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Tip of the Day – 5 Popular Forms of Check Fraud

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Frank AbagnaleI remember when I first saw the movie Catch Me If You Can, the story about the world’s most prolific check forger Frank Abagnale, and thought that he was just a crook ahead of his time, taking advantage of a system that just wasn’t technologically capable of keeping up with him. Surely, I thought, things were different in the new millennium, right?

Then I read this month’s Counselor magazine article on check fraud.

Not only was I wrong, but it turns out that millions of Americans are victims of check fraud each year. Millions! But thanks to a new generation of pens — like Sanford’s uni-ball 107 — it’s becoming a lot easier to combat this nightmarish crime. If you have a few minutes, take the time to read this great article called “Fraud Fighters” – definitely worth the time to read. And in the meantime, here are 5 forms of check fraud:

  1. Check-Washing. Here, a legitimate check is altered, changing the name of the payee and often increasing the amount. Ink on checks is easily erased with common chemicals like acetone. However, some pens – which are available in the promotional market – can prevent this kind of fraud. 
  2. Forged Signatures. This is the easiest form of check fraud because banks don’t often verify signatures until a problem arises that requires them to assign liability.
  3. Forged Endorsements. This occurs when someone steals a check written to someone else.
  4. Counterfeit Checks. These can be created with a desktop scanner and printer, creating a way for a thief to pay himself.
  5. Check Kiting. This process usually involves two bank accounts. Money is transferred back and forth so the accounts can appear to contain a balance, which can then be withdrawn.

Source: Robert Siciliano, Identity Theft Expert

Tip of the Day – 3 Startup Mistakes to Avoid

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Back in 1992, my good friend Bill thought he had what it took to start up his own produce company. A year and nearly $10,000 of lost savings later, he threw in the towel – the tiny customer base just wasn’t offsetting the unforeseen overhead costs like rent.

Startup MistakesIn this month’s installment of “Second Act“, Counselor magazine examines another ad specialty startup and what they did right and wrong. Here are three classic mistakes to avoid during your first year of a startup company:

  1. Don’t Mix Personal And Business Finances. Too many small-business owners dip into personal accounts to cover business costs or slap down their business credit cards to buy a new couch for their living room. For distributors, working out of their home and funding the entire startup themselves – like Terri and Jim Brooks – it may seem fine to mix finances, since they’re likely coming from the same pool. Don’t do it, experts say. Why? It makes tracking finances (i.e. separating personal and business expenses) down the road a nightmare. 
  2. Commute Every Day, Even If The Office Is At Home. If your daily commute involves walking from the living room to the den to set up shop, consider yourself lucky. But don’t forget about the doldrums that can set in from never leaving home. Get out and create a commute, advises Jeff Huckaby, CEO of rackAID LLC, an IT management firm in Jacksonville, FL. A quick, 10-minute walk around the block or to a local coffee shop is enough to create the sensation that you’re leaving home to go to work. The same should be done at the end of the day as well, he says. 
  3. Know When To Quit. For many startup distributors, the office is tucked away in a corner of the house. That means work is always accessible and often a gnawing presence, making it hard to ignore. But it’s important to shut off the computer and step away from the home office at the end of the day, experts say. To do that, Huckaby suggests distributors set time limits for working after hours at home.

And for those of you who are wondering, Bill is doing well these days – he’s a regional produce manager for Whole Foods Market. Not the entrepreneur he’d hope to be 20 years ago, but not a bad gig I’d say.

5 Hot Industries To Watch

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Eco-FriendlyFifteen years ago in college I read a book called “Being Digital” in which the author, Nicholas Negroponte, foretold of a digital world, one in which you could literally do everything from your computer or TV, and that some modern conveniences of the day — like, for instance, Blockbuster Video — would soon be obsolete.

I scoffed. How could we exist without the convenience of Blockbuster, I thought, as I contemplated a 10-block trek to the nearest video store to return overdue movies.

Of course, 15 years later Blockbuster stores are going out of business in droves and, yes, we are doing almost everything from our computers and TVs. So Mr. Negroponte was right … and had the foresight to not only know that, but to write a book about it. very impressive.

But most of us don’t have the foresight which is why we have to be constantly vigilant with research and survey data to try to come up with the best business plans as possible. This month’s Counselor Marketwise section has a great article on five fastest-growing industries to watch for the next five years, and why you should target them. Check it out, and in the meantime, here are the industries:

  1. Testing & Educational Support
  2. Internet & Technology
  3. Green
  4. Residential & Commercial Construction
  5. Health Care
    Source: IBISWorld

5 Social Networking Tips

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Social Media TipsThis month’s Stitches magazine has a great article called “Social Media Smarts” that is rife with great online networking tips and marketing strategies that can help you find new leads and build your brand. What I find most helpful about this read is that it touches upon all the social networks, and not just the two big hitters Facebook and Twitter.

Advice on how to succeed with everything from LinkedIn and YouTube to Skype, blogs, QR codes and even mobile apps is included in the article. So do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to read this article — it’s definitely worth it especially if you’re just starting out with social media.

In the meantime, here are 5 quick social networking tips to whet your appettite:

  1. Update Twitter and Facebook regularly. “Once a day, or every other day, you should post new and interesting things,” says Dana Zezzo, vice president of sales and marketing at Pro Towels Etc. (asi/79750).
  2. Explore the social media pages of potential clients. Then, engage these people in discussions. Share information that would be useful to them. 
  3. Integrate your website. Use social media pages to direct traffic to your website by posting links back to your main site. Also, embed Twitter and Facebook feeds into your website. 
  4. Include photos and videos in your blog posts. This creates more interest and engagement. 
  5. Connect with remote customers. Use Skype to impress far-off clients by giving them a tour of your shop, demonstrating efficient production methods and the like.

Promotional Apparel Industry’s Top 10 Best Dressed

Filed under: Wearables

Just like a salesman of, say, breath mints should have fresh breath, so too should those representing the promotional apparel industry dress well. I mean, come on, if I were in the market for the latest in cutting-edge promotional product gear and fashion, I’m not going to the guy (or gal) dressed in sweat pants and soup-stained T-shirts, know what I mean!

This month’s Wearables magazine gives a shout-out to the 10 best-dressed and stylish individuals in the ad specialty industry and why they were chosen. It’s a great read so check it out! In the meantime, here’s a peek at those who “dress the part” in the industry.


Cloud, President, Red Cloud Promotions

Megan Erber

Megan Erber, Mid-Atlantic Regional Sales Director, Jetline

Andrew Spellman

Andrew Spellman, Vice President of Corporate Markets Sales, TRG Group

Sarah Merrill

Sarah Merrill, Senior Account Manager, Mercury Promotions & Fulfillment

Bob Zocco

Robert Zocco, President, Logovision


Bill and Janet Korowitz, CEO and Marketing Manager, The Magnet Group

Chris Blakeslee

Chris Blakeslee, Vice President of Sales, Broder Bros. Co.

Anita Emoff

Anita Emoff, President of Boost Rewards, Shumsky

Jason Emery

Jason Emery, Vice President of Sales, Logomark

Tip of the Day – 5 Worst 4th-Quarter Mistakes

Filed under: Tip of the Day

4th Quarter MistakesFrom “To Do Before 2012” in Advantages’ September 2011 issue.

While following the to-do list is important, there are also some “to-don’ts” that salespeople should keep in mind. A few common mistakes:

  1. Letting your network get static. Harvey Mackey, author of Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive, urges sales reps to make sure “your network is current and relevant to your career position today” and evaluate “whether you need to set a goal of building it more effectively in the new year.”
  2. Bringing business forward from next year. Sales reps may be tempted to boost their year-end numbers by getting clients to place orders earlier than they normally would. This can put strain on the client relationship and sets a poor precedent. 
  3. Avoiding year-end financial analysis. “A big mistake salespeople make in the fourth quarter is not doing a financial analysis and cleaning up your financial records,” says Mackey. “If you don’t, you won’t be prepared to set goals for the next quarter.”
  4. Saving heavy selling for the end of the year. “A lot of people try to use the holiday time to try and close their year strong, but that can come off a little desperate,” says CanvasPop’s Salamunovic. He suggests seeing the final month or two as a time to continue selling, but not to expect huge sales.
  5. Playing it safe with next year’s goals. Especially in the current economic climate, many sales reps might be tempted to lower expectations. “Safe is important in baseball, but in business you must be prepared to take some risks,” says Mackey. “To triple your success ratio in the next quarter, sometimes you have to triple your failure ratio.”


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