The Strategies to Empower Your Call Center Business

Running an operationally efficient call center that delivers a high-quality customer experience can be a difficult objective to achieve. Consumers are becoming increasingly know-how and their expectations for quality customer service and support is steadily growing. Most corporations may see a contact center as an added expense but as you weigh things down, you find that a call center is a necessity for your business to thrive. It is quite a task to systematically deliver excellent customer service while cutting down additional costs. This may seem intimidating, but it is definitely possible to transform your contact center into a profit-producing asset. But it is difficult to handle a call center with the upper level of customers’ satisfaction.

Here, I am going to represent some ideas of specific strategies to empower your call center business to get the high level of customer satisfaction which will affect your sales graph positively.

Support social media:

While the phone remains at the heart of customer contact centers. There is an increasing need to effectively manage data from multiple channels thanks to the exponential rise in social networks like Twitter and Facebook. This requires solutions that have both the intelligence and flexibility to adapt changing market and consumer needs.

Social media has empowered consumers to become broadcasters or journalists, so speedy and flexible customer service is critical. A complaint sent via Twitter that is left unanswered could spread internationally overnight.

Empower your employee:

Employees are the main factor of a call center who have to communicate with customers directly. We can say that the employees are the heart of a company. So, enable your employees to make their own recommendations on improvements, after all, they are much closer to the working procedure than senior management.

A focused call center can help a brand realize its goal whether that be higher levels of customer satisfaction, more revenue per customer or driving increases in sales. Establishing the right policies and working practices can empower call center employees to support the brand and the business.

Refining Your Customer Service Strategy:

Your customer care center will work in tandem with your call center software to create synergies in your customer service department. One of the biggest advantages of this software is its ability to collaborate with your customer history. For instance, say you get calls from a long time customer on a monthly basis. Call center software can be set to display “screen pops,” which allow the agent instant information as soon as the call is answered, reducing call times and customer satisfaction. Screen pops can be customized but most commonly will include customer purchase and return data on every inbound call.

It doesn’t matter if you are making inbound or outbound phone calls providing customers and prospective clients with the right answers, faster can really streamline your sales efforts.

Know your customer:

Understanding the demographics of your customers is a key first step toward determining which tools and approaches will best help you achieve your business objectives. For example, tech-savvy customers will likely expect to connect with you through more technical channels, such as online forms, chat sessions, or social media drove community-based solutions. Less tech-savvy customers, on the other hand, may require more traditional, higher-touch solutions, such as phone, fax, or email.

Types of Custom Promotional Merchandise

As a smaller business, you don’t have the unlimited budget of a large corporation when it comes to your custom promotional merchandise, which means you need to look for branded merchandise that is affordable and will work into your budget. Just because you are a smaller company, doesn’t mean you should ignore this amazing branding opportunity.

We have put a list of the top custom promotional merchandise options for the smaller business, that will work into your budget and provide clients with a branded item that they can use, boosting your brand visibility on a daily basis.

The first and probably the most popular of all the custom promotional merchandise that you can buy is T-Shirts. Ensure when you choose to brand t-shirts with your company logo that you choose a good quality garment, such as a polo shirt, which can be worn by men and women. Whether you are getting your team to wear the t-shirts to promote your business wherever they go or you are looking for promotional t-shirts you can give or sell to your clients, never ever compromise on quality.

Another great opportunity for the smaller business is branded pens. Everyone uses pens and they are cheap. You can buy a high volume of pens branded with your logo at a price that works into your budget and you can use them in-house and hand them out to clients, so that your company name is being seen throughout the day every day.

Further you may want to look at coffee mugs. Almost everyone has their own coffee mug at the office and drinks at least one cup of coffee while at work. The benefit of these mugs is that they are branded with your company name and logo, along with any other important information you want to put on them, what this means is every sip of coffee or tea your client takes, your name is seen and remembered, not only by them but the others in the office.

Key chains are another great branding opportunity when looking for affordable custom promotional merchandise. Have some key chains printed with your company name, logo, address and phone number. Clients can use the key chain on their keys and in the event they are lost, hopefully someone has contacted your company or dropped them off. In addition to branding these are a great opportunity to add a bit of added value to your service.

If you have a store, then you definitely want to look at reusable bags that your clients can take away from your store and use time and time again when they do their basic shopping. The great thing with reusable bags is that your clients can use them for anything and at any time and what that means is your company name is being seen by a variety of people every time your client leaves their home with your bag in hand.

If you are on a very tight budget, then take a look at lanyards. Lanyards hang around your neck, with your branding of course, but the benefit is that clients can use them to hang their access card for the office or even their keys to reduce the risk of losing them. They can be used for all types of applications, boosting your brand in the process.

Other options can include the credit card wallet, because these days with the number of credit cards, debit cards and loyalty cards you receive, they cannot all fit into your wallet easily. The credit card wallet can free up your clients purse or wallet, enabling them to keep all their cards in one handy place.

Brandz is a United Kingdom based company specializing in promotional products. This well-established company provides a complete turnkey service from the initial stages through to completion. They provide their customers with an experienced team who focus on helping their customers improve their branding with a range of promotional products to meet their requirements and marketing budget. Brandz offers a twenty four hour service, the highest quality products and affordable prices. Samples are available on request to help their customers identify the best promotional products to choose from based on the extensive range available on their easy to use and secure website.

High Performance Teams

How does your team perform? How do you rate it on a scale of 1 to 10 where 1 is poor and 10 excellent? Is it massively successful constantly delivering way past all expectations? Is it full of positively minded people working together to achieve challenging business goals? Is it autonomous, responding effectively to challenges and opportunities large and small?

If the answer to these questions is “yes”, congratulations, you can score a 10 and don’t need to read any more of this article. In fact, as you are likely to have plenty of time for high yield activities, give me a call to discuss how your team got there.

Sadly, this isn’t the case for most of us. Your team may not be a “10” but I doubt if it’s a “1” either. Hopefully you are somewhere on the path and have the right attitudes, values and approach develop your team into a “10”.

Empowerment is a key ingredient to the high performing team. If your team feels undervalued, lacking in authority and capability, frightened to make the slightest mistake it’s unlikely to be hitting the high notes. Perhaps there are some individuals that show real potential but others are negative and unproductive?

Are you creating the right conditions for success? Does the team have a clear understanding of what is required of them? Have you a vision of what success looks like? Are the goals you have set, or been set, shared and meaningful to all team members? Reward and fear motivation is common in business today. A common example is rewarding success with a bag of money and punishing failure with the sack. The trouble is we get used to this, we need more and more money to get the same level of motivation and become resilient to threats of the sack.

Internal motivation is far more lasting and effective. It needs more work, it needs you to really understand your people and what drives them. If you know this and use personal, meaningful goals your team will self-motivate. If you have linked their personal, meaningful goals to team and company goals you are well on the way to a successful team.

The whole team is raring to go, but have they the capability to execute? Are team members allowed to make decisions? Have you delegated effectively packaging the task with the necessary authority and resources? Effective delegation is important to team success and team growth. It is a wonderful growth tool for teams and individuals. It does, however need certain attitudes and process to succeed.

Flexibility is a good starting point. The way you do a task may not be the way a team member does. They can be innovative and bring unexpectedly good results given the opportunity. It’s worth letting people test out new ideas. Sometimes different is really good, just think of Amazon and Facebook.

How self-confident are you? Enough to release authority and responsibility to team members? Enough to heap praise publicly when they bring success? Lack of self-confidence and micromanagement are the enemy of productivity. Conquer them and you will become an indispensable profit and productivity generator both for yourself and your company.

Focus on results don’t strive for perfection. Perfect is no friend of productivity. Set standards that are right for the job and always be mindful of the Pareto principle. 80% of your results are going to come from 20% of activities. This means a lot of the work delegated will contribute relatively little to overall performance. It’s intelligent to accept less than perfect in relatively unimportant areas.

Taking credit for the work of others, not really listening to their ideas or working solo crush team morale and productivity. Some people believe effective leaders must always be in total control. They see this as the way “good bosses” should behave. Many bosses do behave this way but I question if they are good. It’s most certainly not the way a good leader behaves so, if that’s what you want to be I suggest you avoid this behaviour entirely.

Delegation develops employees into effective team members. Risk is inherent but you can balance it against the likely reward in terms of personal and team growth and overall performance. It’s also possible to limit risk by adopting a multi-level delegation process.

Tiffany is a bright, driven girl with her foot on the first rung of the marketing ladder. She is doing a great job creating very successful direct mail campaigns. She is eager for something new and looks like a good candidate for development. You have just the task and would like to delegate it to her. It’s running an event which will be a challenge for her but offers a great development opportunity.

A good first step is to her for an opinion. You might say “I’m thinking of doing things differently and wondered who you think might be able to handle this task, perhaps even you? This gives her the opportunity to express opinions but not feel forced to accept the task.

If Tiffany accepts, consider this approach. The first time the opportunity to run an event comes along you run it, let her watch you do it and ask questions. The second time let Tiffany do it with you assisting and helping out where needed. The third time she runs the event, but this time without your support unless absolutely needed, reporting at regular intervals. Subsequent times she always runs events unaided and only reports in exceptional circumstances.

One seemingly small point is very important for Tiffany’s confidence and status in the team. If she performs well, make the praise loud, long and public. If she needs coaching make it supportive, private and non-judgemental.

I hope this is useful to you and help you build your own high performance team.

Maximize the Potential of Your Business Presentation

Business presentations are a collateral reflection of who you are. A glimpse of your personality could be seen in the ways and the content of your presentation.

The way you carry yourself, the way you speak, deliver your sentences, tackle tricky questions with confidence and successfully convey your message, speak volumes about your personality.

Still, there are much more ways in which you can support your business presentation to reach its maximum potential.

HIGHLIGHT YOUR SUPERPOWER

A positive way to keep your audience attentive to you is to show them that you are worth their time and trust. Rather than speaking about your achievements and future goals, speak about your credibility because if even little points will exist with which the crowd will not feel connected to then the tables will instantly turn.

Talk about your goals within the first few minutes of the presentation

Choose your presentation design which corresponds with your goals, which should be introduced to your audience as early as possible. This will help your audience to correlate what you are expressing with the ‘why’ and ‘what’ you want to achieve.

Never underestimate the impact of a powerful image/quote

A business presentation is usually a collection of fertile ideas, knit together as one to illustrate a larger picture. So, the smart use of different images/quotes to introduce different ideas will supply more power to your presentation. Vocalizing the quotes or speaking few important words out loud will bring your presentation to life, especially if the presentation has numerous bar graphs, bullet points, and pie charts.

GIVE YOUR AUDIENCE THE POWER TO BRAINSTORM OVER YOUR QUESTIONS

One of the unbeatable ways to make your presentation more interactive is to begin it with a question which you, yourself will answer. Like you can start with “I asked myself what all can my team will be able to do and contribution for making this project a success?”. So, based on this question you can build up your presentation. Be alert to all the questions from your audience as they are icebergs of curiosity. The more you will suffice your audience, the stronger their trust will grow in you.

Be ready to tackle tough questions

Always be confident and logical at answering the questions from the audience. There will always be questions whose responses if given without solid facts and coherence, will put your image down in your crowd’s eyes. If you know your topic as well as you’re your audience, then always keep your business binary clean and do not ever shelve any question from the audience.

KEEP YOUR OWN QUESTIONS READY IF NOBODY ASKS YOU ANY

It could be a possibility that your audience is shy or somewhat hesitant to ask you questions about your presentations. Always remember, if you face this kind of a situation, then always compose a question to yourself because ‘zero curiosity’ turns into ‘zero interest’ overnight.

Take your crowd on a final journey

Always take your crowd on a final journey before you wrap up the presentation. Highlight all the important points and tell the crowd how they will be productive if given proper attention by the appropriate crowd.

Keeping the immense support in mind which we get from the PowerPoint presentations, one should also be able to support her/himself equally well during the closing moments of the presentation because humans invented the PowerPoint and not vice versa.

Writing For Professionals

Having a great resume is the first step to landing that ideal job. Resume writing can be the most stressful part of the job search. But it is also the most effective way to share your experience and qualifications. The purpose of your resume is to create enough interest that the employer will want to see you for a more in-depth face to face interview. Those resumes receiving the most attention are structured with the following components:

Value Proposition Statement

This section should state to the employer the immediate value you will bring to their organization. If you are a business development professional with successful experience working with companies in the medical industry you should have this listed in this section. An example of this statement would be “an experienced business development professional with established existing relationships in place with key regional medical equipment companies. These established relationships will allow me to gain immediate access to key decision makers early within the sales cycle”. The value proposition statement allows the employer to visualize you in this position and as an immediate contributor to their organization.

Keywords In Resume Writing

Effective resume writing should be done in a way that allows you to stand out from the crowd. One of the most effective ways to do this is to make sure you use the appropriate keyword (s) for the job posting. So we know that most companies are using parsing software in reviewing resumes. This software is designed to filter for keywords from the resumes they receive. This software will look through resumes for these keywords.

So simply put keywords are those words that easily describes the position you are applying for. In the example above the position is business development professional. So what words immediately come to mind with this position? Correct, business development. Therefore you will want the keywords to be the words business development. To tell your story you should use these keywords in a natural story telling manner.

Highlight Your Experience

Many professionals have a wealth of valuable relevant experience to share. The key is how much of this experience should you share on your resume? Resumes are parsed and if selected will be reviewed by the employer for about 20 seconds or less. In resume writing it is totally acceptable to construct a 2-3 page resume if you are applying for an executive level position. All other positions 1-2 pages are common. Remember most employers know that the average job seeker has three plus jobs in their career. The length of the resume is not as important as the use of keywords and highlighting your relevant experience and qualifications. The only experience you should highlight are those experiences that apply to the job. As mentioned above you should naturally tell your story using keyword and relevant job experience.

Having a great resume is easily accomplished and doesn’t require fancy words, design or layout. There are many free resume writing templates on the internet that can help you with layout etc. Because this document is so important in getting you closer to your new job we encourage you to devote the necessary time to get it right. Most importantly before you send your resume to a perspective employer you should have a trusted person review it and provide feedback. Be sure to use spellcheck and look for grammatical errors etc. Remember you only get one chance to make a great first impression.

Resume Writing Made Affordable

Many professionals choose to write their resumes and with tremendous results. But if you feel the need to use a professional service know that these companies and professionals fees range in price from $300-$1500 based on the required technical copy writing skills. In other words if you are applying for an IT or Medical position you would want a resume writer with that level of experience to write impact copy or content on your behalf.

You are now closer to securing that position that most fits your skills and qualifications. Wishing you the very best

We hope this article clarifies some of the confusion in the use of keywords and value proposition statements. Resumes are designed to gain the attention of the prospective employer. Take some time in listing your qualifications and skills. With this article you are now equipped to tell a great story about your qualifications and experiences.

Your Business Need A Sales Funnel

It may sound obvious but often a business will forget the fact that the only way to make money is to get customers to buy. And the best way to get customers to buy is to have am effective sales funnel.

A sales funnel is set of steps where you guide a prospect through a series of communications that results in them buying from you.

But what happens after that first sale is made? Existing customers are the people who are most likely to buy from you again.

How Does A Sales Funnel Work?

At the top of the funnel, you offer something for free in return for getting a prospect’s contact information. This could be a report, checklist, video or eBook. Then you begin marketing, following up with emails and other communications to attempt to make a sale.

Throughout your sales funnel process, you should have several offers that complement each other. For instance, before you buy a car, you take it for a free test drive. If you like the car and buy it, the salesman doesn’t just hand you the keys and then vanish. You’re offered extended auto warranties, enhancements like upholstery and wheel options.

After a couple of months the salesperson will contact you to see if you’re happy with your new car, and let you know about a discount or sale going on.In the future, you’ll be contacted with opportunities to trade in your vehicle and the sales process goes on and on.

How Many Levels In The Sales Funnel Process?

As you can see from the example above, there can be many different levels in a sales funnel. A one level funnel is where after a customer buys from you, you move onto the next prospect.

But this a critical error.

It costs 6 to 7 times more to get a new customer than keep an existing one. It makes sense to market to someone who has already purchased one of your products, rather than try to convince new people to buy your services. An existing customer already knows you and your business. If they have received excellent value from you once, they’ll be more prepared to spend money with you again, rather than somebody who has never heard of you.

There is no “ideal number” of sales funnel levels. Each business, product and service is different. Just make sure you are continuously providing your prospects and customers opportunities to improve their lives or solve their problems with future purchases from you.

Finding a Great Job

Many businesses have high turnover rates due to unhappy, unsatisfied, and/or unappreciated employees. There are several ways a company can create loyalty, happiness, and more positive attitudes towards employee’s jobs. One such approach is through increased company functions and gatherings that help develop office friendships throughout the company. Also, the creation of management teams and developing a teamwork mentality will help employees gain the feeling of ownership in their company. Instead of an us versus them attitude between departments, friendships throughout the company will also help build a complete team attitude. Many prominent companies create outlets for their employees to volunteer, fundraising, and help their community. The following suggestions will also increase employee pride, happiness, and ownership of their responsibilities at work.

• Family Atmosphere – This type of environment creates a climate of fairness, equality, respect, and makes it safe to express dissent. This atmosphere is welcoming and creates a friendly environment to introduce new ideas. Employees teams may encourage a challenging but supportive environment and strengthen loyalty and teamwork throughout the organization.

• Recognition Programs – Company programs that recognize hard work, commitment, effort, and contributions breed organizational success and loyalty. The recognition program should include monthly awards and gift cards or a free lunch. Recognition from a supervisor at least two ranks above an employee makes a meaningful, engaging difference in employee morale.

• Organizational Pride and Belonging – Promote activities that development and establish pride and loyalty which is the backbone of any businesses long-term success. Employee turnover is extremely expensive and productivity and product or service development suffers. An engaged employee is a person who is enthusiastic about their work. Improving employee engagement directly impacts measurable business outcomes. Employees who are committed to success, emotionally attached, and socially involved with a company demonstrate qualities that business managers thirst to have. Engaged employees are more productive at work, take less sick days and exhibit other favorable behavior, promote the business to others and show their happiness to customers.

• Mentor Programs – Thinking long-term for future company success. A mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser that assists in developing competent employees and future leaders. Mentoring program train and encourage seasoned employees to be mentors. A mentoring program can facilitate dynamic skill growth throughout an organization. Informal learning can be as important as formal learning programs.

• Volunteering Options – Look for opportunities for your company employees to get involved in the community. Allow your employees to volunteer their time or fundraising for a good cause. It is good public relations for companies to show their communities they care about their customers. These activities will create good-will among the local community and your employees. Create a team to decide what cause your company will offer financial support for a charity or cause.

Employee engagement can be improved by aligning the goals of individual with the goals of the business. Employee motivation should be associated with traditional rewards, such as pay and compensation, but also with emotional rewards such as personal growth, working for a common cause, being part of a high-performance team, and being recognized for achievements.

Quick Payback With Cheap EDDM Marketing

Every business needs a marketing plan to be successful. An effective way to get a fast return on promotional marketing campaigns is Every Door Direct Mail, (EDDM), a U.S. postal service for local business that can benefit from targeted zip codes to every house or house and businesses right down to the individual carrier route. Compared to traditional direct mail has very low distribution costs. The cost is $0.183 for each piece. This is cost-effective marketing solution that generates fast sales to new and old customers. Another benefit to EDDM is that it is delivered the day after it arrives at the post office. Direct mail can take weeks to be delivered and you may not know when it is delivered.

There are 6 standard sizes for EDDM: 4.5 X 12, 6 X 12, 6.5 X 12 6.5 X 9, 8 X 6.5 and 8.5 X 7. All sizes cost the same to mail. In addition to cheap mailing fees, there is no need to buy expensive mailing lists and address imprinting. Just select the zip codes in your target areas right down to the individual carrier route. To make this even easier, let your printing service handle the paperwork and delivery to post offices of your choice.

With this EDDM marketing, you can mail directly to local residential customers in the address area of the card. The maximum quantity allowed in this retail program is 5,000 to 25,000 a day at any one post office. Mailers must be bundled in 50 or 100 so they can be quickly distributed to the right carrier.

Put in your target zip codes and choose using breakdowns showing residential, business, total, age 25-44, size, income and cost. This free easy-to-use demographic guide map lets you select the best neighborhoods to give you a fast return on your investment.

You can deliver to other post offices as long as you send a minimum of 5,000 to each. This is so the post offices are not overloaded with EDDM mail. Another advantage is that many printing services offer full service mailing. They do the paperwork, bundling and delivery to your post offices of your choice. Having your printing service do the mailing for you allows you to not pay sales tax as you are not taking possession of this printing.

This quick return marketing plan is best with local businesses such as take out and restaurants, realtors, dry cleaners, retail stores, auto dealerships, contractors and home services, medical professionals, health and beauty services – to name just a few business that can benefit from this promotion.

One very important tip is that this is not a one-time test to see if you can recover your cost in your first mailing. If you offer a valuable discount sale you should get your investment back in a short time. The best way to get high returns is by making your EDDM campaign a monthly mailing to keep you brand in front of people’s eyes so they remember your business.

Using this EDDM program is a great way to get a fast return on your promotional marketing campaigns. It can save you in mailing costs as well as saturate any area you want to concentrate sales. Whether you use full service EDDM printing or do it yourself, this is a successful way to target your audience without spending a lot of money.

Nonprofit, Civic and Church Leaders Can Help Us Heal

There is real human suffering happening in our country and around the world, but we all have to step up to help because here’s the reality, we’re all in this thing called life–together. No one is better than anyone else. And, as the adage goes, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

Is it just me, or are you tired of the relentless stream of neurosis, disrespect, screaming and shouting that is dividing us on almost any and every level? If there’s an idea or statement made, there seems like there’s going to be someone out there who will take on the issue and as quickly as you can snap your fingers, there’s debate, particularly on social media. Often, these “debates” devolve into online name-calling, trolling, and utter disrespect. I have seen several conversations shut down in nonprofit and church social media groups, which is ridiculous when you think about it, because if people can’t have substantive and productive debates and discussions in these areas, where can they discuss critical social issues?

Here’s my message: We’re better than this.

I believe that nonprofit, civic and religious leaders can play a part in elevating the civil discourse.

Social networking has been great because, in practical ways, it has broken down borders. Connecting with people around the world is easy. For many organizations and groups, social media has brought down marketing and advertising costs considerably, raised awareness and leveraged resources.

But, I think that as we’ve become more “connected,” there’s incredible division. Divisiveness has got to stop.

Church, civic and nonprofit leaders can help our communities heal.

Do you remember the Golden Rule?

The Golden Rule was simple, and I think leaders should remember it each morning as they head to work and ask that their teams adhere to its tenets.

The Golden Rule has a religious origin. It came from the words that Jesus said in the “Sermon on the Mount.” The principles became religious teachings incorporated into the Bible.

Matthew 7:12: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Those words are so simple–treat others as you would like to be treated.

I think our society is in a precarious place. We are not listening to each other. We are shouting and screaming past each other. We are ignoring each other.

And, here’s the bigger thing for me–many of us are expecting attention and the world to hear us, and we are not giving others the same respect.

This has got to stop.

I think nonprofit, civic and church leaders are in a unique position. Often, because of their position in communities, they are leaders.

Constitutes Ethical Company

I wanted to explore the meaning behind the word ‘ethical’ in this day and age, and how some companies manage to slip through the net using marketing tactics.

I have recently read articles praising companies who are considered the most ethical – there is a list of these illustrious and successful business ventures of 2013, 2014 etc. – and they are set up as the benchmark for the rest of us. I opened the list in anticipation of seeing estimable companies mentioned, but was horrified to see a number of corporations on the list who are known to create products that compromise health or are involved in deforestation or child labor – to name but a few crimes against humanity.

Even if a company is taking steps to become more ethical, surely they shouldn’t be allowed on such a list until they have some substantial history in ethical practice. These questions immediately came to mind – “who on earth compiles these lists and what is their agenda?” “Are they genuinely ignorant of the practices of these companies, or is profit the only criteria?” Or even worse – “Is ethical practice now being judged by the 80/20 rule?”

So, what is considered an ethical company in this day and age?

Employment

Is it all about how a company treats their employees? If the people that work for them are treated well, getting decent salaries and benefits – does that make the company ethical?

If their employees have protective clothing while they are spraying the planet with toxic chemicals – does that make the company ethical because it is looking after its own?

If employees are given the benefit of cheap food and clothing in the form of company discounts, is the company ethical if the food is the end product of compromised ingredients and tortured animals?

If job opportunities and helping the economy is stated as being a valid reason for companies to start business ventures that poison the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat, I have to ask – who benefits?

Marketing

Or maybe being seen as ethical is all about a brilliant marketing campaign. A campaign which makes the general public feel all warm and fuzzy – full of cute animals, young children or a celebrity or two – or maybe all of the above if the company has unlimited finance to throw at it. We are presented with an emotional roller coaster ride which dulls the senses and convinces people of its sincerity and authenticity, because it’s just so darn pretty!

For example, the food and drink industries are money machines that can employ the most ingenious and brilliant of marketers who are capable of blindsiding the uninformed into believing every word they say. A lot of them churn out addictive products which lack nutrition and create severe health problems through the addition of ingredients which kill brain cells, and generally attack the organs of the body. However, that seems to be acceptable because their marketing campaigns bring people together in happy food and drink related ways, and their packaging is so bright and colorful and the wording so reassuring – natural, farm fresh – got to be true, yes?

It comes to mind that some of the most successful confidence tricksters and serial killers come in a very pleasing physical package. It is because they are good looking that they are able to get close to their victims, but beautiful on the outside doesn’t necessarily mean beautiful on the inside. I think this rule applies to companies and their marketing campaigns as well.

We are surrounded by marketing images which promote ‘beauty’! These images not only corrupt and destroy people’s self-confidence, but they also set the precedence that beauty is best. Therefore, in our subconscious we link beauty to all that is good, and we dismiss all that is not beautiful, according to the current standards set by the media and marketing industry.

I lived in the Algarve, Portugal for a couple of years and while I was there I knew people who had orange trees on their land. They were the sweetest oranges I’d ever tasted in my life, yet none of those oranges would have reached supermarket shelves. The reason why is that they were all ‘ugly’ fruit – they weren’t tampered with in order to make them visually pleasing. I was told by the owner of the orange grove that the ugly fruit were the sweetest, and that is something I think is worth remembering, because it opens our minds and we won’t so easily be seduced by beauty if we know there is a viable alternative.

Charitable Donations

If a cosmetics company donates money to eradicate skin cancer they have to be ethical, right? People will think that they are wonderful and more readily buy their products. However, what if that same company includes ingredients in its products which can cause cancer – aren’t they just creating a market for themselves? It bears thinking about!

If a food or drink company gives donations to schools in the form of IT or sports equipment etc., is it really an altruistic act? They often get returns in the form of advertising on the premises and massive hikes in sales as the word spreads about their good deeds. Not forgetting that they are creating a new generation of people who will be addicted to their products.

Charitable donations also need to be a win/win situation. The people needing help are no lesser beings than the people giving it, just because they don’t have financial wealth. They shouldn’t be exploited in the name of profit.

I think we need to remember that the companies that give lots of money to charity are usually companies that can easily afford it. It doesn’t hurt them at all, in fact it often benefits them – they don’t feel the pinch. There are many companies that give money open-heartedly and genuinely help everyone they touch, and there are those that give money in order to gain goodwill and a rise in sales. It is our job to find out which is which.

So what percentage between donations and damage constitutes ethical by today’s standards? Is it 25%/75% or does it need to be 50%/50%? Who makes these decisions and what is their agenda? It doesn’t seem to be the health and well being of the planet, that’s for sure.

Conclusion

I suggest that before we decide that a company is ethical we look deeply into the face of that company, look into its eyes and see its soul. Remember that a beautiful face is no indicator of a beautiful soul – the eyes are the windows of the soul and by looking deeply into them you will be able to discern whether it’s transparent or deceptive.

My father was a magician, a member of the Inner Magic Circle, and when I was growing up I used to watch him practice. He told me to always watch the hand that seemed to be doing nothing – and that has taught me a valuable life lesson. So when a company or institution of any sort puts forth a spectacular display which draws my attention, I drag my eyes away from where the lights are shining and look into the shadows to see what they are hiding, what is it they don’t want me to see? If after careful scrutiny and research I find there is nothing being hidden, then I deem that company ethical and sit back and enjoy the show!

I am not for one minute telling anyone what to think, or what to do. What I humbly suggest is that everyone looks carefully at the decisions they make, and the companies they support by either using their services or buying their products. Then each of us will know that we aren’t being led by the nose into compromising our own set of values and what we personally believe in.

The bottom line is that if people, animals and the planet are being negatively impacted by a company’s products or services, that company is not ethical – no matter how much they give to charity, or how many heart-warming marketing campaigns they launch. They are shirking their responsibility towards all living things in the name of profit. That is the truth!

I would love to hear your comments and what the word ‘ethical’ means to you personally.

Sue is the Founder of Soulfully Connecting. The idea behind Soulfully Connecting is to demonstrate that there are other ways of living which can heal the earth, the animal kingdom and ourselves. She is passionate about people having freedom of choice, which is only possible when they know about all the options.