The Seven Deadly Sins of Email

Boring round robins, smug out-of-office replies and those pesky company newsletters – all sorts of exasperating emails make us sigh when they pop up in our inbox.

And according to psychologists, bad email etiquette is more than just a workplace irritation. They say it can damage our mental health – as well as our colleagues’.

A team from Kingston Business School analysed 28 email accounts to see which messages raised workers’ stress levels. They identified seven habits, or “deadly email sins”, that tend to cause negative or harmful feelings.

Getting back to someone within seconds or replying to an email out of office hours made recipients feel that they were not as dedicated to their job as the sender still firing off work emails late at night.

And when two people rapidly respond to each other’s messages it creates a “ping pong” effect, where they both feel pressured to reply and end up not giving emails enough consideration.

Sending out automated responses, replying to emails when in company or ignoring them altogether were all practices that were seen as infuriatingly rude, and people who sent out “read receipts” with every trivial message angered their colleagues by being too demanding.

Lead researcher Dr Emma Russell said: “This research shows that even though we think are using adaptive and functional strategies for dealing with our email at work, many of these really can be detrimental to the people that we work with.”

Source: Daily Mail

KEY HIGHLIGHTS from the Nielsen Report on Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages, September 2013 reveal:-
















As marketers spend billions of dollars a year on advertising, effectiveness cannot be measured by impressions alone. Resonance


is the holy grail of a successful campaign. In a market saturated with clutter, marketers need to reach audiences with advertising messages


using the formats that make the most impact, and new findings from Nielsen reveal that trust in online advertising is increasing. While


earned advertising in the form of word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family continued to be the most influential source among


84 percent of global respondents to a Nielsen online survey, owned advertising on branded websites was the second most trusted format in


2013, a rise from fourth-place ranking in 2007. 

The Nielsen Global Survey of Trust in Advertising polled more than 29,000 Internet respondents in 58 countries to measure consumer


sentiment on 19 forms of paid, earned and owned advertising formats. Word-of-mouth recommendations increased 6 percentage points


from 78 percent in 2007, and owned advertising on branded websites increased 9 percentage points to 69 percent in 2013. Sixty-eight percent


of survey respondents indicated that they trust consumer opinions posted online, which ranked third in 2013, up 7 percentage points from



“Brand marketers should be especially encouraged to find owned advertising among the most trusted marketing formats,” said Randall


Beard, global head, Advertiser Solutions at Nielsen. “This form of advertising is trusted by nearly 70 percent of consumers globally, which


emphasizes the notion that marketers maintain the ability to control the messages about their brands in a way that consumers consider


credible. This perceived credibility is a key component in advertising effectiveness.”




Ads on television, in newspapers and in magazines continue to be among the most trusted forms of paid advertising. Trust in


television ads increased from 56 percent in 2007 to 62 percent in 2013. Six-in-10 respondents trusted ads in magazines, a rise


of 4 percentage points from 2007. Newspaper ads were the only format to decline—61 percent of respondents found newspaper


ads credible, down from 63 percent in 2007. Although global ad spend grew only a marginal 1.9 percent in the first quarter of 2013,


traditional paid media continues to own the majority share of spend, with TV in the top spot owning 59 percent, according to


Nielsen’s most recent Global AdView Pulse Report.

Ads on radio (57%) and before movies (56%) both gained consumer trust as well, reporting increases of 3 and 18 percentage


points, respectively, since 2007. Brand sponsorships (61%) increased 12 percentage points from 2007. Trust in billboards and


outdoor advertising (57%), TV program product placements (55%) and editorial content such as newspaper articles (67%), an earned


form of traditional advertising, were not included in Nielsen’s 2007 survey.


“While TV remains the front-running format for the delivery of marketing messages based on ad spend, consumers globally are


also looking to online media to get information about brands,” noted Beard. “On the flipside, earned advertising channels have


empowered consumers to advocate for their favorite brands, something that shouldn’t go unnoticed by brand advertisers.”





While recommendations from friends and family, as well as consumer opinions posted online, remain among the most trusted forms of


messaging, online and mobile advertising formats reported some of the biggest increases in trust since Nielsen’s 2007 survey.


In addition to an increase in trust in messages on branded websites, more than half (56%) of respondents said they trust consumerconsented email

messages, an increase of 7 percentage points since 2007. For other online advertising, almost half (48%) trusted ads in search engine results,

online video ads and ads on social networks.


More than four in 10 (42%) trusted online banner ads, up from 26 percent in 2007—a form that is steadily seeing increased ad dollars


spent, with 26 percent growth in the first quarter of 2013. Forty-five percent of respondents in Nielsen’s 2013 survey believed display ads on


mobile phones were credible, and 37 percent trusted text ads on mobile phones, up from 18 percent in 2007.


“Increases in the trust of online and mobile advertising demonstrate the growing importance of these formats,” said Beard. “With Internet


ad spending reporting double-digit growth, advertisers are exhibiting growing confidence in these formats—or at least a willingness to make


the investment. While companies may be unable to directly control the messages in earned media, such as consumer opinions posted online,


they have the ability to create a positive presence for their brands on these channels.”




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HARDLY a month went by last year without construction starting on yet another new mall or a newly completed one opening its doors.

In fact, at least 25 new shopping centres, each one exceeding 30,000m² in size, are expected to be added to the market between 2013 and 2016, according to figures from the South African Council of Shopping Centres.

That will bring South Africa’s tally of large, regional and super-regional malls to an estimated 180 — more than double the number five years ago.

The largest mall opening of 2013 took place last week: Sasol Pension Fund, Retail Africa and Pivotal Property Fund’s 76,000m² Cradlestone Mall, just off the N14 Krugersdorp highway on the West Rand.

Other mega-malls expected to open in the next two to three years include JSE-listed Attacq’s massive 120,000m² Mall of Africa at Waterfall City near Midrand, Billion group’s Bay West (87,500m²) in Port Elizabeth and Forest Hill (68,000m²) in Pretoria, and Flanagan & Gerard and Intaprop’s Atlantic Mall (78,000m²) in Cape Town.

The continued addition of new, multimillion-rand shopping centres raises the question of the extent to which (if any) South Africa is overshopped.

In a recent report, Macquarie’s property and retail research team said: “South Africa seems overshopped in some areas and regions and on certain indicators, such as mall space per capita. Yet overall, on indicators such as vacancies, trading density growth, occupancy cost ratios and bad debts, it seems that the South African retail property sector is still in decent shape.”

However, Macquarie property analyst Leon Allison said given consumers’ weak financial position and a sluggish economic growth outlook, there was little doubt that investment returns on new centres would decline unless the pace of retail development slowed down.

Mr Allison said that a clear indication that new opportunities for growth in the local retail market were becoming scarcer, was an increasing trend among developers, retailers and listed property funds to grow their portfolios beyond South Africa’s borders. For instance, Growthpoint has expanded to Australia, Redefine to the UK, Germany, Switzerland and Australia and Resilient to eastern Europe and Nigeria, while Hyprop is building malls in Ghana and Zambia in a joint venture with Atterbury. The entry of more international retailers to South Africa could, however, help mop up the growing supply of retail space.

The head of listed property funds at Stanlib, Keillen Ndlovu, said the recent arrival of global fashion brands such as Zara, Cotton On, Gap, Burberry, Mango, Forever New, Steve Madden, Topshop, fast food outlet Burger King, had buoyed demand for retail space, especially in regional and super-regional malls.

He says foreign tenants may well continue to be a driver of new retail development as many of the dominant centres have limited or no space available to accommodate new entrants to the market.


Despite its nebulous name, the Cloud is solidifying in South Africa with adoption of Cloud services accelerating among businesses of all sizes.


That’s according to Debbie Pretorius, GM of MWEB Business, who says that like their counterparts in other countries, South African business executives, employees and entrepreneurs are starting to demand that the Cloud-based functionality and mobility to which they have become accustomed in their personal lives, be replicated in the work environment.

CDW’s 2013 State of the Cloud Report which is based on the results of a survey conducted among 1 242 IT professionals in the United States, revealed that over 40 percent of small and medium businesses questioned in 2012 were implementing or maintaining cloud computing, up from around 20 percent in 2011. For large businesses, the percentage that were implementing or maintaining cloud computing rose from 37 percent in 2011 to 44 percent in 2012.

“However, there’s an additional factor in South Africa that is hastening the business sector’s move to Cloud – the cost and unreliability of our power supply,” Pretorius says. “The imminent implementation of tolls in Gauteng is also likely to have an effect as business people and their employees seek to reduce their travelling costs.”

Pretorius points out that many businesses have invested in generators to keep their operations ticking over during power outages. However, the rising cost of fuel is pushing extended generator use beyond the reach of many organisations.

“For businesses without generators, all work simply comes to a halt during power outages. Employees may be able to continue working for a while on their notebook and tablet computers, but with their servers out of action, they cannot access emails or any shared corporate data. Even their telephones may no longer function as they should,” she says.

Another factor of concern is the rising cost of electricity. Eskom’s tariffs, which trebled between 2007 and 2012, are set to rise by at least eight percent per year for the next five years for household consumers. The increase for businesses may be even higher in many areas.

Operating corporate servers consumes a considerable amount of electricity, especially when the cost of maintaining the server room at the correct temperature is also taken into consideration.

And then there are e-tolls which are expected to add up to R250 per month to every users’ travelling costs. Telecommuting and the use of video conferencing provides an attractive alternative.

“These factors, along with employees’ use of personal cloud applications and mobile devices, are contributing in no small measure to the adoption by businesses of Cloud technology.

“Apart from the cost savings associated with Cloud in terms of lower infrastructure and operating costs, what they like is having all data files available anywhere, all the time,” Pretorius concludes.


About MWEB Business


Founded in January 1998 as the business division of MWEB, MWEB Business provides comprehensive solutions in the areas of Internet access, cloud services, network support and voice services, to businesses of all sizes.

We are dedicated to helping our business clients leverage the power of the Internet by providing a comprehensive solution for all their Internet needs along with the expertise and skills to successfully implement this in their ventures.

MWEB Business provides Internet services to over 11 000 business clients.

Undertaking an extensive expansion programme while minimising the impact on an estimated 24 million visitors per annum is no small feat. In a R140 million upgrade to its Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre, the V&A Waterfront has managed to not only improve its retail trade performance over the nine month construction period, but also increase the number of visitors to the Centre over the same period.



Unveiled on 28 November, the completed expansion includes the reconfiguring of a section of the lower ground level for a new 6500m2 premium Pick n Pay, a pedestrian and vehicular tunnel under a major access road to create a super basement, and an innovative steel structure to hang from the roof trusses to create a link between two existing malls and double volume shop fronts.


Faced with growing demand for retail space and a long waiting list of local and international retailers, the Waterfront needed to innovatively accommodate the demand without increasing its actual footprint, all the while maintaining and limiting disruption to day-to-day trade. The solution was to densify within the current building envelope.


David Green, CEO of the V&A Waterfront said: “Our overall retail strategy has seen a great deal of attention given to refreshing the retail experience, and maximising on the interest expressed by new local and international retailers looking for space in Victoria Wharf.” He adds that this strategy is in place to ensure retail growth while enhancing the consumer experience: ‘’Development work in this case was necessary to increase the gross lettable area (GLA) and improve visitor access and overall convenience.’’ 


Retail sales performance from July to September is up by 19.5% over the same period last year, and visitor numbers to Victoria Wharf grew by 15.2%.


The GLA has increased by  7800m2 across the new Pick n Pay and the ‘’Cross Mall’’ link. Pick n Pay’s trading area has increased by 45% to 4,300m2, while the 1300m2 retail space created by the Cross Mall development will see the introduction of Witchery and Mimco by Woolworths, and Tom Tailor and Lucky Brand for Edgars as shop-in-shops. Suspended in ‘airspace’ above the existing delivery area, the ‘’Cross Mall’’ link introduces the double height shop front concept to the Victoria Wharf while retaining the design aesthetics of the existing centre. For the first time in its 20 year history, Victoria Wharf will trade on four levels.


The 2,950m2 space vacated by Pick n Pay will be reconfigured for South African brand Mr Price and international success story, Australian brand Cotton On.  Both are expected to open in the second quarter of 2014, bringing an element of mass appeal and affordability.


The results from a recent economic impact study indicated that the V&A Waterfront has contributed approximately R198-billion to the national economy over the last ten years and new developments, which include the Victoria Wharf extension, could contribute a cumulative R188bn to nominal GDP by 2023.


‘’If the retail trade performance of 2013 is a yardstick, all indications are that this extensive development will bear fruit in the form of bumper festive season trade and continued growth into 2014,’’ concluded Green.

Steel and building-material giant Alert Steel Holdings Ltd has announced the opening of re-vamped stores that it obtained as part of its acquisition of BuildKwik Wholesalers earlier this year.


The newly branded Alert Steel & Build Megastore branches are in Silver Lakes, Mabopane, Hammanskraal and Pretoria West.

The launch of the upgraded and re-branded stores forms part of Alert Steel’s strategy to be a one-stop shop for both consumer and commercial buyers. BuildKwik’s range adds hardware and building materials to Alert Steel’s existing products.

The new stores have a comprehensive offering and stock both day-to-day consumables and large-scale items. The megastores specialize in timber, plumbing, steel, hardware, paint, security products, home décor and building materials.


Business acquisition

Alert Steel Holdings bought the building material retailer and wholesaler BuildKwik for R58.1 million in August this year from local entrepreneur Mr Javed Gani.

“The acquisition of BuildKwik will significantly increase Alert Steel’s turnover as well as provide a greater national footprint in the market,” said CEO Peter Dodson.

In addition to increasing the company’s footprint, the BuildKwik purchase will provide a management and supply chain benefit that will enhance the profitability of the group, particularly through an increase in turnover.

This acquisition and other business restructuring plans arose from a buy-out of Alert Steel’s debt earlier this year in an attempt to save the company which, at the time, was experiencing financial difficulty.

Dodson and his team are in the process of implementing a number of new strategies to turn the business around and initiatives such as these megastore developments offer exciting growth opportunities.


Company history

Alert Steel started over 30 years ago as a small business that sold steel products to the retail and construction industry. It has grown significantly since then and was listed on the JSE Limited AltX in 2007.

Across its retail and services range, Alert Steel offers solutions for both end users and contractors and provides in-house technical advice and training. It stocks the latest range of castings, fasteners, precision and engineering tools and has one of the largest ranges of welding products and plasma cutters in South Africa.




For more information


Kendel Falkson

Blank Page Communications

082 905 2656

Three ways to win over reluctant shoppers


The November Consumer Confidence Index made headlines as the numbers slumped to the lowest point within the last six months. On the surface, this could cause concern for retailers this holiday season. However, when you’re in a store, how often do you actually think about an economic indicator when you’re deciding how much to spend?

Instead, shoppers are focused on the customer experience – determining how well they trust the brand and more importantly, the sales associate assisting them to find what they need. Hesitant shoppers present a huge opportunity for retailers to win them over, now that the price-matching has leveled the playing field.

Here are the three ways retailers can increase holiday sales and keep customers coming back in 2014.

Personalization – at every stage of the buying cycle. 
It’s not a one-size-fits-all world when it comes to anything these days, especially customer service. In a world where you can personalize your cell phone, customize your shoes and even your barista calls you by name, the demand for personalization is higher than ever before. Shoppers want to feel like they are a retailer’s only customer, and that begins before they ever step into a store. According to a recent survey of 1,000 consumers, 92% revealed that a more personalized, improved experience is the thing they want most from retailers, trumping lower prices.

Giving customers the personalization they are looking for goes far beyond an email with the customer’s name in the subject line. Retailers have a wealth of customer data at their fingertips to create more targeted, meaningful campaigns and promotions. Imagine if you could know exactly what a consumer wanted before they stepped into a store? It’s possible today.

A retailer’s most untapped resource: The employees. 
Combine a deeper understanding of buyers’ needs with knowledgeable employees and you’ve created a formidable force. Major retailers surveyed at the Future Stores Conference in July 2013 found that consumers will spend 25-50% more when assisted by an informed, helpful store associate.

When a customer trusts a store associate, they trust the brand. The most successful retailers today are investing in training and equipping store associates with tools they need to more efficiently work with shoppers. Store employee structures are also evolving, especially during the holiday season. Temporary staffers rarely have the depth of experience or product knowledge that consumers crave. As a result, product experts are becoming the front lines for assisting shoppers while temporary hires support them. This creates a more streamlined process for both the staff and the consumer.

Create the most convenient experience possible. 
Few people enjoy holiday shopping – fighting over parking spots and dealing with crowds isn’t for the faint of heart. However, what consumers really want isn’t complicated: answers to their questions and the ability to quickly find the products they need. The more retailers know about customers before they walk in the door — the greater chance retailers have of providing a valuable, personalized and satisfied buying experience. Retailers that reinvent what it means to go shopping during the busiest time of year will beat out the competition and set the stage for success in 2014.

In the long run, price-matching and flashy sales won’t earn you long-term customers. It’s about efficient, personalized service. In order to cash in this holiday season, retailers have to take the focus off of price and volume, and focus on customer. For many consumers, holiday shopping forces them to purchase from retailers they typically wouldn’t – that’s the biggest opportunity. If retailers can give first-time, rushed holiday shoppers a unique experience, they can turn a one-time purchase into a lifetime customer.

Gary Ambrosino is president of TimeTrade. He can be reached at


What exactly is the Credit Record Amnesty??



The media has recently reported extensively about the so-called ‘credit amnesty’, with the common thread suggesting that ‘adverse information’ is about to be expunged from people’s credit records. 


This has created confusion even among legal professionals over whether this then includes all ‘adverse information’ on a credit record. If this were the case, the ‘amnesty’ would not distinguish between the different categories of consumer credit information provided for by the National Credit Act 34 of 2005.


The fact is the ‘amnesty’ only affects 3 of the 12 categories of consumer credit information: 


Section 13 of The National Credit Amendment Bill provides for the “automatic removal of adverse consumer credit information” in a proposed amendment to section 71 of the National Credit Act 34 of 2005. This amendment is to be included in the Act through insertion of Section 71A to the National Credit Act. The amendment proposes the removal of the following consumer credit information: 

An adverse classification of consumer behaviour;

An adverse classification of enforcement action against a consumer;

Payment profile information, that is, the information listed in the consumer credit profile. 

Regulation 17 of the National Credit Act defines each of the above categories of consumer credit information by providing a “description” of each category.

An adverse classification of consumer behaviour is described as “subjective classifications of consumer behaviour”;

An adverse classification of enforcement action against a consumer relates to “enforcement action by the credit provider”;

Payment profile is “factual information pertaining to the payment of the consumer.”

Conditions to be met for the “automatic removal of adverse consumer credit information”.

The debt must be paid up;

The credit provider must submit details of settlement to the credit bureaux within 7 days of settlement;

The credit bureaux must remove the information within 7 days after receipt of the credit provider’s notification;

Where a credit provider does not notify the credit bureaux of settlement within 7 days, the consumer can file a complaint against the credit provider with the National Credit Regulator.

Thus, the other 9 categories remain unaffected. These are Disupte Information; Enquiries; Debt Restructuring; Civil Court Judgments; Administration Orders; Sequestrations; Rehabilitation Orders; Other Information. These will remainon one’s credit record for the mandatory period as provided for in Regulation 17 of the National Credit Act.


Why QR Code Campaigns Are Failing

With QR code campaigns performing poorly all over the place, marketing experts wringing their hands, clients not so enthused and consumers yawning … more than a few pundits have taken to proclaiming the QR code is dead, dying, or that the fad is over.   

After spending hundreds of hours on this issue-  reviewing campaigns, discussing it with people at every level from board room to stock room (both in this industry and out), working with the technology personally, even re-reading seminal works on marketing and technology, this is what I have found: 

The QR code campaigns are failing for two key reasons:

Consumers don’t scan the QR code because either the incentive isn’t compelling  – and/or –   we have failed to communicate the value of the incentive.  

 It’s not the technology (I’ll offer some arguments about that in a minute),  it is not the lack of penetration of the technology – (250 million smartphones sold in Q3 2013 –  we’ve more than reached saturation.)

 It is not that the codes are ugly – although an attractive code would certainly be more FUN to scan, and fun matters!

 It is first and foremost that the consumer does not see the value in scanning your code – (especially relative to other alternatives!! more about this below) 

The consumer rightly asks,  WIIFM?  (what’s in it for me?). 
The “sufficiency” of the reward for scanning is determined solely by the smartphone holder,  not by the marketing company and not by the business itself. 

There HAS to be some kind of gratification achieved.   Be it emotional, spiritual, financial, psychological.  

At this point in the technology cycle, part of the challenge could be the need to overcome past disappointments with QR codes – maybe after scanning a QR code once, the consumer was sent to a non-mobile friendly web page (yuccch!),  or there was a whole bunch of keystrokes he was asked to do, or the font was too small to read on the smart phone (especially for the over 55 crowd like me – who make up a large chunk of the populace.) 

There may be a Dopamine problem  –  Very possibly it has to be a reward that is bigger than normal.    We’ve all seen how connected some consumers are to their phones.   Go to a trade show, or a park, and there are people walking around in circles with the phone to their ear.  We’ve seen how excited and how distracted people become when texting.  It’s like an addiction.    Precisely because the phone is such a source of stimulus  – in order to “break away” from texting, Facebook, YouTube activity we need a bigger carrot – or something that will produce more dopamine –  than the average incentive.  

Why it’s not the time it takes to whip out your phone, open the app and scan it.  

We do take the time to use these apps, (and many others) – and these take longer to use than a QR code reader.   

Foursquare – 4.5 billion “check-ins” by tens of millions of people (source: .  The Foursquare app is not quick, it is not simple, it can and does get hung up – yet, I will spend two or three even four minutes checking in because I like getting points, badges, letting my friends know where I am or what I am doing.   I am getting a psychological reward.  

Starbucks – this is a combination loyalty app and mobile wallet.   Users get rewards – GREAT rewards – and we plan how we are going to use the free drink we get with every 15 purchases.  We order the biggest latte, or refreshing drink – the one we don;t want to spend money on.  Starbucks even lets us get a sandwich with our reward.  That is huge.   we pull out our phones, open the app, click on Pay now, hold the bar code under the scanner, etc.  this is the SAME amount of work as scanning a QR code and we are well rewarded for doing this.  Millions of us do it every day.  So it is NOT too much trouble, IF we are getting something we perceive as valuable.

What will consumers do for the right incentives? 

Consumers will jump through flaming hoops, suffer humiliation, mosquito infested forests and eat a variety of live bugs on a reality TV show,  if properly motivated to do so.

Airline miles – arguably the number one loyalty program in the world.  It does not require time on a smartphone, but it DOES require time spent planning, coordinating, checking umpteen flight schedules, and juggling a host of other factors including airline gimmicks,  just to get a reward.   But we do it!  We invest dozens of hours coordinating trips around incentives,  getting miles and we carefully select the credit card we will put those miles on.   We spend a ton of time thinking about this and working the system to get the best rewards for us.

WHEN we are sufficiently motivated, we WILL put energy into scanning these little codes.

What marketers have to do is offer something very COMPELLING to the user to scan a code. Of course, with the QR code such tests are cheap and easy to set up and run. 
We know for sure is that consumers want to do stuff.  they want to buy stuff, they want to be entertained.  They want to earn badges and get points and have fun.  

What is clearly not compelling – A campaign to ask consumers to “Like” your Facebook page by scanning a QR code offers nothing in return for their time and effort.  Offering users the ability to see a video on your products.  (yawn)  Absolutely nothing compelling here.  (my kids  – ages 13 to 25 ) would never get off a text session with a friend in order to watch a boring product video – unless it was on YouTube with more than 100 million views. 

By Craig Alberle

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