Finding Your Customers

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

Most company executives understand that the better they understand their customers, the more likely their business will grow. The problem often becomes defining customer base. For instance, I often have clients who want me to “spread the word” about their products and services through both traditional and social media channels, yet I quickly discover they don’t have a good handle on who their customers really are.

You can have the best products and services. You can have the best messaging to explain those products and services, but if the right audience does not receive those messages then you haven’t accomplished anything.

Lets take an affordable cell-phone provider as an example – if someone asked executives at the phone company, ‘Who is your typical customer?’ they might say something like, ‘Well, our typical customer is Millennials and teenagers hooked on technology.’ I realize this is really general, but you get the point. Most people can define their target audience with some careful research. Knowing the age, gender, income, personality, likes, dislikes, and behaviours of the people who would most likely be interested in your product or service is crucial to your communication efforts. Of course, the wider your customer base, the better chance your message will do what is it supposed to do – encourage people to act.

Some companies are lucky in that they deal with a specific sector, but have a wide customer base. I will take up and coming energy company, Sparta as an example. Sparta focuses on advancing the capture, conversion and optimization of energy. If you asked their executive team, ‘Who is your typical customer?” They would likely say, ‘Almost anybody’. This is because Sparta is about more than one product or service; it is about using various tools and technologies to address the needs of customers in many different industries when it comes to reducing their energy consumption. This is the great advantage Sparta has – there is no limit to the Corporations potential market as the vision has been to constantly adapt and add products and services that clients need in order to help them remain competitive – be sustainable. When Sparta spreads their message they have a massive customer base to target.

No matter what sector you are in or how broad your customer base may be, giving careful thought to exactly who your customers are is more important now than ever before. We are living in an increasingly competitive world so it makes no sense to spend time, energy and money on crafting a message that doesn’t get seen or read by the right audience.

While there are many ways to examine your typical customer, one of the best ways to start is by looking at your current customers and asking yourself, what do they like, dislike or what works for them and what doesn’t. From there check out the competition, who is buying from them? Soon you will start to build what is referred to as an Avatar; a representation of what your client looks like.

Grounding – The impact on the human body

 

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

 

A few years ago I wrote an article for a health industry client on the subject of “Grounding.” The research I conduced at that time was really my first foray into examining the process of removing excessive charge from an object by releasing it into the ground. Walking barefoot is an example of grounding. Since that article I have learned a lot more about electrons playing a significant role in the cellular process that takes place in our bodies.

As reported in the U.S National Library of Medicine, multi-disciplinary research has indicated that electricity contact of the human body with the surface of the Earth produces interesting effects on our health. Studies show the effects relate to inflammation, immune responses and wound healing. Some research even suggests that grounding can prevent and treat chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. While this is still a relatively new area of research, what experts at the University of California and the University of Oregon have discovered is that grounding an organism can produce noticeable differences in concentrations of white blood cells and other molecules involved in inflammatory response. Physiology professors say grounding reduces pain and alters the number of circulating neutrophils and lymphocytes. Neutrophils are white blood cells important in the defense against infections. Lymphocytes are white blood cells that are part of the immune system. There are two main types of lymphocytes: B cells and T cells. The B cells produce antibodies that are used to attack invading viruses, bacteria, and toxins. Lymphocytes are high if you have an infection.

Grounding is really any system that allows for frequent contact with the Earth. This includes while sleeping, sitting at a desk, or walking outside. There are conductive systems such as sheets, mats, wristbands, ankle bands, and even adhesive patches. These applications are connected to the Earth through a cord inserted into a grounded wall outlet or attached to a ground rod placed in the soil outside.

A couple years ago a group of researchers, including some from the University of California and University of Oregon, looked at the physiological impacts of grounding from various perspectives. Their work has led to over a dozen studies being published in peer-reviewed journals. A peer review is a process that subjects an author’s work or research to examination and scrutiny of other top experts in the same field, before a description of the work can be published in a journal. The fact that the grounding research has been peer-reviewed and the actual studies show grounding could be an effective healing method has opened up new and promising avenues for research, particularly in the area of inflammation. Some suggest that it could have broad implications for health prevention and public health.

Despite the current research, all of this may still sound odd to some people, but think about it this way: We are all living on an electrical planet and our bodies transmit many frequencies that help run our muscles, our heart, our nervous system and our immune system. Many years ago it was perfectly natural to sleep right on the ground, and it was common to walk the Earth in bare feet. In our industrialized world, we rarely walk around without leather shoes and we do not sleep on the ground unless we are camping. In reality we are all disconnected or ungrounded. Considering that this disconnection may contribute in some way to illness may not be as far-fetched as many of us think.

What Fake News Means to Future Generations

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

Fake News might seem like just another voguish term, but its unlikely to slip from the North American vocabulary any time soon. The problem is that thanks to people like Donald Trump using the term inaccurately, there are a lot of people who don’t really understand the term.

Fake news is not the practice of well-trained, well-educated, competent journalists. Sure, at times things can fall apart in any news organization to the point where an editor or reporter exaggerates or leans too far to one side (left or right). While I would never condone this, it can’t be labeled as fake news. Fake news is the shift that has occurred in our social media era and it’s due to the dizzying speed of tweeting, posting etc. online.

As a former broadcast news reporter and journalism teacher, I can tell you that the majority of trained reporters take the golden rules of quality journalism very seriously. Those rules include being objective, focusing on the facts (just the facts), and using multiple, accurate sources to back up those facts. Fake news is the opposite – it is falsehoods, lies, subjective, and not backed up by any credible sources.

The problem with fake news according to psychologists is that the human mind only has so much time to process the myriad of information coming in and then make judgments about what parts of that information to keep. Humor, shock, and the unusual – all of these tip the scales in favor of being remembered and recalled, whether it is real or fake.

Here is where I find it scary. Fake news can be extremely damaging to all aspects of life. I have a daughter who is about to turn 20. She has grown up in the digital era. I think of her friends, as well as my nieces and nephews attaining and processing news. What they need to know is that fake news can hurt them. If they were to ask how? This is what I would share with them. Suppose someone said you were responsible for another person’s death and this was untrue. Can you imagine how this would impact your reputation, your career and your personal life? It has happened. A known trash magazine alleged that American Senator Tom Cruz’s father was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. When Donald Trump talked about this allegation, the story spread like wildfire. There was no stopping it. The Washington Post and other reputable news agencies launched an investigation and determined that these allegations were “untrue” but the damage to Cruz was already done.

There are many other examples where fake news can negatively impact you financially, emotionally and physically. There have been a number of fake news cases that have led to civil unrest. Your purchasing of goods and services and your decisions about investing can have a devastating impact on your wallet when based on fake news.

Scientific studies show that when only 10 percent of the population holds a strong belief, the majority of society will always adopt this belief.

This is not meant to insult anyone, but the truth is that people are victims of their own ignorance, unwilling to fact check what they hear and read. Many will argue that they don’t have time to fact check and this may be true. Guess what? That is what we have trained journalists for. Unless we start speaking up to save real news organizations, your generation will have one of two choices: spend all your time fact checking so you can decide what to believe and repeat to others or live in a world where you make very bad, very damaging decisions about your life based on fake news.

 

 

What not to do at work

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

Work can be incredibly satisfying. It can help us learn and grow in ways we never imagined possible. It can open our eyes to new ideas and opportunities, as well as lead us to financial rewards that help secure a good life outside of work. Let’s be honest though, not every day or every work experience is fantastic. Even those people who appear to have it all (at the office) are sometimes dying inside.

Whether you are one of those people who are silent and dying inside or someone who wears stress and frustration on the outside for everyone to see, there are certain things you must keep in mind when you are at work.

Both psychologists and employment experts agree that while you can’t keep everything bottled up inside all the time, you also have to be diplomatic in your approach to all that is office related.

Here are five things the experts say we should never do:

  • Speak or quit out of anger – it is not unusual to feel a wide range of emotions on the job, especially it you feel strongly about your work. Showing you care is a good characteristic, but losing it and acting out from rage always ends up being regretful. This behaviour is often grounds for firing and it simply makes you look unprofessional. I have to confess, when I was still a television reporter, I once screamed at a producer in front of everyone and while I did not get fired, I am certain I lost the respect of some people in the newsroom.
  • Lie – people tell lies when they think that somehow the truth will do them terrible harm. The truth about a lie at work is that you will likely have to do a lot of scurrying  to cover up your lie and in the end you will get figured out anyway. I remember the first time I caught a co-worker in a lie and I felt not only betrayed, but I no longer felt comfortable working with the individual. I just did not trust him.
  • Tell people you are unhappy – when you admit that you are miserable in your job, it doesn’t benefit anybody. It tells your co-workers and possibly your boss, if it gets back to him or her, that you don’t fit in. Additionally, it drags others in the office down.
  • Burn bridges – no one survives at work without other people. It’s all about relationship building and working together to make the project or company successful. We need each other so don’t burn bridges. Protecting work relationships can be a real asset.
  • Retreat within – while spewing your anger, frustration and negativity throughout the office is not the right move, keeping everything bottled up inside is not healthy. If you have a legitimate concern, discuss it in a professional way with a superior and be ready to offer up a possible solution. Also, think about talking to someone outside the office, such as a career counsellor or psychologist who specializes in work-related stress. Mounting stress can have both a physical and mental impact when it is not dealt with. Some people who are stressed-out due to work find that they become forgetful, which can hurt their work performance.

A study conducted in Canada a few years ago indicated that 51 percent of respondents felt work was a moderate to major stressor in their lives. In the United States the number of people calling in sick due to work-related stress has tripled in the last couple of decades. This is something that not only workers but also employers have to take a serious look at. Studies show that unhappy workers are 10 percent less productive.

Edler Abuse

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

I am writing about this subject because it hurts me to see what is happening to so many elderly people. Elder abuse appears to be at an all time high. Sadly, there are millions of elderly being abused; either physically, verbally or financially every year in North America and it has to STOP!

There was a time when everyone really did respect seniors. They were admired for their wisdom, their contribution to the community and their dedication to the family so what happened? Seriously, what kind of person would intentionally abuse a senior? Well, according to data collected by government officials, a lot of the abusers are sons, daughters, nieces, nephews and lawyers.

Just recently I turned on the Television and saw that CBC News was running a report on a 92-year-old self-made millionaire who is complaining that two of his children took almost all of his life savings. The British Columbia man has hired a lawyer and is going after his kids. The BC Centre for Elder Advocacy and Support reports that in 2015 the office received over 1,500 calls about financial elder abuse.

In the United States, The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) plans to launch a data collection program to help experts combat elder abuse. In Australia, The Law Council has called on the federal government to reform elder abuse laws, in light of the fact that abuse is becoming a growing problem. Here in Canada The Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse is working harder than ever before to advocate for the elderly and spread the word about the problem.

Government statistics in Canada seem to indicate that one in five of us might know a senior who is being abused, yet the abuse seems to continue. Like most societal issues, it looks like we have to get involved as well. We as citizens have to be observant. Learn the warning signs and report any abuse that you see. The link below can show you what to look for:

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/elder-abuse-and-neglect.htm

I can’t say that I understand this problem at all. When you look at Japan for example, they don’t have elder abuse to the extent that we do in North America or Australia. The Japanese seem to have high regard for seniors. There is even a national holiday in the country called, “Respect for the Aged Day”. In China it is law to honour your parents. Did you know that parents in China are legally entitled to sue their own children for financial and emotional support? Here’s another example- in Greece using the term “Geronda”, which essentially means “Old Man” isn’t considered a negative slur, but an endearing name.

To the abusers I say, be ashamed of yourselves. Have you not thought at all about your senior years and how you would want to be treated?

Women Shopping in Men’s Stores

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

UnknownSo how many times have you seen a man in a women’s store fumbling through racks and looking uncomfortable? He’s probably looking for a gift for someone but for some reason he feels and looks uncomfortable. It is interesting that when a woman goes into a men’s store she is usually calm, cool and relaxed as she walks about, touching and rifling through various items. Often she will engage store employees in conversation as she tries to find the perfect tie for Dad or a great shirt for her boyfriend or husband.

Since we are so comfortable in these stores ladies, why are we not taking it a step further and trying some of the men’s clothing on? Yes, I am suggesting that as you thumb through those racks you just might find something that looks great on you. Here is why men’s clothing might be a good option:

  • You will stand out – if you don’t want to look like every other girl on the block, you can stand out by wearing a cool shirt or perhaps a hat from a men’s shop.
  • You will be comfortable – not everyone likes clothing to be skin-tight and this is your opportunity to find something loose fitting. Sometimes you can find funky men’s shirts that serve as dresses.
  • You can find lots of basics and neutrals – generally speaking men don’t go for a lot of flash; they prefer to keep their wardrobes pretty simple. Men’s shops are full of basics, such as plain colored t-shirts and socks. Every girl needs basics in her wardrobe.
  • You can stretch your budget – a lot of pieces that you buy in men’s stores remain in style for a long time, thus saving you money in the long run.
  • You can meet guys – for those ladies who are single, shopping in a men’s store is a good place to meet a new friend – wink, wink.

images

Studies show that a lot of men shop as if it is a task that has to be completed in a certain amount of time. They find the products they want; sometimes check competitors or alternatives, make a purchase and they are done.

Meanwhile research shows the majority of women, treat the task of shopping as an important mission. They look at a lot of options, try many items on, compare with alternatives, ask about new stock coming into stores, discuss choices with girlfriends, hunt for discounts, put items on lay-a-way, sign-up for store newsletters/e-mails…the steps go on. I doubt adding stop by a men’s shop would bother many of the women who can identify with this way of shopping.

If you love to shop until you drop or if you are just looking to add something different to your wardrobe, consider going to a men’s store.

 

 

Emoji Equality

Writer: Teresa Madaleno

Over the weekend, I was visiting a small Ontario town with a girlfriend when I overheard a group of young people outside an ice cream parlour having a debate about emoji equality. If you haven’t already heard about this, Google employees have suggested a new set of emojis to reflect gender equality in the workplace.

Owl (Hoot) emoji

Emojis are the small digital images used to express an emotion or idea in electronic communication. While some people don’t give a hoot about emojis, they are very important to others. The new proposed emojis include cartoon female engineers, chemists, plumbers and farmers.

In their pitch, Google employees noted that of the 92 percent of online consumers, who use emojis, 78 percent are women, while 60 percent are men. They also said that both women and men are becoming more vocal about the need for more accurate female “representation in emoji professionals”.

Some people are shaking their heads and suggesting we focus on more pressing issues. However, I think we have to look at the bigger picture here.

We already seem to have a racial issue that has boiled over in North America and since our young people are using emojis so much, don’t you think it is a good idea to make sure our youth understand the importance of female equality? Adopting these new emojis could help cement the right images in young minds – both female and male minds. People throw around the words equality and diversity every once-in-a- while, but it is small actions like adopting emoji equality that can actually add up to real change. I guess what I am saying is, every little bit helps when it comes to defining and promoting equality.

For more on the emoji equality issue, check out this July CBC article:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/trending/emoji-equality-google-1.3686884