ly I have been upgrading my wardrobe, replacing old clothes with new, outdated with a little more modern, but mostly updating and staying with my classic styles. Now when I was young and it was winter your mom dressed you up with cotton thermals, cotton socks stuffed into shoes covered with overboots (or my favorite – Wonder bread bags on your feet inside the boots to keep you dry) and a wool snowsuit. Warm yes but the cotton got soaked with sweat and the wool snowsuit collected little balls of snow all over it and was scratchy as heck. As I got older I decided cotton socks were not comfortable and when wet with sweat they stunk, so I decided to try merino wool. Soft, comfortable, warm in the winter, cool in the summer and best yet because wool is antimicrobial they didn’t stink, so when it came to buying new shirts for the upcoming cool months I decided why not try wool. I did my due diligence and found that wool is non-wrinkling, 6x times stronger than cotton and adjusts to the temperature. Looking around the internet and I found the Wool and Prince website. This site caught my eye because unlike the others with one color of undershirts they have a full selection of tee’s, long sleeve, henleys and button downs. A few quick keystrokes later and a few days of waiting my package appeared in my mailbox. Now on their site it stated that they were founded by a Kickstarter campaign after the founder of the company wore one of their shirts 100 days in a row with minimal washing. I pulled it out of the package and slipped it on under my flannel. First thought was how smooth it felt nothing at all like I thought it would second was how well constructed it was and how well it fit, not to loose but not too clingy. Sleeves were just right, length was perfect to tuck or not and no tags to scratch. It was then I decided to see if it lived up to the story so for the next 10 days I didn’t take it off except to sleep. Each day (sans one) I slid it under my shirt while I went to work, visited clients, worked outside and just went about my business. Temps ranged from 27 to 45 degrees and even when I was lifting 1000 pounds of beer cases I never really got overly hot even though I did sweat some. Each night I hung it up - each morning I did a sniff test and found much to my surprise it NEVER smelled. The only scent it did retain was my cologne that got over-sprayed onto it. Day 11 came and I finally broke down and threw it in the washer on cold and finished with a cool dry. When I pulled it back on a few days later after a light, cool iron it was softer than when I received it and while I didn’t wear it 10 days straight I did wear it 7 or 8 times before the next washing. I like this shirt so much I am going to invest in a few more tee’s a Henley or two and some button downs when I get a few of the Christmas bills paid off.
UPDATE: March 18th and I am still wearing it. No pilling, softer each washing and even as the weather has fluctuated between 5 degrees and 72 degrees it still is a great shirt for daily wear and I highly recommend them.
Being both a small newspaper owner and a photography buff, I am always on the lookout for ways to not only take sharper, clearer pictures but a way to lighten my camera bag. Like all good photographers, I have multiple lenses, a couple of camera bodies and the accompanying accessories. As I get a little older, I am finding that I am not as steady handed as I used to be and lugging 12 pounds of equipment around or using two bodies with different size lenses is tiring, especially when I am out shooting multiple events, such as parades or local area sports. Removing and replacing my lens to shoot close-up and distance shots is an invitation for dirt, dust, dampness and the elements to invade my mirror. I went looking for a way to solve my problems and approached Tamron about trying out their new all-in-one zoom lens. This is how Tamron describes their newest lens:
Go to extremes with the world’s first* 22.2x ultra-telephoto all-in-one zoom.
Introducing the world’s first ultra-telephoto all-in-one zoom lens for the APS-C format. With a focal length range of 18-400mm and 22.2x zoom, it has an ultra-telephoto range equivalent to 620mm in the 35mm format. This brings distant subjects closer, while providing perspective-flattening effects that are only possible with an extreme telephoto lens. Plus, it offers exceptional optical performance across the entire zoom range—from wide angle to ultra-telephoto. With this new lens—and its Moisture-Resistant Construction—Tamron brings the art of photography to the joy of travel. Now you can use the same lens to shoot everything from stunning landscapes and neon-lit cities to detailed portraits and delicate flora. The ultra-telephoto range makes it just as easy to photograph animals and sports. And with a maximum magnification ratio of 1:2.9, you can even enjoy tele-macro photography.
Here is how I describe it – Wow, what a lens - lightweight, well built, provides great images with little vignette, the stabilizing feature lets you shoot free-handed a couple of stops below what you normally can without a tripod and the picture quality is perfect for photographers looking for an all-purpose lens and don’t demand the perfection specialized glass does at three or four times the price.
When I originally asked to try this lens, I had five events scheduled to shoot, as well as planning to use it several days out shooting for pleasure. Due to weather (20 - 30 below wind chills for a week, 12+inches of snow one day and heavy rain three other days), four of the events were canceled and as much as I like being out taking pictures, the rain and wind chills kept all but those who had to be outside inside. I did manage to get some shots when I could. Using the lens on a Canon 60D, the event I did shoot was a basketball game where I had a chance to try moving shots as well as group photo’s, all while in a tungsten lit gym. All in all, this lens worked as well as my Canon 200-400 while being much lighter, and it kept me from having to bring my “nifty” 50 or my 18-35mm lenses. Since it was the first time using the lens in this situation, I initially had some problems with settings and getting shots that were not blurry, but after 5 minutes, I figured out the lens was better than I was and dialed my settings in and was happily snapping away.
While outside, I was able to catch some nice action photo’s as well as wildlife without having to change the lens out in the mist or blowing snow. The Tamron’s plastic body is sturdy with a metal mounting ring (unlike some which utilize plastic ones) as well as a rubber ring to help with weatherization. 18-400 meant I could take a landscape shot and then zoom out to 400 to get that close-up of what attracted me to the scene in the first place.
In conclusion, while I had this lens slightly less than a month with only had five shooting days, I know that I will be at my local camera store shortly purchasing one to use for both the paper and myself for those days I can go indulge my hobby. This really is the little lens that can do it all.
Recently I have been upgrading my wardrobe, getting rid of old tee-shirts, giving away shirts that don’t fit (translation: ones I have been holding on “till I fit in them again”) and just dressing a little sharper. Off the rack shirts are ok but if it fits my shoulders loosely it is always too long or if it is tight it is usually too short. One of the things I found while cleaning was a custom, tailor made long coat from my late twenties. I remember the tailor coming out, taking our measurements and then the final fitting before he sewed it all together. It fit perfectly and looked great so when I saw this app advertised called MTailor that guaranteed me a tailored fit – their site states 20% more accurate than an actual tailor- for my shirts (they also do sport coats, suits and pants) I was skeptical to say the least. I mean how can the camera on your phone get video good enough that someone 2000 miles away could custom fit a shirt to your body? Well they can and they did. I received two great fitting shirts that are now a part of my wardrobe and I plan to order more.
I have now worn them several times over the past month and am pleased with them. They are comfortable, durable, wash well and look great. Much to my surprise I received an email about a week or so after I received them asking how I liked them and I replied I would have liked an inch more in length and maybe a ½ in in the chest and shortly after my phone rang and I was talking to a representative who wanted to know if I wanted to return those shirts for new ones. I didn’t so they just added the extra inches to my measurements for my next order. That’s customer service.
So, I guess the phones are going to rule the world one day as they are seemingly taking over everything. But this app did what it said. They ship for free, they offer a full money back guarantee, the shirts are priced at a great price point for a custom made, tailored shirt – they start at $60 for short sleeve to $89 for long sleeve, great customer service and it’s easy. MTailor.com is my new go to for shirts and at some point, I will try their suits and/or jeans.
One thing I have learned over the past 15 years is FEET ARE IMPORTANT and the older I get, the more I realize it. I am on my feet a lot. I have tried all sorts of shoes, hiking boots, and sneakers, but with arches so bad you can’t slip a piece of paper under them combined with being a size 11.5 2E, it is hard to find shoes that both look good and are comfortable. Last fall as I was contemplating new sneakers, my daughter looked at me and stated, “well I know you’ll get the dad shoes” - meaning my white cross-trainers. I have worn this style of shoe for the past twenty years. They are considered a classic and fit me well and are comfortable (I love tennis shoes). I also was considering a new pair of boots, as my Timberlands were starting to show their age. As a salesperson, I deal with many different clients. One minute I may be in a CEO’s office and the next, in a field talking to a farmer. On my lunch hour, I may hike a quick trail instead of eating. I am out in rain, snow, and ice and need a shoe that can stand up to it all. Unfortunately, sneakers do not, and hiking boots or winter boots do not look good in office situations. The most important things I need and want are comfort and stability, as well as decent support. Well, I have found a solution – Forsake shoes. These combination shoe/sneakers or boot/sneakers are waterproof, look sharp, and can go from pavement to trail without skipping a beat.
In September, I bought my first pair and anxiously awaited their arrival. The day I received them, I slipped them on and thought wow, I am going to wear them tomorrow. I did not even go through the normal “break them in slowly” routine. The next day, I was up and out of the house at 7:30am, and much to my chagrin, didn’t get back till about 10:30 that night. Now with most new boots, that would mean sore feet, possibly even blisters, but my feet felt just as comfortable as they had when I wore my broken in sneakers. For the next six months, I wore them at least four times a week, including several 16 hour days, and they have not let me down yet, no matter what the weather. I took them on vacation and walked miles over sandy beaches, US Navy ships, zoo’s, and museums in them. This alone convinced me I liked them so much that I ordered a second pair for the summer.
In 2009, Forsake was started by two college buddies, Sam and Jake. They took off for Big Sky and Alta, worked hard and earned their turns on the slopes, but found their footwear was not up to the task of the ski lifestyle. They created the brand because they wanted a footwear option better suited to their outdoor lifestyle and adventures. The two founders were the brand’s first customers, so they named it Forsake; a shortened version of “for Sam and Jake”.
Made of waterproof leathers and ballistic nylon, the shoes utilize metal lace hardware holding flat laces to prevent fraying and sport a reinforced toe bumper. They come in stylish colors that look great, while being super sturdy. Most of all they are extremely comfortable.
To see the full collection of men’s and women’s shoes, go to https://forsake.com. Shipping is free and they come with a full money back guarantee.
Update: I received my second pair (the Banks model) and am happy to report that they are of the same quality and comfort that the Clydes are. I wear them at least 3 - 4 times a week and couldn't be happier with my choice.
I don’t know about you, but I suffer from what I like to call WSG, or “Winter Growth Syndrome”. As an already large guy, that extra few pounds make my belts critical. In the past ten years as the 6 pack became a case and then became a keg, combined with the fact I have NEVER had hips, I have done what every man I know has done - I have resorted to icepicks and other assorted sharp instruments to add holes to the standard leather belt as I shrink and expand. A standard belt usually has five holes in one inch increments, almost always assuring that my belts were too tight or too loose. Add to that the fact that I always carry as a knife, lighter, change, flashlight, wallet, and occasionally a weapon, I find myself with a case of droopy drawers or pants so tight I am uncomfortable. One night, as I was up working with the TV on for background noise, I caught a commercial for a sliding belt that I stopped to watch. What a great idea - a belt that is micro-adjustable. I then came back to reality and thought as with most “as seen on TV things”, I knew it would probably last me a month before I was buying another one. I also knew that if “made for TV” had one, there were others like it. I started looking for an alternative and boy did I find one in a company called Anson Belt Company.
Anson Belt Company was started by Frank and David Ferree, and these gentlemen have come up with a stylish, sturdy, micro-adjustable belt that has interchangeable belts and buckles. The belt’s buckling mechanism offers 30 size choices, spaced one-quarter of an inch apart, covering almost 8 inches.
During a trip to the Orient, Frank found and purchased an adjustable belt. He then immediately began to search for similar belts to add to his collection. He checked every website and belt outlet imaginable, and even called friends and family all over the country to ask them to check out their local men's clothing stores. Nowhere could he find another belt like the one he had brought home from Asia.
After quite a long while of looking for a similar type belt with no success, he realized It was an opportunity to good to pass up and he decided to create his own company. With the help of his son, David, they worked to research, redesign, and perfect this product. After almost four years of consultation with attorneys, engineers, importers, web designers and marketers, they proudly launched Anson Belt & Buckle Company in 2009.
After I found their website, www.ansonbelt.com, and read the story and perused the products, I decided to order just one to try, but ended up receiving three as the price point is too good to pass up – I mean three high quality belts and two buckles or two belts and three buckles for under $100.00 is an incredible bargain. I have paid between $35.00 and $75.00 for just one leather, split leather, canvas, manmade material, or sewn leather belts only to be unhappy with them when they didn’t do the job. I personally like 1.5” belts but they offer 1.25” as well and the buckles come in assorted styles and colors, thus assuring you can go from slacks to jeans in any color you can think of and have a belt for all occasions.
When your belts and buckles arrive, you will find them stylishly packed inside satiny bags in a gift box. If you give them as a gift, the recipient will be pleasantly surprised. The next thing you do is cut your belt to fit…. leave it just a little long as you can cut more off but can’t add any back. Finally, pair your buckle with your belt and clamp it on, slide the belt through your loops, feed the belt into the buckle and adjust. I made sure to order mine in time for my week-long vacation which saw lots of walking and additions of extra things in my pockets as we picked up change, brochures, and goods we purchased in the places we visited. For the first time in years I did not have to adjust my pants 20 times a day. I simply set the desired hold and the belt took care of the rest. At the end of the day or after a large meal, I let the buckle out a smidge allowing me to breathe easier while my pants stayed where they were supposed to. To say these belts are amazing is an understatement and I will be ordering another three shortly. Why am I so confident in these belts? Because in fact, they are so confident that they back all their products with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, as well as a lifetime guarantee.
Want to get out for an easy but peaceful walk? Then the Sewells Falls trail is just what you are looking for. Since it is a mile or so from my abode, it is my go to trail. If I feel rambunctious I walk to the trail from my house if not I drive down to either the Sewells Falls Bridge or the end of Second Street and the whole 3 mile walk is mine to enjoy. Starting from the Sewells Falls end you have the Merrimack River on your left side for the entire trail. This flat walk is enjoyed year round by hikers, dog walkers, snowshoers and cross-country skiers. As you walk down the path the sound of rushing water, birds and the occasional hum of tires crossing the bridge fill your ears. You can stop and sit on a granite bench and just watch the water flow by or continue down the trail. You will soon come to a small bridge crossing over a small feeder brook. At this point you do climb a small hill but shortly after the trail flattens back out until you reach the parking lot at Second St or you can walk down to the beach and view the old dam. Continue to the left (after you reach the parking lot) and the trail makes a small loop for about a 1/2 mile. If you take this loop you can follow it down to a small beach or swim off the several small beaches along the trail. The whole trail can be hiked in 45 minutes at a brisk pace or take your time to watch for ducks, geese, birds, squirrels and the occasional beaver. There is a restroom located on the Sewells Falls side.
For those of you who like to hike Concords offers over 56 miles of trails to walk. From short 1/4 mile jaunts to a 7 mile hike. Some flat, some hilly, some wooded, some open you can choose what you enjoy. Over the next few months we will be hiking all the trails found here (http://www.concordnh.gov/trails) and jotting down our thoughts.
The Marjory Swope trail found on Long Pond Road in Concord is a fairly new trail to the system and has 3 different trails with great views. Starting at the trailhead you can go either right of left as the trail loops around. Starting to the left (blue blaze) takes you uphill right away (going to the right is a little easier) Gaining about 300+ feet even kids can hike this trail. After about 15 minutes you come to the view you see above. This is Penacook Lake and on a clear day you can see the mountains beyond. Take a quick rest on the bench and then continue on. The trail mellows out from here and after a few minutes you come to a trail blazed in yellow which links to the blue trail or hooks up with the orange blaze trail. The trails are wooded and well marked. By following either the yellow or orange trails you come to Gilfillan Rock. From here you have views of Crotched Mt and Pats Peak. The whole trail system is about 2 miles and can be hiked in under an hour if you push or take your time and it can be a 2 hour exploration. Open year round (you have to park on the road in the winter) this is a really nice way to spend a morning or afternoon enjoying the outdoors.
The day was cold - 6 above and windy, a slight coating of snow was on the ground, Thinking no one would be out I decided it was a good day to shop. I cleaned the car and off I went. I arrived at the mall and found the store I was looking for and walked in. The clerk sitting behind the counter reading a book barely acknowledged me with a glance and went back to reading. I wandered the aisles for a few minutes and walked up to the counter as I couldn't find what I was looking for. I stood for a minute and finally the clerk looked up and said "are you looking for something" (no I wanted to reply I just enjoy watching you read a book). I asked for the item I was looking for and was told they didn't carry them. I then asked if they could direct me to a store that may. Her indifferent attitude came wafting across the counter as she stated she had no idea who would carry the product I wanted. What I was looking for was a simple old fashion double edge razor. Now I know probably not huge numbers of people use them but I enjoy the shave time, all the scents you can get in shave cream and the smooth shave that the multiple blade razors can't give me. I wandered the mall for a little while longer checking in to several stores I believed might have what I was looking for, Out of the 3 other stores I stopped in only one had a clerk who told me of a store in another mall and told me I could get what I wanted there the others, when they found out they didn't have what I wanted, couldn't have cared less that I was leaving empty handed and went back to chatting with the other clerks or digging at their phones. The other mall was 45 minutes farther away and I just didn't have the time to go and then drive the hour and a half back home. Later that night I sat down in my comfortable chair and within 10 minutes and a few keystrokes ordered exactly what I wanted. Within 5 minutes I had confirmation of my order and much to my surprise within 5 more minutes I had a very nice email from the proprietor thanking me for my order. Two days later my order showed up and when I opened it not only did I get exactly what I ordered but since I was a first time buyer the "shop" sent me a couple of samples to try also. The following day I was out on the road selling again and was talking to an owner who was lamenting the lack of customers. I have been in this store before and wanted to tell him why - his help is less than helpful - but knowing this gentleman the way I do I knew he would be les than receptive. This is not the first time this has happened.
This brings me to my point brick and mortar stores need to give the customer service. Customers today have lots of choices, malls, big box stores, chain stores and more BUT most of all they have the internet. Usually lower prices, order from the comfort of home, huge selections. I like to shop local stores that make me feel good about going in and buying from them. When a customer walks in the door you should greet them with a heartfelt hello - you don't have to hover over them but let them know that you are there to help. If they ask for help don't make them feel like they are an imposition - if you don't have the product they are looking for don't make them feel like they are the bad guy and if they ask who might carry it help them. Make your customer feel good and they'll keep coming back and tell others about your service/product. But most of all remember THEY HAVE A CHOICE.
In the last couple blogs we have talked about what types of advertising works and what types of ads there are. A call to action ad is pretty self explanatory - you want someone to do something RIGHT THEN. Come to my sale....One Day Only special etc. Advetorials make you the expert. By using a combination of all of these ads you achieve TOMA and people will assume you are the business to turn to first. TOMA or Top Of Mind Awareness is repetition. Ads have the same look (use of logo or jingle) they are placed constantly in different venues and people think of you when they think of that business. Think of these examples.....I am going to get a Coke, I am going to use a Kleenex, I need to Xerox some copies. All of those are brand names...you may be getting a Pepsi or an Orange soda, you are actually using a tissue and you are making a copy but those brands are so well known quite a few people use the name brands vs. the true name.
Every person on this planet remembers things differently. Some people are readers - they read to remember. Some people are more into listening - some like to view it. So a good selection of newspaper, radio and TV are all ways to get your name out there. But what about all the other ways. The ones outside the box. Billboards may not be for you but advertising on place mats, in small, local papers, shoppers, flyers. Partner with your local pizza delivery place and pay them to put a small mailer on top of their pizza boxes as the send them out. Direct mail is getting easier and more affordable if you know your way around the Postal system. Sponsor an event by yourself or a couple of other businesses. Sponsor a local youth sports team or organization. The more places people see your name the better.
Unless you are an long time business It takes people a minimum of 3 times and more to remember your business. Do a series of ads with a common theme to to get folks attention. Use humor - one of my favorite ads I did a long time ago was for a lobster company that delivered anywhere...I threw a hat on a lobster and we called him "Sandy Claus" for their Christmas season push. A good ad will reach out and engage the customer...even if they don't act right then (and if it is a call to action ad you hope they do) they may remember you down the road.
The advetorial is a tricky ad. You want to seem like the expert but you don't want to much copy or copy that is so dry that it makes the reader quit reading. Doctors, chiropractors, mechanics and real estate can benefit from these types of ads. A basic advetorial answers a question that the reader may have/ask. An example....I now, when the home market is so stagnant, a good time to buy a home? By keeping the answer brief, on point and using a comfortable tone you can set yourself apart as "the expert" by having the answers they want. Include a good picture, have information about your company and offer a free 1st time consultation if they call/email to set an appointment.
A well rounded advertising campaign will capture a large percent of readers/listens/viewers and you get to reap the benefits!
One of the phrases I have heard from my customers about ads they have run in the past is "they never worked" or "people didn't seem to respond like I thought they would'. In my world an ad is supposed to "punch you in the forehead" in other words catch your attention right then and make you act or when you see it think oh yea, next time I am near them I need to stop as they have the best - price/service/value/selection - you fill in the blank. So I always asked for a copy and in most cases could see why right off the bat.
1) The offer in the ad was so small that unless you needed it right then there was no incentive to run to the establishment immediately. By that I mean $3.00 off a $30.00 purchase or 10% off any purchase off $100 or more. While a food restaurant may get away with the first offer since the consumer was probably going to eat there anyway a store that is 10 miles away is a different story. As people become smarter consumers and prices keep rising that $3.00 may not be worth the price of gas. As an example I shop my local groceryette if I need 3 or less items. Price there are $1 to $3 more than the grocery store 8 miles from my home. The savings in gas is worth it if I need more than 3 items. Grocery stores have what they call Leader Items - products they are selling at a great price to entice you in and while you are there they are hoping you but the rest of your groceries there too. If you can have a great Leader Item when the customer comes in you have the opportunity to sell them on additional items.
2) They had so much print or information in the ad that no one would read or listen to it. White space is essential - the simpler the ad the more effective. If you are a full service furniture store do you really have to say you have beds, dining rooms or easy chairs/sofa sets. NO! People expect that, I mean you are a furniture store. What makes your brands better. Are they solid wood? Do the have a lifetime warranty? What sets your store apart is what I am driving at here and that is what your ad needs to reflect. Having lots of information in a small ad may put older consumers off (and remember we are an aging population) as the font must be smaller to fit it all in or the offer is hidden in a myrid of superfluous wording.
3) Have a slogan or jingle that people can't forget. Two all beef patties, special sauce, ..............How many of you finished that without really thinking about it? The first run of commercials ran only a year and a half, going off the air in 1976. It was brought back for a short run in 2003 in a rapped version as background for their commercial. That is staying power and that is a catchy slogan/jingle. Again repetition is key...if your business puts the same message in marketing piece/ad people will soon tie the two together.
Next - Part two of effective ads
If you would like a free consultation, feel free to call me at 603.568.0428 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org