Market Wrap-Up for Dec.6 (DRI, MMM, GE, ACE, UNP, more)

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The market proved once again it is inclined to rally on almost every rumor that centers around the word "bailout". The slope could get tricky if we see the momentum continue and the money that is supposedly on the sidelines come in and chase prices higher regardless of valuation.

In one of the biggest moves of the day, shares of Darden Restaurants ( DRI ) got hit hard after the company guided earnings estimates lower this morning. 3M ( MMM ) investors fared better after company executives affirmed their profit estimates in a note today.

A couple of Wall Street analyst upgrades helped shares of General Electric ( GE ) ( read the report on GE here ) and Ace Limited ( ACE ) tack on gains during today's session. However positive commentary for shares of Union Pacific ( UNP ) did not have the same effect, as the rail play ended the day lower.

If You're Selling Something, Make Sure You Know Your Product

I got a call just last night from a friend of mine who likes to try his hand at some entrepreneurial ideas every so often. His latest focus is on a particular line of nutritional wellness products.

As I always do, I asked him a few hard-hitting questions right off the bat. He had mentioned a particular NBA team had been users of the product. When I asked him which players in particular, he couldn't name one. Knowing I'm a big sports fan, he mentioned a well-known NFL player was also endorsing the product. He knew the player's name and former team, but didn't know this particular player was suspended at one point in his career for using performance-enhancing drugs.

Lastly, I asked him how well the product was working for him, and how his weight was these days. He conceded that he hasn't lost much weight at all, and is presently about 35 pounds heavier than myself (we're the same height). Obviously, his answers to these questions did little to convince me of the effectiveness of the products he was trying to sell me.

As much as I admire his efforts to make more money, it goes without saying he needs to dig into the product a lot more. Additionally, his pitch would be far more effective if he got into better shape and could illustrate the effects of the product on his own body.

Given the current economic climate, plenty of people out there are hustling to bring in extra income. Unfortunately in many cases these folks aren't asking the right questions up front about what they're selling. The hook with many of these programs (many of which are fads that simply come and go) is that the products are not only good for you to use and sell, but also that you'll be able to recruit your customers to be salespeople themselves. Supposedly, you then get a piece of their commissions, and so on. Soon enough, the pitch becomes more about finding people to sell the particular products rather than the importance and usefulness of what you are selling in the first place!

Another popular tactic is to put a product in a situation it would never encounter in real life, supposedly to demonstrate its durability or effectiveness. One popular example I remember had an actor smashing a plastic container with a hammer (it didn't break). Another showed a pair of scissors cutting a soup can in half (like a hot knife through butter!). Clearly, the art of distraction is at work in these situations, but they must work somehow, since sellers keep using those "wow factor" tactics.

To sum my point up, if you are going to try and start a side business or venture, do your homework and spend your time wisely researching exactly the product you will be selling. Having the passion for what you are selling is more important to hearing about how much money you stand to make. Selling is difficult - especially when the focus is mostly on the concept and not the results.

The investments we make in ourselves each day by learning all we can about relevant topics will pay an enormous dividend not only in our own lives, but the lives in our own family's future generations. The lessons to be learned are all around us. I'll be sure to share as many as I have learned and continue to learn myself.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

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This article appears in: Investing , Stocks

Referenced Stocks: ACE , DRI , GE , MMM , UNP

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