4 Tips For Avoiding Investor Mistakes

Investing money in the stock market is one of the smartest, wisest things you can do to help promote your future financial health. Too many Americans put their money in generic savings accounts because they truly don’t understand how to invest money in the markets. And once they start investing a little, they make all types of mistakes. At Check Issuing, we don’t tolerate mistakes. I’m kidding. I mean, kind of.

There are a lot of ways to avoid falling prey to investment traps. Often times, it just comes down to reading the right financial sources and trusting your gut. Here are a few solid tips that hopefully help you avoid investor mistakes that others have already made for you.

Trying To Outsmart The Market

The market will do as the market will do. It will have ebbs and flows. Financial markets are both finicky and cyclical. When an investor attempts to “guess where the market is going,” it often leads to one of two bad results:

  1. A bad share purchase
  2. A missed opportunity

If you see a stock that you feel is a good buy, for example, a share from a company that’s doing well, consider buying it at whatever price it is currently listed at. The bad road that many investors go down is that they see a great stock purchase and decide to “wait for it to drop in price” due to some “prediction” they’ve read. Often times, these predictions rarely come to fruition. And you end up wasting an opportunity at what may be a really solid investment.

No investor can predict the future. And anyone touting they can isn’t being sincere. Most of the time, these blogs that “predict” market fluctuations are simply trying to sell a service. If you love the new iPhone and all your friends share this sentiment, that may be all the information you need regarding Apple stocks. If your new iPhone is crap, well, again, all the information you may well need to determine the health of a company. I know it sounds super simple, and certainly, it isn’t that simple, but it is a great starting point to help you avoid falling for the “market predictions” trap.

Trading Impetuously

investor mistakes

Lay off the quick trading and allow your stocks to mature over time.

If you buy a stock, you need to be able to sit patiently and allow the shares to mature. If you jump ship and sell at the first sign of a dipping price, you may lose out on future earnings. And if you buy and sell quickly too often, your portfolio will sit at a loss because you will constantly be selling shares that lost money. You need to hold the shares for a long period of time to garner true results. If you are buying stocks to earn a quick profit, you are playing a gambling game that you will likely end up losing in the future.

Additionally, most services apply a trading fee of $7 to $10 per trade. If you can’t help yourself from trading out stocks constantly, you might try using Robin Hood, a service which does not fee you up per trade (they do pop you for capital gains interest, however, so it isn’t a great option for long-term).

Stop Believing You Know It All

You will be wrong. You will make mistakes. But you will also win some and if you are patient and your overall stock portfolio reflects a mostly conservative position, you should always be winning. Often times, Wall Street day traders want us to believe that the stock market requires some sort of high-brow insight. But most of the time, it simply requires a common sense competency. If you mostly invest in big S&P stocks and ETFs and Mutual Funds, you should lower your risk and allow yourself some wiggle room to take on more high-risk positions. But buying or not buying a riskier position based on the feeling you aren’t an expert will only serve to hold you back.

No one is truly an expert. And if they are, that’s called insider trading, which is illegal. So law breaking approaches aside, read the traditional financial news, stay conservative in the core of your investment portfolio, and you should be just fine.

Avoid Scammy Advisors

The scams are everywhere. Don’t just let anyone take your money and invest it. Because in the end, they might well be investing in themselves. Only use the big, approved investment firms or your bank. Open a Vanguard account and learn the ropes yourself. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Investing your money into long-term stocks and ETFs is a perfect way to plan for retirement. The key is not being afraid or put off by what seems like an intimidating world.


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How To Challenge Your Comfort Zone

One of the biggest mistakes you can make as an entrepreneur is to constantly live in fear of the unknown (or the known, for that matter). Being bold is how business executives and small business owners not only thrive but grow and evolve. But for many of us, we have an innate fear of massive change and unique paths. We like the consistency of traveled roads which tend to reveal linear success paths.

But the roads already traveled can also be rather saturated from all the traffic. And that can lead to consumers overlooking offers as they are just too consistently flooded with them. And the same goes for potential new clients. Imagine how you feel when you see a new SEO company’s advertisement. Not super excited, huh? The SEO company might offer an amazing service, but you’ve seen competing SEO service ads for so many years all over the web that it just feels like “another SEO company.”

This is why being bold and taking the road less traveled can be highly beneficial. It can lead to innovation and make your service or product the one which paved the way. And that can mean an incredible upside for the future of your brand awareness no matter how much saturation pans out.

For Vergara (above video), she likes to make sure her business decisions are sound. She also encourages that we follow our passion when deciding on which roads we do travel, she calls it “making an impact.” And this makes sense. But sometimes, new business decisions will feel incredibly uncomfortable, particularly when they are rooted in our passions. And that can be good because often, our comfort zones will notoriously keep us contained in limited growth. Comfort zones offer us ceilings for our success. Very few small business owners want a ceiling for success.

I want to be clear here, I’m not saying you should walk out the door and start making nutty business decisions. That’s certain to offer you nothing but turmoil. But I am saying you should look to break out of your own comfort zone. However, doing so requires a little know-how, much like everything else in business similarly does. You don’t just start breaking your comfort zone out of nowhere.

So how does one learn to start breaking that comfort zone? Start by trying new things in your personal life. Skydiving, Jiu Jitsu and even Yoga are wonderful examples of things you can personally do to help you get over that fear of new things. Jiu jitsu is incredibly uncomfortable and to the optics, it looks really hard to do. I bet while watching it, you get the impression you’d never be able to do that. Therefore, not doing it is the more comfortable approach. However, what if you did try and what it…just what if…you ended up competent at it in a few months? I bet you’d look back and thank your lucky stars that you didn’t allow your comfort zone to be the driving factor in such a decision-making process. You’d have lost a new skill had you done that.

Breaking comfort zones in our own personal life is a huge confidence builder that can bleed over into our professional lives. This is truly about breaking our current beliefs that “we belong” in certain spaces. “That’s for them, over there, not me.”

Maybe change up your personal habits a little bit, here and there. For example, if you always work out at night, try a morning work out. Make your life seem a little less predictable. The honest truth is, I support consistency and habits in the personal life because I do feel they keep us motivated and aimed at the ultimate goals. But sometimes, they can also lull us into this feeling that predictability is life’s only safe space. Shaking up our schedules or how we do things in our personal life can help teach us that beyond the walls of the safe space is a pretty cool place to be. It helps us disregard fears of change. It compels us to live outside the proverbial box of life’s security blanket.

Doing both of these things will show you that breaking boundaries is a good thing. And more so, a great thing. This is a process of confidence building at its true center. And it will help to stimulate your creativity, which is what’s needed in business growth. Creativity will also be your core attribute that welcomes in success and growth.

So what do you all say, anyone up for a skydive? You don’t have to go skydiving to make dramatic changes in your life. Focus on the little routines and see what you unearth. You might even find some things you’ve always wanted to do in the process, which would be another big win for YOU!.

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No Marketing Budget? Step Inside And Find Out How You Can Still Advertise

marketing budgetIf there is one business certainty out there, its that you have to market your product or services. If you have a poor marketing prowess, you are almost doomed unless you get lucky. And no one wants to rely on luck anymore. The Internet has opened business at a level of complete saturation. These days, it almost seems as though there are more businesses than people in America. Social media, billboards, and TV are filled with ads trying to entice us.

Most of these products have one thing in common and it isn’t always a success. It is that they spend a lot of money. Money for marketing, unfortunately, could make or break a great business. If you can’t afford to get your product out there, you may not ever grow. But does that suggest that if you don’t have money for marketing that you are dead in the water? While it isn’t a good thing, it doesn’t have to be the end.

Here are some suggestion to operate without a marketing cash flow.

Google Adsense Free Vouchers

‘Vouchers,” as it turns out, may well be the incorrect term. If you have a Google account and sign up for an Adsense account, odds are, Google will send you a $100 ad buy. You spend nothing. You get $100 of free advertising. No, that isn’t a ton, but it gives you a sliver of opportunity to potentially find a sales rhythm that provides you with some revenue, which in turn, you can put back into Adsense buys. Sure, it is just $100, but if you research, look at other ad buyers in your competition and attempt to proceed wisely, you might strike it rich. It cost you hardly anything to take a chance at it.

Prompt Satisfied Users To Leave Reviews

Asking customers to leave reviews can be a powerful and free way to market for new business.

This is one of the most effective marketing strategies that there is. But remember, customers, are more apt to leave bad reviews than good ones. You fix that by promoting and encouraging satisfied customers and clients to leave you a good review on various review websites, such as Google or Yelp. People read reviews and use them to determine the future of their purchases. People search out reviews. Having good reviews can cost you nothing, but they can make you a fortune in sales.

When a customer transaction finishes, remind them to leave a review. You can even give them a discount asking them to go review their experience with your service online at Google. You’d be surprised by how many people are willing to leave a positive review when they are reminded to do so. You might even consider passing out cards with reminders, or if you collect emails, mailing out reminders to review their experience. You don’t want to seem overbearing or in any way bribing the customer, you want it to feel like a little nudge of encouragement. Let them know that your business is based on satisfying the needs of customers and clients. Most people will understand and want to help.

Go Viral

Not always the easiest of the options for “free marketing,” however, it should be looked into if you have no budget or a very restricted budget. It never hurts to prompt employees or partners to think outside the box. Memes, funny videos, quizzes and even well-written content always has the potential to take flight online. And once that happens, you can be the beneficiary of increased eyeballs.

The main problem here is that often times, viral content doesn’t exactly filter down to the type of eyeballs that might serve as meaningful to your company. It’s kind of the idea of throwing crap at a wall. But still, it remains, more eyeballs are better than no eyeballs. So it doesn’t hurt to try. Many companies love to charge a lot to help produce viral content, clearly, be leery of those opportunities.

SEO For Business

SEO can cost some, depending on your approach to the business. It can also be a grueling long journey. However, if someone in your company, like yourself, is competent at writing, this could be a good solution for you. Write one blog per day around a keyword you are focusing on. Look for search terms that would be meaningful to the advancement of your business. Don’t write spammy content, be natural and helpful. Over time, hopefully, Google’s machine begins to take notice and you start to get some listings. This is not something that will help you overnight in any sense of the word.

When you offer valuable content to the world, the world tends to take notice. You can become an authority in your field. And that’s truly what you should strive for anyway. A blog a day takes discipline, but it should pay off.

At the end of the day, you are best served to have some semblance of a marketing budget. But, if you have a great idea, don’t give up because you feel as though you have no way to push your product or services out in front of the masses. Get creative and don’t give up. If you are motivated and savvy enough and your product is awesome, you can make things happen.

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The Tragedy Of Team Building And How To Solve It

When it comes to running a seamless, fluid department, team building is critical. The more proficient your team works together, the better your company results will often be. But team building is easier said than done. It truly isn’t as simple as having a few team members stand up and say a few “surprises” about themselves. No one builds a team after hearing that Katie likes to eat raw onions on her Doritos. That’s just gross, anyways. Additionally, team building can go very wrong if it isn’t carried out correctly.

One of the big issues with team building is that they can often cause people to feel left out, or feel only included by specific team members. This is often the result of team building exercises which pair coworkers up through random reasoning. An example would be team building at an Escape Rooms which typically allow for up to four co-workers to find their way out of mystery rooms. A recent study showed how detrimental team building can be on a team. Yep, that’s a study showing that team building can suck. Who would have thought?

The “left out feeling,” as cited above, can also lead team members to favor other team members and generally feel more comfortable with them. It can cause employees to respect other employees more.

The study showed that team building exercises can cause employees to be more trusting of employees they participated in the team-building exercises with. This can cause all types of breakdowns in an office where trusting other coworkers to complete foundation tasks is essential. Additionally, the study found that biases were generated by team members who worked with other team members in exercises.

Overall, it sure sounds like an inclusion issue to me. That, of course, might well be a millennial issue in and of itself.

So how can you avoid these team-building pitfalls?

Not easily, it seems. Booking an escape room is sure easy. Maybe the idea is to mix things up. In other words, do a full on group team-building exercise along with a segregated style. For example, do the escape room, but follow that up with a happy hour that gets the group together and maybe put up some trivia that comes with prizes. Make the group feel as though they are all one big team, rather than a number of unique sectors.

You could completely avoid any of the segregated style events and make sure that all team building activities keep the group together. If you make that a goal and a policy, you can inevitably prevent any biases.

The other option is to make sure the groups are switched up through the duration of the team-building exercises. In the example of the escape rooms, that’s easier said than done. You would likely anger employees if they had to spend an entire day at an escape room just to accommodate switching team members. But things such as game night or trivia or a number of other activities could lend themselves nicely to rotating team members.

Promoting things like icebreakers and personal trivia is super inclusive and can be fun. In this way, people rotate and guess answers that each employee has put down to a given question. This also allows employees to get to know everyone in some capacity. They have to relate to each person on some level.

Sometimes, just keep it simple.

I’ve said this often, sometimes, it doesn’t need to be overly complex. Just having a happy hour, or a luncheon, and allowing people to migrate to one another and talk can do a lot for a company. Some employees get anxiety over team building exercises. They want to come in and do their job with the stress of having to interact with other people on a social level. It is important that we are sensitive to such employee needs. It seems these days companies are extremely sensitive to a variety of things, just not that. An introverted employee might not need team building to serve the company in a beneficial manner.

Something like a happy hour or a day at a baseball game allows them to interact in the environment how they choose to. It allows them to normalize things. They aren’t forced to try to guess trivia questions about other employees or help figure out if a key located under an escape room’s prop bed.

I recall consulting a company last year that when asked what their biggest complaint was, many of them cited that the team building activities the company forced them to participate in caused them stress. That’s the very opposite affect you are looking for when it comes to your departments. So it is always recommended that you proceed with caution in this area. Don’t overdo it or make it a stressful endeavor.

Poll your employees

Ever thought about just asking your employees what type of team building activities they’d be interested? This is a great way to gain insights into what they enjoy and what they are comfortable with. It may also serve to make them feel involved in the process which may soften them up to activities they might not have enjoyed prior.

In the end, don’t force the issue. Team building can be as tragic as it can be great. Know your people and go with your gut. If team building feels wrong to you, it probably is.

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Apple Stocks Tumble After ‘Unimpressive’ iPhone X Reveal

Apple held its big iPhone X / iPhone 8 reveal yesterday, and as anticipated, it is one of the biggest iPhone improvements in recent memory. The iPhone has been condemned by tech and gadget blogs for years because many feel that the iPhone has rested on its laurels from an innovation standpoint. And shareholders of Apple have always feared that Apple’s reliance on the iPhone’s market share coupled with their lack of innovation in the market created a scary scenario.

Weeks prior to the iPhone X launch, investor news sites had mixed predictions. Many felt the iPhone X reveal would cause Apple stock, which had been surging over recent months, to continue to rise. Some blogs even felt the iPhone could topple the $200 / share ceiling. That was incredibly bold and ambitious insight from seasoned investors. Others felt the new iPhone wouldn’t move the needle much, or, it would knock the shares down just a bit. Apple shares can sometimes fall after iPhone launches when investors see real time quarterly numbers and predict Apple executives getting paid out.

Well, a couple of things happened:

  • The new iPhone was revealed and people love it.
  • The stock price fell.

So what the heck happened?

First, the new iPhone X has wireless charging, facial recognition and incredibly fast charging speeds. These are all big updates to a smartphone that’s been criticized for not keeping up with Android innovations. So then, if everyone loves the iPhone, what the heck went wrong for investors of Apple shares?

The primary reason for the Apple share price decline is that Apple set the new iPhone’s order date all the way in October. Shares immediately fell to $160.82, they’ve tumbled to $158.77 as of this morning. Additionally and awkwardly, the facial recognition technology didn’t work during the live presentation.

In a statement via CNBC, Apple said: “When we issued guidance for Q4 in July, we anticipated that the iPhone X would begin shipping in fiscal Q1.” Apple is currently in its fourth fiscal quarter, which began July 2.

“This stock rallied right up into the unveiling of this,” said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at Lindsey Group. “There was chatter going into this that there were going to be glitches and delays. … We priced this phone in already.”

Apple also spent a little too much time discussing their new facility in Silicon Valley. A new facility just means more expenditures for the company, which investors tend to not appreciate so much.

Nothing has fallen outside the realm of tradition in terms of Apple stock, at least just yet. It is not uncommon for Apple shares to surge a bit before a new iPhone reveal and to get humbled just after the announcement happens. Apple’s iPhone still dominates most of the smartphone market and will continue to dominate it, although, the $1000 price tag on the new phones could persuade consumers to try the competition.

I don’t think I’d sell my Apple shares just yet. Apple also potentially has Artificial Intelligence on the horizon which could place them in an entirely new market share. AI stocks have surged over recent months as investors anticipate AI to be the next big investment horizon. As long as Apple continues to dominate the smartphone market, they will be more than stable. Additionally, they will always be ripe to launch new successful products because their iPhones allow them to message potential consumers of their products with fast ease.

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How To Achieve Killer Customer Service

Customer service is the lifeblood of most businesses. If you have clients or sell products or services to consumers, your ability to make them happy will largely serve as the driving factor which fuels your success. If your clients or customers are angry at you all the time, you better hope that your service or product is so unique and so good that they clients and customers can’t switch. In most cases, if you are successful, competition for some of your market share is always at least on the horizon. If you have crappy customer service, you might be exposed to big financial losses. Often times, poor communication in a company results in poor customer service. This is often due to the front lines (those most likely to interact with customers) aren’t given appropriate communications or expectations. Additionally, they may not be given enough responses to work with. If you are a company owner or executive, you need to hit those front lines sometimes and see what the heck is going on so you can diagnose any problems before they spread like a plague throughout your business.

So how can you make sure you are doing the absolute best you can with customer service?

First, it begins with who and how you hire. If you hire good, motivated people, that can go long ways in making sure your customer service is good. This may mean paying less people more money. If you want quality, you might well have to spend for it.

Your training program will matter. Don’t just hire customer service agents, show them the software and how to answer a call, and then leave them to their own devices. Train them on your company philosophy! Recruit really great customer service agents to serve as trainers and mentors for those who are just learning. Starbucks employees are super accommodating because Starbucks has created that culture by empowering their employees to learn best practices. They do everything the Starbucks way, which means smiling and having a more interested look on their face. They appear to care if your darn coffee is right! Your company should pass down similar philosophy! And those who perform the best should be in charge of training. It is hard to teach someone to smile, often times this is learned by watching others. Make sure you feature prominently those employees who exemplify your business motto!

Your customer service should note who they are talking to. Don’t throw trendy pop culture slang at the elderly and don’t be too formal to a millennial. Know your audience and cater your customer service engagement appropriately.

The customer is always right. I know that it has been said, but it can’t be said enough. Yes, there are extreme cases of customers taking advantage of this policy, however, for the most part, abide by it. In this day and age of online reviews, you really don’t want a build up of too many bad reviews.

If you get a bad review online (it is going to happen), be nice in your response. Don’t be defensive. However, if you are right as a business, don’t shy away from stating it. If a customer purchased something and is upset that it doesn’t have a functionality you never claimed it does, mention that. Just don’t be aggressive and defensive. Be nice. And yes, responding is the better option to trying to have the review removed. Many customers want to see how you handle complaints. This can often be an indicator of how good your customer service is. So in some ways, a bad online review can be an opportunity for you to show how great your customer service actually is.

Small talk is good. Egregious small talk is bad. The metrics matter. If you are bogged down by long customer service calls, this means more and more customers waiting to get on the line and have their needs met. Chatting it up can be a good and friendly thing to do, but you don’t want to do it so much so that you end up causing delays for other customers in need.

Don’t eat or drink during calls. Come on man! No one wants to hear the sounds of slurps and chews. Allowing your customer service team to eat or drink at their desk is fine, but make sure they understand that they should not eat and talk at the same time. It can really make your customer service sound super lazy and uncaring.

Make sure the customer agrees that his or her issue is now resolved. Saying things like, “did I resolve all your issues this afternoon?” can really help clarify that your customer service goal was met with flying colors. It leaves a good taste in the customer’s mouth after they hang up with you. You want to leave a lasting good impression.

If a customer is absurdly angry, allow them to vent. Do not get confrontational as the customer might just be spouting off accusations that they do not fully believe. Remember, they feel let down by some aspect of your product. Their anger is OK. Let them vent and have a welcoming inflection to your voice. They will likely calm down when they sense your empathy.

Customer service can be challenging, no doubt, but your ability to conquer it could be the driving factor in your product’s growth. Many companies have risen to the top of the pack just based on their ability to make customers happy. Customers are more apt to purchase a product from a place that has good customer service because the customer sees that as less risk when buying.

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These iPhone Tips And Tricks Will Help You Dominate Your Smartphone

Smartphones are now an extension of our lives, In some ways, that’s extremely sad, but it is also very usable. Smartphones allow us to live more mobile lives and stay more connected to friends and family than ever. But, the dark side is smartphone addiction. Yeah, smartphone addiction is a real deal, even for some of our employees at Check Issuing. I’m not going to call any one person out, however, because it is pretty much all of us!

Smart phones were set up to be addictive. Otherwise, we would use them less and someone, somewhere, (Apple) wouldn’t make all that bank. But one thing that can really help you manage your time spent on your smart phone is to learn best practices. Or, at the very least, it can help you use the entire phone more efficiently. For now, I’m talking iPhone. Yes, I’m talking iPhone tips and tricks that can serve to enhance your iPhone use experience.

While it may seem lame, the new cool OS7 iPhone features are pretty awesome. Here’s a few of them.

Wake iPhone With No Fingers

Usually, you have to press your iPhones main button to wake it up. Not with OS7. The new OS allows you to wake the phone by simply moving it. This means when you pick the iPhone up, it is ready to go. Here’s the thing: I hated this. Many people love it because it truly saves time, but I also found that the phone woke up when I didn’t want it to and was always lighting up when I simply moved it. This led to poorer battery performance. Yes, almost all cool features eat away your iPhone battery. Who knew? Everyone, pretty much.

Faster Camera Readiness

How many times have you seen something funny while at the mall and wanted to take a picture of it, only to be disappointed with a slow process to open your camera? The new OS7 has you covered. Now you just pick the iPhone up and slide right and the camera fires open. I really don’t know what you’d need to take a picture of at the mall so quickly, so maybe that was a poor example. Or maybe not. Malls have weird clowns sometimes, right? See, I knew there was a purpose served.

Open iPhone With Finger Print

With the new iPhone, you can access your phone simply by using your fingerprint. No more typing in that annoying 6 digit password (yes, they increased it!). You can also put in multiple finger prints (your wife or husband, but maybe think that one through) or someone who needs to access it. Or, you can put in both of your index fingers, like I did. This makes opening that smartphone a quicker, dreamier experience. Its a true time saver. Though it probably eats your battery. I really don’t know, I just assume all great iPhone functions eat my battery life away.

Improved Selfie Technology

The iPhone now knows when you are taking a selfie. I’m completely embarrassed to even write this because no adult should care if their iPhone takes selfies more efficiently. But the truth is, adults take selfies. The new iPhone stores your selfie photos in a specific tag so they are easier to locate. And the front facing camera went from 5mp to 7mp, so your selfie image quality just got super legit. Don’t pretend, we know you take your fair share of selfies and now that process will be a higher-quality experience.

Better Sound

Ok, the new iPhone’s on board speaker system is by far better than the last version’s. Past iPhones have been considered rather underwhelming in terms of on board sound. And this tends to effect listening to music or speaker phone / Facetime. But the new iPhone definitely turns up the volume. And for an added tip, toss it in a bowl to enhance your music listening volume. No, not a wet bowl or bowl with leftover Chinese food in it, a clean dry bowl. It will serve as a cool amplifier.

iPhones are cool technology, no doubt. The 8th version is due out in September and people are already anticipating a huge upgrade. So if you just got the recent one, go ahead and get your buyer’s remorse depression on. I know I am.

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How To Save Big Money On Amazon

Amazon is now one of the biggest websites on the planet. It is also one of the most influential. Amazon has changed, for better or for worse, shopping for needs and wants as we know it. Some predict that Amazon will fuel a “retail collapse” and destroy the economy while others are choosing to have more hopeful and embracing takes on the matter. Nonetheless, Jeff Bezos is now the richest man in the world for a reason. And that reason is that Amazon.com is a huge success. People now relish in the idea that they can shop from the comforts of their own homes. Amazon’s recent purchase of Whole Foods Market almost solidifies that we will be using Amazon as one of our core shopping components for years to come.

Because we are enslaved, either by fruitful willingness or dire options, by Amazon shopping, it is important that we understand a few ways to make the most of the situation. Yes, I’m talking Amazon tips and tricks that could help you get your savings and convenience on. Amazon is a big robust service, and much like our online document printing service, there are ways to make the experience way cooler! (yes, I plugged Check Issuing because hey, it is our blog). The fact is, Amazon hacks are alive and well and we all need to be taking advantage of them.

You Can Score Cash Back On Price Drops

Ah, you bought that hair curler you’ve been needing for months. Suddenly, you notice the next day, that the price dropped. Your dismay and agony serve you up some real buyer’s remorse. Did you know that you can often times, contact Amazon’s customer support (who are great, I might add) and let them know what happened and there is a good possibility they will give you cash back off the difference? Yep. This is further incentive to follow up on purchases the next day and make sure you don’t have some savings to be had!

Amazon Price Matches Phones And TVs

amazon tips and tricksI’m not talking only online, I mean, brick and mortar stores, as well. If you see a lower price on a TV or smartphone in a store or on a store’s online webpage, let Amazon know and they will match it. You can get refunded the price differential but you only have 14 days to do so. But hey, it is one more cure for buyer’s remorse and it can save you hard earned money!

Get An Amazon Credit Card

I know, you are cringing, not another credit card! Here’s the thing, if you frequently shop on Amazon, getting their Prime card mostly makes sense (pending you have Prime). If you are a Prime member with decent credit, you can likely get a store card. And that card gets you 5% cash back. Spend all year using the card, pay it off each time you use it, and Christmas presents are on the house!

Now, the only way this doesn’t make sense is if you have a far better credit card rewards program. Some credit card reward systems can import points into Amazon to be used for shopping. For me, Amazon’s Prime card was the best option, however. 5% is great.

Sign Up For Price Drop Alerts

Price drop alerts are both the blessing and the curse. On one hand, getting alerted when items goes on sale just makes financial sense. On another hand, it could lead to buying things you really don’t need. This is a tough battle with our own internal struggles, but the warrior in me thinks this is good stuff. Now, you don’t really do this through Amazon, but you can sign up at Camel Camel Camel and get started with savings.

Your Broken Items Shouldn’t Cost You Shipping

Often times, Amazon will simply send you a new replacement product if your original order arrives broken. Who knew? I did. Because I’ve done. Amazon has some of the top customer service of any store out there. When I’ve had broken or malfunctioning items, they’ve simply sent me a new replacement without forcing me to go through the trouble and expense of returning the item through shipping.

Share Your Prime Membership

Oh boy, did you know you can give our free Prime memberships to 4 more people? That’s right, you can give the gift that keeps on shipping (for free). Amazon allows Prime users to gift Prime memberships to a few other people because they realize that many people will share accounts. I mean, a husband and wife aren’t going to pay for multiple Prime memberships. So from Amazon’s perspective, this really makes sense.

So there you have it. Your Amazon shopping experience just got a whole heck of a lot better. Got any other tips? Leave us a comment. We LOVE comments (well, most of the time).

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How To Increase Your Company’s Brand Awareness

Your brand matters, but I didn’t have to tell you that. There are few companies in this world who don’t want to increase the presence and power of their brand. Having a powerful and persuasive brand can take your company from pretender to contender. Our online document printing business wouldn’t be anywhere without having a solid brand. At Check Issuing, we care about our brand because we realize the importance of it.

Many companies get lost in the madness of selling their product or service and just hope the brand will build by default. Look, your product or service being awesome is without question the best way to grow a brand. But it never hurts to commit a few hours a week to other methods for brand awareness.

Why Build A Brand?

Well, for starters, trust. Big brands can typically equate to trusted brands. When people have heard of your brand, they are more likely to purchase your product or buy your service. Brand awareness is typically considered a good thing (unless your brand gets known for bad things, such as scamming consumers). Short of that, brand awareness helps convert sales. And that’s the name of the game, right?

So what can we, as business owners and operators, do to increase our brand’s awareness?

Offer Incentives To Share Your Brand

For many companies, incentives such as referral or affiliate programs can explode a brand. Many website owners are looking for additional ways to create income from their traffic and referral programs are a big way to achieve that. Now, you’ll either need to front money or have a way to monetarily cash in on those referred users so as to make a profit. That could be the tricky part depending on your program. But you could just pay the website owner a small portion of what the referred consumer spends. If you have a site that sells a product or service, this shouldn’t be too tough. If you charge $1,000 to redesign website pages, you could kick the website owner who sent you the referral $100. That’s a big incentive and it means your brand gets shared, hopefully, a lot!

Develop A Strong Meme Game

I know, memes can seem childish and annoying. But the truth is, we all love them when they hit on our sense of humor or sense of emotion. The fact is, sharing on social media is a big powerful thing. When you create memes, you can place your brand logo or url on them. While some places will rip you off and remove that brand, most people in general, will not do such a thing. It takes a lot of effort to do such a crummy thing. Depending on what your business is and what your audience likes, you could truly reach thousands of new people you weren’t able to connect with. Facebook and memes are like salad and lettuce (what a horrible metaphor by me, I’m sorry).

The downside to memes is that depending on what type of business you run, meme sharing could make your business seem a little unprofessional. That said, I’m seeing a ton of companies getting into the meme game, so clearly, the professional boundaries are loosening up.

One way to spread more professional memes is by creating infographics that are specific to your business. For example, if you are a marketing company, you might create an infographic image with supporting consumer behavior data, such as graphs showing the rise in users using mobile platforms over desktop.

Get Partners

Is your local business relevant to some brick-and-mortar businesses in your community? Maybe your web business could offer some free services, or some charity services, to local businesses that could bring more eyeballs to your brand. Having strategic partners both on the web and in real life stores can be a huge asset to your brand.

Get Swaggy

People love free stuff, particularly swag. Provide free usable swag items, like t-shirts and coffee mugs, for people who visit your website (this could be costly). Or do this at trade shows. Just make sure you giveaway usable swag. Lots of companies give away pens with their brands on them. Hardly anyone uses a pen anymore, but most people drink coffee out of sweet free coffee mugs!

In conclusion, your brand matters. There are lots of really easy ways to reach new consumers and clients. A few simple steps here and there could amount to big time growth in the future.

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How To Improve Your Company Marketing Like A Boss

Our online document and check printing business most certainly relies on the education and skill sets of our employees. The virtual business vertical changes seemingly every minute, making it difficult to simply rely on traditional education portals like Universities. No, we aren’t saying skip college, we are saying that new skill sets crop up every day in relations to online businesses, and Check Issuing is no different.

The key is transcending your business by infusing education opportunities into your staff. For most online businesses, there is a reliance on a few different factors to help influence the companies success.

  • Marketing and Sales
  • SEO
  • Social Media
  • Your Business

Your trade’s skills are clearly the top need. For us, we need to hire people who either understand the business of check printing or hire people who are more than willing to learn the market. You can’t sell something you don’t understand. You can’t go after SEO keywords for a business you don’t know what the keywords are. This is all pretty logical stuff.

But aside from knowing the business, you can improve upon all the other attributes by simply utilizing education resources. The point is, you can use web resources to train up an employee who may have some extra time to devote to learning and running a new sector of your business. You may not need to hire outside if you have a reliable, eager and competent person waiting in the wings. Lots of employees are motivated by the prospect of growth and new opportunities. It could be a win-win for everyone.

Here’s some areas you could train someone up in.

How To Improve At SEO

When it comes to SEO, most small businesses rely on good listings, either local or general. Getting people to see your website for “free” is essential to the process. Paying for ads is an expensive undertaking. SEO is no longer a secret society. Google pushes the best content to the top. It prioritizes content based on relevance and user experience. They want to make sure that when people search using Google, that person finds what they were looking for. A solution, or a product, or information. Any of it, really.

LinkedIn has a course that has a free trial. For a premium SEO experience, this would be a wonderful place to start. For a free starting place, you could have your employee(s) start at Moz. They have all the information you’d ever need to learn solid SEO skills. Beyond this, it all comes down to original content and relevant product. If you have something people want, SEO will be a small extra step for someone in your company to focus on.

Marketing and Sales Tutorials

Marketing and sales are the essences of almost every business. Whether you sale and market to other businesses as a service (like Check Issuing does) or you sale to consumers, you need to know how to get it done. Most businesses think that anyone who has an extroverted personality can sell and market. This could not be further from the truth. Sales, specifically, is an art. Those who are good at selling things are highly skilled folks. Most of them have read some legitimate sales books. And some have even taken courses such as these options on Lynda.com.

Social Media Skills

Social media companies will charge you an arm and a leg. Mostly, it is not worth it. But that doesn’t mean that social media isn’t worth it. Your company absolutely must have a true presence. In this day and age, you are giving up too much real estate to the competition if you are under exposed on social media.

There are tons of free resources that can help you improve your social media presence. You don’t need to spend a lot here. What you want to look for are tutorials on organic reach, paid Facebook and Instagram ads, viral tips and tricks, etc. You want to first decide where your business fits in on social media. You might not be a company that can get away with being a big jokester, meme factory. But you may be one that could market coupons to businesses or customers who may be looking for your service. Social media is data and demographic driven, Facebook knows who your customers are, you just have to learn how to use the filters to find them. And that’s the toughest part.

I’d also say throw in learning more about emails. Constant Contact is a large, reliable emailing service who offers a beginner’s guide to social media. You could also use them to learn more about the basics of email. If you plan to promote on social media, you might want to consider collecting emails as well (the two headed marketing monster).

In conclusion, the web is full of learning opportunities that could be used to prop someone up that could in turn, help your business grow online. If you feel stalled or stagnate, it is worth looking into online educational resources which may serve to benefit the greater good. Get to fulfilling that mission statement, folks!

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