The Dilemma of Payday Loans Prior to Filing Bankruptcy

Ever since the economic downturn back in 2008, the popularity of payday loans continues to increase. Not because they are great and easy to use, but have become a necessary evil for those that are so far in debt they need to use them to survive. While, sometimes it takes a last resort to use filing bankruptcy as a way out of debt, many have to learn the hard way. In fact, many people burn through assets and even borrow against their 401(k) before making the decision to file for bankruptcy. Recently, payday loans have become available online and it makes me lead to the question, Why would anyone take out a payday loan on the Internet? When it comes down to it, why would anyone take out a payday loan? For those of you who don’t know, payday loans are usually small, high interest loans that are borrowed for a short time with the security of a post dated check. If you ask a bankruptcy lawyer about these loans, they would go back to the question, why?These new payday loans that are available on the Internet has the individual agree to take out the payment with interest and fees electronically from their bank account on a certain date. The idea of a post dated check is a nightmare in itself for a bankruptcy lawyer. The bankruptcy law allows someone holding a post dated check to cash it even after filing bankruptcy. So this means after an individual files for bankruptcy, the automatic stay will not protect them from this kind of loan. The creditor will be able to collect the money from the debtor because of the post dated check or the electronic check they authorized the creditor to deduct. This is why a bankruptcy attorney will tell an individual in financial trouble to consider filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy before resorting to using payday loans. Using an Internet loan creates a new set of problems for the bankruptcy lawyer representing their client. Many times it’s hard for them to even come up with an address to notify them in the bankruptcy filing. Many of these banks involved in this unscrupulous business of loan sharking are offshore and are not regulated by our laws. In a nutshell, even suing them won’t guarantee getting the debtor’s money back even after filing bankruptcy.Being under the stress of unmanageable debt makes people make bad decisions. This is one decision that should never be considered unless it’s a onetime deal because of an emergency. What happens to people that use payday loans is they keep getting less and less of their paycheck because of the interest and fees, virtually kiting them into bankruptcy. It would be better to consult a bankruptcy lawyer before even using a payday loan service. Sometimes the money you save would be that the that the bankruptcy lawyer would charge. Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy will wipe out all unsecured debt, including payday loans. It’s just that many of these loan companies don’t care about the court order and play by the same rules. It’s better to avoid payday loans altogether.

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Mobile Ecommerce or M-Commerce

Mobile Ecommerce and Mobile Banking have been in action since 1997 and have been spreading rapidly ever since the year 2000.Mobile Ecommerce or better known as M-commerce has been clearly defined as the buying and selling of goods and services through wireless handheld devices like mobile phones and PDA. M-commerce is based on the widely accepted and popular Wireless Applications Protocol or WAP. The popularity of M-commerce has led to the development of many mobile ecommerce applications, mobile computing platforms, mobile browsers and many new devices, better known as Smart Phones.Spurred on by the huge demand for WAP and other solutions enabled devices, handset manufacturers such as Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola, and Qualcomm are working with carriers to develop WAP-enabled smart phones. The Bluetooth has also catalyzed the growth of M-Commerce. Access to internet, emails and online transactions has been made simple and easy through these technologies and the emerging 3G services and internet access with blinding speeds.As content delivery over wireless devices becomes faster, more secure, and scalable, there is wide speculation that m-commerce will surpass the conventional online e-commerce through wired connections.Mobile banking has today enabled bank customers to use their handheld devices to access their accounts and pay their bills as well as brokerage services, in which stock quotes can be displayed and trading conducted.Security has always been the concern for customers who are using M-commerce for their business and personal transactions. However the availability of safe browsers, sound platforms and new encryption systems, customers are increasingly feeling confident to carry out really sensitive, high-value transactions through M-commerce. The threats of Viruses, Malwares and other malicious programs have been overcome with the confidence of technology backing customers with the promise of dealing with any new such threats.M-commerce has instilled confidence amongst the business community and more and more online transactions, be it business or personal, are being carried out through the mobile platform. The choice of handsets, platforms and software solutions available to the customers are truly stunning and mind-boggling.M-commerce has been able to win over the trust and belief of the users through sheer persistent technology innovation and faultless development. All the key components like connectivity, platform, security and flexibility have been addressed with earnestness and appreciable thoroughness.The future of ecommerce lies in establishing mobile commerce as a viable alternative. Hand-held devices are undergoing a sea-change and the availability of devices with multiple features and extreme computing power is a factor which is acting as a catalyst.

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Why Yahoo Small Business Can Benefit Any Business

If you have a small business to manage, then you know just how difficult it can be. Although they are called ‘small’ businesses for a reason, it can take a full sized team to run a successful business of any kind, and between web hosting and web design, financial organization, marketing, online sales, and a variety of other positions that need to be filled, there are so many things that need to take place to grow a small business. And Yahoo Small Business is a great way to get your small business’s web presence off to the right start.Between the web hosting services, their merchant account services, help with advertisement and customer service, and a number of other services that are offered, any small business looking to get a good start would benefit well from the many services offered by Yahoo Small Business. Whether building your first website or looking for Yahoo E-commerce and an online store, YSB has the tools and is your easy solution.Yahoo Small Business Web Hosting ServicesBeing that Yahoo is a web based service, they excel at providing users with the necessary tools to improve their small business. Choose your own web address and domain name and personalize it with your very own professional grade website. The goal is to make your business thrive with an improved online presence.If you get stuck, Yahoo provides 24 hour customer support, assisting you with questions related to down times, data transfer, emails, and more. The web design tools that are included are relatively easy to use with easily customizable designs, so you never have to worry about having your web site look like everybody else’s.1,000 email addresses give you more than you could ever need for a small business, and with unlimited web storage and all of the benefits of Yahoo email, you are well equipped to give your business a boost. Everything is easy to use. Yahoo Mail Plus with SpamGuard keeps those nasty spam emails away from you and your employees, keeping computers safer and allowing your business to be more productive.Get Your E-Commerce Site Off to a Running StartWith Yahoo Small Business and their Yahoo Small Business Web Hosting options, you also have the option of creating an e-commerce site for your small business. This is great for those businesses that have physical locations as well as online businesses, and including e-commerce can help to expand your customer base.For those small businesses out there that lack a physical location, e-commerce website platforms are critical to business success. Not every e-commerce site is equal to another, and simple things like design, accessibility, and ease of use can make all of the difference in the world.Search Engine TargetingNot only does Yahoo Small Business automatically submit your site to the popular search engines, but those who use Yahoo can also use Yahoo Sponsored Search to advertise your business. This gives regular businesses more exposure and more of a chance to be seen by targeted potential customers. Customer targeting, search engine placement, user friendly advertisements, search engine keyword reports and more… What else could you need to get a business off of the ground than what Yahoo Small Business and Yahoo Small Business Web Hosting has to offer?Internet AccessAs if all of this wasn’t enough, Yahoo Small Business has even teamed up with AT&T to provide Internet access service to small business customers. When you bundle the Yahoo Small Business services and Yahoo Internet access together, it even allows you to save up to 20 percent, and in the beginning of a small business, every little bit helps.Yahoo Small Business and their Yahoo Small Business Web Hosting services just may provide you with the edge you need to blow the competition out of the water.

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Financing A Home: Improving Your Credit Score

Today there are many homes for sale with low prices and low interest rates. Housing is more affordable now than it has been in many years. Considering the current market, why isn’t everyone snapping up homes? The truth is, many first time home buyers are jumping into the market and getting in on this affordable housing opportunity. Real estate investors are also very active as they see this unique opportunity to build their wealth. The unfortunate reality for everyone right now is that even though homes are more affordable now than in many years, lenders are very picky about who gets a loan and who does not. And your credit score is one of the primary indicators of whether or not you will get approved for a loan and what your interest rate will be.Just a few years ago a borrower with a credit score as low as 500 could buy a home. Today that score needs to be a minimum of 620 to 640. And to qualify for the best interest rates you better have a credit score in the 700′s. No matter what your credit score is, you should know it. If it is not close to 750 you should resolve to get there and here are some easy tips to help improve your credit score.Let’s take a look at what information on our credit report determines your score, then we will give suggestions on how to improve in each of those areas35% or your credit score is attributed to your payment history which not only includes actual payments to your creditors, but it includes things such as collections, judgments and tax liens. With this in mind you always want to make sure you make your car, credit card and loan payments on time. Many lenders also require verification of rental payment history, so you will want to make sure you pay your rent on time as well. By the way, a payment is considered on time if it is paid within 30 days of the due date. If you have collections, judgments or tax liens on your credit, you will have to provide proof that these were paid. If there are unpaid collections you can in many cases negotiate a settlement for less than what is owed. From a credit scoring standpoint this is almost as good as paying in full as long as it is reported as satisfied in full on the credit report.In addition, you can make a payment arrangement for tax liens and after 12 months get those rated for your credit report which will help. Judgments are required to be paid in full at the close of a loan, and you will need to get it paid and the credit report updated in order to improve your credit score. In many cases with a history of late payments we have to say, time heals all wounds. In other words, it may just take a year or so of making your payments on time to get the credit score you need. If you have items on your credit report that are incorrect, then you can dispute those items to get them corrected with the credit bureau.30% of your credit score is attributed to how much you owe on your credit card as a percentage of total credit limit. Let me give you an example: If you have one credit card with a $1,000 limit and you owe $750 on this card, your percentage of credit usage is 75% and your available credit is 25%. The lower the usage percentage the higher your credit score will be (all other factors being equal). There are 3 ways to improve this number. You can accomplish this by paying your credit card down as soon as possible. You can request an increase in the credit card limit. And you can also open up new cards. For the last two, you will need to exercise some caution however.When you request an increase in your credit card, you should ask your credit card company if they can do this based on the merits of your payment history with them. If not they will create a credit inquiry which can lower your score just a little bit. In my opinion it would probably still be worth the credit inquiry deduction from your credit to get your credit limit increased. I believe that in most cases you would have a net gain in credit score, but there have been times when I’ve seen it drop at least in the short term. By the way, do not increase the balance on your credit card when your limit goes up or you will have just undone the improvement, but now you owe more money and still have a low credit score. Similarly, when you open up a new credit card, you end up having a couple of strikes against you which is the credit inquiry and the new credit account. More about both of these in a moment.15% of your credit score is attributed to your length of credit history. So Let’s have another example: Let’s say you have 2 credit cards. You have had one of the credit cards for 5 years and the other card for 3 years. So on average your credit cards are 4 years old, and so your credit score will reflect this 4 year average length. Now if you open a new card, you reduce your average down to about 2.7 years from 4 years. So initially at least this can have the effect of lowering your average length of credit and reduce your credit score accordingly. That is one of the reasons that opening new credit is not a quick fix for bumping your credit score up. However lets take a look at it a year from now. In one year from opening the new credit card your average length would be at 3.6 so if this is part of a longer term strategy then it would probably be a good strategy to follow.10% of your credit score is attributed to new credit, so once again you can see that opening a new credit account not only lowers your average length of credit, but it also counts against you on a stand alone basis as well. This is also why an inquiry affects your credit score as well. When there are inquiries, it is “assumed” by the system that you are acquiring new credit whether you are or not. For example, if you had your car at the dealership to be fixed and while you were waiting you were taking a look at a new car and ended up making an offer which the dealership knows you will be financing, they will make sure to run your credit (with your permission of course). So even though you end up not buying the new car, the credit inquiry is on your credit report and will slightly lower your credit score. By the way, all inquiries reported in a 30 day period from similar companies will be treated as one credit inquiry. So if you are going to be buying a car or shopping for a mortgage, try to get all of the inquiries put in within 30 days to lessen the effect of multiple inquiries.The last 10% of your credit score is attributed to the types of credit used, or what we call credit mix. It is good to have both credit cards, car loans, mortgages and installment loans on your credit report. For most people it will take time to accomplish all of these, but beware that someone who always uses high interest rate, high risk lenders will have lower credit scores as well. I cannot mention them by name of course, but it is the lenders who would be considered a finance company, and makes high interest rate and unsecured loans for household goods that will decrease your credit score. Now it is not bad to have an account with this type of company. Many of them work with stores to offer no interest, no payments for 90 days or longer. As long as you are not using them with regularity. Once established you should be able to qualify for reasonable rate credit cards or even an installment loan at a bank or credit union with a competitive rate as well. So bear in mind as you build your credit and credit score that these factors all contribute to your overall score.A couple of other thoughts for you. Many folks ask me what this or that will do to your credit score and unfortunately no one can tell you exactly as credit scoring is somewhat like Kentucky Fried Chickens secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices. It is a closely guarded, highly sophisticated set of algorithms that combines all the above stated factors and reduces them down to a simple 3 digit number that is supposed to represent your likelihood of paying back the loan or credit card you are applying for. You may want to connect with a lender who can assist with guiding you through the process of improving your credit score. There are also a large number of companies who will, for a price, work on your credit score for you. There are no guarantees with these services and in addition, they are usually fairly expensive and many of them are just plain rip offs, so you would need to approach this avenue with a great deal of caution.Finally, as a consumer of credit services and possibly as someone who want so purchase a home, you should make it a priority to take control of your finances and your credit score and find out what your credit score is and work hard to bring it up or maintain it.

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A Quick Guide to Managing Personal Finances Successfully

Managing your money and personal finances is easy with just a basic understanding of the world of finance. You can learn to handle yourself in stressful moments with this guide to personal finances, budgeting money, managing personal finances, using personal budget software or seeking finance help online. Our financial guide offers great value in assisting you in all areas of money.Most people don’t think of themselves or their lives as a business. But from birth to passing, you are in business for yourself, the business of you. How you choose to manage your business is up to you. The same guidelines that apply to running a successful business also apply to leading a victorious life, both financially with your money and emotionally. Remember stress around money can affect your emotions negatively as well as your health.Giving adequate service to our fellow human beings is the mirror of a successful business as well as providing value to their lives. If you seek to provide as much value to as many human beings in your life, you are sure to become a successful person and customers and wealth will knock at your door. So how does this apply to managing finances successfully you might ask?Below are 4 important points of our guide from Personal Finances Online, to managing personal finances successfully.Take extra effort in removing any emotion like dept anxiety or overwhelm from financial obligations worry over mounting bills and income. Removing the emotion from your personal finance budgeting will be a work in progress, and you should always remain on guard for over active emotions. Taking emotion out of dealing with your finances will help you come up with positive solutions and solve problems more effectively.

Managing your personal finances on a regular basis rather than letting the admin tasks mount up is important. That way you stay on top of where you are at, can change things, make better decisions ahead of time rather than always being in reaction mode or putting out fires. Avoid decisions that would lead to bankruptcy like over leveraging your loans or taking on financial commitments you don’t know how you can pay back.

Devote yourself to develop greater skill sets like budgeting, planning and even using budgeting software. Managing personal finances like a business is about seizing control of your destiny, both with your finances and your life. Try to be like the great business leaders and attack your future with vigour and enthusiasm. Overseeing your finances in this way, with boldness, and a belief in their importance can have amazing results. Lead your money with boldness, and like an army your personal finances are sure to follow

Using software to support you with your personal budgeting is a good idea because it contains spreadsheets that have everything in one place. You can see very quickly where your current state it, budget better, plan better, not to mention the time it will save you putting your own spreadsheet together.

The ultimate personal finance software provides sufficient user-friendly features, allowing users to manage every aspect of their finances, including accounts, investments, future plans and taxes. Software will provide up to date information on tax laws and stock reviews to help you make knowledgeable decisions.Remember proper budgeting of your personal finances is the beginning of good and sound financial management. Online sites and budgeting software can help you. Of course, this will not be possible without first your determination to manage your financial obligations without getting stressed about it.

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Four Free Web Site Promotion Tools that Will Bring You Tons of Site Traffic

EVERYONE CAN USE FREE PROMOTIONAL TOOLS EVERY SINGLE DAYIt continues to amaze me how so many web site owners out there still pay huge bucks to web site promotion companies to do most of the promotional work for their on line business that the web site owners should be doing themselves for free. By applying just a few of the following techniques to their overall web site promotion weekly schedule, any web site owner that is open for business today should be able to attract as many new viewers to his site as he should ever need.1 CONDUCT A SURVEYThe first thing you need to do involving this excellent free marketing tool is to find a site that is very similar to your own. For example, if you have a site that sells PS3 and X-Box 360 video games, you should search out every video game website that reviews and previews the games that you will be eventually selling. Then you can sign up as a member on the web site’s forum board and invite the video game fans that read that message board to complete a survey in which you will give them a discount on any video game of their choice after completing the five minute questionnaire.This is a definite win-win equation because the survey taker will get a discount on his next video game purchase, and you have just landed a new customer and viewer to your web site. The posters who will read about this survey taker’s dealings with your company will also pay a visit to your site because they too will want that free discount which will allow you to grown your overall subscription customer base exponentially in the coming months which makes conducting various surveys in your own specific market such a great web site promotion tool.2 LINK EXCHANGEOne of the most powerful web site promotion tools that happens to be free of charge is linking your site up with a much larger one that can bring their customers to your site. You should always be looking for web sites that deal with your exact product or service so you can e-mail the webmaster or web site owner and ask them to link to your site if you can link to their site.Some web site owners feel that they are already way too popular to give a reciprocal link to yours just because they don’t need the aggravation of going to your site and analyzing your web pages content, so don’t take it too personal when some of them turn you down. But you should be able to find plenty who will, so as soon as possible you should go do a Google search using your keyword description of your site and contact the top thirty web sites on Google’s search pages and start querying the web site owners today so you can harness the power that this great web site promotion technique will bring to your site.3 ARTICLE WRITINGEven if you can’t put two sentences together so you can write and submit articles about your subject matter on your site, you definitely should hire someone who can, otherwise you are missing out on garnering the best targeted web site traffic available on the world wide web today. When you submit an article to a submission service which will then blast your article to hundreds of sites that are hungering for great content, you must include your web site’s URL which will allow your article viewers to visit your web site en masse. Just make sure your articles have great and pertinent content embedded in them to allow this web site promotion tool to work best for you.4 VISIT FORUMS EVERY DAYA nice and subtle approach using this web site promotion technique is the best one. A good example would be if you own a web site that covers the exciting world of car customization. Just start a Google search using the keywords “car customization sites” and then sign up on the most popular sites that you feel will reach the best target audience for your site.You can then strike up conversations on line about the various companies that make new car accessories for Nissan, Honda and Toyota and also leave your web site’s URL in every posting that you have generated. Don’t hit people over the head with describing your web site in “hard sell” language though. Just include a slight description of what the car customizer enthusiast might find appealing about your site without acknowledging that your are the site owner.Along with these four free great web site promotion techniques, you should also make it a daily habit to seek out advanced promotional tool software that many web sites will happily give you for free, thus ensuring your online business success story will be a happy one.

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Hotels Near Downtown Washington DC

Downtown Washington DC is the district comprising of the capital of the United States. It’s currently serving as a base for the national unity in the whole of the US. The district is directly under the watchful eyes of the US Federal government and hence, it’s not a part of any US state.The Downtown Washington DC has borders with the some states like Virginia and Maryland. It’s also located on the north bank of the famous Potomac River. The population of the district keeps swelling up because of the daily influx of people from other states. As the capital of the US, the district houses the centers of the three branches of the US. It’s also the location for most US museums and monuments.There are lots of corporate and government facilities in the district. It serves as the home for over 176 foreign embassies. The headquarters of the World Bank is also located there. You can also locate the headquarters of some other bodies in the district. Among them include, the headquarters for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Organization of American States, the Pan American Health Organization, the Inter American Development Banks and a lot more. Trade unions, professional associations, lobbying groups and other bodies also have their headquarters located in the district.The above scenario shows that Downtown Washington DC is always a beehive of activities. Many people visit the district on daily basis for one business or the other. Hence, there are always places to lodge in when they visit. There are many hotels near Downtown Washington DC. Among them include:• The Melrose Hotel – located in Washington’s Georgetown• Washington Court Hotel – locate in Washington’s Capitol Hill• The Donovan House – located close to the National Geographic Society and the White House.• The Washington Plaza – family friendly hotel located in the heart of Washington DC• Radisson Hotel Reagan National Airport – Located in Central Arlington• The Liaison Capitol Hill – An Affinia Hotel• Howard Johnson Washington DC North/BW Parkway – a business friendly hotel in Washington• Washington Suites Georgetown• The Dupont Circle Hotel• The Churchill Hotel – A business friendly hotelThe above are some of the best featured Downtown Washington DC hotels where visitors can always stay when they visit the district. They are well built with the state-of-the-art facilities and adequate security systems. You can always have the best of fun staying in any of the hotels since many of them are very close to the heart of Washington DC.

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Brand Aid

Even Starbucks started small.A strong brand identity is essential for success, no matter what size your business.Was it Shakespeare who asked, “What’s in a name?” The Bard never had the opportunity to jog in Nike running shoes, ride a Harley through the streets of Stratford or kick back between sonnets with a cold Bud. These days, to paraphrase the playwright, the name’s the thing. Indeed, a company’s moniker and a strong branding program are often the keys to its commercial success.Large enterprises have long understood the importance of a winning branding program. But today branding is becoming vital for many smaller businesses-especially those in extremely competitive markets where product and service differentiation are essential for success.Definitions of branding vary, but in general it means developing a name, logo, symbol, Web site or other entity that’s commonly known by consumers or businesses to identify a company or its products and services. One of the benefits of a solid branding program is that customers are more apt to remember the business when they need a particular product or service. Another is that branding gives consumers the impression that a company is established and reliable. Moreover, strong brands will be recognized by consumers even if they don’t know anything about the company or use its products.”Your brand is essentially what differentiates you from the guy down the street,” says John Kuraoka, an independent creative director in San Diego who specializes in branding for small business. “It’s what makes you someone a customer wants to go to.”Martin Lindstrom, CEO of advisory firm Lindstrom Co. in Sydney, Australia, and a well-known branding expert, says creating a brand means not only standing out from competition but developing a rapport with customers. “Branding involves creating an emotional tie between the company and the product and the consumer,” he says.Strong branding is especially important in today’s highly competitive business environment, where consumers and businesses can search the Internet to find other companies that provide similar products. And small companies aren’t only competing with other small ventures, but often with giant corporations as well. Lindstrom says he expects to see a growing number of small businesses emphasize branding to try to attract and retain loyal customers.How can small businesses launch branding programs on small, even shoestring, budgets? Experts and small-business owners say it’s possible-it just takes planning, creativity and determination.Have it Their WaySmall businesses looking to develop a brand should start by finding out what’s important to their customers. “A lot of business owners read books and talk to experts and then try to create a brand and impose their ideas on customers,” Kuraoka says. “But the brand has to be expressed from the customer point of view. What’s going to make you unique in a way that’s relevant to your key customers?”Businesses can gather customer feedback inexpensively through formal or informal surveys, focus groups, follow-up questions or casual conversations. They should use this customer data to help develop components of their brand, including names, logos, letterheads and even corporate philosophy.Lindstrom recommends asking questions such as how people use or intend to use the company’s products or services, which competitor’s products they may use and what they’re prepared to pay for the product. “Then bounce back all your ideas against the customers to find new ideas,” he says.Lindstrom adds that small businesses shouldn’t spend a lot of money on designing elaborate logos, because most consumers don’t use logos to identify companies. He says small companies also shouldn’t break the bank on advertising, but instead devote a few thousand dollars to a clever radio ad campaign that reaches a targeted audience.”Whether it’s paying bills, reading the newspaper or shoe-shopping online, the Internet and the wallet are increasingly becoming inseparable,” says Chris Winfield, president of 10e20, LLC, a New York-based Internet marketing firm. “The opportunities for small and midsize businesses are endless, especially with Web sites priced considerably less than a traditional marketing campaign.”"The company had been around for 25 years and a lot of people saw us as small. Now they see us as being larger in the market. We look more professional and sound more professional than we did before.”Web-based marketing (via e-mail and online advertising) can cost 30 cents or less per qualified lead, according to Google Inc., the leading Internet search firm, compared with $1 or more for traditional marketing and advertising media. Still, many small-business owners-including Santomauro-are Internet novices. Born and raised on Long Island, Santomauro spent his youth working in his family’s upscale seafood restaurant. There he quickly mastered restaurant operations, financial management, food preparation and every other facet of the culinary arts. Instead of tinkering with PCs and restaurant management software, Santomauro focused his time on customer service.That approach served Santomauro well when he relocated to Greensboro and opened his specialty meat store in 1998. Yet when it came time to get on the Web, Santomauro knew he needed help. “That’s the number-one thing I hear from small-business owners,” says Paul Lipsky, associate professor of communications at New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), a college with campuses in Manhattan and on Long Island. “Everyone wants to get on the Web, but they know they can’t do it alone. The key question becomes: ‘How do I get started?’Success StoriesWhen Bangor, Maine-based Deventure Health Partners, a provider of medical transcription and technology management outsourcing services to small and medium-sized hospitals and clinics, decided to launch a branding program, it worked with Tortorella Design, a graphic design and consulting firm in North Canton, Ohio, to create a company name and develop a branding and promotional strategy. Its total expenditure was about $8,000.”We realized early on in our research that outsourcing typically entails a lot of fear for those [technology] people who remain behind in the hospitals,” says Michael De Ville, Deventure’s president. “So we knew we needed to make sure in our branding that they understood that even though they’re outsourcing, we’re still making them a partner in the process.”With this in mind, Tortorella Design came up with Deventure, a derivation of DeVille’s name that emphasizes how the company creates working partnerships with its clients. Deventure also branded one of its services-delivering medical records to healthcare facilities over a secure Internet connection-with the acronym SHINE (Secure Health Information Network Enterprise). Part of the promotional program includes the tagline, “Make your transcription process SHINE.”In another example, Applied Medical Services, LLC of Durham, N.C., which provides medical practice management, billing and other services, hired marketing and public relations firm 919 Marketing Co. in Holly Springs, N.C., to help with a re-branding.For starters, the company changed its name from Applied Medical Systems, because that sounded too computer-specific, says President Michelle Durner. The company, which has 40 full-time employees and 85 contractors, also developed a new logo, a trade show booth, brochures, telemarketing and direct mail campaigns, and an advisory board with medical experts. The entire program will cost between $75,000 and $100,000, money Durner says will be well spent.”This makes us different from the competition,” she says. “The company has been around for 25 years and a lot of people saw us as small. Now they see us as being larger in the market. We look more professional and sound more professional than we did before.”This sort of branding program might sound pricey to some small-business owners, but Durner says there are ways to spend prudently. One is to look for the most effective means of reaching a target market for services and putting dollars into that. For example, Applied determined that the people it was trying to reach in hospital management weren’t especially Internet savvy, so rather then send e-mail promotions, it mailed out brochures or placed ads in selected trade magazines.Another small company that re-branded was Scottsdale, Ariz.-based All Sport Entertainment Inc., a provider of online and on-location fantasy sports games and contests. In early 2004, after more than eight years as All Sport, it changed its name to Head2Head Sports LLC. According to President Kevin Gralen, the outfit, which has fewer than 10 employees, had enjoyed consistent and profitable growth, “But it was clear that the name All Sport didn’t resonate with customers.”Most of the games the company offers involve head-to-head competition between players-a unique concept in its market-and some of its most popular games in fact use the name Head2Head (or H2H for short). To its tens of thousands of subscribers, the company had become synonymous with those games. “People would call us Head2Head,” Gralen says. We’d go to trade shows and they’d say, ‘There’s the Head2Head guys.’”The company’s owners did some research with the help of consulting firm First Light Marketing in Utah, and determined that there was clear market value in the Head2Head brand-with both customers and business partners. “Small companies have very limited opportunities to burn a brand into someone’s brain,” Gralen says. “This is how people view us, the company and the types of contests we offer.”Head2Head launched the three-month renaming and branding program in September 2003, creating a new logo and including it on letterhead, business cards, a weekly newsletter and other printed materials. Head2Head hired graphics design firm Moorhead Creative to help develop the logo. It also revamped its Web site to reflect the new image and developed an e-mail campaign to make sure that customers were aware of the name change. The entire campaign cost more than $5,000, Gralen says, but the company was able to save some money on the effort by carefully thinking through the changes before implementing any of them.No matter its branding strategy, a small business must thoroughly research its market before launching a program, Kuraoka says, because building a strong brand is one of the most important initiatives a business will undertake. “It’s more than a company name or logo. Branding is about values-what you stand for, what the company name stands for,” he says. “Your brand is your reputation.In a nutshell, what is branding?Martz: It’s an implicit promise made between a buyer and a seller.What kind of a promise?It’s the promise that the buyer is going to have the same kind of experience consistently. At Starbucks, for example, the customer is going to experience the same taste, the same smells, the same quality, no matter whether the store is in Seattle or Miami. Branding is about much more than simply having a logo or using a particular color.Why is branding important to small businesses?It’s the way they can differentiate themselves from their competitors and create a preferred position in the market place.What’s the biggest mistake small businesses make in developing and managing a branding program?Lack of consistency. They change depending on what the favor of the month is. The customer doesn’t know what to expect. Also, often the relationship with the customer is present but not nurtured. Without nurturing between the company and its customers, there is little incentive for the customer to increase his or her loyalty to a company.With the result that… ?When a competitor offers a better price for a similar product or service, the weaker brand relationship provides no glue to hold it together, and the customer defects.Is creating and managing a branding program expensive?Branding is not advertising. It doesn’t require significant capital investments, which means it’s in the reach of most small businesses.

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Essentials of an Integrated Marketing Communication Process

The American Marketing Association (AMA) which represents marketing professionals defines marketing as “The process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organisational objectives.”Effective marketing requires that managers recognize the interdependence of such activities as sales and promotion and how they can be combined to develop a marketing program. In marketing, exchange is a central concept. For exchange to occur there must be two or more parties with something of value to one another, a desire and ability to give up that something to other party, and a way to communicate with each other.Marketing facilitates the exchange process and the development of relationships by carefully examining the needs and wants of customers, developing a product or service that satisfies these needs, offering it at a certain price, making it available through a particular place or channel of distribution, and developing a program of promotion or communication to create awareness and interest. The focus of market driven companies is on developing and sustaining relationships with their customers. This has led to a new emphasis on relationship marketing which involves creating, maintaining and enhancing longterm relationships with individual customers as well as other stakeholders for mutual benefit.The marketer’s task is to devise marketing activities and fully integrated marketing activities and assemble fully integrated marketing programs to create, communicate and deliver value for customers.Advertising and promotion play an important role in the exchange process by informing consumers of an organisation’s product or service and convincing them of its ability to satisfy their needs or wants. The American Association of Advertising Agencies developed definition of Integrated Marketing Communication as “A concept of marketing communications planning that recognizes the added value of a comprehensive plan that evaluates the strategic role of a variety of communication disciplines – advertising, direct response, sales promotion and public relations – and combines these disciplines to provide clarity, consistency, and maximum communications impact.” Integrated Marketing Communication involves coordinating the various promotional elements. Six major promotional tools are advertisement, sales promotion, personal selling, direct marketing, publicity/public relations, internet marketing.The Integrated Marketing Communication approach helps companies identify the most appropriate and effective methods for communicating and building relationships with their customers as well as other stakeholders such as employees, suppliers, investors, interest groups and the general public. Companies send messages to customers and other stakeholders through all aspects of their marketing mixes, not just promotion. Consumers make inferences about a product on the basis of elements such as its design, appearance, performance, pricing, service support, and where and how it is distributed. For example a high price may symbolize quality to customers, as may be the shape or design of a product, its packaging, its brand name, or the image of the stores in which it is sold.The Integrated Marketing Communication approach to marketing communications planning and strategy is being adopted by both large and small companies and has become popular among firms marketing consumer products and services as well as business- to-business marketers. By coordinating their marketing communications efforts, companies can avoid duplication, take advantage of synergy among promotional tools, and develop more efficient and effective marketing communication programs.To move to Integrated Marketing Communication also reflects an adaptation by marketers to a changing environment, particularly with respect to consumers, technology and media. Major changes have occurred among consumers with respect to demographics, lifestyles, media use and buying and shopping patterns. Media strategy involves determining which communication channels will be used to deliver the advertising message to the target audience. Two most important aspects of the advertising program are development of the message and media strategy. Message development, referred as creative strategy involves determining the basic appeal and message the advertiser wishes to convey to the target audience. Once the message and media strategies have been determined, steps must be taken to implement them. Most large companies hire advertising agencies to plan and produce their messages and to evaluate and purchase the media that will carry their ads. Marketing Communication can tell or show consumers how and why a product is used, by what kind of person, and where and when. They can learn about who makes the product and what the company and brand stand for; and they can get an incentive or reward for trial or usage. Marketing communications allow companies to link their brands to other people, places, events, brands, experiences, feelings and things.

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Dealing With Senior Health Care

Dealing with senior health care of an elderly family member, spouse, partner or friend can be a trying experience. You may have your grandparent to look after or perhaps it is your mother or father who has fallen ill, no matter who the person is, the fact is that you are the one responsible for looking out for their best interests. You are the advocate for your loved one and you need to be sure that all of their medical needs as well as personal needs are met. It is important to learn about the resources that you have available to you right in your community. You do not have to do all of this alone as there are resources and support groups to help you when it comes to elder care.There can be many reasons that your loved one is in need of senior health care such as: they suffered a broken hip where rehabilitation is a necessity, they are suffering with dementia or Alzheimer’s and are in need of constant care or maybe the effects of aging is limiting their ability to do things on their own. No matter what the cause is for the need of elder care, the fact is that you need to be cautious when it comes to senior health care. You really need to be aware of how they are caring for the person you are responsible for. If you put yourself in the senior’s shoes, it is easy to know what to look for. Are they feeding him or her right? Are they spending time with your loved one? Is your loved one’s needs being met?Overseeing one’s senior health care is not an easy job but with the right resources and knowledge you can make sure that your loved one is getting the best care possible. There are many things to consider when choosing a facility that will be caring for an elderly loved one. The first thing to consider is the type of care that your loved one will need. Do they need long term elder care, short term elder care or do they just need some extra help to get back on their feet after being in the hospital? Once you know the type of care they need, you can look into facilities or home health care to meet your loved one’s needs.Another thing to consider when making the choice for senior health care is what type of condition they have. In some cases the condition will pass and in other cases, it is a lifelong condition that will require frequent admissions to the hospital. This will help you in determining if you need to partner with senior health care providers that can give you the flexibility you need when it comes to your loved one. There is a great deal to remember when you are looking after an elderly loved one and you do not want to miss anything that is necessary for their well being. Most likely you are working with a limited budget so finding quality senior health care can be difficult, you have to make the most out of what you got.It often becomes necessary to lean on other resources to help you in this matter. There are plenty of free resources as well as ones that are covered on various types of medical insurance including Medicare that can help keep you focused on what needs to be done. They can walk you through what you need to do, what you will need and how to stay on top of things so that you can provide your loved one with the best possible care in a timely manner. It can be very helpful for you to make a checklist of all things that need to be managed where senior health care is concerned this way nothing will be missed.Since each care plan is based on the specific needs of the individual, you will need to have a complete copy of your loved ones medical history to include their current and past medications, test results that they have had done and their doctors information. You should also keep up to date on their financial resources and a resource list that details the patient’s personality so the potential caregivers will know what to expect from the patient. This can help to make a better bond between the patient and any caregivers that may be working with your loved one.In addition to your checklist, you should make a list of providers and various facilities in your area so you know where you can take your loved one when they need care. You should also educate yourself with their medications and possible drug interactions. Talk with the doctor to get a list of medications that the patient is on and what they used to be on. Learn about the side effects and drug interactions so you can oversee their medications and how they are being administered once they are in the facility. If your loved one is staying at home, it is very crucial to be on top of their medications so that they do not miss a dose of a crucial medication or so that they do not over medicate themselves.There is a great deal to remember when keeping up with senior health care but once you get all of the necessary information you need, have a check list of what your responsibilities are and a resource list of who you can turn to for help, you will find that everything will fall into place. You will have a better understanding of what you need to do and that will make staying on top of all of much easier. Remember that you are the advocate for your loved one and in some cases you will be the one taking care of all of their needs and all that goes with senior health care. Remember that you have a resource list in place to help you with this so you will not get overwhelmed or run down when you use the resources as needed.

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