sign-direction-risk-reward

Where’s the Real Risk?

As dot-com has metamorphosed into “dot-gone,” marketers and media planners worldwide have been reducing the portion of their budgets invested in “alternative” media in favor of “safe” media arrangements.

In Northern Europe alone, the top 100 brands have moved expenditure away from online media and increased their investments in television advertising by 60 percent. The reasoning expressed by most marketers is that stronger branding is achieved via traditional media, such as television. But perhaps the whole story — the complete and honest reason why we are seeing marketers move their branding initiatives away from online channels to broadcast media — is that using online media is perceived by brand builders as being unfashionable and, generally, risky. Most marketers are no longer prepared to undertake dangerous strategies.

I’m not writing this article to express any opinion about whether it’s right to select media channels based on assumptions about how comparatively safe they are. I’m writing to promote a consideration of all the facts.

For example, did you know that online media costs have, in most countries, decreased by more than 50 percent since this time last year? Did you know that, at the same time, the click-through rate has increased in most countries? Did you realize that there’s no clear sign that people are using the Internet less now than they did last year, and that the contrary may actually be the case? In fact, recent world events have increased global Internet usage substantially faster than anticipated.

The reality is that if you want to do a good deal, you’ll do it online. I’m not saying that old media should be deleted from your media plans — far from it. But I am saying that you’re likely to get a good deal if combining on- and offline media is appropriate for your brand’s marketing plan. And here’s why:

  • Because the number of online advertisers has decreased dramatically, you’re likely to achieve better online visibility than in the past. There is simply less noise out there.
  • The online media picture has been significantly cleaned up since last year. There are fewer portals fighting for the same consumer and advertiser attention, making it easier for you to reach your audience than it would have been last year.
  • The costs of online advertising have decreased greatly. Not only can you now forge a good online deal, you can often make an even better deal that combines on- and offline channels and gives you free online space.
  • Last but not least, users haven’t left the Internet at all. Net usage is still growing. Usage isn’t rising at the same speed as it was, but nowhere in the world has there been a report of a decrease in Internet access and usage. All figures report growth.

So, if your media plan included the Internet last year, there’s absolutely no reason why it shouldn’t do so this year. That is, unless you believe that playing it safe means playing according to some popular perception rather than in response to clear reality. If you want to know more about online marketing and branding, check SMA for great advices.

Read more

Sales videos promote more than just a product

Promote your strengths

You’re in a highly competitive industry, so show your clients what makes you better than your competitors. Promote the expertise of your staff, show your state-of-the-art factory in action or your professional staff in a working environment. Paint a picture of those indefinable qualities that make your company unique.

 

Unique Presentations

You need to do a sales presentation and you want to stand out from the competition. Play your corporate video (or edited highlights) within your PowerPoint presentation. Playing your marketing video at the start of a sales presentation is a great way to introduce you and your company. Grabbing their attention with interesting vision and upbeat music can make your audience feel more positive, even before you’ve spoken a word.

 

Trade Shows/Exhibitions

If you’re exhibiting at trade shows you need to stand out from the crowd. A DVD player and flat screen on your stand with your corporate video playing on a loop is an easy way to get your message across. It’s easy to approach passers-by and engage them if they’ve already stopped to watch your video.

 

Increasing Export Sales

Travelling overseas to market your products or services to international buyers is risky business. Not just for your company, but also for your prospects. Can they really trust you when you tell them how large and reputable your business is and that you have the right quality procedures in place? How can they get a real feel for your company that is located thousands of miles away? Presenting your location, factory or office, production process and your dedicated staff at work is highly regarded by international buyers. It provides an extra look and feel about your company that is often lacking from brochures and photos. A concise marketing video that gives an interesting overview of your company is a proven method to increasing international sales.

 

Showing your Product or Service in Action

Sometimes you cannot actually demonstrate your product or service to a client because it is too large to carry around or it’s located on the other side of the world. New products or services that are suitable for use in a range of different scenarios are also difficult to demonstrate. A marketing video that can exhibit how your product works, and under what circumstances, is a great way for prospects to understand what you are trying to sell.

 

Your Production Process

Showing your product being made in a manner that is different from your competitors gives you a distinct competitive advantage. To do your company justice, showcasing your production process is an extremely important message to convey.

 

Testimonials

There’s nothing more potent than having your customers endorse your products and services to camera. Written testimonials just don’t make the same impact. Having a real client talking about you on camera is like having that person tell your prospects face-to-face about how highly they think of you. When done correctly, this is an extremely effective way to promote your business.

All videos can be authored to DVD, encoded as podcasts or streamed from your website. If you want to really invest in this marketing strategy, add a professional touch to your video with VFX LA’s help.

Read more

Santa Barbara Museums

Santa Barbara, California

Great museums in Santa Barbara make a vacation there even better.

Santa Barbara, on California’s Central Coast, has long been known for its natural attractions. The majestic sweep of the Santa Ynez mountains, and the peaceful awe-inspiring beauty of the Pacific Ocean, both frame this perfect mid-sized town. As an elite tourist destination, Santa Barbara has much to offer as well. Chief among these attractions are the surprisingly high quality of Santa Barbara’s museums and exhibitions.

Here is a list and descriptions of my favorite Santa Barbara museums.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art, at 1130 State Street. On permanent display is the SBMA’s permanent collection of antiquities. The antiquities include an impressive collection of marble Roman statues, Greco-Roman figural works, ancient bronzes and more, spanning from the 2nd century BC to the 19th century. There are also some fascinating Asian antiquities in the permanent collection, which range from Chinese ceramics circa 2500 BC through the early 20th century. European works include ongoing displays of original art by Matisse, Chagall, Picasso, Rodin and others. The Santa Barbara Museum of Art has revolving exhibitions of photography, such as California pictorialist photographs from photography’s early days. There are special programs and events for children.Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, at 2559 Puesta del Sol Road. It has always been SBMNH’s mission to promoting respect  for biological life and its natural environment. The museum includes a few separate buildings on the main campus and the Ty Warner Sea Center on the wharf. Walk down Stearns Wharf, a rustic styled and popular pier on Santa Barbara’s main beach: The Sea Center includes a well-maintained shark exhibit, as well as other aquariums containing local marine life. The main museum has many nicely designed exhibits that focus on local natural history, geology, paleontology, and a Lizard Lounge (live reptiles and amphibians, oh my!) which is popular with kids. The SB Museum of Natural History also has a very large and detailed collection of Chumash Indian artifacts, second only to the Smithsonian in size and breadth. The Gladwin Planetarium is the only planetarium on California’s Central Coast to have live, multimedia shows.

The Karepeles Manuscript Library Museum, at 21 West Anapamu Street, is considered the “dean of Karpeles institutions.” Karpeles has several museums in a few states and is the world’s largest private collection of original historic documents, manuscripts, and maps. On permanent display at the Santa Barbara Karpeles Museum, is an original Stone copy of the Declaration of Independence. There are thousands of historic documents here, and many full exhibits that are both ongoing and rotating. Past exhibits include documents, manuscripts and maps pertaining to the Civil War, Mark Twain, Amistad, Very Early Baseball, and Great Moments in Medical History.

There are other points of natural and historic interest in Santa Barbara, including the nearby Railroad Museum and the Santa Barbara Historical Society Museum. The next time your travel plans include a vacation in Santa Barbara, be sure to check out at least one of these unique and special museums.

Read more

The Masters of Grace, Poise

After 60 years of teaching aikido and etiquette in Old Town, Ken and Miye Ota are in a class all by themselves

Kenji Ota estimates he’s taught over a million students how to ballroom dance over the last 40 years as a teacher at UCSB. And that’s not including the students he’s taught for decades at his ballroom dancing school, the Cultural School, in Old Town.

The Cultural School, which teaches Aikido, Judo, ballroom dancing and etiquette, is owned and run by Kenji (who goes by Ken) and his wife, Miye Ota.

Even at 85, Ken is still teaching at UCSB, and a new generation of students is learning to brave social situations.

At Robertson Gym on weekdays, he’s usually in front of dozens of students, showing them the rhumba or the foxtrot. He yells to a group of girls hiding in the far corner of the gym and tells them to find a dance partner, admonishing them to be confident, telling them these are “life skills.”

He’s an intimidating force sometimes, but it’s easy to see they adore him and all say they enjoy his classes.

Back at the Cultural School, Aikido and ballroom dancing may seem an odd combination but after closer examination, they’re a lot more similar than they appear.

“Aikido is a martial art with class,” Miye says. And after looking at old pictures of Miye and Ken dancing in exhibitions, they’ve got class to spare.

The self-control of Aikido and the manners and protocol of ballroom dancing are interlinked in the studio classes for children and teens.

“It’s more powerful to be soft,” she said. “Here, they learn how to be friendly without being aggressive.”

At the etiquette class, Miye teaches things like a proper handshake, introductions and table manners, essential things that many children miss out on learning. If an etiquette class seems like a dated concept, Miye says that doesn’t stop people from coming far and wide for the classes.

“Even now we’re in demand,” she says. “Wherever our kids go they have poise.”

One of the top-ranked amateur ballroom dancers in the country, Porfirio Landeros, trained at the school. Landeros began taking aikido at the school as a 13-year-old and eventually started dancing as well. He was one of the hundred or so guests who came to Miye’s 90th birthday party recently.

Despite of their age, the pair show no signs of slowing down and have no trouble recounting their story.

They met at a World War II internment camp at Gila River in Arizona, where they lived for two years. After enduring the hardship there, they relocated to Philadelphia, where Ken found a factory job and Miye opened her own hair salon. They decided to move back to California and settled in Goleta.

The building that holds the Cultural School and the couple’s apartment was built by Ken and Miye’s brothers in 1948, and they’ve been there ever since.

Miye’s personal motto can be summed up simply: “The mind is stronger than the body.” It’s one of her secrets of a long life. Choosing to stay positive instead of dwelling on hardship makes for a longer, happier life, she says.

And the Otas have seen their share of hardship. During their stay at the internment camp, Miye’s father died and three of her brothers left to fight for the Allies. After Gila River, they dealt with the racism of a post-war United States. More recently, Ken has had his share of health issues and heart surgery.

“We don’t dwell on the bad things,” she says, lowering her voice, summing up the mission of the school as well as the Ota’s personal mantra. Their ability to transcend circumstances with grace, poise and manners is what has kept decades of students flocking back to the classes.

Miye says that each of her students has a different story to tell. Kids who were on the brink of suicide. Undisciplined children looking for family. Miye says they’ve seen it all.

Her remedy?

These days, she says, people don’t have fun.

Read more

Coast is Not Clear, Say Environmentalists

“Disappointed but not surprised” was the general sentiment voiced by the several speakers in a press conference last Friday at Haskell’s beach. The speakers had gathered to express their dissatisfaction with the Department of the Interior’s decision not to grant the Gaviota Coast federal protection.

“The fact that the Bush administration has ignored us is not surprising,” said Edward Easton, conservation chair of the Santa Barbara Group of the Sierra Club. “It’s perfectly consistent with their assault on the environment.”

“I must say that I really didn’t expect much more from an administration with such a dismal record on protecting this country’s natural resources,” said Congresswoman Lois Capps in a statement read by a spokesman. “The Bush Administration has been underfunding our national parks, attempting to open our own Los Padres National Forest to new oil and gas drilling, and weakening a host of landmark enviromental protection laws.”

The Gaviota Coast, a 76-mile strip of coastline that stretches from Coal Oil Point in Isla Vista all the way to Point Sal on Vandenberg Air Force Base’s northern edge, is one of the last undeveloped segments of the California coast, and is home to many endangered species.

Capps, senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and local conservation groups such as the Sierra Club and the Gaviota Coast Conservancy have encouraged the government to build upon existing protections and enhance local programs as part of a “comprehensive strategy” to preserve the area.

A three-year, $150,000 feasibility study by the National Park Service (NPS) determined that coast was of “national significance” and merited permanent protections that would prevent development and urban sprawl.

Despite this recognition of the natural and cultural value of the region by the NPS, the Gaviota Coast will remain without federal protection.

Citing “strong opposition from study area landowners,” and that “NPS is not able to undertake new acquisition or management responsibilities of this cost and magnitude,” the administration recommended “no new Federal action.”

The study went further, citing “competing priorities in existing units and the need to concentrate on addressing the backlog of deferred maintenance.”

In other words, the proposed seashore faced overwhelming competition from existing parks, and the NPS had to catch up on repairs before taking on additional responsibilities.

“What the Bush Administration has done is enable this victory of private interest over public interest,” said Mike Lunsford of the Gaviota Coast Conservancy. Ariana Katovich of the Sierra Club asked, “(If) we have enough money to give corporations welfare, why don’t we have enough money to protect the environment?”

The Gaviota Coast already faces the possibility of high-density development at Naples and Tajiguas Ranch, with proposals of luxury-mansion subdivisions, and the pollution that comes from increased population.

However, according to its final report, the Department of the Interior did find that “the citizens and local governments of Santa Barbara County are already engaged in a wide array of local land protection efforts that have set a fine example for other parts of the country.

“These efforts have produced an outstanding record of locally based environmental protection by private individuals, organizations, and local public agencies.”

Thus, the NPS felt that the most effective way to conserve the resources of the Gaviota Coast would be to allow the local systems of protection to grow “without further NPS involvement.”

Despite their disappointment, the conservationists and supporters of an undeveloped Gaviota Coast did remain somewhat optimistic, and perhaps even more determined to preserve the area.

“The Gaviota Coast must now be protected by the people and the elected officials of Santa Barbara County,” said Easton.

Read more

Fairview Gardens Thrown a Lifeline

City Council votes to give farm a year to correct code violations, replace housing for workers

For Javier Gomez Ochoa, farming isn’t a 9-5 job, it’s a lifestyle. He’s been a farmer at Fairview Gardens for 23 years, and lives with his family on the farm’s property, among the plants and trees he tends with great care.

“Farmers need to stay close to the land,” he said.

Fairview Gardens farm manager Toby McPartland agreed. “Javier and his family have been longtime stewards of this land and they’ve been feeding Goleta for many years,” he said.

Goleta’s City Council faced a tough decision Tuesday as it pondered how to deal with workers like Javier and his family who live in an unpermitted farm labor camp.

It voted unanimously to allow the farm workers to remain in their current homes for 12 months on the condition that the camp’s code violations be corrected.

After 12 months, the farm will be required to replace and relocate the camp with five yurts, mobile homes or permanent houses on the Fairview Gardens property.

The council expressed a willingness to work with the farm’s timeline, but also conveyed a stern expectation, which pleased many neighbors, many of whom said they felt ignored by the farm.

“We all know that Fairview Gardens is a teaching farm … What kind of lesson are they teaching? No one should be above the law,” neighbor Treva Yang said, one of more than 40 speakers to participate in the public hearing.

The long-standing issue, which was first reported in 2001, has left many of the neighbors frustrated at the city’s inaction with the camp’s code violations and living conditions. In turn, many of the farm’s devotees are concerned for the farm’s survival should the workers be relocated.

“Housing is a critical decision for these employees … we want to keep them on the property,” said Philip Seymour, the gardens’ land use attorney.

“There is a human element to this,” he said. “This is their home. We don’t know if we can find homes for these people” if they were to be relocated.

Several phases for the project were outlined by Steve Welton, Planning Agent for Fairview Gardens, clarifying the timeline for the council, which would have workers in new homes after 12 months, facilities annexed to the Goleta Water District and provide them with new kitchen and bathroom facilities.

Welton also implored the staff to allow Fairview Garden’s educational events, camp, community-supported agriculture tours and sales of offsite agriculture to continue while the nonprofit seeks permits for those activities. Those activities are critical to the farm’s mission, he said. Staff recommendations had included a cease-and-desist order for the activities.

The financial strain of creating new housing for workers on a nonprofit farm in such a tight timeframe was great, but Fairview staff was optimistic.

“We are confident we can pull this project off,” said Tynes Viar, director of development and sustainability for the gardens. He described a handful of grants that the farm is in the process of applying for.

Viar said the project dealt with sustainability, housing and even class. “All of the buzzwords are there,” he said.

But the stress of the farm’s financial need was clear.

“This job would be very easy to walk away from right now,” he said. “We’re here to farm … but the fact that we’re still here should say something about our dedication.”

The magnitude of the decision was not lost on the council.

“A lot of what we decide on tonight will have a critical effect on the survival of this organization,” council member Eric Onnen said.

He said he recognized that the farm depended on many of the other activities — cooking classes, sales of off-site produce, and donations — for much of its costs of operation. He had requested more financial information about the nonprofit at the May 6 council meeting, which has been provided and examined by the council.

Council member Jean Blois said she had read through the financial information as well. She remarked that the financial statements said that the farm had lost $71,000 last year, eliciting gasps throughout the chamber.

“Agriculture is a tricky business,” responded Seymour, who said the high number could be attributed to a low sale of asparagus and avocados, as well as the purchase of some new farm equipment.

Onnen challenged Fairview Gardens’ board of directors, saying that some of them had been serving more than 10 years and he wondered whether they would be able to implement change.

He said that a cease-and-desist order would take away more than 30 percent of the farm’s income. “It cannot be sustainable on onsite agriculture alone,” he said.

He challenged the gardens to evolve, for much was at stake.

Mayor Michael Bennett addressed both the neighbors and the farm. The mayor asserted that if the farm workers will be relocated, the farm will be out of business. He also reprimanded the farm’s representatives and told them that they broke the trust bestowed upon them. The mayor also added that Fairview can proceed as planned but they won’t be given a another chance.

Council member Jonny Wallis expressed a different perspective. “I’m not going to say, ‘You’re going to do it because you promised,’ but rather, ‘You’re going to do it because you must.’” She said it was the city’s turn to take on the responsibility of enforcement. “I think the weight of the city is on us,” she said.

She recommended that the gardens be granted expedited review from the Design Review Board, and that the DRB decide where the new homes should be located.

Onnen requested that detailed reports of the farm’s progress be submitted for accountability.

When he asked for a business plan from the gardens and minutes from the nonprofit’s internal meetings, Seymour said that a business plan could be accommodated, but asked that the minutes not be disclosed.

A formal public hearing in which the council will vote on the items agreed upon will take place in July or August.

General Plan amendments

The council began its final review of the “minor” proposed changes in the General Plan — those not requiring full environmental review.

The amendments remaining have been winnowed through public workshops and a grueling review by the Planning Commission. Most deal with land use policies, but others, such as public access to Haskell’s Beach and the use of “protect” instead of “preserve” in maintaining scenic views and allowing hotel condominiums have generated controversy.

Tuesday night’s hearing was brief. After short staff presentation council took public comment. The most illuminating came from developer Mark Linehan, owner of Camino Real Marketplace.

He said the floor-to-area requirements in the plan were unrealistic, and noted that, using the current guidelines, the building housing City Hall was twice as big as it should be, and Camino Real was only half as big as it could be.

The council will begin deliberating the Tract 2 amendments at its next meeting on June 17.

Read more

UCSB Hunger Strikers Take Case to Regents

UCSB hunger strikers take case to regentsHunger striking UCSB students went to the UC Regents meeting in San Francisco on Thursday to protest the UC system’s involvement in nuclear weapons labs.

“We remain committed to withholding solid food until the regents retract their management of the weapons labs,” said Ellen McClure, a second-year UCSB student and hunger striker. “We are greatly inspired by, and appreciative of, all of the support we are receiving,” she said. One student had been hospitalized over the weekend, and later released.

Hunger strike organizer Andrew Culp acknowledges that getting their demands met immediately is “a long shot.”

“We’re interested in hearing what (the regents) have to say,” he said.

As of yesterday morning, Culp and 80 other protesters from UCSB, UCLA, UCSC, UC Berkeley and students and community members from the San Francisco area held a rally outside the UCSF Mission Bay Building. Dissatisfied with the limited public comment period and wary that they might not get their opinions heard, some of the strikers, Culp said, were “willing to put themselves in an arrest situation.”

At press time, 12 people had been detained for disrupting the Department of Energy presentation, “Transforming Complex 2030,” part of the plan to revamp plutonium bomb core pit manufacturing at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Several of the detainees are UCSB students, including fourth-year students Cricket Clarke, Adrian Drummond-Cole and Carleigh O’Donnell.

The UC system last year won a $15million contract from the U.S. Department of Energy to continue managing the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore. Shortly after the announcement in March that the Livermore facility would start developing a new hydrogen bomb, the UC system and its private partners won another bid to continue its management of the laboratory.

“I’ve been with the UC for 35 years, since I was a student in 1972, and have great love for this institution. It hurts me that it’s involved with designing instruments of genocide,” said Tom Newman, UC San Francisco professor of epidemiology and a hunger striker. “Designing a new hydrogen bomb undermines if not completely violates Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

The students participating in the hunger strike are also protesting Los Alamos’ plans to make plutonium bomb cores, the manufacture of which was halted in 1999.

“If UC were to withdraw its management of the labs, based on the fact that these facilities are pursuing illegal and immoral missions, then the legitimacy of this would crumble,” said Darwin BondGraham, a sociology graduate student who gave an informational lecture at a “teach-in” in front of Cheadle Hall Tuesday evening. “This would help the Congress to realize that a radically different path is necessary, one that focuses on disarmament, not new hydrogen bombs and plutonium pit production.”

Read more

Mission Santa Barbara – a Jewel on California’s Central Coast

Mission Santa Barbara – a Jewel on California's Central Coast

One of the earliest structures built in Santa Barbara, the mission was the tenth in a series founded by the Spanish. Mission Santa Barbara is unusually large and is known as “Queen of the Missions.” It is a beautiful structure that is still used as a church. Full of Chumash Indian and early Spanish settler artifacts, this museum is a prime destination for many visitors to the Santa Barbara area.

Early Mission and Chumash Life

Mission Santa Barbara has excellent displays of the life of the Chumash and early settlers, such as a collection of original Spanish settlers’ tools. Especially interesting is a typical bedroom of one of the Franciscan settlers. The bed seems particularly Spartan by current standards.

The kitchen also has a variety of implements that date back to the early 1800s. According to an informational plaque, cooking indoors was typically done by women over hot charcoal. These authentic rooms help to give a glimpse of what life was like in the early days of the mission.

Courtyard with Fountain

The mission has two fountains, an enormous one in front of the structure, and a smaller one in a courtyard, pictured below. The courtyard contains a garden that was used for prayer and is filled with succulent plants such as hardy cacti and flowering plants that do well in drier climates. Tourists are not allowed inside the sacred garden, but one can sit on benches that surround it and admire the calming view.

Picturesque Church Graveyard

The church has an enclosed graveyard associated with it, where Friars and their relatives are still being buried. There are a number of mausoleums, one of which is shown below. Many descendants of the original founding families remain in the Santa Barbara area and wish to be entombed at this site. Also buried in the graveyard are 4000 Chumash Indians.

The Santa Barbara Mission Remains a Parish Church

Mission Santa Barbara

The Mission of Santa Barbara is a remarkable structure that is a popular tourist destination for visitors to the Central Coast and an active parish Church. With a stunning altar, one is forbidden to speak in the area of the building used for worship. The structure is an excellent museum of the life of the early Spanish settlers in the region and also showcases Chumash culture. The flier provided to those who visit the museum is a greatly informative source of information of the history of this remarkable Mission. A trip to this building is highly recommended if one is visiting Santa Barbara.

Read more