Road trip season is upon us!
Follow these 6 money saving tips for keeping you on the road with a fatter wallet.
1.) SHOW YOUR LOYALTY – Many companies offer loyalty clubs that give you perks and discounts – CHECK THEM OUT!
2.) DETERMINE YOUR NEEDS – Determine ahead of time what your needs are in a vehicle and will those “extras” be in your budget??
3.) UNDERSTAND THE RENTAL CONDITIONS – Who is covered on the policy? Am I charged if I’m a no show or if I return the vehicle in late?
4.) AIRPORT VS. OFF AIRPORT RENTAL LOCATIONS – Many times it is more convenient and cost efficient if you rent a car that is closer to your hotel or at an offsite rental location.
5.) RENTAL TIMING- Determine how long you need the rental. Sometimes renting for a week vs. a couple days can be a big savings, also the time of day you pick up.
6.) RENTAL INSURANCE – Do not be fooled into thinking this is mandatory. Your current auto policy may cover this!
Be safe and remember always buckle up!
Courtesy of Brian Wardell
Forget Branding – Connect Instead
Many companies focus on brand building. Unless you have a Nike or Coke kind of budget – I say, forget about it. Focus elsewhere for more cost-effective and results producing marketing efforts.
That elsewhere is what I call “marketing positioning.” What? How does it help my brand? Remember, I said to forget about branding. Some would have you believe that promotional products with a logo is a brand. That’s like saying your car or your clothes are you. True branding is an inside job – it goes to the essence of who you are. And that is why market positioning is, in my option, the best way to get there.
Here are 5 strategies to get your marketing focused and rolling – and your brand will take care of itself…
1. Target Marketing – This means to drill down of who your customer really is. I recall the chiropractor who proclaimed that his market was anyone with a spine. While technically correct, he missed the point. You cannot market to everyone – that would require promotion via every know channel – hardly a realist, effective or inexpensive approach. Rather, our friend the chiropractor should focus on people who, 1. Believe in chiropractic, 2. Have a back problem due to injury, age or other causes. These people you can find and message to.
2. USP (Unique Selling Proposition) – What makes you unique, even when compared with your competition. Everyone can have a uniqueness. I recall the radio ad in Los Angeles for the “smell-good plumber.” No others can claim this and it is a catchy way to get attention. “Maybe these guys are different.” But try to avoid gimmicks, be real. By the way, don’t just say service is your differentiator. Unless your name is Nordstrom, it is unlikely you really have a service program that is unique.
3. Strategy – You need a plan for marketing. What vehicles/channels to use. A budget. Goals (results measured). And much more. The idea is to be focused, not scattered.
4. Customer Experience – By engineering the customer experience with your products or services you have an edge up. It’s not about you – it’s about giving the customer what they want or need, solving their problems, helping them.
5. Trusted authority – The goal is to be a trusted authority to your clientele. Remember, people want to buy, they just don’t want to be sold. If all they get from you is pitch, pitch, pitch – they will soon turn you off. By giving them helpful information, you are positioning you as the go-to person when they are ready to buy.
This is your homework – now do it. But know that it must be executed consistently to be effective. No one week on and the next off.
Finally, this list is not sacred, but if you follow it your brand will develop naturally – from the inside out – and it will become genuine and authentic – both needed (and differentiating) qualities in the market place.
Courtesy of Steve Kellogg
Spring Cleaning Your Business Expenses
Now that we are well into a new year and at tax time, this may be the best time to be assessing how efficiently your business expenses are working for you to maximize profits and growth.
Have you kept up with monthly budgets and financials, or are you scrambling to assemble your records for 2014 because you spent last year flying by the seat of your pants and not keeping track of where your money was going? Maybe now is the time to change direction and be intentional with your budget.
The first task of a financial spring cleaning is to compile and organize your information and make sure that you have the right professional assistance where your available time and skills may fall short. Perhaps for you, this means starting with a professional organizer to streamline the flow of paperwork in your office.
Are your files organized such that you or your office personnel can easily access business receipts or other financial information instantly? Do you have your bank accounts, credit card accounts, invoices and payroll information updated into a software program that can give you an expense report, job costing, profit and loss or other financial reports that can accurately keep you informed of how well your business costs are controlled? Is all of your information secure and do you have regular backup procedures in place to protect you against destruction or theft of data?
Now that you have your organized system and software in place to track and protect your data, it’s time to print and analyze a detailed expense report. As you read through each line item, question the value of each expense using the following criteria:
*Did this item produce any new customers, leads or revenue within the past month, quarter or year?
*Is this item necessary to keep my business running?
*Is this expense necessary to service my clients?
As you check off the items that are deemed absolutely necessary and/or productive to your business, take a hard look at some items that may no longer be efficient or continued in the budget more out of habit than necessity.
Now go forward into 2015 with a leaner, more organized and efficient budget and make your business work for you!
– Submitted by Cara Lee, F.A.S.T. LLC
Tips to Reduce Your Financial Risk
There are 2 great ways to reduce or fully eliminate your financial risk in case of Accidents or Illness.
ACA/Metal Gap Supplemental Benefits Our Metal Gap Supplemental Benefit plans pay up to $6,350 in case of Accidents and $7,500 for Critical Illness (Cancer, Heart Attack, Stroke), plus optional 24/7 TeleDoc service.These low-cost plans can fully offset your deductible and co-insurance.
Revolutionary Life Insurance – You Don’t Have to Die to Use! Everyone knows someone who suffered a Critical or Chronic Illness and lived. Did their Life policy pay them a benefit?
The answer is always NO! And, that is why Living Benefit Life is different.
How much better would their lives have been if they received a check for $100K, $250K or more after developing a serious illness? Our unique Living Benefit Term (10-30 Years) and Indexed Universal Life (to Age 120) policies are available from 6 insurance carriers. And, the premiums are normally no higher than plans that only pay a Death benefit.
These policies can accelerate up to 100% of the face value (depending upon severity of illness) in case of:
1. Critical Illness (Cancer, Heart Attack, Stroke, Major Organ Transplant, etc.)
2. Chronic Illness (Inability to perform 2 of 6 Activities of Daily Living or Cognitive Impairment)
3. Terminal Illness
Funds can be used for any purpose, including: Medical Expenses; Disability Income; Long Term Care; Home Healthcare; Household Expenses; Loan Payments; Mortgage Protection; Childcare; College Funding; Retirement Income; Travel; Final Expenses; Legacy Estate, etc.
– Submitted by Wayne Morris, USA Insurance Brokers
The Importance of Inbound Marketing
In order to capture your target audience, you need to have a website that can be found. A business needs a website and it needs to be a destination that a customer would want to visit. Also, a business must have engaging content, optimized landing pages, and always have a constant presence online. These are the basics of inbound marketing that any business needs to be investing in immediately.
– Submitted by Lisa Youngblood, Digital Concierge
Why Promotional Products
Promotional merchandise is the happy medium between useful a product and offline advertising. Data suggests, promotional merchandise may actually be the most effective advertising method for brand retention, “94 percent of people could successfully recall a promotional product they had received in the past two years,” according to a PPAI 2009 study. People love getting free merchandise and your business can capitalize on the opportunities to offer clients and perspective customers’ useful promotional materials. According to the same study, “consumers made a purchase after receiving a promotional product (20.9 percent) more often than after viewing a print ad (13.4 percent), TV commercial (7.1 percent) or online ad (4.6 percent).” Since promotional items have such a high rate of success, companies can often justify their spending with a high ROI.
– Submitted by Tom Mitchell, PromoShack
When moving a front loader washer and dryer down a flight of stairs, PLEASE use an industrial strength dolly. Have a guy on top guiding the appliance down the stairs and the other guy at the bottom of the dolly as a spotter. Please move the appliance down the stairs one stair at a time until the appliance is on the bottom. ALWAYS PAD the appliance before moving it down the stairs.
– By Dan Meissner, Cor Movers
Monitor Your Credit
When looking to refinance or even purchase a home in the near future, making sure that your credit is in tip top shape is key. Having good credit not only qualifies you for many different mortgage companies, but also allows you to get the best interest rate possible.
– Submitted by Jennifer Spiller, Suburban Mortgage, Inc.
Branding Tip – Keep it Simple
If you are just starting a business or rebranding your business, think hard about the logo you want to create. The best logos are simple. Think of the Nike swoosh, the Golden Arches of McDonalds, or the simple two ring target for Target stores. Complicated logos are not easy for people to remember or identify with your company. But everyone can see the golden arches in the distance and know that a McDonald’s is nearby. In short, keep your logo simple and easy to remember and help your clients remember who you are.
– Jen Wolfe, Jen Wolfe Creative
Photo Tip: Why do I need a head shot/new head shot?
In today’s visual world of networking and social media, we can meet and interact with dozens, if not hundreds, of people each week. Some we know and have a relationship with so we haven’t gotten their card. However, some of them we do want to reconnect with and sorting them out at the end of the week in the pile of cards or flyers can be a challenge.
Having a current photograph on your business card, or on your marketing material will help them identify you easily to reconnect. At the same time, having a photo that is several years old, with totally different hair style, color, or in the case of men, maybe a fuller head of hair than there is today, sends a message less empowering than you may want. Whether it’s stills, or videos, having your marketing material and message current and fresh, attracts your prospects eye which is the whole point.
– Glenn Mire, Mire Images