Tag Archives: return on investment

ShopTab, Coca Cola's Facebook Store

ShopTab Offers Retail Innovation

Social networking has become the ultimate platform for business development. In order to excel in growth, companies turn to these sites as outlets for promotion and customer feedback. ShopTab, a “Facebook Store” founded by Arizona residents Bret Giles and Jay Feitlinger, allows businesses to conveniently sell their products through the Facebook website.

With thousands of store owners in more than 50 countries, 40 currency options and an impressively low cost, customers use ShopTab as an answer to modern retail strategies.

“Whether you’re a person or a business, if you want to have a transaction, we provide a commerce engine to do that,” says Kevin Gralen, president of ShopTab.

Gralen explains how the product is unique to typical social network investments, as it provides an ROI, or return on investment. ShopTab allows businesses to utilize social media to its fullest potential by providing an outlet for substantial revenue.

Gaining a 40 percent store increase since June 2011, ShopTab proves to be a successful resource for clients looking to expand. With the international growth of Facebook itself, ShopTab has expanded internationally as well.

Whereas a year ago, most of the business was U.S.-centric, this month probably 40 percent will be U.S. and 60 percent will be the rest of the world,” Gralen says.

Aside from the focus on international growth, partnering with other companies has contributed to the success of ShopTab.

“We have a partnership with a company called ProStores, which is owned by eBay,” Gralen says. “Their customers can click a couple of buttons and immediately start a Facebook Store.”

ShopTab receives the most traction through these business strategies. Two additional partners have been signed in the past few weeks, also contributing to the growth of international connections.

Because ShopTab is established through Facebook, Gralen notes the importance of maintaining the social media appeal through blog posts and Twitter. Video content creation is also coming into play, which will demonstrate marketing suggestions for clients. ShopTab is not only for selling, but promoting businesses socially.

Clients experience different results with ShopTab, and Gralen encourages businesses to test the social networking waters before fully committing.

“The ones that get the result are the ones that invest in building their fans and their social presence,” Gralen says.

If your company has yet to establish a fan base, social networking skills and relatively consistent sales, ShopTab might not be useful just yet.

“When they’re socially savvy, they love what we have,” Gralen says.

With that being said, some smaller companies have also excelled through the use of ShopTab. In fact, some case studies have been established to determine the most efficient ways of helping smaller clients.

The success and exponential growth of ShopTab serves as a model for other entrepreneurs interested in reaching their company goals. Gralen encourages others to thoroughly understand their business model before moving forward. Everything from the value of your products to the transaction value for your clients should be considered.

He also stresses the importance of an open mind when starting a business. Take into account customer feedback and suggestions. Much of the ShopTab application has changed due to valuable client input.

Entrepreneurs have great ideas, but customers usually give you the best feedback,” Gralen says.

Based on its own customer feedback, ShopTab will soon establish sales resources for real estate agents and property managers as well.

For more information about ShopTab, please visit www.shoptab.net.

 ShopTab, Barneys New York Facebook Store ShopTab, Coca Cola Facebook Store


Deliver on Your ROI, Business Meetings

Deliver On Your ROI With Proper Business Meeting Practices

With economic recovery plodding along over the past four years, what is giving businesses the biggest return on investment (ROI) with meetings today? We asked five experts in their fields for a thought on what works in the 2011 marketplace.

Delivering on ROI, MPI, Jim Fausel

Jim Fausel, president and COO, meetGCA

“The best business meeting practices from the past, still apply today. To say that meeting ROI initiatives are any fundamentally different detracts from the sole purpose of meetings — to engage others for information sharing, thought-provoking exchanges and reaping productive outcomes. Ten years ago those fundamentals still applied and were the cornerstone of why organizations and people decided to meet. Although we’ve seen many changes in the past several years in terms of technology and the fine-tuning of why meetings occur and the objectives necessary to achieve meeting success, businesses still should realize that focusing on engaging in meetings with their stakeholders is paramount to the bottom-line of the organization. It’s the human connections and the relationships garnered that matter. Whether it’s for a one-on-one business meeting or a conference of many attendees, continuing to provide stimulating content for the attendees will ensure ROI.”

Delivering on ROI, MPI, Tara Thain

Tara Thain, director of sales, SuperShuttle

“In regard to best practices, we keep it simple. We build a relationship with the client or individual traveler to ensure their transportation needs are met. Through technology and social media, we provide information to our customers regarding our reliable services. For groups and conventions, we provide documents to help them determine their transportation needs, such as proposals, service agreements, manifest arrangements. Educate your customer on your services + Provide the appropriate documents and options to your customer = Have their trust and repeat business.”

Delivering on ROI, MPI, Karolyn Kiburz

Karolyn Kiburz, president, Meetings and Concierges Source, LLC

“Formerly, it was evaluating if the guests enjoyed the conference, had a good experience, etc. (Now it’s) measuring the value of education, and how they are implementing it once they return to the workplace. They need to have their time/money translate into dollars for them once they get back to the office. Networking events are also key as so much business is done during that time. It used to be ‘have a cocktail and relax’ events. Now it’s ‘who can I meet to help me in my business and how can I help them’ events.

Pam Williams, meetings development manager, Visit Mesa:

“Providing good service and valuable resources has meant the most to our clients in the past. What’s important today are unique venues that set the stage to deliver savings and ROI. Additionally, we are working on programs to assist in promoting our clients meetings and events through social networking efforts and event landing pages that list opportunities and discounts for their attendees.”

Stephanie Wynn, principal executive, Eventify:

“Prior to 2008, business leaders in the meetings community use to be a little more lenient and flexible with business practices that delivered ROI. I think ROI was more of a goal and something of an after-thought, but since the economic decline, it’s become more of a way of life. Supplier quotes, client pricing, meetings packages, etc., used to be geared towards goodwill or with the thought that if you gave a little in terms of negotiation, it would lead to repeat business or brand loyalty. That’s no longer the case today. Today, suppliers, planners, clients, employees, and employers alike are asking what delivers ROI before planning or servicing even commences. Simply using the same tactic across the board will not work. Each case is unique and needs to be tailored to the organization or client’s needs. Things have become more streamlined, products have been eliminated, packages reduced, incentives have gone away, bare bones is the new norm. I wouldn’t say that today’s practices work — they are only temporary fixes to address the current economic climate.”

[stextbox id=”grey”]For more information on ROI or MPI (Meeting Professionals International), visit www.mpiweb.org.[/stextbox]


Cost-Effective Marketing Materials

5 Tips For Creating Cost-Effective Marketing Materials

Don’t work harder: Market smarter

It’s time for that marketing brochure to be updated or to create a direct mail campaign to generate new business, but you are questioning the expense. Before you even begin, there are key considerations that will help control your costs and create a greater impact.

It is no surprise that the most expensive factor in creating new marketing materials can be the cost of production. But, buyers beware: Reducing production costs is possible if you plan ahead.

A collaborative effort between the designer and the print vendor is key. Graphic designers will always have a vision when creating a project. Your job is to ensure your designer and print representative are in communication during the development process. A knowledgeable print representative should and will ask questions in order to determine options that can ultimately lead to cost-saving.

The List

Optimal results in a direct mail campaign can be attributed to a combination of things – cool eye catching designs, attention grabbing message, strong calls to action – but it all begins with the list. Are the addresses on your list accurate? Are you reaching the right audience?

All too often the mailing list is a last-minute thought pulled together after materials have gone to print. Supplying and processing mailing lists ahead of the print run will help reduce waste by establishing an accurate count number of your actual needs. Investing in a service to thoroughly cleanse your list can remove old records and improve accuracy. The cleaner the list is, the higher your return on investment.


Most innovative printers today are running various projects in combination to help offset costs.  If you are able to provide flexibility regarding paper stock and printing time you can take advantage of an opportunity to print your marketing materials in combination with others. This helps save you money up front by sharing the set-up costs.

Finish The Job

A large portion of the costs incurred producing marketing materials derive from the set-up costs, the materials and the cost of labor or time it takes to put your project together. The more finishing services you can complete in-line, the lower your overall cost. For example, if you need 20,000, 16-page, 8.5 x 11 catalogs, think about sourcing it to a printer that can fold and glue the spine on a web press, opposed to a vendor that can only print flat sheets and then must separately fold and spine staple your catalog off-line.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

In any print project the actual size or dimensions of your piece can have a significant impact on production costs. A larger postcard means less pieces fitting on a page. The more units you are able to fit onto a full-size sheet, the less time your job spends on the press, which results in savings. Additional factors to strongly consider are the postal regulations on each direct mailer.  Reducing a standard 8.5 x 11 catalog to 6 x 10.5 can reduce postage by as much as $0.12 per piece depending on the weight.

The Digital Age

When you are printing a large volume and seeking a high quality finish, more conventional, off-set printing is the method of choice. But, advancements in technology now allow a greater level of customization with digital printing, which is typically best for short runs and quick turnaround times. Digital printing is perfect for a short run, four color, print on demand project, like business cards or postcards.

Managing the production budget of your marketing materials can easily get away from you and significantly increase costs with what appears to be small decisions or choices. Adding things like a fifth color or spot varnishes, choosing an out-of-the-ordinary paper stock, or even adding a small foil stamp can put you over budget.

As a former print production manager, I’ve been tasked with controlling costs on marketing collateral for many years. In looking beyond cost saving practices like size reductions, paper selection and combining production, one particular project comes to mind that is a great example of how planning with your team can save on costs.

The client had a limited budget, but needed 25,000 two-piece pull card window mailers, which traditionally require a great deal of handwork to put together. By involving the bindery supervisor in the design process, we created an automated one-piece mailer, with a zip strip opening and perfed-out windows on both sides. The automation not only saved roughly $3,000, the finished piece was fun and very interactive for the end user.

Whatever the project, it is always best to incorporate unique design elements and strong messaging in order to create effective marketing materials without going overboard on cost.

It all goes back to the importance of planning during the design stage and enlisting the expertise of those involved.

employee perks are often the first thing to go. - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Employees And Employers Are Reaping The Benefits Of Low-Cost Health And Wellness Perks

We’re in a time when it seems the only job benefit that matters is actually having a job. As employers look for ways to cut costs, employee perks are often the first thing to go. As a result, stress increases and morale declines.

However, many local employers are taking advantage of low or no-cost simple wellness programs and finding that they go a long way toward creating a positive culture within their companies. Allowing employees time during their day to escape and rejuvenate leads to a higher level of productivity, a less-stressed work force and improved overall morale in the workplace.

In a time when many people are now wearing more hats than ever — and putting in extra hours — wellness programs offer a very high return on investment. A healthier staff means fewer sick days, lower health insurance costs and increased productivity.

At Shea Homes, on-site yoga is just one of the many low-cost ways the company uses to engage employees and encourage healthy behaviors. Mike McCormack, vice president of human resources for Shea Homes Active Lifestyles Communities, says some of the other programs the company offers include lunch-and-learn sessions, companywide 10,000-step contests, wellness teleseminars and holiday potlucks.

“It’s no secret that our industry has been particularly affected by the economy,” he says. “The little things we’re still able to offer have gone a long way in helping our employees feel appreciated. The positive feedback has been overwhelming and attendance has remained strong among both women and men. We see our wellness programs as having a lasting benefit at Shea Homes.”

At Henkel’s headquarters for Consumer Goods in Scottsdale, employee health and wellness seems to be engineered into the building. A roof garden provides employees a getaway from their work area where they can take in some fresh air, eat lunch, visit with co-workers, or even work. The building also features an on-site fitness center. The yoga room at the Henkel facility is the former IT training room, a conversion made by CEO Brad Casper in response to greater demand for the classes. Henkel also offers weekly hip-hop dance fitness classes and on-site chair massages, both of which are a big hit among the employees.

“The wellness classes also provide a way for people to interact and foster friendships with colleagues that they may have not otherwise connected with and in a different way,” says Natalie Violi, director of corporate communications at Henkel. “We are seeing people in different functions and varied levels of the organization take the classes.”

Nicole Nelson, human resources recruiting manager at Henkel, says, “Henkel fully embraces employee wellness programs as they provide ongoing benefits from an employee and employer standpoint. These programs continue to strengthen employee morale and help bring balance to everyday work-life.”

Now more than ever, employees are thankful for the little things their employers are doing to keep them motivated and offer an outlet for stress. It’s a win-win for everyone. A healthier, happier staff equals a healthier, happier organization.

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North

One Valley Resort Shares Its Side Of The Meetings Controversy Issue

The Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North is synonymous with luxury, indulgence and the utmost in customer service. The property, nestled in the natural desert setting of the Pinnacle Peak foothills, boasts grand casitas, fine dining, breathtaking views of the city below and some of the finest meeting-and-function facilities available.

Just a year or two ago, one may not have said the words “Four Seasons” and “budget friendly” in the same sentence. But things are different today. The current economic climate has dictated changes in nearly every industry, but the meetings industry has been particularly hard hit by the public frenzy over the abuse — both real and perceived — of Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) funds. Companies receiving government bailouts were blasted by the public and the press for continuing to hold meetings and events, even when taxpayer money was not used to foot costs.

The Four Seasons has not been immune to the situation. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, according to the property’s director of marketing, Dave Akin.

“The crystal ball is still cloudy, but we would like to believe that the worst is over,” he says. “We are cautiously optimistic.”

Akin says that due to the TARP backlash, public scrutiny and the political climate, the Four Seasons saw quite a few cancellations and a dramatic decline in its booking pace starting in the fall of 2008 through the beginning of this year. But he adds that the situation has “stabilized a bit.”

For Akin, the bottom line is that “meetings matter” and they need to continue to take place for many important reasons.

“People need to get together to share ideas and for continued education,” he says.

Although the media spotlighted the amount of funds being spent on meetings, Akin says the public was not apprised of the trickle-down effect of those meetings dollars. A meeting can directly impact literally thousands of jobs.

“So many people are dependent on those dollars,” he says. “It is very important that people in and outside of our industry can put a face and a personality with the statistics they are hearing. We want to make sure people aren’t getting confused between luxury and waste.”

The Four Seasons is taking a very proactive approach in an effort to rekindle the meetings momentum, and in doing so is receiving support from the Arizona Sunbelt Chapter of Meeting Professionals International.

The resort’s partnership with MPI has resulted in some very successful endeavors. Akin says the membership database is a very useful tool for reaching out to individuals and sharing thoughts.

“MPI is very good to work with,” he adds.

The Four Seasons and MPI have co-hosted several events, including meeting planners’ World Educational Conference (WEC), where the property was given the opportunity to showcase itself.

“We are taking a collaborative approach to educate people and help them understand the purpose and benefits of meetings,” Akin says. “We need to clear up the misunderstandings so everyone will be better off in the long run.”

To this end, the Four Seasons has received advice from the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) on how to show potential clients and guests the true value, worth and return on investment of conferences. AZ Business Magazine cover October 2009Akin hopes these efforts will help shift the focus back to why meetings are so beneficial, as well as some of the important issues that MPI promotes, including green meetings and social awareness.

“We want to move those topics back to the forefront,” he says.

Meanwhile, Akin insists that while there are certainly specials and values for both business and pleasure travelers to take advantage of at the Four Seasons right now, one thing has not changed.

“We are a company that prides itself on our customer service,” he says. “We are not changing our standards or cutting corners during these challenging times. Our focus is always on taking care of our clients.”


Antigua map

The ACULA Formed A Partnership To Help Peer Credit Unions In Antigua

Arizona credit unions are reaching out to professional colleagues in the former British colony of Antigua, offering instruction, training and guidance to help credit unions on the tiny Caribbean island expand and modernize.

Working through the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU), the Arizona Credit Union League & Affiliates has established a partnership with the Credit Union League of Antigua. The term partnership indicates joint interests and benefits, and that’s the nexus of what the industry calls its financial cooperative concept.

Credit union experts from Arizona have traveled to Antigua, which is in the eastern Caribbean north of the equator, to share ideas and strategies for improving services to their members and becoming more sophisticated in the making of loans.

Antigua has an estimated population of 85,000 and was granted its independence in 1981. The largest of the English-speaking Leeward Islands, Antigua is about 14 miles long and 11 miles wide. The island has a handful of credit unions, the largest of which has assets of approximately $24 million, compared to one of Arizona’s largest, the Arizona State Credit Union, with assets of $1.1 billion.

Scott Earl, president and CEO of the ACULA, says the partnership was formed last year to enable Antigua credit unions to see what drives the industry in the United States.

“Typically, partnerships are established with developing countries,” Earl says. “It goes both ways. We send folks to Antigua who did some training there, and they have come up here. We learn from them as well, focusing on the roots of providing services to our members. The exchange helps rejuvenate our industry as well.”

Robin Romano, certified chief executive and CEO of MariSol Federal Credit Union, recalls a trip to Antigua last year. The focus was on bringing Antigua’s credit unions up to today’s standards.

“No matter what country you are in, credit unions pretty much operate in the same basics,” Romano says. “Members are members, and uniformity is comforting. Since Antigua got its independence, credit unions have been trying to improve their regulations and become a little more modern. When I say modern, I don’t mean technology. Most of them are computerized. But, they operate similarly to the way credit unions here did 30 years ago.”

What has changed in the past 30 years? Antigua credit unions were only offering signature or auto loans and savings accounts.

“Many had not ventured into checking accounts, certificates of deposit or money markets,” Romano says. “Few were doing any form of real estate lending.”

Because Antigua has no credit reporting system, much of the training dealt with how to determine the credit-worthiness of potential borrowers.

“We talked about different methodologies,” Romano says. “It’s a small island. You can call around for shared information. We talked about the evaluation of credit to make better decisions. In modern times, more people default. They were having issues with defaults and weren’t quite sure how to handle that. I have expertise in lending and I went to six credit unions, making presentations to staff and board members on how to do things better. We also talked about different collection methods. Collectors there have the same issues we have here. We were able to relate to one another.”

The trip did provide sort of a return on investment for the Arizonans.

“Going back to smaller institutions was a way of refreshing yourself on one-to-one operations,” Romano says. “Somebody comes in and they know that person’s entire life history. That intimate relationship was very rewarding.”

Mary Lee Blommel, a member services consultant for the ACULA for 27 plus years, went to Antigua last year with representatives of three Arizona credit unions. One of the Arizonans visited five Antigua credit unions, conducting sessions onloan underwriting and emphasizing the importance of doing a check with creditors. Another visitor focused on how best to provide services to members.

In addition to the face-to-face exchanges, the league arranges conference calls and Webinars to keep the lines of communication open with Antigua credit unions. Topics have included risk management and asset liability management — making sure they have adequate funds to lend.

“We did a one-hour Webinar on risk management — investment risk, loan risk, and credit union risk in these trying times,” Blommel says. “It went very well. They had the opportunity to ask questions. I could count at least 20 people in that room.”