First it was record companies suing Napster and peer-to-peer file sharers, and then it was media companies such as Viacom, Universal Music Group, and Agence France Presse suiting Google, YouTube, and Facebook for distributing content whose rights they owned. Now GateHouse Media has filed suit against another newspaper firm, the New York Times Co., for publishing content from its websites and papers on

That media companies are suing each other is a sure sign of the maturation of online distribution and that money is starting to flow—albeit slowly and at levels far below that of traditional media, which still account for more than two-thirds of all consumer and advertiser expenditures

But the lawsuits really point out the weakness of revenue distribution for use of intellectual property online. In publishing, well-developed systems for trading rights and collecting payments exist. In radio, systems for tracking songs played and ensuring artists, composers, arrangers, and music publishers are compensated are in place and working well. The trading of rights for television broadcasts and mechanisms for payments to owners of the IPRs are well established.

However, effective systems are absent in online distribution and the industry needs to move rapidly to establish them. If the industry can not create such a system on their own, more money will go to lawyers and the rules and systems for online payments will ultimately be imposed by courts or legislators who tire of the governmental costs for solving disputes and enforcing the rights.

Organizations representing print and audio-visual media need to sit down with their major counterparts in online distribution to create a reasonable mechanism by which rights are traded and revenues shared, otherwise they risk imposition of a government imposed compulsory license scheme that will be less desirable to the industry.

Companies that continually argue there should be less government regulation of media operations can’t increasingly go to government to solve their disputes without expecting it to produce more regulation.

Are You Ready To Start An Importing Business?

Here are a few key questions to consider when thinking about
starting an importing business to help you learn if you are ready

1. How well are the products selling that you are considering

2. Do you have a market already established for those

3. If you do not have a market, i.e., buyers, how are you
going to get those buyers to first learn about your products,
then buy those products?

4. Do you have the expertise to deal with the foreign
languages of the countries you are thinking about importing

5. How will you pay or finance for those products?

6. Are your trusting enough (or naive enough) to send your
funds to a company you found on the Internet simply because
they have a nice looking web site and best of all, the lowest
prices you have found yet?

7. Have you ever heard of the term "due diligence" and do
you know how to perform it on potential suppliers?

8. Have you ever sold anything? Products or services via
any method of marketing?

The above list are just a few of the questions you must
answer to yourself when considering the start of just about
any business, but especially one that requires you send
your hard earned funds to someone in another country.

Consider this post a reality check. If some of the things
in this post upset you, good. I would rather give you a
reality check before it costs you any serious money.

Most people have more dream than they have experience or
willpower. They want the fast track to guaranteed success
and do not want to face the realities of business that
do not match their dreams.

If you have ever considered starting an import business,
you better have solid answers to the above questions.

The primary one - who are you going to sell to? Second,
do you have "any" business experience??

When someone calls me on the phone asking about starting
their own importing business, the first questions I ask
are those listed above.

Most answer that they do not have any business experience
or if they do, it does not involve the actual sale of the
products they are thinking about importing.

The recommendation I give them in such instances is as

If you do not have any experience and/or you do but
you do not have an established market - then start selling
stuff on eBay.

By stuff I mean the excess things you have personally
accumulated, that same stuff owned by your relatives and

Selling "stuff" like this teaches you the "how to" of
the largest marketplace in the world - eBay.

It also gives you an opportunity to experience the "thrills"
of doing business, such as

Experiencing a sale or no sale

Researching how to price your products (based on previous
sales of the same or similar products)

Setting up a no cost merchant account with eBay's paypal
service and joyously paying fees to both paypal and eBay.

Dealing with shipping and handling.

Dealing with customers, communications - customer service
if they are not happy with the "stuff" because you did not
write a thorough description or provide a photo that did
not detail every nook and cranny of the stuff.

Dealing with non-paying customers.

Not trying to scare you away from your dreams but simply
giving you a path to learn from that does not cost you
a lot of out of pocket funds.

Now for some resources that my experience and research
over the past 7-8 years has discovered to be the BEST
I personally have found -

If after reading the above you realize that you are
"not ready for prime time" in starting your own importing
business, then this first resource is a place you should
visit and take advantage of "every FREE resource" they
offer to help you decide if their paid service would
help you launch your business.

This first link will take you to a search engine like
facility within their service where you can search for
suppliers of various items to see how many they have in
their database system:

-- just enter the name of the product(s) in the search
engine space, submit and wait for the results - the
search results will bring up various listings, one
will say "Import Buys" that is the one to focus on -
see the number out to the right that is underlined,
that is the number of suppliers they have for the item
you searched for - click on that number to expand and
see further details.

If you see that their service would be beneficial to you,
then get it - if you are not finding enough suppliers to
make it worthwhile then two things - 1) do not get their
paid service or 2) realize that maybe there is a reason
for not finding the product(s) and change the name or
learn from this that maybe you cannot sell that product
because it has minimum requirements that you would not
be able to handle or there are exclusive distribution
rights that simply exclude others from selling it.

A bit of advice on products you are thinking about selling -
don't get so fixated on one or two products that you
spend all your time seeking to find a supplier for it.

Understand that MOST of the BIG BRAND NAME products
have "EXCLUSIVE" distribution agreements and you are
NOT going to the attention of a manufacturer since you
are just getting started. Once you have a market
base established, then you 'may' be able to get them
to answer your phone calls, but you better have a
huge market base.

Now once you have that market base established and you
feel financially successful enough to purchase a much
larger (maybe container load) of a product, then it is
time to beging considering Importing it yourself.

This is when you are ready for our Importing course
and should get it so you understand all the aspects
of importing before you even make your first foreign
inquiry. Here is a link to our course:
How To Start An Importing Business Course

Last, but certainly not least, getting back to selling
on eBay - I am going to give you the link to our web
page where you may download, for free, an ebook that
I purchased a few years ago and found to be extremely
helpful when I made my first foray onto eBay to sell
some of the "too much" stuff I had accumulated over
my lifetime. Go visit and download at:
Free Ebay Selling Auction Book

Now the most IMPORTANT thing that selling on eBay
provides you is learning how to take ACTION! Beyond
dreaming about starting a business, by actually selling
(or attempting to sell) your first "stuff" on eBay,
it causes you to take that ALL IMPORTANT FIRST STEP -

This brings me to close this post with something I
read recently that Walt Disney once said - it applies
to you feeling overwhelmed with all of the strategies
you want to try - some people (maybe you) get so
completely overwhelmed that they put off getting
started for far too long.

Walt Disney put it simply like this:

"The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing."
Walter Disney

Hope this post will help you decide to "BEGIN DOING".

Ron Coble
International Trade Marketing Services

More Recession Busting Money Saving Ideas

I recently posted some additional recession busting ideas into another forum and thought I would pass them along to the readers who visit here. Rather than for business, these are for general money saving or living and spending more smartly.

One of the ideas they had posted was about borrowing a DVD from a friend or relative. I have one that I think is even better -- go to your library and see their DVD selection. Most libraries, even the smaller ones in our area have a large selection of many of the latest TV series and movies and they allow you to take them for up to 3 weeks which allows you and your family or friends time to watch them as well.

Another idea on the other forum talked about how to buy "name-brands at a discount" and I stated that I was kind of amused by the "offer name-brands at a discount" advice and then later in the 18 suggestions it is suggested to stop trying to keep up with the Jones? I say, who needs "brand name". In my 50 something years on this planet, I have "never" searched out a brand name piece of clothing and quite frankly I could care less what the Jones, Clarks, Williams or anyone else thinks about whether my clothing has a logo on it.

Their number 5 suggestion was about buying with cash. This is a good suggestion but when the savings rate in the USA is a negative 1% this is probably not a feasible suggestion, right now. But, it is one that will probably be a growing trend and then my suggestion would be, if you do pay with cash, ask for a discount. Many people do not realize that vendors pay 3-5% for the privilege of accepting credit cards so by you paying cash and they have to wait a few days until the money is deposited into their accounts by the card company.

By offering them cash, they get paid immediately and saving 3-5% so why not share some of those savings with you - all you need to do is ask.

Just recently, both my father and I needed new furnaces. I had to make all the arrangements and upon learning that my father needed his replaced, I asked the salesman if he would provide my father and I with any type of discount since he was making a second sale to the same family and a rather easy one at that. He immediately offered $100 off the total for each of us. All you have to do is ask.

Their numbers 11 and 12 ideas referred to keeping up wtih the Jones again which reminded me of something I heard or read about 30 years ago. I am probably butchering this but it went something like this "stop spending money on things you can not afford to impress people who deep down you really do not like and in most instances who probably do not like you". If you have to "impress" the people you think are your friends, then they really are not much of a friend.

Their number 18 talked about going to discount stores and I stated that maybe I had missed it somewhere in the other 17 but I did not see shopping at consignment shops or salvation army stores or garage/yard sales. My wife and daughter have found many items of clothing for each of us that are clean, sometimes still have the original store tag on them. These stores most often support good causes and provide incredible bargains. In fact I am wearing a flannel shirt right now that cost all of $3 that still had the store tag on it and would have cost $12-15 in Walmart or some other discount store. I have worn it many times in the past year and have yet to have anyone ask me why I am wearing something from a consignment shop to which I would probably answer because of the $10 I have in my wallet.

One last suggestion that is a two parter. Go check out eBay. There are many buy it now bargains or even auction bargains you can find there on all kinds of things, including clothing. If you do not want to sit around the computer constantly bidding, you can put in what the highest price is you will pay for something and let their system put you in the bidding queue, then go about your business.

The second part of this suggestion also involves eBay. Start looking around at what you have accumulated and what you no longer wear or use. Sign up for ebay (its free) and begin selling the stuff off. Not only will you free up some space in your home or apartment but you will also be building up some cash for your safety net or other purpose.

Maybe I am like this because I was raised by two parents who lived through the Great Depression of the 1930's and had instilled in me to not waste money, to save money, pay cash if you can and don't go into great debt and most of all you don't need to give a damn about what someone else thinks about you. If they don't like what you wear or how you look, well then they are the ones who have a problem.

Hope these ideas will help you.

Ron Coble

Recession Busting Ideas For Your Business

Many people are justifiably concerned about the state of the world's economies. I decided to post some ideas on how to save on necessary expenditures within your business (or personal lives) that I have utilized (and continue to do so).

I have always operated my small business with the mindset of "is this expenditure justified"?

I do not believe that "one size fits all" and that conducting your business or personal life in an exact manner as someone else does theirs will result in the same of similar conclusions. However, by trying to maintain a frugal approach to doing business, we have never gone into debt for the business and this has helped the business through various low periods, including the one we are currently experiencing.

Here is a short list of things I routinely do (or have done) in my business that have helped conserve revenue include:

1. Shopping for office supplies at dollar stores.

2. Reviewing the sales flyers from office supply stores for sales on items that may not be available at dollar stores - I found an incredible deal on an new laser printer last winter after Christmas that was less expensive than buying a new toner cartridge for the old printer.

3. Consolidating trips - try to schedule as many of your local trips to the bank, office supply store (dollar store) or other business related travels into one or two days a week.

4. Get rid of your dedicated fax line (if you can) - I saved about $4-500 a year by getting rid of the dedicated land line for receiving fax messages - I found a service that provides a "dedicated" 10-digit fax phone number for our business (without extensions) that costs only $34 the first year and $24 each "year" thereafter.

When someone sends a fax to our number, it is translated into a PDF document and emailed directly to our email inbox. I can then open it, read it and print it out (if necessary) - most of the time it does not require printing so it is simply stored on the PC hard drive.

This also has saved us on paper costs since we used to receive daily spam fax messages which were a total waste of paper (and time).

5. Using credit cards that provide a rebate on all purchases.

6. Taking advantage of online shopping for business services or products - I saved $70 this past Winter when shopping for tax prep software - I found an Amazon vendor who had it for half the price, then Amazon had a special deal on opening a credit card with them which gave us $30 against our first purchase and we ended up getting the $75 software for $5 and it included free shipping.

7. This one is something we actually did about 5 years ago - our business was based primarily on direct mail from 1988 through 1998 - we used to spend thousands of dollars a year on paper, printing, envelopes and postage. As our Internet marketing expanded we also saw a steady decrease in the ROI from direct mail.

Approximately 5 years ago, we ceased using any direct mail as email and our web site had tripled our revenue from what direct mail had ever achieved. Electronic marketing is saving a lot of trees. ** One suggestion I would have for a business that is still utilizing direct mail is if they do not mail enough to warrant a bulk mail permit, I would be buying the "forever" stamps to inventory for future mailings and especially prior to the next increase that is sure to come.

8. Diversification - we have always been flexible and constantly searching for products and services that complement what we already offer. Some services that once produced thousands in income a month now produce hundreds, some services that produced thousands are no longer offered, this is simply the ebb and flo of the marketplace. But because we have been constantly researched and discovered new service or product vendors, we have been able to maintain our level of sales and so far this year our revenue is slightly ahead of last.

Remember, Benjamin Franklin's saying, a Penny saved is a Penny earned and whether it is pennies or dollars, this proverb still holds true today in business or personal finance.

Hope this list of suggestions, based on my own experience, will help others weather the current economic storm.

Your comments and or ideas are welcomed.

Ron Coble


The churning flood of economic developments and the desperate measures of governments to lay financial sandbags to control the torrent present not one, but three calamities for media managers. Those that escape one may well be swept away by another.

Most media can survive the collapse of credit markets because media firms have high cash flows are typically require less short term credit than manufacturing and retail firms. Because most can acquire their most important resources without accessing credit lines or issuing commercial paper, banks struggling to keep their heads above water are not a major short-term concern. However, those media firms with large debts due in the short-term that were hoping to refinance face significant hurdles. Some will be rapidly shedding media properties in order to stay afloat.

The more immediate problem for some publicly owned firms is the financial damage caused by the dramatic drop in share prices following the credit market collapse. Because a number of companies use debt financing linked to the value of their shares, the drop in prices makes their debt more risky and thus triggers automatic increases in interest rates and debt payments. This puts even more financial pressure on the firms and is sweeping them along with the flood.

Media firms that escaped the rising financial damage of the first two problems are nonetheless being sucked into the swirling waters of a recession. Because manufacturers are cutting production and laying off workers and because credit is tightening and making it harder for consumers to buy, advertising expenditures are eroding rapidly. Further, consumer spending and confidence are directly related to sales of media products so one can expect declines in sales of media hardware, recordings, books, and other products as well as consumers concentrate their expenditures on paying mortgages and other debt.

At the moment there is no means to effectively project how deep the recession will be, but whatever the depth it will be difficult for media. In the case of advertising, a 1 percent decline in GDP produces about a 3 to 5 percent decline in advertising. So a 3 percent decline could produce a 15 percent decline in income for many media firms. Print media tend to be most affected by recessions and their declines tend to be 3 to 4 times deeper than television because of differences in the types of advertising they carry.

Media companies that are financially strong will weather the financial storm, but those whose managers leveraged their companies to make acquisitions, those whose owners recently purchased the firms primarily using debt financing, and those that have been poorly managed will be struggling to survive. The current financial storm is a classic example for why conservative financial management of a media firm debt is crucial.

Business Introduction By Email - Sample Business Quote

Although I am against wasting your time attempting to make your initial business introduction by email, if you insist on doing so, then try to make that email as professional as possible.

Professional correspondence, whether by mail, fax or email is your key to success or failure in a matter of seconds.

I have posted a very good example of a business introduction email that provides pricing and product information on our web site. I have also critiqued it's positive and negative points to help you take this example and improve upon it.

Hope this helps your business:

Export Business - Do You Need A License?

Approximately 70% of the people who are consindering entry into the Import Export Business have questions and end up either calling or emailing them to us.

One of the MOST COMMON questions is a very BASIC question that CANNOT and IS NOT answered by any one publication or web site.

The question is:


On the surface this seems like a simple question, however, when you question someone as to what exactly they are asking, there are TWO PRIMARY questions that emerge:

Do I need a license (or business license) to operate this business from where I live?

Disclaimer: Nothing in this web site should be construed as Legal advice, any information published here simply illustrates the publisher's knowledge and experience in the subject being discussed. If you are so concerned about this question that you will not feel comfortable without seeking advice from an attorney, then you should do so. Additionally, if you follow the examples of my own business, as described here, and you encounter some sort of legal problem of any sort, understand that the decision to follow my methods are your decisions and the burden of any consequences are yours and yours alone.

Now with that out of the way, this question "generally" means, do I need to Incorporate or file any legal documentation with my state or county government? My answer is stated above, neither I nor any business or governmental organization or web site can tell you what the requirements are for doing business in your little area of the world.

The world is made up of countries that have provinces (or states) each of which have smaller jurisdictions (or feifdoms as I like to call them) such as counties, then within those there are often small town or townships (at least here in the USA).

So can you begin to see why there is NO ONE AUTHORITY on this subject since each little fiefdom has it's own little set of rules and regulations and employees (bureaucrats) whose jobs are dependent upon gathering as much in the way of fees from the unknowing as they possibly can convince to send them those fees.

I have been operating Coble International for 20 1/2 years now. In the county of York Pennsylvania is all I can speak for here - there are no requirements to file a "ficticious name" application with the county if you are using your own "given" name (in my case COBLE) in the name of the business.

I honestly cannot remember back 20 1/2 years ago, but I "think" that I did call the county government office and ask to speak with the party that registers businesses. I explained to them the name of my business, nothing more. If you never served in the military you probably never heard the expression "Never volunteer for anything", well the same goes when you are dealing with bureaucrats, NEVER volunteer information that they do not ask you for or about.

Get the full name, extension, office of the bureaucrat and the date and time you spoke with them and keep it in your records should you ever need it. You probably never will but it does tend to have them give you the right information when you are talking with them.

If they sound like they are not sure, ask to speak with their supervisor. Remember they work for you but they tend to believe it is the other way around.

Our import export business training course, especially the export part, recommends you start out as an agent/broker. Although the course will show you everything you need to know to build up to being an Export Management company, it is not recommended that you start out at that level.

That being said, as an Export Agent/Broker, you most likely will be operating from a spare room in your home (as I have done for 20 1/2 years) thus you will not be putting signage up, having tractor trailers backing up to your home, etc., I think you get my point.

In other terms, you are basically a home based business, doing everything via your Phone, Fax and computer. Don't get into details with the bureaucrats, they don't have a clue what you are doing, they are simply trying to get you to agree to a specific "job title" of some sort so they can find a need to charge you some sort of fee.

The ONLY "LICENSE" I have every required in 20 1/2 years in this business is a "SALES TAX LICENSE" because we were doing direct to consumer sales via our web site for one of the automotive products we were marketing internationally for a period of years and in the first 15 years we also purchased the import export courses and processed the orders, shipped them, etc..

We were required to collect Pennsylvania State Sales tax on any orders we sold to residents of Pennsylvania, thus we needed this license. In most instances, working as an export agent/broker, you will not be buying, inventorying and reselling any goods to anyone in your state, which may or may not even have a sales tax.


If the person calling or emailing me is asking "do I need a license", if they are not referring to the above "general business license" question, they are referring to an "export license".

Here is where I refer back to the fact that we offer a training course that will provide you with "everything" you need to know in order to start and operate an exporting business. Whether that business is working as an export agent/broker on a strictly commission basis or working as your own export management company.

The course will teach you the Organizations, both government and private, that you need to deal with or refer your potential suppliers to (once you have a commission agreement with them).

Each type of product is different but in most instances an export license is not required, however, the organizations you will learn about in our course materials will advise you if a particular product does or does not require a license.

One additional note - if you are working as an agent/broker and matching potential buyers to sellers, in most instances, you should know what organizations can advise your supplier of the export requirements and the course materials teach you that, but in reality, as an agent/broker, it is not necessarily your responsibility to know.

I sincerely hope that this post will clear up some of the misunderstanding about business licenses and export license requirements. Bottom line, get the training materials because even if all you ever do is work as an agent/broker, you should have an understanding of the process and level of knowledge that your supplier/client can ask you who or what they need to do and you can assist them in a competent manner.

Ron Coble
International Business Center

International Business

International business conjours up dreams of wealth and glory for may people in every part of the world and for good reason.

International business more often involves the B2B arena rather than B2C (business to consumer) and a business to business sales often involve huge numbers of products rather than single items sales.

Many would be international business entrepreneurs read about how a company became a multi-million dollar one overnight because of one international sale or an individual who earned huge commissions by closing a global sale for their company.

International business is all of the above and more, but what most of the 'hype-masters' do not tell you is that there is a great deal of work that requires patience, persistence and decision making.

I talk with would-be international business entrepreneurs every single day and the most common trait I encounter is their inability to make a relatively easy decision, even when the facts are clearing staring at them.

There comes a time when you either realize you are a decision maker or you realize that you should just keep going to your job every day, punching your employer's time clock and have someone who gets paid more than you, make your decisions for you.

The people I believe who have the most chance for success in this business are those who make the decision to get an import or export training course, either place the order online or call to place their order.

These sort of people are "decision makers" who are able to make a decision based on their own ability to read and understand the information that has been presented to them. This is the kind of decision making ability you need to succeed in international business.

It amuses me much of the time how people will call to get my advice which they must value or they would not call, right? Then when they are given the advice they so cherish, they never act upon it??

I actually had a lady call me recently from Canada - she wanted to get into the Import Export business but she wanted someone else to set everything up for her, get the business going and allow her to step in and take it over????????

I asked her, point blank, why would someone want to start a business, get it up and running and simply turn it over to you for a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars? She was a well educated lady, a teacher I believe, but she was living in her own little dream world.

Another amusement for me is when someone is really indecisive when on the phone or continues to ask questions in repeated emails information that is covered on our web site or in this blog. Some of these people are genuinely in bad financial situations and cannot afford (or so they state) the $160, $316 or $424 price for our international business courses.

My suggestion to them? If you have NO business experience at all, then get some by starting to sell items on EBay. By selling items on EBay, they can open their auctions up to the world bidders and they will soon be experiencing every aspect of doing international business.

They will be dealing with customer service, international shipping, language barriers, fraud, profits, accounting, literally every aspect of doing business but on a smaller scale that allows them to learn.

Most never take the advice they sought and simply continue to have dreams of international business grandeur that will somehow fall into their life without the need to make any decisions, do any work or expend any funds (almost sounds like some of our political candidate promises).

We get the "don't want to spend any money" international wanna bees from other parts of the world as well. They will send an email asking (sometimes telling, believe it or not) us to give them free importer listings.

I generally send them a reply that points them to a trade directory they can purchase, never to hear from them again. I soon will be testing a new tactic, again for my amusement - I will ask them to send me the value of what they are asking for in the form of products they are selling but in equal value to the trade directory they seek.

Think that will go over well?

It is kind of funny isn't it? These folks are seeking something they believe to have value to them and their business but not enough value to pay for it, when in reality one sale to one lead in a directory would more than pay for that directory?? What is wrong with this picture???

Is this what can be defined as a "dichotomy"?

I get phone calls all the time from people who have gotten themselves into some dire straits in import export deals. When I hear what type of situation they have created for themselves, I ask if they took any type of international business course.

They generally answer NO or well I read a book or two on the subject but that is not why I am calling you. I want you to wave your magic import export wand and help me fix what I was too cheap to learn how or why it would get them into trouble.

One guy had 5 container loads of food sitting on the dock and was paying storage fees that had already equaled the cost of the goods. He "thought" he was too smart and did not need anything more than the $29.95 book he had read about international business fortunes.

He had not gotten the approval he needed to bring food into the country from the Agriculture department. He did not apply for it until the food was landed. Guess what, the normal turnaround time for the food he was bringing in was 45 days and he thought I could wave the magic wand (like politicians promise) and get them to approve it today (or tomorrow).

Guess what, no one has that power and why would they use it for this guy if they did.

How about another guy who called and was worried because he had not heard from the supposed owner of a furniture company in Indonesia he was going to buying a container load of furniture from.

First question, again, what makes you feel qualified to import goods? did you take a course, read a book? No, I just found the company on the Internet and they had incredible prices and I knew I could make a fortune. Next question, let me guess, did you already send this guy your money.

Answer: Yes

I am getting too old to remember all of these fool tails but the two above stick in the part of my brain that I will always recall.

If you are a business owner, employee of a manufacturing company or an entrepreneur considering entry into the arena of International Business - make a decision, get step by step training in the form of one of our import or export training courses and pay for a lead service to separate yourself from 99 9/10% of the others out there and begin - take action.

The government, no matter which party wins the election, is not going to solve your personal and business problems, only you can make the "changes" you want in your life and/or in your business.

If you are reading this and do not take the advice, then why are you wasting your life's precious time reading it?? You either find value in the advice dispensed here or you do not and if you do not, unsubscribe from our B2B updates list and take this blog off of your bookmarks.

Ron Coble


Many observers tend to conceive any changes in media businesses as trends that are irreversible or to combine them with other changes to make sweeping generalizations about industry conditions. The results are often wrong and distract observers from asking deeper more appropriate questions about longer-term developments and how media companies use the resources they have.

To understand changes one needs to consider developments separately to determine their origin and expected duration. This allows one to determine what are the result of external trends and what are the result of company choices. Only then can one begin combining them with other observations.

Thus, one needs to consider whether the ratings increase for AMC is due to people spending more watching cable channels or an effect of the AMC's investments in quality programming and the popularity of programs such as Mad Men? If it is the former, one can enjoy benefits with little effort or extra investment; if it is the latter, the company will want to consider additional investments in other programming.

Is the decline in broadcast television advertising in the first half of 2008 a harbinger of a advertisers moving expenditures out of broadcasting or a reflection of the current economy and the condition of the automobile industry and its declining ad budget? If it is the first, long-term trouble is brewing and companies will need to give significant thought to their business models and cost structures. If it is the latter, the financial difficulties caused by the reduction may be short- to mid-term and will merely have to be endured until conditions improve.

Is the decline the in national newspaper advertising the result of reduced spending by advertisers or because of changes in the number of national advertisers and the ways they allocate their budgets. The latter requires rethinking income potential and expenditures for selling national advertising, whereas the former will create less longer-term trauma.

Many observers also seem to think that budgets cuts are necessarily bad and unusual for companies, but they are normal occurrences because of the cyclical nature of advertising expenditures. When ad dollars are flowing vigorously, media companies expand their budgets; when that flow lessens, companies reduce their budgets.

What is important about budget cuts is that they be instituted in strategic way to leave the core capabilities of the firm intact so the firm can benefit when conditions change and not miss critical time and financial benefits by having to rebuild those capabilities when better times occur.

It is alo important that budget cuts not be made equally and across the board, but that they be made by clearly analyzing the necessity of existing cost structures and operations. The challenge for many traditional media is that they are labor intensive and labor costs often are the one of the leading portions of their expenses. If one must cut labor, it should be done considering which employees can easily be replaced later, whether all operations, products, and services need to be maintained, and whether outsourcing some functions is an option.

Many companies also forget to look at the top as well as the bottom of their operations when cost cutting occurs. Today, for example, many newspaper companies need to be asking whether expensive corporate offices, private jets, and high corporate salaries and perks are warranted and necessary or if they should cut those corporate expenditures and the management fees they lay on local newspapers to pay for them.

In times of change, one needs clear vision of what is happening to an industry and company and to ask broader questions than are typically asked in firms and by industry observers. Those who do so benefit; those who don't pay a price.

Disaster For Most New Importers

This post will hopefully help anyone or any
business contemplating importing products avoid disaster.

The disaster that most new importers experience is they are
blinded by the "hype" of great wealth and riches from
importing cheap, low cost merchandise and after their money
is sent, the merchandise is on it's way or already sitting
in their garage or storage facility, they reach the stark
reality of not knowing how or who to market it to.

When I am able to talk with one of these budding importer
entrepreneurs, I highly recommend to them that they develop
their market, before they go and buy a containerload of
products that they may end up having to sell for a nickel
or dime on the dollar - enter the disaster many actually

My primary recommendation for developing your market it
by selling products on Ebay. Learning what sells, what
doesn't. Learning the basics of customer service, order
fulfillment, order processing and shipping costs.

During the process of selling these goods on Ebay, they
learn the lessons of doing business that are truly necessary
to avoid a disaster of major proportions.

Now Ebay has made some very major changes recently and
quite frankly I believe you should take advantage of
several new F*REE videos that are being made available
before moving into using this huge marketing powerhouse.

Now the remainder of this update is from the publisher of
these F*REE videos and a brand new updated course on
marketing and selling via Ebay.

If nothing else, watch the videos and even if you do not
get their course (which I recommend you do) but if you
do not, you will still learn a lot of valuable information
about marketing and selling on this huge marketplace.

By the way, Ebay is not just for stuff up in the attic
or in the garage, there are many multi-million dollar
businesses that are selling their goods in this huge,
most highly trafficed marketplace on the Internet.

Now here are the details on the new course and F*REE
videos - you can skip the rest of the description and
go there right now using the following link or continue
to read more details - your choice -

You could be making literally thousands of dollars a year
online WITHOUT even getting your own website... and you
can learn how to do it for FREE!

Let me explain...

Derek Gehl and his in-house team of experts have been spending
the past few MONTHS analyzing all of the latest developments
and changes at eBay, the world's biggest online marketplace...

... and they've applied what they've learned to create a simple,
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of the $60 BILLI0N that exchanges hands on eBay every YEAR!

And the best part?

Derek's laid out the entire profitable system in a set of
training videos that you can watch RIGHT NOW for FREE!

First, he's going to reveal the number one mistake that nearly
EVERY new "eBayer" makes when they're getting started
(it's a BIGGIE, and it can stop you COLD from ever making

After that, he'll explain his secret three-step formula
for evaluating ANY item to determine if it'll be a HOT
seller... teach you how to find hungry markets that are
BEGGING to buy what you're selling...

... and wrap up this three-video series by looking at what's
new and different at eBay, and explaining EXACTLY how to
take advantage of the recent changes to start profiting
RIGHT AWAY (while everyone else is scrambling to get

This system is FULL of secret strategies that virtually
NOBODY else knows about!

It's also been tested and proven by his own elite group of
eBay mentors, so you KNOW it's gonna work for you, too.

So if you want to learn how to start making SERIOUS money
online in the fastest time possible, without having to create
your own website (or if you'd like to add an additional
stream of income to an existing website), I highly recommend
Derek's three FREE eBay training videos!

Start watching them RIGHT AWAY by following this link:

That is all for this update. Take care until next time.

Ron Coble
Coble International
International Business Trade Center

P.S. The sooner you watch these FREE eBay videos, the sooner
you'll be able to swoop in and start making HUGE profits
while your competitors are still struggling to learn about
all the changes!

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Voices in and around the newspaper industry would have us believe the industry is falling apart and taking its last gaps. Investors are fleeing newspaper companies, publishers are decrying the lack of newspaper advertising growth, debt challenges are plaguing many companies, and there are layoffs and buyouts everywhere.

If one rationally looks at the industry, however, one sees that it is fundamentally sound, but that a unique, financially golden period in its history is ending. It is that change which is creating the bulk of the turmoil in the industry, but the biggest problem is that those working in the industry have short memories about the newspaper business and don't remember it any other way.

The generation leading newspapers and newspaper companies today has only experienced a period in which extraordinary growth of advertising increased newspaper revenue across the nation. That growth, combined with the development of local monopolies, created a period that enriched papers highly. This, of course, created great interest in investors and produced capital that allowed public companies to grow and acquire papers, driving up newspaper prices and the value of newspaper assets.

Today, the conditions that drove the growth of the past 3 decades are ending, wealth is being stripped from the industry, investors are losing interest, and publishers are struggling with negative and low growth.

Things are terrible, right? They are worse than every before, aren’t they?

Those views are only true if one takes a limited historical perspective and conceives the industry as a way to riches, something few newspaper owners did in generations past. With the exception of a few major cities, one could not get rich being a newspaper owner. Publishers nationwide could make a living in newspaper, but much of their reward came from being socially influential in the community. Before the extraordinary profitability of the last quarter of the 20th century, newspapers were relatively unprofitable and breaking even was the primary financial goal of most publishers.

Contemporary developments are taking us back toward that situation, but even with the u-turn in the business, we need to recognize that newspaper revenue today is better than it was in 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. In fact, adjusted for inflation, newspapers in 2007 had two and a half times the advertising income that they had in 1950. In terms of employment, there are still twenty percent more journalists working in newspapers than in the highly profitable years that fueled the growth of corporate newspapering.

Those working in the newspaper industry need to be realistic and understand what the effects of contemporary changes mean. They don’t mean disaster, but they mean changes in the business of newspapers, the way the industry has operated for the past three decades, and how they need to perceive the industry.


The privatization of Clear Channel Communications ends a 2-year effort to buyout the leading radio and outdoor advertising firm. The $17.9 billion buyout by Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners allows the new owners the opportunity to pursue strategies with less influence from unpredictable investors pursuing short-term interests. The sale comes amid heavy competition in terrestrial and satellite radio, but provides the new owners more flexibility in deciding how to best operate the 900 radio stations, radio programming services, and subsidy that owns one million outdoor ad locations.

The sale is just one more in a growing trend for private equity purchases of media firms. Their interest in media companies stems from the fact that the market value of many does not reflect the underlying cash flows and asset values or the mid- to long-term prospects of the firms.

The valuation challenge of media occurs in good part because advertising expenditures are not evenly distributed throughout the year and because advertising revenue is significantly affected by fluctuations in the economy. These variations create significant disquiet among stock market investors because they make revenue, returns, and dividends less predictable in the short term.

These realities—combined with unproven beliefs of many investors that new media are displacing all mature media and making growth in their businesses impossible—reduce the valuation of media stocks and make media firms attractive to private equity firms that think about the businesses in terms other than quarterly performance.


Sometimes companies forget what businesses they are in and Comcast seems to be the latest media and communication company to do so.

The problem evidenced in the dispute between the FCC and Comcast over its traffic management policies blocking or slowing BitTorret and other files in violation of FCC network neutrality rules requiring open access. Without addressing whether regulators or Comcast are right in the dispute, it is clear from the company’s response that it has lost sight of it core business.

Comcast argues it was engaging in reasonable business practices by limiting the flow of BitTorrent files (often used to download large video, audio, and text files) because they push up the flow of traffic and slow the system. In Comcast’s view, the system and its integrity are its raison d’etre and represent the business it is in. It is easy to understand why the company and its executives might think so.

Comcast spends the majority of its effort and personnel creating and maintaining its system and infrastructure, tackling issues of system capacity and capabilities, and working to ensure system reliability and speed. It provides video, Internet, and voice services via 575,000 miles of wires serving 15 million cable subscribers, 13 million Internet users, and 4 million digital home providers. In the last three years Comcast has spent $13.6 billion in capital expenditures on the system.

Unfortunately, the extraordinary network it operates and maintains—the lines, switches, head-ins, Internet and telephone connections—are not the business of Comcast, they are just the requirements for conducting the business. Its real business is providing customers access to the video, audio, text, and voice communications they desire.

Its central purpose is serving the needs of the end users, including those who want to acquire capacity-eating BitTorrent files. It is the purpose that its executives seem to have forgotten when they decided their network management practices were more important than the wishes and desires of their customers. Their absent mindedness is not completely surprising, however, because the company has long had one of the poorest records of customer service among media firms. Lots of problems develop rapidly if you think it would be a good business if you just didn't have to deal with bothersome customers.


The announcement of the finalists for the 2008 Emmy drama nominations shows how weak major television networks have become and the feeble program strategies they are now employing. AMC’s “Mad Men” and FX’s “Damages” became the first series ever produced by basic tier cable channels to become finalists for best series and they were joined in the 6 nominee list by Showtime for “Dexter”.

The results were even worse for networks in the major acting categories: Only 1 of the five Emmy nominees for lead actor and 2 of the five for lead actress went to network programs.

Overall, 24 cable network programs received nominations and 7 cable channels received 10 or more nominations. HBO received 85 nominations—beating out all the broadcast networks, Showtime received 20 nominations, and AMC received 20 nominations.

Drama is a bellwether of the health of television programming and networks continue to fair poorly. It is a particularly important genre, socially and culturally, because it allows explorations of beliefs, attitudes, norms, aspirations, and fears better than other program types. However, success is unpredictable and good drama is expensive to produce. Historically it was the province of the well funded dominant networks, but that has now changed.

The decline of quality in network television programming is directly related to the increasing number of channels available in households. As the number of channels increases, the average number of viewers declines, producing declining advertising support, and thus reducing resources available for program investments. The responses of networks have been predictable. They offer more game shows and reality programs that are less expensive to produce, avoid productions that are edgy and innovative, and rerun programs as much as possible.

Network prime time filled with shows such as “I survived a Japanese Game Show”, “Wife Swap”, “Nashville Star,” and The Bachelorette” and the networks wonder why they have trouble capturing audiences and gaining financial resources. When they do provide drama it is all too often formulaic and a spin off from an already successful series. There are strong tendencies for network drama to have a criminal or legal practice oriented or take a prime time soap opera approach, such as “CSI”, “Law & Order”, “Desperate Housewives”, and “Grey’s Anatomy”.

The program challenge has been growing worse year after year since the development of cable television channels in the 1970s. I don’t want to be interpreted as saying the networks have produced no fine drama, but the amount has declined precipitously.

This raises the question of why cable channels are able to follow an opposite path, increasing their production of drama and gaining more acclaim for their work. The simple answer is money. Having additional sources of income other than advertising frees programs from the necessity of seeking audiences linked to interests of advertisers and from the content influence of advertisers. It allows producers, writers, and directors to employ greater creativity, to address controversial subjects, and to take the time to ensure quality in the production.

Subscriber-supported HBO has the longest and most distinguished record in producing original drama with highly rated and acclaimed series such as “The Sopranos”, “Angels in America”, “Six Feet Under”, “Deadwood”, “Band of Brothers”, and “Sex and the City”. HBO is premium channel financed by subscriptions from about one third of American households, a clear example that many viewers want and are willing to pay for innovative, quality programming.

In recent years there has also been significant growth of drama from cable channels receiving both subscriber and advertising revenue, thus giving us programming such as USA network’s “Monk” and TNT’s “The Closer”. Original television drama is now being produced by other channels, such as AMC, Lifetime, and Showtime, as well.

One of the side effects of the increased production of drama by cable channels is that they are now playing significant export roles and their programming is regularly appearing in prime time on national channels, especially public service channels, in Europe and elsewhere.

Network executives need to seriously reconsider their programming strategies, particularly where drama is concerned, or they risk become secondary channels in the years to come. Unless they find ways to develop and support quality drama, it will increasingly become the trophy programming of cable channels in the years to come.

Industrial Market Trends E-newsletter - Free B2B Resource

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Best Business To Start In China

I am often asked about what type of business would be best to start in China. Most people here in the USA and Canada are quite surprised whent they receive my reply.

The best business is one you can actually start and operate from the USA or Canada and it actually helps businesses both save money on their production and possibly stay in business.

Check out the full text of my answer here:

Best Business To Start In China

Recommended B2B Resource - Internet Marketing Videos

If you have been a visitor to this blog or a subscriber to
our Global B2B subscriber for any period of
time, you are know how I emphasize using the Internet to
promote your services and products to a worldwide audience
at very little cost.

It is also prudent in today's business world to diversify
into different areas for income generation and for the past
1 1/2 years I have contracted the services of an
English gentleman living in Estonia to build 80
mini-web sites for my wife to operate.

Suffice it to say, we would not have used his service to
build out 80 web sites if we did not find his work to be
anything less than outstanding.

This new Internet marketing package is near and
dear to my heart. I use the term near and dear because I
love watching videos to learn how to do new things rather
than just reading about them - call me visual oriented.

This new internet marketing service serves a dual purpose
for anyone intelligent enough to understand the value of
online marketing and an additional revenue stream that you
may create by being a member.

A large portion of the knowledge I have on building web pages
and web sites was developed from watching tiher online videos
or self-study videos on CD Rom. Granted, my web sites may not
be the most "designer" oriented but I never could seem to
overcome my deficit in artistic ability but I would say the
web sites I have built are somewhat successful since they
have helped me achieve 43,000 unique visitors to
our web site each month.

Andrew Wilson is the gentleman who has become
both a long distance friend and business associate and if you
have ever heard the term "over delivers", well all I can say
is that Andrew has more than "over delivered" with this new
Internet marketing video program.

I cannot adequately relate to you how valuable a package of
videos and an actual income revenue generation program Andrew
has established as well as he does, so I am recommending that
you go visit, read the entire web page and see for yourself
how many Internet marketing "how to" videos you will get
simply for trying his Internet marketing video training
membership for just one month and how low the subscription
rate is - unbelievable is all I can say.

You know, I personally think you would be crazy to quit after
one month, but if you would, you get to keep ALL the videos
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of dollars worth of valuable Internet marketing HOW TO videos
just for trying a one month trial membership.

I personally began watching the videos, from the beginner
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Do yourself, your employer, your relative or your friends a
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advantage of this outstanding training membership web site
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but then Andrew is an incredible kind of guy.

Go take a look now, I promise you will not be disappointed:

Internet Marketing Videos


Fundamental social and technological changes are altering the functions of news media for audiences and advertisers and significantly altering the situations of specific forms of news media.

Most of us recognize that form and function are linked together, with the form of objects influenced by their use, economics, and technology (Something architects and designers have recognized for more than a century). Contemporary technology has broken the connection between the traditional forms and functions of news providers and made it possible to serve the functions of legacy news organizations and news distribution in many different forms. This development is undermining the consumer and financial bases of long-established news media.

Because they have been in place for so many decades, it is easy to forget that established news media developed their forms within specific economic and technological environments. The form of newspapers and radio and television newscasts developed when new technologies allowed creations of mass audiences, distributed news to them at specific times, and supported the delivery of low priced and free news because advertisers of general consumer products paid to reach those audiences.

Today, the underlying elements of that business model, which was highly successful in the twentieth century, are decaying. Mass audiences are disappearing, technology is providing new ways to reach audiences, individuals are becoming active, integral participants in the communication process, and advertising are seeking more effective ways to reach potential customers.

These changes are significantly altering the functions previously played by metropolitan daily newspapers and network and local radio and television newscasts as primary creators and distributors of news and information. The dominance they once had has been replaced by ubiquitous distribution technologies that provide a continually updated stream of news through cable channels, Internet portals and news sites, social networking sites, mobile devices, and news screens on buildings and in public transportation.

It should be no surprise, then, that the form of legacy news provision is no longer as successful as it was in the past. Those who own and work for legacy organizations see the changes as cataclysmic, but the shifting of functions to more forms is natural and provides significant benefits to those who want news and information.

We have seen this type of displacement before, even within our lifetime. Life magazine, for example, played significant roles in conveying news and features on social life from the 1930s to the 1970s, but lost its functions with the arrival of new technology and changes in social life. As the foremost visual presenter of photojournalism, the magazine once garnered 13.5 million circulation, but changing media preferences for audiovisual materials on television news and magazine shows stripped Life of its audience and advertising.

Many functions of network television news, which grew rich in the 1960s and 1970s, were displaced in the 1970s and 1980s by local television newscasts that provided more hours of news and more opportunities for viewers to get international, national, and local news. That displacement was compounded by the development of 24-hour cable news channels.

Today, further displacement of the functions of network and local television news is taking place and the functions of metropolitan daily newspapers are being significantly affected. This does not the end of news provision, however. Although many journalists in the legacy media desperately assert that only the forms of news in the organizations that employ them can serve social needs and provide quality journalism, the reality is far different.

Reputable and well-trained journalists are now establishing new journalistic forms on the Internet, linking web and print operations, and syndicated materials produced by web-based news providers. There are more journalistic startups now than anyone can ever recall.

Although web-based news has historically be aggregated materials from traditional sources, these new enterprises—some commercial and some non-commercial—are increasingly providing original journalism. Some are concentration on serious investigative national and international reporting; some are providing hyper-local coverage; and some are providing coverage of specialized topics. These serve some functions previously provided by legacy media and some functions legacy media ignored.

The technologies are also allowing engaged citizens to create and distribute news and information on their own, supplementing material produced by professional journalists or providing material in its absence.

These are healthy developments for journalism and for those who want news and information. Although the form of provision is changing, the functions of gathering and conveying news and information and the functions of keeping people informed and engaged are continuing and being improved.

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Here is a resource that few people take advantage of - Free Industry Trade Publications.

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This post is targeting an area that should be near and dear to your heart - Sales and Marketing.

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Import Export Business Failure-It's Not Your Fault...

The hell it isn't ...

"We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters,
your brothers, the school, the teachers - you can blame
anyone but never blame yourself. It's never your fault.
But it's always your fault, because if you wanted to
change, you're the one who has got to change. It's as
simple as that, isn't it?" -- Katherine Hepburn

Only you can change your life.

The above was sent to me by one of my long time business
associates and friend, Jim Straw.


Five decisive trends are driving changes in the media environment and forcing media companies to change their thinking and operations: media abundance, audience fragmentation and polarization, product portfolio development, the eroding strength of media companies, and a overall power shift in the communications process.

Abundance is seen in the dramatic rise in media types and units of media. The growth of media supply is far exceeding the growth of consumption in both temporal and monetary terms. The average number of pages in newspapers tripled in the twentieth century; the number of over-the-air television channels quadrupled since 1960s--supplemented by an average of about fifty-six cable channels in the average home; there are four times as many magazines available as in 1970s; 1.5 million new web pages are created daily, and created and stored knowledge (as measured by information scientists) is growing at a rate of 30 percent a year. We used to think of competition among newspapers or competition among television channels, but this media abundance has created competition not only among media but also competition between media and other leisure time activities such as sports, concerts, and socializing at cafes and bars.

The abundance has created fragmentation and polarization of the audience because people are spreading their media use across more channels, books, magazines, and websites. This produces extremes of use and nonuse among available channels and titles. In television, for example, there is a tendency for individuals to focus most use on three or four channels. Increasing channel availability does not create an equal amount of increased use. For example, if twenty channels are received in a household, the average viewed is five. When fifty channels are received, the average rises to twelve, and if one hundred channels are received, the average viewed by all members of the household is only sixteen. Advertisers understand this development and have responded by spreading their expenditures and paying less for smaller audiences. The audience-use changes mean that competition is no longer institutionally and structurally defined but is being defined by the time and money audiences/consumers spend with media, and the competitive focus is now on the attention economy and the experience economy.

The difficulties faced by individual units of media have led media companies to create and operate portfolios of media products. This response occurs because declining average return per unit makes owning a single media product problematic. The portfolios are efforts to reduce risk and obtain economies of scale and scope. These portfolios can increase return if they involve efficient operations and joint cost savings.

Despite the growth of portfolios and large media companies, the strength of the companies is eroding. Today no basic media content companies are in the top one hundred companies in the United States or in the top five hundred worldwide. Moreover, the reach of media companies is declining, even though they have grown bigger. Each has less of the viewers’, readers’, and listeners’ attention than in the past, and their difficult strategic position concerns many investors. As a result, media companies are struggling with their major investors, and all major media companies fear they may become takeover targets.

Underscoring all of this is a fundamental power shift in communications. The media space was previously controlled by media companies; today, however, consumers are gaining control of what has now become a demand rather than supply market. And media consumers are not merely content to be passive receivers any longer, many are now participating in production through the variety of forms of interactive and user generated content. This shift is apparent in the financing of contemporary initiatives in cable and satellite, TV and radio, audio and video downloading, digital television, and mobile media, which is based on a consumer payment model. Today, for every dollar spent on media worldwide by advertisers, consumers spend three. In the U.S., that ratin is 1 to 7.

Media companies worldwide are struggling to understand and adjust to wide-ranging external and internal changes that are altering modes of production, rapidly increasing competition, eroding their traditional audience and advertiser bases, altering established market dominance patterns, and changing the potential of the firms. The need for media managers to perceive, understand, and adjust to the new conditions increases daily because such changes can lead to failure of both existing and new products and, ultimately, lead to the loss of value or collapse of firms.

International Trade Questions And Answers


I have read through you info on this site and found it very informative.

In regards to due diligence as well as doing the checks by cold calling and checking their website, is there a pack which I should put together to ensure the least risk possible.

Any pointers in the right direction would be much appreciated as these people can seem very trustworthy and I myself or employees of mine can have a set procedure in place to make sure we have covered ourselves as well as we possibly could.


I am not aware of a 'package' of details that you can check, except for the resources we have compiled on our company page at: which you and your employees are free to use any time - just scroll down the page until you see the "Due Diligence" sub-title.

These are not all that are available, I am sure, but if you follow that list you should be able to find any negative details on someone, if there are any on record.

I am not sure if you are in the USA or not, but the US has a program through their embassies that you can pay a couple of hundred dollars to have the embassy rep do a background check on the potential importer.

Another thing you can do is ask for references of other businesses they have dealt with and then actually contact those references. I know of one supplement manufacturer who would not even bother following up a lead if they would not provide them with at least one reference.

You will want to cross reference the reference also to make sure you aren't calling the guys brother or brother in law who is in on the deal with him.

Last, confirmed letters of credit (LOC) are about the safest way to go when it comes to payment, but they are often very difficult to get and much more expensive than regular LOC's.

Ultimately there are no guarantees of keeping you from getting ripped off. I have personally talked with several exporters and importers who had worked for some time with their buyers/sellersin smaller quantity orders. Then a larger order comes in and they end up never getting paid for it or if they are the importer, they send the money and never receive the merchandise.

This last type of deal is the old confidence game where they use small orders to gain your confidence, pay for them up front or shipthem right away and then hit you with a big order which is never paid for and you can never seem to find the person in their office at any time.

It is an unfortunate fact of business life (and personal) that you have to approach every transaction as if it is a fraudulent one and be very firm in your requirements of the other party.

Fraudsters are everywhere - in every country - unfortunately much of the scams come from the very countries that need legitimate trade the most and they are in Africa.

Many (not all) people have come to realize Africa is the main origin for the fraudulent activities so many of the fraudsters have now resorted to faking emails and other correspondence with actual names of legitimate companies in China or India.

The fraudsters will use the actual graphics or letterhead from a legitimate company but place their (the fraudster's) email or phone number (which is usually forwarded) in the correspondence.

Another fraudster technique is to use a color copier to duplicate an actual money order or cashiers check from a legitimate bank. Looks legit, you deposit it, have the goods shipped only to find out about 3-4 weeks later when you get a call from the bank telling you it has been returned. Guess what - it isn't the bank's responsibility and they will take you to court, if necessary, to get the funds from you.

Your qualification requirements have to be so firm that most fraudsters will consider them not worth the effort and crawl back under the rock from which they came - these strict requirements may cost you a real transaction from time to time but it is better to walk away.

Fraudsters know most companies and individuals are desperate to make a sale and they use this against you. If a deal seems too good to be real - it is. If you ever run into a deal that you just can not seem to resist but would like my input, feel free to call me and tell me the details without revealing who the party is and I will be happy to give you my opinion.

In most instances, you will probably not like my recommendation but you always have the final decision.

Hope this has helped and I wish you the best.

International Trade Questions And Answers

Question 1:

In your import course do you offer a CD so we can modify forms like letters, invoices, etc with our own company name?

Answer 1:

The import course materials do not.

We, Coble International and, do provide an unadvertised Bonus that will be sent to you via email after you advise us that you have received your course - these bonus resources include Word formatted, easily modifiable agreements, letterhead and some recommendations on business resources that can save you up to $500-$600 a year (actual resources we use in our business).

Microsoft Word contains Invoice formats, it is of little use taking up valuable CD Rom data space putting something on it that your computer most likely already has available within programs like Word or other word processing program.

If you do not have Microsoft Word on your PC, I strongly urge you to get it - best word processing program around.

Question 2:

Do you offer any money back gurantee in case we are not 100% satisfied with your products?

Answer 2:

I could go into a "long" dissertation about why we do not offer refunds but I will try to keep it short.

1. We outline "exactly" what you are getting with our materials, when you make a purchase from our web site, you have already made a conscious decision that you are happy with what is listed there.

2. We have experienced well over $350,000 in fraudulent orders in the last 7 years - I got tired of keeping inventory on hand and dealing with the credit card companies and about 3-4 years ago decided to take "less" money and let our publishers deal with the credit card company issues. Our publishers do not offer refunds, therefore, we cannot, and do not offer refunds.

3. Last, I will close out my reply by providing you with the comments from one of the oldest marketing experts that I have known now for nearly 20 years and his response to the question of a money back guarantee or option - his name is Jim Straw and with over 40 years of business experience under his belt, I firmly believe and agree with his stated case against offering refunds:

Here is Jim Straw's Comments on refunds:

Since I sell "information" ... not "opportunities" ... nowhere in any of our sales material do we offer any kind of Money-Back option.

Why? ? -- Because...

(1) We are not a lending library. -- If you want to borrow a book, we recommend a visit to your local public library. We do not lend our publications.

(2) We cannot erase your memory. -- Once you have read and made mental note of the information provided in our publications, there is no way you can return it to us. Even if you return the printed material; or delete the PDF file from your hard drive, you still have the information in your memory for your ultimate use.

By not including a Money-Back option; of any kind, in our sales material, we intentionally discourage people who are seeking a ‘guaranteed’ existence from buying our publications.

Over the past 40 years, I have literally made millions, upon millions, of dollars "doing" the things I have written about - and - other people have made millions, upon millions, of dollars doing what I teach in my materials.

May I suggest that you "use" the information in the materials you purchased to achieve the success you have been seeking ... and ... I am always here to assist you in your efforts anytime you run into a situation you don't understand. -- REMEMBER, I have done it ... not just written about it ... so I can steer you in the right direction.

If I were to give you a refund, I would only allow you an excuse to quit ... delaying your success, again.

*** end of Jim Straw's comments on refunds ***

In closing, you now know why we do not offer a money back option and if that keeps you from ordering, well, so be it. Whatever you decide to do, I wish you the best.

Import And Export Business Q&A Continued


Can you guide me as to where I could find more information on regulations for export to Mexico? We are a US company that would be shipping within the U.S. The product would then be sold in Mexico by the customer.


We do not provide consulting of the nature you have requested. My suggestion for either you and/or your customer is that they get our course on exporting - it will guide you/them through all the processes and provide details on which public/private organizations you need to contact with regards to specific products for the specific regulationsand requirements regarding those items - you may review details of the course here and feel free to forward this message to your client:



I know you don't need a certificate to start a business but regarding the commission fees, is there a difference regarding the income of an agent compared to a broker on the same transaction(connecting seller to buyer) or is it just a title difference? Are there certain income the broker can make that the agent can't just because one has the license? I'm seriously thinking of starting the business, but I just need to do a bit of research according to your advice on the blog.


In regards to the "title" - that is all the difference there is - whatever you choose to call yourself. I have been referred to in agreements as the International Sales Coordinator, International Marketing Consultant, Export Agent, International Business Broker - bottom line is, I don't care what they call me as long as they have my name or my business name spelled correctly on their checks.
You also refer to the term "license" - the only licensed individuals in import export are "Customs Brokers" and they are not working as agents/brokers for the manufacturer and earning a commission, they get paid to make sure all the i's are dotted, t's are crossed on any documentation and sometimes provide other shipping related assistance. Our course will teach you who you need to work with to get the deals done without trying to do it all yourself.

Follow Up Question From The Same Person:

Thank you for your clear explanations. I was probably confused between a broker and a Custom Broker.

I have one last question and I hope you don't see it as being too straight forward. Can you tell me why I should choose your product over other Starter Kits($400 range), classes plus support, books/notebooks (, e-books, import/export coaching, CD-roms, DVDs and etc.?

Answer to Follow Up Question:

There are a lot of good materials on the market and I have probably purchased or reviewed most of them over my 20 years in this business. First off, I would be very, very wary of any "coaching" programs or those that offer what I call hand holding "support" - I have written enough about these type of programs on my import export business blog that I will defer you to go find them and read why.

In most instances, the "support"/"coaching"/"hand holding" personnel will be doing nothing more than reading from the same hand book they supply you with and in most instances these hand holding sessions can be quite expensiveright up front to the tune of thousands of dollars.

Our course provides you with all the information, much of it proprietary from our publisher, that you will need to follow in order to start and succeed in your own import or export business. Do we guarantee you will succeed - absolutely NOT!

I did not start this business to sell information products or training, I started it because in the late 80's the Internet was not readily available - yes, AOL was and I was one of their first 100,000 customers. I started it because I spent hundreds of hours visiting the library, visiting with actual importers and exporters, visiting with international bankers, department of commerce personnel, buying various materials that turned out to be such a waste of time and money it was unbelievable.

In getting started I found some very unique and incredibly helpful information and thought I wonder if others would be interested in saving all the time I spent if I would put this information together in the form of a couple of reports. Low and behold, they were.

I found this course in the early 90's (it has been updated about every 2 years since but still includes some very valuable proprietary info like the one video that was co-sponsored by the US Dept. of Commerce - it still is one of the best resources around).

I have been sent books, CD's, access to web sites and more in those subsequent 15 years and in regards to actual training programs, the "only" change I have made is the addition of the China Trading program about 18 months ago. I did so because it is not competitive with the import export training course and is a uniquely different niche within the international trade business.

I do not want to sway you from the direction you are headed to the China trading program, I am just making you aware of what and why I only offer a very narrow, targeted group of materials.
I also have become good friends with the publisher of the import export courses over these years because I know he has integrity. An example of which was with a recent customer. Their course was just shipped to them about 2 weeks ago and one of the ebooks was updated just a few days ago - he emailed them a copy of the new version since they had just purchased the course a few weeks ago.

Additionally, there are a "few" bonus items I send you when you get certain packages through our web site - the publisher has encouraged me to publish these items as an ebook and try to sell them but I decided to keep them special and only give them to people who get either our Importers Master package, Exporters Master Package or the combo of these two, the Import Export Toolkit. I feel anyone purchasing these complete packages are far more serious and I would rather have my information in their hands rather than everyone's.

So the bottom line is this, yes, there are a few good resources on the market and you don't need to 2nd mortgage your home to get started in this business and in most instances you will not be getting answers from someone who is doing what you hope to do as you are getting this correspondence from me.

One of the reasons I am working so late is because I just signed on a new manufacturer today and I am compiling some leads to send them over the weekend.

I guess a lot of what you have to base your decision on is that gut feeling of who do you trust - I have put my life out there on the web site and blog, my information is "easily" verifiable, is theirs?


Ron Coble
International Trade B2B Help Center

Import Export Business Questions-Answers Continued


I am writing to confirm that I have gone through all your letters. They're really enriching. I didn't know where I would have gotten all these info. Thanks a million.

Let me be frank with you. I am an industrious person who has been in China for the last four years. I've seen a great deal of business. I've understood that the best way to 'cut my own share of the international money' is getting into trading business. However, I got a big problem. That problem of kick-starting a company on my own. You know; the protocol and finances needed to own my own licences etc.

I need your expertise advice here. I have got the money to subsribe as a paid member to your site. I understand that after subscription I wouldn't be able to count the number of customers knocking on my door. Now, without all necessary paperworks such as licence. How can I go about this business? Or is it the only way?


First, I cannot advise you on what or how to operate a business in China.

My advice would be, since you write very good English, that you hire yourself
out to Chinese companies to help promote their products as an Export Agent/Broker
but also get yourself on payroll (to help carry you over until commissions start coming in) to
translate or prepare their correspondence, advertising, etc..

I know there is great difficulty in interpreting correspondence to English and many Chinese
companies use online translation programs that are next to worthless.

In regards to the services we offer, we really do not have a membership site. The export leads service may be of some benefit but it too is run by one of the many publishers we deal with.

I am not sure this has provided you with any assistance, but I hope it does and I wish you the best in whatever you decide to pursue.



Finding your website and customer service assistance has been very helpful in getting me in the right direction to how I will consider starting up my business. I want to import products from china through an import service, although I am skeptical about how much profit do the importing companies makes off of me and is it more or less then me importing the goods myself? Do the import companies get the products for cheaper then I could? In the world of business its all about knowing people and having this opportunity to ask you questions is very much appreciated as well as the access to your website.


A couple of things I would really recommend to you, if you are just getting started with Importing goods.

1) Do market research on the products you are considering - just because you like something does not mean others will like it or wish to buy it from you at a price that allows you to make a profit. There is a market research tool that is built into a program I will recommend to you later that is very well regarded as being one of the best, if not the best, market research programs available.

2) If the price an importing company or company that has already imported the product is reasonable enough for you to make a decent profit, then why concern yourself with how much market they are making? Especially in the beginning. They have family's to feed and bills to pay like we all do and are going to mark up what they import at a rate the market will bear.

When you are educated and prepared to take on the responsibilities of importing the goods yourself and at the much higher quantities they most likely have to buy, then do so, but the importers serve a much needed purpose for which they deserve to profit for their time and efforts and most of all "risk".

3) Once you have decided to buy and import products on your own, you should really get a copy of our Importing business course. Don't do like so many people do who end up calling after they have got themselves into a mess because they did not invest in a "real" course that teaches them the processes and acts as a resource library for them to refer to during their entire business career.

Here is the link to our Importing Business Course

4) Now, as an alternative to getting started and working with verified importers and being able to perform the market research you need to be successful, I am recommending you start with this service and only "after" you have established a market for products should you consider getting our importing course and trying to import on your own.

Visit the following web site, take in all the videos and information they have there and do some searches as a guest for the products you are considering. See the verified Importers they have who make these products available and then decide if you wish to subscribe to gain direct access to them and their unique marketing research tools:

I hope the above suggestions will help you.


The above questions and answers represent actual emails received at our Import Export Help Center web site. You are encouraged to read the Archived posts to this blog as there are many Questions and Answers. We will continue to post until all Q and A's are published here and all new ones will then be posted shortly after the actual exchange.

Ron Coble
International Business Marketing Services