A Brand New Recipe For Branding

In a recent article, I told the story of when I was a young whippersnapper, attaining classes at what was then and still is called "one of the more famous hotel schools in North America", the marketing professor gave us an interesting, but quite challenging assignment.

We were to find a hospitality business that marketed itself by using the participation of the owner as part of the "distinctiveness" of the business. At the time, this seemed like a most difficult assignment, because in those days, it seemed that not too many people really stood out in this field. At least that what it seemed like to me in my youth. Or maybe it was just that they did not want to either make a fool of themselves. There seemed little need to drive the world to their door. I chose a very different restaurant enclosed within an old 19th century Mansion in this very cosmopolitan city. It was called Julie's Mansion and was owned and operated by a very eccentric, but wonderful showman who knew that he had to differentiate his restaurant from all the rest. He knew that the best way to do that – after the assumption of great food, entertainment and service – was to turn himself into the "brand."

My job, as a young hospitality student, was to watch him carefully and learn as much as I could. One Saturday night I showed up and Julie was trying to 'insert' himself into the home team's pro hockey uniform. It was immediately obvious that Julie had never played hockey. To see a middle-aged man struggling to get into and then have to have me extricate him from the jersey, equipment, elbow pads et al, was hilarious for a young guy like me, who had been on skates and playing the game since age four. He certainly was not afraid to make a fool of himself. When I showed up that night, he had less than no idea what piece of equipment went where, and was struggling with the shin guards. He had got himself all tangled up with what he thought were hip guards, when in fact they were shoulder pads, worn over the shoulders. It was indeed the first time I had ever seen a 'player' wearing shoulder pads, stretched around his butt.

I helped him get 'dressed'. Next came the taping of the hockey stick. This was really hilarious, watching this fellow trying to figure out the right way to tape a hockey stick without making a mess of it and looking foolish to his customers. He had a special plan for that stick.

I taped his stick and now he was ready. He had on his uniform, equipment and helmet, borrowed from one of the local NHL players who were a frequent guest at the mansion. Now, he actually looked like a real NHL hockey player … in black and white running shoes, sans skates!

Then Julie 'flew through' the different alcoves and floors of the restaurant with a big ball of foodservice aluminum foil as his 'puck'. He stick-handled in and out and between tables, took shots with the aluminum ball off the walls, cross-checked his own waiters trying to serve tables, all the while yelling cheers and the phrase made famous' round the world, by Foster Hewitt : "he shoots …. he scores!" All this, at the top of his lungs. Then he had planned for a horn to sound loudly indicating that the 'period of play' in his imaginary 'game' was over. It was now time to go to the dressing room. In a flash, just like an on-stage magician, he quickly disappeared into thin air, hidden in his office.

My face was covered in tears. I could not stop laughing! The restaurant was in an uproar. Guests were laughing so hard … one guy literally fell off his chair. The waiters were laughing, the guests were laughing, I was laughing and all the while Julie was having a ball too. Here was a restaurateur who made his work fun.

I had not met one of these types before. I really liked and respected this fellow. But I figured then, and still today, that anyone who had that much fun … and made that much money … must know something the others did not. And he did. He became his own brand. 'Distinctive. 'Differentiated. 'There is attractive to people who are sick of seeing the same old, same old every day. People are attracted to differences not similarities. Take a look at what you can do with yours. It's right under your own nose.

© Copyright, Roy W. MacNaughton, 2006

Tips When Seeking Your Automobile Extended Warranty

You may have heard that "research is critical" when it comes to purchasing an extended warranty for your automobile. Sometimes auto extended warranties are depicted in a negative light because of a few scam artists looking to capitalize off peoples' concern for their investments.

A recent Consumer Reports study recommended that people buy highly rated models only and that they invest in Money Market accounts to save for repairs, rather than invest in a warranty. However, if you tend to incur a good number of auto repair bills, if you plan on keeping your car more than three years and if you drive your car over the recommended 12,000 miles annually, then you are a good candidate for the extended warranty program .

Dealerships know that consumers trust them, by nature. An establishment that deals with billions of dollars in sales each year could not possibly rip you off over a technicality like the extended warranty, could they? Well, maybe they do not mean to rob you blind, but think of the dealership as a retail operation.

If you've ever worked in retail, whether it's clothing, furniture, consumer gadgets or automobiles, then you know that retailers mark up the cost of their items anywhere from 100% to 1,000% of the cost value! Now imagine how much extra you could be paying for your extended vehicle warranty. Do not be afraid to go directly to the source and purchase your warranty online from a trusted company like Warranty Direct.

Another factor to consider is auto warranty for "wear and tear." This type of warranty can be hard to find, since many only cover mechanical failure. However, you can definitely find extended warranty coverage that includes "wear and tear," thereby covering parts like the idler arm, piston rings, U joints, CV joints, wheel bearings, motor mounts, suspension bushings, tie rod ends, seals, gaskets and other engine parts that typically wear down and may or may not cause a mechanical breakdown.

If you have an anti-lock braking system, then you'll want to make sure your coverage extends to ABS and instances of overheating. The comprehensive website, carbuyingtips.com recommends Warranty Direct and Nation Warranty Corporation, which both include "wear and tear" in their plans.

The most important thing is that you do not feel rushed or hassled into securing the extended warranty for your car immediately. Most auto warranties allow you the option of buying later; yet of course, you should only delay as you research, rather than allowing enough time to elapse so your car is a liability. Like with health insurance, it's much harder to get coverage once problems arise.

As with anything, the extended auto warranty is a "buyer beware" scenario, but if you do some homework and understand your auto habits, then the couple of thousand you pay today can save you a small fortune tomorrow.

Most Popular Sports Around The World

All types of sports are popular globally, but what sports can we call THE most popular in the world? Some of the answers may surprise you.

It’s no surprise that football, or what Americans call “soccer” is the world’s most popular sport to play and to watch. An estimated 3.5 billion people either watch or play football. The World Cup is the global championship of the sport and this tournament is played every four years. The World Cup itself is one of the highest rated sports on television, with many countries tuning in en masse to watch their country’s team play. Football is popular in all of the UK, Europe, Asia as well as South America. However, with so many other sports being popular, the Unites States still lags behind in their interest in “soccer”.

Next, we have cricket. This sport which consists of a bat and a ball, has been around for hundreds of years and originated in England. The sport is popular in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, some African countries, some Caribbean countries and it is the most popular sport in the countries of India and Pakistan. An estimated 3 billion people watch or play cricket each year.

The next most popular sport is a sure surprise, and that is field hockey, with an estimated 2 billion players or watchers, mostly in Asian countries, European countries, Australia and around Africa. This sport tends to be played in high schools in the United States, usually by girls only.

Coming up next is tennis. Not so surprising, but there are an estimated 1 billion players and watchers of tennis around the world. Tennis tends to be popular in richer countries, including the United States, Asian countries, Australia and Europe. There are four main tournaments in tennis, called “Grand Slams” at which players from many countries play. The first is the Australian Open, then the French Open, Wimbledon and then the US Open in late August. The Grand Slam tournaments tend to get the most attention during the tennis season.

Next we have volleyball. Yet another surprise, with an estimated 900 million viewers or players around the world. Volleyball is popular in the United States, where the sport originated, as well as in Brazil, all over Europe, Russia, China and Japan. Volleyball is a popular high school sport in many countries due to it’s team centered play and lack of specialized equipment requirements.

Also popular is table tennis, otherwise known as Ping Pong. This is another surprisingly popular sport around the world, with an estimated 900 million watchers or players. Table tennis originated in England as an after dinner activity for Victorians in the late 19th century. Table tennis as a competitive sport is popular in many countries but is especially popular in China, Korea and Singapore.

After these sports, we have a triumvirate of more mainstream American sports including baseball, golf, American football and basketball, with each sport attracting between 400 and 500 million players or watchers worldwide.

Domain Names – Selecting The Right Domain Name For Your Online Business

Domain names unrelated to your topic can easily deter potential readers from clicking on your site. As an example, consider a situation where you may decide to invest in an AdSense campaign, or paid search engine placement. Irregardless of where you advertise your site, the domain name is likely to be visible to the reader. If it is unrelated to what they are looking for, chances are they will not click on your site.

Unfortunately, in some cases, the main keyword for your topic may already be included in a number of other domain names. In these instances, you may want to us a domain name that still includes your main keyword, and also a secondary one. That said, it is important to keep your domain name to a comfortable word length, so that it is easy to remember.

Finally, even though hyphens in a domain name may make it possible to use your main topic keywords, they can be very annoying to your potential reader. For various reasons, a potential site viewer may want to type the domain name into the address bar. If you have hyphens in the name, it is easier to mis-type it, and then receive an error message. In all cases, it is important to realize that web surfers rarely have the patience to wade through long domain names, let alone figure out why the error occurred.

Many people want domain names that are fresh and live. Unfortunately, even if the name is very creative, it may not be related to your product or site topic. Aside from this, long or tedious domain names can inhibit potential viewers from returning to your site at a later time.