When it comes to portable trade show displays the most common type on the market today is the pop-up, expandable-frame style; surprisingly it has been around for over 15 years. The first models had a flexible fiberglass frame with aluminum channels bars and rollable fabric that was attached to the framework with magnets. Over the years the basic design has not changed but the materials, sizes and weights have made pop-up displays less expensive and easier to transport to trade shows than ever before.Todays frames expand to larger sizes allowing a full 10-foot wide exhibit to be transported in a relatively small case. Most 10-foot pop-up displays weigh less than 90 pounds in their case; this typically includes the fabric, lights and vertical bars. Pop-ups come in a variety of sizes with a number of different options to give consumers greater flexibility when planning for their trade show booths. Within the industry there are 5 common types: 1. Standard Pop-up Displays 2. Photo Mural Pop-up Displays 3. Fabric Mural Pop-up Displays 4. Commercial Pop-up Displays 5. 3-D Style Pop-up Displays1. Standard Pop-up Displays The most common pop-up available, Standard Pop-ups are generally a 10-foot wide, curved design. They are made up of a light-weight aluminum frame, individual aluminum, PVC or steel channel bars, Velcro fabric panels (Frontrunner or Prelude), and a thermo molded shipping case with wheels. The case can usually be converted into a podium and most pop-up packages also include two 200-watt halogen lights. The price range for the Standard 10-foot, Curved Pop-up runs $995-$2995 depending on the vendor.2. Photo Mural Pop-up Displays This display is just like a Standard Popup but has photo mural panels instead of Velcro fabric panels. Photo murals have a greater appeal as they have powerful large-format graphics that attract attention. Photo Mural Pop-ups are more expensive because of the photo panels, but still are just as lightweight and portable as Standard Pop-ups. Be aware, there are many types of panel printing offered for this type of pop-up which will change the price dramatically, from the most expensive DURST LAMBDA to inexpensive ink-jet processes. Prices run from $2195-$5995 depending on the vendor and the print process selected.3. Fabric Mural Pop-up Displays A Fabric Mural Pop-up display offers the large images of a Photo Mural Pop-up without the cumbersome set up procedure. The fabric mural is pre-attached to the frame, making set-up much easier than the Standard or Photo Mural Pop-up and they weigh less than half of what a Standard 10-foot Pop-up weighs. The fabric usually gets wrinkled during transport but this can be remedied by stretching and steaming. This pop-up comes curved or non-curved and can be transported in a lightweight nylon bag or a hard shipping case. The print process needed for Fabric Mural Pop-ups is important as they are generally viewed as a lower quality graphic than what is found on Standard Pop-ups but this is not always the case depending on the vendor. Prices for these pre-attached models with fabric faces run $1695-$4995, depending on the vendor and print process chosen.4. Commercial Pop-up Displays Less common because they are more expensive, Commercial Pop-ups come in different shapesstraight or curvedand in many widths. This display is built to be sturdier and can take far more abuse than the standard pop-up making it a good choice for companies that travel and exhibit often. There are only a few brands that may be labeled "commercial" as the tendency in the marketplace has been to make pop-up exhibits lighter and less expensive to own. Commercial pop-up displays typically include a heavy weight frame with nylon connectors, folding steel channel bars, Velcro panels (Frontrunner or Prelude), and the choice of 1 or 2 thermo molded shipping cases with wheels. Prices generally run $1795-$3495 depending on the vendor.5. 3-D Style Pop-up Displays These are the newest entries to the pop-up market; essentially, they are the fabric style, pre-attached, graphic pop-up with a twist. 3-D Pop-ups come in different shapes, from square to round and even trapezoidal, and have graphics attached to the framework to give a three dimensional effect. Because the graphics are already on the frame, set up of a 3-D Pop-up is simple and quick. The graphics are also easily removable and replaceable making updating the display less costly than creating a new display. 3-D pop-up display prices run $995-$8995 depending on the shape, numbers of graphics and print process used.As you can see, there are a lot of choices and many things to consider when selecting a pop-up display system. What is most important to keep in mind is how often you will be using the display. This will help you decide how durable you need the pop-up display to be, how easy it should be to set up and how lightweight it should be for transporting from trade show to trade show.
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About 95% of what executives in competing companies do is pretty much the same all around. This is good management. If you are CEO'ing a wireless communication services provider, you strive to put up an advanced technological infrastructure with a promising future, cool end-user phones, other devices and accessories, a great service system and competitive prices. Well, this is precisely where your competitors put their efforts as well. The 5% (give or take) that you do differently constitutes your strategy. The CEO of Southwest Airlines, the revolutionary domestic American airline, most of the time does exactly what her colleagues do. But her firm offers Ticketless travel, and serves meals in the airport during waits, and not on the plane.Doing well what you are supposed to be doing - is a prerequisite for competing. It is definitely not a strategy. Being better - is a deserving effort, yet it is not a strategy either, especially not in the long run. How, then, are you supposed to compete? Well, you could offer your clients more than what your competition offers, for a higher price, for the same price, for a lower price, or - offer them less value for a lower price. All of these options can give you an edge, but usually not for long. You could also offer something different than what your competition does. You can cater to a need not formerly satisfied by your category. Nokia, for example, did just that when it decided to treat cellphones as fashion accessories and later as entertainment devices. Even this approach could not be considered as an insurance policy. There are no insurance policies in the world of business. But, if it is difficult or impossible to imitate, or it is something not likely to be imitated by your competition - then you might just have created for yourself a mini-monopoly of your own. Well, this is surely an accomplishment that should not be underestimated in a competitive market.So, what really is a strategy? By definition, a strategy is the way by which you are planning to obtain your goals. In a competitive environment, your goal is that the consumer will prefer you to your competition. That is why the strategy is, in fact, the way by which you plan to achieve an advantage over your rivals - in the eyes of your consumers. Almost always, preference can be achieved only by differentiation, by either doing something other than what your competitors are doing or by doing things in a markedly dissimilar manner. There are three types of differentiations and only one of them constitutes a strategy (or strategic differentiation). The transient differentiation is often achieved by promotional activities, such as a big sale. The circumstantial differentiation consists of things like a historical monopoly, or some kind of personal connection between the consumer and someone in the firm, or a convenient store location etc'. However, the differentiation we want to focus on is the strategic differentiation, such that provides a long lasting, circumstance-crossing advantage. Is differentiation absolutely necessary? In any case where the consumer must choose between options - the answer is definitely yes. Why? Because the consumer chooses between alternatives on the basis of the differences as he or she perceives. Zoom-in on that sentence for a second. Do not fall into the most common trap of all: the consumer makes choices according to his perception of differences between alternatives, and not on the basis of what he values most in a product of that kind. Competitive strategy is always a simultaneous answer to two questions. The first one is: in which consumer group do you identify a potential for buying your product? By 'group' I do not mean necessarily shared socio-economic and demographic characteristics or even a similarity in personality or life style. What I mean is that they have in common some factor, enabling you to make them an offer, which will be more attractive to them than the options they already have, or at least a refreshingly new one. The second question is: what could you offer them that would help you realize that potential? The goal is not to reach a consensus, nor is it to be OK by everyone. Experience has taught us that the key is to make a specific group of consumers, even a small one, think that you are irreplaceable. They will act as your success engine, even amongst consumers who are not as definite in their attitudes. BMW fans do not believe that Mercedes is a bad car; it's just that it is not a BMW. For them, Mercedes is simply incomparable to BMW. That's how Apple fans feel about IBM.What has all this to do with branding? A brand is the consumer's anticipation for a unique and defined experience, or for a certain unique benefit obtainable solely through consuming/owning a specific product/service manufactured/offered by a specific company. Thus, the anticipation from a trip to Paris would be to experience a romantic vacation. The anticipation from Ikea would be "state of the art design at a reasonable price". It is fair to say that a brand is really a brand only when there exists, among its consumers, such anticipation. If this anticipation is both exclusive and attractive, you might say that it is a strong brand. A familiar name or logo - do not suffice to make for a strong brand.This consumer anticipation is evoked and upheld by the marketer's consistent execution of a business concept providing the consumer with a unique benefit or with a unique/novel way to deliver a benefit. This concept is the brand strategy, its promise and its commitment to its target consumers. The "third place", the neighborhood place you frequent in between work and home offered by Starbucks - is a brand strategy. But, wait a minute! It is also the differentiation - the competitive strategy itself! These ARE the 5% that executives do differently in order to gain an advantage. This is why the brand IS the strategy. Or more accurately, the brand strategy is the translation of the competitive strategy into a language of promises made to the consumer.The brand's role in the realm of marketing has changed dramatically during the past decade. Today, brand building no longer constitutes a mere manipulation of the consumer's perceptions and desires, but it is a creation of a system that on the one-hand makes promises and arouses anticipations, while on the other-hand it delivers and realizes the promises that it makes.
In part one of this article we will look in depth at a relatively new wrinkle in marketing for law firms known as attorney-client matching services. Part one focuses on the facts about these firms. Part two gives you my conclusions and recommendations as a result of my research. First a little background is in order. The legal services market segment is expected to reach $82.5 billion in 2008 according to Euromonitor International a market intelligence firm. In recent history consumers have been finding attorneys through word-of mouth or through the yellow pages. Often the word-of mouth advice does not deliver people to the best possible solution for their particular needs and the yellow pages is certainly not a great place to select a lawyer I am sure you would agree. Additionally, according to the Pew Internet & American Life over four million consumers and small businesses currently search for legal services via the Internet every month with these numbers expected to rise to over seven million by 2007. I think you can see this is a huge market getting larger. It is imperative that attorneys understand this marketplace if for no other reason your potential clients and clients are moving to the Internet and yellow page advertising is a dying "marketing for law firms" vehicle. Understanding attorney-client matching services is one new way to tap into this Internet marketplace.What I will not be talking about here is attorney-listing services. Please dont get confused between attorney-listing services and attorney-client matching services. The two majors in the attorney-listing services arena are Lawyers dot com or FindLaw dot com that are used by many in marketing for law firms. With attorney marketing one might want to get a minimal listing on one or both of these two major sites. Both do drive a large amount of traffic to their sites for sure (in the millions of visitors per year). If you do get a listing then track your results carefully and see if being in the middle of a pack of listed attorneys actually does produce clients for you. Please dont spend more on them than the basic listing that will run about $150 or so per month, at least until you can document results with the basic listing. Also, dont buy your website through either of them, even if after testing you find good results, for many reasons that can be found under the Internet marketing tab on my website. One last note here, you probably dont want to test most of the lesser attorney-listing competitors like LawInfo dot com, LawCore dot com or AttorneyFind dot com is my take, however if you do be sure to track your results. The rest of this article is about attorney-client matching services.Attorney Marketing Via Five Attorney-Client Matching PlayersIn the attorney-client matching field there are five competitors for the "attorney marketing" dollar offering online attorney-client matching services. The first and originator is LegalMatch dot com and its newer competitor being CasePost dot com as well as a third competitor LegalFish dot com. The two big players that offer almost everything in attorney marketing, Lawyers dot com and FindLaw dot com; have also recently begun to offer a version of attorney-client matching services. Lets begin with LegalMatch that was established in 1999 and is based in San Francisco. LegalMatch uses a double blind matching system. By double blind they mean the consumer does not see identifying information about who the lawyers are and the lawyer does not see identifying information about who the consumers are although all the cards are put on the table for both to see before any contact is made between them. Through an allocation model LegalMatch makes the decision about which lawyers get the consumers information. Consumers can opt into priority service for a fee to talk with a LegalMatch staff attorney about their case and work with that attorney in selecting the attorney for their case. LegalMatch does have partnerships with the Utah State Bar Association, ATLA and NACDL. Membership fees for this marketing for law firms vehicle run from $2,500 to $25,000 per year (they will finance the membership fee if desired) depending on practice area and geographic location of the attorney. For example, a PI attorney in Los Angeles would likely be charged more than a family law attorney in Los Angeles, while the family lawyer in Peoria is likely to pay less than the family law attorney in Los Angeles. Their guarantee consists of extending your membership at no fee until your revenues have exceeded the fee you paid them. The details of the guarantee are available on their website.Are There Legal Marketing Ethics Issues with Attorney-Client Matching?A relevant digression here, since this model is not a lawyer referral program, a pre-paid legal service plan, a joint or cooperative advertising or a directory listing service it is not subject to ethics rules around much of marketing for law firms it has been asserted. Recently the Professional Ethics Committee of the Texas State Bar was looking into these practices and that committee received a seven-page letter (May 26, 2006) from the FTC that was agreed to by a unanimous vote of the FTC commission members that this attorney marketing practice is indeed ethical.Already the states of North Carolina and South Carolina found the practice ethical. The Rhode Island Supreme Court specifically named in an ethics opinion that online matching services are ethical. Finally, the Utah State Bar (a mandatory bar) has retained LegalMatch as their lawyer referral service clearly indicating their thinking about LegalMatchs ethical nature it seems to me. Naturally you do need to check with your state bar to be sure this is an ethical practice in your state. Now back to the options in the marketplace.CasePost, based in Southern California, was established in 2002 is a second player in this area of marketing for law firms. They operate in a similar fashion as LegalMatch in matching clients with lawyers; however, the directory of attorneys is shown to the consumer immediately. The consumer can decide whether they want to remain anonymous or give their contact information to the attorneys. The consumer is limited to four attorney responses. Thus the consumer determines what attorneys will get their information. In May of 2006 CasePost has made a major expansion as a result of their partnership with HandelOnTheLaw dot com that is powered by a successful nationally syndicated radio show on over 120 stations with attorney Bill Handel. This show has been running since 1985. They also have a strategic relationship with LegalZoom dot com that began in 2006 that has increased their reach. Like LegalMatch the membership fees for this attorney marketing vehicle are from $2,500 to $25,000 per year (financing is available if desired) depending on practice area and location. Their guarantee to a member is based on a minimum amount of referrals over the year.LegalFish is a third player in this arena. It entered the marketplace in 2003 and is based in Chicago. It is a bit different than the other two in a few ways. Like the other players the consumer can input their information and post their cases to the site as well give their identifying information or not. In a number of cases LegalFish will contact the posting consumer themselves by telephone or email to delve deeper into the needs of the consumer so they are not totally automated. There is an allocation model used by LegalFish in referring the cases to their members. Another difference is LegalFish charges a monthly fee for this marketing for law firms vehicle ranging from $180 to $750 to members that are non-contingency based practices. For contingency based practices the fee ranges from $1600 to $5000+ monthly only if the client retains the attorney. If LegalFish does not deliver a referral to a member that retains that attorney they dont charge a fee to that attorney for the month (a form of a guarantee). Creating something of a shared risk system. Naturally, with this type of shared risk system, long-term success for both parties is based on LegalFishs ability to generate new client opportunities and create demand for legal services, and their member attorneys ability to convert those referrals to paying clients. Both parties have to pull their weight. Finally, LegalFish reports they are particularly committed to serving the solo and small firm market with ten employees or less.The next player in this marketing for law firms arena is Lawyers dot com (mentioned earlier in this article about their directory listing or attorney-listing service) with their new Attorney Match Service. If you go to their homepage what stands out on that homepage is their Find A Lawyer Quick Search. This is their free to the consumer attorney-listing service (this is why you might want to test a listing with them and track results). To get to the Attorney Match Service you have to know to click on Contact Lawyers navigation tab or notice it up there at the very top of the home page. Clicking on that takes you to a page where you input your zip code and the practice area you are seeking, however, it also tells you how many lawyers there are listed that are interested in receiving your request. You are required to fill in the identifying information with other case information. Once you do that you see the attorneys listed and pick the ones you want to send your request to and wait for their replies. The fee for the attorney member is $495 per year, however, you must have a biographical level listing on the site to be on the Attorney Match Service and that is $150 and up per month depending on the size of your firm. There is no guarantee for this service.The final player in this marketing for law firms arena is Thompsons Findlaw (mentioned earlier as an attorney-listing service) with their new attorney-matching website http://www.LegalConnection.com. The FindLaw system is similar to the Lawyers dot com system with three steps of #1 Select your legal need; #2 Tell us about your case; and #3 Choose the attorney thats right for you. It is different from Lawyers dot coms system since they have broken it out of their attorney-listing services completely with its own dedicated website. Their fees generally run from $500 to $1000 per month depending on your practice area and geographic location. They do not have a guarantee. They do report that they do set targets for each geographic area as well as practice combination and then will manage their marketing to get positive results for attorneys.Well, now we have all the players in this particular niche of attorney advertising with a lot of information. I think it would be imperative for me to mention one more item. Both Legal Match and CasePost have negative information on the Internet and it needs to be considered. If you go to Google and search just the term LegalMatch and then do the same with CasePost you will be able to find details about the negative information. One location that covers the negative information on LegalMatch with relevant links is at Wikipedia dot org (go to the site and look up LegalMatch) although that is disputed as not being sufficiently neutral in tone, which is one of Wikipedias requirements. If you want to see a string of negative information on CasePost go to: http://counsel.net/chatboards/marketing/topic111/6.23.04.11.34.29.html . I am not sure one needs to be overly concerned about this information since it is mostly in the past and you need to consider it.See Part II of this article for my conclusions and recommendations as a result of my research. I can tell you now that this approach does have some merit but there are definite cautions as well so do read Part II.
You are a marketing professional. If you were to answer few questions, will you be able to? Let me ask you. What is the birthday of your top ten buyers? What is the date of their wedding anniversary? How many children do they have and what are their birthdays. What do they like and what do they hate? Are they deeply religious? Which is their favorite restaurant? I can as k you few more questions like these, but I feel that you are getting what I am trying to say.In this race of getting orders, who will win? One who knows more about his/her buyer than others? One who knows how to relate to the buyer at a personal level and one whom the buyer will slowly begin treating like a family friend. For achieving that, you must know about your buyer and make use of that information to increase your good will. Let me tell you how you can do it with ecards very easily.Occasions when you can send ecards to buyers - Birthdays of your buyer, his/her spouse and the children is one day you should never miss. The wedding anniversary, arrival of a new baby, congratulations to a child for doing well in the examination, completing graduation, all holidays and every other occasion when they would love to receive your ecard should be used. Do not miss a single such day, even if you expect next order after a year. Believe me that by that time, you would get so close that your buyer would not call offers from anybody else. Marketing is an art. Use ecards to perfect that at no cost.