Gadgets You Can’t Afford to Travel Without

Since life has become so fast paced, it often becomes challenging to keep a track of the ever growing advancements. This is particularly true for a person not traveling frequently. Thanks to some wonderful gadgets, traveling has become much more relaxing and enjoyable. Although this means you have to take the pain of carrying a lot of extra things along, they won’t appear ‘extra’ once you start making use of them. For many, traveling gadgets are more of traveling essentials. Here are some of the best travel toys that you must get hold of before you begin planning for your next vacation. They turn out to be the perfect presents as well!1. Portable Battery ChargerWhen you’re on the go, one of the major worries can be the dying battery of your gadgets. When flying, this isn’t an issue because almost all the airlines are equipped with multiple ports where you can charge all your gadgets. However, on ground a lot of travelers tend to use their smart phones and other gadgets when they’re in a foreign land. Portable battery chargers are a life saver in this regard because they are handy and can charge multiple gadgets depending upon their capacity. The prime reason of investing in these chargers is the convenience travelers enjoy. Along with charging, it is possible to work on your devices rather than being bound. Despite the convenience, almost all portable chargers are reasonably priced making it a great choice for traveling purposes.2. Portable Wi-Fi RouterWireless internet has become an essential part of our lives. This is true for you if you look for a free wireless network whether you’re inside a café or visit a relative’s abode. Although most of us find free wireless connections a blessing, there is no way you can call it reliable. You’re at a greater risk when you travel somewhere abroad because there are criminals watching out for a minor negligence on your part. To avoid this situation, it is ideal to carry a portable Wi-Fi network on your travels. Apart from being a secure way of staying connected to the world, you have the freedom of accessing it at any time of the day and anywhere you wish to. Arguably, the portability is a huge blessing because it can travel literally anywhere with you without any hassles!3. Powerful HeadphonesYes, headphones are always a good investment. If you purchase a finer quality, it lasts for a decent time and does a good job in entertaining you around the globe. Those of you who make it a compulsion to carry it in your bags know how important headphones are. Noise cancelling headphones are an amazing investment. No matter how crowded or noisy the flight maybe, they effectively work in letting you have a peaceful journey. Its built in technology enables you to block all the unnecessary noise from the surroundings and lets you enjoy your music in peace.

10 Content Marketing Trends Everyone Is Talking About

Every year seems to bring a new set of marketing trends, those “can’t miss” opportunities that scream out for attention. If we were to hop on every trends, we’d certainly grow dizzy from exhaustion. Nevertheless, there are some trends that we’d be foolish not to recognize.As we begin the last chapter of 2017, many companies are still working through the creation of a bona fide content marketing strategy. If that’s you, here are some hints: Native advertising continues to be the gateway drug to success, and mobile continues to be the flavor of every month.That said, Smart Insights reports that content marketing is THE single most important technique for driving incremental sales in 2017. In an industry that’s all about experimentation, some key trends stand out.Here are 10 content marketing trends that everyone is talking about.1. Brands Will Continue to Invest in Original ContentRecently, it became public knowledge that tech giant Apple is planning to invest of $1 billion in original content. Though some gossip states that Apple is making this move to take on Netflix, we believe there’s more on Apple’s mind than video streaming. As competition in this space heats up, brands need to stay relevant. Valuable, original programming can help companies grow an audience and keep current customers satisfied.Google is also purchasing original content from media companies and brands to fill in content gaps, while Facebook is investing huge amounts of capital on original video. Not to be outline, online shopping giant Amazon will perhaps be the largest investor of all. Though the consequences remain to be seen, one thing is for sure: content marketing is taking the spotlight.2. Transparency Will Reign King (or Queen)Consumers are becoming increasingly desensitized. We want — and often expect — companies to be transparent, authentic, and dedicated to giving back. After all is said and done, however, many consumers are reporting frustration with brand advertising, environmental claims, charitable contributions, and corporate support for various causes. Though such efforts have been successful for some brands, this type of promotion is increasingly being perceived as desperate or dishonest.Moving forward, brands need to focus on transparency and disclosure to close this gap as much as possible. Enter: Influencer Marketing.Yet, working with influencers can be sticky. The Federal Trade Commission continues to take measures to protect consumers from companies who aren’t transparent enough, including work with influencers. Take what happened with Machinima. In 2015, the FTC slapped Machinima, a YouTube gaming network, with a warning for not disclosing paid endorsements to YouTube influencers.And this is far from the only instance. A quick Google search shows that a lack of disclosure and transparency have caused trouble for many brands. To build (and maintain) the trust of your audience, the next phase of influencer marketing and branded content needs to ensure that every piece of content created is transparent.3. Content Marketing Budgets Will Continue to IncreaseAcross the globe, companies are spending huge amounts of money on content marketing. What serves as great news for content marketers also presents challenges for businesses with a limited staff. This is propelling the likelihood that companies turn to freelance writers and others who can produce content for a price.4. Content Marketing Duties Continue to OverlapOften, it’s difficult to determine exactly who is in charge of content within a company. Roles and duties shift within marketing departments and even in other areas of the business. PR and communications may have separate content creators, social media managers, and other writers that are not integrated with the official content team, leaving no one really in charge. Such disarray can lead to a very disjointed content strategy.5. Internet of Things Will Take Content Off-ScreenCustomers are no longer limited to the screen in the way that they view content. Although different content formats have long been available, the IoT has made it so content is interwoven into our lives in brand new ways. Consider how we current interact with technology, such as Apple’s Siri. When users speak, Siri responds with call-and-response content wherever and whenever they need it. Alexa, Amazon’s voice service, is becoming a digital doorway to content as well.Many organizations already use Alexa to share content with their audience beyond a laptop, tablet, or cell phone screen. For example, the American Heart Association uses Alexa to provide details about performing CPR, including step-by-step information on how to perform the process in an emergency situation. This content is further embellished with information about warning signs of a stroke and heart attack.With IoT, most content is becoming digital. Beacon-based proximity marketing, sensors, device pairing, and other features usher in the opportunity for marketers to invest in endless types of content interaction. This type of highly targeted content can help you reach your audience at the right place and at the right time.6. Pre-Recorded Video is So… YesterdayIt isn’t exactly time to write the obituary for pre-recorded video, yet it is being overshadowed by live video. According to Buffer, 80 percent of marketing respondents to a 2016 survey want to create more video content, with 42 percent specifying live video as their preference.While live video really exploded in 2017, we predict that it’ll become even more mainstream in 2018. According to Facebook, users spend three times more time watching live videos than videos that are pre-recorded. More, they comment 10 times as often during live videos. A Livestream survey confirmed this, with 80 percent of respondents indicating a preference for live video over reading a blog post. This presents modern-day marketing specialists with a unique chance to hop on the live video bandwagon before competitors do.7. Blurred LinesIf you look at how content has changed over the past decade, you’ll notice that it has evolved outside of its original “container” of owned media. As social media expands, as well as the ways we interact with and engage audiences, the lines between owned, earned, and paid begin to blur so that they’re almost indiscernible from one another. Content can no longer be confined to these silos.With the entire buyer’s journey in mind, the content shifts to take on the form of all three approaches. This underscores the importance of each form working seamlessly together to support a company’s growth strategy. That means you must adjust your internal and external teams to handle content development, deployment, and promotion.8. Strategic DocumentationAsk a marketing specialist about the effectiveness of content marketing, and chances are he or she will be able to pinpoint what makes the cogs turn effectively. That’s because companies are becoming laser-focused on developing thoughtful content marketing strategies.In 2015, only 32 percent of marketers had a documented content marketing strategy. The following year, this grew to 37 percent. This year, however, the number has ballooned to well over 40 percent. Our prediction for 2018, then, is that developing an effective, efficient strategy will be a job expectation.To remain competitive in the upcoming year, what strategies will you include? You may want to consider more targeted content, expanded content, more efficient content creation, or other elements that will help you foster greater growth.9. Interactive Visual ContentWe all know that live video is engaging and responsive, yet there’s another type of visual content that allows you to craft an entirely different experience for your audience.Virtual reality.VR offers new opportunities for content marketing, as well as customer engagement. Shopify, for instance, has taken this to heart and developed a VR app that allows online shoppers to customize clothing from the comfort of home.International Data Corporation reports that, based on sales and forecast models, revenue for augmented reality will grow from just over $5 billion in 2016 to more than $160 billion by 2020. Revenue forecasts from Digi-Capital are equally optimistic, reporting an estimated growth to $108 billion by 2021.While the prospect of virtual reality may seem daunting, it will likely be worthwhile for anyone willing to give it a go. Forbes Global shows that up to 30 percent of consumer-facing brands will experiment with virtual reality marketing by the end of this year.Keep in mind that it isn’t solely for consumer advertising and marketing, however. Consider what the Golden State Warriors did when they wanted to recruit Kevin Durant to the team roster. Using content marketing in VR, they immersed him in the “Warrior’s Experience,” thereby placing him courtside at Oracle Arena as well as in the thick of talks with coach Steve Kerr in the locker room.10. Distribution, Distribution, DistributionWhile most marketers recognize how instrumental content is for companies now, what still remains uncertain is the means of which content is distributed. And though there are countless other blogs, newsletters, and email campaigns out there, the sure way you’ll have your message heard above the rest is through optimum content distribution.If you want the attention of the 2.789 billion active social media users, you need to adopt a strategic distribution plan. Smart brands are going to make investments in not only acquiring content, but in distributing it strategically through multi-channel approaches as 2018 unrolls.Think out of the box for profitable rewards.

Branding – What Exactly Makes for a Successful Brand?

So what is it about a some brands that give them the edge. Is it because the product or service they promote is of a superior quality or represent value for money? It could be, but that wouldn’t explain why, for example, car manufacturers such as Skoda, Kia and Proton aren’t outselling, say, Audi, Toyota, BMW.Certainly, in the case of Skoda, the quality is there and who could disagree that the cost of a new Skoda represents value for money.Why is it that Nike can command a much higher price point for its products than others and yet still consistently outsell the competition? Ok, we’d probably all agree that Nike training shoes are quite nicely designed but do they really outperform the competition enough to justify the not inconsiderable premium on the price.The answer to both questions is simple. The success of a brand, it seems, is directly proportionate to its brand perception. Almost regardless of inherent product integrity, it’s the integrity of the brand that’s all important. A positive brand perception accounts for the majority of the decision to purchase so it should come as no surprise that the costs of marketing a particular product, in many cases, far out weigh the costs of manufacturing that product!A brand should fully integrate with all aspects of the marketing plan from print media, display and web through to packaging, advertising and new media applications.A well conceived brand with a dynamic marketing plan will not be held back.Where to beginWhen you spend time and money creating or re-vamping your corporate brand, the aim of the exercise must be for the new brand to be a success (especially if the new brand is being developed to replace what may be a tired but already tried and tested, existing identity).Successful branding inspires confidence in a company, its philosophy and its products or services. The impact a successful brand can have affects a range of interested parties, from employees to industry partners, regulators and even the competition.Of course whilst there is no truly accurate formula or method for predicting just how successful a proposed new brand will actually be, a well conceived, implemented and communicated corporate or product brand can only improve the perception of a company or product which, in return, will (or at least should) result in increased sales and a higher profile.As with most design disciplines, brand design certainly shouldn’t be left to chance.In truth even the naming of a company, or product, without serious consideration and professional consultation could be a step too far in the process if youíre aiming for the best, optimised results.To achieve success the branding exercise needs to follow a development process that allows for……ResearchYou know what it’s like, you’ve had this great idea for your brand and the first thing you want to do is brief it in to your design agency as soon as possible so they can work up some concepts and get the ball rolling.But, now that you’ve started spending the budget, can you be completely sure that your “great idea” really is that great?Although the final decision may still be yours to make, researching your ideas prior to initialising any design input could save you (and the designers) both time and money with badly conceived, knee jerk brand concepts.In conjunction with your staff, partners or fellow directors (even clients or customers) try to perform some level of research into your business and design perceptions, products and services and markets to help define what exactly sets you apart from your competitors.Not only will this help you to decide how and where to position yourself in your market but it will also help you to identify and develop the overall brand perception you wish to project.It’s also worth noting that the influence the internet is likely to have on the sales and promotion of your new brand will be considerable. When developing a name or ID it is important that its ‘online’ application works as well as it does ‘off-line’. Clearly, the level of influence will vary from product to product and by target audience however Search Engine Optimisation and Search Marketing are increasingly becoming the key activities to the successful marketing of any brand and should be treated as a necessary part of the whole marketing concept from day one.Seeing is believingFor a brand to be truly successful it will need the undivided support and commitment of the leaders of the business. If the senior management team is seen to be committed to the brand principles then the workforce, shareholders and customers will also be better prepared to believe in the brand.With the full support of all interested parties it will be much easier to develop a more strategic marketing and communications plan that works for everyone.The planning of how you will promote your new brand, what you want to say and how you’re going to say it, are essential if you are to successfully convey the underlying brand values and how they will be communicated, measured and maintained.Keeping controlA successful branding strategy should ooze consistency from every orifice. Visual and verbal integrity is a must if the corporate message is to be clearly communicated at all times.But be aware, the level of control over your branding may be diminished relative to the increase of personnel and/or by the number of locations in which your business resides.This is why it is essential that some level of “brand management” contingency is put in place. Corporate identity and brand guidelines don’t have to be too extensive and all encompassing to have a beneficial and far reaching effect on the level brand consistency that is maintained. The cost for development of guidelines will, of course, vary with the required depth and complexity but the value of such a document will be self evident through the lack of brand dilution.This can be the simple, single page that outlines the ‘do’s and don’ts’ applicable to the company logo all the way up to the comprehensive Corporate Bible covering everything from the preferred type face to the colour of the carpet tiles in reception!Most importantly brand development, as the title suggests, should be an ongoing process and one which has the support of everyone involved with your business. If you have clearly defined principles, outlined in a simple message that reaches the people you need it to reach, and you can measure and monitor it for continued effectiveness, you will be on the way to corporate brand success.

Rental Property Investment Performance Indicators

Successful rental property investment requires real estate investors to strictly gauge the financial performance of all potential rental property investment opportunities.As a result, a number of useful ratios, multipliers, and other analytical measures have been developed as “indicators” the investor can use to determine specific levels of a property’s anticipated cash flows and profitability.These ratios and measures are part of the real estate analysis, and are commonly displayed in reports such as an APOD and Pro Forma Income Statement.In this article we’ll consider four of those indicators (with formulas). It should be noted, however, that the results of these calculations are only useful if they can be compared to similar information gleaned from comparable properties in the local market area.1. Economic ValueThis is a measure of value from the real estate investor’s standpoint, and may be more or less the market value of the property (though not necessarily). It is determined by the investment property’s net operating income and a capitalization rate that the investor requires to attract his or her capital to the project.In other words, regardless what value has been placed upon the rental property by the market, the “true” value to the investor (in this case) is what he or she deems will appropriately satisfy their investment objectives.FormulaNet Operating Income (specific property)divided by Capitalization Rate (individual investor)equals Economic ValueExampleLet’s say a property generates a net operating income of $461,867 and the investor’s desired cap rate is 10.8%. In this case, the economic value (what the rental property investment is worth to the investor) would be $4,276,546.$461,867/.108= $4,276,546If this economic value is equal to or greater than the subject property’s fair market value, then the investment property could prove worth pursuing; otherwise, maybe not.2. Operating Expense RatioThis ratio provides an indication of what percentage of the gross operating income is being consumed by operating expenses.The investor’s purpose here is to compare the subject investment property’s operating expense ratio against that computed for other similar properties and then to reconcile substantial differences.Anything other than the norm, for instance, could be an indication that the subject property’s operating expenses are somehow unique, or perhaps that they may not have all been correctly ascertained. In other words, why such a difference?FormulaOperating Expensesdivided by Gross Operating Incomeequals Operating Expense RatioExampleLet’s say the subject property’s operating expenses are $251,998 and its gross operating income (rental income minus vacancy credit and loss) is 713,865. In this case, the operating expense ratio for the rental property investment is 35.30%.$251,998/ 713,865= 35.30%Naturally, this is just one small element about the subject rental property investment. But a substantial difference in ratios when compared to similar other rental property should raise a red flag that requires a closer look.3. Break-Even Ratio (BER)This ratio (also called default ratio) is the percentage rate of gross operating income that is consumed by operating expenses and debt service combined. Its purpose is to estimate how vulnerable an income property is to defaulting on its debt in cases where rental income should decline. This is often a benchmark ratio used by lenders when underwriting commercial mortgages as well.FormulaOperating Expenses + Debt Servicedivided by Gross Operating Incomeequals Break-even RatioExampleOkay, we already know (from the previous examples) that our subject rental property investment has a gross operating income of $713,865 and annual operating expenses of $251,998. Now let’s say that the debt service would be $255,354. The result would be a break-even ratio of 71.07%.$251,998 + 255,354= $507,352/ 713,865= 71.07%This means that the money going out to service the property is 71.07% of the income it generates. Lenders typically look for 85% or less, so this property fairs well in this case.4. Debt Coverage Ratio (DCR)This ratio provides information on the extent to which the net operating income covers debt service. The objective for the investor here is to insure that the property can pay for itself without having to “feed it” out-of-pocket.FormulaNet Operating Incomedivided by Debt Serviceequals Debt Coverage RatioExampleOkay, by dividing the property’s net operating income of $461,867 by the debt service of 255,354, the result is a debt coverage ratio of 1.81.$461,867/ 255,354= 1.81A ratio of 1.0 indicates enough net income to make the mortgage payment, and lenders typically like to see 1.15 or greater (i.e., 15% more income than the payment). So, either way, this rental property investment appears to produce ample income to cover the mortgage payment.