Your Financial Year-End Checklist

2020 is over, and for many of you, it can’t end soon enough. There will be plenty of time to celebrate the end of one year and to hope for better days in the one ahead. But before we get to that, take these steps to get financially ready for 2021.

1) Review your goals: The end of the year is a great time to review the goals you made at the beginning of the year and set new ones for 2021. How did you do this year? Is there anything you’re proud of accomplishing? I like to start with bright spots because they can guide you toward success as you set new goals. But let’s be realistic, too; 2020 threw us a lot of curveballs.

Was there anything you wish you could have done better? You can also learn from any potential stumbling blocks and figure out how to use them as stepping-stones next year. You may also want to take time now to review your net worth. That’s one way to gauge the progress you’ve made in your financial health this year.

2) Update your budget: Did you save the money that you wanted to? Pay off the debt that you needed to? The end of the year gives you a solid end point to assess whether met the goals you set at the outset of 2020. What if you didn’t have a budget or financial goals? You’ve got a blank slate ahead. Why not create a budget that works? 

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3) Create a holiday bucket: Holidays can be budget breakers, so why not incorporate them into your spending goals right from the start? Christmas may look a lot different this year. But you can still create a separate bucket for holiday spending and when that money is gone, stop spending. You’ll thank yourself in January when you don’t have an unusually large credit card bill.

4) Use it or lose it: Some of your benefits—like vacation days or a medical or dependent care flexible spending account (FSA)—expire at the end of the year. Take stock of what you have left and use these benefits to your advantage. MORE FOR YOUPPP Loan Forgiveness Application Guidance For The Self-Employed, Freelancers And ContractorsSBA Approving Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs): What You Need To KnowWhat You Can Do Now To Maximize Paycheck Protection Loan Forgiveness

5) Make any last charitable contributions: December 31st is the last day your charitable contributions can be deducted on your 2020 tax return. If giving to charity is a part of your spending plan, you can use these questions to help make the most of your charitable giving.

6) Pump up your 529: Just like charitable contributions, contributions to your 529 college savings plan must be made by December 31st to count for this tax year. Find out if your state is one of over 30 that allow you to deduct your contribution. You can find the specific deduction here. If your state is one of the four that allow an unlimited deduction, keep in mind the yearly gift-tax and super-funding rules.

7) Max out your 401k: While you have until April to make contributions to your traditional IRA, Roth IRA and HSA, you can only contribute to your 401k through December 31st. So, if you have extra cash and are looking to boost your savings, consider contributing your last couple of checks entirely to your 401k. Business owners can do the same with the employee portion of your Solo 401k contributions.

8) Find your tax return: You’ll be doing your taxes before you know it, so use this time to get prepared. Review last year’s return and make a mental list of records you’ll need to assemble. Year-end is also a good time to decide whether a Roth conversion makes sense for you.

9) Review your business structure: Evaluate your business structure and the QBI deduction to identify any changes you need to make to your business. You might want to set up a solo 401k, for instance, and if so, you’ll have to act before December 31st (although you can make employer/profit sharing contributions up to the business tax filing deadline).

10) Defer income and incur expenses: If you’re a business owner, you may also want to look at ways to defer income into 2021 or pay for business expenses you anticipate for early next year. This is any easy way to reduce your tax liability for 2020. However, remember not to spend money on business expenses that you wouldn’t otherwise incur just for a tax deduction. Spending a $1 to save 24 cents still costs you 76 cents.

 11) Will and trust review: The end of the year is a good time to take stock of changes in your life—like getting married or divorced, having children, starting a business or retiring.  Your estate plan should reflect these changes. Get out your will, documentation for trusts you’ve established and powers of attorney and make sure they match your current situation.

12) Insurance documents: Insurance documents also need to cover your current situation. Take a look at your life and disability insurance policies to make sure they protect your current income and those dependent on it. Your renters or homeowners insurance should cover any additional big purchases you made during the year. And lastly, you should review your health insurance policy for any upcoming changes for 2020. For those of you enrolling in the Market Place, you have until December 15th to pick your plan.

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My last bonus task is to enjoy this holiday season. I love the holidays because you can reflect and appreciate what you have. We’ve been tested a lot this year, living our lives through a pandemic, racial unrest and a contentious election. I hope the end of the year brings you comfort and peace. Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website

Brian Thompson

Brian Thompson

As both a tax attorney and a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, I provide comprehensive financial planning to LGBTQ entrepreneurs who run mission-driven businesses. I hold a special place in my heart for small-business owners. I spent a decade defending them against the IRS as a tax attorney and have become one as a financial advisor. It’s a position filled with hope and opportunity. It gives you the most flexibility to create the life that you want. I also understand the added stresses of running a business while being a person of color and a part of the LGBTQ community. You may feel like you don’t have access to the knowledge that others do. I’m here to help lift some of that weight from your shoulders.

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Critics:

A personal budget or home budget is a finance plan that allocates future personal income towards expenses, savings and debt repayment. Past spending and personal debt are considered when creating a personal budget. There are several methods and tools available for creating, using and adjusting a personal budget. For example, jobs are an income source, while bills and rent payments are expenses.

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How To Budget In Uncertain Times

It’s that time of the year again… time to create next year’s budget. Budgeting in the best of times is difficult, and now it’s even more tricky with the uncertainty of the pandemic, and more. It’s time to take a new approach. 

So before you dive too deeply into the budget tar pit, here are my key takeaways from discussions with my executive coaching clients: 

1.Rethink Budgeting To Focus On Outcomes. Why do we budget? The same reason we do any type of planning—it’s an attempt to control, predict, effectively allocate resources, maximize growth, profits and earnings per share, ensure stability and certainty. Yet in today’s world of relentless and rapid change, we must be nimble, a collective (no more silo-ing departments and then punishing poor performers that usually have performance problems due to failed dependencies/contingencies with other departments!) And have you noticed that things always change? And then, the vast majority of the time, the plan does too. But in today’s new world are we measuring the most impactful outcomes? Here’s what our most financially and culturally effective clients are considering as updated outcomes they want to see in a healthy business:   

a.Customer experience and engagement 

b.Employee experience and engagement (this include cross-functional, inter-departmental effectiveness and collaboration) 

c. Ecosystem experience and engagement (your strategic partners, resellers, other partnerships are here) 

d. Sustained profitable growth (we’re ensuring we don’t rest on our laurels here) 

e. Sustained profitable operational effectiveness (we’re watching expenses here) 

f. Sustained innovation (we’re keeping our competitive edge here) 

g. Departmental and organizational Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to keep everyone focused 

… all of which help us to predict the ultimately unpredictable, because people are creating the results anyway. That’s why we measure their outcomes first. 

2. Set Strategic Guidelines For Financial Focus. Like Core Values, which help us make behavioral decisions in the heat of battle, Strategic Guidelines help us make effective decisions when the grenades are flying, when the rug has been pulled out from under us, when supply chains have dried up, when currencies have crashed, when competitors have blindsided us, when the calamity of the day has occurred. When we focus on Strategic Guidelines (which you’ll draw from the bulleted list in item #1 above), we will be better equipped to allocate financial resources in line with what we need to achieve as an organization. Then we’ll be more likely to consider cross-functional dependencies and contingencies and create effective (and not siloed) departmental budgets.

Doing an outcome frame for each objective in item #1 above will help you ask the most appropriate questions to uncover what the priorities are, the appropriate allocation, what the business needs versus what is sexy/compelling/a bright shiny object, and more. Here are the outcome frame questions: 

· What would we like? (tangible outcome we can create and maintain) 

What will having that do for us? (specific benefits and how we’ll feel, how our key constituents will benefit) 

·  How will we know when we have it? (specific measurable proof) 

·   What of value might we risk/lose in order to get it? (what is the “cost” of getting the outcome we want? What side effects may occur?) 

·      When, where, with whom would we like this outcome? (time, context, key players) 

·      What are our next steps? (key planning steps here) 

The Outcome Frame sheds light on what will truly move the needle  for our business. It helps my clients see into their pet projects, their assumptions, the costs, and they make much better decisions  and avoid caving to unconscious bias too. For example a few years ago I was helping a client with their annual planning. They had a distribution partnership with an enormous Big Box retailer that, although impressive on their web site, was high maintenance and very low profit. It was clear that the business would be better off without this partnership, so after some agonizing they terminated it. This led to my client having the time/energy to secure 2 new partnerships that were far less work and far more profitable. The Outcome Frame exposed this. 

The Net-Net 

·      Create budgets based on the outcomes you want—they’ll be more likely to be achieved 

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·      Ensure all departments are aligned with the overall strategic guidelines so everyone is “in it together”—it’s “our” overall budget, not coveted by a certain department 

·      Learn to love change and to zoom out to track how the business is doing at a high level, then zoom in to the details 

How’s your budgeting going? Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website.

Christine Comaford

I’ve lived many lives: serial entrepreneur, technology and CEO advisor, venture capitalist, engineer in the early days of Microsoft. Today I help CEOs in rapid growth and turnaround scenarios to achieve previously unheard of results through seeing into their blind spots, aligning their team and board, changing challenging behaviors, increasing team accountability and execution. Some call me a business strategist, some call me an executive coach.

 Christine Comaford

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Critics: 

Budgeting is the process of creating a plan to spend your money. This spending plan is called a budget. Creating this spending plan allows you to determine in advance whether you will have enough money to do the things you need to do or would like to do. Budgeting is simply balancing your expenses with your income.
Performance Based Budgeting  attempts to solve decision making problems based on a programs ability  to convert inputs to outputs and/or use inputs to affect certain  outcomes. whatever Performance may be judged by a certain program's  ability to meet certain objectives that contribute to a more abstract  goal as calculated by that program's ability to use resources (or  inputs) efficiently—by linking inputs to outputs—and/or effectively—by  linking inputs to outcomes. A decision making—or allocation of scarce  resources—problem is solved by determining which project maximizes  efficiency and efficacy.

 Zero-based budgeting  is a response to an incremental decision making process whereby the  budget of a given fiscal year (FY) is largely decided upon by the  existing budget of FY-1. In contrast to incrementalism,  the allocation of scarce resources—funding—is determined from a  zero-sum accounting method. In government, each function of a  department's section proposes certain objectives that relate to some  goal the section could achieve if allocated x dollars.
 Flexible Freeze is a budgeting approach pioneered by  President George H. W. Bush as a means to cut government spending. Under  this approach, certain programs would be affected by changes in  population growth and inflation.

 Program Assessment Rating Tool (P.A.R.T.)  is an instrument developed by the United States OMB to measure and  assess the effectiveness of federal programs that review the program’s  purpose and design, strategic planning, program management, and program  results and accountability. The scores are rated from effective (ranging  between 85 and 100 points), moderately affective (70-84 points),  adequate (50-69 points), and ineffective (0-49 points).

 Priority Based Budgeting is a response to poor economic  conditions.  As opposed to incremental budgeting, where resource  allocation is determined based on marginal shifts in costs, priority  based budgeting fixes the amount of governmental resources and then  allocates resources across the various programs.  The programs receive  their allocation based on their priority; priorities may include safe  and secure communities, health, education, and community development  among others.  Outcome assessment then determines the efficacy of the  programs.  Although this approach is pro-democratic, critics suggest the  administration of this process is extremely difficult.
See also
Budget
 Budget process
 Budget theory
 Constitutional economics
 Political economy
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By Raising Productivity, Agtech Boosts Value Of Farmland

Against the backdrop of the partial shutdown of the federal government, U.S. farmers and ranchers are no doubt looking for a happier new year in 2019. The burgeoning agtech sector could brighten things up by continuing to boost productivity and reverse the market setbacks of 2018. Not since the 1980 embargo on U.S. grain exports to Russia have farmers been so pressured by the vagaries of global trade policy. The statistics are telling. According to the USDA’s World Outlook Board, soybean exports hit by the retaliatory tariffs put in place by top importer China dropped in 2018 by about 11%.

 

Source: By Raising Productivity, Agtech Boosts Value Of Farmland

The Paradox of Crypto In China

Skirting the Great Wall, Part Three: The Paradox of Cryptocurrencies in China https://www.pivot.one/share/post/5be97852cd5ee726e14c46d4?uid=5bd49f297d5fe7538e6111b6&invite_code=JTOJYV

Enterprises, Emotion & the Rise of The ‘Empathy Economy – Mike Elgan

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Big business is getting emotional.

User interfaces and other aspects of enterprise computing are being increasingly designed to detect the emotional states or moods of users, and also to simulate emotion when they communicate back to the users.

A Gartner report published in January said that within four years, your devices will “know more about your emotional state than your own family.”

Deep learning has advanced emotion detection from basic emotions such as happiness, surprise, anger, sadness, fear and disgust to more than 20 more subtle emotions that include awe, happy surprise and hate.

Source: https://www.computerworld.com/article/3287092/artificial-intelligence/enterprises-emotion-and-the-rise-of-the-empathy-economy.html

 

 

 

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America’s Real Economy: It Isn’t Booming – Peter Georgescu

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Ostensibly, for the past ten years, US economy has been recovering from the 2008 collapse. During the past few years, our comeback seems to have gained momentum. All the official indicators say we’re back in boom times, with a bull market, low unemployment and steady job growth. But there is an alternative set of data that depicts a different America, where the overlooked majority struggles from month to month.

The Nation recently published a stunning overview of the working poor and underpaid. One of the most powerful data points in the piece described how empty the decline in unemployment actually is: having a job doesn’t exempt anyone from poverty anymore. About 12% of Americans (43 million) are considered poor, and yet they are employed. They earn an individual income below $12,140 per year, and slightly more than that for a family of two. If you include housing and medical expenses in the calculation, it raises the percentage of Americans living in poverty to 14%. That’s 45 million people.

At that level of income, there’s almost no way to pay for food and shelter in any sizeable American city. That means people now can both be employed and homeless. Rajon Menon writes, for The Nation:

In America’s big cities, chiefly because of a widening gap between rent and wages, thousands of working poor remain homeless, sleeping in shelters, on the streets, or in their vehicles, sometimes along with their families.

Fewer and fewer people have savings to weather time between jobs or an emergency expense. A third of the U.S. population has no savings and another third has saved less than $1,000. Two-thirds of American households, by this measure, are desperately scrambling to make ends meet from check to check. Nearly half the American population earns too little to live on comfortably:

One-third of all workers earn less than $12 an hour and 42% earn less than $15. That’s $24,960 and $31,200 a year. Imagine raising a family on such incomes, figuring in the cost of food, rent, childcare, car payments (since a car is often a necessity simply to get to a job in a country with inadequate public transportation), and medical costs.

Even in households that combine income from two wage-earners, it’s rarely enough to live on without anxieties about money. It takes an average of a little more than $100,000 per year now for a household to be able to live without anxieties about money.

Slow and steady inflation has eroded buying power over the past decade. According to The Nation, the minimum wage rose to $7.25 by 2009, but since then inflation has eroded 10% of its buying power. So this year, someone will have to work 41 additional days to make the equivalent of the 2009 minimum wage.

  • Healthcare costs are projected to go up 20% in the coming year.
  • Credit card debt has crested at a trillion dollars and is projected to increase at 4.7% by 2020.
  • Wages have been increasing by only 2.9% per year.
  • For the young, education debt has reached a record $1.52 trillion.

How long is this sustainable?

What’s genuinely astonishing to me is that the private sector doesn’t see the immense danger in all this—not simply the prospect of a collapse from enormous household debt loads, but the prospect of civil unrest after another huge correction like the one in 2008. Our current course is unsustainable. And for all the proposals for changes in public policy to ameliorate income inequality, only the private sector can get the nation on a better track by raising wages, increasing benefits and investing in new ventures and expanded markets.

There are numerous ways in which our wealthiest companies could help change the course of our economy. Here are some suggestions from Larry Thompson, former executive VP for PepsiCo, and his coauthors writing for Fortune magazine:

  • Get involved in early education for children of employees. Programs that start at birth can lift their earnings by up to 26%. At PNC Financial Services Group, their Grow Up Great program has served over 2 million children throughout the U.S., through grants to organizations that support early learning in math, science, and the arts.
  • Fund higher education for existing employees. In collaboration with Southern New Hampshire University, Anthem Insurance (ANTM, -0.06%) recently began making associate’s or bachelor’s degrees available at no cost for 50,000 eligible workers. Another company, FedEx, partners with nearly 20 higher education institutions including Western Governors University.
  • Businesses also should look to re-employ the long-term unemployed, Frontier Communications has hired more than 250 of the long-term unemployed in 2014 alone by eliminating most qualifications and simply observing how well applicants communicated.

These initiatives only scratch the surface, but they are exactly what all companies need to be thinking of doing. If every employer in America came up with even just one modest step—higher wages, regular profit sharing, tuition reimbursement—to help workers spend and save more, the nation would begin to right itself economically. It needs to happen now. We’re running out of time.

 

 

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Training Contracts: 8 Things eLearning Pros Need To Know – Christopher Pappas

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Everything eLearning Pros Need To Know About Training Contracts

Joseph R. Codde first introduced the term “Learning Contract” in 1996, years before the term “eLearning” was even coined. However, it’s the perfect addition to online training programs that lack structure and learner motivation. Applied in a corporate setting, “training contracts” hold corporate learners accountable for their own L&D, while still giving them the support and resources they require. Thus, they are more likely to actively engage in the online training experience and receive the full benefits. Here are 8 tips to use training contracts in online training.

1. Let Corporate Learners Take The Lead

Corporate learners must be able to construct their own training contracts based on personal learning goals and objectives. If they need some help identifying areas for improvement, provide self-assessments that shed light on strengths and weaknesses. Training contracts should be as specific as possible so that corporate learners can focus their efforts, instead of trying to concentrate on a multitude of tasks or topics, which often leads to cognitive overwhelm.

2. Include A Detailed Timeline And List Of Goals

Training contracts should also contain a detailed timeline of when each milestone will be achieved. For example, the date by which the corporate learner must complete their compliance certification course and take the final exam, or a schedule that highlights when they’ll achieve incremental goals that support their primary goal. If there are multiple outcomes involved, encourage corporate learners to break them down into easier digestible tasks. Otherwise, they may lose their motivation and drive before they reach the finish line.

3. Outline Relevant Online Training Resources And Activities

Corporate learners need online training resources, tools, and activities to accomplish their training goals within the specified time frame. Once they’ve chosen their milestones and overall objectives, they should turn to the online instructor/facilitator for recommendations. In this case, the online instructor serves as a guide who helps corporate learners stay on track and provides them with the support they require. It’s best to create a list of relevant online training resources, such as online training courses or links to external tools. For instance, eLearning articles, online training tutorials, or videos that will benefit the corporate learner and help them bridge the gap.

4. Develop Clear Assessment Criteria

Success means something different for everyone. Thus, you need to clearly define the criteria corporate learners must use to evaluate their progress. For example, online training assessments or instructor-led evaluations that focus on their areas for improvement. You can even use online training simulations and branching scenarios to test their practical knowledge application. Ensure that your criteria are measurable and clarify expectations. Corporate learners should know exactly what they need to do in order to achieve each milestone. Once again, they must play an active role in the criteria development process.

5. Have A Feedback System In Place

How do corporate learners know when they are on track or need to adjust their online training course? The answer is receiving ongoing feedback from the online instructor or facilitator. You can also use peer-based feedback if the online instructors play a less active role. The key is to provide constructive input that corporate learners can use to guide their efforts. It’s also essential for them to offer their own feedback based on their personal experiences. For example, they would like more interactive or audio-based resources that cater to their learning preferences. The feedback system should be clearly outlined in the training contract, including how often it will be exchanged and through which outlets.

6. Schedule Regular Progress Checks

It’s wise to schedule regular meetings wherein the corporate learner and online instructor or manager can discuss how to move forward. As an example, the corporate learner is not achieving their milestones as expected. Thus, they may require additional online training resources or additional one-on-one support, such as a mentorship online training program. You may wish to set the date for each meeting in the original training contract, or simply schedule each meeting a week in advance. It all depends on each party’s personal preferences and agenda.

7. Re-Evaluate The Terms Periodically

Nothing is set in stone. A training contract that works well for a corporate learner now may not be suitable in months to come. This is why it’s essential to periodically review training contracts and make adjustments when necessary. Their objectives may have evolved over time. The milestones need to be adjusted if the corporate learner is struggling to keep up, or if they are advancing more rapidly than expected. It’s a good idea to schedule progress check meetings to ensure that everyone’s on the same page. This also gives you the opportunity to analyze the existing training contract item by item and verify that it still addresses areas for improvement. For instance, the corporate learner may have already bridged a skill gap that is covered later in the contract timeline.

8. Provide Online Support Resources

In addition to the regularly scheduled meetings and peer-based feedback, corporate learners should have access to online support resources, such as social media groups, online discussions, corporate eLearning blogs, and FAQs. In some cases, a question can be answered immediately, instead of having to set up a video conferencing session with the online instructor. Microlearning online training libraries are also an invaluable tool for remote learners. These online training repositories feature bite-sized online training resources that are quick and convenient. Another notable characteristic is distinct categories that allow for easy access. For example, the online training repository is broken down into skill-based sections or topics. You might even consider learner-generated microlearning online training libraries. Corporate learners have the chance to upload their own online training content or share links with their peers. Last but not least, consider an online mentorship program that provides one-on-one support.

Training contracts empower corporate learners to take charge of their own skill and knowledge development. You can use these 8 tips to create effective training contracts, as well as the framework that goes along with this learner-centered strategy. It’s also important to collect continual feedback from your audience in order to personalize your approach.

Do you know how to create online training courses that allow your employees to hone their talents and achieve professional growth?  Read the article 8 Tips To Facilitate Professional Growth In Online Training to discover top tips to give your staff the support and online training resources they need to be their very best.

 

 

 

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The 15 Biggest Clues Your Business is Ready for Chatbots – Larry Kim

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Chatbot technologies and AI keep advancing. Maybe you’re wondering if the time is right for chatbots for your business.

Is it Time to Look at Chatbots for Small Business?

Here, 15 signs it’s time to invest in a chatbot.

1. You have a Blog

A chatbot can function as a blog RSS blaster, giving your posts high visibility.

You can deliver them with push notifications on Facebook Messenger and get 8x the open rate of email!

2. You have an Email Marketing List

Chat blast in the same way you always have with the same benefits as email blasting — but in a more natural, familiar and engaging way!


3. You’re Doing Facebook Ads

Messenger ads are an ad format with even more to offer businesses — contact info and opt-in to future messaging.

4. You’re Doing Marketing Automation

Chatbots support marketing automation — scheduling, reminders, surveys and more.

All that can be done via Facebook Messenger with a chatbot, where you’ll get more engagement than with traditional means like email.

Chatbots plug into your other business systems to connect all your lead and customer data from your CRM, to lead management, email marketing, web analytics and beyond.

5. You’re Doing Drip Campaigns

If you have a long onboarding process or a solution that requires training, you use drip campaigns to help lead users through the process. Drip campaigns work great with Messenger chatbots.

6. You’re Already Doing On-Site Chat Support

What’s better than an on-site chat support? Chat support on Facebook Messenger.

You save all chat history. You get people’s contact info. You can message those contacts later.

Chatbots never make customers wait, not to mention the fact you can cut back on expensive operator staffing.

7. You have a Healthy List of FAQs

Chatbots are great at answering frequently asked questions. Just set up the page you want to trigger based on keywords.


8. You’re Interested in a More Engaging Conversion Funnel

With a Facebook chatbot, you can offer conversion forms in a natural and familiar interface. Woo!

9. You’re Tired of Low Email Open Rates

The average email open rate is 10-15%. The average engagement with Facebook Messenger weighs in at 70-80%. If you need to up your Facebook messenger marketing strategy, then you need a very reliable chatbot for your page.

10. You Want to Offer Interactive Customer Service 24/7

Chatbots never close, and are ready to help answer your customers questions all day and all night.

11. You’d like More Sales (Who Wouldn’t?)

53% of customers are more likely to make a purchase if they’re able to message your business.


12.Your Customers Prefer Interacting with a Chatbot

56% of people would rather message than call customer service. Give the people what they want!

13. A Live Person can Jump in Any Time and Take Over for the Bot

Chatbots allow you to scale your customer service.

The chatbot can handle all the basic queries seamlessly and a customer representative retains the ability to jump in any time and take over the conversation if things get more complicated.

14. Your Competitors are Doing It

Two billion Facebook messages are sent between businesses and customers each month.

If your competitors aren’t using chatbots to talk to customers yet, they’ll be using them soon enough.

Beat them to it. You can start building your own chatbot with a free chatbot builder.

15. You Believe in Meeting your Customers Where They’re At

Without question, they’re on Facebook Messenger. With 1.2 billion monthly active users, this is a no-brainer.

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How Does Influencer Marketing Work in Healthcare

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The principle behind influencer marketing is simple: If someone who is trusted or admired by many other people expresses a preference for a product or service, then others will give it a try. Marketers in a wide range of industries have long directed their efforts at celebrated individuals as a relatively inexpensive way of getting the word out about a product, especially when compared to the cost of a television ad buy. The proliferation of social media took this strategy to a whole new level, making it easy for a well-known person to convey a sponsored message instantly to thousands or millions of followers.

Sales and marketing departments at life sciences organizations have taken notice of the increasing relevance of influencer campaigns, and many want in on the action. Of course, it’s challenging to apply the same concepts to medical devices or pharmaceuticals with the strict rules in place to regulate communications and protect patient privacy. However, a clear perspective on how influencer marketing works and extensive access to physician data make it possible for businesses to guide the right people to information about medical products.

Influencer marketing in medicine

Given the restrictions on sharing information, many physicians have been reluctant to embrace social media. In the Healthlink Dimensions Annual Healthcare Professional Survey for 2018, 28.6 percent of respondents said they used social networking sites to communicate with other physicians and healthcare professionals, but few used these platforms to connect with patients or life sciences organizations. The majority, at 66 percent, said they opted out of social media altogether.

Nonetheless, influencer marketing has made headway in medical marketing in recent years. Initiating online contact with key healthcare decision-makers and thinkers is often a major step toward making sales and promoting beneficial policies. Pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers can gain an advantage by finding clinical partners that carry weight in the medical community and forming relationships with particular physicians and executives willing to promote the brand to others.

Meanwhile, patients are flexing their own newfound clout through social media accounts. WIRED reported on people with chronic diseases who regularly post about their struggles and triumphs, including photos and popular hashtags. Healthcare startups, marketing research firms and brand strategy agencies have seized the chance to network and collaborate with these individuals.

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Hewing carefully to regulations, marketers have begun working with patient influencers in bringing attention to life sciences brands. By looking at what individuals have to say, companies gain new perspective into what it’s like living with the chronic conditions that their products treat. Such relationships have thus proven invaluable to a number of businesses and may prove a vital part of many more marketing strategies in the future.

Targeting communications to key healthcare decision-makers

While influencer marketing is a burgeoning force in the world of healthcare, life sciences organizations must still concentrate on nurturing relationships on a smaller scale. Individual physicians and administrators play vital roles in driving purchases for their facilities. With the precipitous decline of in-person access to medical professionals, marketers and salespeople have to form connections online.

Email has solidly established its place as the best means for sending information and promotions to healthcare providers. A strategic physician email marketing campaign can be the start of communications with professionals who come to champion a product or firm throughout the purchase process. Optimizing these efforts depends on gaining a clear perspective into the needs of the doctors who participate in the decisions to buy pharmaceuticals or medical devices and segmenting accordingly.

By working from up-to-date contact information, representatives reliably get through to doctors. Messages should be targeted and customized by drawing on data such as institutional affiliations and areas of specialization. Taking into account where healthcare providers work and the demographics they serve, marketers can tailor messaging to capture and hold their interest.

A deeper engagement with details like the treatments a doctor commonly employs to treat certain conditions will permit even more precise segmentation. Addressing the precise needs of physicians with a wealth of informative materials encourages them to advocate for a product all the way through a long purchase journey. Delivering quality results and nurturing relationships may persuade key individuals in health systems to wield their significant influence on the behalf of a life sciences organization.

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21 Little Ways to Save Money Every Day

21 Little Ways to Save Money Every Day

Saving more money is one of those broad goals everyone sets for themselves at the start of a new year. But with so many tips and tricks out there, it can be hard to know exactly where to begin, especially when the temptation to buy a new pair of sneakers is always looming in the back of your head. Fear not, budget newbies! The tips below are so doable, even a shopaholic can accomplish them on a daily basis. Get ready to save some major dough.

1. Skip out on your daily skinny vanilla latte. “Sorry, Starbucks, but we’re taking a break. It’s not you, it’s me.” This one may be hard, especially if you rely on caffeine to jump-start your day, but a coffee maker is a worthy investment when you realize how much this seemingly innocent cost can add up. And if you simply can’t go your separate ways from Starbucks, try out one of its cheaper drink options.

2. Start painting your own nails. Sure, sometimes a salon mani-pedi is just what you need to unwind and treat yourself, but those visits add up. A bottle of nail polish can cost anywhere from $4 to $15 and will last you years, whereas a pedicure can cost as much as $20. The math says it all.

3. Cook your own dinner most nights. You don’t have to be a whiz in the kitchen to prepare an enjoyable meal. There are plenty of simple dinner recipes out there that are easy on the wallet. Bonus points if you cook enough to give you leftovers to take to work for lunch the next day!

4. Speaking of lunch, make your own every day. This one’s a no-brainer, but the temptation of a fancy $10 salad often cancels it out. Sticking to this tip throughout the year will save you major bucks.

5. Discontinue your cable subscription. Unless you’re really utilizing your cable every day, it may be time to consider a more affordable online-streaming option like Netflix or Hulu.

6. Stow away a dollar a day. Invest in an adult-approved piggy bank and stash away a dollar (or your loose change at the very least, if you can’t stand to part with your precious Washingtons every day). At the end of the month, you’ll have around $30!

7. Buy a reusable water bottle and actually use it. Investing in a high-quality water bottle will save both the environment and your budget. The cost of those plastic water bottles adds up, and Mother Earth will give you a pat on the back for this one.

8. Sip on some drinks at home before hitting the bars. College students had the right idea with their beer-chugging “pregames.” Enjoying a few drinks at home ensures that you won’t fall victim to buying one too many overpriced drinks once you get to the bar or club.

9. Always remember to turn off your lights and air conditioning. Those little expenses can add up to a whopping utilities bill at the end of the month. Get in the habit of hitting the light switch every time you leave a room in your house or apartment.

10. Consider selling your random knickknacks. Though this is technically a money-making tip, the end result is still having more cash in your wallet. Set up an eBay account and finally get rid of that random dog figurine that’s gathering dust in the back of your closet.

11. Seek out discounts. Whether you become a coupon champ at the supermarket or start taking advantage of sites with heavily discounted clothes, it’s best to think twice before paying full price for something. Examine all your options before swiping your card. The website RetailMeNot is a great resource for tracking down discounts from some of your favorite stores and websites in real time. It does the legwork for you!

12. Make a shopping list before stepping foot in a store – and don’t stray from it. Precisely planning out your meals, down to the exact ingredients you need each week, is crucial for saving some green. Venture down the aisles with a written checklist of items in hand rather than aimlessly browsing your options. The same goes for when you hit the mall for clothes.

13. Speaking of groceries, try to only buy versatile staples. OK, that random exotic vegetable may look cool, but is it really worth $5? Stick to those adaptable and affordable essentials like eggs, canned beans, and pasta.

14. Roll up your sleeves and become a DIY pro. When it comes to DIY projects, the options are endless. You can make your own cleaning products, holiday gifts, and decorations. Before throwing away things like old jeans or books, consider how you can upcycle them.

15. Think twice about your transportation options. This is mostly dependent on where you live. If you reside in a car-reliant city like Los Angeles, consider carpooling to split the cost of gas. In a bustling city like New York, try walking or taking the bus or subway instead of an overpriced cab. And if you’re traveling somewhere like the airport, opting for UberPool instead of UberX is always the way to go.

16. Quit smoking. This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Your wallet (and your lungs) will thank you.

17. Go for the generic brands at the store. With goods like toothpaste and soap, the generic brand is usually just about the same as the more expensive, well-known brands. We all have that one brand we’re loyal to, but is it really worth it to pay an extra $3 for body wash if the off-brand version is just as effective at getting the job done?

18. Take an inventory of your monthly subscriptions and cancel the ones you don’t need. Unless you’re really reading every single page of that one magazine or constantly listening to music from that one streaming service, it may be time to nix that monthly cost.

19. Buy your home staples in bulk. Purchasing toilet paper, laundry detergent, and paper towels – aka those pesky items we hate lugging home from the grocery store – in bulk will always pay off in the long run.

20. Suggest free activities when hanging out with friends. Those happy hours and dinner dates add up over time. Instead, research fun and free activities like doing outdoor yoga, checking out a museum with free admission, or watching the sunset.

21. Take five before making impulse buys. Ask yourself, “Is this something I want or something I really need?” Your response should reveal if it’s a worthy purchase or not, so try your best to answer honestly. And if anything, reach out to your mom or a trusty friend who will give their honest opinion about whether it’s something you should really spend money on.

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