Sunday, December 22, 2013

Affected by Target! Did Target Leave the Backdoor Open?

Can You Feel The Chill?
This week, one of America’s largest retailers, Target, announced that its payment system had been compromised, and that more than 40,000,000 customer’s credit and debit card information had been taken.

How, in an era when everything is suppose to be so safe, could this have happened?  What steps could Target could have taken to prevent this total disregard for privacy?  And what can you do to prevent something like this from happening to you?

Are We Truly Safe?

I personally know people whom have been affected from this security breach.  Most Americans view technology as “safe”, but if it is so safe why do similar problems keep arising?

The problem is that as Americans, we constantly let our guard down.  When a terrorist attack happens like 9/11, we quickly throw up the fences and keep everything and everyone that looks out of place out.  We become untrusting.  Then as those memories fade from time, we lower our fences, become trusting, and eventually lower our guards.

Target’s Folly

Could Target have done more to ensure that this breach could not happen?  This situation is a double-edged sword.  As companies continue to grow, it is harder for them to maintain such massive digital networks especially those that process payments.

Maybe if they devoted more manpower or used better software to keep out hackers, but these fall in the what if category.

On the other hand, if they knew that their system had been compromised, a month earlier, they could have alerted their customers ahead of time, of course, they would run the risk of loosing sales in the busy holiday season.

Fortunately, there are excellent financial protection products, such as Life Lock, that can protect and guard your financial accounts from malicious purchases and money withdrawals.


So, how do you prevent identify theft from happening to you?  Below are some simple tips that can ensure that your information never gets in the wrong hands.
  • Buy Online – Target’s online store was not breached.
  • Purchase From Trusted Websites
  • Only Purchase from sites that use ( ssl or https: as prefixs in the web address cart or check out page)
  • When in doubt, sign up with a credit monitoring service
  • Get a copy of your credit report to insure all is well
  • Notify banks, credit card companies, and loan issuers if you believe your account has been compromised.
  • Close accounts
  • Make purchase on a disposable debit card, such as Green Dot®
  • Use Cash

When in doubt, walk away!  There is no way the general public could have known about the security breech that affected Target stores for nearly a month.  Big box retailers are in the business to make money.  Target will have a long road ahead in trying to get back its customers.  Events like these can be devastating to any business big or small.

We have to make sure that our guard is up all of the time.  It’s your information and money; you have to stay vigilant if you don’t want your identity stolen!

Credit Card Monitoring Services  Credit Reports

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Do Book Sales Work? -- An Inside Look!

A Marketing Stand-point Feature of Manus Publishing

During the holiday times, you always see everything on sale, and I mean everything.  The winter holiday season is the perfect time to showcase your books for sale, and any discounts you can offer will ensure that you get some customers.  In my opinion, books make the perfect holiday gift, especially for those who love to read.  As far as books go, do sales drive customers your way? 

As for myself, after my free sale last month, I decided to back up the free sale with a 99-cent holiday sale until the New Year.  As a writer, I want the things that I create and market to people to sell and make a profit.  Sometimes, many times, ideas can fall flat, resulting in few, if any sales.

Let me tell you, that this idea was genius, but it all starts with a solid marketing plan.  As I like to say, if you have to pay more than a few bucks to reach the masses in this technologically advanced age, then you are doing something wrong.

Winning Marketing ideas that I use are:
  • To hand out business cards to nearly everyone I run into
  • To advertise in unlikely places (as an eBay seller, I have access to a huge customer base that I send advertising emails to in order updates, and mail brochures and business cards in orders that I fill)
  • Take full advantage of free classified ads (nationwide) such as and
  • Use my website and blog as an information hub
  • Use Twitter and other social media sites
  • Constantly update marketing materials

What I do to get book sales may or may not work for you.  It all depends on how creative you are.  Are you a sales person or a buyer?  You have to think like a buyer to know what a buyer is looking for, and then you have to create what the buyer wants.  Because without buyers you will not have any sales and without sales, you will not earn any royalties.

It is a glass half empty / half full type of situation, but as long as you try new things that are free to implement and keep going you should not have any problems getting and keeping customers.

So, do book sales work?  Yes!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Is Undercutting Your Competitors A Good Thing?

Cam Your Building Stand?
According to Wikipedia, Predatory pricing (also knows as undercutting) is a pricing strategy where a product or service is set at a very low price, intending to drive competitors out of the market, or create barriers to entry for potential new competitors.

Ever since the Apple iPhone 5s appeared on the market, I have been selling a unique two piece thin lightweight case on Ebay.  For weeks, I was the only seller of this type of case, then other sellers began to appear and they undercut my price by 0.25 to 0.50 cents.  This may not sound like a lot of money, but when you are in the business to make money for both you and your supplier it is a big deal!

Undercutting can upset the balance of your business or product and while you still get customers in the doors you have to ask yourself is it worth it in the end for you? 

My response to being undercut was to drastically drop the price of the case, but I ran into unforeseen problems with my supplier, who raised his prices, further tightening the noose.  But because I wanted sales, practically at any cost, including my bottom line, I have continued to keep my selling price a full $1.00 below my competitors.

In turn, I have had record sales on this item.  According to Ilya Leybovich of, many businesses sell products with only a narrow profit margin.  Even Jeff Bezos of sells his Kindle E-Readers at cost.  He makes no profit at all! (CBS 60 Minuets).

It is true that undercutting erodes the market for whatever item or service you are selling and that lower prices can cause a product to have a bad perception, but in the end, multiple factors will only allow you to keep your undercut price in effect for so long.

The retail industry as a whole will tell you to become the best in your particular niche or market to keep the customers you have while gaining new ones, especially those not worried about the price, but what do you do if you are already up against the best?  Some suggestions are for you to hold on and wait for the tide to turn or if possible undercut the lowest price.

I believe that I am the best when it comes to selling this particular product.  I prefer to stay in contact with my customers and I offer a unique guarantee that others just can’t beat.  I:
  •  Send out two e-mails per order to inform my customers about its status,
  • I offer a guarantee that if the product does not arrive by a certain date, they get their money back and they get to keep the product when it does arrive
  • Behind the scenes I am in constant contact with my supplier to make sure that orders are being filled correctly.
So, is undercutting a good thing?  My answer is no, not especially if it is long term.

As for my unique product, I will only be able to keep it at the undercut price until Christmas then my supplier will raise the price far beyond my reach.  In business you win some and you lose some, but there are always products down the line just waiting to be discovered for you to sell them.