How to Refresh Your Brand in 2017

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The close of one year and the start of the next brings many things. For most individuals and businesses a new year means a new start, providing a clean slate with which to move forward. While this may not be technically correct – after all, the clock striking midnight on New Year’s Eve doesn’t erase previous performance – the mindset of change and starting over can be refreshing, especially for small businesses with big goals.

Whether 2016 was a year overflowing with success or wrought with challenges, the coming of 2017 is the perfect time to refresh your brand, fine tune your focus, and get started on the right foot. A brand refresh can have great potential, reminding you of your vision, ensuring consistency, and encouraging growth rather than stagnation. Here’s what you can do to ensure 2017 is your best year yet.

Connect With Your Audience

Most companies choose to leave outsiders in the dark when it comes to business strategy. For many, this is a logical decision, preventing competitors from overtaking your ability to gain ground. However, this approach can have the opposite effect with customers, putting up walls that create unnecessary distance.

The beginning of the year is a perfect time to inspire some loyalty and emotional ties. Consider posting a blog summarizing your activity and successes in 2016 and thanking your customers and fans for all that they do for you. When shared on social media, these posts provide the kind of information that stimulates a connection between you and your customers.

Target a New Market

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If you’re a small company or a new business, you may not be reaching everyone who can make use of your products and services. In order to maximize potential, use the start of a new year as inspiration to grow and improve.

Take time with your marketing team, and review who you are targeting, what you are targeting, and where the majority of your sales are coming from. With this information, you can draw conclusions regarding what areas you can approach more aggressively, and which audiences likely aren’t receiving the attention they deserve.

Reevaluate Costs

Even the most successful companies in the world can feel the pain of pinching pennies. To improve your odds of financial success in the new year, it’s important to take a deep dive into your expense reports.

Start from the top down and evaluate each category that drives your spending. Sure, you may not be able to do anything about monthly rent, but making minor energy saving changes, like limiting printing to must-have reports, can really add up over the course of the year. Look for unnecessary expenses that your team can do without that won’t compromise employee morale, and make some cuts for the new year.

Try New Marketing Techniques

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How you market your products and services can be a great opportunity for growth and change. With so many options from social media marketing to email newsletters, there’s bound to be a strong strategy you’ve never considered.

Instead of doing the same things day after day, take a look at what your marketing campaigns may be lacking. Are you tracking your success with Google Analytics? Are you focusing solely on Twitter instead of taking advantage of Facebook? By taking the time to identify shortcomings, you can find a great way to move forward in the new year.

Brainstorm New Ideas

When the status quo is positive, it’s easy to fall into a predictable rhythm every year. However, there’s no good way to grow without incorporating changes. The start of another year is the perfect time to start brainstorming new ideas, whether that means putting more focus into research and development, or simply improving community relations with volunteer activities.

Consider putting out a suggestion box and soliciting ideas from your team. Take at least one option offered, whether functional or recreational, and implement it company-wide. This strategy not only shows that you listen to feedback, but can also demonstrate a willingness to keep moving forward.

A brand refresh offers many benefits, providing a new perspective on your corporate identity and an opportunity to build connections with current and prospective customers alike. If you’d like to do more than simply exist in the new year, this can be your chance to revitalize your brand and move your business forward. By changing up marketing techniques, building emotional connections, and launching new products or services, you help ensure that 2017 will be a smashing success.

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5 Ways to Get out of Debt in the New Year

FM Holiday Debt Blog 1.22.16

The New Year is a great time to examine your finances for the year ahead. And attempting to get your budget back on track after heavy holiday spending can oftentimes be cumbersome. So what do you do? Well, you’re in luck. In this post, we highlight five ways to get out of debt after the holidays.

1) Set New Spending Limits

Identify areas in your life where you tend to overspend that fall outside of the “needs” bucket. Then, create a budget for the different types of purchases you want to indulge in throughout the month and put a cap on each. Doing so will help you control excessive spending and keep disciplined on what you can do without.

2) Stop Spending Money You Don’t Have

Get into the habit of only spending money you do have, instead of adding more charges to your credit cards. Know what you owe, make a list of how you plan to pay off what you owe, and stick to it. And if you have extra cash, use that toward paying down your credit card balances. Further, start off by cutting back on simple things like buying coffee; instead of buying lunch, pack it; and/or save gas by riding a bike or taking the bus.

3) Go Beyond the Minimum Payment

Don’t wait for that bill to arrive before taking action. Instead, try making weekly payments and more importantly, steer away from setting yourself up for a long commitment with your credit card company by just paying the minimum due. Let’s look at an example that uses a credit card balance of $1,500 and APR of 18 percent – if you only pay the minimum due of $37 per month, it will take you 159 months to pay off that debt with a total interest charge of $1,760. However, if you pay an additional $10 it’ll only take 44 months to pay off your debt with a total interest charge of $557.59.

4) Ask for a Lower Credit Card Rate

This may sound like a no-brainer, but just simply call your credit card company and ask if your rate can be lowered. Say you have $5,000 in debt on a credit card with a 20% APR. If you pay $150 per month, it’ll take you 50 months and $2,360 in interest to pay off that debt. Reduce that interest rate to 15 percent and you save roughly $800 in interest and six months of payoff time.

5) Consider a Balance Transfer

If you are eligible for a balance transfer at zero percent for a period of time, sign up as this may be another alternative to reduce your interest charges. Also make sure you understand what the transfer fees are so that you’re prepared. For example, you can save $265.48 on a $5,000 debt with a typical balance transfer, assuming a three percent balance transfer fee, a 12-month zero percent intro APR, and the debt being paid off within a year.

We hope you find these tips helpful! Let us know what you do to get out of debt after the holidays in the comments section!

How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution

Written by Dana Gorski, Social Media and Content Coordinator

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Whether your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, spend more quality time with your family or stop smoking, it can be hard to keep! I once heard a comedian joke about how gyms are the most crowded right after New Year’s Day and then attendance shrinks as time goes on, clearly referring to how people deter from their New Year’s resolutions. According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually achieve their resolution, 49% of people have infrequent success and 24% of people fail on their resolution each year. You can be a part of that 8%! Stick to your New Year’s resolution with these tips:

Plan Ahead. If you’re trying to work out more, pack your work out bag before work every day so you can swing by the gym on your way home or during your lunch break. Looking to spend more time with your family? Schedule a time on your calendar.

Support from a Friend. Have a friend hold you accountable. If you let a friend know what you are trying to do, they can help keep you on track by checking in on you.

Take One Step at a Time. You’re not going to reach your goal overnight! Take your time and gradually work towards achieving your goal.

Avoid Tempting Situations When Possible. Avoiding situations that will tempt you to break your New Year’s resolution is not always plausible, but can be beneficial if it can be done. For example, if you are trying to eat less sweets, do not grab coffee with a friend at a donut shop!

Write down your Progress. By tracking your progress, you can see how much you’ve improved. Seeing this will help keep you motivated. You can also see where you’ve been lacking which will help you make beneficial changes.

Don’t Be Discouraged: You may run into a bump or two along the way. That doesn’t mean you should give up! See what you can learn from these bumps in the road and continue to move forward.

Achieving your New Year’s Resolution can be difficult, but you can do it! BBB is here to help! Check out go.bbb.org/akorww today!

Preparing Your Business for the New Year

Is your business ready for 2016? From security to social media, our infographic will help your business prepare for the coming year!

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