Finding Cool Presents For All Your Family and Friends

Is it your best friend’s birthday? Maybe it is your anniversary in a relationship or marriage. In any case, most people have a hard time finding cool presents for those that they care about. It really should not be that hard if you follow the tips set forth below.

First, make a list of those people for whom you would like to buy a gift. Think hard about where these people fit into your life. Some of these people may be very close to you. You mutually know each other and what each of you enjoy doing. Others on your list may not be as close, such as a brand new friend or your boss. Even though you do not have a closeness with them, you may decide to keep them on the list. You really do not have to put much thought in finding cool presents for these people. Just get them something that most people like and you will hit it right most of the time.

On the other hand, those on your list that are close to you require a little more thought when choosing the right gift. When choosing cool presents for these folks, you need to review what they like to do, such as their hobbies. Then, make a mental note of what they have already and what they need in relation to a certain hobby. Of those things they still need, figure out which items you can afford, choose the one of those the recipient needs the most and buy it. In other words, if your friend or family member is into astronomy, do not by them a telescope if they already have one. Be practical when choosing your gifts.

After you have made your list, it is time to go shopping. However, why get in the car and go to the mall when you can shop online from the comfort of your own home. Most of the popular stores (Best Buy, K-Mart, Sears, Walmart, etc) also have a website where you can buy their products. Often, these stores have deals that are only good through the website. In other words, you can not get the same deal if you walk into the store.

There are also businesses, such as, that are strictly online that are worth checking. You can often find better deals online than you can when you physically go to the mall. There is a shipping charge. However, when you consider the cost of gas and your time, you can still save a great deal when you shop for cool presents online.

Future of Lighting – Past, Present and Future

The creation of usable artificial light can be considered one of man kind’s greatest achievements because it allowed us to be productive well beyond the time the sun went down. We were no longer bound by the constraints the sun placed upon us. Now we could explore the deepest, darkest recesses of the earth with the ability to see what’s around us. Artificial lighting is an ever evolving technology, so let’s take a look at what brought us here today, and where lighting is going in the future!

Before we talk about the future, let’s look to the past for a little insight into what caused lighting to evolve into what it is today. The creation of artificial light dates back thousands of years when our early ancestors used fire to illuminate the dark world around them. This achievement allowed them to become more productive simply because they were no longer limited by the amount of time between sunrise and sunset. Both industrial revolutions happened in large part because workers could take shifts that went late into the night allowing us, as a whole, to manufacture more. Gas lighting made this possible merely because it permitted factories to illuminate large areas allowing workers to see much better.

The introduction of a reliable incandescent light bulb in 1879 by Thomas Edison took the lighting industry into a new era. Contrary to popular belief, Mr. Edison didn’t invent the incandescent light bulb, but rather improved on the design and developed a system that would replace gas lamps but still utilize the already present gas piping to carry the electricity to the light bulb. He developed the infrastructure that produced and carried electricity to the light bulb, and not much has changed in this process over 100 years later. What has changed is the way in which light is produced and the concern for its overall efficiency.

Today there are 4 main types of light bulbs. They are incandescent, fluorescent, HID(high intensity discharge) and LED(light emitting diode). All of these lamps were developed not because the incandescent light bulb couldn’t put out enough light, but because it couldn’t produce light efficiently enough. An incandescent light bulb gives of nearly 90% of the energy it consumers in the form of heat and only 10% in the form of usable light. The standard measure of light output called a “lumen”, is the measure of energy within the range of frequencies we perceive as light. A standard incandescent light bulb produces 13 to 18 lumens per watt. In comparison, a fluorescent produces 60 to 70 lumens per watt and a Low Pressure Sodium (HID) produces up to 200 lumens per watt but with a very poor light quality. LED’s on the other hand can produce over 200 lumens per watt of high quality, usable light with the current technology. The energy efficiency of each lamp is important, but the lifespan of lamp is also a key factor in its success. Incandescent light bulbs have a lifespan of 750 to 1000 hours. Fluorescents are rated between 6,000 and 15,000 hours, HIDs are around 24,000 hours and some LED’s are claimed to last over 100,000 hours.

Having said all of this, where will lighting go in the foreseeable future? If I were asked this questions, my answer would be towards solid state semi-conductors, or LED’s. Current energy legislation is phasing out incandescent light bulbs, which is ultimately forcing the market towards the other three types. Each type of light bulb has applications that it excels at, but LED’s have begun or have already surpassed incandescents, fluorescents and HIDs in performance for average consumer applications. Once the price of LEDs goes down due to advances in technology they will certainly own the market.

Great light output, long lifespan and lower energy cost aren’t the only things in the future for LEDs. We are in a world where everything we have around us is becoming “Smart”. Our cars, phones and even our microwaves are being manufactured with the ability to connect wirelessly to other devices and can be controlled anywhere around the world. Soon it will be common for someone to get on their phone and turn on all the lights in their house before they get there. Your lights will soon become integrated into your home security system to turn on all the lights in the house whenever a burglar sets off the alarm. We are already seeing this trend come to life. Right now there are products in the market that control the lights in your house much like a programmable thermostat in order to save on energy costs. Simply put, this is the direction lighting is headed in the future.

Marketing a Product Is Most Effective When Presented Through Story Telling

Many years ago, when I was just a young rookie salesman I was fortunate to fall under sway of a wonderful veteran sales manager. His name was Milton Lupow and he became a mentor, teacher and coach as I struggled to climb the ladder to success. The lessons he taught stick closely to me until this day and at every opportunity I introduce Mr. Lupow’s concepts to my clients. When I became a sales manager, then an executive and business owner I appreciated his imparted wisdom even more.

One of the most important, and profitable lessons taught me by Milton Lupow was to sell by telling stories. Ben Franklin closes, take away closes, sales tapes and courses were the rage of the day in the marketing and sales world of that time. Hard selling was common. Mr. Lupow would have none of the trendy techniques.

His sales presentations were seminars in weaving a products features and benefits, and thus importance to the buyer and their customers, through placing the product in the center of a story. After many successful presentations, as we reviewed the meeting notes, we would discuss the customer’s reactions. I began to notice that buyers enjoyed and looked forward to Mr. Lupow’s visits as they were not the normal sales blather that was served up by competitors.

Product comparisons, figures, data points, market share and so many other important elements key to marketing and selling consumer products usually do not sufficiently differentiate your product from competition. Telling stories does. Very few people enjoy being sold something. Everyone enjoys hearing a good story.

After 40 years in the consumer product sales, marketing and product development business I have enough experience to tell stories based on my own history. Those many years ago I did not have this chest of knowledge to dip into. I learned to take some element of the product, research and obtain unique elements of origin, geography, harvest, processing, rarity or availability and weave that bit into my story.

For instance, when I was presenting a fragrance I would highlight the unique, exotic essential oils we utilized, how weather affected their price and access and how the flora or fauna that rendered the oils was discovered. Ambergris is collected from the surface of the ocean after whales vomit. Berber women process rare argane oil from endangered trees in the Sahara desert. Many ingredients are harvested in the Amazon by indigenous tribes. A kind of travelogue with cultural highlights frames the provenance of the product. As I called regularly on customers I discovered, much as I had experienced with Milton Lupow, that the stories were successful in conveying a more positive image of my offerings. I also found out that I was more welcome each time I returned.

When I marketed pet products the story might highlight how I had stumbled onto the product concept while watching dogs interact on the beach, or at a park, or at my sister’s pool party. I invented a wellness pet product by utilizing an ingredient I had found was being used in medical surgeries. I had taken a quart of the compound and when placed in a sealed, soft-sided bag pets loved to relax on the cooling unit. I discovered this by accident while relaxing at the beach.

If I want to convey how products can jump categories I might tell the story of the famous over-the-counter topical treatment Preparation H. The product was developed by a Dr. Sperti, a Cincinnati-based chemist. It successfully provided hemorrhoid relief for generations. Some enterprising hemorrhoid sufferers somehow discovered that the properties that made the cream so effective in its targeted treatment also made Preparation H a terrific facial wrinkle cream. It became the base for some of the earliest wrinkle creams. That is a real leap.

Several years ago we worked on a gourmet food project. The product was wonderful. But it needed a better story to differentiate it from competition. We perused the ingredients in the recipe and researched their supply sources. Targeting two key components of the label statement we developed a unique process story about them. We then bought minimum quantities of the ingredients from the most exotic, artesian sources and added them to the product. We now had a unique, rare, quality-driven story about the products special features and benefits versus the competition.

Process stories are excellent tools to utilize for cosmetic, aromatherapy, bath and body, wellness, food, drink and other consumable products. A proprietary style of production that can be detailed, utilizing a unique engineering or lab process can be a huge difference maker. Ingredient stories alone are rarely enough to achieve success. A trade secret, highly specific method of handling, blending and producing is much more compelling and intriguing to buyers.

Learn to weave interesting stories and points of discovery into you product marketing and sales presentations. Your trade show meetings and sales appointments will be much more interesting and memorable. You will enjoy the increased sales too!

by: Geoff Ficke

Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.

After putting himself through the University of Kentucky (B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1969) and serving in the United States Marine Corp, Mr. Ficke commenced a career in the cosmetic industry. After rising to National Sales Manager for Vidal Sassoon Hair Care at age 28, he then launched a number of ventures, including Rubigo Cosmetics, Parfums Pierre Wulff Paris, Le Bain Couture and Fashion Fragrance.