Singapore Named Lonely Planet’s Top Country To Visit In 2015

Singapore has clinched the number one spot on Lonely Planet’s list of the top 10 countries to visit in 2015.

Praised for its multicultural diversity and wide range of attractions, the southeast Asian island nation — which celebrates its Golden Jubilee next year — beat out Namibia, Lithuania, Nicaragua and Ireland (ranked second to fifth, respectively) for the top spot.

“Since sealing its independence in 1965, Singapore has been on a roll. And while its grand heritage buildings, chaotic hawker centers, luxurious green spaces and glitzy shopping malls have been luring travelers for decades, a slew of new developments has elevated the ‘Singapore experience’ to a whole new level,” Lonely Planet writes.

The media company adds that travelers to Singapore will be given an extra treat next year as the country launches new attractions to coincide with its 50th anniversary.

This week, Lonely Planet also named Washington D.C. and El Chalten, Argentina, as the number one and number two cities, respectively, to visit in 2015.

Gallipoli, Turkey, a historically-rich peninsula located on the northwestern side of the Dardanelles Strait, was named the top region to visit next year; Tunisia topped the list of best value destinations.

Check out Lonely Planet’s complete “Best in Travel 2015” list here. Lonely Planet’s top travel destinations for 2014 can be viewed below:

Build a Movement not a Brand

Crowds are never a good thing for business unless it’s outside your front door.

How do you stand out in today’s tech drenched smartphone in hand world full of noisy content?

It’s about the Truth. Ignore the “too much information” syndrome.

Huddle the team and have someone write this stuff down.

How does our product make the customer’s life easier?

What are the key attributes of your products or service List everything.

Stuck? Get a customer in the room or on a conf call and ask them why they bought your product.

Who doesn’t love dogs? (other than cats) Use this as a branding strategy.

Be of service to your customers.


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Next: How do you Differentiate Your Business?

You need to think about four key metrics.

  • What’s unique about your products/services?
  • What differentiates you from the herd. (No, no, no, you all have competitors!)
  • What’s common in your marketplace (pricing, feature sets, what’s out there on the radar screen)?
  • Are you relevant and credible in the market you are targeting.

As you work through these elements try to overlay three functional marketing maxims: core value proposition (why should anyone buy from you), competitive strategy and differentiation (see Michael Porter), the profile persona of your customer.

Three brands that just rocked positioning and branding: Patagonia (they own: ‘bulletproof” products), Nordstroms (single-handedly created unquestioned customer service) and Target (stuff you can wear shopping at Whole Foods or Safeway with abandon).

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Third: Remember Ideas are Cheap and Tactical Execution is Not

Don’t fall in love with all your ideas. Test them with customers, not the husband, BOD members or your staff.

Get out of your own way: remember, you have to scale the business with iteration and crystal clear marketing. Many execs stumble when they fail to listen to others: see: ego.

It’s all about User Experience today: build it right and they will come. Don’t scrimp on any aspect of design that defines your brand: web, images, pictures, logos, infographics.

Growing the business is going to take time, money or some combination of the two. See: it’s noisy out there.

Tie everything back into conversion metrics that drive revenue. Traffic via social media (or any other source) that does not convert is water in the desert. Change your tactics and marketing platforms accordingly.

Don’t forget about building a persona profile: create and image with key bullet-points and hang them around the office. Make this “person” real in the minds of your staff.

Fourth: How do we market this baby and find customers?

  • Where are your customers congregating: (“connected consumers”): think communities: real world, social, water cooler, wherever you can leverage one to many marketing.
  • The competitiveness of the social platform where you think you need to be? Can you afford to play in this market? Social media marketing is not free.
  • Regional, Local or Global focus?
  • Where and how are your competitors creating and sharing content.? Do some finite analysis and measurement: Buzz Sumo is a great tool.
  • What Digital Metrics are Being Used? You won’t know how you are doing without some formal ROI metrics.

If you read this far then grok this: every brand lives or dies based on the content they create.

Remember, your building a movement not a brand!

Tactical Stuff: Content Pain Points Every Business has to Come to Grips with

What’s the right budget for content development and marketing?

Use 20-30% of your overall marketing budget as a line item for content marketing initiatives and test the back end ROI for all content.

How do you make content that the visitor wants to share? Key attributes: useful, emotion laden, factual, practical, newsjacks (events, moments in time, stuff that relates to your biz).

Is your content distributed and published? A blog is not enough: you gotta do more.

Content created in-house or outsourcing; or some combination of the two. Your probably better off with the latter initially.

What content marketing platforms should you use for syndication?

Where do you find visuals to insert with your content? They are on your web site, embedded in your social channels and/or part of the visual story every employee tells with their profiles across the web.

What’s an SEO strategy and how do we implement one? Start with the basics:. use a keyword in your title and repeat it maybe once or twice on page of 300-700 words. Google understands more than you will ever know BTW.

Don’t bog down in SEO hell – Google is constantly tacking back and forth. Just create stellar content.

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A Boring Mundane List is At the Heart of Every Great Content Marketing Inititive

  • Your readers have an attention span of a gnat.
  • Lists facilitate content re-purposing via other content forms (email, other blog posts, social content). See: the growth of platforms like Evernote.
  • Every good blog post starts with a list for many content marketers: those scatter-shot ideas can then be fleshed out into topics or on page content elements.
  • Millennials thrive on real time updates and lists are part of the picture and “secret sauce” to reach them according to Twitter and others.
  • Brands can be creative with lists: use them as a shorthand way to poll your staff, customers, partners, BOD members and any other stakeholders for company, product, customer wins and content marketing topics.
  • See texting as a way of life for many today. These people “live” on lists (stretching the metaphor a bit)- so, map your content accordingly.

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It’s a “Visual Age” kinda like the Victorian Age but with Selfies

  1. Your building authenticity with your community: visual’s impact drives relevance.
  2. As technology “takes over our lives” visual strikes a chord within others. Sensory currency is “real” to the visitor.
  3. Visuals drive cultural relevancy that engages the visitor in ways that text cannot equate with.
  4. Archetypes” have been around since the days of ancient cave man paintings and visuals are a powerful storytelling tools that feature “heroines” and “heroes” embedded in brand storytelling.
  5. Visuals cut through the clutter and chatter that’s “smartphone” driven for many consumers and professionals.

Condensed Words

The buzzword du jour back in the .com era was all about “dog years” and how everything was compressed with this 7-1 ratio.

Well, it’s probably a term that’s in vogue more today than then.

Your business is fighting headwinds, competing with frothy markets full of billion dollar babies, marketing to distracted prosumers and technology is taking over our lives.

Find a way to passionately serve your customers, create and syndicate content that garners mindshare, measure what’s happening, build for speed and relevance and look up from your phone once and a while and talk to people.

“How to Redefine Your Marketing Strategy in a Tech Drenched World”

“30 Plus Apps that Will Help You Grow Your Business and Leverage Technology”

“How Content Heroes and Heroines are Made Not Born”

“What I Learned About Social Media from Andy Warhol”

“How to Generate More Revenue and Lower Costs with the Cloud”

“Why Every Marketing Campaign Lives or Dies on this Foundation”

“Four Critical Marketing Strategies to Stand out in Today’s Noisy World”

“Why so Many Web Sites are Lipstick on a Pig”

“How to Win Your Darwinian Digital Battles”

“The Ten Second Race to Content Nirvana”

David Perdue Has Up To $1 Million Managed By Swiss Private Bank Fund

WASHINGTON — Republican David Perdue, the Georgia businessman running for U.S. Senate, has as much as $1 million invested in an exclusive fund managed by a Swiss private bank — a rarefied investment strategy that has earned him between $100,000 and $1 million since 2012.

The fund, Vontobel Non-U.S. Equity LLC, is managed by a subsidiary of the Zurich-based private bank Vontobel to invest in companies that operate primarily outside the United States. Registered as a Delaware corporation, the fund includes shares of mortgage companies in India, global tobacco corporations, and European consumer goods manufacturers.

The fund’s manager is a sister company of family-owned Bank Vontobel based in Zurich. Its slogan: “Vontobel: Your Swiss Private Bank.” Nevertheless, Perdue’s investment is not the same as a Swiss bank account, and his fund, managed out of New York, cannot be used to hide taxable assets from the Internal Revenue Service.

Rather, it is a pooled investment fund, designed to make money for investors. By limiting the investor pool to high-net worth individuals and well-funded organizations, the Vontobel fund is exempt from the typical requirement that, as a Delaware corporation, it register with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Perdue’s estimated net worth of between $27 million and $82 million easily qualifies him to invest in the restricted fund. As of September, Perdue was one of 769 investors who together had given Vontobel’s asset managers more than $1.25 billion to invest in the Vontobel Non-US Equity LLC fund.

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As Perdue crisscrosses Georgia, promising to use his extensive business experience to benefit the millions of voters hard hit by the Great Recession, his participation in the Vontobel fund may expose him to charges he’s out of touch with the blue-collar voters he needs to win next month’s election. Perdue is facing Democrat Michelle Nunn for the seat of retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R).

Perdue’s vulnerability was hammered home in recent weeks, as scrutiny intensified into his business record of outsourcing American jobs, to be filled by cheaper laborers in what he called the “Third World.”

“I spent most of my career” outsourcing jobs, Perdue said in a 2005 deposition, released to the media this month. Since then, Perdue has repeatedly claimed that he is “proud” of this part of his record, and has rebuffed critics who point out that he has overseen hundreds of layoffs during his decades as CEO of companies like Reebok, Sara Lee and Dollar General.

Yet Perdue’s pride in his work history seems tempered by reports that his campaign deleted a paragraph from its website that described Perdue’s stint as a consultant for a startup in India, from 2007 to 2009.

In response to questions from The Huffington Post, Perdue’s campaign refused to say when Perdue first invested in the Vontobel fund, or how much he Perdue ventured. The campaign also declined to say how much Perdue has earned from his Vontobel investment, beyond the range offered in his personal financial disclosure form, or how much he has paid to Vontobel in management fees.

The campaign did note that Nunn lists four non-U.S. investment funds on her Senate financial disclosure forms. These include an Emerging Markets Core Equity Fund, an International Small Cap Value Fund, an International Core Equity fund, and an International Small Company fund — all through Dimensional Fund Advisors, for a total value of between $4,004 and $60,000. Nunn reported combined two-year income from all four investments of between $201 and $1,600.

In a statement to The Huffington Post, Perdue spokeswoman Megan Whittemore said, “Overall, David has more invested in Henry County school bonds than in this fund. Investing a portion of your portfolio in international companies is standard diversification for most investors, including Michelle Nunn, “

Unlike Perdue’s restricted Vontobel fund, Nunn’s holdings are in publicly traded funds — and significantly smaller than Perdue’s investment.

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Little is known about the Vontobel fund, which was created in July 2007, the same month that Perdue exited his job as CEO of Dollar General. The executive’s departure netted him more than $42 million.

The Vontobel fund appears to be among a series of funds Vontobel established in 2007 to help shield U.S. investors from the looming financial crisis. For wealthy Americans, the prospect of placing money in the hands of Vontobel’s star asset manager, Rajiv Jain, was a welcome alternative to the bad news shaking Wall Street.

In response to questions from HuffPost, the Perdue campaign released the top 10 holdings for the Vontobel fund, which mirror those for other Jain-managed Vontobel funds. They include British American Tobacco (U.K.), Philip Morris International (U.S.), Unilever (Netherlands), Nestle (Swiss), Housing Development Finance Corp. (India), Roche Holding (Swiss), HDFC Bank (India), SABMiller (U.K.), Novo Nordisk (Denmark), and Reckitt Benckiser (U.K.).

A spokeswoman for Vontobel Asset Management, a U.S. subsidiary of the Swiss bank, declined to answer questions about the Vontobel Non-US Equity LLC fund’s structure and management.