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Thursday, 18 September 2014 16:01
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This is Somerset:

The patriotic table tops are the work of inventor and entrepreneur Nick Stillwell, who created them using recycled coat hangers supplied by the Frome store.

Between 500 and 600 coat hangers have gone into each of the first two 8ft by 4ft table tops, each weighing 35kg.

Mr Stillwell, who founded Protomax, a plastics engineering company based in Vallis Way and in Swansea, produces panels and other bespoke items using a mixture of recycled plastics, concrete, wood, blast aggregate and more.

His machine, which turns mixed waste into usable everyday items, is the only one of its kind in the country.

Mr Stillwell described his product as the new MDF – medium-density fibreboard – an engineered wood product used a building material in similar applications to plywood.

He said: “But it is also suitable for inside and out as it does not rot, perish, warp or rust and is completely frost proof.

Thursday, 18 September 2014 16:01
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A Japanese company called Kiko is now offering wooden sandals called Ashiato for kids that leave animal tracks in the sand as they walk. The website is in Japanese, but here’s what I’ve been able to figure out via Google’s translate tool:

Ashiato are children’s clogs with animal footprints. Shapes available include a cat, owl, monkey, dinosaur, and gecko. Great for the beach or sandbox.

Thursday, 18 September 2014 16:00
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Gaza has been faced with unstable power supply for the past five years. Instead of suffering in silence, Mahmoud Shaheen created his own solar source.

Mahmoud Shaheen, a 55-year-old chemistry professor, started investigating the possibility of generating electricity at home a long time before the bombing of the generators.

“I started thinking of this experiment 21 years ago and at the time things were not really better than they are now because Gaza was under Israeli occupation and power outages used to happen a lot,” he told Al Arabiya

His idea was made possible when a Palestinian vendor brought electrical cells from Israel and did not know what to do with them. He took the cells from him and started experimenting with them until he managed to generate electricity.

“Since then my house has been fully lit and during blackouts it is the only house from which light comes in the middle of Jabalia.”

Shaheen, now known as the Conqueror of Darkness, explained that he did not use chemical reactions to generate electricity, but rather depended on solar energy.

Photo by Abi Skipp

Thursday, 18 September 2014 15:58
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A marketing audit is a structured review of a business’s current marketing activities that is done to ensure that the marketing plan is performing as expected. Each aspect of the marketing plan is reviewed to determine whether or not it has led to increased revenue.

The audit should be very comprehensive and look at a number of factors, both inside and outside of your business. It should cover your company’s marketing environment, objectives, strategies, organization and systems.

Audits work best when they are done by someone who is independent of what is being evaluated. Self audits are good, but they tend to lack the objectivity of an audit done by someone who outside of the operation being evaluated. You don’t necessarily need to bring in an outside consultant to do the audit, though. Appoint someone from a different part of the company that is not normally involved with marketing.

While it is not necessary to put marketing audits on a set schedule, it is good to get into the habit of doing one more regularly than not. Too often marketing audits are done only when sales have fallen sharply and there’s a feeling of desperation. The crisis could often have been averted if the marketing strategy had been evaluated and redefined during the good times. Marketing audits can also help to make a good situation even better.

Note: All of the question below relate to businesses that sell products. The questions work just as well for service businesses.

Questions to ask in your marketing audit include:

Of Your Customers

  • Who is buying your product?
  • What are they buying and how much are they buying?
  • Why are your customers buying your products?
  • What needs do your customers have that your product is satisfying?
  • How do your customers rate your product against the competition?
  • How loyal are your customers to your brand?
  • What is the demography of your customers? (Age, gender, ethnicity, language, etc.)

Of Your Product

  • How does your product compare to competitive products?
  • How is your product priced compared to its competition?

Of Your Marketing

  • Is your current marketing appropriate given the company’s resources, position in the marketing and opportunities?

Photo by Pollona

Thursday, 18 September 2014 15:57
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In today’s vidcast, Rich Whittle talks with Brent Paugh about his MargaritaTexas drink mix business.

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