Use Of Organic Search Marketing For Highest Returns

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Internet marketing consulting has paved the way for budding marketers to add more skills to their arsenal making them even more desirable hires or partners for businesses needing their expertise. The term is “budding” because a handful of these “marketers” didn’t even study marketing formally in the first place. A handful of them are self- taught and just bank on their creative skills and even their social skills to pick up on the trade. These are individuals who have recognized their strengths and have wisely decided to follow that path.

One thing proving to be helpful to these marketers is the presence of online job markets where these individuals can upload their resumes and even portfolios in order to showcase their qualifications to prospective clients. Thanks to these online job markets, internet marketing consulting need not be dominated by few huge companies or marketing outfits. It is possible for these marketers to cut cost by not needing an office to receive clients, or even travel to immediately to meet a client and discuss project details.

The downside of such a convenience is that the market for internet marketing consultants becomes saturated with individuals who want to show what they’ve got. And so it raises a challenge to the marketer to make sure that he stands out from competition.

Are SEO Companies In San Diego Affordable?

Are SEO services from companies in San Diego an affordable choice? It may or may not be depending on the budget you have sent aside for the start of your business. Most people would have planned the capital and the outlay well in advance even as they are preparing business plans. The reason for this planning may be related to acquiring a bank loan or other investing partners.

Nevertheless, marketing forms a big part of the budget and hiring an SEO Company in San Diego would definitely be one of the firms you will invest in. it might be a good idea to go for the best at the start instead of going through a cheaper and second best only to scrap the plan and start over with something like SEO Company San Diego. It is a pity that many small businesses count every penny and remain penny wise and pound foolish. By this, I mean that they lose so much more by trying to think of the money alone. The marketing strategy if effectively deployed could bring you much higher returns on investment; thereby making an initial outlay well worth it. In fact, the rest of the things may take a back seat and can be dealt with piecemeal.

SEO Services For The Modern Approach

One would think that marketing agencies had it easier in the earlier times when all they had to work on is good tag lines and have some flyers prepared. They may have gone a little further by designing bill boards. However, that kind of service is no longer enough. Now, you need something like SEO service San Diego so that you are easily found on a search through the Internet. If you want your business to be successful, you must try to find ways in which you get the required attention. This can only happen if you hand over the services to SEO firms such as ASG so that you stand out from the crowd.

Just having a unique selling point may not be enough. This USP has to be seen and must make an impression on the seeker. When you hire firms such the SEO service San Diego you get the value added services such as being featured on the top of the list. It is done organically so that only relevant searches will bring you to the attention of the audience. While you may have your own ideas as to how to be popular, it is best left in the hands of SEO service San Diego so that you gain from the expertise on their staff.

A War Over Instruments

Ace Music was acquired in late 1995 by Mark Begelman, a founder of the huge and wildly successful Office Depot retailing chain. Since that time he has been laying the groundwork for an ambitious national Music and Recording Super Store (MARS) chain (see accompanying story). As of this writing, MARS locations are open in Dallas, Atlanta, and Tampa; however, the financial statements released only document the performance of the Miami operations, and thus provide a unique insight into the impact of multiple “superstores” in a single trading area.

Guitar Center, Sam Ash, and Ace Music carry virtually the same product lines, the only significant difference being that Guitar Center doesn’t stock any wind instruments; yet there are significant differences in gross margin performance at the three operations. Through a combination of creative merchandising, aggressive promotion, and generous concessions from manufacturers, Guitar Center manages to extract the most money from the customer, generating a gross profit of over 30% chainwide. How much over 30% is difficult to quantify, given that the company lumps occupancy expense and unspecified “buying expenses” in with the cost of goods sold. People familiar with Sam Ash operations report that the company has a chainwide gross profit of approximately 28%; however, with Ace Music operating on a 19.5% margin, it’s difficult to imagine that the Guitar Center and Sam Ash stores in Miami are doing much better, let alone matching the performance of their stores in other regions.

“Even though Guitar Center and Ash have come to town, Ace has been around a long time and has a strong following,” explained one sales rep. “They may have given up some ground, but they still do over $20.0 million in sales. There’s no way you can do that much business in a market like Miami without affecting the other stores in town, especially when you’re cutting prices to the bone.”

samashOther signs also strongly suggest that intensified competition has taken a toll on all three operations. Sales reps report exceptionally high staff turnover at Ace, Guitar Center, and Sam Ash. “Everyone pays salespeople using a commission based on a percentage of gross margin,” said one rep. “The problem is that the margins are so narrow, you have a problem where salespeople work their tail off 11 hours a day, six days a week, for minimum wage. It’s easy to understand why they quit after a few weeks.”

A critical element of retail involves presenting an image to the buying public. Mindful of maintaining that image, virtually every store operator in Miami, Sam Ash and Guitar Center included, is on the record saying that they have been unaffected by the current slugfest and that their business has either “achieved” or “exceeded” budget. Bob Zobel, Ace Music’s chief financial officer, is the exception, candidly noting, “Both sales and gross profits continued to be adversely affected by direct competition from Guitar Center and Sam Ash Music, who opened nearly 100,000 square feet of retail space in south Florida during 1996, and Thoroughbred Music, an independent competitor in central Florida who opened a 26,000-square-foot store in the Orlando area over the Thanksgiving weekend.” Privately, a number of retailers seem to share Zobel’s assessment of the marketplace. “It’s a battle of attrition, with everyone selling things at cost hoping for the other guy to go out of business first,” said one.

The Role Of Population

The current retail situation in Miami is the result of shifting population trends, several people hatching the same strategy simultaneously, and mere chance. In 1970 Florida was the eighth most populous state in the United States. Thanks to a huge influx of Northerners, by 1990 it had moved up to the fourth most populous state, trailing only California, Texas, and New York. Yet despite this dramatic population growth, the size and scope of the state’s music retailers, particularly on the East Coast, had remained virtually static.

Ace Music of Miami had been founded in 1947 by Gustav Rubin, and, through a combination of aggressive selling and shrewd financial management, it grew to become the dominant player in the greater Miami area. In 1971 the business was taken over by Gustav’s son Fred. At its peak two years ago, the four Ace locations generated sales of $27.0 million and ranked as the 12th largest retailer in the country. Although the Ace was highly profitable, earning a reported 10% pre-tax profit on sales, its stores were dated and in need of major renovation, and the company lacked much of the promotional skill and polish of comparable retailers in other markets.

Eyeing The Same Prize

Simultaneously sensing an expansion opportunity in Miami, both Sam Ash Music and Guitar Center made overtures to Fred Rubin in 1995 about purchasing Ace. When the talks failed, both laid plans for opening their own stores. Ash opened first on May 31 with a 25,000-square-foot store in Margate, a northern suburb of Miami, and a massive 44,000-square-foot store on the highly traveled Palmetto Parkway on the north side of Miami. A month later Guitar Center held a grand opening that drew 4,000 for a 25,000-square-foot store in Hallendale, situated on Highway 95, midway between the two Ash locations. A month later a second 20,000-square-foot Guitar Center store was opened in Kendall Square, a suburb south of Miami.

Months before Ash and Guitar Center opened in Miami, Rubin sold 90% of Ace Music to Mark Begelman for $7.5 million in cash. Initially, Begelman told local reporters that he planned to use Ace Music as the nucleus for a national m.i. retail chain; however, as plans for his proposed 66-store chain took shape, Ace seemed more like a footnote than the foundation. Begelman’s new stores, which operate under the MARS banner, bear no relation in size, layout, or staffing policies to the Ace stores in Miami. Furthermore, MARS Music has indicated that it will “terminate certain existing leases during the year ended January 31, 1998,” suggesting that some of the original Ace locations are soon to be shuttered.

As competitive as music retail is at present, the current situation in Miami suggests that things could become worse before they get better. It also raises questions about the national expansion ambitious of players like Guitar Center and Sam Ash. If, as the Miami experience indicates, too many “superstores” in a market curtail profitability, will there be enough profits to fund future growth or make investors happy?

When Mark Begelman paid $7.5 million for 90% of Ace Music, effectively valuing the company at $8.33 million, he bought $4.8 million of inventory and other hard assets and $3.5 million of good will. After Begelman’s first full year of operation, accountants recommended writing off the good will, resulting in an extraordinary charge to earnings of $3.5 million. “The level of competition suggests that sales and gross profits in the four original Ace Music stores may have suffered longer-term impairment,” the report concluded. “So, the company has decided to write off the remaining good will from the Ace Music acquisition.” A $3.5 million charge against earnings is the first casualty of stepped-up competition in Miami, but probably not the last.

Theremin Brings Good Vibes

The Theremin is considered the world’s first electronic instrument. It can be heard in Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love,” and in the soundtracks of classic (and less-than-classic) films like The Day the Earth Stood Still, Hitchcock’s Spellbound and the recent Mars Attacks!

Designed by Russian-born inventor Lev Termen (see sidebar) and first manufactured by RCA, the original Theremin looks like a wooden podium in a high-school auditorium that has sprouted antennas. These are what make the music that wafts from the speaker in eerie, wavering tones whenever movement-usually a human hand-runs through the magnetic field they create. The sound is like “candy for the soul,” said Gary Bogue, a networking engineer at Concentric Network Corp. (Cupertino, Calif.).

thereminfunkWithout ever actually touching the instrument, the tiny electrical effect of a player’s hands in space controls pitch over a range of more than five octaves. The dynamic level ranges from fortissimo (very loud) to complete silence. Every gesture translates into a continuous pitch or volume change, making the Theremin a highly expressive musical instrument, and making the player look a bit like a magician.

“I’m often amazed at the thought that this was first developed in a period when people where just trying to understand how to buy and operate a radio receiver,” said Mike Fugere, an engineering project manager at Rockwell Automation, the company’s industrial-automation group in Lebanon, N.H.

The original Theremin was built using vacuum tubes, but in the early 1960s Robert Moog-inventor of the synthesizer that bears his name-published one of the first transistorized Theremin schematics. That led to a wave of Theremins using hybrid digital/analog electronics and incorporating musical instrument digital interface (MIDI) output. Many EEs spend their off-hours constructing such models, as the few remaining originals are now in museums or owned by wealthy private collectors.

“I’ve built the PAiA Electronics’ Theremax and a Big Briar Etherwave model,” said Barile, referring to two popular and inexpensive do-it-yourself digital Theremins. “Both are great, because you don’t have to spend six months tracking down parts and etching your own circuit boards. I have plans to build a transistorized Theremin, and one day I’ll build a tube Theremin-for nostalgia’s sake.”

For his part, Rockwell’s Fugere is looking to design and build a hybrid-tube-based Theremin to add to his homemade collection of Theremaxes.

John Simonton, the president of 30-year-old PAiA Electronics in Edmond, Okla., is not surprised at the popularity of his company’s “Tmax.” Trained as an EE, he knew he was on to something that would attract like-minded souls.

“At the time I designed and built Tmax, it was very satisfying because it was a ‘return-to-my-roots’ sort of thing,” Simonton said. “I hadn’t worked with any radio-frequency stuff since I was a boy, and my previous products were vacuum-tube amplifier things. It was a lot of fun.”

Moog’s Big Briar company in Asheville, N.C., offers an inexpensive digital Theremin kit, too, alongside its professional models. Moog said the Theremin was a big inspiration for his renowned Moog synthesizer.

“I never stopped working with Theremins,” he said. “Even while I worked for Moog Music and Kurzweil [pioneering electronic-instrument firms], I built custom Theremins from time to time. After I left Kurzweil and returned to North Carolina, I decided to come up with a completely new Theremin design, which became our Series 91 instruments. We’ve been making them for over six years now.”

Virtual renaissance

But the real Theremin renaissance was born on the Internet. Noting interest in Theremins in newsgroups and mailing lists, PAiA’s Simonton decided to introduce his product on the Web with a “mystery circuit” contest. It clicked with Netheads. “The Net changed all the rules,” he said. “The Web makes it so easy for people to find info on what would otherwise be an obscure and difficult instrument for which to locate [parts].”

The Web-only Theremin Enthusiasts Club International, based in Canada and located at www.he.net/~enternet/teci/teci.html, continues to draw new members-more than 500 so far, many of them technical professionals. They surf the online bulletin board to swap parts, share tips or simply gush over their favorite instrument.

The enthusiasm has spilled over into actual physical meetings. Last month’s week-long festival in Maine featured concerts by the handful of Theremin virtuosos, screenings of films with Theremin soundtracks and technical symposiums. A “Theremin celebration” is planned at the Loud Music Festival in Northampton, Mass., in September.

Signal mix

The basic principle behind the Theremin is known as heterodyning: mixing two signals of different frequencies and extracting the difference. The pitch circuit of the Theremin uses two RF oscillators, one fixed and one variable, to create this effect. Moving the hands near the pitch antenna changes the speed of the variable oscillator, and the difference between the two comes out as a musical note. The volume circuit works in a similar manner.

The advent of the transistor made the oscillators-originally vacuum tubes-considerably more stable. Analog Theremins usually use four transistor oscillators arranged in two pairs. Each pair forms a beat-frequency oscillator, the outputs of which are modulated by the effect of a player’s hand capacitance near each antenna.

Digital Theremins use CMOS oscillators and logic gates to produce two dc levels. One dc level varies with the proximity of the player’s hands from the pitch antenna; the other varies when the volume antenna is approached. This circuit is where many electronic engineers find a place to construct a myriad of personal imprints, or find ready-made variations at Web sites such as that of the University of Glasgow’s Department of Physics and Astronomy in Scotland.

The Internet is even providing new ways to play the instrument. Most notable is the Inner Communications Labs’ Web site, based in Japan, which enables visitors to play a Shockwave-enabled online Theremin on a Web browser.

However, Rockwell’s Fugere sees further and richer uses for the actual physical hallowed instrument-for instance, as an instructional tool for youngsters interested in electronics. He and others, including Moog, regularly take their Theremins into classrooms to demonstrate basic principles of waves, sound and E-fields.

Talking About “Pop”

popsYou don’t need to understand Swedish to be struck by the purity of this monthly, designed by art directors Stefania Malmsten and Lars Sundh.  A classic, clean typeface (Monotype Times and Monotype Grotesque, customized by designer Hubert Jocham) suddenly seems very hip here. And the understated, jazzy layout captivates the eye, guiding it smoothly through extensive feature articles and in-depth interviews. Pop’s design boosts up the photographs so that all the featured artists look like superstars, no matter what their place in the public consciousness.

From its debut in 1992, Pop has had as its ambition to “take pop music and pop culture seriously.” Pop gives no editorial preference to household names over obscure artists – last year, a seven-page story on rock legend John Fogerty ran side by side with a feature on Attica Blues, a British electronic soul orchestra – and a similar philosophy informs its layout. “Lars and I had been checking out the different music magazines that were out there,” Malmsten recalls. “We decided to take the opposite route – a cleaner layout that would look modern at the same time. So we picked our inspiration from Blue Note album covers, Life’s classic issues, and French magazines like Les Inrockuptibles instead.”

Smart esthetics are also crucial in getting that elusive, exclusive interview and attracting top talent. Unable to hire photographers on its tight budget, Pop resorted to using old images or the record labels’ press photos. But by laying colored tone plates over black-and-white images, Pop made the pictures its own and created a design trademark. Today, Pop’s photo budget remains small, but Sweden’s top photographers stand in line to work there.

Although Pop has more access to original photographs than it did in its early days, it still sticks to a less-is-more cover philosophy: usually a single photo accompanied by a few lines of black or white text, listing the featured artists in roman and the cover subject in italics. Inside spreads are unified by one type family and a basic grid, holding all photography and illustration within the specified column space. To avoid rigid symmetry, smaller pictures run in squares and rectangles of different sizes, placed onto the grid almost like shapes from a Mondrian painting. This style recalls the Blue Note album covers’ generous use of white space and geometric shapes, creating movement and harmony.

Major features in Pop often introduce text with full double-spread photographs. Last year, an issue featuring British rock act Primal Scream ran five full-page photos before even starting the text. After five pages of text, another double-spread photo of the band popped up before the story continued for four more pages. (Sixteen pages on a single artist: only outside America.)

But the spacious, modernist layout and the extensive photography has another effect: It makes the magazine very easy to read, despite 8.5-point body copy. And regular departments-pop culture history, album reviews – also create an appetizing overview for the reader.

With remarkably strong form and content, Pop demonstrates its refreshing conviction that readers are both willing and able to stick with something longer than a page, puncturing Frank Zappa’s wisecrack that rock magazines are made by people who can’t write for people who can’t read. In Sweden, Pop has become a tastemaker: Record labels approach it first with their wares, and many artists hyped by Pop later earn lavish praise from other sources. Members of Pop’s staff have also launched offspring projects: Koala, a publishing company; Lollipop, a music festival; and three TV series steeped in Monty Pythonesque humor.

As for graphic design, the number of magazines, fanzines, and Swedish album covers that haven’t borrowed from Pop’s style – mostly its type style – can be counted on one hand. And that delights Maimsten. “It’s fun that young designers pay respect to the classic principles of typography,” she says, “and that they understand the importance of clarity and readability.”

This spring, Maimsten and the Pop staff proudly announced the arrival of a new baby: a fashion magazine titled, modestly, Bibel (“bible”). “Once again, we have created a magazine that hasn’t existed in Sweden before,” the editor’s letter states. Like Britain’s Wallpaper, Bibel is intended as a contemporary lifestyle monthly without the horoscopes and diet-related articles found in its older peers. In Bibel, pop artists discuss streetwear brands and vintage clothing; a report on hair fashion means a visit to an Afro salon, checking out the latest hiphop styles. Bibel’s articles on food adapt Wallpapers clinical approach: The featured vegetables and utensils could almost be mistaken for surgical tools, stripped of every juicy, erotic illusion typical of traditional food photography.

Bibel’s similarities to Pop are, of course, apparent and essential. But the design, so clear and consistent in Pop, gets messy and indistinct here. Too many short articles and pictures are squeezed onto the pages, different type styles are used without good reason, and the diffuse sections make the overall impression . . . confusing. But these are beginners’ faults, Maimsten says. “We’re on the experimental stage with this one. Since we couldn’t make a test issue, Bibel will have to grow up in public.”

MIDI Makeouts!

The architecture of the lookinmidi can be divided into three elements – the MIDI interpreter, the pitch generator, and the effects processor. The MIDI interpreter, the real brains of the device, receives the MIDI serial data stream and parses it into real MIDI commands and data. Once received, it interprets them and supplies control data to the pitch generator and effects processor engines. Such information includes sample numbers, pitch tuning, and vibrato depth.

For the effects processor, the generated parameters include channel volume, pan left and right, reverb, and chorus depth. By coordinating the initialization of all these parameters, the MIDI interpreter engine supplies an overall control mechanism for the sound synthesis.

The pitch-generator engine reads the raw data samples from the sample ROM at a rate determined by the requested MIDI note number, taking into account the tuning, vibrato, and pitch-bend effects. After the samples are read, they are fed to a sample-rate converter that interpolates the original sample rates to a constant 44.1 kHz. This synchronizes all the samples for the effects-processing engine. The interpolated samples are stored in a buffer that provides communications between the pitch generator and the effects processor.

The effects processor takes the raw interpolated samples from the pitch generator and adds effects such as volume, pan, chorus, and reverb. At the same time, the processor enhances the overall quality of the reproduction using envelope generation and filtering.

Designed completely with digital logic, the 9236 is a full General MIDI wavetable music synthesizer. The MIDI interpreter, synthesis engine, effects processing, and RAM and ROM are all integrated into the same package. The part receives a standard serial MIDI data stream at 31.25 kbits/s and outputs a stereo 16-bit digital-audio stream at a 44.1-ksample/s sampling rate. The digital-audio output is directly compatible with Crystal’s CS4237B/38B multimedia codecs, as well as the company’s CS4333 digital-to-analog converter (DAC). The 9236 operates from a single 3.3-V supply, although the inputs are 5-V tolerant. As a result, the IC can be connected directly to parts that are powered by 3.3- or 5-V supplies.

When the 9236 is deployed with the 4237/38, it supplies a complete ISA plug-and-play-compatible sound system. In this scenario, the 9236’s digital output goes directly to the codec in a digital format, thereby eliminating the need for a separate DAC. Another benefit of this configuration is that a separate quartz crystal circuit is not required because the codec’s 16.9344-MHz clock output drives the 9236’s clock input.

MIDI messages are sent from the host PC to the 9236 over the ISA bus. The 4237/38 offers an MPU-401 UART-mode-compatible ISA MIDI interface. As a result, the MIDI data is sent over the ISA bus to the 9236 in a serial format. The synthesizer interprets that data and generates the associated musical sounds, which are outputed serially.

Applications that require an analog output could make use of the 4333 DAC to convert the signals. In this configuration, the 9236’s digital-audio outputs are sent to the 4333, which converts the data streams into left and right analog audio inputs.

In addition to receiving the clock from an external master clock source, the timing signals can be generated using the on-chip oscillator circuit with an external crystal. Using the master clock, the incoming signal is connected to the 9236’s 5-V master-clock input pin, and the 3-V crystal input is grounded. When the on-chip oscillator helps generate the timing, the quartz crystal is connected between the 9236’s 3-V crystal input and the crystal output pin, and the MCLK5I pin is grounded.

The 9236 supplies a fully static power-down mode, which is initiated either by asserting the Power Down signal, or by gating off the 5-V master-clock input. In the power-down mode, clock signals to nearly all internal circuits are gated off. Because of its static nature, all internal states and register values are retained as long as power is applied to the device and the Reset signal remains inactive. The power-down mode is terminated by de-asserting the Power Down signal, or by gating back on the 5-V master-clock input.

The 9236 can operate in a Multimode format. In other words, the MIDI controller contains 16 receiver channels, one for each of the MIDI channels. Each channel receiver gets MIDI messages on its dedicated MIDI channel.