‘This is just the start’: China’s passion for foreign property

A huge new wave of Chinese investment in overseas housing may be about to flow into the global market. In Hong Kong, Tom Phillips meets the salesmen who market British property to mainland China

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China is so big, marvels Victor Li, using his fingers to count all the cities he has flown to over the last 12 months to meet with cash-rich Chinese buyers interested in buying into a real-life game of London Monopoly.

Li, a director of international project marketing for the US real estate giant CBRE, is predicting a surge of eastern investment in British homes over the next decade, as increasingly affluent Chinese investors acquire a taste for international property.

I think it is just beginning, says Li, of the amount of money pouring into property around the world from mainland China. You do the figures: China has a population of 1.4 billion. If you target only 1% of Chinas population, thats 14 million people so its already almost two Londons.

Sitting in his office overlooking Hong Kongs skyscraper-dotted Victoria Harbour, Li estimates that just 3% of potential Chinese investors in overseas property have so far been found meaning a virtually untapped goldmine lies over the border in mainland China. China is a big market, you know? he says. They are getting wealthier and wealthier.

Victor Li in his Hong Kong office

Rich Hong Kong investors have been ploughing money into British bricks and mortar for decades, snapping up off-plan apartments at weekly property fairs that can then be rented, flipped, held as investments or used as second homes.

I have one [London property] in Canary Wharf, one in City Island, one in Wembley Park, one in Elephant and Castle, said one investor matter-of-factly at a recent expo in Hong Kongs chic Mandarin Oriental Hotel, as he eyed a new development near the Thames Barrier in E16.

But many real-estate agents and property experts in east Asia believe a new wave of investment is just getting under way, as mainland investors develop a taste for international real estate, including postcodes up and down the UK.

Our thesis and this is supported by quite a lot of evidence is that in many ways the international Chinese investment journey is probably just starting, says Charles Pittar, chief executive of Juwai.com, a website that aims to pair mainland buyers with property developers in places such as Australia, the US and the UK.

Pittars company, which lists 2.5 million properties and calls itself Chinas largest international real-estate website, estimates that in 2014, Chinese outbound investment into residential and commercial property was more than $50bn (38bn).

I guess the key is: what is it going to become? Pittar says. Our view is that it could be growing to somewhere around $200bn [annually] over the next 10 years.

And Britain, despite its decision to leave the EU, is expected to be one of the key focuses, he adds. The UK market, particularly post-Brexit, is really picking up.

Pittar traces mainland Chinas hunger for overseas property back to the turn of the century, just before Chinas entry into the World Trade Organisation signalled the latest phase of its integration into the global economy. But the outflow of money has gathered pace over the past decade, and is set to grow further as middle-class investors from second- and third-tier cities get in on the game.

Its a big market now, but it is likely to be anywhere from two to four times the size in 10 years time, Pittar says. The exciting thing about China is that there are 168 cities with more than a million people. So this is just such a huge market.

A poster for the new Royal Wharf development in London from a recent property show in Hong Kong. Photograph: Tom Phillips for the Guardian

Li, who specialises in London properties worth up to 4m, concurs with the notion that Brexit is helping to accelerate the boom in interest in the UK: Some of my clients at the beginning of the year, they said: OK Victor, lets wait, wait, wait. And then, after they found out about Brexit and [the] sterling came down more than 10%, I got more calls they want to go back into the market. Its lots of saving, he says with a grin.

According to Pittar, Chinese who buy property overseas have four main motivations: investment, lifestyle, emigration and education. Many are looking for a foothold in the UK, where they hope their children will go on to study.
Some people are buying for their family to use it, says Li, some are buying to diversify, some are buying because they want to own a property for investment and some people are buying for prestige, to say: I own a piece of property in London.

Crucially, he says, London is also seen as a secure place to store money that investors want to move out of China, to guard against the devaluation of the Chinese currency, the yuan. People in mainland China, they want to get their money out … They believe that money out of China is safe money. And London is a safe-haven to park that money.

The 50-year-old property salesman made his first foray into mainland China in 2001, pitching a slice of Lambeths St George Wharf to would-be investors at a five-star hotel on Shanghais answer to Oxford Street.

Over the past year alone, Li has made almost 20 such trips, jetting out from his base in Hong Kong to cities including Guangzhou, Chongqing and Chengdu to meet with cash-flush Chinese buyers.

This one is Macau This one is Shanghai, he says, flicking through photographs on his smartphone of recent seminars where he advertised luxury London developments such as Clipper Wharf in E1 and Carrara Tower on City Road.

Li says some mainland investors agree to buy apartments on the spot. If they are interested, they reserve the unit they just use a credit card. They have Union Pay, Mastercard or Visa: 5,000.

Many of his mainland investors are real-estate tycoons who have made a fortune from their countrys economic boom, and now just want to take the profits, cash out and move some of their wealth overseas.

But Pittar believes the story of ordinary, middle-class investors is more significant than that of Chinas globe-trotting, Ferrari-driving elite. What we read in the newspapers is always about the very wealthy Chinese who come and buy a 5m, 10m, 15m property. But the middle class is key. How big is the middle class? It could be 120 million. We tend to think its probably closer to 150 million.

Once theyve got somewhere to live in China, the reality is that the domestic market is quite expensive, so thats why they are looking more for international opportunities. Like anyone who wants to preserve their wealth, diversification is important.

Londons Nine Elms redevelopment: property in the UK capital is seen as both prestigious and secure in China. Photograph: Frantzesco Kangaris for the Guardian

Predictions that a new wave of investment from mainland China is on the horizon will stir further debate over the measures British politicians might use to protect local home buyers.

The anticipated influx of money from mainland China into the UK is set to affect not only London historically the focus for much east Asian investment but cities such as Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham, to which more of the investment is now heading.

Those seem to be the hotspots, says Neil Jensen, the Hong Kong-based regional director for London estate agent Fraser & Co, who promotes developments in the capital to Asian investors.

A particular spotlight has been shining on Manchester since last October, when Chinese president Xi Jinping toured the city to lend his support to George Osbornes northern powerhouse project during his first state visit to Britain.

Jensen says Fraser & Co, founded in 1995, has traditionally specialised in London properties which it markets internationally through offices in Dubai and Hong Kong. Now, however, he is preparing to offer his clients their first major investment opportunity outside the capital, in a project specifically designed to attract Chinese money.

Called New Chinatown or Xinhua Bu (New China Wharf) in Mandarin the 200m venture in Liverpool describes itself as one of the most important and exciting developments in the UK today and promises to be one of the UKs most luxurious and desirable residential destinations.

The developments website boasts: It is the burgeoning energy and dynamism of modern China transplanted into the heart of an historic World Heritage City. Adding: This is an historic moment This is a unique investment opportunity.

Underpinning the whole masterplan is the idea and motif of the awakening dragon a powerful symbol of Chinas resurgence and status as a new global power.

Jensen says improving transport infrastructure in the northwest and relatively low prices meant New Chinatown where two-bedroom duplex penthouses are on offer for up to 546,427 and ordinary one-bedroom flats from 119,211 would be a hit with Chinese investors.

You cant just put up a block of flats in Liverpool and expect people to buy it If you want foreign buyers there has to be a story, he says, adding: Theyll probably go quite quickly.

The fringes of London have also come onto the radar of Chinese investors, thanks to Crossrail, a 14.8bn, 73-mile metrolink cutting west to east across the capital, which is set to open in 2018.

Most of your investors 20 or 30 years ago would have been going more towards the bullseye in dartboard terms, Jensen says, referring to the centre of London. But improved transport links are now drawing foreign investors to places such as Slough, Ilford and Canning Town.

The commuter area anything within a 20-30 minute travel time [of central London] is hot, says Jonathan Gordon, a director at IP Global, a Hong Kong property investment firm that is promoting projects in Ilford and Croydon and has previously invested in Slough.

Mercury House, a new development in Slough being marketed in Hong Kong. Illustration: Fraser & Co

Slough has got Crossrail going through it so you can get to Bond Street in no time, he says. It is those sorts of stories we are interested in as opposed to buying in Bond Street itself.

Crossrail is not the only reason foreign investors are now looking to the outskirts of the capital, though. Investors and industry insiders say stamp duty increases targeting wealthy foreign investors have pushed up the cost of buying more expensive properties in prime locations.

That has led many foreign investors to buy a larger number of cheaper properties in more peripheral, suburban areas, says Gordon, where transaction costs are lower.

One veteran Hong Kong investor, with a portfolio that includes properties in London, Manchester and Liverpool, explains: You buy a large number of properties, but lower-priced ones You pay something like 200,000 or 250,000, rather than 1m for zone one in Mayfair, places like that.

This new wave of Chinese investors includes people such as Jody Ye, a 30-year-old from Chongqing, a metropolis in south-west China. In July, Ye paid 200,000 for a flat in Bristol, where she went to university and now lives. She is planning to buy her second UK property.

Buying property back home is too expensive, she says. Investing in the UK is much more cost-efficient. Bristol is not only a great place, but, she adds: British people think Bristol is posh.

The Hong Kong headquarters of Juwai.com

Fan Feifei, 34, from Xian, is another Chinese buy-to-let investor. She is preparing to purchase her third property in Birmingham. I bought it purely for investment, she says of her second purchase, a 135,000 home in B29, which she rents to overseas students.

Since 2014, Chinese people have been rushing to buy houses in the UK, adds Fan, pointing to high rental yields and stable property prices as key driving factors. All of the Chinese people around me are buying houses or have already bought several houses in the UK. Im the one who has bought the least, with only two.

Song Dongzhe, a third mainland investor, from the north-eastern city of Dalian, bought his first British property a three-bedroomed house in Selly Oak, south-west Birmingham in 2012 for 125,000. Earlier this year he bought two more.

Song says the UK is very attractive to Chinese property investors, largely because it does not have the high duties that have been introduced in Canada and Australia targeting foreign buyers.

High prices in London make it too risky to buy there, he adds. But as the UKs second biggest city, I thought Birmingham was a choice that made sense.

A fourth mainland investor, who declines to be named, says President Xis tour of the UK convinced him Britain was the right place to invest his familys fortune. Property in major Chinese cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen is now too expensive, the Shanghai investor says, and Chinas stock market is extremely unstable so I think its a good time to invest in [the] UK.

As well as London, he says he is now looking at opportunities in cities such as Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh.

Underlying discontent

Speaking in his Hong Kong office, property promoter Gordon predicts that, as has happened elsewhere in the world, concern over foreign investment in British property will eventually lead to the introduction of measures to protect local buyers. There is that underlying discontent in some camps to say: Well, its not on, its not fair releasing and selling all this property overseas.

I wouldnt be surprised if, going forward, there is some legislation that says a certain percentage of properties have to be sold or marketed locally for a period of time, and then it is fair game overseas [after that].

Australia, currently the second biggest destination for Chinese property investment after the United States, has been cracking down on foreign buyers since last year, after complaints that Chinas voracious appetite for property in cities such as Sydney and Melbourne was pricing local buyers out of the market.

Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous city that returned to Chinese control in 1997, has also been fighting to quell a huge wave of often speculative mainland investment in residential property. In a bid to rein in sky-high prices, authorities in the former colony have rolled out a series of cooling measures in recent years, including tighter lending rules and higher stamp duties.

Hong Kong has been battling a huge wave of investment from mainland China in its residential property. Photograph: Marco Wong/Getty Images

Victoria Allan, an Australian real estate entrepreneur who specialises in leasing and selling property on Hong Kong island, says: The price point has moved so high in Hong Kong that its hard to buy a house any more for under US$10m that, five or six years ago, you could buy for $5m.

Allan, founder of Habitat Property, says efforts to stem the flow of mainland money into Hong Kong have diverted a significant amount of Chinese investment elsewhere. Its moved into Australia and the UK; its moved into the US. And it has really pushed those markets up as well.

Allan believes that the Hong Kong government pushed back too hard against the influx of mainland money, and advises British policymakers to avoid taking too drastic steps.

I would definitely say: dont shut it out totally. That was our mistake. I think Hong Kong has approached it too harshly. Why shut the door totally?

By locking mainland Chinese real estate investors out, Allan argues, the whole economy suffers, not just the property market. There has to be some kind of balance. We are supposed to be an international city.

Maybe some tax is applicable, she says, but I think there is a way to manage it in a really positive way for everyone. Particularly if that is done in conjunction with town planning and helping direct the investment into towns and city centres that need assistance with good housing. There are great ways to take the investment.

Jensen also warns against demonising foreign investors, who he says play an essential role in helping developers build new homes. You cant be a world city and not have foreign investment.

Theres a lot of schemes going up, but how on earth are they going to fund them? he asks. The banks dont have the money So youve got to rely on overseas investment, be it funding by way of people buying them, or by someone saying, OK, well buy the site and the development and well sell it back to the Brits.

Li says he recognises the controversy surrounding foreign investment, but shrugs it off as a natural phenomenon: I think even in Hong Kong we face the same problem. You just cant avoid it; its supply and demand. Everybody wants to live in the best location, right?

But not everyone is convinced Chinese investment in overseas property will continue to soar. Gordon says the scale of future investment will depend on the health of the Chinese economy, and the enthusiasm with which Beijing enforces capital controls limiting how much money individuals can remove from the country. Others believe the uncertainty caused by Brexit will put the breaks on further moves into the UK.

Concerns over the risk involved in some UK developments may also curb enthusiasm for off-plan investment. For months, rumours have been swirling in Hong Kong about major developments that appear to have collapsed after the developer went bust, leaving investors struggling to recoup their money.

During a demonstration outside the British consulate in July, protesters held up placards reading: Home is where the fraud is and A scam of two cities.

Property industry insiders argue foreign investment from places such as China is helping to transform urban centres around the globe, and is the only way to finance affordable new homes in cities such as London.

I think a lot of it will be positive on the basis that this is fuelling regeneration, Gordon says of the coming wave of Chinese investment in UK property. Its creating jobs, its improving infrastructure, and it is making, generally speaking, the quality of life better.

But London mayor Sadiq Khan has warned against the capitals homes being used as gold bricks for investment, and has spoken out over how some new developments are touted to foreign investors before local buyers.

There is no point in building homes if they are bought by investors in the Middle East and Asia, the mayor said in May. I dont want homes being left empty. I dont want us to be the worlds capital for money laundering. I want to give first dibs to Londoners.

Additional reporting by Christy Yao in Beijing

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Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/sep/29/inside-china-passion-foreign-property-investment-uk

Google-funded loan startup to pay $6.3m for ‘deceptive’ practices

Experts say the LendUp case is significant for firms in the emerging online fintech sector that claim to offer a better alternative to payday loans

A Google-funded lending startup will have to pay $6.3m in fines and refunds for a number of deceptive practices, signaling the US governments interest in regulating the growing industry of online alternatives to traditional payday loans.

LendUp a San Francisco firm that claims to offer a secure, convenient way to get the money you need, fast misled customers, hid its true credit costs, and reversed pricing without disclosing it to consumers, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

LendUp pitched itself as a consumer-friendly, tech-savvy alternative to traditional payday loans, but it did not pay enough attention to the consumer financial laws, bureau director Richard Cordray said in a statement Tuesday, announcing the settlement.

The company, which has funding from high-profile Silicon Valley venture capital firms and GV, Googles venture capital branch, began marketing its services in 2012.

The startup claimed it would help consumers move up the LendUp Ladder by building credit and improving their scores. The firm promised customers the opportunity to eventually progress to loans with more favorable terms, such as longer repayment periods and lower rates.

But regulators allege that the startups offerings did not match its advertising and that the firm failed to properly provide information to credit reporting companies, which denied consumers the opportunity to enhance their credit.

The federal agency has ordered LendUp to pay a $1.8m penalty and provide more than 50,000 consumers with roughly $1.8m in refunds.

The California department of business oversight also investigated the firm and announced a settlement this week requiring LendUp to pay $2.7m to resolve allegations it charged illegal fees and committed other widespread violations of payday and installment lending laws.

The state agency said the startup had paid $1m in refunds but still owes $537,000 to borrowers.

Experts say the case is significant for firms in the emerging online fintech sector that have claimed to offer better services than traditional payday loan industry businesses, known for trapping low-income Americans in cycles of debt.

Companies like LendUp have attracted positive press from the tech media in recent years.

TechCrunch said the startup would make the loan experience for the millions of unbanked Americans more fair and transparent. Time Magazine said it offered an innovative new payday loan banking model thats more Silicon Valley than Wall Street.

The violations raise questions about that kind of praise and suggest that regulators must do a better job scrutinizing online startups, said Liana Molina, director of community engagement for the California Reinvestment Coalition, a group that advocates for fair banking access for low-income communities.

The main takeaway here is that online payday loans … are just as dangerous if not more so than those products available in the storefronts, she said, adding that restrictions across the board need to be strengthened to better shield vulnerable people from harmful loans.

Theres a lot more work to be done [but] it sends a strong message to quote-unquote innovators in this space that they need to adhere to existing protections.

In June, the CFPB pushed forward new rules aimed at regulating the $38.5bn payday loan industry, requiring lenders to verify the income of borrowers to ensure they can afford to repay the loans.

As a result, digital lending services are rapidly expanding, said Paige Marta Skiba, Vanderbilt University economist and law professor. Were about to see the kind of wild wild west of online lending.

This weeks enforcement actions could impede funding efforts for LendUp and its competitors, which could have hurt companies trying to offer fairer alternatives, Skiba added.

People willing to invest in this kind of startup are going to be all the more scared Its going to be difficult, if not impossible.

LendUp downplayed the penalties in a statement, saying the penalties address legacy issues that mostly date back to our early days as a company, when we were a seed-stage startup with limited resources and as few as five employees.

The firm now has dedicated compliance and legal teams and has fully addressed the issues cited by our regulators, including discontinuing some services, the statement said.

The LendUp penalties are also noteworthy given that Google, a key funder, announced this year that it would no longer sell ads for payday loan companies, saying they were dangerous products classified in the same category as guns and tobacco.

At the time, LendUp criticized the ban, saying it was too broad and would negatively affect them.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/28/lendup-fine-google-payday-loan-deceptive-practices

Carli Lloyd’s memoir explodes myth that US women’s soccer is all fun and friends

In When Nobody Was Watching, the World Cup winner paints a portrait of a player who has given perhaps too much in the pursuit of success

When the US womens soccer team rose to fame in the late 1990s, they projected an image that was a well-polished composite of fun, friendship and teamwork in the pursuit of excellence.

Two new memoirs, Carli Lloyds When Nobody Was Watching and Abby Wambachs Forward, shatter that perception. But they do so in a way that should open a more realistic discussion on what we expect from athletes, especially but not limited to female athletes, and what they should expect from themselves.

Four years ago, Hope Solos Solo: A Memoir of Hope swung the first sledgehammer at the teams image, which had been built up through years of seeing Mia Hamm deflect praise upon her team-mates and plenty of commercials portraying the team as a fun-loving bunch of young women with ponytails and cute nicknames.

Any drama had been hidden behind the omerta of the locker room. New York Times writer Jer Longman summed it up in his chronicle of the 1999 Womens World Cup, The Girls of Summer: No team is without its internal tensions, and the American women had distinct groupings of age and alma mater, but private cliques never became public nuisances.

By 2007, the nuisances were public. Before a World Cup semi-final against Brazil, coach Greg Ryan abruptly benched Solo in favor of Briana Scurry, the accomplished but rusty back-up goalkeeper. The reasoning was murky Ryans public line at the time was about goalkeeping styles, but he later said Solo had broken several team rules off the field. After Brazil won 4-0, Solo walked over to an interviewer in the mixed zone, over the objections of US Soccer PR staff, and ripped the decision to bench her. Since then, one sentence has lived in womens soccer infamy: Theres no doubt in my mind I wouldve made those saves.

Thats unlikely Brazil were simply a class above the USA at the time. But new coach Pia Sundhage worked a miracle to get the team on the same page to win the 2008 Olympics. The wounds were closed, until Solo re-opened them with her memoir after the 2012 Olympics.

Now, coincidentally timed just after Solos termination from the national team, Lloyd has revisited the controversy. Solo has long credited Lloyd as her most steadfast supporter through the years, and in Lloyds book, she strongly defends her friend.

In mens sports, people criticize coaches and managers all the time, call out team-mates too, and its not that huge of a deal, Lloyd writes. Often the guy speaking out is even lauded for having the courage to tell the truth.

Men who lose their livelihoods or at least spend a few days enduring a public slaughter on social media or talk radio after being labeled a problem may beg to differ. In retrospect, Solos career is similar to that of Barry Bonds, Stephon Marbury or any other controversial male athlete their disagreements were tolerated when they were stars, but they were easily jettisoned when the team no longer depended on them.

But thats hardly the only complaint in Lloyds scorching book. In her eyes, the US Soccer marketing department never did enough to promote her. The national team feels as if its a girls club, and no, new members are not exactly welcome. After players convince then-coach April Heinrichs to cancel a fitness session, she gripes: The players get their way. People have told me the inmates run the asylum on the womens national team. Here is the first example of it Ive encountered.

She caps the complaints with a shocking accusation in the wake of Sundhages departure in 2012: A so-called leadership group of players had a conference call and began to quietly push Sunil [Gulati, US Soccers president] to get rid of Pia.

Lloyd says she doesnt want drama, unlike many of her team-mates. Unfortunately, in a dozen years on the US womens national team, Ive been around enough drama queens to fill a royal palace, she writes.

Yet drama is the bulk of this book. And its actually much of her career. Prodded by trainer James Galanis, she always has a chip on her shoulder, and she readily admits she plays better with an underdog mentality. She always has to have someone to prove wrong, whether its a media critic, an opposing coach (based on whispers of disrespect), or any random person who doubted her.

And shes wildly inconsistent about those who criticize her. Some merely fuel her anger. But her relationship with Galanis starts when he gives a harsh assessment, saying she has world-class talent but neither the fitness nor the mentality to live up to it, and she appreciates the honesty. She is grateful to former youth national coach Chris Petrucelli for giving her a similar assessment in cutting her from the team. Shes pleased when current US coach Jill Ellis shows her stats proving she had been giving away possession far too easily something Lloyds critics had noted for years.

She recounts a conversation with Abby Wambach, who warns that the team sees her setting herself apart from team-mates, sitting in a corner and texting, not talking with others. She concludes that Wambach is only saying these things to ingratiate herself to veteran players who dont like Lloyd. But when Galanis tells her roughly the same thing, citing the togetherness factor of a team sport, Galanis is brilliant in her eyes.

(Curiously, while Lloyd mentions many of her club teams over the years, she does not mention the 2011 WPS season in which she played for the Atlanta Beat under head coach Galanis. That year, the team won one of its 18 league games.)

Yet for all the head-scratching moments and petty accusations (the topper: in 2007, when she was nowhere near the player she is today, she gripes that a team-mate isnt passing to her, and it clearly must be for political reasons), Lloyds book has some value. Its not as directly inspirational as Wambachs book, in which the prolific goal-scorer recounts her battles with addiction with remarkable self-awareness. But Lloyd undoubtedly works hard. A familiar pattern sets in she suffers a setback, then goes home to do such intense training with Galanis that the national teams fitness coach worries she is overtaxing her body. She comes back fitter, coaches praise her, and shes back where she wants to be.

And along with Wambachs book, When Nobody Was Watching provides a harrowing account of athletes sacrifices. Lloyds single-mindedness has undoubtedly put her in a different plane to most people. Recently, she refused to take postgame media questions until a reporter deemed to be asking tough questions was dismissed. She and Galanis are constantly searching for enemies to motivate her, leaving her in a state of perpetual conflict. Worst of all, shes tells us how she is estranged from much of her family over disagreements on how to handle her soccer career.

And yet despite her flaws, by the end of When Nobody Was Watching, the reader is rooting for Lloyd. Not necessarily to add more accolades to a distinguished career, but to salvage what she sacrificed of her life. We root for her to have a happy marriage her boyfriends charming proposal is one of the few moments of levity in the book.

And we root for her to leave behind the world of paranoia and perfectionism in which she has lived for more than 10 years, and we hope that future athletes wont give so much of themselves in pursuit of glory.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2016/sep/27/carli-lloyd-memoir-us-women-soccer

Herschell Gordon Lewis: low-brow schlock horror director with a kind of horrible genius

Lewis was the master of bargain-basement splatter without whom we would not have the likes of Robert Rodriguez or Quentin Tarantino

One of the most extraordinary figures in the history of popular American moviegoing has departed the stage: film director Herschell Gordon Lewis was the godfather of gore and the sultan of splatter who in the 1960s energetically pushed the envelope of bad taste with low-cost, low-brow schlock-horror exploitation pictures. Lots of blood, lots of screaming, lots of nudity and lots of money.

Photograph: Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images

But he was more than just this. Lewis was a sort of cross between Ed Wood Jr, Roger Corman, Russ Meyer, Dale Carnegie and maybe even Bernie Madoff. Because as well as being a conveyor-belt of trash movies, Lewis was a formidable and unnervingly driven entrepreneur and compulsive wheeler-dealer who did three years jail time in the 1970s for fraud, having conned people through crooked schemes, like a fake car rental company and incredibly a phoney abortion referral service, and for (nearly) all these services he borrowed money from the bank using as collateral the cinemas of which he claimed to be the un-mortgaged owner. It was a breathtaking and crazy illegality, but nothing dented his almost sociopathic self-belief and work ethic. He cranked out dozens of books on direct marketing and salesmanship and to the end of his life kept his focus on this, producing how-to guides on making money from the web. In fact, he may well have seen in the internet the same kind of wild-west, anything-goes spirit that drove him in his film-making heyday.

Lewis came into low-budget movie-making in Chicago from a flourishing career in ad copywriting. After his softcore nudist-camp smutfests like Goldilocks and the Three Bares, Lewis found his true vocation in bargain-basement horror with his pioneering splatter film Blood Feast in 1963, about a cannibalistic caterer who kills women so that he can offer up their cooked remains in horrendous occult rituals. Lewis actually made a sequel in 2002 entitled Blood Feast 2: All U Can Eat a title which had a kind of horrible genius. John Waters was always a fan.

Photograph: Everett/REX/Shutterstock

After this, Lewis created A Taste of Blood and The Gruesome Twosome, which cemented his own cult reputation, and he was a master of films which appeared to have been created simply to justify the existence of outrageous titles and delirious posters: The Gore Gore Girls (aka Blood Orgy); Monster A Go-Go; Just for the Hell of It; Bell, Bare and Beautiful; The Ecstasies of Women; Alley Tramp; Sin, Suffer, Repent.

After his brush with the law, Lewis turned his hand to direct marketing and his book titles have a very similar gamey spirit to his mould-breaking splatter: Hot Appeals or Burnt Offerings (surely inspired by his masterpiece Blood Feast?), Sales Letters That Sizzle, and Open Me Now.

Lewis was a one-off, although perhaps his career is maybe a lesson in the fact that cinema has its origins in hucksterism and the fairground tent. But without Lewis, there would be no Robert Rodriguez, no Quentin Tarantino. Respectable cinema entertainment is Dr Jekyll; Herschell Gordon Lewis was its Mr Hyde.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2016/sep/26/herschell-gordon-lewis-schlock-horror-director-blood-feast

3 Tips for Maximum Social Media Optimization

When you begin using social networks and other sites to promote your business, you will need to start looking at SMO ? social media optimization. SEO, or search engine optimization, focuses on drawing attention from the search engines and getting to the top of the rankings. SMO sounds similar and indeed is somewhat similar but you will be focusing on drawing attention from the other members on the social media websites and getting popular among the largest number of these users possible. There are many things that you can do in your social media optimization campaign but here are three involving your website that are particularly crucial to your success.

The first thing to do when planning a social media optimization strategy for your website is to make your site interesting and “sticky”. People don’t share boring websites on the social media sites. They share sites that either make them laugh, show them something very useful or otherwise engage them. Creating a “sticky” website just means that your visitor will stick around for longer and come back more often. Ways of doing that include adding fresh content on a regular basis, conducting polls or surveys and anything that adds an element of interactivity with the audience. Those are the things that people want to link to so give them what they want and you’ll be rewarded.

The next thing to do on your website is to make it easy for people to share your content with their favorite social media sites. Most of the media sites offer buttons you can use like “Tweet This” so that readers can just hit that button and login to Twitter and automatically post your content. There are a number of applications, both free and paid, that can be added to your website to make this even easier. Try to give your visitors as wide a choice as possible, even if you don’t use all the social sites yourself.

The last tip that we’ll cover for maximum social media optimization on your website itself is to make it easy for your audience to connect directly with you at the sites you are trying to build a presence on. Even though we said to give them a wide choice for sharing, you are not going to be focusing on dozens of social networking sites. There just isn’t time in the day to be an active participant in too many. However, the ones that you are active in, add a widget or button that allows them to become one of your “friends” or “followers” – whatever your chosen site calls your network.

Use These Tips For Simpler Social Media Marketing

Social media is the wave of the future. It is how more and more people are communicating with each other. If you have a business, regardless of if it is a physical location or web based, you need a presence on these outlets. This article will show you how to do it successfully.

If you are considering using a consultant to assist you with your social media marketing campaign, make sure they use the sites they would recommend. If they truly believe and know how to utilize Facebook, Twitter, and others, they should have a page of their own. Do the research to verify this to be sure they are a company you want to use.

Find bloggers within your niche, and leave comments on their blogs. The great thing about comments is that you can usually leave a link with the comment, giving readers of that blog a way to find your site or blog. While sticking with blogs with bigger followings is more likely to generate more traffic for you, visitors from smaller blogs can add up as well.

When using social media marketing, you cannot limit yourself to one area of the internet. Since there are many different social media sites in existence, there are many opportunities to reach potential customers. Join every social media option available and take full use of the resources they offer to get the best results.

Add a link to your Facebook page or a ‘like’ button with a Facebook feed on your blog or website. You can easily find HTML codes for these in the settings of your Facebook profile. This will allow your visitors to ‘like’ your page and subscribe to your posts without having to look you up on Facebook.

When you begin a social media marketing campaign leave room for trial and error. Depending on you target audience, some things that are effective for other businesses may not work for you. Watch for what is and is not working and make changes as necessary. This will show your customers that you are connected with their needs as well.

Being successful in the world of social media has a lot to do with how you portray yourself. The ideas presented here are all an attempt to make your business as attractive as it can be to the millions of people out there on these sites daily. Use the ideas here to get started today.

Social Media Marketing Ideas That Can Boost Your Business

Business owners across the world have been discovering how social media marketing can help them increase the number of customers they serve. If you are ready to join them, read this article for some tips to help you understand this exciting form of marketing. You will be pleased with the results.

Twitter might be a good way to get more attention for your business. If you invest some hours into learning how Twitter operates, you can make your business visible to hundreds, and even thousands, of new prospective clientele. Spend a little time familiarizing yourself with hashtags, keywords, and other Twitter essentials.

Be sure to link all of your social media sites to one another for the best results. Insert links onto your blog so that readers have the option of following you through Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube. Add in your blog, Facebook and URL to your Twitter profile. When you have links that connect all of your different social media sites, that can help increase your customer base.

Think about what kind of relationship you want with your customers. If increasing sales is your sole motivation, stick to the basics when using social media as a marketing method. If you desire to have your customers to purchase your products every now and then, start off by saying “Hello.” Your customers will let you know where to go from there.

Before developing a specific social media marketing strategy, figure out which social networking site you want to use. Each social networking site works differently, so it is important that your strategy will work with the site you pick. For instance, on Facebook you can create a poll, unlike most sites.

Try to collaborate with other people and companies when using social media. When they link to your content or share your content, you are being exposed to a brand new group of fans and followers. Return the favor and link to their content as well. The more people who link to your content and social media posts, the better off you are.

Read the terms of service of every social media site you make a profile on. Make sure that understand the rules of the site you are making a profile on, otherwise your profile could be deleted and all your hard work will be gone. Some sites do not allow affiliate links; so know the site’s rules before you begin.

Something that people should remember when they’re using social media to market is to stay as active as they can. It is best to link all your social media sites together. This will increase followers and improve your social media marketing strategy. However, having a campaign that is full of interaction and activity could possibly have lots of success.

Now that you have gained a better understanding of social media marketing, you can begin to implement it into your business plans. These suggestions are certain to aid you in developing the next step as you diagram your marketing needs. Treat yourself and your customers to the fabulous world of social media.

Want To Market Your Business? Try Social Media Marketing

Incorporating social media marketing strategies can quickly increase the success of your business. Social media provides you with the tools to not only communicate with a wide audience quickly, but also to interact with that audience. Use the tips in this article to develop the best social media marketing campaign for your business.

Get to know your customers and cultivate relationships that will generate into sales. When you communicate with your customers and ask them to come into your business and meet you, you get to know them on a personal level as well as a social media level. It can be a valuable way to receive input on how your business is doing and how to keep your customers happy.

Do not neglect LinkedIn. LinkedIn is less popular than Facebook or Twitter, but you can find extremely influential users on this site. Add a LinkedIn ‘share’ button on your articles, and chances are that someone who shares your content on LinkedIn will cause dozens of people to share it on other websites.

To create social media content that really markets you covertly, come up with lists. Compose a list of the top fifty weird but true facts about your product, widget or niche. Top number lists seem a little boring to some, but they do tend to get quietly passed around the internet, providing a wonderful opportunity for your brand to get exposure.

When considering a company blog, don’t forget to invite in a guest blogger from time to time. A guest blogger can add new interest to your site and really pick up the conversation. They can help you re-engage an audience if your blog has slowed or stalled, and they might bring in a new customer or two as well.

To help get your customers interested in your products, you should run promotions through social media marketing. Running promotions through this sort of marketing will keep your customers constantly informed of your products and also, keep your business on their minds. Social media promotions are a great way to spread the word about your business.

Take the initiative to follow your customers and reach out to them away from social media. If your customers have a blog and are posting about your company, engage with them and interact on their blog. Link to their content on your social media pages and this will encourage more people to follow you from the bloggers fan base.

Applying social media marketing strategies will boost the success of your business. Take advantage of the many social media tools available to spread awareness of your business, and interact with your customers. Incorporate the tips in this article into your overall marketing strategy, and realize the rewards of social media marketing.

Social Media Marketing – Keeping Your Customers Engaged And Informed

Social media sites have become some of the most-used sites on the internet. If you have a business, and you are trying to attract visitors, there is a good chance that social media sites rank higher than you do. Use the power of these sites for your marketing plans. Here are some smart ways to do that.

Interact with others as you do in real life. Remember, it is “social” media. Don’t just post one-sided status updates about you and your business. Read others’ posts. Ask questions. Have conversations. Your contacts and friends will be more likely to trust (and buy!) from someone who they interact with, instead of someone who posts impersonal snippets all the time.

When using social media marketing to improve your business, you want to create a synergy between all the social media sites that are out there. As you know, there are many sites and each one has its own characteristic or style. Use each style to your advantage and make your online presence known.

Once you decide that social media marketing is the thing for you, be sure to post things regularly. By having this consistency, you will have people come and visit you on a regular basis. They will know to expect a new topic from you, and they will know that it will fit their interest.

Try to make lists when you make posts on social media. These are usually a big hit among people who pass on information to others through social media. Lists also highlight your main points, and make it easier to reference and remember the information that you are presenting to the reader.

If you are using WordPress for your site, be sure to put a Retweet button that is at the top of your posts for your readers to use. This will make it easy for them to pass on your information to others. WordPress has plugins for this, so it will be simple for you to do with huge benefits in the long run.

When using social media marketing, you cannot limit yourself to one area of the internet. Since there are many different social media sites in existence, there are many opportunities to reach potential customers. Join every social media option available and take full use of the resources they offer to get the best results.

To successfully market your business on social media, opening a twitter account can help attract new customers. Word on twitter travels fast, and many successful businesses have used twitter to spread the word on discounts or special events occurring at their businesses. You can gain followers by doing this, and news about your business will also be spread by word of mouth.

When you use the tips in this article, you are catapulting your business out of the dark ages and into the technological age. By making these popular sites work for you. Your marketing can be much more effective. Keep learning about the ways that social media can help you, and watch your profits rise.

The Right Way to Do Social Media Advertising

Social networks can be a real goldmine for any business owner who is trying to increase his sales without spending thousands on dollars on advertising campaigns. However, you’ll miserably fail with your social media advertising campaigns if you don’t know what you’re doing. Let me show you how to do social advertising the right way.

First of all, it’s always better to focus your efforts on only a few social networking channels at first. If you’re all over the place, you’ll have trouble monitoring your campaigns and you might lose track of what campaigns work and which ones don’t. It takes a lot of time to build a loyal following, so it’s always better to start with one or two channels first so that your efforts will be more productive.

Second, you have to make sure that you stay focused and that you follow up with your campaigns. If you’re not consistent, you’ll lose your audience’s interest and your campaigns won’t be as successful. Remember, social media advertising is all about building a relationship with your customers, so make sure that you keep them posted and follow through on every single campaign.

To make sure that your social media advertising campaigns are successful, you have to understand your target audience. If your customers do not use social networks or are not really receptive to social media marketing, maybe social media advertising is not the best marketing method for your business.

You also have to make sure that you advertise to the right groups and that you don’t spam people with useless updates that are only focused on selling and advertising your business. Again, you have to focus on building a strong bond with your followers, so don’t be afraid to send non-business related posts every now and then to keep things interesting.

But before you decide to use social media advertising, make sure that you use channels that allow you to track your results. If you don’t know how big of a response a certain ad campaign is getting, how will you know which campaigns work and which ones don’t? So make sure that you track each and everyone of your campaigns carefully and make adjustments when needed.

All in all, social media advertising is an efficient and cost effective way to meet thousands of potential customers in seconds. Just remember to focus your efforts on only a couple of channels first, stay consistent with your campaigns and track your results so you’ll be able to improve your results.