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Using social media to help your franchise

Technology is constantly changing, and one can argue that the rate of change is increasing in areas such as social media. The options that people have for communicating with social media keep increasing, as does the audience.

Sophistication or even capability doesn’t translate into instant success. For example, Facebook may be one of the most popular social media platform currently in existence, but it was not the first. Others, like MySpace, came before it, and someday something better may knock Facebook off its pedestal.

No matter how simple or how sophisticated, for the entrepreneur, the key question is how it should be used and whether it should be used at all. Take for example an ice cream related business opportunity like a Cold Stone Franchise. While the parent company may have a range of social media channels to generate customer interest, the franchisee wants to have specific customer interest in that owners particular location.

It wouldn’t help the franchisee to simply copy the parent company’s strategy since that strategy is not going to be customized for that franchisee’s needs. For example, if the location is near a university with a lot of foot traffic, the franchisee may want to develop a Twitter strategy that uses a pair of hashtags in the tweet. One of them may be related to a university event, and the second related to the franchisee’s business. If someone sees the tweet and is encouraged to eat ice cream, they are also encouraged to do so at that franchisee’s location.

Business cards and stationery products are cheaper online

Previous posts on this site discussed how various online tools such as virtual databases and podcasts can be an important component of any business or project. The key advantages are often lower costs compared to how such tasks were accomplished before the widespread adoption of the Internet, and the flexibility that the web-based processes offer.

While these advantages are obvious for things that were first created online, for example tools like Twitter, the advantages exist for decidedly low tech products business cards. In spite of the wealth of online methods for connecting with potential clients, customers, or partners, including very popular social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, success in business still often hinges on personal relationships. When meeting face-to-face, it may be second nature to exchange emails or phone numbers, but it always helps to back that up with something tangible like a business card.

No online description in the world can substitute for the feedback you get when you look at a new stack of your business cards for the first time. You often know, without having to put it into words, whether those cards will work for you. The logical conclusion is that the average person may have to try several different designs from different sources before settling on one that will work.

If you are planning to make several attempts at finding the right card, you should be systematic in your search for the best quality and the best value. It is easy to find low cost business cards online, and with a little bit of effort on a search engine it is easy to find where to find the cheapest business cards on the web. However, it isn’t so easy to find what business cards will work for you.

Once do find that perfect combination of price and quality, by all means keep using that company. If the price is low enough, get two or three different designs and use them all.

A Case for Cash

I’ve heard financial planning experts talk about cutting up credit cards and telling people to use a cash based system to manage their finances. I’ve typically thought didn’t apply to me. I always paid off my balance every month and had an excellent credit score. Recently, I wanted to tighten down how much my family spends on various purchases. We’ve always used credit cards for every day purchases, but the credit card bill tended to fluctuate every month based on the families desires. I’ve tried various mechanisms for tracking. I’ve said that we’re only going to spend X dollars a day etc. It seems there was always some special 1 time event or purchase that ended up on the card.

The problem is that the mental accounting the family had to do to stay on track just wasn’t working. Instead we switched to a complete cash based system. Each family member was given an envelope with a certain amount of cash for everything. If my wife finds bargains at the grocery store she can have a little extra the next time she goes to the beauty salon. If she decides she has to have that certain something at the grocery store and doesn’t have enough money for the salon then she will just have to live with a few of the grey hairs a little longer before her next color treatment.

After using the system for a month it has worked well for us and allowed us to stay on budget.

Countering the Desire to Buy

Have you ever just had to have something? You’re not even sure why, but before you could say Visa you had made the purchase and then a week later you don’t even use or remember why you bought the darn thing anyway? Typically this is because a very clever marketer has tapped into your seedling desire and created a emotional state that made you want to buy. Think of those yummy pizza ads that made you order over the phone even though you aren’t hungry or buy one of those darn snuggies for $20 over the phone. Perhaps learning more about the tactics behind this marketing can help you resist future assaults on your buying psyche.

Unless you’re an Internet marketer you’ve probably never heard of Frank Kern. He is an Internet marketing master. He has put together legendary marketing sales copy that is responsible for bringing in tens of millions of dollars with his slick tongue. People pay this guy large sums of money in the form of royalties to help promote their products. I was recently listening to one of his free videos where he was dispelling some of his wisdom. The purpose of the video was to help those selling items to sell more and think about buyer psychology, but it can also be useful to stop and pause to think before you buy.

Typically marketers try to tap into a seedling desire. A seedling desire is someone that has a small interest in a given subject. They want to then turn that small desire into a full blown emotional buying state.

Remember we buy emotionally and we justify logically after the fact. Any given copy or ad is trying to tap into your emotional state to present you with a future pleasure or way to avoid pain. In some cases it can be absolutely justified. There really are great products that can change your live. My DVR is living proof of that, but there are other things we don’t need.

One of things I have found useful is to actually wait one day and sleep on it. Sleep has a way of resetting our emotional state and changing how we feel. It is amazing how many times I’ve woken up the next day and the emotional state has passed.

Send a comment and let us know how you let the emotional state pass.

Compare Rates in Australia

One of my favorite financial sites is bankrate.com. When I was looking for a mortgage I scoured that site on a daily basis watching rates change and thinking about who I would place my mortgage with. Interestingly for me it wasn’t all about the best rate. I also wanted someone who wouldn’t sell my mortgage and who had an office close by. I was able to find it and get a decent rate easily. I am amazed at the difference between the advertised rate and the rate you end up with though.

Even though bankrate is the 800 lb gorilla in the market there are a growing list of sites specializing in financial niches as well.

Anyway, there is a new site that seeks to help Australians with their rates as well. The site is called GoodWithMoney. They compare traditional items like credit cards and cheap loans, but what I also found interesting is that you can compare rates on items like insurance and broadband services. They have most of the major items that you need for your financial being on their site specifically geared to those living in Australia. They also have a section dedicated to financial Australian news.

If you have any other interesting sites that help to compare rates for a given niche let us know in a comment.

How Living Cheap, Looking Rich Can Help Your Personal Finance and Career in Recession

Live Cheap, Look RichLiving below your means doesn’t seem a desirable decision to survive today’s recession.

There are better ways, and although living below your means are the next logical step when you are in financial strain, your sense of achievement must be maintained.

Why is that?

In order to keep yourself on track in navigating through the economic storm, you need to stay focus. Staying focus can be achieved through the fulfillment of your need for achievement – and living below your mean is not the way to fulfill yours.

Live cheap, look rich

Living cheap is not living below your means. Living cheap means living within a closely controlled budget to achieve the living standard that anybody else has on a higher budget.

The main idea of living cheap, looking rich is to aim to get the best deal in every way, including clothing, entertainment, etc. in such a way that nobody would know that you spend less for the look you have right now.

‘Look’ here is not only clothing, accessories, or any other apparel and fashion related products – ‘look’ is your lifestyle, in a standard that can’t be achieved by living below your means.

‘Look’ is going to Starbucks occasionally, and socialise with your friends and colleagues. ‘Look’ is how people perceive of you, no matter you achieve ‘it’ by bootstrapping. You shouldn’t overdo them, though.

The key in living cheap is total control of your budget.

Why living cheap, looking rich is smart

We live in a society that value physical appearance, lifestyle and charisma. Enhancing yours will actually help you land better job, secure more business, or socialise with more people (which can present you with more opportunities) – all in all will affect your bottom line: your personal finance, in a positive way.

You deal with people, and most of them don’t really care how much you make – what they care is what they see, and how they preceive of you. For example, in a meeting with business prospect, you need a professional look that commands confidence, charisma, and trustworthy. You don’t want to meet your future client in your t-shirt, don’t you.

How to live cheap, look rich

There are ways you can consider to live cheap but look rich:

  • If you are into fashion and business as well, purchase your clothing needs with a wholesaler. While hard to find, wholesale clothes can save you a lot of money. The problem is, they usually only allow you to buy in bulk (usually in half-dozen or dozen).
  • Alternatively, you can shop in consignment and/or discount stores.
  • Shop for everything on the web – groceries, clothing, accessories, electronics, travel deals, etc. You can always receive a lower price for the same item you want.
  • Attend charity events and/or be volunteer. Charity events – the large one – are where socialites and celebrities. Attending the events, as an attendee or a volunteer will help you raise your profile.
  • Purchase used car – no body is really care how much you pay for the car, as long as its condition is top-notch.

Remember, don’t live below your means – Live cheap, look rich. That is good for your economics and, in effect, your personal finance endeavour.

Image by net_efekt.

Tools to Increase Your Sense of Financial Security: Financial Products Review Sites

Finance Product ReviewIn my previous post I talked about improving your sense of security by exposing yourself more toward facts and less toward assumptions.

This article is about a tool that can help you gain more facts: financial products review site.

The pros and cons of financial products review sites

Review sites are those websites that offer you comparisons among a selection in a certain category. In financial products, for instance, there are review sites that compare credit cards – their plans, benefits for cardholders, and such.

With plenty of sites doing reviews on various financial products, you are faced with a multitude of things to ponder before deciding one financial product to take.

Like everything in life, there are pros and cons of financial review sites.

Pros:

  • Reviews help you decide which financial products are the most beneficial for your need.
  • You can access plenty of key information on products highlighted – all in one place.
  • You can learn as much as you can about a financial product, without the fear of being chased around by financial product salesperson.

Cons:

  • Reviews could be non-genuine ones, or even fake, to drive you to a limited choice that bring the review sites the most revenue for recommending you.
  • The review sites themselves could be scammers – Their aim is to lure you to provide private information for them to take advantage of.
  • Non user-generated review sites can be subjective in their recommendations.

The key is to find reputable financial products review sites that offer you legitimate reviews and unbiased recommendations on multiple financial products, such as the Australia-based Good With Money.

How to make the most of financial product review sites for your benefit

First of all, you should seek a reputable review sites that can offer you more details in user’s review, not only a star rating system. This is important, because it is imperative that taking loans will need more effort from you to minimise risks.

Secondly, you should visit the recommended third party sites to learn whether the financial products reviewed are claiming the same features and benefits. This is also useful to see whether the information found in the review sites still relevant with the information found in the provider or issuer sites.

Good luck on your endeavour in increasing your sense of financial security.

Credit Card Minds

Many people think credit cards as the temporary solution for their long term financial problems. What I mean by financial problems is not financial hardship, but financial knowledge.

Credit cards main selling points are convenience, cashless and rewards. People sign for credit cards for those perks.

While credit card offers today is interesting – some offered 0% APR on Purchases, even 0% on everything – many people will eventually build up their credit card debts.

The question – why with all of the free and 0% offers some people still in deep credit card debts, that take years to clear and have to pay hefty amount of outstanding plus interest?

The answer – it is ‘humane’ that people always want more. Along with bad personal financial management, bad spending habit and wrong money mindset, here are why people stumble on credit card debts.

  • You make more money, you spend more money
    People always want to get rich. However, people forget that being rich doesn’t mean you have a lot of money. For some, being rich is status – no matter how much debt they have. Some of status symbol is credit cards. Having a strong financial knowledge will help you to make more and spend not too much.
  • You spend what you see and always want what you don’t see
    “If you have $100 in your wallet, how long will it last?” Most people will answer, “Right away!” Not many people have the strong will to spend carefully of their cash. Most of us need the cash to be ‘secured’ from ourselves to investment instruments, such as deposits or mutual funds. Credit cards alleviate this problems.
  • Convenience often makes you go loose
    Fast food is convenient – you can eat as you go. This, not considering the content of the fast food itself, will cause people to eat more, simply because of the convenience. This also applies to credit cards. Convenience in credit cards will likely cause you to spend more than you should.

I don’t recommend you not to have credit cards. Credit cards are actually very useful in our daily lives. However, I strongly recommend you not to have credit card outstanding debts.

Having a credit card today does offer you perks, such as:

  • 0% is always a good deal
    0% APR on Purchases, 0% APR balance transfer, free annual fee, and even 0% everything – the competing credit card issuers mean benefit for us consumers.
  • Convenient
    Convenience is credit cards main selling point – credit cards is easy to carry and secure – if anything goes wrong, call your issuers to block the cards.
  • Reward is, well, rewarding
    Frequent fliers, hotel deals, dining deals, cash backs, and other rewards are lavishing frequent shoppers.
  • Saving with credit cards
    You can save a lot of money if you know which credit card issuers offering what – Go to credit card comparison websites to learn more which issuers are the right ones for you.

I strongly recommend you to have the right mindset before applying for any credit cards, to get all the benefits of credit cards, such as savings, and avoid all the problems that most people with credit cards have, such as outstanding debts.

What is Threshold of Perception for Money?

In physical terms, the threshold of perception is the limit at which you start to feel something. A change of a tenth of a degree might not make you feel warmer, but you could feel a change of a full degree. Some people are incredibly sensitive and aware to such changes, others are not.

In many ways, people have similar thresholds with regards to money. You can see it in yourself when there is a small error on your bill, or you forgot a coupon for something you wanted to buy. For some people, every single cent is important, where for others, amounts of up to a few dollars in either direction aren’t worth noticing.

If you have a high threshold of perception for money, you need to be aware that those little amounts can add up. The few dollars in bank fees each month might not seem worth your notice, but if you let it slide for a few years, it can easily eat up hundreds of dollars. Unclaimed expenses are another issue. It might not seem worthwhile to pursue claiming each insurance expense or seeking reimbursement for every work-related expense, but those costs add up over time, taking hundreds or thousands of dollars that could be put to more beneficial uses.

So, work at lowering your threshold of perception when it comes to money. It might seem silly when you look at the individual dollar amounts, but when you add them up over time you will definitely see results. Taking the time to notice the smaller amounts can be time well spent.

Online Payment Processing – Simplicity is Key

Bryant Welch, a clinical psychologist, lawyer, professor and former executive director at the American Psychological Association, wrote that life in a globalised world is complex and uncertain, but the human brain craves simplicity and assurance.

No matter how negative the effect of simplicity (and everything instant) is, people does crave for them, due to the fact that human brain always wants to avoid misery and to pursue happiness.

Why simplicity in online payment processing is important for customers

You see, people start leaning toward online shopping for the same reason: simplicity.

You always want to shop from the comfort of your home. Their main consideration is always on order and payment processing. They want a secure, yet simple system to process their order and payment. They want quality and fast services.

Customers have to consider several things in deciding to shop online: how much they will save, how convenience the purchase will, and how peace of mind can be achieved.

Online businesses have to address those issues to win business from potential customers. To achieve this, online businesses must have an integrated and automated online payment processing system that is simple to use.

Where to look for reliable payment processing solutions

In payment processing system, simplicity is key. Setting up merchant account, processing online payment, processing orders and shipping, and so on is a complex operation, although not as complicated as the offline counterparts.

Choosing the right solution will not only helping you win customers, but also helping your back office operations.

There are simple payment processing solutions on the Net, but only a few offering you an integrated solution. My suggestion is for you to seek a company that can handle most, if not all, your payment processing needs.

Partnering with a company that offer you an all in one solution to manage financial processes, such as recurring billing, eCheck processing, online payments, credit card processing, direct debits and cash disbursement will only do good for your online business.

The best way to look for such company is through searching for testimonials and recommendations from the Internet. Reviews on financial-related blogs, forums and social media may be your best bet to find such solution.