Discontinued Betty Crocker Rainbow Chip frosting – $25 per can on Amazon

Betty Crocker Rainbow Chip Frosting was discontinued in late 2013, much to the disappointment of many loyal fans. The canned frosting is basically vanilla icing with small bits of colored candies mixed in. It has been a favorite in many households for decades for birthdays, Mother’s Day, Easter, or just because. Now Rainbow Chip Frosting has gone the way of many grocery products and is no longer available.

Fans of the frosting have even started several Facebook pages to voice their discontent and get the attention of the folks at Betty Crocker. On one page, “Bring Back Rainbow Chip Frosting,” members post screen shots of correspondence with Betty Crocker about bringing back the product. On March 9, a member named Tasha received this reply from Betty Crocker:

“Hi, Tasha, We’re so sorry to disappoint. Unfortunately, we discontinued the Rainbow Chip because just not enough people were buying it. We have been overwhelmed by the response from Rainbow Chip fans and are considering our options. Please stay tuned.”

So not really a promise to bring it back, but at least Betty Crocker is hearing its fans. If you are lucky, you might find some Rainbow Chip hiding in closeout stores like Big Lots or smaller, lesser known grocery stores in rural areas. But watch expiration dates. The frosting may have been sitting on the shelf for a while and could be out of date. Big Lots is famous for selling grocery items that are past their best buy date.

Then there is Amazon, where customers can find just about anything discontinued for a price. Currently there are 4 different listings for Rainbow Chip in different offers:

One 16 ounce container. There are 6 offers by different sellers. Prices range from $19.99 plush $5.49 shipping to $449.95. (The last offer is eligible for Prime and is probably a stock-out and the seller is just leaving the listing active.)

Three 16 ounce containers. Cost is $93.97 plus $4.49 shipping and is not Prime eligible.

Four 16 ounce containers. Cost is $49.99 and is not eligible for Prime.

Seven 16 ounce containers. Cost is $21.19 plus $26.30 shipping. It is not Prime eligible.

The best bet for sellers is the first offer of one 16 ounce can. The sales rank is the best of all choices at 14,996. The second offer of four cans is the next best offer, however, this means the seller needs to come up with four cans to make the multipack and that may be difficult since this product is nearly impossible to find.

As for buyers, enjoy eating some expensive frosting.

Denominators relevant to establishing domain and brand value

Without actually designing products myself, I’ve long come to a mutual conclusion that products and I don’t quite agree on clear definitions of ‘value’. Same goes with vehicles, services that I’m foreign to and even prostitution (although I’ve not personally attempted valuation of the latter). One area where I’ve become quite masterful is domain value in relation to branding, the never-ending perpetual cyber façade which pits 30 definitions of domain brevity against each other. Whereas I wouldn’t personally pay $3M for some domain name I’ll only use for several decades, others have. And continually will.

When learning how to brand your business, one question that endlessly fazes my daily activities: what denominators are actually relevant in establishing something as widely misunderstood as domain valuation and brand worthiness? Let’s dissect:

How Badly Do You Want It?

Much like lining up outside some powerful drug dealer’s home waiting for crack, sellers know that buyers will eventually line up, begging for their domain property for reasons unbeknownst to them: perhaps all the seller knows is the buyer wants it. And are willing to pay dearly just to own it – even for just months. Hands down, without even starting the clock, this perhaps defines domain value better than any metrics conceivable. We call this, in sales nomenclature, ‘bring your own Vaseline’ since someone is about to get reamed without the benefit of lubrication in this seller-friendly situation.

Buyers automatically increase premium domain name’s worthiness tenfold simply by specifying their unwavering devotion towards purchasing said name. Properties sitting inside idle parking accounts that, for all intents and purposes, have ‘high net worth’ to owners are simply expensive pixels to viewers since ownership necessitation has never been clearly specified by anyone. For example, those who are branding in the print industry may wish to find Vista Print Coupons for the benefit of branding their own business merch.

How ‘Trendy’ Is The Name?

Arm & Hammer isn’t pretty. It barely smells good, if at all, to boot. However, it was the hottest thing since Prohibition whiskey when it first came out. Today, social media, Edward Snowden and scores of oddities I cannot keep up with rule mainstream media and fill online shopping carts. Popularity, your second most important telltale sign of developmental potential, rules the domain value world with unruly power. Sellers usually capitalize on what’s growing, going and blowing with the commerce winds to make hefty profits off your thirst for quick results.

Should your name have old school appeal which attracts youthful and adult audiences equally, expect your value to increase since many older topics tend to hold long-term mainstream popularity, too.

How Easily Could I Establish Awareness?

Orkut isn’t what you’d call ‘cute or funny. However, it does sound interesting when slurring it after drinking twenty beers – and the name found its way through search engines rather quickly. Of course, Linked In sounds more indicative to services it provides; so what’s our point? Getting great adult videos from http://www.adultpornvideox.com/ is more indicative of someone that likes sensuality, thereby meriting a different kind of crowd.

The third value hiker in domain and brand valuation is relative to how quickly, easily and profitably one can develop said business – with or without domain attached – without spending hefty marketing dollars; by rule, you could easily dump $.15 cents off each dollar for marketing preparation and campaign launching difficulty. One could clearly restore that loss if premium names containing single words, household phrases or anything else brand-worthy is being sold if the previous two environments are favorable.


Domain sellers have long established valuation based off what other names sold for, strange analytical data configurations and whatever else is deemed appropriate. Personally, whether it’s LLL.com’s or premium keyword loaded names means little if nobody wants it – yet when they do, expect something else to take control of the buyer’s final decision and, inevitably, drive prices to a more mutually respectable level.

Stay-at-home mom business ideas – part 1

When a woman chooses to become a stay-at-home mom she dramatically alters her career path, usually by completely exiting the workforce for several years, if not permanently.

While some women choose to pursue work from home opportunities, there are few reputable companies offering reliable telecommuting or home-based positions.

Many women who would like to maintain a career while staying home with their small children have no idea where to turn. Just like Lisa Marcia, author of A Work at Home Mom’s Ultimate Guide to Building a Business, Blog and Brand, most moms are just looking for a way to stay home with their little ones while earning extra income doing something they love. Luckily, there are several small business ideas suitable for stay-at-home moms.

Administrative Consulting or Virtual Assisting

Virtual assistants usually provide remote administrative or technical assistance to clients from a wide range of industries and business sectors. Some VAs also work as virtual personal assistants, helping their clients with travel arrangements, scheduling and other miscellaneous tasks.

Administrative consultants differ from virtual assistants in that they play more of an advisory and directional support role in their client’s businesses.

This type of business is great for a stay-at-home mom, because it allows her to take on the number of clients or independent contracts that suit her own availability. People in this line of work often arrange part-time child care or establish quiet times at home during which they can communicate with clients who require phone calls or teleconferences.

The majority of clients, however, are comfortable communicating via email or through other web-based project management platforms.

Freelance Writing

Freelance writing is another great business venture for a stay-at-home mom. There are hundreds of reputable online media outlets that contract with people who have journalism backgrounds as well as mid-career professionals willing to share their knowledge in Internet-based magazines and newspapers.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of moms have found success as “mommy bloggers,” a term that generally refers to website owners who journal about everything from homeschooling to recipes. While starting and maintaining a blog that pulls in a reliable income is hard work, those who have achieved success with this type of home based business enjoy unparalleled flexibility and freedom.

Home Day Care

Many stay-at-home moms spend countless hours designing home-based preschool curricula, planning field trips and outings, preparing healthy meals and snacks, and setting up elaborate playrooms and outdoor play areas. With a few certifications courses and state license, some of those same moms open their doors to other infants and toddlers to establish a home day care.

Home-based preschools are attractive to many working parents as well as other stay-at-home moms who prefer a more personalized childcare setting. Some home day cares even function as cooperatives in which groups of parents pool their money for resources.

Read Stay-at-home mom business ideas – part 2 for more business ideas and links to helpful resources.

Pirates not welcomed in Sonoma?

I hate to continue to harp on this, and I certainly do not want to seem like a parrot repeating the same old words, but it never ceases to amaze me how crazy government acts when it comes to restaurants and those who invest countless hours of money, time, sweat and passion into a community.

Fact – Food and government do not go hand in hand. I thought former Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg was a tremendous businessman and Mayor. But banning Big Gulp? Taking on Coca-Cola, all in the shadows of helping people become healthy is a bit of an infringement in that constitutional right, choice.

Let me explain.

Having followed municipal government is my newspaper career, and having dealt with those who sit in those hallowed city halls during my restaurant career, I can attest the combination is definitely based on love-hate, oil-water, good-guy-bad-guy. Full disclosure- I think anyone who throws their hat into the political ring deserves a medal and a mental examination.

Now before the feathers begin to fly, I must state I do not dislike elected officials. I dislike what happens to many of them once they step behind the inaugural curtain, drink the Kool-Aid and change their colors once the oath of office is taken.

For unexplained reasons, health departments, planning commissions, building inspectors and even citizens with an ax to wield look at restaurants as fair game for citations, warning letters and unsuspecting visits at inopportune times to inflict the power of the people.

Take the recent controversy over Burgers and Vine in Sonoma, California. After a historic building was renovated, remodeled, retro-fitted and reopened after being on the rental market off and on for seven years, were the new owners awarded a key to the city? No.

The owners were cited because someone complained the Pirate’s Flag – flying high – two feet – above the building, was not representative of what Sonoma stands for. We wouldn’t want anyone to think a group of Pirates, currently big in Somalia, had taken over the historic creamery.

Has the world gone mad? A controversy in wine country about a Pirates Flag, really.

Last week the ice cream parlor in Sonoma came under scrutiny because the door was too pink. Tell Pink that. She’d love it.

This week it’s the Pirates Flag? Where’s Clint Eastwood when we need him. Or Johnny Depp?

Once, in Deephaven, Minnesota, I had a visit from the Mayor at the time, because someone complained my business, The Cottagewood General Store, did not carry French’s Mustard. To the chagrin of my wife and partner, Karen, I ordered a five year supply of French’s Mustard – 15 cases – and did a pyramid stack in the window, explaining the reasoning behind the display. The complaining individual asked if I could take the display down as he was getting heat from the neighbors who supported the store. I accommodated, gladly.

Few complaints after that.

Now, I am not suggesting that Burgers and Vine’s owner’s ignore the municipal mandate and leave their flag up. Hell no. Take that down.

If the government doesn’t want anyone to eat their burgers or drink their brews under a Pirate’s Flag, I completely understand. Well, not really, but I have a solution.

I think in light of the Pirate’s Flag and in celebration of there being light in the corner again, everyone should wear a Pirate’s Eye Patch into Burgers and Vine to support the new owners.

Please leave the parrots outside. We wouldn’t want the health department to get annoyed.

Pros and cons of the eBay Global Shipping Program

The eBay Global Shipping Program (GSP) is a program sellers can opt into for shipping items internationally. Launched in late 2012, the Global Shipping Program was designed to simplify shipping to approved international countries. Sellers package the item, send to a US shipping hub,and eBay takes responsibility for the item and sends it on to its final destination. Some sellers love it, others have tried it and don’t care for it, and others will never try it because they have been shipping items internationally for many years without eBay’s involvement. A common discussion on seller forums and eBay Facebook groups, is whether to use the GSP or not.

Advantages of the eBay Global Shipping Program:

eBay takes responsibility for the item

eBay handles returns

Easier for the seller – no need to purchase insurance, figure out which countries should be avoided, or worry about lost packages

Disadvantages of eBay Global Shipping Program:

Higher prices for buyer

eBay may open and inspect the item – may not package it back correctly, items could go missing if it has multiple pieces

Only ships to certain countries – lost sales opportunities

Slower shipping time

International customers have remarked that they frequently do not buy items where the seller uses GSP because the shipping costs can be up to three times higher than to buy the same item from sellers who do not offer GSP and ship the items on their own. eBay also estimates and includes custom fees in the cost of GSP, and many times the customs fees are not even needed.

Newer sellers seem to embrace the GSP more often because they don’t have to do anything differently than shipping a domestic package. Veteran sellers have a hard time seeing the value of the GSP since shipping internationally is really very simple, and they don’t like the possibility of losing sales due to higher shipping fees.

Mama & Baby Expo coming in May

Are you planning for a new addition to your family?

As with most expectant parents, this is a busy time, gathering information and collecting all the products and services needed for you and the baby.

San Antonio is fortunate to have a valuable resource for mothers called the San Antonio Birth Collective. This is group of local childbirth and postnatal support professionals. The non-profit group offers a membership that provides a resource directory that is free to parents. Check the link above to learn more about how to apply for membership and how the group is “serving families through education and practical support”.

One of the big events that is sponsored by the SABC is “The Mama & Baby Expo”. This is the 3rd year for the San Antonio gathering and it will be held on May 3rd from 1-4 pm at the TriPoint Event Center. The location is at the corner of St. Mary’s and Hwy 281 near the YMCA.

The expo will feature a documentary about childbirth plus a fashion show and dozens of vendors. This is a great opportunity to meet local midwives and doulas and review the many products and services to help parents. Door prizes and music and games will be available to keep the little ones busy. Check the link above for tickets and further details. Children under age 12 are free.

Best wishes to all expectant parents.

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Motivation techniques for customer retention

The gates have opened and now more than ever before, customers are being bombarded with similar marketing techniques on the Internet, mobile devices and mass media outlets. Although branding decks and business pillars are being bandied about, most businesses do not understand the importance of differentiation and, therefore, are not getting the results SEO and marketing professionals are promising.

Yet, business owners and marketers continue to beat the same drum and hope if they hit it harder, successful results will be incoming. Some companies spend all of their marketing dollars attracting new customers and have not paid attention to the statistical reality that it is less expensive to sell new things to current customers. It is also cheaper to retain current customers than continue to pay the high cost of the shotgun approach.

Maritz Motivation Solutions is in business to do just that – maintain strong relationships with current customers and employees. In fact, that is what it is all about, right? Nurturing relationships to build trust, confidence and loyalty. Maritz has been using techniques that will help businesses actually spend less for their sales.

We decided to interview Barry Kirk, vice president of loyalty Strategy for Maritz Motivation Solutions, to learn a few of their strategies and suggestions.

Faleris: What is Maritz’s target audience? (what size companies or types of business professionals)

Kirk: Maritz Motivation Solutions works with Fortune 500 companies across multiple industry verticals, including financial services, hospitality, tech and healthcare. Our target clients are seeking solutions to drive engagement with their employee community, sales force and/or customers. Our consumer loyalty programs often have a membership size of 5+ million members.

Faleris: Can you explain gamification for our readers.

Kirk: Gamification is the application of game design techniques to non-game experiences like training applications or loyalty programs. This is distinctly different than adding a game to something, a common tactic in the marketing world (i.e. spin-and-win or puzzle game used as a promotional campaign). Gamification is not an add-on – it’s a technique of integrating game elements to the existing core experience to make it feel more game-like – that is, more social, mastery-building or exploration-based. This can be done through the application of game dynamics like competition, collaboration or randomness, or game mechanics like leaderboards, missions, badges and virtual rewards.

Faleris: Why would a company want to use gamification tactics?

Kirk: The answer to that is simple – loyalty programs are, for the most part, boring. They are stuck in a “do this, get that” model that has remained virtually unchanged for the last 40 years. They have also been less than effective at embracing new marketing technologies like social media, location-based services and mobile apps.

Loyalty programs are in dire need of an engagement technology that they can easily adopt and gamification answers that need because its really just an evolution of the traditional loyalty model — points, levels and rewards are core to most modern loyalty programs and they are also game mechanics. So, loyalty programs are already gamified, just at a very rudimentary level. We can now take that much further and to greater effect.

Faleris: What is the difference between motivation programs and typical customer rewards programs?

Kirk: Typical consumer loyalty programs are what I call “mercenary-based” because they essentially buy the loyalty of customers. Now, that can be an effective strategy, at least until your competitor is willing to buy the loyalty of those same customers for just a little bit more than what you are offering.

We work with brands to develop programs that encourage “true loyalty” or loyalty that actually resists the competitive offer. Of course its not logical to choose a brand that’s not offering the best deal financially, but consumers will do just that if there is an emotional or social connection with the brand that transcends the mercenary impulse.

We help our clients move in the direction of true loyalty by incorporating concepts from behavioral psychology and neuroscience in the design of our programs, helping them evolve their programs into more engaging experiences that connect with the core human desires for creative expression, social bonding and choice.

Faleris: Do you have any statistical information that demonstrates the effectiveness of these programs?

Kirk: It’s important to understand that a brand will never attract 100 percent of their customer base into their loyalty program. In fact, most companies would be doing very well to engage 30-40 percent of their customers as program members. But the goal of these programs is not to engage all customers, but rather to incent the participation of your best and highest potential customers.

Focusing on those two segments will show the best results and highest ROI for your program investment – for example, loyalty program members generally respond to offers and campaigns at 6-10 percent higher rate than non-members. And in a recent Maritz industry study, 57 percent of respondents agreed with the statement, “I modify when and where I buy, in order to maximize the [loyalty benefits] I receive,” while 46 percent agreed with the statement, “I modify what brands I buy to maximize the [loyalty benefits] I receive.”

Faleris: Do you feel that both clients and employees should be motivated through “programs”?

Kirk: I would not say that all companies need employee engagement or customer retention programs. However, any company that takes either employees or customers for granted is asking for declining profitability and decreased retention, because your competitors are always looking to tempt away your best employees and most valuable customers. Its been proven repeatedly that well-designed motivation programs that include a mix of earning opportunities, rewards and targeted communications are the most effective strategy for retaining these key constituencies.

Faleris: Are the programs costly?

Kirk: Effective loyalty programs generally require a significant investment in strategy, technology, operational support and rewards — most companies look to a partner to provide some or all of these components. But keep in mind that a well-designed and implemented loyalty program will reap incremental revenue well in excess of its operational costs – this is, of course, the goal of a loyalty strategy: to drive increased profitability through a lift in customer spending and retention. So your focus should be as much on your anticipated ROI as it is in the cost of the program.

On the question of rewards, my experience is that a variety of reward options is always the best strategy. In-kind rewards – those that are owned by the brand and can be offered to the member at nominal cost – can be highly effective at driving loyalty because the reward itself deepens the member’s experience of the brand.

Examples of this type of reward might include a free pay-per-view movie from a cable provider’s program or a logoed t-shirt from your favorite restaurant’s program. However, as members move up in your program, they are likely to tire of having only in-kind goods as reward options. Your best customers will be looking for choice in their program experience, which you can offer by also include a variety of external reward options like merchandise, gift cards and travel.

Faleris: Do you feel motivating clients is mandatory in the current commercial climate?

Kirk: Motivating customers has never been more critical as brands face a triple threat in the marketplace, including: 1) increased attention scarcity due to the explosion of channels and messages confronting consumers, 2) a decline in overall trust in major brands and institutions, and 3) decreasing engagement in traditional loyalty programs.

The necessary response is for brands to “rethink” the loyalty experience and start seeing customers differently. I always advocate the belief that customers are human beings first and that earning and retaining their loyalty starts with this fundamental understanding. If you truly understand that, you’ll offer them an experience that surpasses expectation, delivers true value and even includes an element of surprise now and then. This is how you earn some of their precious attention currency and their loyalty.

Broward County Convention Center chosen for Marketing Mastery 2014 Conference

Fort Lauderdale, FL –Christina Rowe, President of Stand Out! Media Group and Heidi Richards Mooney, Founder of Women in Ecommerce™ are pleased to announce the Greater Fort Lauderdale / Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale as our Venue for the first-annual Day with the Masters Marketing Mastery 2014 Conference taking place on Friday, April 25, 2014.

About the Day with the Masters: Marketing Mastery 2014 Conference: Attending events is an excellent way to grow your business. Besides the content rich programs, top notch speakers and new business strategies, the event provides attendees will an excellent way to network and meet like-minded professionals. The Day with the Masters Marketing Mastery 2014 Conference is designed to for professionals and business owners who want to immerse themselves in knowledge and expertise as our six marketing masters share their cutting-edge techniques and strategies to transform your business today. General admission tickets are only $97 and include lunch. Limited VIP tickets are available and include premium seating, a private lunch with the speakers and other “perks.”

According to Heidi Richards Mooney, Event Co-Producer Chair, “The Greater Fort Lauderdale Broward County Convention Center was chosen because it represents our community in a professional way and the staff are a pleasure to work with. When people hear the name of the location, it gives the feeling of something larger than them, which fits perfectly with our theme, A Day with The Masters. We want people to walk away from our event feeling important, empowered and enlightened. The Convention Center will help us achieve our vision.”

Christina Rowe, event Co-Producer says: “Every event I have attended at the The Greater Fort Lauderdale Broward County Convention Center was first-class. The staff are professional, courteous and attentive to even the smallest details. We know they can handle an event of any size and will give us the attention we require and our guests expect.

About Greater Fort Lauderdale / Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale: The Greater Ft. Lauderdale / Broward County Convention Center is the country’s premiere waterfront conference facility. The building is a five-minute drive from the airport, within walking distance of many local hotels, and less than one mile from Fort Lauderdale’s famed Blue Wave beaches. Hosting more than 5 million guests and 5,500 meetings since opening its doors in 1991, the Convention Center consistently exceeds guest and meeting planner expectations for five-star food service, state-of the-art technology, and outstanding service in a modern, eco-friendly facility. For more information about the Convention Center call 954.765.5900 or visit http://www.ftlauderdalecc.com/.

About Stand Out! Media Group: Stand Out! Media Group creates your brand online and offline–from your website, Facebook page and profile, social media backgrounds to your promotional materials, marketing, publicity, videos and more. By building a streamlined, recognizable brand online, you will quickly develop a powerful web presence that attracts clients and generates new business. With Stand Out! strategic branding, you can become a well-known expert and leader in your field and dominate the search engines, giving you the edge over your competitors.

About Women in Ecommerce: For more than twelve years, Women in Ecommerce™ has been helping women do business on the web by providing educational events, seminars, webinars, conferences and teleclasses via our website and social media platforms. We have a diverse membership of women from all walks of life representing 54 countries worldwide. Our members are professionals, educators, retailers, retail businesses, work-at-home moms, direct sales representatives, affiliate marketers, online sales professionals, auction site sellers and resellers, web designers, and other technology experts.

For more information about the Day With The Masters Marketing Mastery 2014 Conference, visit www.daywithmasters.com. For more information about Stand Out! Media Group visit: www.standoutontheweb.com and for more information about Women in Ecommerce™ visit www.WECAI.org today! To participate in or learn more about the event, contact Christina Rowe at 732.501.6445, email her at [email protected] or contact Heidi Richards Mooney, at 954.625.6606 or email her at [email protected]

The City of Los Angeles sues Time Warner Cable for almost $10 million

Although Time Warner Cable (TWC) is in the process of completing a merger with Comcast, there’s a more pressing legal matter at hand. On Tuesday, WestsideToday.com that the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office has filed a lawsuit against TWC for close to $10 million.

In a statement, Mike Feuer, L.A. City Attorney, alleged that TWC has is delinquent on municipality fees. They’ve refused to pay money the city says is owed for Public, Educational, and Government (PEG) fees.

Time Warner Lawsuit Details

In the 24-page complaint, Feuer says that the City of Los Angeles gave TWC the ability to billions in revenue because of local franchising. In turn, they have flat-out refused to pay the previously agreed upon fees, shortchanging taxpayers out of millions of dollars. The monetary details of the lawsuit are as follows:

* Los Angeles is seeking $9,697,896 from the TWC lawsuit

* Over $2.5 million is owed for 2008 and 2009 PEG fees

* Close to $7.2 million is overdue for 2010 and 2011 PEG fees

Supportive Evidence for L.A. VS TWC Lawsuit

Los Angeles City Attorney provided the Courts with two different arguments as supportive evidence against Time Warner Cable:

1) Time Warner has been allowed to have the monopoly over providing cable TV services to the local residents of the City of Los Angeles. This means that no other cable company is allowed to provide services within the jurisdiction designated to TWC. Yet, they have blatantly refused to pay the fees they’re obligated to, according to the terms of the monopoly agreement.

2) The expected PEG fees were used by Los Angeles City Hall to pay for what they call “core services.” Some of these services include senior centers, parks, library operations, sanitation services and police and fire protection. Since the fees have not been paid, the City is currently in the whole after dishing out money for core services.

In 1986, Los Angeles City Hall began the authorization of “local cable franchises.” They create geographical segments within the limits of the City for this purpose.

Cable Communications Act of 1984

California law, along with The Cable Communications Act of 1984, gives the City the power to give Time Warner Cable the “right to occupy valuable public property.” This right allows them to “build a system to provide cable.” In exchange, cable companies given this “right to occupy” must pay franchise fees that are “equal to five percent of the operator’s gross revenues.”

“The Act also allowed a city could enforce requirements for PEG facilities and equipment… City Hall issued 12 local franchises to Time Warner, according to the complaint.” Parimal Rohit of WestsideToday.com

Six easy ways to stay in touch with your network

We all know the importance of building a strong social network with colleagues and mentors inside and outside of our industry. But once you have identified those contacts with whom you feel there can be a mutually beneficial relationship, how do you strengthen and maintain your bond with them over time?

One of the biggest mistakes people make is reaching out only when you need something. You need to maintain a genuine connection rather than an exploitive one if you plan to build and benefit from those relationships over the long haul. Jess Siegal, Managing Director of Execu|Search has six steps that will help you create a strong social network for when you need it most: (hi bio http://execu-search.com/our-company/Jesse-Siegal)

Here’s how:

Step One: Connect on LinkedIn. When you meet someone you’d like to network with, your first step should be to add them to LinkedIn (or invite them to join if they haven’t yet) with a personalized message. When you do so, LinkedIn will send you email updates about your new connection, including anniversaries, career changes, promotions, etc. Many people view these notifications as a nuisance in their mailbox. Some even block the emails. I say enable them so you get these emails and don’t miss an important update which translates into an opportunity to reconnect with your contact.

Step Two: Take advantage of birthdays, holidays, and special milestones. Once you receive these updates, be sure to use them to their full potential. If your contact receives a promotion, for example, send a congratulations their way! This also applies to holidays, birthdays, and other events and milestones. Sending an email or calling to say congrats can go a long way and spark some conversation. Follow you networks’ career and never dismiss a contact who makes a move that doesn’t seem relevant to you anymore.

Step Three: Send your connection(s) relevant articles. When you come across something interesting that you think a particular connection would enjoy reading or benefit from in some way, send it over. This is one of the easiest ways to start conversing and, as a bonus, it shows you have them and their best interest in mind. Also look for ways you may be able to help your contacts – and be proactive about letting them know. If you and a new account that could require someone’s expertise, reach out. Or if you can make a recommendation to someone else for them, do it.

Step Four: Keep in touch regarding industry news. There is no better reason to reach out than to discuss the latest advances in your industry and what they mean for your careers. Even an email to ask if your contact has heard of the latest industry news can be a great conversation starter.

Step Five: Invite a contact or two to professional events. Going to a networking event? Bring one—or several—of your current contacts! They may notice something or someone you don’t, and if they make a great connection as a result of your invite, they’ll be sure to keep you in mind for the future as well.

Step Six: Just ask to catch up! If it’s been a while since you’ve spoken to a contact, don’t let the distance grow until you need something. Reach out and simply say that you haven’t spoken in a while and you’d like to reconnect. In most cases, your contacts should be receptive to this and appreciate the honesty. Remember, there are plenty of means for staying in touch, but meeting in person—even for just a quick coffee—is still the best way to network.

If you have a large LinkedIn network that you have not been following these steps with – it’s not too late! Go through your contact list and reach out one by one. Say it’s been a long time and you just want to catch up. And then you are on your way to rebuilding your social capital!