Friday, August 16, 2013

The Rise of Online Reviews--KeepCustomer's first guest blog

If you own a small business and have not established a website combined with social

media, it’s time to get on the bandwagon. With more and more customers researching

products and services online, it’s crucial for businesses to know what is out there and

establish a strong online presence. Here is a brief overview of online reviews and what

you need to know to benefit from them as a business.

A Huffington Post article in October 2011 reported that in 2011, 80% of consumers made

their purchasing decisions based on negative customer feedback online, a number which

had which increased 67% from 2010. Chances are, your business has already shown up

on any number of online review websites or has made the rounds in the social media

realm without your knowledge.

In the last decade, consumers have become more and more savvy when it comes to

making informed decisions about what they purchase. Most people use the Internet to

shop for coupons and check online reviews regularly before they set foot in a store or

add items to their online shopping cart. Regardless of the nature of your business, you

must be aware of online reviews when approaching the subject of your company’s online

presence. Some of the most popular review sites used by customers are found on Google,

Bing, Yahoo, Yelp and Angie’s List.

Just like any trend, you have to take the good with the bad. Fraudulent online reviews

are on the rise and can negatively impact a business’s reputation, costing them to lose

customers and cut into their profits. Many businesses are taking on guerilla tactics to

make their businesses look better by placing negative posts of their competitors in the

form of bad reviews. This requires that businesses are proactive in defending their online

identity and make certain they are not participating in bad marketing behaviors.

Another tactic some companies are trying is to pay customers for positive feedback.

In November 2012, the well-known online review company Yelp began cracking down

on this activity by posting a pop-up alert that the review was paid for by the company.

According to Yelp’s VP of Corporate Communications, in reference to the practice of

a company paying for positive reviews said, “One jewelry store was paying someone


Here are a few things you can do to safeguard your business online.

• You must have a company website. All businesses must have some kind of
online presence, even if you have a bare minimum. Having a legitimate website
will keep your customers from getting the wrong information from those who do
not have your best interest in mind.
• Create a Facebook account for your company. Social media has such
a powerful influence on the success of today’s businesses. Capitalizing on this
important reality will allow your customers to be active participants in what
you do. Creating events, offering coupons and encouraging and responding to
customer feedback will improve your bottom line and better match your business
goals with the needs of your customer base.
• Set up a Google alert for your company name. You need to know what
people are saying about you and the best way to keep tabs on this is to set up a
Google alert. This will help you stay informed with your customers online. You
can choose to receive emails once a week or daily depending on your needs.
• Respond to your customers with care. It’s important to check online
customer review sites as well as your designated website for customer feedback
regularly. Approach any negative feedback cautiously. Every customer response
should be tempered with professionalism and full awareness of any specific
customer complaint needs to be researched internally before conducting any
direct response to an online review. With that said, businesses can gain a great
deal of knowledge for improving their customer feedback and overall quality of
their product or service.

Sara Collins is a writer for  NerdWallet , a site dedicated to helping consumers find the

best savings account rates.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Are We There Yet?

The following is from yahoo Finance:
A study from Spectrem Group asked wealthy and affluent investors "what do you wish you had done differently in the crisis."
For the top earners-those making $750,000 or more-the No. 1 answer was "saved more." Ranked second was "done more research about finances on my own" and then "not taken on as much debt."
Their regrets have turned into real action-with possible impacts on the broader economy. Since the financial crisis, the wealthy have become the nation's top cash hoarders, filling up deposit accounts and money markets at a rapid clip.

Well, at least somewhere someone is being prudent.
That was something I have been shouting about from the rooftop for last many months.

George C. asked the following question:
Hi BB,
I have been reading a lot about cycles and they seem to be less and less reliable these days. What is the margin of error ? For example you mentioned a cycle top of July 25. We just pounded out a new high on August first. so what its the "zone" of this cycle top ? I also do not understand why shorting is not a good idea if one truly believes in the cycle, assuming there is some margin of error that could trigger a stop on short position. Otherwise we have to rely on broken support levels, moving average  crossovers etc.....
In this market I am losing faith in information. For the past several months I have read many credible articles and blogs, including yours that speak of extreme sentiment, record high margin debt. low levels of mutual fund cash etc...yet there is not even a moderate correction. I know things take time but I am wondering if FED printing can push this for many more years. Simply amazing !
Love your work and patience, just venting. I am afraid to go long for sure but have been for quite some time. 

And my answer was:

Hi George,
As you might have seen, I work from the side of being ultra cautious.
So I will take trade when everything that I watch line up.
When the trend is up and cycle is up, it is safe to go long. But when the trend is up but cycles have topped, I would stay away from taking any bets. Does not mean we should short. Because, we also need price confirmation.
As for now, the cycles have topped, but we have no sell signal. Therefore no going short. Going long is out of question. This is the time when greed overtakes retail and Mom&Pop gets in equity.
My up-side target for SPX is in the range of 1720-30 and we are not there yet. Last May, we went short but the indices kept going higher till everyone threw up their hands.
We are coming to that inflection point. No other market in the world is following the US market. So the US markets cannot just keep going on for ever. You might be interested to read the following:
So just hang on. Keep lots of cash on hand. Opportunities are coming soon. Gold & Silver will bottom in a month after another sell off. We will short bonds big time by Fall. Short equities big time.
Technical analysis alone will not get us anywhere in these markets. But patience will.

Hope that helps.

In my years of writing finance blog, I have actually come across only a handful of investors who are willing to wait and not be greedy. I had one subscriber, whom I shall call "The Troll". That guy would pay money for subscription and then do just the opposite of what I would say. I would scratch my head in bewilderment. For e.g. during the last correction, we closed our short position and went long XIV. After few days, the correction resumed and XIV was hit hard. I asked everyone to hang on tight with their XIV. But this A**hole sent mocking email, saying how smart he was and how he did not follow my advice and did the opposite by going long UVXY. Well, after a month, XIV is over 25% up!

And he is not alone. I see folks always trying to score on every turn, going in and out of positions almost every day. And I shake my head in disbelief.
Have patience folks. Don't listen too much to those talking heads in TV. They get paid to say stuff and sell snake oil. Only you can save your money. Wall St. wants to get their hands on your savings. They can do so when you are greedy.

I do not have to prove anything to anybody. I have made calls on record over the years and I think barring few and some in the early years, when I was still perfecting my system, most have come correct. I have a full time job which keeps me busy. I do the Newsletter and Blog as a hobby and I can do without A**holes. My record on gold and silver is close to 100% and I pray I am able to maintain that. But I am not trying to beat up my drum. All I am trying to say is that, whatever is your method, whomsoever you follow, you must have patience and not chase every shiny thing that catches your eye.

Stay Focused and stay nimble.

Good luck trading / investing everyone.