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Monday, February 18, 2019

The Warrior Series - an online comic which blends ancient and modern

The Warrior Series
Image provided and used with permission.


Comic book fans may like to check out the Warrior Series, "Lineage Till The Time Collapses". An online comic series, there is a wide selection of episodes to choose from. It tells the tale of a Warrior and his General, illustrated in detail and with plenty of dialogue to set the scene. Lawren Greene (author) and Claudia Cangini (artwork) have produced a gripping series to keep fans reading.

The Warrior Series also has an app, Facebook and Twitter feed for those who like to stay up to date on social media. The most recent episodes are only available on the app, but they are later also made available online through the website. Many of the episodes are divided into two or more parts, and currently there are 24 episodes to enjoy, with the length increasing as the storyline develops. Cliffhangers are common, action and suspense is mandatory.

Many of the episodes feature magical superpowers such as a protective purple haze known as Hosanna, space-time travel, the waters of knowledge and supernatural beings. Through Hosanna, the Warrior also gains a sharper sword, but he is still subject to temptation such as Lust. after whom he chases in episode 12. The series pulls on the trope of the seven deadly sins, with episode titles featuring the words lust and gluttony. Characters include Aversion and a band of hollow souls representing those who stray from the path of good; those who overindulge in all that is bad for us. There is the typical fight scene in a cave, with both sides using their various powers to try to overcome the other.

The Warrior Series is typically bloodthirsty, as readers might expect with a lead character who carries a sword with superpowers. However, it also offers some time-honored sage advice and is the typical good-vs-evil fight as played out in many Western cartoons, Japanese anime and their comic equivalent, manga.

Lawren Greene also offers a selection of merchandise, links to be found on the Warrior Series homepage. As in the Warrior Series, the themes are the traditional ones of morality, spirituality, fundamentalism and individualism.

The Warrior Series "Lineage Till The Time Collapses" comic books blend ancient teachings with modern graphics and provide a simple way to enjoy a moral tale, in which the graphics speak just as loudly as the dialogue. The tale has been ongoing for several years and looks to have many more episodes to run yet. There are new episodes uploaded every fortnight at present, and for those who cannot wait for the latest episode, the app is vital to be able to see the newest installment as soon as possible.


The Warrior Series
Image provided and used with permission.


Friday, February 15, 2019

squar-pix, Inc. full color digital, large format print shop

squar-pix, Inc.
Image taken from website and used with permission.


It’s been awhile since I’ve written about printing companies and their ranges, so I was pleased to be told about squar-pix, Inc. earlier this week.

squar-pix, Inc. offer full color, digital, large format banners, table top displays, step and repeat work and more.

Advertising and branding are key

No matter the size of the company, advertising and branding are key. I well remember my first meeting with a local band, who had a stall at an event where they were selling their merchandise. They were all attired in the band’s ‘brand’; white shirts, ties in shades of brown and dark trousers (that would be ‘pants’ to my US readers).

Branding. A three-piece band could make that impression on me. What could effective branding do for a large book publisher, a specialist museum, an organization looking to recruit new staff?

squar-pix, Inc. aims to help anyone looking to get their brand noticed. From retractable vinyl banners and large format signs, table top banners and window vinyl to smaller formats such as business cards, postcards and posters, they offer the full range of items to ensure a brand is memorable.

Backdrop

A selection of banners can make an effective backdrop for anyone advertising a product. An author signing copies of their latest book at a convention can have a retractable banner of the book cover behind them. The spokesperson for a larger company can request to be interviewed with a prominent table top banner in shot, or even a step and repeat banner with the company’s logo behind them.

All kinds of companies

I have volunteered before with charities who take a regular stall at a jumble sale, table top or car boot sale. As well as a good selection of products, they will also need distinct advertising to set themselves apart from all the other stalls. A vinyl or mesh banner for outdoor use or a foam board sign for indoor stalls is a great option in these circumstances.

Permanent premises

Permanent premises will need a different range of advertising print. Sidewalk signs or A-frames will direct customers to the correct location, while window graphics or window cling offer a chance to further enhance the brand while perhaps hiding the sight inside. This may encourage the curious to come in and see what’s on offer.

Step and repeat

Step and repeat branding is the type of advertising shown in those post-match interviews with footballers or soundbites from film stars on a red carpet somewhere. It features the logos of all the brands which have sponsored the event. This advertising could also be used for a group of companies, to make the connection between them.

Posters, car magnets, canvas

Posters have been used in the film world for decades as the way to tout a new release. Musicians and authors also use them as promotional devices in retail displays. Car magnets are an option for sole traders and small businesses where the budget will not stretch to a full graphics package. Canvases can show off a company logo or an abstract design, and look impressive hung on the wall of a reception area or board room.

Business cards

Even in this digital age, business cards are still popular. They may be a digital version attached to an email or a physical version, handed over with both hands after an introductory handshake, in the Japanese style of meishi koukan. This cements the giver’s position and also serves as a formal introduction to them and the company they represent. A businessperson who gets this tradition right does immense good to their standing and that of their firm.

Textiles and freebies

Another unusual way of advertising a brand is to have a textile representation. squar-pix, Inc. offer a tablecloth which features a large logo on the front. Of course there is also the time-honored way of advertising using a freebie mug or mouse mat. This approach, beloved of sales reps in all disciplines, is also popular with staff who quickly pounce on a free item and squirrel it away for their personal use.

Sales promotion and brand awareness may seem like a minefield, but it can simply be a case of effective advertising placement. With a company such as squar-pix, Inc., choosing the right product to promote a product, or even an entire brand, is easy.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Managing My Grief is a powerful workshop


Locations for Managing My Grief workshops.
Image provided and used with permission.


Grief is a powerful emotion. Whether you have lost a parent, loved one, friend, colleague or simply someone you looked up to, when that day happens, you will feel grief.

Healthcare workers and military personnel are often offered courses similar to Managing My Grief, but many others, like me, had no clue what would happen and how we would feel. Trauma and distress can have a deep and lasting effect on anyone, and can manifest in many ways. Tiffani Dilworth’s courses aim to help us through the traumatic process of grief. Even if we don’t recognize it as such, humans feel grief many times throughout our lives. It’s not just losing someone either. Grief can follow leaving an abusive or bad relationship, the breakup of a marriage, even retirement. Sometimes it’s passing; mourning someone we didn’t know so well, such as a celebrity or public figure. Sometimes it’s gief caused by missing a colleague, maybe someone who passed away suddenly, or a long time friend with whom we have lost touch. But sometimes, for all the preparation in the world, the loss is big and huge and enormous and all-encompassing, such as the death of a parent, spouse or child. We find ourselves adrift, bereft, heartbroken and struggling to cope with even the simplest things. Even those closest to us don’t know what to say, how to react.

The next Managing My Grief workshops are in Baltimore, MD in April and September; Arlington, VA in June; and Richmond, VA in December. My advice is that you should attend, because, like I did, you will find out that you are not alone. Even if your coworkers, friends and family are struggling to understand, in these workshops you will find others in a similar position. As I did with my group, together you will learn how to understand your grief triggers and how to guide yourself to a safe place when you need to regain stability.

One of my longest standing friends is a former nurse, who moved into the funeral arrangement business after leaving nursing. She often says that grief takes many forms, and mourning is both complicated and very individual. She knows how to help her families through that process, and the Managing My Grief course aims likewise to help those who grieve to help themselves understand, manage and navigate the process too. This is not to say you shouldn’t grieve - you should, it’s a natural reaction - but managing the depths and avoiding an unhealthy mental and emotional state is key. These groups are support groups as much as anything else, like-minded souls who find strength together. One of my group rings me every few weeks, because talking is his way of coping. A fellow cat lover shares daily cat photos on social media with motivational and positive thoughts. We are not stuck in our grieving process any more; we are moving onwards.

Tiffani Dilworth is a licensed clinical professional counselor who specializes in depression and PTSD, among other areas. She offers course delegates a selection of techniques drawn from various forms of behavioral therapy and is experienced in dealing with small groups, families and youth of all ages. Ms Dilworth is also a noted motivational speaker, so these Managing My Grief workshops will hold your attention no matter what your current headspace. I should know. My coping mechanism was to smack my headphones on and dial up the music volume so I couldn’t hear any of the concerned questions from people around me. Ms Dilworth made me take the headphones off and listen to her instead. Much more useful. She can help people at any stage in the grieving process to understand their struggles and move on constructively. No matter how you came to be grieving, what or whom you are missing. That’s much more helpful than effectively telling everyone ‘la la la I can’t hear you!’

My final piece of advice is to stick with the course. It may be hard, emotional or draining, but you will get the best out of a Managing My Grief workshop by hearing Tiffani out. She has some good ideas, so you owe it to yourself to hear them.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Social.onli - social media marketing and management


Social.onli front page.
Screenshot by author of this piece.




There is constant coverage these days of the risks of oversharing information on social media. Some companies, we are told, routinely scan for applicants’ online presence before hiring, and it is good sense not to have ‘that one drunken holiday photo’ on public view. On a more worrying note, people have had their identities cloned by cybercriminals photoshopping their face onto another photo. Houses have also been broken into while their owners were away, as the thieves were able to work out from their Facebook feed that they were away, and also locate the exact house by comparing clues in the background of many of the photos with Google Earth footage. With all of these warnings, reputation management for individuals is big business as well as promoting safety. Cautious social media use is always good sense, as posts from years ago have a habit of resurfacing just when the author had forgotten they existed.

Reputation management for businesses

Social-onli.com aims to help business clients in the same way as these reputation managers do for individuals. They also offer a straightforward social media management service, and can suggest ways to engage followers with contests and deals. For those businesses with a physical inventory to sell, Social-onli will create a social shopping cart to maximize sales through social media. On top of all that assistance, the company also shares analytics with clients, so that their customers can see what works and what doesn’t.

Reputation is everything in social media, and almost everyone knows of a company who ‘got it so wrong’, or even an organization whose social media streams everyone should be following, because their posts are always solid gold, copper-bottomed classics.

Building local business with effective social media

Even if a firm’s aim is only to gain business locally, they hardly want negative reviews to impact on their chances. Abraham Lincoln is supposed to have paraphrased the poet John Lydgate when he said: “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can't …” … please all the people all of the time”. A few negative reviews among the positives shows that the company is run by humans, and people are known to make mistakes occasionally. Too many negative reviews and either the firm needs to investigate its working practices, suppliers or staff, or they have a troll problem - someone with a grudge, out to blacken their reputation and make the business suffer.

US and international social media clients

Social-onli is hoping to work with an international clientele in time, although at present, the focus is on the USA and the many businesses there which can benefit from a targeted social media management and improvement service. The company wishes to work exclusively with privately held online e-commerce businesses, real estate brokers and other similar consumer and patient facing professionals.

A complete overhaul of social media

So how does this all work? Firstly Social-onli will conduct a full social assessment, a thorough audit of the business’ social media strategy. They will offer ideas for improvement and optimization, sample posts and content to engage and motivate followers.

Scheduling posts is as option, using a calendar to cover times when there is no one in the office. Auto tweets are popular, but this type of repeat scheduling can also be used on other social platforms to share blog posts and similar content on a prearranged timeline. Social-onli will craft a tailored strategy to suit each individual business, because all businesses are different. Sweepstakes, blog posts, video posts or giveaways are all possibilities, depending on the target demographic and the company.

Reputation management is included in this overhaul; monitoring responses on review sites and offering advice on how to respond to feedback, especially negative comments which may impact on the business if wrongly handled.

Social-onli will set up review alerts to show when the client has received comments or online reviews, as well as optimizing new customer generation and retention through the use of deals and discounts.

All of this action will be backed up with easy-to-understand social analytics and post insights.

The full package

Social.onli.com aims to provide a full service overhaul to any business social media presence. Firms needing help to straighten out their social media streams should consider social.onli as a partner in this work.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Marketing Idea Exchange from Synaptic Approach


Marketing Idea Exchange from Synaptic Approach
Image provided and used with permission

Starting a small business can be a daunting prospect. Becoming an entrepreneur, responsible for the success or failure of your own business, puts a whole new spin on making something work.

Marketing can be one of the biggest minefields. How to get the word out, how to attract customers, design an attractive website...this is all new to many people. Franchise owners often have the backing of a big multinational, with associated years of marketing, webinars, selling and advertising experience to help them, but those who have grown a cottage industry are unlikely to have that handy leg up. Whether the small business is making bespoke items, writing ebooks, offering a web design service, designing logos or making music for others’ pleasure, like-minded freelance marketing experts could help, if only they knew their knowledge was needed.

Online communities such as Marketing Idea Exchange (MIX) from Synaptic.com are aimed at those small business owners who are inexperienced in marketing. The community aims to offer an opt-in, paid, service for small business owners who manage their own marketing and struggle with trying to keep up with all of the latest trends.

MIX is looking for founder members who will enjoy tremendous cost savings and deep discounts on all available services. Everyone likes to be in on the ground floor of something new, and this is a good opportunity for entrepreneurs to build something that shares what they wished they’d known when they started out.

MIX already offers a webinar and wants to offer tips on other marketing tactics that simply work. Going live on February 6, 2019, MIX offers the first marketing strategy consultation for free, and promises access to a professionally-moderated community of like-minded leaders to advise, mentor and guide new members. The community offers tutorials, collaboration and the latest research to illustrate what’s hot, right now.

A monthly subscription membership will buy input from industry leaders and other entrepreneurs on particular marketing issues. There is also a library of resources, files, campaign ideas and webinars aimed at building understanding of marketing and how it work in the digital age.

Live events will offer interviews and presentations from business owners, while membership allows networking with other entrepreneurs and small business owners as well as the chance to make podcasts about specific experiences.

Early adoption of Marketing Idea Exchange as a founder member offers other benefits including discounted membership and free access to many courses. For further information, potential members are invited to check out @themarketing_mix on Instagram and @getsynaptic on Twitter.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Create a good first impression with HailCo

HailCo, Denver, Colorado
Image provided and used with permission.

HailCo in Denver, Colorado specialize in repairing hail damaged vehicles. But dents and dings can happen at any time. They are often caused by flying gravel or loose chippings, but can also be the result of minor crunches and knocks in parking lots or garages. If someone opens their vehicle door and it hits the one next to it, this can leave a dent.

In the same way that windshield repair firms have developed techniques to fill chips and scrapes in glass, paintless dent removal technicians have established dedicated techniques and tools for repairing paintwork damage as unobtrusively as possible. Both windshield repair and paintless dent repair specialists work on the assumption that the affected glass or panel will not need to be removed.

Paintless dent removal works best on the frame and build of the car, where the dents can be teased out with the least loss of line. Difficult dents can also be tackled, such as door edge or trunk edge damage. This allows a seamless fix, and most people won’t even notice the repair, let alone know there was damage in the first place.

The best thing about a paintless dent repair is that it is cost effective. The panel does not need to be replaced, and there are no respray costs either. The dent is removed by hand using a variety of specialist equipment and the car ends up looking as good as new. The paintless dent removal techs have refined their skills over the years and now hope to offer only the most successful repair processes. When the damage was caused to a virtually new vehicle, having it back to looking as good as new, in some cases with showroom sheen intact as well, is important. Many paintless dent techs have social media accounts to show off their best work, demonstrate their techniques and even talk about the tools they use.

The vehicle owners are always pleased and appreciate the technicians’ skills, as well as their dedication and expertise. Very few people like driving a beat-up vehicle, and many fear that doing so may bring them to the attention of the cops. To some, their wheels are a status symbol. To others, the vehicle is their workplace. Taxi drivers, professional chauffeurs, private tour operators, on demand ride hailing companies and even courier drivers and tradespeople all need a vehicle. A clean, well-maintained, undamaged vehicle gives a good first impression. HailCo can help maintain that good first impression by swiftly and thoroughly removing any niggling dents and dings that the vehicle may pick up.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Footsteps of War, a travel blog site with a difference


Footsteps of War.
Image provided and used with permission.

 


Footsteps of War is my kind of site. Before you go all up in arms at me (see what I did there?) it is a site for the webmaster, Steve, to share his visits to historic battle locations.

He specialises in modern warfare locations from the last century: the world wars, Vietnam and Korea. Steve blogs about his personal visits to the places where iconic battles were fought, or vast numbers of people were interned, and offers a travel planning service for others who would like to follow in his footsteps.

I’m something of a Battle of Britain buff, with an interest in the military aircraft of that era, while my parents have visited many locations in the Somme since they retired. My husband and I also pay homage at any known memorial or concentration camp sites when we travel. He feels an affinity with the Polish death camps such as Sobibor, although he doesn’t really know why. So I think it may be fair to say we have skin in this game.

Steve has a set of matchstick models of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, about which I am insanely jealous, as the Lancaster is one of my favourite aircraft. He has also paid his respects at Auschwitz, which I’m not sure I would be able to manage. Buchenwald in Germany was more than enough for me.

Footsteps of War also has information and photographs from Korea and Vietnam, plus the chance for travellers to craft their own unique visit to important locations in those former theatres of war. Because not everyone has parents or friends ideally located to show them around.

The photographs show a flavour of each location, with elephants at the Bridge on the River Kwai (the Thai national animal is the elephant, after all), many pictures on the River Kwai itself and photos of the memorial to the fallen, donated by the Thai people.

The Vietnam page shows photographs of locations where the Vietnam War was fought as well as museums commemorating the events.

The Schindler visit photos showcase Krakow and Schindler’s Factory, while the Vietnam and Auschwitz photos tell both the stories historians know as well as those they left behind. When I visited Buchenwald camp in Germany, I saw the solitary confinement cell where a Catholic priest had spent his last months. Pastor Paul Schneider’s tale is indicative of the resistance the Nazis had to their regime, where he refused to show allegiance to them, and as a result was sent to the gas chamber. His parishioners’ descendants still send flowers to the camp; these are displayed in his cell for as long as possible after receipt.

Footsteps of War blog is run by a UK Forces veteran, and is a fairly new idea. Drawing on his own travel and military experiences, he is in the process of producing a detailed resource for those who have an interest in visiting military sites and paying homage to the events which unfolded there.