Mortgage Rules Miss the Mark by a Mile

The new mortgage rules are meant to reduce Canadian household debt*, but I think there are lots of other things that Flaherty could do that would actually be helpful in achieving this.

Mortgages changes effective March 18
  • Shorten maximum amortization period to 30 years from 35 years
  • Lower the maximum amount homeowners can borrow against the value of their homes t0 85% from 90%
  • Withdraw insurance on home-equity lines of credit (effective April 18)
In many cases the purchase of a home could be the largest financial transaction a person makes in their lifetime. Although I believe that owning your own home shouldn't be considered an investment, there are financial benefits to building equity in a home.

Benefits to Equity in Your Home
The equity can be used to refinance and pay off credit cards and other debt that carries a much larger interest rate. That equity can also be used to provide capital for investing, such as purchasing investment properties,  or starting a business.

These new mortgage changes, in addition to last year's changes, make it even harder for people to buy a home. With the deadline looking for these changes it could actually encourage some people to recklessly rush into buying a home before the March deadline; perhaps a home that they can't afford or that isn't suited to their family and lifestyle.

Yellow Signs on Every Corner
I think there are many other things that the Canadian government should be focusing on. There has been changes to credit card regulations, but the glaring problem that isn't addressed is those yellow signs that are becoming like Tim Hortons or Starbucks with one on every corner. I'm talking about the payday loan stores.

Most people are living pay cheque to pay cheque. If an unforeseen event occurs requiring them to get an advance on their pay, these loan stores can (legally) charge up to 60% interest!

How is someone already living pay cheque to pay cheque going to survive on 60% less pay? They will be forced to go back to the loan centre before their next pay and it will start a vicious downward-spiraling cycle that they will never get out of.

What is the government doing to address this?

*Household debt was at 148 percent of disposable income in the third quarter last year according to Statistics Canada data.


The Superbowl for Hollywood

The Oscars are Sunday night and everyone is trying to take advantage of the captive audience at this live event.

"Marketers are paying $1.75 million for each 30-second slot on ABC's Sunday night telecast."

With big names like Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bieber and Cindy Crawford, marketers are betting on the audience using Twitter, Facebook and other social media to get even more bang for their commercial dollars.

Procter & Gamble has already seen it's Facebook membership increase 25% since announcing Jennifer Lopez as the star of an Oscar spot.

And Best Buy actually made the Superbowl connection with an online vote to pick an alternate ending to it's Justin Bieber Super Bowl ad. The new ending will air Sunday night during the Oscars.

And I'm sure many of these big-name commercials will end up on YouTube very soon after if they aren't there already for more exposure and sharing.


How a Topic Trends on Twitter

Interesting article linked from this Gizmodo post.

I'll admit that the format it was posted in is not very readable and the whole academic aspect of it turned me off. So, I didn't read the whole article, but the Gizmodo post is a good enough synopsis to explain it.

Basically if a tweet originated from a news agency then it is more likely to be picked up and retweeted. Also the resonance the topic has with people helps.

The report also reaffirms how fleeting it can all be and that even though something is picked up and retweeted a lot it isn't going to stick around for long.

I'm sure the six degrees of separation is fairly evident on Twitter so it wouldn't take long for something to make the rounds.


Lose the Hero Shot

This is a great article by Gerry McGovern explaining how you will gain more trust and your visitors will put more faith in your website and your content if you remove any hero shots of smiling people.

Also avoid large buttons that look like banners or else fall prey to banner poisoning.

Your copy competes with the large images
Lots of times you see a large image across the top of the webpage and this just causes more work for your customers having to scroll down each time they visit a page to get at the actual content.

So, lose the hero shot and you have an effective and meaningful website that helps your clients get answers and take action.

Contact me for a comprehensive review of your website that includes Information Architecture, Online Content, Website Navigation, and Usability.


Fear of Commitment

It's a common theme in movies today. The hero or heroine has gone through life single and enjoying many short-term relationships. Then along comes "the one" and the person does everything they can to sabotage the relationship.

It usually falls to the best friend in the movie to point out the good points of the new love interest and help the hero/heroine see that this person is the one.

Businesses can be like the hero only going half way or doing something to sabotage the relationship with their customers, like starting a blog but turning off comments. The blog then becomes like every other newspaper or TV ad with the message pushed to an audience and no way to get feedback.

Social media specialists need to be like the best friend to the businesses that we work with. We need to talk up the benefits of social media and the benefits of the two-way communication with customers.

Social media is great, it's like running a focus group where you're getting feedback from your entire customer base not just some small (hopefully) representative sample base. Like when GAP put out a new logo. They listened to their customers and quickly scrapped the new logo when customer feedback was negative toward it.

Too often companies are stuck in the traditional, familiar mind-set when it comes to marketing and dictate to the customer what the business thinks the customer needs.

Like any relationship, there needs to be a two-way communication with your customers and social media can help facilitate this.

What do you think? What are some benefits that we can highlight to companies to show them the benefits of social media and the two-way communication?


Social Media Needs to be a Part of Your Communication Strategy

"Social media is part of our communications strategy so, ... we didn't have a big powwow about it saying, 'oh, we need to get out the message via social media'. It is already assumed that is one of the channels we want to use," says WestJet emerging media advisor Greg Hounslow.

This quote totally sums it up.

Marketing special report: Social media by Mary Kirby is a great article discussing how airlines are using Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to get their messages out.

"Social media isn't the way of the future - it's now," says Jessica Green of Greenwin property management.

Mobile phones (and even cars now) give your customers easy access to social media and the online discussions are immediate.

You don't have time to debate about a response, so a social media policy needs to be in place and the people monitoring them need to have the authority to respond immediately.


Why do companies prevent staff from being effective!?!

I could go on and on about the benefits of letting employees have access to the Internet and social media, but this is a really good post and the commenters also have some great feedback.

So rather than me ranting and raving, just check out this post by LaDonna Coy.