Archive for April, 2014

Fall in iron ore price hits Vale earnings

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Brazilian miner’s iron ore output rose to 71.7m tonnes in the first quarter, its highest since 2008, but sales did not keep up pace

Weak refining margins hit Total profits

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

First-quarter profit at the French oil group falls 10% to $3.33bn due to lower production and a decline in European refining margins

Spotlight On Moving Mountains Design: Staging Luxury Homes for Sale

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

This week we shine the spotlight on Moving Mountains Design. Those needing to sell a  big luxury home in the Los Angeles area call on owner Michelle Minch. She and her team swoop in and choose just the right paintings, rugs, sofas and even duvet covers to make a property fetch top dollar. Minch says she has 6 part-time employees in all and has been in business eight years.

WHAT THE BUSINESS IS KNOWN FOR: Being the luxury home stager for the Los Angeles market.

Very few professional stagers own enough inventory to stage larger homes. Even fewer have the kind of higher end furniture, Persian rugs, artwork and accessories needed to complete these jobs successfully. Moving Mountains Design has a warehouse full of beautiful accessories, furniture, artwork, linens, throw pillows and lamps appropriate to luxury homes. At the Real Estate Staging Association International Conference this year, Minch presented a workshop on luxury home staging to a standing-room-only audience. The conference is kind of like a Ted Talks for professional home stagers.

HOW THE BUSINESS GOT STARTED: A trip to Kansas City to wow some home buyers.

The first home Minch staged (and got paid for) was for an interior design client. They asked her to help them get their Kansas City home ready to sell. Minch was flown from Los Angeles. She did a lot of editing, rearranging and upgraded the kitchen with granite counters and new backsplash. The sellers expected the home to take six months to a year to sell, which was the norm at that time in Kansas City. It was the early 2000′s. They went under contract almost immediately and closed escrow about two months later – shockingly fast. Minch didn’t call what she did staging back then. She just told colleagues she was “getting the house ready to sell”. But back home, one of her neighbors was a real estate agent. When she heard about Minch’s success, she started calling her to stage listings. Word got out and other agents started calling. And the rest is history.

BIGGEST RISK TAKEN IN THE BUSINESS: Taking a line of credit for high end inventory

The biggest risk was a home equity line of credit on a rental property which Minch used to grow her company and keep it in the black. She says if her business hadn’t prospered, she could have potentially lost that property to foreclosure. The end result is that she has been able to purchase a very large stock of higher end inventory, furniture, artwork and accessories. This allowed her to position herself as a luxury home staging expert.

BIGGEST WINS? Professional Stager of the Year and More.

In 2010, Minch was voted Professional Stager of the Year by the Real Estate Staging Association. Being chosen as the best professional stager in the United States and Canada by her peers- over 1,000 professional home stagers- was a huge honor. This year she was voted RESA Top 10 Professional Home Stager in the U.S.

Winning these awards has given Minch “street cred.” It has given her great credibility with her peers, her clients and with the media. It has also been a wonderful marketing and public relations opportunity.

IF THIS BUSINESS WERE A SONG, IT WOULD BE: “Happy” by Pharrell Williams

Minch says she’s an eternal optimist. She surrounds herself with optimistic people. Her company culture is optimistic, creative and up-beat. Since the work the company does is very physically demanding, it helps to be surrounded by happy people, Minch says.

Runner up would be “High Hopes” by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen. Minch admits her favorite version is by Jiminy Cricket.


Though Minch feels her team is a pretty diverse group, she says she’s never had anyone say no to Japanese food.


“Big doors swing on little hinges”

The quote is attributed to businessman and philanthropist W. Clement Stone.

Image: Kevin Edge

The post Spotlight On Moving Mountains Design: Staging Luxury Homes for Sale appeared first on Small Business Trends.


Turkey ‘Could Import’ Liquefied Gas from Norway

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Turkey looks at Norway as a potential supplier of liquefied natural gas (LNG), as its Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said while on a visit to Oslo.

At a press meeting with his Norwegian counterpart Tord Lien, Yildiz announced his country had requested to buy up to 6 B cubic meters of gas, according to The World Bulletin.

Norway, which is the third-largest natural gas exporter, is still considering the proposal.

Turkey, on the other hand, is known for not allowing LNG carriers through the Bosphorus Strait over safety reasons. It has nevertheless built two LNG terminals, one at the Aegean Sea coast and the other at the Sea of Marmara, with a total capacity of 14.2 bcm a year.


Russia’s Narishkin ‘Did Not Plan’ Bulgaria Visit in June

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Russian Parliament Speaker Sergei Narishkin did not intend to visit Bulgaria in May, the Deputy Head of the State Duma’s administration said on Wednesday.

Yury Shuvalov told Echo Moskvy radio that an official meeting of Narishkin with officials in Bulgaria had first been planned for the beginning of May, but was later moved to a later date.

In March, media reports suggested that Narishkin, who has been blacklisted by the European Union over Russia’s response to the Ukrainian crisis, is to visit the country.

Government officials confirmed preparations for a meeting had been under way and later announced it could take place despite the European measures.

On Tuesday evening, however, Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry announced that it could not take place after the EU’s decision to impose sanctions (including a travel ban) on Narishkin which were mandatory for member states.

Shuvalov commented on the issue by adding that Bulgarian diplomats were acting “like zombies” and were surprising their Russian partners with such conduct. He also said Moscow politicians were “disappointed” with their counterparts and expressed hope they would “correct” their mistake.

The Russian official however asserted the incident would not harm relations between the two countries.


EC Allocates EUR 282.6M for Environment, Climate Projects

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

The European Commission has approved funding for 225 new projects under the LIFE+ program, the European Union’s environment fund, Wednesday.

The projects selected were submitted by beneficiaries in all 28 Member States and cover actions in the fields of nature conservation, climate change, environmental policy and information and communication on environmental issues across the EU. Overall, they represent a total investment of some EUR 589.3M, of which the EU will provide EUR 282.6M, the European Commission informed.

Environment Commissioner Janez Poto?nik said: “In the final year of the current programing period, the LIFE+ program once again demonstrates its ability to deliver essential financial support for environmental and nature conservation projects with significant added value for the EU. These latest projects will make a vital contribution to the preservation, conservation and enhancement of Europe’s natural capital, as well as helping to achieve sustainable growth through investment in a low carbon and resource efficient economy. The widely acknowledged success of LIFE+ and its projects has ensured the recent adoption of a new LIFE Regulation for Environment and Climate Action, with an increased budget, for the period 2014-2020″

The Commission received 1 468 applications in response to its latest call for proposals, which closed in June 2013. Of these, 225 were selected for co-funding through the program’s three components for nature and biodiversity, environment policy and governance and information and communication.


Bulgaria’s Interior Minister Concerned with Rozovo Events

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Bulgaria’s Interior Minister Tsvetlin Yovchev said he was concerned with the Rozovo events, but was not yet sure if they are a crime. 

“I am concerned with what happened in Rozovo,” Yovchev said in his first comment on the events of this past weekend when the villagers in Rozovo threatened and expelled three families of Syrian refugees with small children, who had rented a house in the village. “Those events do not reflect the public sentiments.”

Yovchev claimed he was not yet sure if the incident can be defined as a hate crime. 

“I think the reaction of the villagers violated the civil and human rights of the Syrians,” he said. “Once they receive a humanitarian status from the State Refugee Agency (SRA), they have all the rights of permanent residents of Bulgaria.”

According to Yovchev, this meant they have the right to live wherever they like, to work and to receive social assistance and the reaction of the local authorities was inadequate.

Meanwhile, Interior Ministry Chief Secretary Svetlozar Lazarov said the authorities are initiating a check-up on the case. In his words, it will regard the SRA procedure, which granted the 17 refugees humanitarian status and will not include the instances of hate speech and threats on part of the villagers. 

Lazarov said that in his personal opinion “this incident was inhumane”.


Bulgaria’s Supreme Administrative Prosecution

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

The company managing Bansko’s ski resort committed construction violations when building its infrastructure, but no sanctions are to follow due to expired prescription.

Conclusions quoted above were part of the answers that Bulgaria’s Ministry of Environment and Waters gave to an inquiry by environmental groups made in March, has reported.

In February it was confirmed that Bulgaria’s Supreme Administrative Prosecution had “doubts of construction violations” in the Bansko ski resort involving the building of three ski pistes, two lifts, a water reservoir and several service buildings.

They have exceeded by 65 hectares the territory they are allowed to use under their construction contract and apart from that violate nature protection laws.

The authorities however did not report their final conclusions on the matter.

Environment Ministry officials now argue that no measures could be taken against the concessioner Ulen. The reason is that no administrative procedure could be launched more than two years on from an environmental violation.


How to Use Email Marketing to Segment Customers and Generate Loyalty

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Sponsored Post

segment customers

You may have heard the saying “the money is in the list” and I’m willing to bet that the first place your mind went is to thinking that a bigger list is better. While this is mostly true, it isn’t completely true. Having a bigger list will definitely yield results, but it’s the engagement level of your list; the degree to which they do what you ask them to do – that is even more important and profitable.

This is where so many of us (that includes me and many of the gurus of email marketing) are always looking for ways to get close to our list, provide real value and generate engagement, conversation and conversion.

Without a doubt, the single best way to accomplish this is to segment customers.

Segmentation literally means grouping. When you group your list into categories that represent the subjects that your audience is most interested in.

Why Segmentation is Critical to Your Success

Imagine walking into a room full of people who are your potential customers. Chances are that all of those people aren’t sitting in one big group. They are grouped into smaller clusters having specific conversations. You wouldn’t walk up to a group talking about football and suddenly start talking about gourmet cooking.

Every time you send a mass email to a broad group of people on your list – your are doing exactly that. You are talking about what matters to you instead of what matters to them.

Segment Customers to Save Money

Let me explain. When you segment customers and group your list into specific segments, this allows you to target your communications and conversations around topics that are meaningful to them.

Research shows that targeted and segmented emails generate an 8% click-through rate compared to general email sends, which generate just a 3% click-through rate. Furthermore, Jupiter Research reveals that relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than broadcast emails.

Common Segments to Consider

If you’re just starting on the path to segment customers on your email list, then there are several options that you can try:

  • Where they are in the selling cycle: Look at the data you already have available. Figure out the most logical groupings based on the information your recipients want from you, the questions they might have, or their stage in the buying cycle.
  • Awareness (know): Leads have either become aware of your product or service, or they have become aware that they have a need that must be fulfilled.
  • Evaluation (see): Leads are aware that your product or service could fulfill their need, and they are trying to determine whether you are the best fit.
  • Purchase (buy): Leads are ready to make a purchase.

List Segmentation Tips:

  • Give your audience lots of ways and reasons to opt in – emails, blog posts, websites, squeeze pages.
  • Create a list of keywords and phrases (PDF worksheet) that you want to be found for.
  • Create a series of free downloads that include ebooks, videos, white papers, templates and checklists.
  • Create squeeze pages with specific offers and gifts around different topics your audience might be interested in.
  • Create feature box opt-ins inside your website. Where you might normally have a feature article, place a featured download where people can opt in.
  • Insert an opt-in inside an article or post on a specific topic. This is an ideal place to use the summary of an article with a “read more” hyperlink. Then, when the reader clicks on “read more” an opt-in box pops us asking them to register (for free) to see the rest of the article. Then you can place them on a specific interest list that matches the subject of the article.
  • Another creative opt-in feature is using an opt-in bar or “toaster” pop-up bar that appears or pops up after a certain period of time such as 10 seconds. Don’t worry, you can always create a setting that makes this option only appear once for people. You can insert text that says, “Is this your first time here? Register to get access to more articles like this.”
  • Place box ads that feature a download or video that will educate your readers and when they click, route them to a simple squeeze page where they can get more info and register to receive specific topics.

Separate Photo via Shutterstock

The post How to Use Email Marketing to Segment Customers and Generate Loyalty appeared first on Small Business Trends.


Italian Airline Flies Between Sofia and Catania

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

The Italian airline Mistral Air started on April flights between Sofia and Sicily’s second largest city – Catania.

The flights will be once a week, on Saturdays, and will be through end of October.


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