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Holidays Kosher

Shavuot – The “Dairy Holiday”

Dairy HolidayWhen people think of Jewish holidays, they tend to think of the big four – Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Passover, and Hanukkah. These holidays tend to draw the most attention from mainstream media and sales potential due to their timing and uniqueness. For example, supermarkets clear aisles of shelves to stock Kosher for Passover items, Hanukkah is all about gift-giving and falls on the calendar during December, well-timed to entice greater pre-Christmas/New Years sales. And the high holidays have their own family & New Year symbolisms that help businesses end a slow summer third quarter more successfully.

But what about the holiday of Shavuot, a small two day holiday that falls during the month of May? Although barely recognized by the American calendar (or bosses for that matter – “What, another holiday??”), this two-day holiday symbolizes the greatest moment in Jewish history – the creation of the Jewish people through the receiving of the Torah.

Yes, Shavuot isn’t as big as Passover, Sukkkot, or Hanukkah nor is it as internationally recognized as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Shavuot, however, does have it’s own unique trait – the Dairy factor.

The Dairy Holiday

Long story short, when the Jewish nation received the Torah, they first learned about the rules of Kosher and non-Kosher and what meats & fish they can and can’t eat. Since they just learned about the rules that same day, the Jewish people were wholly unprepared to celebrate like they do all other Jewish holidays, with lots of meat and lots of food. The result – they ate dairy because the rules of Kosher regarding dairy are easier to accomodate (there’s a Kosher symbol on nearly every gallon of milk and carton of eggs nationwide, FYI) and so, to this day, we celebrate Shavuot by eating dairy for all or most of the meals.

Paging Temp Tee, Breakstone’s, Miller’s Cheese, Junior’s and Dairy Farmers of America! This is the holiday to target the Jewish consumer with coupons and deals. Provide free recipes for some popular Jewish dairy options, such as blintzes, that the Jewish community can use over the holiday. If they fall in love with your product now, they’ll use it all year round. Lasagna, baked ziti, kreplach, cheesecake, you name it, if it feeds a whole family, the Jewish community is interested.

There’s Dairy & then there’s Cholov Yisroel

Although this may be a bit off tangent, it’s important to mention what Cholov Yisroel is so you understand which Jewish communities require that label and which don’t. To keep it simple, Cholov Yisroel (quite simply “Milk of Israel) means that the dairy products were observed by Jewish authorities. In certain countries even now, the milks of Kosher and non-Kosher animals were mixed together (such as goats which are Kosher and horses which are un-Kosher), rendering all dairy products un-Kosher for use. In the US, cow milk is generally the standard, which means the term and requirement of the Cholov Yisroel label is obsolete in certain Jewish communities. However, to many ultra-Orthodox communities, Cholov Yisroel is a MUST HAVE even now.

With that in mind, your dairy products will indeed hit every Jewish market successfully if they are branded “Cholov Yisroel”. It’s even possible your Kosher certification may be recognized as a Cholov Yisroel authority anyway. Either way, Cholov Yisroel is important for certain Jewish communities but not all so be aware of the community you’re targeting and understand how your product is perceived.

That’s the holiday of Shavuot as it pertains to marketers and businesses. It’s a short holiday and one that falls during the “sell in May and go away” season (which leaves the holiday overlooked) but if you’re in the dairy business, this is the holiday to stimulate some dairy sales prior to the BBQ friendly summer season!

Henry Isaacs Marketing | Isaac Hyman, Founder | | 646.833.8604

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Jewish PR 101 News and Trends

Response to BuzzFeed: The 16 Most Annoying Things About Keeping Kosher

Annoying Cheeseburger

Although Emily Orley does make some valid points about kosher, in reality, it’s not that hard to keep a kosher lifestyle in the tri-state area. Outside of a major metropolitan area or large Jewish communities however, keeping kosher can get extremely difficult or, for lack of better word relevant to the article, “annoying”.

Thanks to the impact of kashrut certification agencies as well as food & beverage companies increasingly looking for new ways to monetize stable product lines, more and more products are becoming kosher, like Newman’s Own Organic Chocolate Cups recently. Furthemore, kosher has become synonymous with “healthy” and “organic”, a title that bodes well for increased sales and allows for higher profit margins for the Coca-Cola’s and Nestle’s of the world. National grocery chains like SuperValu, Whole Foods, and Kroger’s now carry more and more kosher products every day.

Check out our posts on the “The Kosher Trend” or “Kosher vs. Kosher Style” to learn about why Kosher is stil going strong and not so annoying anymore.

Henry Isaacs Marketing | Isaac Hyman, Founder | | 646.833.8604

The 16 Most Annoying Things About Keeping Kosher

Oy vey, where do I begin?posted on February 25, 2013 at 5:15pm EST

Emily OrleyBuzzFeed Staff
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1. For starters, people have no idea what “keeping kosher” actually means.

For starters, people have no idea what "keeping kosher" actually means.

2. Explaining it takes forever and gets very complicated.

Explaining it takes forever and gets very complicated.

In simple terms, you can’t mix meat and dairy, you can’t eat anything from a pig (yes, that includes bacon), and you can’t eat any shellfish. There are some acceptable fish — any fish with both fins and scales. Eggs are OK and can be eaten with meat or dairy. Also, after eating meat or dairy, you have to wait a certain amount of time, depending on where your ancestors are from, before you can eat the other category. Any questions?

3. After that whole explanation, people assume that you’re super-religious.

After that whole explanation, people assume that you're super-religious.

Well, I’m not. I use electricity on Saturdays. My male family members don’t have “those weird curly sideburns.” I didn’t even attend a Jewish day school as a child.

4. And they think keeping kosher isn’t as “cool” as other diets.

When people act like it’s a second-class diet compared to eating vegan or gluten-free, I’m like…

The 16 Most Annoying Things About Keeping Kosher

5. But despite your best efforts, people can’t grasp the concept, especially waiters.

The 16 Most Annoying Things About Keeping Kosher

Source: www  /  via: Tumblr
For some reason, it’s impossible to explain the very basic rules of keeping kosher to a waiter. Ordering a Cobb salad can take 10 minutes because you need to hold the bacon, decide if you want turkey or cheese (you can’t have both), and change the dressing if you stick with the turkey. No big deal.But at this point the waiter is either is too confused or doesn’t care and will most likely bring out your order completely wrong.

6. And restaurants always serve you a cheeseburger instead of a hamburger.

And restaurants always serve you a cheeseburger instead of a hamburger.

Regardless of how hard I try, every time I order a PLAIN hamburger, it arrives with melted cheese all over it.ALERT: A hamburger isn’t supposed to have cheese on it. That’s why they created an entirely different name for burgers with cheese.

7. Or they refuse to cook your meat in oil instead of butter.

Or they refuse to cook your meat in oil instead of butter.

Most kosher meals cannot have butter, so it makes eating all the more difficult when restaurants (and everyone else) secretly put butter in everything.In the end, I usually just lie about having a butter allergy.

8. And you always have to ask the world’s most detailed questions about food.

The 16 Most Annoying Things About Keeping Kosher

Source: www  /  via: Tumblr
Asking “What’s the base of this soup made of?” makes you sound a little OCD. But knowing if that liquid is vegetable or chicken stock can make or break a meal.

9. Also, having dessert is extremely difficult.

Also, having dessert is extremely difficult.

In my family, you have to wait an hour after eating meat before you can have dairy. So that makes the whole dessert situation very complicated: If you want dessert that has any dairy in it, you have to make sure nothing in your meal is meat (and awkwardly ask for the dessert menu before the waiter can tell you the specials). I have, in fact, sat around for a full hour after I finished my entree because I just had to have dessert.

10. At home, you need to have two of everything.

At home, you need to have two of everything.

Kosher law requires you to have separate plates and dishwashers for your milk meals and your meat meals so that the two never, ever cross. This is not cheap or space-efficient, and it makes you feel like you have double vision.Also, if you ever mess up and put meat on a dairy plate or vice versa, you have to bury the plate in the earth for eight years. We did this once at my old house and moved three years later. We couldn’t take the plate with us.

11. And kosher meat is always double the price of regular meat.

The 16 Most Annoying Things About Keeping Kosher

Source: www  /  via: Tumblr
Seriously, this diet is so expensive.

12. Furthermore, when you try to adjust a recipe to be kosher-friendly, it doesn’t quite work.

Furthermore, when you try to adjust a recipe to be kosher-friendly, it doesn't quite work.

Apparently there’s no way to make a dairy-free cake taste decent.

13. Traveling, which is supposed to be relaxing, is always stressful because you’re starving the entire time.

Traveling, which is supposed to be relaxing, is always stressful because you're starving the entire time.

Cruises always have amazing buffets. Unfortunately, the only kosher item is usually the bread basket. Most trips, I just pack granola bars in my suitcase.

14. And you can never, ever eat the free lunch.

The 16 Most Annoying Things About Keeping Kosher

Source: www  /  via: Tumblr
Office catering? Event buffet? Just turn around and go back to your seat.Sometimes you can’t even eat kosher Jewish food ordered to your office. One time, a batch of hamantaschen arrived at the office right after I finished eating chicken noodle soup. By the time the hour had passed, everyone in the office had devoured the dessert. True story.

15. The most annoying thing of all: all the amazing-looking food that isn’t kosher.

The most annoying thing of all: all the amazing-looking food that isn't kosher.

Source: diamondcat

Like this:

Like this:

Sorry, have to pass.

And this:

And this:

Nope, ugh.

And this:

And this:

Fifty shades of not-kosher.

Yes, I think this food looks delicious and it’s THE WORST that I can’t eat it.

16. In fact, not being able to eat bacon is enough for most people to question why you do this diet at all.

Bacon is pig, and pig is the treifest of treif (non-kosher). But people are in love with bacon. And people LOVE to feel dramatically terrible for you when they hear you can’t eat bacon. The pitying looks are almost as bad as sitting and watching someone eat a BLT.

In fact, not being able to eat bacon is enough for most people to question why you do this diet at all.

BUT! Here’s a little good news: lots of packaged goodies are actually kosher.

Like cookies.

Like cookies.

And some surprising chip flavors.

And some surprising chip flavors.

Artificial bacon ranch flavoring: It’s a mitzvah.

And most sugary candy.

And most sugary candy.

They may be terrible for you, but they fit the guidelines!

This post is specific to how I keep kosher and is not as strict as the practice of some orthodox Jews who, for instance, only eat meat slaughtered under Rabbinic supervision. There are many different levels based on how observant you are.
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Holidays Kosher

Purim: The “Joyous” Holiday

Purim Tips

Purim TipsSome call it the Jewish Halloween, some call it a drinking Thanksgiving… no matter what you call Purim, it’s a joyous Jewish holiday that is usually misunderstood by many but beneficial to those that understand it! Purim got some extra recognition in the Christopher Guest film, “For Your Consideration“, that featured a mock Academy Award film “Home For Purim”, but to the Jewish community, Purim is far from a sit-down, buttoned-up restricting holiday. The “letting the hair down” theme that Purim is known for means that the usual stringencies and requirements aren’t in play so the Jewish community is willing to go to great lengths to increase fun and uniqueness for their meals, gifts, and costumes.

Of course, you’ve probably caught The Daily Show’s reporting on Purim and the infamous Dov Hikind “blackface” costume but don’t let that influence the beauty of the holiday (just let it influence your funny bone!):

Purim goes deeper than just booze and costumes! Essentially, Purim is a celebration of how the Jews overcame annihilation at the hands of Persian leaders (ironically similar to the current tension between Israel and Iran). Like most Jewish holidays, we celebrate by dressing in costumes (symbolic of the “hidden” nature of God’s presence during the ancient story), reading the ancient story from the Megillah (the Book of Esther), eating a sumptuous dinner with oodles of food, distributing lavish gifts to neighbors called shalach manos, and giving donations to the needy.

Wine, Food, Wine, Gifts, WineThe most dominant products featured on Purim is wine & liquor. Obviously, if you’re a liquor store or wine seller, this is the time to stock up on kosher wines. Between Purim and Passover, the months of February, March, and April will be a boon for your post-Christmas and New Years sales. Aside from large bottles of wine for meals, snatch up those mini-bottles of Vodka, scotch, and wine for Jewish customers to package into shalach manos, the food packages shared among neighbors. You may even want to invest in prepackaged gift bags complete with kosher goodies with your liquor offerings so you can be a one-stop shop.

It goes without saying that candy stores and bakeries will see a major uptick in sales during Purim. Packing dozens of bags with candy, cookies, chips, and hamentashen is part of the Purim experience so sell paper goods right next to your sweets.

Costumes and Authentic Clothing – dressing in costumes is the outward distinction that Purim is upon us! If you’re a Party City or Halloween costume store, don’t overlook this holiday. But aside from costumes shops, small apparel shops that have ethnic or unique clothing can benefit as well. As we wrote in The Jewish Press (Highlighting Your Family Purim Party), going authentic on costumes is becoming a popular trend. Why go to Ricky’s for an Oriental costume when you can pick up an entire costume and more in Chinatown for half the price? If you specialize in Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Spanish, and any other ethnic clothing, try reaching the Jewish market for authentic costumes. Be prepared to outfit them with an entire theme as well, not just clothes…

Spring Cleaning TimePurim may be the fun holiday, but Passover is the spring-cleaning holiday! Only three short weeks after Purim, Passover requires an absolutely spotless home so Jewish families need to jumpstart their cleaning engines right after Purim. Cleaning agents, carpet cleaners, and any household services should start promoting themselves right after or even during Purim. Clearing the house of the dozens of candies and cookies that come in during Purim is enough to make any mother cringe, so cleaning services will be noticed. It’s like promoting gym memberships right after New Year’s… everyone wants and need s to burn the weight so they’ll notice the gym ad! Same idea here.

Purim may be a one-day celebration but any holiday that focuses on joy with limited restrictions means potential for high spending on anything fun and joyful! Position yourself to benefit from Purim because Passover is right around the corner…

Henry Isaacs Marketing | Isaac Hyman, Founder | | 646.833.8604

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Jewish Event Planning 101

Highlighting Your Family Purim Party | Jewish Press

Purim Tips

Purim TipsFeatured in The Jewish Press:

When it comes to special holiday events, we love to high style them, leave an impression and really  publicize the joyous celebration! And on Purim, you have to create a unique theme from the costume to the food. Unlike Chanukah’s oil and Shavuous’ dairy, Purim doesn’t specifically have any unique foods or tastes, aside from hamentashen, that one can work around from, so the best route for a stylish Purim theme is to base it around the costume. Here are some way to highlight your Purim party and themes to go beyond just costumes and candy:High-Style-021513-Shirt

Go authentic on your theme.

Sure, you can find a huge selection of Purim costumes at Ricky’s or online, but if you’re trying to create a full unique theme for your entire Purim, while also on a family budget, you need to go authentic. Head over to Chinatown for a large selection of authentic silk mandarin dresses and robes that will fit your one-day-only Purim budget. Stay local and visit Coney Island Avenue’s numerous Indian clothing stores selling inexpensive saris and kurtas. At authentic clothing stores, you’ll also be able to find plenty of theme-related apparel, dishware, and designs to supplement and add to your seudah and mishloach manos, creating an entire authentic theme all day long.

High-Style-021513-FondueDe-construct everything.

Who doesn’t love the abundance of hamentashen, candies, and chocolate you get on Purim? Although you may be a kid at heart or have eager children who can devour it all in one week, having 300 pieces of candy can wreck anyone’s self control and waistline! Try deconstructing the sweets down into something stylish and less “candyish” – create a caramel for candy apples, use a crock pot to melt the chocolate down into a silky fondue for dipping, and grind the cookies down into a crunchy topping or crust for an apple crumble or pumpkin pie. By deconstructing your mishloach manos, you can make them healthier, less tempting and more useful for your entire meal.

Go for a new cuisine.

Unlike oil on Chanukah or dairy on Shavuot, there’s no real food genre to base Purim around. Which is why going for an entirely different cuisine is an enticing culinary adventure, especially since you’ll have a Shabbos full of the usual meat and potatoes. Indian and Persian food is the most suitable choice for Purim because of the ancient story. Going Cowboy and Tex Mex style (not Gangnam Style) with your Texas costumes is a nice spicy BBQ option in this chilly weather. Going for the timeless Princess theme? Create a high styled tea party that guests can join in while they make their mishloach manos rounds, complete with finger foods like scones, mini pancakes, and mini quiche.High-Style-021513-Pancakes

Go savory instead of sweet.

You’ll get candy, you’ll get cookies, you’ll get dozens of foods suitable for dessert from dozens of your friends. If stockpiling candies and sweets isn’t your thing, then start a new trend and go savory on your mishloach manos. Ditch the chocolate chips and apricot jam and fill yourhamentashen with sweet potato and pumpkin, savory treats that can be eaten throughout the meal. If you have great culinary flair, you can even prepare a mini three-course mishloach manos consisting of savory appetizer, single bite entrée, and sweet dessert. For the meat lover, meat-filled hamentashen,similar to fried wontons or the Bukharian samsa dumpling, would make an excellent appetizer!

Highlight your Purim celebration and you’ll leave your guests with fantastic Purim themes, foods, and memories for years to come!

Henry Isaacs Marketing | Isaac Hyman, Founder | | 646.833.8604


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Holidays Kosher Marketing

Hanukkah – What To Know and How To Benefit

Hanukkah Gifts & Shopping

Hanukkah Gifts and Shopping

Hanukkah is one of the most overt holidays on the Jewish calendar. The main point of Hanukkah is to “publicize and celebrate the miracle” so everything you’ve seen or heard about Hanukkah – the lights, the gifts, the dreidels, and the “8 crazy nights” – is pretty much on the ball. Though not everyone would agree that these 8 nights are too crazy!

With 99% of the fanfare and publicity going to the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s shopping season, a smart business won’t overlook Hanukkah. Here is some “oil-free” food for thought about Hanukkah and your bottom line:

The “Before/After Christmas Holiday 

Generally, Hanukkah’s 8 days of gift-giving are a great “before/after Christmas” sales opportunity. Because Hanukkah is set by the lunar calendar – in which dates of Jewish holidays can shift significantly – the 8 day holiday can either fall the weekend after Black Friday or even as far as during Christmas (except in 2013 when, in a rare occurrence, it falls before Thanksgiving). Any products you haven’t sold out of yet for Christmas can always be promoted to the Jewish market; it’s a great holiday to fall back on the Jewish market for new sales. Instead of heavy discounting excess inventory on December 26th, make it a minor discount and promote to the Jewish community.

Hanukkah lets you sell a variety of great products instead of simply the hot one. 

Every big box retailer is kvelling to sell the iPad, iPhone, tablet, flat screen, GPS, anything that is currently “hot” in an effort to draw in the masses with the hottest and newest. After all, Christmas is one day and if your gift isn’t a homerun, you have to wait until next year to make amends. Hanukkah offers 8 days of gifting and 8 days of “supplementing” a major gift or buying 8 smaller gifts in lieu of a major one. With that in mind, there’s a significant chance the Jewish consumer will outspend the average American consumer during the holidays. Instead of simply spending $330 on the latest iPad mini, the Jewish consumer may purchase an iPhone for one night, along with a specialty case (2nd night), the Bose speakers (3rd night), the car dock (4th night), the Beats headphones (5th night), Bluetooth headset (6th night) as well as giftcards for three dozen of the best apps (7th night) and five dozen songs on iTunes (8th night). From this example, you can see how Hanukkah purchases can significantly outspend the average Christmas purchase. Yes, this is a very high end example and yes, the average Christmas spend in 2012 is $854 per family, but it’s not uncommon for parents and grandparents to gift something small but significantly priced each night of Hanukkah. Instead of merely aiming to sell the “hot” product, try to sell as many primary products (iPhone) and supplemental products (cases, giftcards, speakers) as you can!

 Christmas is a family holiday; Hanukkah is more of a community holiday.  

While most businesses are closed for Christmas and time is spent with family, Hanukkah can bring business to the event industry over 8 days. Hanukkah parties, singles events, non-profit fundraisers, and the like are all timed during Hanukkah. Instead of celebrating a one-day holiday at home, Hanukkah tends to be celebrated through 8 nights of going out! There is generally one or two nights that are “reserved” for close family events/parties, but the vast majority of nights are spent celebrating with the community, friends, extended family and the workplace. Also, one should know that, unlike Sukkot or Rosh Hashana, Hanukkah has zero restrictions – meaning one can work, drive, travel, and spend all 8 days.

Small Business Shopping for a Smaller Holiday. 

After Hurricane Sandy, there was another big push by American Express for Small Business Saturday, a shopping trend that is slowly catching on next to it’s siblings Black Friday and Cyber Monday. A small business located in large Jewish communities should use that pitch to get Hanukkah shoppers – just like Christmas is the big holiday, Chanukah is the small but significant holiday. I won’t go so far as to say Christmas is the Walmart of Holidays and Hanukkah is the Mom & Pop Shop, but the point is that small business should do their best to attract Hanukkah shoppers as well since the malls, Walmarts, and Best Buys are all competing for the same piece of the Christmas sales pie. Small businesses placing ads for Hanukkah or Kwanza in community papers will stand out more than the constant barrage of CHristmas ads, jingles, and themes. Go after the holiday that the big box retailers tend to overlook!

On an unrelated note, you may have asked yourself an age old question – What do Jewish people do during Christmas? Used to be a very simple answer – chinese food and a movie. Take a lesson from the creators of Borat , a film with numerous Jewish references – on Christmas night, the theaters were packed with Jewish moviegoers predominantly. If you’re a museum, entertainment center, arcade, or family destination that can benefit from a Jewish community that has off from school and work and doesn’t have any Christmas plans, try promoting your opening to the Jewish community.

So that’s what you should know about Hanukkah and how to benefit from this “overt” public holiday celebrated by the community. Happy holidays!

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Jewish PR 101 Marketing

Jewish PR 101 – El Al’s Ticket Mistake and Stellar Recovery

El Al Discount Tickets

El Al Discount TicketsEl Al’s newest ticket pricing issues doesn’t come from high fuel prices. A daily deal site offered bargain basement rates on flights to Israel from the U.S. Over 5,000 tickets were sold in a matter of hours before the price was corrected. Maybe this is the year of the technology glitches (see NASDAQ’s Facebook IPO glitch and Knight Capital’s $400 million software error). Perhaps this is a major flaw in the “daily deals” business model; perhaps this mistake was plain old human error. From a marketing perspective, this is an example of how social media can distribute one’s marketing message in one arena and have it spread virally in a matter of moments. Although social media is great for it’s virality, it’s extremely hard to recuperate after letting negative or wrong information go viral. No matter who’s to blame, the bottom line is that El Al has planes full of passengers paying extremely little.

Those rare companies that disregard the last three words of that sentence and instead focus on “planes full of passengers” is a company that deserves praise and loyalty. El Al opted to go “cup half full” and see past their lack of profit, focusing instead on the thousands of new passengers they’ve obtained and honoring all tickets purchased at the discounted rate. For most companies, quarterly bottom lines and stock prices dictate the basics of business; El Al is a company focused on profits like any other, but they’ve elected to ignore the bottom line for now and accentuate the positives: thousands of happy and overjoyed passengers that get to take an El Al flight to Israel.

Which exemplifies how valuable good old customer service can be for even the occasional Jewish customer. El Al did the absolute best thing by honoring the ticket sales, no matter what the cost to their bottom line or lack of profits. Perhaps this deal glitch was even a daring marketing tactic for the slow winter months, when packed El Al flights are few and far between – offer extremely reduced rates and fill your flights (you’re flying half empty planes anyway; why not try to fill it by offering remnant prices?) Currently, El Al is even offering stopover ticketed passengers an upgrade to non-stop flights which will enable El Al to gain some additional revenue per passenger.

Beleaguered on all fronts by high gas prices, stiff competition, and the constant fear of a potential war in the Middle East, as well as the lingering resentment by Ultra-Orthodox flyers over meat meals during the Nine Days and flights on Sabbath, El Al has struggled mightily in the past decade. Many Jewish passengers today feel little loyalty to an “Official Airline of Israel” (not to compare at all, but it’s reminiscent of how the Jewish community, over time, doesn’t mind driving Mercedes Benz’s or BMW’s in the 21st century when just twenty years ago it was highly taboo to drive a “German car”.  With this daily deal snafu, El Al may have finally gotten a chance to show their passengers what makes their flights and service special as the official airline of Israel. Back to basics, in a way. El Al needs to take this opportunity to charm the hell out of their riders – great attendants, warm smiles, excellent food, little delays, and stocked cupboards – and ensure passengers remember the value of a dedicated Israeli airline. El Al has the attention of their passengers and a great marketing and PR strategy on board is extremely important.

An airline is only as good as it’s last flight. El Al has already done a great job ensuring the ticket buyers are happy with their purchases. Now, bring the satisfied experience full circle with a flight to remember by the official airline of Israel.

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Marketing Social

Marketing & Social Media Trends – Merchant Circle Survey

Merchant Circle Marketing Study


Social Marketing Continues Meteoric Rise Among Local Businesses

New research from MerchantCircle reveals local merchants flocking to simple, free marketing methods such as social media sites, are slow to adopt mobile marketing and group buying.

Group buying gets mixed reviews: 55 percent of merchants who have offered a “daily deal” through a group buying service would not do so again

Mountain View, CA, February 15, 2011 — MerchantCircle, the largest online network of local business owners in the nation, today shared results of its quarterly Merchant Confidence Index survey of over 8,500 small and local business owners across the U.S. The data reveals that local merchants, who have very limited time and money for marketing, are gravitating towards simple, low-cost online marketing methods such as Facebook and other social media, as well as towards tried-and-true methods such as search and email marketing. The research also demonstrates that while new marketing services such as mobile marketing and group buying are generating significant buzz in the media, local merchants have yet to tap these unproven marketing methods.

“Online marketing continues to be a challenge for most local businesses, and many merchants are working with very small budgets and almost no marketing resources,” said Darren Waddell, Vice President of marketing at MerchantCircle. “The marketing methods we see gaining the most traction are therefore the ones that offer merchants simplicity, low costs and immediate results.”

Key conclusions from the survey include:

(1) Local businesses have little time or budget to devote to marketing.

According to the MerchantCircle survey data, more than half of local merchants are spending less than $2,500 a year on marketing, and 60 percent have no plans to raise their budgets this year. These merchants are also price-sensitive: one quarter of merchants cite high costs as their chief complaint about online marketing (26 percent).

Many merchants are also struggling to manage their existing programs and don’t have time to take advantage of new, unproven services, with lack of time and resources the top online marketing challenge for more than one third of merchants (37 percent).

(2) Social media are now the top marketing strategy for local businesses.

With its huge consumer adoption, ease-of-use and low barrier to entry, Facebook continues to be a popular way for merchants to market their business, with 70 percent using the social network for marketing, up from 50 percent one year ago. Facebook has now surpassed Google (66 percent) as the most widely used marketing method amongst local merchants, and is almost tied with Google search (40 percent) as one of their top three most effective marketing methods, with 37 percent rating Facebook as one of their most effective tools.

Facebook Places has benefited from this high level of adoption, soaring past Foursquare to reach a 32 percent current usage rate, with an additional 12 percent citing plans to use Facebook Places in the coming months. While Foursquare’s usage is up from just 2 percent one year ago, use of the location-based service has remained steady at about 9 percent over the past two quarters.

Twitter has also grown in popularity over the past year, with nearly 40 percent of local merchants using the microblogging platform to build awareness and community around their products and services, up from 32 percent in Q4 2009.

(3) Tried-and-true online methods trump new, unproven approaches.

With little time and budget to devote to marketing, local merchants are slow to adopt unproven technologies such as mobile marketing and group buying and are relying on more familiar methods that have delivered results. Three of the top marketing methods for local businesses — social, search and email — are also cited as being the most effective, with 36 percent putting social networking in the top three, 40 percent citing search and 36 percent choosing email marketing.

In spite of the hype around mobile marketing, less than 15 percent of merchants report doing any sort of mobile marketing or advertising, and more than half have no plans to do so in the coming months. Lack of understanding remains a huge barrier to adoption: 74 percent of merchants state that they don’t have a good idea of how to reach consumers via mobile marketing.

Group buying will also take time to penetrate the local market. Only 11 percent of local merchants have offered a “daily deal” using a service like Groupon or LivingSocial, with an additional 20 percent planning to do so in the coming months. Results of group buying have also been mixed and may be hindering growth: 55 percent of people who have run a daily deal campaign said they would not do so again.

(4) Use of traditional offline marketing methods continues to decline.

Traditional offline marketing methods continue to decline across the board. Over the course of 2010, use of print advertising dropped by 33 percent (from 40 percent usage to 27 percent); use of print Yellow Pages declined 18 percent (from 45 percent to 37 percent); and use of direct mail decreased 26 percent (from 39 percent to 28 percent).

Don’t expect these methods to disappear anytime soon, however, as many continue to deliver results for local merchants. 24 percent say that coupons or direct mail are still one of their top three most effective marketing tactics, 23 percent say print Yellow Pages are a top three tactic, and 20 percent put print newspaper ads in the top three as well.

(5) Online marketing services companies are aggressively targeting local businesses.

Despite the fact that local merchants have very little budget for marketing, online marketing services companies are working hard to reach and serve this market, often with a direct sales force making cold calls. MerchantCircle’s research reveals that 51 percent of local merchants get at least one online marketing sales call a week, with 10 percent getting called almost on a daily basis.

About the Merchant Confidence Index

The Merchant Confidence Index is a quarterly survey conducted by MerchantCircle, the largest social network of local business owners in the U.S. with over 1.6 million members. The Index is designed to track trends in small business sentiment over time and is derived from four key questions designed to synopsize the prevailing trends among local business owners. The overall index score is based upon a standardized five-level Likert scale.

This fifth Merchant Confidence Index survey was fielded online, between January 22nd and February 3rd, 2011, and sent to a random sample of MerchantCircle’s member base of over 1.6 million local business owners. There were 8,456 total responses from local business owners across the United States. Responding businesses classified themselves as legal and financial services, automotive, health and beauty, entertainment, travel and more, with 75 percent of respondents having less than 5 employees. The survey data can be broken out by state, business type or business size (by headcount) upon request. No incentive was offered to complete the survey. To read the full survey and its results, please visit

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Jewish Marketing 101 – American Express Small Business Forum – 6 Tasks You Could Be Outsourcing

6 Business Task You Could Be Outsourcing

6 Business Task You Could Be Outsourcing




6 Business Tasks You Could Be Outsourcing

Royale Scuderi Freelance Writer and Life Fulfillment Expert

April 3, 2012

Some businesses can handle normal daily activities but need outside help to take on new projects that don’t justify another employee. Other businesses are just struggling to manage day-to-day business. Still others are seeking ways to get more done or cut expenses in this challenging economy.

There are many valid reasons to consider outsourcing, but here are some of the most compelling.

  • Focus on core business activities. For many businesses, the primary motivation to outsource is that it frees owners, managers and employees to spend their time on income generating activities.
  • Improve opportunities for growth. Frequently opportunities for company growth and a desire to expand business operations exist, but resources to make it happen are lacking.
  • Increase efficiency and effectiveness. In many cases, outsourcing allows access to expert talent. Outsource service firms can offer innovative approaches, the latest technology, and creative, cutting-edge solutions that otherwise aren’t available.
  • Improve your bottom line by decreasing your expenses. A skilled contractor or firm can generally perform work less expensively than a full-time employee can, and the costs of hiring, training, and maintaining employees are eliminated, as are taxes and benefits.

Here’s what you can, and should, be outsourcing.

1. Administrative tasks. Scheduling, travel arrangements, data entry, typing and other administrative tasks can usually be handled by a virtual assistant or administrative service. While these tasks are crucial to the proper functioning of any business, they are not usually core business activities.

Where to find help: Assistant MatchAssistU and IVAA help match businesses with screened administrative service providers and offer directories of professionally trained virtual assistants.

2. Lead generation and customer service. Sales calls are often a matter of numbers; more calls equal more sales and leads. Once the initial outreach has been made, closing the sale can be handled by the internal sales force. A talented salesperson’s skills can be better utilized to close sales and handle clients, rather than make cold calls. It can also be a great deal more efficient to outsource customer support than it is to maintain a qualified support staff, especially for product-based companies.

Where to find help: Global Response and The Connection are recognized sales and customer service providers to many of the world’s top brands. Resource Nation allows companies to get quotes from pre-screened business solution sources.

3. Accounting and financial duties. Accounting firms or individuals can help with many financial services including bookkeeping, invoicing and accounts payable and receivable, as well as financial reporting, analysis and planning. Outsourcing payroll processing alone can save considerable hours, headaches and dollars. Many financial contractors will bundle these tasks for even greater savings.

Where to find help: BookkeepingHelp is a popular source of experienced financial professionals. This is one area to be very careful when outsourcing. It’s a good idea to check with certifying organizations, such as the American Institute of CPAs or American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers.

4. Marketing. Effective marketing determines how both brand and company reputation are perceived in the marketplace. A marketing firm or consultant can often provide an outside perspective that an internal marketing staff cannot. Professional freelance writers can develop higher-quality, polished content that will improve marketing efforts. Website design, brand development, press releases and online marketing duties such as social media, blogging and search engine optimization are good candidates for outsourcing as well.

Where to find help: Guru and Elance are two of the best-known sources of freelance contractors. They cover many areas of outsourcing, but excel in the areas of writing and design.

5. IT operations. It can be extremely expensive to handle IT operations in-house. The average business has limited ability and knowledge to manage all of its IT needs. Unless you’re an IT company, IT is a maintenance and repair function, not a core business activity. The potential advantages of outsourcing IT tasks are enormous.

Where to find help: CrossLoop and Tech Guru both offer access to full spectrum of IT remote services.

6. Human resources. Employee acquisition and human resource functions can easily be administered by an outside agency. Outside firms are more skilled at advertising, screening suitable applicants and checking references. Using an HR or employment service to manage employee benefits can also be wise, since they must stay up to date on the latest employment laws and standards.

Where to find help: Ceridian and Trinet are both well-known HR service providers offering a wide range of resources from recruitment to payroll to benefits administration.

Final word

Often, the best way to locate high-quality outsourcing prospects is through recommendations from your professional network. A referral from someone you know and trust is a much more reliable gauge of quality and is usually based on the level of skill and not simply the cheapest cost. Professional groups or associations and LinkedIn can also be great sources.

Royale Scuderi is a freelance writer and success coach. She is the founder of Productive Life Concepts and has been featured on top rated blogs such as Stepcase Lifehack and The Huffington Post. You can also find her musings on life and business at

Photo credit: iStockphoto

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Jewish Marketing 101 | Bloomberg Businessweek article on Outsourcing your Marketing

Businessweek Outsourcing Your Marketing

Businessweek Outsourcing Your Marketing



Outsourcing Your Marketing Services

Posted by: Rod Kurtz on May 14, 2008

Have you ever considered outsourcing some, or even all, of your marketing? Doing so can help you achieve your business goals if you don’t have a marketing department, or it can give you more hands and fresh ideas if you do. Here are some benefits to consider:

• Fill skill gaps. Since media is increasingly fragmented, communications programs are more complicated. You can’t be an expert in every medium and understand the needs of each of your target audiences if your products are sold across vertical industries or have key purchase influencers from several departments.

• Reduce overhead. You don’t need to hire an individual or team for a specific program. Just outsource an expert. That way you don’t bear the hidden costs of recruiting, training, furnishing an office, and employee benefits. Salary is just a fraction of employment costs.

• Eliminate bias and leverage a broader, different perspective. Outsourcing eliminates the “We’ve always done it this way” mentality. You can access the strategic thinking and creative expertise of a marketing professional free of internal political baggage.

• Improve your focus. Outsourcing helps you to focus on the core competencies of your business. Talk to your customers or your sales team. You can then provide strategic, insightful direction and play to your strength. You’ll help to reduce your risks and maximize the return on investment in your marketing programs with input from the front line.

• Jump-start your marketing instantly. Outsourcing gives you access to experienced marketing professionals who can quickly develop plans and campaigns on the tightest of schedules. You can just say “Run with it” and start focusing on the crush of your other competing priorities.

Colleen Edwards
President and CEO
The PowerMark Group
San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

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Jewish Advertising 101 – What Hebrew National Didn’t Mean To Say

Hebrew Nations - Kosher or Not Kosher?


Hebrew Nations - Kosher or Not Kosher?

Hebrew NationalWhat Hebrew National Didn’t Mean To Say

In no surprising news to the mainstream Jewish market, Hebrew National has been sued over allegations that they aren’t officially considered kosher but rather are non-kosher. I’m not going to explain the lawsuit – you can find all the details about it here – but rather its important to focus on what Hebrew National is generally telling the world, the Jewish market, and kosher customers each time it says “We answer to a higher authority.”

Hebrew National’s claim to adhering to the highest Kosher standards available is quite puzzling and inaccurate to those who reside within the Kosher world. The Jewish market recognizes numerous Kosher certifications around the world – there are more than 1100 global and local certifiers – including the Orthodox Union, OK, Kof K, Tablet K, Scroll K, CRC, and more. The OK and Orthodox Union kashrut certifications make up the two largest agencies, represented by their OU and OK symbols. If Hebrew National was looking to adhere to an internationally recognized and respected kosher certification that was synonymous with quality and strict standards, the logical choice would be either the OU or OK symbols. By not using the brand that is recognized by all Jewish affiliations across the board, Hebrew National is not merely alienating an entire group of Jewish customers, they’re also creating a vocal protest against their claim of being kosher. Doesn’t seem like an effective marketing strategy – target a non-Jewish non-Kosher market while frustrating the Jewish & Kosher market.

Hebrew National’s use of the word “kosher” is merely a play on similar popular themes such as “going green”, “all-natural”, and “healthy”. Kosher, like Halal in some ways, has always been viewed as a preferred and healthier alternative to regular foods. The rigourous inspection and cleaning process, the supervision by Rabbi’s, and the use of only certain animals for consumption are all foundations of true Kosher processing. The controversy isn’t arising out of the kosher, but rather who the supervising agency is – in this case, Triangle K & Associates.

In many Orthodox Jewish circles, using Triangle K branded products has been frowned upon for MEAT & POULTRY items. Although many Orthodox Jews won’t eat any Triangle K branded products, meat and poultry is the main problem area that is cited for why Orthodox Jews shun the symbol. Hebrew National is not GLATT KOSHER, which is a red flag for many Orthodox Jews who swear by glatt kosher for all meats. Rabbi Jason Miller has a great blog post on the case and on Glatt Kosher . Furthermore, many Hebrew National products are sold in high traffic areas such as baseball games and theme parks and, while Triangle K may indeed be supervising the meat in-house, there is zero supervision over the cooking process, which is an entirely different set of kosher requirements. Triangle K knows this and by not taking steps to advise the final buyer (such as double bagging in a microwave) shows a lack of initiative in allaying any negative perceptions about their symbol. (Bear in mind, we’re ignoring the claim that AER employees have claimed certain procedures are rendering the meat entirely NOT Kosher; this blog isn’t qualified to rule on that at all!)

Overall, Hebrew National (well, really ConAgra) doesn’t quite understand that the best market for a truly kosher product is the Jewish kosher market; the fact that they nearly avoid marketing the brand to them, while also ignoring their shouts for change, should indeed raise a red flag about how Kosher they really are. A marketing strategy that consists of promoting a Kosher product to a prospective non-Jewish, non-Kosher marketplace while alienating and frustrating the actual Jewish, Kosher market seems to be a recipe for disaster. In an age of social networking and word of mouth, Hebrew National should start by getting the Jewish, Kosher market on their side before promoting to a non-Kosher (and potentially non-interested) market.

The saga reminds me of the parable of why a pig isn’t kosher even though it has split hooves (an animal needs to chew it’s cud as well, meaning chewed a second time). It’s like the pig is saying to laymen, “Look, I have split hooves, I’m kosher, trust me!”; it takes a full understanding of kosher to know that above the surface and below the surface are two entirely different things. Until Hebrew National starts understanding that their claims can be misleading, all they’re saying is “Look, we have the symbol, we’re kosher!” Maybe that will be the new slogan.

If Hebrew National wants to ensure a solid core market that is both Kosher and interested in Kosher/healthy products, they should reach out to a more comprehensive base of Kosher & Jewish consumers to see how to improve their marketing and product.

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