The Friendliest Countries in the World

Traveling to various parts around the world is something that everyone needs to experience in their lifetime. As I’ve discussed before, traveling is not only really fun, but the ultimate way to broaden your horizons and gain perspective in life. Though it is almost always an enjoyable experience visiting a country you’ve never been to, interacting with the locals is really what it’s all about.

I’ve been lucky enough to travel to parts of the world where I have felt accepted and welcomed.  Below are a few countries I recommend where you are almost guaranteed to be greeted with open arms.

Ireland

This should be a surprise to very few people. Ireland is renowned for its fun-loving locals who are regularly willing to include travelers in all of their activities. Taking pride in their breathtakingly scenic countryside, Ireland is honored to have visitors from all over the world. Aside from a thoroughly entertaining downtown Dublin, tourists can visit Cork where they can kiss the Blarney Stone and be blessed with the “gift of gab.”

Portugal

This small coastal country bordering Spain recently saw a record number of tourists in 2015, reaching 10.18 million visitors, and is one of the most popular destinations for avid travelers in the world. Lined with stunning beaches, cliffs, and villages, Portugal sees ideal weather throughout the entire year. The only thing warmer than the temperatures are the locals. Due to the high quality of life, people here are well known for their openness toward visitors. Be sure to take advantage of the delicious Mediterranean cuisine, and music and dance festivals held throughout the year.

Austria

Popularized by the visually stunning movie The Sound of Music, Austria is much more than just breathtaking scenery. The towns and villages within this country host amazing architectural feats, as well as luxurious ski resorts that get you up close and personal with the Alps. Being the birthplace of a number of classical composers like Mozart, Joseph Haydn, and Franz Schubert, the nation regularly celebrates its culture in the form of parades and festivals. A smile and greeting when passing a stranger is commonplace here, so a warm feeling of welcomeness is sure to be included.

Morocco

As one of the most economically thriving countries in North Africa, Morocco is a hotspot for tourists. The country’s Islamic roots offer an alluring culture, in addition to its stunning coastlines and fascinating cities. Finding your way around Morocco should be of little difficulty, as locals often enjoy guiding visitors throughout the country, and offering their famous Moroccan mint tea. Some of the more popular activities available include visiting historic mosques, embarking on adventure tours that involve camel rides, and experiencing the nightlife of Marrakech.

Iceland
Sightseeing in Iceland is truly unlike any other experience. Green hills, volcanoes, geysers, and lakes can be found throughout, with locals taking pride in their country’s scenery. Visitors should expect to be welcomed in the utmost friendliest manner, as those residing in this beautiful country actively seek new friends. Invites to hiking trips, nights out, or even just friendly banter are regular occurrences here.

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Stop Advertising and Start Captivating: How to Better Target Your Audience

Now that 2018 is right around the corner, we are in a new age of digital advertising. Even the word ‘advertising’ sends a cringe-worthy chill up most people’s spines. A good example that comes to mind is that 30 second, unskippable video popping up telling you to buy car insurance when all you are trying to do is watch that new Kendrick Lamar video that’s setting Twitter ablaze. It seems like more and more websites contain pop-up ads that dominate an entire screen, which is even worse on mobile devices. This is what advertising looks like in modern times, especially for those in the millennial generation.

Is it just me, or do these new ads scream desperation? The unskippable ads and and online pop-ups only cause frustration for those of us trying to consume content faster and easier than ever before. One could argue that failed attempts at creating effective online ads are actually hurting a company’s brand.

So the questions remains- how do advertisers survive now that old age tactics are dying?

Engage.

No one likes the car salesmen “in your face” approach, and advertisers that do so are likely to be met with less website traffic and fewer sales. Creating engaging content is what advertisers and businesses need to do in order to stay afloat in the world of digital communications.

Take one of my favorites, The Most Interesting Man in the World for example. The beer company Dos Equis developed a clever commercial that took the advertising world by storm with a rugged older gentleman simply known as ‘The Most Interesting Man in the World.’ He was said to have achieved incredible things in his lifetime (if you’re familiar with the Chuck Norris jokes that preceded him, you’ll know where the inspiration came from) , with some hilarious one-liners being created in every commercial such as, “mosquitos refuse to bit him purely out of respect,” “his two cents is worth $37 in change,” and “if he were to pat you on the back, you would list it on your resume.” He would then end each commercial endorsing Dos Equis beer, which is a genius and highly effective marketing tactic, because it held people’s attention.

The internet immediately fell in love with this advertising campaign. He quickly became a meme, which is the holy grail for advertisers, and the company saw an increase in sales soon after the commercials were first aired. The key to this campaign’s success was its engagement to its audience. Customers enjoyed the commercial’s quirkiness. It was entertaining. Its humor related to a younger crowd, and many people within that demographic shared it across social media, increasing its reach even more. Perhaps the most impressive thing for me, was how it connected the humorous juxtaposition with the brand itself, without coming across as too sales focused.
Now that Generation Z is beginning to make a larger online presence, advertisers must take into consideration that this means more people who simply despise ads. Though it will always change throughout time, effective advertising campaigns must look at the bigger picture and try and get their audience to want to buy their products rather than just hit the skip button as soon as it comes up. Stay on top of the demographic shifts your target audience is into, and think about making something you would engage with yourself, if you came across it. A great ad is one that sticks with the customer, making them not only a viewer, but a fan.

The Frustrations of Flying

Jetsetting sounds cool, but frequent travelers are all too familiar with the time-consuming, exasperating process that is boarding an airplane. It seems like having a nice, stress-free experience at an airport is almost impossible given the amount of rules and checks you go through before boarding your plane. The entire procedure can be stressful and exhausting, but preparing yourself in advance can make things easier, letting you focus on the good times you’re about to have at your destination.

A common dilemma most of us face is the time in which flights should be boarded. Do you attempt to be the first in line? Or, is it better to wait and join the last few boarders? There are a large number of airport amenities to take into consideration when deciding whether you should board now or later, which can be seen as a positive. Lounges, for example, are a great reason to hang back and enjoy a cocktail while your flight boards. Should you choose to wait however, you will most likely have much less space in overhead storage for your baggage; an inconvenience that can make any flight unenjoyable.

In-flight upgrades are rare. If you’re offered one, take it. The chances of that happening however, are fairly slim. Most airlines rarely offer upgrades, so if you are not at the gate in the event of them calling your name, you will be quickly passed on. Just one reason to perhaps skip the nearest airport lounge, however tempting the cocktails may be.

Delayed flights are perhaps the most frustrating events to take place when flying. Regardless of the reason, arriving at the airport and working your way through the TSA all in a reasonable time only to be told your flight will not be departing for several hours can drive any traveler mad. Unfortunately, this is one flying frustration that is out of your control, so long as you are not the direct cause for the delay (and I hope you’re not).

Depending on where you are traveling and how much you plan to bring, luggage can be another extremely tedious task that comes with flying. You are trusting all of your travel possessions to be safely and carefully transported to the destination you of your choice while it is completely out of your sight. Though that certainly can be seen as a convenience, the chances of losing or having your luggage damaged still remains. The worst part is that should your luggage be lost somewhere in the process of transporting it, most airlines very rarely reimburse you for their mistakes. I suggest packing light, and as minimal as possible.

Though the distance of your flight is entirely up to you, leaving one time zone and entering another can be disorienting, and certainly frustrating. Having to endure jet lag during the first few days of your trip can put a serious damper on your time away, and can even affect your overall health.

I’ll end this blog on a positive. As frustrating as flying may be, it really does open you up to a whole new world of experiences you wouldn’t have otherwise. You open your mind to new perspectives . So, in the few hours or so it may take to get on a plane, just know that the seeing the world is a privilege we should all be thankful for.

Why Good Writing Shouldn’t Be Limited To Just Writers

Anyone can be a good writer. And it’s not as difficult as one might think.

Yet so many people, including those in high positions of influence, seem to fail at grasping the basics of clear, simple writing. Becoming a good writer doesn’t mean you have to write eloquent prose like Hemingway. It also doesn’t mean your words must be so big, it sends your readers off to dig up their dictionary.

No, quite the opposite in fact. A good writer simply means that people can understand what you’re saying, at a level that someone with a basic education can comprehend.

One of my favorite online tools is a site called http://www.hemingwayapp.com/. Simply paste your copy into the text body, and the tool will tell you the reading level of your written content. The idea is that the lower the grade level, the more likely it is that your writing is clear to the average reader.

Why? Because simple words are typically better, especially if you are trying to convey a relatively simple point.

A recent Harvard Business Review study showed how poor writing in the workplace can actually severely hinder a company, costing inordinate amounts of cost, due to the lack of clarity and confusion in their communications.

The study articulately conveys how clear writing doesn’t just get a point across, it exemplifies intelligence and leadership in a way that otherwise would have been lost. Texts with your closest buddies are one thing, but in a professional environment, vague writing can set you back.

Personally, my advice is to not overthink it. Don’t try to get cute, clever, or use big words that even you don’t fully understand, in order to make yourself seem smart. Use words that everyone with a basic education can understand, and you just might find yourself communicating to people in a way that people will truly appreciate. You owe it to yourself, and to those of us that have to decipher your content.

Mind Games: Incorporating Psychology in Your Copywriting

Ask most people if playing mind games is a bad thing, and they’ll say yes. Tricking people’s minds into creating an emotional connection with a product might seem morally ambiguous at first, until you realize that is how products are sold.

Think about the last time you bought a t-shirt. Did you buy it because its fabric was the perfect cotton blend? Did you buy it because of the country it was manufactured in? Or did you buy it because it looked and felt nice, and it fit you comfortably?

Psychology is behind every successful marketing campaign, because your brain allows emotion to be the driving factorbehind most of your decisions.

One of the most important things to keep in mind as a copywriter is that you are writing for real people. Real people respond better when they feel a connection to the product rather than being given a string of facts they’ll forget in five minutes. Real people also operate under a few principles that can be used to get more sales.

  1. Reciprocity: Do a favor for someone and they’re more likely to return it.
  2. Scarcity: When people think they are running out of time, they are more likely to impulsively buy.
  3. Commitment: If you continue to ask people to do small tasks for you, there’s a good chance they’ll do larger ones (i.e. buy a product) down the line.
  4. Bandwagoning: Everyone is doing it, so why aren’t you?
  5. Likability: Creating personal connections with your audience, typically through sharing personal info.
  6. Authority: Experts giving their opinion are more trustworthy than a random person on the internet.

Each of these principles are common to marketing, but are often overlooked as gimmicky. Yet there are many ways to use all of them without being totally obvious.

Bandwagoning can seem cheap if done the wrong way, but can be one of the most effective if done the right way. If you have a large following on social media, use those numbers to your advantage and ask your audience if they’ve joined yet. To further drive bandwagoning, give your fan base a catchy nickname. Exclusivity, while not a principle itself, can drive people to want to be a part of the group.

Likability can be as simple as providing great customer service and putting your name and bio online. Putting a face to your company will show people you’re just like them. In copywriting, the easiest way to provide likability is to take the audience through a success story.

For more, visit LeonardDavidRaymundo.com!

The Worst Reasons to Become a Copywriter

The title of copywriter can be attractive to anyone with a passion for writing. Getting paid to do what you love, no matter what it is that you’re actually writing, can be incredibly rewarding. However, make sure you are getting into copywriting for the right reason. That is to say, understand your strengths and weaknesses before devoting your career to a field that you may not actually be great at.

If your friends and family are daily readers of your work, take their feedback with a grain of salt. They are, in fact, friends and family members. Positive feedback from them, while sometimes genuine, is often masked by their want to avoid hurting or offending you. Going into the world of copywriting with nothing more than a few insincere comments of praise under your belt will set you up for failure. Be realistic about what you can do, and where you can improve.

Even worse, giving into these compliments can weaken your ability to accept criticism. Once you are officially in the real world, having someone with writing experience pick apart your work can seem offensive and damaging when used to the lighthearted comments you typically receive from friends and family.

If you consider yourself massively creative, copywriting may seem like an easy job for you. But, when you aren’t working on your own terms, this can actually have adverse effects. Creativity certainly is a requirement when writing, but toomuch of it can lead to those with less experience shooting themselves in the foot. You must compromise your creativity for the job needing to be completed.

Surprisingly, many copywriters choose this profession simply for the ability to say they are writers. Looking back at legends like Hemingway, Mark Twain, Tolstoy, and Jane Austen, their works can inspire anyone to want the title of ‘writer,’ rather than wanting to pick up a pen or pencil and pour their heart and soul out onto a piece of paper.
Copywriting should never be considered an outlet to market a poorly written novel. Successful copywriters understand the sacrifices they must make in order to remain successful, not letting their egos get in the way, and following instruction in order to maintain their careers. Those who wish to become writers simply because their friend and family praise their writing abilities and creativity should consider the business aspects of the field beforehand. It might be a rude wake-up call for some.

How Newspapers Have Survived in the Digital Age

It is no secret that the outlook for the traditional American newspaper is looking undeniably grim. Sales of physical papers are down, newspaper publishers are shutting their doors, membership to renowned newspaper associations like the Newspaper Association of America — which has now changed its name to become the News Media Alliance — are dropping rapidly, and the word ‘newspaper’ is nearly meaningless to many news corporations.

Many attribute this steep drop-off in circulation to the ubiquity of technology and its ability to deliver news to the peoplewithout a fee. Others say that it is newspaper publishers’ own fault, as they focused too much of their time and resources into creating an online presence.

In spite of these pointed opinions, it is important to note that the newspaper’s decline is not due to the negligence of corporations, nor the disinterest of millennials. Instead, the newspaper is merely changing with the times, adapting itself in order to fit into the busy lives of its readers — or, in today’s terms, viewers. This is how newspapers have strived to survive in the digital age:

Print may be “dying,” but it is still profitable. While there is no denying that circulation is down, many publishers still make a majority of their profit from their print versions. This is due to companies that still invest in print advertising. Although this form of advertising is also slowly waning, it is still exponentially more profitable than digital advertising, especially since these ads are known to be more memorable to and impactful on audiences.

Technology cannot rule all. Although many fear that jobs will be stolen away by artificial intelligence, it is evident that the supervision — and mere presence — of humankind is still very much necessary to any business around the globe. After all, no robot can be programmed to emulate human discretion — as evidenced by a major blunder Facebook made just last year.

The issue spun out of control when the popular social media platform turned to an algorithm to track and report trending news stories, as opposed to allowing humans to select newsworthy topics to put in the spotlight for the public. It led to several unsavory and false stories to be placed in the forefront of the public’s mind — and generated a lot of scrutiny.

This ties directly into the operations of newspaper publications because, although online materials may be more efficient for readers to skim, the information is not always entirely correct.

This is because the rigorous process of drafting and approving pieces that produce a newspaper does not go into producing articles for online platforms. The process is often write, publish, then edit and/or correct. This is detrimental to the integrity of the story, especially when viewers read it prior to edits and adjustments.

Evidently, there are some major changes coming to the world of journalism and readership. However, it will likely be a long time — at least two to three decades — until a moratorium is officially read on behalf of print journalism.