Saturday, April 21, 2018

Sales Tax on Web Purchases - YOU VOTE!

Every consumer will be paying more, a lot more, for every purchase made via the internet if the State governments have their way.
Where's the Consumer in this fight?

As State governments look in very nook-and-cranny for revenue to fund, in most cases, overspending on pork projects and bureaucratic bloat the notion of taxing every single online sale is extremely tempting.

Under the guise of  'protecting the brick-and-mortar' businesses within their State - local governments are hell-bent on collecting sales tax on online transactions. Now, everyone knows that internet retail sales have risen dramatically over the last decade, but they still represent only a fraction of all retail sales, and in-store sales have risen as well over the same period.

Last Tuesday, the Supreme Court struggled to decide on the matter as to whether internet retailers should have to collect sales taxes in states where they have no physical presence.The States argued that they are losing tens of billions of dollars under a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that helped spur the rise of internet shopping.

At the end of the day, however, it was not clear whether there were five votes to overrule the '92 decision - which bars States from collecting sales taxes from companies "that do not have a substantial connection to the State."

Several of the Justices expressed concerns about imposing crushing burdens on small businesses that sell goods on the internet and about making them pay BACK taxes. Justice Sotomayor stated the the case "raised a host of questions and a whole new set of difficulties", and "that the Congress and not the Supreme Court was the right forum in which to settle the matter."

Both Justices Roberts and Kagan noted that as Congress has so far chosen not to act was itself a telling indication that it was satisfied with the current system. There was a lot of banter between the attorneys representing both sides; however, I believe the Justices are looking at the wrong side of the issue.

It is not a question of how much of a burden would be put on the retailers to collect the taxes but the huge monetary burden that would be put on the consumer and once allowed, as we are all fully aware, the sales tax would continue to rise. In many States, the sales tax is 8% and higher.  That's 8% more for, pretty much, everything purchased - from clothing to restaurant meals.

The burden is completely shifted to the consumer from the retailer, as the cost of collection of the tax will be added to the price of the product. If a retailer is in such desperate shape that a sales tax will make or break them, they should probably be out of business anyway! Why is it always the consumer that has to carry the burden?

I would like to ask you to give me your vote on this issue. Yes, if you are in favor of taxing all internet purchases. No,  if you are against it.

Again, the issue in question isn't about the burden on the retailers to collect the tax , BUT THE FINANCIAL BURDEN ON ALL OF US - THE CONSUMERS! 

Additionally, there is the issue of paying taxes to a State in which you have no say (vote) as to how the tax dollars are being spent - you know, taxation-without-representation. Isn't that in the Constitution?

Please vote,
Jim Lavorato

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Storytelling: The Best Marketing Tool

Delivering a really great customer experience is a sure-fire way to get others to tell your Brand narrative (story).  Because when others are doing your storytelling it makes your story that much more credible and engaging.

Companies should share other people's stories as this demonstrates your authentic engagement with others. The best thing to do to endear your Brand to consumers is to share stories about the topics they care about. Putting stories together builds what's referred to as a 'brand's meta-narrative', which inspires, not only customers, but employees so they think and behave 'on-brand'.

Nelson Farris, a Nike senior executive, has the title of  'Chief Storyteller', and he and all the other Nike senior executives spend a good deal of their time relaying stories to employees. This is to remind all of Nike's staff of the brand's pillars that the company rests upon.

You need storytelling and story-doing to ensure you are building your brand authentically through actions and not just words - known as story-sharing. So, all three: storytelling, story-doing, and story-sharing need to be aligned and unified with story-building to make your brand's meta-narrative.

For example, last year, REI, the upscale sporting good store, closed all if its retail outlets on Black Friday (the busiest shopping day of the year) and encouraged its employees and customers to do something "outside" instead. This was very smart brand building as it not only generated lots of buzz for being so contrasting to the norm but it allowed REI to tell the 'story of its values' and how it supports the greater outdoors.

Storytelling is crucial to brand development and it should be used whenever possible.

Stay in touch,
Jim Lavorato

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Corporate Hexing: Using Voodoo on Abusive Boss

One of the main reasons given by entrepreneurs for striking-out on their own is job frustration. However, before reaching the "I'm gone" point, venting your frustration by using voodoo is on the rise for appeasing workplace stress.
Sticking It To The Boss

The use of voodoo dolls, it seems, can provide employees a sense of justice without confronting an overbearing boss - even if preformed on an on-line doll.  Two separate studies, recently released by Canadian Universities, found that even a symbolic gesture against an abusive supervisor restores a sense of justice.

Respondents were asked to recall a personal less-than-pleasant workplace interaction. Some of the participants were instructed to stick pins on an on-line voodoo doll (which was labeled with the offending boss's initials).  Those that used the doll, universally, reported feeling a sense of justice vs. those that were not given the voodoo doll option. The dolls were a symbolic retaliation against their supervisors. It seems employees care about justice and consider it a fundamental human need. A secondary outcome of using the dolls accrued to the benefit of the organization, as it reduces workplace stress and improves the work environment.

The researchers noted that there must be a way for employees to restore their sense of justice without sabotaging the supervisor. While employers must ascertain the reason for the employee frustration and ensure that everyone is treated fairly.

Well, if it works ... do it. I could be that a little hexing goes a long way.

Stay in touch,

Jim Lavorato

Monday, April 9, 2018

Brand Marketing Goes Loopy With GIFs

Graphics Interchange Format, aka GIF, is an image format that is no more then 6 seconds in duration and repeated over and over in an endless loop. Brand marketers have taken to creating GIFs to help consumers express themselves through these looping videos that, in many cases, are more effective than regular social ads.

 Six second ads, which have become ubiquitous on social platforms, is now being opted for the GIF. This is because GIFs can express a mood or emotion that is easily shareable and easier to produce than a six second ad.  Many times GIFs are humorous - they made us laugh and that reaction very shareable, making for great brand engagement.

The GIF, if created properly, turns advertising into content and the message is so seamless and unoffensive that the viewer doesn't consider it as watching an ad. Additionally, GIFs are more cost-effective to produce than ads and are shareable!

GIFs are the new future of social advertising. They are easier to produce, cost less, and are much more engaging than regular social ads, and are very shareable.  Use them.

Keep in touch,

Jim Lavorato