of the “impossible physical body images” (Bishop, 2000).

To question III.C one of the respondents commented:

“The customers of these products [the ones advertised through thin models] are mostly people who do not have the same physical characteristic. For me, this type of advertising is deliberately aimed at people to make them feel not complete, far from attractive social outsiders.”

However, another interviewed stated that: “every person has his own way of evaluating what is believable and what is misleading. Consumers are enough sophisticated to know what is exaggerated.”

Similarly, Bishop (2000) concludes that “image ads are not false or misleading”, and “whether or not they advocate false values is a matter for subjective reflection.” The author argues that image ads do not interfere with our internal autonomy and if people are misled, it is because they want it. It is all about our free choice of behaviour and no advertisement can modify our desires. Perhaps, the truth lies somewhere in-between the two extreme positions.

III.D. What is your attitude towards advertisement that imply sense of guilt, and praise affluence that in the most cases cannot be achieved?

A more specific case of controversial advertising is the one used to “promote not so much self indulgence as self doubt”; the one that “seeks to create needs, not to fulfill them: to generate new anxieties instead of allaying old ones” (Hackley and Kitchen, 1999). A response of our interviewee reads:

“It is not only a matter of advertising. It has to do with the social inequality and the desire to possess what you can not.”

Hackley and Kitchen (1999) refer to this discrepancy as to “when reality does not match the image of affluence and the result is a subjective feeling of dissonance”. The issue could be elaborated further through the next question.

III.E. Are advertisements stimulating desire and satisfaction through acquisition of material goods moral?

We live in a society which is more or less marked by materialism. Advertisements are often blamed to fuel consumption which is allegedly leading to happiness. The role of promoting satisfaction through acquisition of material goods has become so important that currently the “media products are characterised by relativism, irony, self referentiality and hedonism” (Hackley and Kitchen, 1999). Is the popular saying “those who die with most toys win” really a motivator in consumers’ behavior and could consumption be the cure of emotional dissonance? This seems to be the case provided a brand succeeds to enter in the evoked set of consumer choices. This new “kind of materialism” goes hand in hand with “the emergence of individualism via sheer hedonism along with narcissism and selfishness” (Bergadaa 2007).

THEME IV. Is the quantity of advertisements justified?

IV.A. Do you think there is too much advertising?

An audit of food advertising aimed at children in Australia by Roberts and Pettigrew (2007) revealed that “28.5 hours of children’s television programming sampled contained 950 advertisements.” Actually, we all are being bombarded by ads on TV, Internet, print media, etc. The amount and content of marketing communications messages puts the consumer’s information processing capacity to a test. The exposure to marketing data overload often leads to diluted consumer’s selective perception. Whether our responses are circumscribed by “confusion, existential despair, and loss of moral identity” or we “adapt constructively to the [communications] Leviathan and become intelligent, cynical, streetwise” (Hackley and Kitchen, 1999) is a question open to debate.

Two opposite streams of attitudes were produced in our research. One stance is concerned with the undue quantity of advertisement. The other stream proclaims that “If there is an advertisement, so it is justified by a need.” We agree that the communications overload may indeed have “pervasive effect on the social ecology of the developed world” (Hackley and Kitchen, 1999). If the increasing communication pollution is not managed properly by both legal and industry points of view yet again the advertising will manage “to hoist its foot to its own mouth and kick out a couple of its own front teeth” (Bernstein, 1951).

CONCLUSION

In preparation of this paper we have used qualitative depth interviews in order to get insights for what actual customers opine. We have also substantiated our presentation with references to a number of influential articles in the field of ethics in marketing communications. Generally, our respondents as well as various authors have taken two opposing stances. The first one affirms that ethics in marketing communications matters considerably, whereas the other one downsizes the importance of ethics, thereby stressing the role of other factors in consumer decision-making, i.e. price, brand loyalty, convenience, etc.

Marketers should understand their “responsibility for the emerging portrait of future society” (Bergadaa 2007). Not only there is a need of legal ethical frame but also professional ethical benchmarks and deontology should be in place. One of the main challenges is to avoid creating “a happy customer in the short term”, because “in the long run both consumer and society may suffer as a direct result of the marketer’s actions in ‘satisfying’ the consumer” (Carrigan and Attalla, 2001).

The strength of the advertisement influence exerted on consumers is only one part of the equation. On the other hand we may affirm that consumers are not morally subservient and according to the information process models there is a natural cognitive defense. The communications tools “offer us a theatre of our own imagination” (Hackley and Kitchen, 1999). Consequently, we accept the reality in terms of our own experiences. In this sense marketers do not create reality – they are simply a mirror of the society. We may argue that unfortunately this is not always the case.

Advertising is often deservedly seen as the embodiment of consumer freedom and choice. Notwithstanding this important role, when the choice is “between one candy bar and another, the latest savoury snack or sweetened breakfast cereal or fast food restaurant” (McSpotlight, accessed 20th September 2007) it represents anything else but not an alternative and certainly not a healthy one.

The words of Bernstein (1951), said fifty-six years ago are still very much a question of present interest: “It is not true that if we ‘save advertising, we save all,’ but it seems reasonable to assume that if we do not save advertising, we might lose all.”

Viral Advertising Business Performance

Why use viral advertising strategies in your business marketing efforts.
Using shock therapy to implement an online advertising campaign for your business.
Using viral advertising in your social media marketing and Facebook Fanpages will excel your results much faster.
Don’t shove your advertising message down their throats, let it go viral naturally.
Present unique and creative advertising campaigns to increase traffic and expose new prospects.
Creating a viral epidemic of buyers is your main business goal with your advertising strategy.
Learning to leverage your advertising budget for sustainable momentum.
Establish a success formula that can be repeated in your business viral advertising over and over again.
Add the most important ingredient to your advertising campaigns and that is creativity.
Be prepared to embrace new technology, software and APPS in your marketing strategy.

1. There is nothing more effective in promoting your message as a good viral advertising campaign. Viral advertising is designed to use the power of many and inspire others to promote your message for you. This is simply “word of mouth” advertising, is amazingly effective. A business owner can start a viral advertising campaign with no money invested, and let the online community spread your message like wildfire. You can now save advertising money that you were spending on newspaper ads, flyers, door hangers, and even TV commercials. Viral advertising is estimated to be 500 and even up to 1000 times more effective that a regular ad campaign.

If you can learn how to express an idea with commitment and dedication that has an emotion attached to it, you will get people’s attention. It doesn’t matter if you are a madman or idiot, even bad press gets good press time. You can’t please everyone but you can get an emotional reaction out of most people, when owning a strong opinion and sharing it. Being neutral in your viral advertising will not bring you in the sales. Have something to say that will impact their life, or at least make them react a bit. Don’t worry about whether or not they love you or hate you, just be confident that your product is worth their attention either way and stay committed to gaining their trust.

2. Get your business noticed by shock marketing, state something completely unexpected that will make them stop and read more. Being dramatic and doing something out of the ordinary with your product gets attention. Are you just marketing advertisements, or are you marketing an extraordinary exiting story about your product. If you Ad is interesting and highlights your product in a subtle way, you will keep people’s attention longer, and get closer to bringing them to the “I want” it stage. Viral advertising is 100% about emotions, so take them by surprise and do something totally unexpected.

3. Set Up Exciting Viral Content in Parts and then sequels, where the viral advertising message continues.

Ever hear of Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 – once you create Part 1 they start looking for where do I find Part 2 as they want to know the end of the story or the end of the feature comparison prompting them to purchase your product. Make sure you keep their attention once you have it by providing a “Call To Action”. Sell them on the value of why they need your widget, gadget or useful product then introduce an offer they can’t refuse to purchase the product.

The next step is to motivate them to share your awesome and exciting presentation with another associate. This is the meat and potatoes of viral advertising, present information that is so interesting and unique that everyone wants to tell someone else what they read, heard or saw. Set up your “Shock Wave” content so that others can download and then embed it into their own blog or email to others. Upload a short video series on all your advertising “bloopers”, or business bloopers, maybe trying to put together a piece of furniture or equipment and getting it all wrong the first time. Then provide another “Call To Action” using your Facebook Fanpage that they can “Like”, along with the other top social media sharing sites.

4. It is not surprising to hear that many consumers feel jaded when it comes to online shopping. Nobody wants products shoved down their throats through mass advertising methods and using hard sell marketing. If you want to get the consumers attention in this fast paced modern world, you need to be unique and most importantly interesting. Smart consumers are quickly distracted from boring content and they will turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to your viral advertising message.

A proven and trusted method of advertising and marketing that get results is viral advertising, and fortunately for the marketer new software developments can make all the difference. Your personal recommendation is still stronger than any other form of advertising on the planet period! People trust people, and with smart phones using text messaging by the second, and social media sites getting posted on every event of the day, if you have presented your product offer in a way that makes them remember you, you have one half the battle.

5. By fulfilling some unique marketing strategies you remove your business from the mainstream humdrum advertising practices. It’s a known fact that many people feel frustrated with the usual conventional way many businesses sell their products. Don’t let your business fall into this pitiful trap of no return. Step to the plate and be the one who stands out in the crowd, who motivates prospects to burn blisters on their fingers, texting about your great buy of the day.

Business owners are becoming much more conscious of profits and losses due to advertising decisions they have made, and it’s impact on their ROI (return of investment). So the questions comes forth “can we affect people from the inside, from their emotional self and not just from the mind”? So is viral advertising becoming not only the new trend but the must have trend to succeed online. It is our ability to influence the mass public at large that creates successful viral advertising campaigns. Ads that influence the behavior of the viewer in such a ways that they are motivated to share their exciting experience is the purest testament of what viral advertising is all about. If enough of their friends and contact embraces their excitement over what they have been exposed to the viral advertising cycle begins to circulate.

6. Your ultimate goal of course would be to create an viral advertising campaign that causes a behavioral epidemic of buyers. An infectious viral result where everyone wants to be able to say “Yes I Saw That”, or “Yes I heard about that”, or “Yes I watched that”, so that they appear to be in the loop with the latest and newest hot selling protégé. Some marketers prey on the idea of owning a “Secret”, something so special that only a few get access to it. It then becomes an obsession everyone wants to know the secret and will go to any length to get access to it. If you can only offer medium media exposure of your product, then relying on these viral advertising methods becomes essential.

So is your goal to place an advertisement that is seen by 10 who tell one person each, becomes 20 who tell one person becomes 40 and so on. Or do you want real viral advertising success where you place your viral advertisement and get 100 who tell 10, who tell 10 who tell 10. So who is in control here, the business marketing manager of course, the one who decides how the advertising budget is allocated. Is he reserved and old fashioned, or is he brave and uninhibited and adventurous. It is an knows fact that Viral Advertising does in fact work very effectively, and it is the business owners goal to seek out a reliable viral advertising business source.

7. Once your viral advertising campaign has become viralized, it is proof that you have found a suitable target market audience for your product. Once this is identified, you can leverage your viral advertising budget maintaining a perpetual cycle and not a static ad campaign. In order to always be able to identify your most effective viral advertising campaign, it is important to use proven methodologies with specific tracking measures built right in.

8. So does your business have an “Online Viral Advertising Formula”? Is your business aiming high for thousands of hits, a true testament of a successful viral advertising campaign. Marketing consultants know that the more informative your advertising the more persuasive it will be to the consumer. What really makes the consumer decide to purchase your product is based on the content provided in the advertisement more than it’s layout or and whether or not their is something worth sharing, or texting about.

With the ever changing fast moving internet world coming up with a formula for viral advertising is not an easy task. A good rule of thumb is “What motivates you to share a viewed advertisement is different to what motivates you to get out your credit card and finish the purchase.

9. Going back to our conversation about emotions, if you can make someone laugh or gasp or look in disbelief to what they are viewing your chances are the best that they will share that experience with their friends, associates, and followers on social media sites.

The magic of every successful viral advertising campaign begins with a great unique idea. The one main ingredient in all online successful advertising campaigns is creativity in your graphics, your presentation, your keywords and your identified target market. Training business owners though to give each viral advertising campaign they embark on time to mature, time for the seed to sprout, time for the momentum to build and the rewards to pour in from all their hard work and efforts.

10. Don’t be shy to take advantage of the ever fast changing technology world to benefit your business advertising efforts. Finding a great viral advertising business can be a real game changer for your online advertising results. Most importantly look for a viral advertising business that is free to join, and that uses state of the art software designed to drive your business into the next galaxy.

Viral advertising will always win in the end simply due to the abundant measure of viewing numbers. A strong viral advertising strategy will encourage individuals to share an article, a podcast, a video or simply an online advertisement, resulting in exponential exposure by it’s massive influence.

The rippling effects of one single viral advertising message can literally reach hundreds and even thousands of readers in a few short hours. You can quickly enhance your viral advertising success by offering a free give away product. This “FREE” product can be a small physical product that can be mailed out, or it can be a digital product that is delivered instantly online.

It is a well known fact that “FREE” if the most powerful word a marketer can use in any viral advertising campaign. Often the business owner experiences what can be called delayed gratification when using the “FREE” power word in their viral advertising campaign. Add the common expression “OTO” or One Time Offer” that almost always follows a free give-a-way, and you have a winning combination. First you got their attention, and then you offer them something of such great value, they can’t afford to say “NO” and purchase it while it is so cheaply priced.

Always keep in mind that the whole purpose of engaging in viral advertising methods is to spread an idea, and that idea while it is spreading throughout the internet, actually helps market your niche business or product and is attached to your website.

Have you noticed how business owners have become obsessed with Free exposure in any arena? Too many times marketing campaigns have been thrown together much too fast and may get attention but your product or company does not.

Closing

Peoples attention are so fragile, try designing your viral advertising campaign with a strong viral element built right into it. Getting your media to go viral is not the hardest part of your marketing strategy, the most challenging part is getting your media to produce tangible results that show up in your bank account.

Home Improvement Tips: Ways to Increase the Value of Your Home

Reasons for A RedoHome improvement projects often begin with someone saying, “Wouldn’t it be nice if… ?” usually followed by a wish for a remodelled kitchen or a room addition for space to accommodate every family member’s needs. More often than not, reality and dreams don’t coincide, due to limited funds for realizing the dream, or limits on the available space. The trick: turning your dreams into reality. Begin with a realistic evaluation of your needs. Homeowners usually consider home improvements for one of the following reasons.You may feel the need to update something that is out-of-date. If your kitchen colour scheme was perfect a few decades ago but no longer works, now may a good time to update it.Some home improvement projects grow out of an immediate need to replace broken or inefficient fixtures. If a sink, tub, or toilet needs to be replaced, consider taking advantage of the opportunity to do a makeover on the entire bathroom.If you’re preparing to sell your home, you’ll want to be sure to get top dollar from the sale. That’s great motivation for some home improvement projects.You have decided that staying put and improving your home is a better option than moving.Your family has grown and you need more space.Improving to Move? or Improving to Stay?Evaluate your plans carefully if you’re improving your home to list it for sale. Cutting corners may hurt your prospects rather than helping them. But don’t go overboard either. Potential buyers may prefer not to pay for some of the extras, such as a hot tub or pool. You’re better off keeping the changes simple.And remember that buyers who view your home may not share your tastes and may not appreciate the care you took to find just the right shade of green paint for the walls.You’ll find that improving to sell is easier if you can think about it from the prospective buyer’s point of view: What is important to the home buyer? Here are a few remodelling projects buyers are likely to find valuable:Adding or remodelling a bathImproving the kitchenAdding a new roomLandscapingAdding a bedroomAdding or enclosing a garage.If you’re remodelling because you want to stay in your home, you should still avoid over-improving it. You’ll probably want to sell it someday, and even if your house is the best on the block, it may be difficult to convince potential buyers to pay for the things you considered important. And when you consider making improvements, keep in mind the value of other homes in the area. Your home’s value should not be more than 20% above the average, which means that a $10,000 kitchen improvement project well could be a better investment than a $10,000 hot tub, especially if yours will be the only home in the area with a hot tub.Home Maintenance versus Home ImprovementsIt’s unfortunate that some home improvement projects are undertaken because something has broken. Replacing a leaky bathtub may be the first step to a major bath remodeling: since the tub has to be replaced anyway, why not do the whole room?While that might be a legitimate reason to remodel, avoid basing your home improvement projects on immediate needs. You’ll be better off if you minimize problems with proper maintenance. Examine every part of your home at least once a year. Check the roof, the plumbing, electrical wiring, etc. As soon as become aware of a problem, fix it. Making repairs when you’re first aware of them will help you avoid larger expenses later on. Keep in mind that maintenance does not add to the value of your home. Usually repairs are not improvements; they are necessities.Hiring Professionals May Save You Time and MoneyIt should go without saying that home projects can be expensive, so you may be tempted to tackle them yourself as a way to save money. That may be a smart move for small projects. You won’t have to wait for someone to fit your house into their busy schedule, and you can boast about having done the work yourself.But unless you’re very versatile, major home improvements are better left to professionals. If you decide to remodel the kitchen and plan to do the work yourself, will you be able to handle the plumbing, electrical, and carpentry work on your own?. And don’t forget that you’ll need to finish it quickly, because you won’t have a kitchen as long as it’s a “work in process” and eating three meals a day in restaurants could get expensive. Keep in mind, do-it-yourself jobs generally take more time. And you’ll be responsible for getting all the necessary permits and inspections.Hiring people who have the required experience can save you money and time, too. For example, these professionals can help you get a custom look using stock products, and that can be a significant savings. Getting something done right the first time will give you value that lasts for years.To find qualified and dependable home improvement specialists, check with friends, business associates, and neighbours for recommendations. Always get at least three references, and check them out thoroughly. Also check with the local chapter of the Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce. Their numbers can be found in the community services section of your telephone book.Once you’ve located the necessary home improvement specialists, make sure everyone is in agreement about the design, the schedule, and the budget, and get the details down in writing in a signed contract.It’s also wise to check on professional certifications and licenses, where required, and be certain that the contractors you hire are fully insured and bonded. Your town or city Building Department can provide that information. And it’s very important that you make sure contractors carry workers’ compensation insurance: if workers are injured on the job, you won’t be liable if the contractor is covered. Request copies of their insurance certificates. And make sure that either you or your contractor have gotten any necessary permits before the work begins. Contact your local Planning and Zoning Commission for information.Here’s a quick overview of some of the professionals you may need to work with when you remodel your home:Architect: Architects design homes or additions from the foundation to the roof. If your project will require structural changes such as adding or removing walls, or if the design is complex, you will probably need an architect. Since architects may charge an hourly or a flat fee, make sure you get an estimate of the total cost: drawing up the plans for a major remodeling project can take 80 hours or more.Contractor: The contractor oversees the home improvement project, including hiring and supervising workers, getting the necessary permits, making sure inspections are done as needed, and providing insurance for work crews. It’s always a good idea to get proposals from one or more reputable contractors, based on the specific details of your project.Be sure each contractor bids on exactly the same plan so that you can compare their bids more easily. When you’ve chosen a contractor, make sure the contract specifies that you will pay in stages. You’ll usually pay one third when the contract is signed so that the contractor can buy supplies. The number and timing for making the remaining payments will depend on the size of the project. Do not make the final payment until all the work is successfully completed, inspected, and approved.Interior Designers: Interior designers are specialists who will provide advice on furnishings, wall coverings, colors, styles, and more. They help save you time by narrowing your selection, and save money because they usually receive professional discounts from their suppliers. When meeting with an interior designer, be sure to tell them about your personal style and preferences. Expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $150 per hour, or you may be able to negotiate a flat fee of approximately 25% of the total project cost.