Are You Ready to Be a Cat Owner?

You may have been longing to get a cat but you need to decide if you are prepared to commit yourself. There are lots of factors to take into consideration, and you can start from here:

You know the value of socialization.

Cats have this unfair reputation of being antisocial, and in the case of many felines, this is somehow true. However, when you train your cat to socialize early in life, they are less likely to shy away from relatives or friends who visit. How can you teach your cat to be confident? Let her experience new surroundings, people, things, sounds and scents, as well as treats and praises. You can let them attend classes for kittens that provide helpful training and exercises. Giving a lot of importance to socialization and understanding what you need to do to will bring up a kitty with self confidence may show that you are prepared to get a cat.

You have the means.

It may be hard to figure out how much you need to care for a cat, but certainly, this involves costs of food, bowls, litter, litter box, toys, grooming tools, enrichment products like cat trees and scratchers, identification and microchipping, parasite preventives and veterinary visits. The last one is definitely a big expense. Not all cats visit the veterinarian on a regular basis. A yearly physical exam may be adequate for some cats, while more frequent visits to the vet are needed by older cats and those with health problems. If you are computing the costs to know whether you can afford to get a cat, always include the expenses entailed in health care, as well as pet insurance and emergencies in case you decide to buy it.

You will devote time to exercise your cat.

Cats also need to exercise. It does not mean that you need to walk them the way you do with a dog, though some are trained to do so with a leash. Exercise is very important to cats, even more than most probable cat owners may realize. Besides promoting good physical and mental health, it strengthens the bond between a pet and its owner. Therefore, it is best to devote time daily for active play, and provide cats with toys that encourage them to move a lot – like climbing trees, laser pointers, feather toys, as well as cardboard boxes and paper bags.

You are bent on making your home cat-friendly.

It is easy to recognize cat-friendly houses with their cat trees, scratching posts and food puzzles. These enrichment playthings let cats use their natural instincts – like climbing, jumping, scratching and hunting. In essence, they add more excitement to life, and what more could your favorite feline ask for? When you have discovered how to fit them into your home, there is one other thing you need to do when it comes to cat-friendly living, and that is cat proofing. If you decide to take home a cat, make sure to get rid of and be careful of things that could hurt or poison her – like some chemicals, cleaners, foods, medications and plants, among others.



Source by Matt McWilliam

Procession Caterpillars – Friend Or Foe?

Caterpillars remind me of my garden, eating the plantation, small, harmless, maybe even cute but annoying to the plant life with no risk to me, children or my pets. Ask me about procession caterpillars and I will give you a completely different answer. Friend or foe?

Foe would not even begin to describe these characters, they are the enemy and should be avoided at all costs. Enemy probably sounds too strong a description for a little hairy caterpillar but trust me, don’t make a judgement because of its size or because you have always liked them.

Found across Europe, especially in Mediterranean countries where the temperatures are generally warmer, officially titled Thaumatopoea Pitycampa or the caterpillar of the pine tree. They are considered a threat to the trees, dangerous to animals and to people can cause a very strong allergic reaction caused by the hairs found on their backs.

Traditionally, the nests are found in the pine trees and their home is usually positioned on the sunny side of the tree and can often be spotted from a distance where the pine needles have turned brown.

On closer inspection, white candy floss woven on the branches and delicate silk bags can be seen decorating the trees. These are the nests of the procession caterpillar, protecting them as they grow and keeping them warm.

To feed, they leave the safety of their home at night and walk along the branches to demolish and feast on the pine tree, venturing further afield once they depleted the supplies. They are greedy and destructive and are active in the winter months, often feeding in zero temperatures before returning to the nest to rest and digest their feed in the warmer, sunlight hours.

In March when they are fully grown they commence the next stage of their journey, leaving the safety of the nest and tree in search of a burial site.

Why are they named procession caterpillars? When they start to move, they look as though they are marching, like an army in a line, head to tail determined to find a suitable pupation site in the soil. They may travel long distances from the host tree before they bury themselves, spending the warmer months buried as a pupa. In August, the moth emerges from its cocoon, mates and lays its eggs in a pine tree and the cycle commences all over again.

We have lived in Spain for several years now and we have a lovely pet dog named Angel, who is a West Highland Terrier, who loves to pretend to hunt and explore the woods amongst the pine trees. We have never experienced any problems and for the majority of the year it is a safe and pleasant place to walk. During the first quarter of the year, January through to April we do have to be vigilant and we prefer to find other areas to walk.

The beginning of the year is the most dangerous time for exposure to the caterpillars, although the nests are formed before then. Due to the weather being warmer, whether climate change is to blame or not I do not know, but I have seen the caterpillars in the woods feeding and away from their nests in early December, although unusual.

True to her breed, Angel is always sniffing in bushes and tracking a smell through the undergrowth and it is this behaviour that causes her the greatest threat. Along the back of the insects are fine, irritating hairs that if inhaled, licked or indeed eaten the caterpillar can cause her great pain. Dogs, cats and foxes are among the animals at most risk to these insects, attracted to them because of their colour and some say their odour.

If the hairs come into contact with the animals lips or tongue, the area will swell very quickly and cause a large amount of pain and we need to ensure this does not asphyxiate them. If the caterpillar has been eaten then the symptoms are more severe with vomiting, a fever and blood present in the urine. If you suspect your animal has come into contact with the caterpillars you must take them to the vet immediately, the faster the treatment can be administered the better.

The hairs on the caterpillar are released into the air and do not have to be attached to inflict injury. Beware, poking the insect with a stick or treading on them will only release the hairs into the environment and you will become more susceptible to inhalation. Even if the caterpillar is dead the hairs remain dangerous.

Disposing of the nests during the winter months should be left to the professionals, although spraying the nests with hairspray to ensure the hairs do not disperse into the air, covering with a plastic bag and cutting the branch down is the usual treatment before setting the nest on fire. Protective clothing including goggles must be worn, so leave it to the experts. A procession of caterpillars are usually set alight after dousing them with lighter fluid, again to prevent the hairs from circulating.

Please note, I do not advocate this procedure as the trees and woodland are often dry and desiccated and this poses a real threat to forest and bush fires.

Please keep your pets safe, do not panic about the caterpillars, learning to live with them, being careful and aware helps to prevent any problems or encounters with the insects. They are not around all year, it is only for a short period of time that you need to be vigilant. Remember, if you think your pets have come into contact with them or indeed yourself seek veterinary and medical assistance immediately. Photographs of the caterpillars can be found on my website.



Source by Kerry Joyce

5 Tips and Tricks To Help Improve Your Dog’s Appetite

Most dogs wag their tails wildly and rush to their feeding bowls when it’s mealtime. If you don’t get this reaction from your pet and he simply sniffs his food, ignores it or only eats a little then it might be a matter of concern. There are plenty of reasons why dogs lose their appetite. It could be as simple as a toothache or it could be because of pickiness or behavioral issues. Whatever the cause is, it is important to make sure that your pet eats and gets enough nutrients to avoid further problems.

Here are 5 tips and tricks to help improve your dog’s appetite:

Schedule a visit to the vet

Whether your dog’s lack of appetite has just started or has been going on for a while now, your safest bet is to consult an expert. Your veterinarian can help you figure out the cause of the problem which will help you find a solution easier. He can easily identify any physical reasons that may be causing your pet’s disinterest in food. Have your furry friend weighed so that you’ll have an idea what healthy weight to aim for.

Switch brands of dog food

One reason why dogs lose appetite is because their current food doesn’t appeal to them anymore. Try switching to another brand of high quality dog food. Do it gradually to prevent stomach upset. Observe if your pet’s appetite improves after the switch. But don’t switch brands too much – dogs generally eat better when they’re familiar with the food and their diet doesn’t require too much variety according to the Pet Palace website.

Give less treats

Even dogs with little appetite love their treats! Refrain from giving treats to your pup in between meals – he’s likely to learn that even if he doesn’t finish the food on his bowl, he will still get attention from you and get rewarded. Offer the treats when his eating has improved.

Exercise

A dog exposed to regular physical activity is more likely to get hungry and eat. Exercise will help stimulate your pet’s appetite. Try making it a habit to have your daily walk right before mealtime so that he can associate them with each other and see them as positive activities.

Lessen the distractions

Dogs get easily distracted that’s why it’s important to make sure that your canine’s eating spot is quiet and has minimal distractions so that he can concentrate on eating and finishing his food.

Follow these tips and tricks to help improve your dog’s appetite and make sure that he’s healthier and happier than ever!



Source by Mary L. James

3 Effective Tips To Get Your Dog To Sleep At Night

It’s simple – if your dog is awake at night, you’ll most likely be awake as well. With all the barking, whining and fussing around, it will definitely be hard to get a good night’s sleep. As a dog parent, it’s important to find out what causes your pet to be up during nighttime. Does he get hungry or need to do his business during the wee hours? Is he uncomfortable in his sleeping space? Knowing why he can’t sleep will help you solve the issue much faster.

Here are some effective tips to get your dog to sleep at night:

Include more physical activities in your dog’s daily routine

Canines have all this energy. If they’re not used up throughout the day, it may be one cause why they’re having a hard time sleeping in the evening. To ensure that their energy is used up, take him on a daily walk or run, play a game of fetch or have him play with active dogs. When he expends energy, he gets tired and will most likely feel sleepy as bed time approaches.

Let him know that it’s bed time

Dogs have no concept of time, that’s why it’s important for you to establish both a daytime and a night time routine. Familiarize him with a night routine which he’ll eventually know will shortly lead to bed time. You can start by feeding him dinner then playing for a bit. After a while, you can put away his toys and turn off the lights to let him know it’s time to sleep. Over time, he’ll know this routine by heart and he’ll have an easier time going to bed.

Make his sleep space more conducive

Puppies who are used to crates may feel more comfortable sleeping in one. So if you recently transitioned your pet to his own bed, it may be one reason why he’s having a difficult time snoozing at night. Observe where he is most comfortable sleeping and make it even more conducive – provide a long-lasting dog treat or his favorite toy to make him feel that his sleeping space is a spot that is his own.

The best thing to do is to let your dog associate sleeping and his sleep space with positive things. This way, he will be more comfortable and it will be easier for him to relax and snooze at night.



Source by Mary L. James

Getting a Dog – Some Important Considerations

If you are considering whether or not to get a dog, you may well think this to be an easy enough decision to make. After all, surely it is just a matter of deciding “yes” or “no”. If only things were that simple. If you answer “no” then it is simple. If you decide to answer “yes” then a variety of other questions arise and these questions need to be considered and answered. Let us suppose you make the decision to acquire a dog.

Today, when it comes time to decide on the type or breed of dog to choose, you feel almost overwhelmed. Dogs come in a vast array of different shapes, sizes, colors, temperaments and skill strengths. It is surely true to claim that you are bound to find a type of dog to suit your requirements, no matter what those requirements are. Some prospective owners are looking for the company and companionship of a family pet. Others are seeking a dog which is especially intelligent and alert, while others may be intending to show their dog, or thy may be seeking a good guard dog.

The dog you choose may be a purebred or of mixed breeding, or it may be a beloved “bitzer”. Whatever variety you choose, your new dog is bound to find a place in your heart and household and be just right for you. This is not very surprising because most dogs are sociable and willing to become friends and act dependably with any responsible people to whom they are properly introduced.

Dogs will automatically adopt the responsibility for guard duties for the household, and astute owners will soon get to recognize the different signals and types of reaction the dog gives, depending on who the dog has heard. They will soon alert you to the approach of family or friends, as well as warn you if the newcomer is a stranger.

For most dog owners, the pleasure and joy and contentment that accompany ownership always greatly outweigh the inconveniences and sacrifices and added responsibilities that come hand in hand with ownership. Owners gladly furnish their dog with affection and friendship and attention, knowing that they will gain a warm and willing companion in return.

I wish you every training success and years of enjoyment for both you and your dog.



Source by Stanley Pepper

Easy Tips and Tricks To Help Your Dog Gain Weight

An underweight dog is more prone to health issues. If you notice that your dog is becoming thinner or you think he is underweight, the best thing to do is “fatten” him up – make sure that he is eating right and that he gains some pounds until he reaches the ideal and healthy weight. Weight loss in canines are usually caused by diarrhea, poor appetite and health problems. If you’re uncertain, it’s best to seek the advice of your veterinarian.

Here are a few easy tricks to help your dog gain weight:

Check your dog’s weight

Sometimes a dog may look thin but he actually has the ideal weight for his breed. It’s best to check your pet’s actual weight and compare it with his breed’s ideal weight. It’s also important to learn his breed’s daily dietary needs to keep him healthy.

Find out the cause

Finding out what causes your pet’s weight loss or being underweight will help you find a solution easier. It could be as simple as another dog stealing your pet’s food (if you live with multiple dogs) or as serious as a stomach problem. Observe his eating habits if he’s getting enough food, if he has any appetite or if he’s experiencing diarrhea. If his condition seems to be unexplained, it’s time to go to the vet.

Change the feeding schedule

If you’ve ever tried to shed off a few pounds, you’ll know that eating shortly before bed time will cause your body to store the food as fat. You can use this concept to help your skinny pet gain a few pounds. If you feed him twice a day, consider giving him a smaller portion during the day and a bigger one at night so that the calories will be stored in his body as fat while he sleeps instead of being burned as energy.

Introduce new food

Introduce good quality dog food with higher fat and protein content to your dog’s diet. This will help him gradually gain some pounds over time. Mix it with other food for more nutrients. Just introduce the new food with care as a new diet usually causes an upset stomach in canines in the beginning.

Exercise

When we hear the word “exercise”, we automatically think it’s for weight loss. But a bulk of a canine’s weight should be muscles and not fat and a good way to maintain strong and healthy muscles is through a good diet and a good daily amount of physical activity.

Try these simple tricks and your dog should fill out in no time!



Source by Mary L. James

3 Simple Dog Care Tips From The Pros

Having a pet dog is no easy responsibility. Every dog parent should always be on top of their pet’s physical and emotional well-being. The goal is to have a healthy and happy pet which makes both your life and his life better. Taking care of a dog is a continuous learning process – you learn something new from time to time. While each dog owner has their own approach on how they prefer to raise their pets, here are some easy dog care tips from the pros you can consider:

Have your dog checked by the vet regularly

Like us, as dogs grow older, they become more prone to health issues. It could be as simple as a toothache or as serious as a heart problem. The symptoms doesn’t always show or it’s too late when they do – that’s why it’s important to bring your pet to the vet regularly to have a general check up. Annual check ups should also cover dental care, health screenings, vaccinations, parasite control as well as recommended vaccinations. According to the Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians president Dr. Kara M. Burns, regular exams are the single most important way to keep pets healthy.

Prevent your dog from getting parasites

The most common parasite that can affect your canine’s health are fleas. When they’re exposed to other dogs who has them, your pet can easily be plagued by the external parasite. Fleas can cause skin irritation, infection, hair loss, hot spots and more. If your pet swallows a flea, other parasites can easily be introduced to his body like a tapeworm. To help prevent both external and internal parasites, make sure that your dog and the environment he moves in are clean. Year-round prevention is ideal by getting regular flea and internal parasite control.

Keep your dog mentally and physically healthy

According to Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center professor and veterinary nutritionist Dr. Tony Buffington, an enriched environment is key to the long-term health and welfare of both canines and felines. A daily walk or run or a regular game of fetch will keep your pet physically active and healthy. Mental stimulation is just as important, so try a game of hide and seek, a toy or a treat hunt and other similar games at home.

Follow these effective dog care tips from the pros to contribute to your pet’s health and happiness!



Source by Mary L. James

Market Technology: The Missing Link

Although many, aspects of Industry have morphed and changed over the last, few decades, there are several outposts that continue to find their way. In spite of technological advances, process improvements, changing Market and Customer demands, fierce Competition and even the advent of the Internet and powerful, Marketing platforms – like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter – the prevailing mindset has not changed dramatically.

In 1981, we submitted a manuscript to Harvard Business School for review and consideration. It was titled, “Market Technology: The Missing Link.”

It certainly would not rival Ted Leavitt’s “Marketing Myopia,” however Market Technology approached the fundamental issue differently and distinctively.

The actual manuscript was a “library of congress” class of document complete with concept overview, relevant models, heavy detailed, descriptors, case examples to demonstrate that the stuff had been applied to the real world, etc.

In its raw form – Market Technology advocated that companies must treat their marketing, sales and business development needs similarly to the way core engineering and product development are handled. Determining the right response and the right mix for a company’s marketing and sales programs is no different than determining a company’s products and services. In fact, conceiving effective programs is as complex and critical to the company’s success, as conceiving its product set. This meant that the Marketing discipline and process need to be integrated into the business. In fact, with small-to-medium, sized companies – the Market Program – is classified, as critical – in that, it could make or break a company.

For smaller firms – they must get it right – out-of-the-gate, and may not get a second chance.

This is one aspect that distinguishes smaller companies from their larger counterparts – as the larger firm can absorb a missed opportunity or loss more readily.

How many companies have you been associated with that thought and operated this way?

Market Technology represents a Mindset, framework, methodology, process orientation and an implementation -ready, program all rolled-up in one, complete package.

In your company, what role does Marketing play?

Most, will respond by indicating that Marketing plays a support role for either the product/service or to provide mainline support to the company’s Salesforce or Distribution Network (Channel Partners).

Reference will be made to Trade Show support, MarComm, collateral material, brochures, data sheets and even the dreaded “lead generation program.”

In your company, what is the stature of Marketing?

There are exceptions (depending on the Industry and Company make-up), however most will indicate that it is not a Leadership role (although the Marketing Team wants it to be).

What is the missing ingredient?

Is it that Senior Management did not come from the Marketing discipline and will not give it its day and cut it loose?

Is it that companies have experienced too, many false starts with their Marketing Program or it just doesn’t work?

Is marketing too, risky and costly compared to making investment in other areas of the company?

Is marketing viewed, as a luxury vs. a mainline contributor?

There is no silver bullet answer, although some combination of these factors may be the root to understand the dynamics going on here – in your company.

Let’s revisit the elements of the All-in-One package referenced above:

*The Mindset – we continually get bombarded with messages that advocate a company must migrate to a Market-Driven or Customer-Centric state – well, how many successful transitions have you been involved in or led?

The point is that this involves cultural and many times, organizational change – and that is not a small step, but a giant leap. It may demand shift changes in focus and direction, which may also have an impact on the make-up of the Senior Leadership Team.

It takes careful assessment, planning, timing and relentless dedication to pull something like this off, however the starting point is the Mindset. If there is need to infuse or change the company mindset to embrace Marketing – then it must start with the Top Dogs (Senior Leadership Team) and then filter into the organization. Although the mindset sounds like “soft science,” if the company environment is not ripe and receptive and the mindset is not understood and put to practice, then there is no need to invest any time, resource and effort into driving this forward. It’s a Dead stop!

*Framework/Methodology – most companies’ Marketing efforts look-like a disjointed, puzzle. The pieces are laid out and some fit, however it just doesn’t hang together. The reason for this is that the make-up of the Marketing Program is comprised of discrete events (activity-based) vs. a well-thought out, integrated Program (defined and driven by Strategic intent). Further, there are times when something is put in-place to satisfy the interests of the Top Dog or to appease the Sales Team – avoid these activities like the plague. They will not serve the organization well, deliver the desired results and most likely put a “black-eye” on the Marketing function or diminish its value.

When defining the baseline Marketing Program, it is useful to utilize a simple framework that identifies and breaks down the Marketing Sphere into its core elements: 1. Research (primary and secondary) 2. Market Planning and Strategizing (industry, market segment, application, customer, product, competition, pricing, packaging, etc.) 3. Market Program Development (consistent with Strategic Business Plan and critical priorities) 4. Advertising, promotions and communications (various platforms and vehicles – company capabilities, positioning, customer profiles, product coverage, etc.) 5. Sales Development (market, business, sales, product, etc.) 6. Product Management (market, technology and competition). There are other elements that can extend the framework, although these are the basic, building blocks.

The framework can be viewed, as a group of circles, where each element is inter-related (like a Venn diagram – math term). The circular flow is continuous and self-feeding. Market Research (the Homework), for example, can be integral to defining the profile and make-up of a Market Program – like a Product Launch Campaign or a Competitive Attack Program or building/developing a Strategic Alliance and Partner Network. To have a shot at developing effective, Marketing Programs – it is necessary for your firm to utilize a framework to guide the Marketing challenge. This will also assure that your program is fully-integrated from the get-go. This must be aligned with the Strategic Business Plan (and its priority set), although there are times, when implementing a tactically-driven, program has purpose and value. These are usually opportunity-driven. Once the framework is understood – program considerations are mapped-onto the framework to represent the make-up and selection of your Phase One Market Program. The driver for Program selection should be those challenges, opportunities or problem-set, which are critical to business success – not something that is neat to do. We have many clients that utilize a framework, which has streamlined the Marketing task and not let them down. With the framework, you can “walk before you run” – selecting a few, sample programs, putting them to the test and then extending your reach. Over time, mastering the framework and having all of the elements working in your business – is the target objective.

*Process Orientation – there are a series of steps to define and develop Market Programs. They are not goof-proof nor will they guarantee success, however to embark on putting programs in-place, without a process orientation – is like putting your company’s livelihood on a Las Vegas roulette wheel.

These steps represent a methodology and an integral process:

*Baseline Research – we refer to this, as the homework. This can be completed in short-order (depending on how conversant and savvy you are on the subject matter). To keep it fresh and unbiased, it would be useful to bring in Outsiders – that are not contaminated with the internal view. They may also challenge conventional wisdom and bring-in new perspectives. This phase is normally overlooked or de-emphasized, however it is critical to fueling, shaping and molding your Program selection and content. Can you imagine spawning a Market Program, let’s say, that must build position in a new, Industry segment and generate business, without doing the Homework?

Over time, this must be integrated into your company and be a continuous, process.

*Profiling – bring in your brightest lights and some Outside support to translate/interpret the Homework, which will naturally point you in the right direction to choose and select the “best” Program mix and aid in defining the content of each Program. Develop a written profile – complete with all of the elements – for each Program consideration.

*Positioning/Messaging – we have seen many firms “go creative” on this phase – imagination is good, however make sure that the positioning/messaging is consistent with what was compiled and translated from the Homework. We are not taking a shot at creativity, however Programs are implemented to generate results – not win awards. In today’s market – take the focus off your company, product, service or yourself – the target audience is not interested in that fluff. Have your campaign highlight a critical, Industry problem or opportunity or a target application – something that is relevant and useful to your audience. Have Programs that host a theme not a product-line – this can also be built upon and perpetuated. Mix it up and make it distinctive. Use the “acid test” – when done with your positioning/messaging, put the Competitor’s logo on it – if it makes sense and is not defendable – go back to the drawing board, rather than embarrassing yourself in the Open Market. Incidentally, to support the continuous, development of Market Programs – you might want to consider creating a role – Market Designer. This allows dedication to the task and results in building skill and competence in this key, area.

*Pilot Test – take your Whiz-bang, guaranteed-to-work, Program out to a test audience. This exercise is insightful, can take less than thirty (30) days and can save your bacon. Have the audience made-up of known and unknown quantities (including some of the competitor’s customers) to get a fair cross-section. Take their inputs seriously, factor their valued, inputs into the Program make-up and then launch with less pressure and more certainty. Include your Sales/Support team and 3rd Party Network into the process – get their feedback and also enroll them into the Program early, as they will predictably be an implementation arm for the real thing.

*Implementation Phase (Ready-to-Roll) – this is it – the real thing. Pre-launch your Program both within and outside of the company. For insiders, get them ramped-up and rallying around the Program. Make it a Company event. For outsiders – build a little, mystery – prior to formal launch. Depending on the make-up of your Program – you can leverage the Media (all forms) – most salivate over something new and newsworthy. Take advantage of webinars, instructional programs (How To Workshops), click-into Industry Groups and Associations that cater to your prospective audience, generate useful Industry articles (and find sites whose subscriber network fit your needs) – if your Program lends itself to Social Media – go for it – there are powerful, Marketing Platforms that you can leverage – and turn viral.

Need help?

There are trusted, experts out there that specialize in these areas – tap them!

This is also a critical, phase for your Program.

If you are leveraging a Sales team and/or a 3rd Party Network (Partners) – make sure to provide the front-end, training, campaign materials, and incentives to get them focused and juiced-up.

Listen to their comments along the way, as they are on-the-street and closely aligned with your prospects and customers. Make adjustments to your Program quickly and cleanly, based on their inputs – no burden.

Highlight the early-stage, successes (regularly).

Remember: the first 30-45 days of your Program is the “bleeding neck” phase – if you lose grip and momentum – you will not get it back. Poof goes your campaign!

*Metrics – avoid putting stiff, metrics on a Program up-front – until it is fully, launched, out there and generating tangible results. At that stage, the Program can be evaluated/assessed, in terms of, its potential impact and then realistic and attainable metrics can be applied.

As a rule-of-thumb – both tangible and intangible metrics need to be defined and put to practice for every, Market Program.

*Program Ownership – if your organization can swing it – identify an individual or group responsible for each Program – to breed ownership and accountability. They should be the conduit, between the inside and outside audiences for all aspects of the Program. They must be key, players in the organization that command respect and “carry a stick.” Program implementation is not a piece of cake and, at times, demands a degree of clout to get things done. If your Program Owner interfaces with the field Sales Team and 3rd Party Network (Reps, Dealers, Distributors, etc.) – make sure they are a known quantity and “speak the language” of the audience. We have seen brilliant, Programs go down the tidy bowl or sit-and-spin, because the wrong people were selected to lead and direct the Program. This is a subtlety that must not be overlooked.

*Reporting – keep the reporting short and simple, although with an emphasis on “keeping a finger on the pulse,” monitoring the stage of Program life (introduction, maturity, wind-down, etc.) and what is useful to Management and the Program participants. Reporting must not be, viewed as, imposing or Management’s attempt to “look over the shoulder” of those driving and participating in the Program. At the front-end of the Program (Roll-out/Launch) – it is helpful to report more often, as early-stage, feedback is key to effectiveness. As the Program takes shape and is more, predictable – the reporting can be less frequent.

*Program Continuum – every program has a life-cycle – it can be a short-term, program, for example – a hard-driving, Competitive Replacement Program designed to generate revenue quarterly, to a long-term, program designed to investigate and build a Channel Partner Network or Strategic Alliance relationships, to a mid-term, program like a formal, Product Launch Campaign. At every step of the Program life-cycle, there are opportunities to enhance the program format, depending on the business drivers and responses of the target audience. For example – for the Competitive Replacement Program, it may be useful to introduce incentives for both the potential buyer and the participating Dealer/Reps or construct powerful, Competitive Analysis tools or generate pre-qualified, leads. For the Product Launch Campaign example – automated “try and buy” kits, which will allow the prospect to review and test the new product (at their leisure with no sales pressure) may reinforce the campaign message, create a sense of urgency and strengthen the overall, Program format. There are times, when it is necessary – mid-life – to repackage a program or take it down a different path. This amplifies a key point – that Programs are not a done deal, after roll-out and launch – they have a life-span, which we call the Continuum.

In general terms, the elements outlined above represent the “Market Technology” foundation.

Certainly, there are many, technological tools that can be utilized and put to practice to support this, however this foundation can be literally inserted into any company environment.

How does your company’s Marketing Program stack-up?

Copyright 2012

Edmond Hennessy

Performance Marketing Group



Source by Edmond Hennessy

Workplace Violence – Detect the Warning Signs & Triggering Events

Our other articles on workplace violence describe its nature and scope, our POSTAL formula and behavioral profile, and defusing techniques. Here we describe the warning signs and triggering events … and what to do when you detect them.

The POSTAL Formula for Workplace Violence Prevention:

Profile + Observable Warning Signs + Shotgun + Triggering Event(s) = Always Lethal

The Profile is most useful during the hiring process, to screen out potential perpetrators. For your existing workforce — and when dealing with outsiders — we turn to the…

Observable Warning Signs

These warning signs, which can be newly acquired negative traits, parallel and overlap the profile, but now we focus on current behavior. So, instead of a previous history of violence, our first warning sign is observed…

  1. Violent and Threatening Behavior
  2. For Patrick Sherrill (the first postal worker to “go postal” in 1986), it was tying up neighborhood dogs with bailing wire and a strong fascination for weapons.
    In general, this also includes:

  • Destruction of property or threats of sabotage
  • Disregard for the safety of others or violation of safety procedures
  • Threats, intimidation, bullying, e.g., Seung-Hui Cho of Virginia Tech and Harris and Klebold of Columbine (as both perpetrators and victims)
  • Violence against a family member, e.g., Mark Barton murdered his wife and children just before his Atlanta day-trading massacre
  • Stalking or harassing others. Cho was involved in at least three stalking incidents, the first occurring 18 months prior to his rampage. Also, he placed harassing phone calls to his roommate and took cell phone pictures of female students’ legs under their desks.

  • Strange Behavior
  • Patrick Sherrill’s neighbors noted his strange behavior in the neighborhood — mowing his lawn at midnight and peering into neighbor’s windows while wearing combat fatigues. His coworkers said he preferred his own company and described him as enigmatic. Cho was known as the question mark kid. He had an imaginary girlfriend who lived in outer space.

    In general, strange behavior can include:

    • Becoming reclusive, e.g., a sudden withdrawal from friends or acquaintances
    • Poor personal hygiene or a deteriorating and unkempt appearance
    • Inappropriate dress, e.g., Cho never took off his sunglasses, even indoors
    • Bizarre or paranoid behavior
    • Erratic behavior or an extreme change in behavior

  • Emotional Problems
  • For example, Patrick Sherrill was often angry and frequently depressed. A district court found Cho to be: “an imminent danger to himself as a result of mental illness.” Professors described him as insecure and depressed, as were the boys of Columbine. This also can include:

    • Drug or alcohol abuse
    • Appearing to be under unusual stress; signs of depression or despondence
    • Inappropriate emotional display, e.g., screaming, explosive outbursts, rage, crying

  • Performance Problems
  • Sherrill’s coworkers perceived him as a problem employee and a consistent non-performer. Virginia Tech declined to divulge details about Cho’s academic record, but Cho’s mother was increasingly concerned about his inattention to class work and his time spent out of the classroom. Performance problems also can include:

    • Inability to concentrate … decreased energy or focus
    • Deteriorating work performance
    • Attendance or tardiness problems
    • Increased need for supervision … coworkers have to take up his slack

  • Interpersonal Problems
  • Cho was described as awkward and lonely … arrogant and obnoxious … timid, dorky and pushy. Sherrill was a habitual complainer. This also can include:

    • Numerous conflicts with supervisors and other employees
    • Hypersensitivity or extreme suspiciousness
    • Resentment and frustration
    • Exaggerated perceptions of injustice

  • At the end of his rope
  • The last warning sign on our list is also the last warning sign a potential perpetrator probably will display. For example:

    • Has a plan to solve all problems. What do you think that plan might entail?
    • Indicators of impending suicide (e.g., selling property, closing Credit Union account).
    • Other indications of extreme desperation, marital discord, financial distress, etc.

    Cho purchased guns in the two months preceding his rampage, spent time at a local target range, began working out at the gym, and shaved his head military style. Also, there was the media package Cho sent to NBC News. [It was not received until after the massacre, of course, but wouldn’t his roommates have had some awareness of its preparation?]

    Shotgun

    The ‘S’ in our POSTAL formula simply is access to and familiarity with weapons — not only shotguns, but also handguns, rifles, explosives and knives (or box cutters). Also martial arts training.

    Patrick Sherrill had been a Marine sharpshooter and was a member of the National Guard marksmanship team. Cho and the boys of Columbine acquired this ability.

    Shotgun is not a warning sign. Hunters and gun collectors are not more likely to commit workplace violence, unless they’re obsessed with their guns. It’s just that, without access to and familiarity with weapons, that violence probably won’t be lethal.

    Triggering Event(s)

    The Triggering Event is the last straw or set of straws — experienced by the perpetrator as no way out, no more options. This could be:

    1. Job/Career Related
    2. Patrick Sherrill’s rampage appeared to be an act of revenge for a poor performance review. The morning before the murders, the senior supervisor threatened to terminate Sherrill … and he was scheduled to meet with his immediate supervisor the morning of the murders to discuss performance issues. Remember the significance of obsession with the job in the Profile.

      But job/career-related events — such as being disciplined or fired or even criticized — are only one type. It also can be…

    3. Institutional
    4. — foreclosure on a mortgage, bankruptcy, a restraining order or custody hearing.

    5. Personal Crisis
    6. For example, divorce, death in family or a failed or spurned romance — as it may have been for Eric Harris, whose girlfriend had recently broken up with him.

      It may even be a…

    7. Benchmark Date
    8. For example, turning 40 or a 10-year company anniversary … and feeling he’s going nowhere in life. Or the anniversary of some other event that is significant to the individual.

      The Columbine massacre occurred on April 20th. Do you know whose birthday that is? Adolf Hitler. Not a date most of us celebrate or even know, but significant to these two budding neo-Nazis.

    All of us have experienced one or more of these unpleasant events in our lives, which probably triggered negative feelings. Such events can trigger violence in those already primed for it, i.e., they fit the Profile and/or display the Observable Warning Signs.

    These events would tend to shake anyone’s sense of balance, at least temporarily. A violence-prone person already is unbalanced. The triggering event pushes him over the edge.

    Applying the Observable Warning Signs and Triggering Events

    Look for the Observable Warning Signs and Triggering Events as you:

    • Deal with your employees on a day-to-day basis
    • Interact with customers … and observe strangers

    How you handle individuals who exhibit the warning signs will vary considerably depending on the severity and situation. At a minimum, sit down and listen to the troubled employee or customer.

    The one absolute: Never Ignore!

    In the words of the husband of one of the victims at Lockheed-Martin:

    Obviously, he was a sick guy. I wish somebody had given him some help … before he destroyed my life and my kids’ life.

    Our prescription for preventing employee-initiated violence is:

    • Benevolent, motivational management practices [Some organizations are breeding grounds for violence.]
    • Appropriate use of counseling, EAP, disciplinary action, and/or law enforcement
    • Employee and management training — all employees need to know about the warning signs (and the anger-defusing techniques covered in our other article)
    • Sound security measures, which, at a minimum, eliminate Shotgun from the equation
    • And a zero-tolerance violence policy — effectively communicated and enforced

    A clarification about zero-tolerance: This term is often used to mean applying the same severe punishment for even minor offenses. That is not what we mean. Minor offenses and potential red flags should never be tolerated or ignored, but your response should be proportional and appropriate.

    The goal of this article has been to prevent violence from ever occurring at your workplace, at least as initiated by employees. Our “Defuse Hostility” article will show you how deal with outsiders and potentially violent incidents.



    Source by Don Grimme

    Cat Life – Are Cats Social Animals?

    Cats are often seen as the opposite to dogs in many respects – dogs are pack animals that need interaction with others of their kind or human substitutes. Cats are seen as aloof and independent, not needing humans but often enjoying their attention. How accurate is this view and do cats really not need one another?

    Territory

    Most behaviours in our pet cats come from their ancestors, wildcats, and their development around the world. While cats don’t need to hunt for their food, they still learn to pretend-hunt as kittens. They will often catch small animals and birds though they don’t need to eat them. And they react to threats as they would in the wild, when the threat could mean death. Another important trait inherited from those wild cats surrounds territory and how they interact with other cats.

    Cats are mostly solitary hunters and therefore, their territory is theirs to hunt across. It need to be defended to ensure they have enough food to live. Therefore, they mark their territories to warn off other cats and show the boundaries of their land. Cats don’t like to fight each other, despite how it sounds outside the window in the middle of the night. The marking of the territory acts like a warning sign to other cats. But this sign is sometimes ignored.

    The den

    At the heart of the territory is the den, a core area where they will sleep, eat and spend time with a mate. This is the part of the territory that the cat defends most vehemently and incursion into this will result in a battle. In the domesticated cat, this could be their house or even a specific part of it. If another cat or animal enters this core area, this may evoke a strong reaction from the cat.

    Neutral ground

    In the wild, cats often have areas that are like neutral ground. This is where they can meet with other cats and interact with them. In the home, this might be where shared food and water bowls are placed and even a cat litter box. Anyone not welcome on this neutral territory will be hissed, growled and spat at until they leave it.

    Colonies

    Feral domestic cats can sometimes form into colonies to help survive. This is often when there is a single or a few food sources in a small area and a single cat couldn’t hold off the rivals or even eat everything there. For this reason, the cats occupy the area together and don’t treat it like their territory, more like neutral ground. There is less of the hierarchy in these groups than is seen in dogs. This is because cats aren’t pack animals but can choose to live together.

    This colony mentality can happen when cats live together in a house. They may realise that it is best to work together and tolerate each other, though perhaps being ‘best friends’ with the others of the colony may never happen.

    Conclusion

    While cats don’t naturally ‘need’ to have companionship, they can enjoy it and easily tolerate it, particularly if they have grown up with the other animals. Some cats will remain affectionate with each other, with females sometimes retaining the mother role. Others may simply tolerate each other and have little to do with each other.



    Source by Angela Tempest