Getting your Ducks in a Row: Writing an Effective Marketing Plan

Google recently stated that “Every 2 days, humans produce as much info as produced by all mankind for the 20,000 years leading up to 2003.” Two days?! That’s crazy! So how exactly do you distinguish yourself through all the buzz, trends and confusion?

Mike Sukle, Creative Director and President of Sukle Advertising & Design presented recently at one of our ROI Series workshops and gave his two-cents on just how to create your strategy for effective marketing.

His first suggestion? Focus on IMPACT. You may have an unlimited budget for advertising, but throwing the money at every piece of media just because you have the resources, doesn’t mean you should. It is better to do a few things well, than spread yourself too thin… and this all leads to your brand equity.

Steps:

  1. Establish Objectives
    1. What exactly are you trying to solve? It is an awareness campaign, a goal of increasing revenue on x service or product, gaining more social media followers?
  2. Understand your Target Audience
    1. Learn your consumer
      1. Gender, age, income, location, etc…these are your metrics
      2. What kind of preferences do they have or problems can your company specifically solve?
  • A great way of gaining insight: send out email surveys, have comment cards at your office/store, ask them to write a review.
  1. Define the key touch-points
    1. Where does your brand come into contact with the consumer? You want to make sure any time you are interacting with the consumer, that it is an experience, and a good experience as that will build your brand loyalty.
      1. At your store
      2. On the radio
      3. In the morning, in the afternoon, commuting times
      4. On the phone
      5. Seasonally
      6. Social media
  1. Track and Evaluate
    1. Is or did the marketing work?
    2. What is the ROI that we received?
    3. What do you want to measure?
      1. This goes back to your objectives…were they met?
      2. Using Google Analytics is an awesome tool!

Check out this video from our ROI: Marketing 101 for more tips!

New Year, Better Wallet: 7 Budgeting Tips for Everyone

Many people start the new year with leftover debt from the previous year, and additional interest month after month just makes the problem worse as the year goes on. If one of your resolutions is to create a budget or get out of debt, BBB has some tips and tools to help you get on the right track to a better financial future.

  • Track your spending. Whether you prefer an app on your phone, computer software, or simply a notebook to jot down your expenses, keeping track is critical. It helps you see where you are actually spending your money, rather than where you think you are.
  • Categorize your spending. Create categories based on necessities (housing, utilities, food, transportation) and luxuries (entertainment, dining out, travel). If you have credit card balances, student loans, car payments or other debt, make “debt reduction” one of your necessary categories.
  • Set up a budget. Once you have an idea where you are spending money, you can set up a realistic budget. There are free online tools to help you, so there is no need to spend a lot of money. Be cautious of scams, however, and never share personal identifying information (PII) unless you are sure of the site’s legitimacy.
  • Pay down debt. One method is to pay off the credit account or loan with the highest interest rate first (the “ladder method”). Another is to pay off the smallest balance first so you feel a greater sense of accomplishment (the “snowball method”). Use whichever methods works best for you. The important thing is that you are doing it.
  • Pay bills on time. Consider online bill-paying that eliminates writing checks, buying stamps, etc. Automatic payments can be scheduled ahead of time and can help you avoid late fees and penalties for missed payments.
  • Save for the big things. Big purchases, such as vacation or holidays, can easily blow your budget. Avoid going into debt for these expenditures by saving up ahead of time and only spending what you are able to save. Many banks and credit unions offer savings clubs that might help.
  • Save for emergencies. Emergencies – car or home repair, unexpected medical expenses, job loss – can blow your budget. Financial experts suggest an emergency fund of 3-6 months’ living expenses. If that is too ambitious, start smaller and build up.

Cat Money

Tax Break Tips

April 15th: It’s the 105th day of the year, it’s Leonardo Da Vinci’s birthday, and it’s also Titanic Remembrance day (who knew?). But for most people, April 15th is dreaded tax day, where everyone must have their income taxes filed. If you are part of the 83% of Americans, who donated $358.38 billion(!!!) to charities in 2014, there are specific tax benefits that can help put money back in your pocket. While filing your taxes may be stressful, the BBB is here to help you on how to get the most out of your charitable contribution. Below are some tips on common deductibility questions.

General overview                     Leo Tossing Money

  • Only itemizers can deduct contributions. Contributions are deductible for the year in which they are actually paid or delivered. Pledges are not deductible until the year in which they are paid.
  • Direct contributions to needy individuals are not deductible. To be tax deductible, contributions must be made to qualified organizations.
  • Keeping records of contributions is essential for itemizers. Acceptable records include bank records and written communications from the charity. Contributions of over $250 require a contemporaneous written acknowledgment from the charity.
  • There are over 20 categories of tax-exempt status. In general, only organizations classified as 501(c)3 and 501(c)19 are eligible to receive contributions deductible as charitable gifts.

Charity Auctions, Dinners, Galas, and Balls  

Rihanna in big dress

  • The general rule of thumb is that only the amount above the fair-market-value of your auction purchase would be deductible as a gift.
  • For example: at a fundraising event conducted by a charity, you pay $1,000 for a week’s stay at a beach house. The fair market value of this vacation is $600. Therefore, only $400 of the purchase would be deductible in this circumstance.
  • If you buy a ticket to a dinner for $100 and a similar meal at the hotel is $25, then only $75 dollars is deductible.
  • Some events may be very expensive, so if you don’t feel comfortable spending large sums of money on a dinner, you always have the option of making a direct donation, instead of attending the event.

Thrift Stores

Macklemore dancing in Thrift Shop

  • Determine whether your goods are in good used condition, and if it’s something the organization accepts.
  • Make a list of the items you’re donating.
  • Be sure to get a receipt from the organization to which you donate.
  • If you donate an Item valued at over $500 it may be in “fair” condition, but you will need to include a qualified appraisal with your tax return. For any noncash contribution over $500 you will need to complete and attach IRS form 8283 on your next tax return.

Car Donations

Dog looking at Car

  • If you are not familiar with the charity that is soliciting, check its website and see how the donation will benefit the organization. Sometimes the names of well know nonprofits are used without permission.
  • Verify that the recipient is tax-exempt as a 501c3 nonprofit, and check the IRS guidelines on vehicle deductions(publication 4303)
  • If you are claiming a car donation of over $500, you will need to complete and attach form 8283. If the car is worth more than $5,000, you will need to get a written professional appraisal. Many taxpayers find appraisers by contacting local car dealers.
  • Make sure the title of the car is transferred to the charity’s name, not an individual, and keep a copy for record.

 

BBB always encourages consumers to do their research before making any donations to charities. If you are looking for a charity to donate to, or if you are looking for assistance during tax season, check out findacompany.org for Accredited organizations who adhere to BBB’s eight standards for trust.

Top 10 Scams of 2015…All but the Kitchen Sink!

It’s officially 2016 and as we begin the new year, we look back to the Top 10 Scams of 2015. Gone are the days of bait-and-switch scams and now we have scams ranging from Facebook prizes, free puppies with purchase and winning a new car without ever entering the contest. What?! We all love free puppies, but with the evolution of technology, scammers are evolving with the times as well and are targeting you through the below avenues, so be on the lookout!

Top 10 Scams of 2015

Welcome!

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