By Tami Harris
What is VideoMail and Can It Really Boost Your Business?
You may have seen recently an exciting new addition to the Richardson Marketing Group family of products and services. And if you haven’t, brace yourself and your business for something really great: VideoMail powered by RMG is officially up and running and ready to change the email game for the better.
What is VideoMail powered by RMG?
In short, video email is the sending of short video clips (GIFs) embedded within an email message. More than that though, VideoMail is a game-changing video marketing platform designed to help its users better connect with prospective clients, build rapport within their own organizations and/or teams, and totally differentiate themselves and their businesses from everyone else using the same old email tactics that originated with the dawn of email way back in the mid 1970s. The rest of the internet has gotten a massive upgrade and it was about time that email got on board as well. Let’s take a look at the various features of VideoMail and how they can be utilized to truly give your business a competitive edge.
Feature One: The Video Email tool
With the Video Email tool, users can quickly and easily create short videos (up to 90 seconds long) to send via email. The GIF takes clients to your video message landing page, where you can add your phone number, a custom call to action, a calendar booking link, an invoice link, a unique bloat post link or anywhere else on the world wide web. As long as it’s got a URL, you can direct your customers there!
The process is actually quite simple and can be easily navigated by even the most novice of internet users. Simply type in the name and email of the recipient (or recipients - you can actually BCC up to 30 email addresses at once) and click the ‘Capture Video’ button to launch your computer’s webcam and begin your recording. There are three great features within the video capture process that will certainly come in handy for users every time.
So who would use the Video Email tool (and why)? Anyone from an Insurance Agent/agency to an Owner-operated local photography studio to a Real Estate Agent could all benefit from the service VideoMail provides. Just purchased new leads for your insurance agents and want a personal way to reach out to those prospects? VideoMail can really help you to stand out and totally differentiate you from other Agents out there who, like you, are also trying to earn the business of that prospect. Or what about that online booking for family portraits that just came through for your Photography business. Sending your new clients a personalized video message thanking them for booking and sharing the next steps in the process can totally set the tone for a great first impression; really fostering the personal connection that is so important in a Client/Photographer relationship. Regardless of the industry you are in, VideoMail powered by RMG is focused on helping you capture your customer’s attention (after all, just by having the word “video” in an email subject line open rates can increase by 19% and click through rates can increase by 65%.
Feature Two: Branded Video Creation
Similarly to video email, VideoMail powered by RMG empowers its users to create quick and unique branded videos to make a positive and lasting first impression. With the Branded Video tool, users can create videos that share their knowledge with their audience, describe their products or services and so much more. Hiring a marketing or advertising agency to create video content for your brand or business can cost thousands of dollars, but with VideoMail powered by RMG you can create quality content, in 90-second clips complete with your business’s logo, music, and of course, your recorded video. Branded video content can help establish you as an industry leader with expert tip videos, product review videos, frequently asked question videos, etc. The possibilities are truly limited only by your creativity. Branded video content is a key component in increasing brand recognition and sales.
Feature Three: Story Video Capture
So, what is a Story Video? The capture a story feature is a multi-functional feature that can truly help you in telling your brand story and your customer’s experience within your brand. By taking three video clips and fusing them into one amazing story, you can use this feature to obtain a guided video review of your products or services from your client, use it to answer frequently asked questions, or to provide a more in-depth look at a product or service. Like all of the tools within the VideoMail platform, creating a Capture a Story video is a simple and streamlined four-step process.
Feature Four: Video Testimonial collection
There’s nothing quite as powerful as a personal testimonial from someone who has used your product or service. Word of mouth has long been make-or-break for a business and in today’s digital era, the case is no different. Whether a client has a good or bad experience, they are certain to share it with those in their circle of influence. With VideoMail’s Video Testimonial tool the process of highlighting your business’s most shining moments is easy and convenient for your most trusted customers and clients to navigate. First, identify a client you would like to hear from. Second, send them a request through to their email asking for their video testimonial.
Next, your customer will click on the email link and record their glowing testimonial using their smartphone, tablet or computer. Once they are satisfied with their recording, they’ll click submit and their job is all done. VideoMail will take the reins from there, automatically adding your logo, music and a call-to-action at the end. That’s it! Your video testimonial is complete and ready to be downloaded, shared through your website or uploaded directly to social media outlets like Facebook or YouTube.
Whether you are a doctor sending health tips to your patients, a local baker spotlighting a new tasty menu item, or a real estate agent highlighting your latest listing or sharing the dos and don’ts of the homebuying process, VideoMail powered by RMG can be your one-stop-shop for all of your video marketing needs. Capture and create video testimonials, brand videos, story videos, & video email in a simple, quick, and cost-effective way that separates your brand from the competition and gives your brand the personalized touch that is unique to video marketing. If you’re ready to take your business to the next level and add Video Marketing to your business plan, head over to VideoMail powered by RMG to get started.
By Tami Harris
In today’s world, so much of our personal information, everything from the numbers in our bank account, our credit reports, sensitive personal documents and in some states, even our digital driver’s licenses can all be found online or in an app. With all of that sensitive information floating through the digital cloud, cybersecurity is more than a buzzword. It’s an essential part of daily life in the 21st century. Not unlike an insurance policy, cybersecurity is a vital part of protecting yourself and your loved ones. So let’s dive right in. What exactly is cyber security? What does it entail? And how can you keep yourself and your personal data safe on the internet?
So what is Cybersecurity anyway?
By definition, cybersecurity is the practice of protecting critical electronic systems ie. computers, servers, mobile devices, networks and sensitive data from unauthorized access and/or digital attacks. In short, cybersecurity ensures, or at least attempts to ensure that your personal digital data doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.
How do I protect myself and my digital footprint from cybercriminals?
Protecting yourself from cyber attacks, unauthorized digital account access, and outright identity fraud can certainly feel like both a daunting task and a full time job, but there are a number of steps and precautions that you can take to best protect yourself against even the most formidable of cybercrooks. From anti-theft software to password protection, let’s break down some of the common (and most effective) ways to keep your digital data safe.
The world we live in is without question, a digital one. We’ve got the whole wide web at our fingertips which is great when it comes to connectivity and making a big world seem that much smaller. It also means we’ve got the added responsibility of protecting our digital domain. So do your homework, buy the security software, browse responsibly and just as you would lock the doors of your home at night, take every precaution to ensure the safety of your personal information. It is far better to proactively protect your online identity than to get caught behind the eight ball doing damage control. Happy browsing!
By Tami Harris
It’s here! The time has finally come and if you are like most parents, you more than likely fall into one of two categories.
Depending on the state in which you live, once a child reaches a certain age, (here in Ohio, that age is 15½), they are eligible to apply with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles for their temporary driver’s license, also called a Learner’s Permit. Because each state has its own rules and regulations, it’s important to look into the specifics for your home state but for the sake of this article, we’ll stick with Ohio as our state of reference. So what comes first in this exciting, albeit nerve wracking milestone?
First things first, you’ll need to gather up all the necessary documents to prove your child’s identity, i.e. their full legal name, date of birth and social security number (if they have one) and head to your local BMV driver exam station. Keep in mind that this does not mean you can go to just any BMV office. Not every BMV offers driver exam services so you’ll want to check with your local branch before making the drive...and standing in line! Generally speaking, acceptable proof of identity documents include but aren’t limited to:
Once at the driver exam station, your teen will need to pass an eye exam and then it will be straight to the knowledge test. The test is typically around 40 questions and will test their basic knowledge of traffic rules and regulations and road signs. Many states even offer a sample Knowledge Test on their BMV website, so it’s a good idea to have your teen familiarize themselves with the types of questions they’ll be seeing on the real thing. They’ll need a 75% or better to obtain a passing grade. Once both the vision and knowledge tests have been passed, congratulations, you’ve got yourselves a Temporarily Permitted Driver!
Now comes the fun (or scary) part! Practice, practice, practice! Your new driver is going to need approximately 50 hours of driving practice with a licensed driver (yes, that means you Mom & Dad!) so buckle up and hit the road! Just like other aspects of parenting, drive by example with your teen in the car. They’re likely to do what they’ve seen you do so for your own peace of mind, take those turns slow, place - and leave- your phone in a cupholder or other compartment while driving, always drive the speed limit, etc. For the first time in their lives, your kid is actually paying attention to how you drive as they try to mental prepare for their time on the road, so practicing what you preach here is key! It’s best to ease your teen into the ways of the road by starting with shorter distances and familiar routes. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so don’t feel like you need to go from the BMV parking lot to the nearest 5-lane expressway with your teenager behind the wheel. Start by having them drive you to school or home from sports practices each day. Or have your teen take the wheel for that weekly fast food run. These shorter, more familiar drives are a great starting point and can really boost the confidence of your new driver.
Now here’s an age-old question: What about insurance? Now that your teen has their Learner’s Permit and is officially on the road, don’t you need to add them to your insurance? Not so fast. In many states, like here in Ohio, your teen is essentially grandfathered into your auto insurance policy. So rest assured that if that Sunday afternoon driving lesson turns into a fender bender, you and your teen, will be covered by your pre-existing car insurance policy. Once you've got an officially licensed driver on your hands, that’ll be the time when you have to make the call to your local insurance agent to add a new driver to your policy.
Once your teen has some real-world driving practice, the next step in the process is to sign them up for a formal driver’s education training program and in-car instruction. There’s no shortage of options these days when it comes to choosing the right driver’s ed course. There’s the traditional setting, where your teen will sit in a classroom and learn face-to-face from an instructor; probably much like how you and I learned growing up. Typically, these classes are offered daily for a total classroom time of 24 hours. In today’s digital era, there’s an alternative to this traditional route by way of online driver’s ed. There are even companies that offer their full coursework of “classroom” learning completely from a mobile app! Whether your child learns best in a classroom setting or independently online, at their own pace, the kicker is simply to ensure that your company of choice is licensed and approved by your state. Driver’s Ed classes can cost a pretty penny so to avoid sticker shock, plan to spend $350 to upwards of $600 for your teen’s education. Upon completion of the in-class learning, your teen will officially be eligible for in-car practice with a driving instructor. Again, you’ll want to do your research and find a reputable, licensed and approved driving school in your area and keep in mind that some companies can have months long waitlists (especially during the summer months and other scheduled breaks from school.), so it’s best to get a jump on this process as early as you can. They’ll need to log 8 hours of in-car training with a state licensed instructor and once they’ve done that, it’s off to take their official driving test.
With all of the appropriate training under their belts, it’ll be back to the BMV for your teen to complete the process by taking their final written and in-car driving exams. Again, licensing fees vary from state to state but you can anticipate having to pay anywhere from $25-$50 for a driver’s license. The driving test itself is actually free of charge.
So they did it! Their hard work, 50 hours of practice with you, 24 hours in the classroom and 8 hours with an instructor all paid off and you’ve got a licensed teen driver on your hands! Now what?! Is it off to the mall with a car-full of friends packed in the car like sardines for your teen? Not exactly. It’s important that both you and your teen realize that their first license is considered a probationary one and comes with its own set of rules and regulations. Here’s look a some of those restrictions:
There you have it. Your crash course in preparing your teen (and yourself) for the road ahead! It can be an intimidating and exciting time for your family and being prepared for what’s to come can really help to ease your family into the world of teenage driving. Now...as for the anxiety that comes with handing over those keys? You’ll have to handle that one on your own! Good luck!
By Tami Harris
So you want to start a business? That is so great! You’ve got your big idea all lined up, your must-have product ready to hit the market, your service the world just can’t live without. So let’s hit the ground running, right? Not just yet. There is so much more to starting a business than having a brilliant idea, product or service to provide. There are a number of processes and intangible steps to take before beginning the exciting journey into entrepreneurship and business ownership. Some of those steps can be make or break for a fledgling business so before you go diving in head first, let’s slow down, make a plan and execute it to perfection to ensure your business has the type of longevity in the marketplace that you desire. So here it is. Your step-by-step guide for starting a business.
Step One: Make a business plan
We’ve all heard the saying “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” and unfortunately, it could not be more true when it comes to starting your own business. Every business, now matter how big or small, should have a business plan of some sort. The great news here is that it doesn’t have to be some professionally drawn out document. And it can be as simplistic or detail-oriented as you would like. It is after all your business plan so it should really be a reflection of you! Things to include in your business plan include but are not limited to:
Step Two: Name your business.
What’s in a name? A lot more than you think when it comes to naming a business. It’s often first nature to go for a name that is cute and catchy, but it is important to consider your business name very carefully. Base your name on the product(s) or service(s) you provide. Consider what if anything the name makes your potential customers think or feel when they hear it. Finally, check with your state’s Secretary of State’s office to see if your name of choice is available.This can easily be done online. The last thing you want to do is think you’ve got a great name and brand your business as such only to find out that name already exists in your state.
Step Three: Make it official.
Now that you have chosen a (freely available) name for your business, it is time to make it official by deciding the organizational structure of your business (ie. whether you choose to establish your business as an LLC, sole proprietorship, corporation, etc.) and registering it as such with the government. It’s best to do your own research and compare and contrast each of these business entities to choose the one that is best for you. You will need to pay the corresponding filing fees (which vary depending on the state in which your business is located). Additionally, if your business sells tangible goods, you will need to apply for a vendor’s license as well. Again, this is something you should be able to accomplish easily online via your state’s Secretary of State website and/or your local County Auditor’s website as well.
Step Four: Set up your finances.
This is really a two-fold process. First and foremost, you’ll want to run the numbers to determine your cost of doing business and you’ll want to make sure you include anything and everything you need to run your business in those figures. This includes but is not limited to rent, utilities, internet and phone, website and web domain maintenance fees, any business related subscription services or professional organizations to which you may belong, gas, costs of goods sold, and the list goes on and on. Knowing your cost of doing business, or CODB, is crucial to the success of your new company because after all, the prices of your goods and/or services should be determined by your CODB. Not only does it tell you what your revenue needs to be to keep your business in the black, but it also allows you to know how many appointments you need to run or products you need to sell to turn a profit and ultimately pay yourself a salary.
The second piece to this financial puzzle is to set up a separate bank account for your business. It is always a good idea to keep your business and personal funds separate for reporting and liability purposes when it comes time to pay your taxes. A business account can also be beneficial in that many accounts include an offer of a line of credit to be used to fund startup costs like new equipment or to provide for your expenses in the event of an emergency.
Step Five: Branding, branding, branding.
You’ve got your business name all squared away, and now is the perfect time to start thinking about and planning out your Logo and website? These are the logical next steps in your new business owner journey. Think about the most popular brands you can think of. I bet you know their logos (and maybe even their slogans too) by heart. A lot of thought, time and effort should go into selecting the right logo for your business. You can even go as far as doing some research on which colors to use based on the type of business you own. Should your colors be bright and bold to reflect your fun child care business? Or what about an elegant black, white and gold logo to reflect the timelessness of your wedding photography business. Whether you sell life insurance, own a bakery or are a professional dog walker, the colors, design and overall ‘feel’ of your logo should reflect the arena in when you operate your business. The colors, font and graphics used in a logo can truly leave a lasting first impression to potential customers so it is important to choose them wisely. Next up with regards to branding is your website.
Just as with your logo, your website is often the first impression potential clients and customers will make about your company. What does it say about the product or service that you provide? Are the colors eye-catching and relevant or confusing and distracting? Is the text big and clear enough to be easily read by most viewers? What about the information provided on your website itself? Is it clear and concise or is it far too wordy (and certain to be glossed over or worse, ignored altogether)? Even with so many small details to consider, building a beautiful website is not nearly as difficult as it used to be and it is something you can do on your own with the help of beautifully designed templates from websites like wix.com or web.com. If you are not quite in the financial space to be able to pay thousands of dollars for a professional web designer, websites like those mentioned above are a great, cost-effective, yet professional looking way to establish your business’s online presence.
Step Six: Time to market your business.
Now that your business is branded and has a web presence all its own, it is officially time to hit the ground running and begin marketing your business. This can be achieved any number of ways really, but certainly online is a great place to start. If it’s relevant to your business, set up and maintain social media accounts so that you can consistently get eyes on your business via your friends, family and colleagues. Schedule time to attend local business fairs and networking events. Set up a booth at your local Farmer’s Market. Order business cards, brochures and other hard copy marketing materials that you can leave at places where your target audience frequents. If it’s in your budget (and you’ve added it to your CODB) hire a marketing manager to point you in the right direction). And one of the best ways you can market your business? Don’t be afraid to self promote! There’s an old saying “closed mouths don’t get fed” and it certainly rings true when it comes to a fledgling business. You are your greatest and (most knowledgeable) promoter so tell people what you do. Share with them the services you provided and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how quickly word can spread.
While we’ve barely scratched the surface here of the ins and outs of starting a business, the steps above are a solid start to get you pointed in the right direction. So make that business plan. Know your numbers forwards and backwards so that you can best plan for your business’s financial future. Create a brand that speaks to people and reflects who you are and what you have to offer. Follow local and state guidelines to ensure your business’s legality. And go be the mouthpiece of your brand and just watch how all of your planning, persistence and hard work pay off.
By Deryck Richardson
I’ve heard before that, “the only people without problems are dead people; and then again, they might have the biggest problem of us all!” How true this statement is. Everyone in the world has problems. Problems are colorblind and they don’t care how much money you have or where your family lives. Problems come up everyday and we must find the proper way to attack these problems and come out on the winning end.
It all starts with your attitude and mindset. We all know that conditioning is real. Pavlov proves this with his experiment with the salivating dogs. If you’ve never heard of this experiment, google it. It will blow your mind. A better experiment to outline in this book however is the experiment with the monkeys, the ladder, and the sprinkler. I’ve heard this story many times, both in college and in the workforce and I find it amazing how our brains are wired to think to do things, simply because it’s been done that way before. Grace Murray Hopper states that, “the most dangerous phrase in the human language is, we’ve always done it this way.”
There was a scientist who put five monkeys in a room. On top of a tall ladder was a few bananas that were obviously tempting to the monkeys. One monkey became very ambitious and began to climb the ladder towards the bananas. As soon as this happened the scientist turned on the sprinklers in the room and all of the monkeys became cold and wet. Soon, however, the bananas started to look good again and another monkey decided to climb the ladder. Again, the scientist turned on the sprinklers so that all of the monkeys became soaked with cold water. As the third monkey attempted to climb the ladder, the other monkeys had had enough. They recognized that climbing the ladder, for some reason, triggered the sprinklers. The four remaining monkeys quickly pulled the monkey off of the ladder and began to punch him and scream.
The scientist then replaced one monkey with a new monkey that had not witnessed any of the prior events. The first thing that this monkey notices is the banana at the top of the ladder. As he begins to climb the ladder the 4 monkeys in the room, quickly pulled him down and began punching him and screaming. The scientist duplicated this process by adding a second new monkey and taking away one of the original monkeys. The same thing happens as this new monkey ends up getting beaten up by all of the monkeys in the cage, including the replacement monkey who has no idea why he was being punched for climbing the ladder.
Eventually, the scientist replaces all of the monkeys and there are 5 new monkeys. None of these monkeys have experienced the sprinklers as a result of climbing the ladder, however, they all beat any monkey that tries to get to the banana. They had been conditioned to do this simply because, the society, that they had been introduced to, had always operated in this manner. How often are we limiting ourselves from developing further in life simply because society tells us it is not OK?
Many of my friends and colleagues have flirted with network marketing or direct sales. I find it so amusing that we, as people, will go out and buy a product that is endorsed by a celebrity that we have never met, yet we rarely support our friends or family who are trying to start a new business. How many of us have had our idea’s shot down by friends and family and our confidence takes such a hit that we just give up? Our friends and family want us to stay where we are on the socioeconomic ladder simply because that’s how things have always been. People have always failed in their circle, or never tried and remained stagnant, so it is hard for them to imagine anything different from you. It’s not their fault that they doubt you, it’s just how they’ve been conditioned.
Understanding this is the first step in reprogramming your attitude. You don’t rely on them, for the most part, to make everyday decisions anymore. You are no longer a high school student who has to wear Nikes instead of Pumas to fit in. You are an adult and you are your own person. These people who doubt you will have no skin in the game when it comes to your ambitions. They are not vested in your journey, so they have no, or very little knowledge on the game plan that you have come up with. And believe me, you must come up with a game plan for whatever goal you want to accomplish. We will talk about his in later chapters.
The next step to reprogramming your attitude is to dive deep into the science that is the mind. The mind is made up of two major parts. The conscious and the subconscious. The conscious mind is what you are aware of. The thinking mind. This portion of the mind is controlled by you. You have the ability to raise your right hand high in the air. You have the ability to do a jumping jack, simply because you tell your mind to make the body do it. The subconscious mind are things that you don’t have to tell your mind to do. Breath, put your right foot in front of the left foot when walking. This part of the mind controls things that need no instruction or direction.
The beauty of the mind is that the conscious mind has the ability to control and retrain the subconscious mind. Your friends and family are telling you that you can’t succeed so much that your subconscious mind starts to believe it. You get lazy when attempting to accomplish your goals. You start out working diligently on a project, but as the weeks go on, you get discouraged, often times giving up. Your subconscious mind has now gone into autopilot, filling your mind with doubt. One of the easiest ways to reprogram yourself is to speak to yourself. Auditory senses are extremely powerful and we must utilize them when training our mind to convert from a negative thinker to a positive thinker. This is the reason why so many motivational speakers utilize crowd participation. The “repeat after me’s,” and “everyone scream” techniques are powerful because you are tapping into the subconscious mind and reminding it that you are in control.
I recommend starting everyday with verbalizing your goals and your dreams. I recommend reminding yourself verbally that you can do this and that you were meant to be great. If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody will, I promise you that!
Go back to the days of your childhood for a second. The little things brought us joy. The sound of the ice cream truck in the summertime, the new toy that your parents brought home that came as a surprise, staying up late on the weekends, laughing and joking with a group of friends about meaningless activities, a hug from a parent or a loved one. It didn’t take much for us to maintain a positive attitude as a child, we could do anything we wanted and our brain didn’t comprehend that there could be adverse consequences we just acted. Some of those actions did result in trouble, but I’d bet the overwhelming majority of those actions make up a big piece of our memory from childhood.
What brings you joy now? I’m not talking about the type of joy that leaves you hung over the next morning. We can all treat ourselves to an adult beverage every now and again, but what actually brings you joy? Is it time spent with loved ones? Hiking? Enjoying a sporting event? Make sure you reward yourself with things that bring you joy. Being happy is a big part of maintaining a positive attitude. The world is tough, in fact, it is the world that probably helped to destroy your confidence.
The news is filled with depressing story after depressing story. The watercooler talks at work are all negative. Parents at your child’s sporting events are complaining about each and every aspect of the game or league. People are flat out negative and it’s up to you to stop the negative thoughts now. Remember, if your subconscious mind continues to hear negative things, it will pound those thoughts into your head. You are constantly fighting a battle, that you may not even know you are fighting, with yourself. In literature and pop-culture we see the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. This is real and it’s happening inside of you. And since you are hearing a plethora of negative content every day you must begin to think positive thoughts and have positive conversations every day. Fight fire with fire.
So often we get caught up with drama. It’s fun, it’s sexy, it’s interesting. There are more reality shows, showcasing the lives of people who don’t get along with each other, than ever before. Ratings on these shows are through the rough. Conspiracy theorist will tell you that “they” want you to get caught up in this culture of drama. They want to suppress your mind with the negatives of the world to keep you from growing as an individual. I say that even if that is the case, you have the power to control your thoughts. You have the power to turn off the TV and pick up a book. You have the power to watch shows that focus on positive themes rather than negative. This world is scary and dangerous, but it’s also beautiful and fulfilling. Whichever world you focus on will be the world you live in.
Another way to reprogram your thoughts is to devote yourself to spread positivity. A smile will go a very long way. In fact, there are studies that show just smiling or laughing will have an impact on your body’s chemical reactions. It just makes you feel good to smile and to laugh. Take control and reap the rewards of having a positive attitude. Watch how you physically feel better and your body has less stress attached to daily activities. Negative things are going to happen, but take the half full approach and only focus on the positive side of any situation. Captain Jack Sparrow says, “it’s not the problem that’s the problem, it’s how you react to the problem, that is the problem.”
A popular sales story that sales managers and trainers use is the story of the shoe salesmen in a remote desert country. A shoe company sends two salesmen to the same country where the occupants don’t wear shoes. The first salesman comes back to the corporate office to report that he hadn’t sold a single shoe. He complains that he should have never been sent to a country where people don’t wear shoes. How can he possibly be successful in this environment?
The second salesman comes back and reports that he had broken sales record after sales record. He asked why they had never sent him to a country where people do not wear shoes before. This was the greatest marketing strategy that he had ever heard of. Nobody wears shoes, how could he possibly fail in this environment?
When you are faced with a problem are you looking at the positives? When you have to face adversity, do you automatically look at the worst possible outcome? If so, it’s not your fault. You have been programed to think negatively about everything. You have been programed to think that there is no positive solution. But you have the ability to reprogram your mind. You have the ability to train your mind to only see positives. It may feel strange at first. You may feel as if you are not yourself. In fact you aren’t! Your old self was used to complaining, whether internally or verbally. Your old self was used to seeing the glass half empty. Make the decision today to become a new person. Make the decision to embrace your newfound feelings of discomfort. Once your mind gets used to thinking about everything with a positive spin, the benefits will be plentiful.
Less stress, more money, more positive relationships. Both positivity and negativity are contagious. Become the leader that spreads positive content. Become the leader that tells people in your circle that you no longer want to listen to the negative vibes. It’s up to you to feed your brain and your mind with the seeds that will grow into beautiful flowers. If you only plant seeds of negativity, that is all that will grow. Be cognitive of the music you listen to. Violence and sin sells because people are drawn to the negative vibes. Reverse that magnetic pull within you and those you love. Make it cool to be positive. Go back to using peer pressure like tactics to be vocal about the power of positive thinking and positive reinforcement.
Finally, think about what you are about to say before you say it. If you were talking to a child, whose mind was still pure and able to be molded into a cesspool of positive vibes, would you say what you are about to say? Pretend that everyone you speak to is in a transitional phase just like you. Act as if your co-workers, family, and friends are transitioning from negative magnets to positive thinkers. Is what you’re about to say going to help that journey or harm it? Not only do we need to speak to ourselves in a positive manner, we need to speak to others in a positive manner as well. Remember the basic manners that you were taught as a child. Say please and thank you, hold a door open, speak when spoken to, and if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. These procedures will help you to become a leader within your circle and may influence others to begin to shift their thinking too. Can you imagine what the would would be like if every spread positive vibes? It may never happen, but it’s possible that within your world and your circle you live that way. How lucky you will be when that day comes!
By Tami Harris
Let’s talk about Medicare. There are clearly so many options available on the market and navigating the selection process, whether for yourself or (if you’re an Insurance Agent) for a client, can be quite the tricky endeavor. If you were to take a poll, I would be willing to guess that most people are generally, pretty pleased with their Medicare coverage. Despite that being the case, you will still typically find two areas of concern where people may not be as happy. Firstly, there is the lack of vision and dental coverage with original Medicare. This is both concerning and surprising since as we age, these two areas tend to be of increasing importance for most people. Secondly, out-of-pocket expenses, which are oftentimes quite unpredictable, can be another source of contention. If you consider that many Seniors operate under a fixed income since they are retired, you can imagine just how devastating unexpected health care costs can be.
So how do we fix it? How do we keep our Medicare while still being able to have our much needed vision and dental coverage? How do we protect ourselves from catastrophic out-of pocket costs or monthly premiums that we cannot afford? There are two options that tend to be the best solutions for most people:
Let’s start by discussing the key components of each one.
With a Medicare Advantage plan, your Medicare plan (either part A or part B) is essentially replaced and the insurance company, not Medicare, provides for all of your health coverage needs. These plans offer lower premiums and greater flexibility in switching plans if you were to be unhappy with your current selection. Medicare Advantage plans will usually also include the added benefits of dental, hearing and vision coverage and even gym memberships as part of their plan offerings. Additionally, these plans generally include Part D prescription drug coverage and do not require monthly premiums. As in with most things in life, when it comes to Medicare Advantage plans there are positives and negatives. This type of coverage does come at a cost, namely by way of out-of-pocket expenses. Instead of costly monthly premiums, with Medicare Advantage, copayments and deductibles must be met, with out-of-pocket maximums typically being around $5000. Ouch! Another main caveat with Advantage plans is that not only is preauthorization often required for certain diagnostic tests and/or procedures, but in addition to that, only approved in-network providers can be used. This can really limit your choices for who provides your medical care. This can be particularly restricting if you tend to travel frequently or if you live in another state for the winter or summer months. What you gain in coverage and a no monthly out of pocket, you lose in copays and medical bills.
On the other hand, our second option, Medicare Supplements serve as a complement to your original plan, rather than a replacement. Essentially, your health insurance still comes from Medicare then when it comes to your coinsurance, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket expenses the Supplemental plan will cover those costs. This is precisely why these are commonly referred to as Medigap plans. They fill in the gaps for coverage costs. It does not, however, provide any additional medical benefits. As for your Part D prescription drug coverage, Medicare Supplement plans will not be contributing to your out-of-pocket costs leaving you responsible for your own coinsurance and deductibles there. There is yet another positive with a Medicare Supplement though! Unlike with Advantage, Medicare Supplement plans do not have restrictions as far as prior authorizations or strict provider network guidelines. Instead, you really have the freedom to choose any doctor, in a location, as long as he or she accepts Medicare. So if you’re a snowbird who heads south for the winter months, you don’t need to fear if you’ll be covered in an emergency situation in an unfamiliar area.
With ten standard plans available from which you can choose, Medicare Supplement plans put you in the driver seat when it comes to being able to control your costs. Yes, the plans with the most coverage will be the most costly, but the choice amongst plans is yours, which can be helpful when you are trying to either stick to a budget or just have a solid expectation of what your medical expenses will be for each month. The final two perks of Supplemental plans are guaranteed acceptance on the front end and the automatic renewal process on the back. So how do these two things work exactly? The month that you turn 65 years old, you have six months to purchase your Supplement plan without fear of being turned down - for anything. That’s right! Pre-existing conditions too! On the back end, when you are due for renewal of your policy, as long as you are continuing to pay your premiums, you can renew each and every year regardless of your health status.
So let’s say you choose a plan, any plan really, and you absolutely hate it. What happens then? Is it possible to switch from a Medicare Advantage plan to a Medicare Supplement plan (or vice versa)? The answer is a resounding yes, you can….with some stipulations, of course. The main requirement is simply that this switch be done within a particular time frame. If you originally (at age 65) selected an Advantage plan only to find it is not the best option for you, you have 12 months, known as your trial period, to return to Medicare and purchase a Supplement policy. This option is afforded to you by Federal Law. Similarly, if you had Medicare Supplement and surrendered it to enroll in Medicare Advantage, but were ultimately unhappy with the switch, you are allowed to return to Original Medicare as long as you do so within 12 months from the time you joined. If the company still sells your original policy type, you can get that same exact Supplement policy back. If not, you are free to select a new or different Supplement policy. In both scenarios, the Supplement insurance company cannot use medical underwriting (read: they cannot use your medical history against you) or impose a waiting period for pre-existing conditions.
Knowing and choosing the best plan for you is obviously a personal decision and it is one that is based on your financial situation, your medical needs and your personal preferences. There really is no one solution that is better across the board. Need low to no premiums, out of pocket maximums and added benefits like nutrition care, meal delivery or access to your gym’s Silver Sneakers program? Medicare advantage may be just what you are looking for. Want greater flexibility in choosing your own provider, hospital, etc., protection from mounding medical bills, standardized benefits and coverage for your coinsurance and copayment costs? Medicare Supplement may be the best bet for you. No matter the choice, you don’t have to go through the decision making process alone. Speaking with a licensed insurance professional or even your physician or other healthcare provider is a great first step in choosing what’s right for you.
By Tami Harris
Organization. You pretty much either love it or hate it. We all know that person, a friend, family member or coworker, or perhaps even ourselves, that is extremely organized and seems to always have it all together. On the contrary, we are also quite familiar with the one who struggles to stay organized, has a difficult time meeting deadlines or showing up on time, and is generally frazzled with what life has to throw at them. Surely there are benefits of being organized in our personal lives. We have seen those live and in living color. In business, like in life, being organized is of the utmost importance and can prove to be a critical part of success no matter what your professional field may be. If you struggle with staying organized in your business, you are certainly not alone. It is no surprise that many people find organizational skills foreign to them as this is not something that is often taught throughout our many years of education. Oftentimes as adults, we are left navigating these uncharted waters without an actual game plan; freestyling as we go, hoping to get it right, only to find ourselves falling short and suffering the many consequences that may arise as a result of a lack of organization.
So where do we go from here? How do we do it? What are the key areas in which to get organized in our business and how on earth do we maintain that level of organization once we get there? You're in luck, because today is all about teaching you how to get organized, how to stay organized, and to prepare you to reap the benefits of all of your hard work.
So check early and update often for the best chances for success!
Congratulations! You made it through the necessary steps. You’ve created all of the appropriate systems and gotten yourself and your business organized. Now what? What exactly do you have to look forward to as a result of your hard work and commitment to the process of getting organized? While the benefits are many, here are the top 5 ways in which you can expect to benefit from getting your business organized.
1) Expect an increase in productivity.
Because you’ll be spending less time searching for what you need, you’ll be able to devote more of your time to the important tasks presented to you on a daily basis. Your newfound organization can even lead to a more efficient workflow and better communication with members of your team as well.
2) Expect to experience less stress in the workplace.
Simply put, a lack of organization can lead to more stress on the job. Once you’re organized, you can say goodbye to the frustration that comes with misplaced files, rushing to that meeting you forgot about, or worse, explaining to your manager or client that you need an extension on that project due to a lack of proper planning on your part. Sure, work will still have its challenges. But organization no longer needs to be the source of your stress.
3) Expect to miss fewer deadlines.
This is a no-brainer really. You’ve got your system down, you’re checking and updating your calendar regularly and the natural result is simple. You are where you’re supposed to be, when you’re supposed to be there. Your tasks get completed on time because you put in the work in the beginning.
4) Expect to be on-time more often (if not all the time).
With your calendar set and reminders in place, forgetting that 2 o’clock meeting is no longer an option. You’ve blocked that time out in your schedule already and because you check it regularly, you know what’s coming up the pipeline throughout your day with little to no surprises. And last but certainly not least...
5) Expect to feel more accomplished in the workplace.
Let’s face it. A job well done just feels good. Once you’re organized, less stressed, and more productive at the office the sense of accomplishment that’s to follow is just the icing on the cake.
So pat yourself on the back. You did it. Getting and staying organized is an ongoing process. But you’re well on your way!
By Deryck Richardson
One of my biggest secrets is to listen and then respond. Once you learn to control your reactions and outburst, using this technique, you end up getting pretty good at listening in general. When someone, who is good at what they do, says something impactful, listen and ponder.
Before I started my own business, I had a sales manager named Al. Al, had this concept to write a book called, “It’s Always Halftime.” The premise of the book is to talk about analyzing every segment of every decision or situation, as if it were halftime. At halftime, every good coach, analyzes what happened in the first half, makes adjustments, and comes out with a plan to win the game. If the game, we are talking about, is life, then living as if it’s always halftime, is brilliant. Think about it:
If this year has been a bad year, then treat right now as halftime. Look back at the goods and the bads. Where could you have changed things up? Where are the flaws in your plan? Now what will you do to make sure this year is better than last? What areas do you need to improve on? What are the steps you must take to make sure your plan works?
If this month has been a bad month, then treat right now as halftime. Look back at the goods and the bads. Where could you have changed things up? Where are the flaws in your plan? Now what will you do to make sure this month is better than last? What areas do you need to improve on? What are the steps you must take to make sure your plan works?
If this week has been a bad week, then treat right now as halftime. Look back at the goods and the bads. Where could you have changed things up? Where are the flaws in your plan? Now what will you do to make sure this week is better than last? What areas do you need to improve on? What are the steps you must take to make sure your plan works?
If this day has been a bad day, then treat right now as halftime. Look back at the goods and the bads. Where could you have changed things up? Where are the flaws in your plan? Now what will you do to make sure this day is better than last? What areas do you need to improve on? What are the steps you must take to make sure your plan works?
If this phone call..., if this relationship..., if this last 10 seconds..., if this business..., if this meal..., if this etc, etc, etc!
You must always make sure you are treating each moment as if it’s halftime. Live as if it’s always halftime. I loved the lesson when Al broke this down, in fact I loved it so much, I’m going to write about it. Each decision is so much more than a split reaction. Every decision that we make is important, because the pattern in our decision making shapes who we are. Just as our decision, on what to eat, shapes our physic, the decisions on who we surround ourselves with, shapes us as well. I’m a firm believer that some people are better at making decisions than others, but just like with anything, you get better the more you do something. So if you struggle to make decisions, practice. Play games that will help you improve that skill set. Go play chess! However you sharpen this skill, make sure you are acting as if it’s always halftime.
Take this advice and utilize it appropriately. We don’t want to be slow to act because we are going back and forth on contemplating if the decision is good or not. The point is to analyze your next decision based on the experience of your prior “half.” We must be sharp and crisp. We can improve our decision making skills, by actively and cognitively thinking about how to get better at making decisions in general.
I always take my business for example. We opened our office doors in August of 2016 as an insurance agency. We had some start up funds and we decided to invest in a cool office space that would attract employees. We knocked down walls, painted the office bright and vibrant colors, placed flat screen TV’s throughout the office, ping pong table, foosball table, an area with weights and workout equipment, and more. We even bought desks that went up and down with the push of a button, so the insurance agents could sit or stand while they work.
We hired several agents, but we couldn’t quite get going in terms of making steady income. We were bleeding through our start up funds, and it hadn’t even been 6 months yet. We had to pretend it was half time. Figure out what we did right and what we did wrong. We needed major adjustments and we needed to of made those adjustments months ago. It seemed to be a little late and we were looking at throwing in the towel and saying, “Welp! We are out of business, but it was fun!”
I knew I had experienced sales reps, who weren’t licensed to sell insurance, but could sell a product if we could create one. Utilizing my deep network of those who have worked for me, or with me, in the past, I was able to hire some amazing sales professionals. We sold the leads that we had purchased for our insurance agency, and marketed them as “Aged” or “Vintage” leads. We knew we could use the sponge, squeeze some water out, sell the sponge again, and the next insurance agent could potentially still squeeze some water out. It was a win win for our agency.
The leads that we needed desperately to keep our agents writing policies, would be the same leads that we would re-sell for profit. A big itemized expense for our agency, was also the product cost for a new business, that I didn’t have to have licensed agents working for. Not that I don’t love licensed agents, but there is a time hurdle of studying and obtaining the license. We didn’t have that much time to wait.
Richardson Marketing Group, now buys leads from vendors, specifically to re-sell to insurance agents and we work in multiple verticals. We've gone from paying employees via Paypal, to offering W2, benefits (including life insurance, 401k and more. We are a back to back "Best Places to Work" top 3 finisher including the #1 spot in 2019. Richardson Marketing Group is now the 6th fastest growing company in the Columbus, Ohio area and we do several million dollars per year in revenue. We’ve serviced over 5000 insurance agents. That slight adjustment, the willingness to put a plan together and hold ourselves accountable to working that plan, saved the business for us.
Our insurance agency is now striving as well. When you have multiple revenue generating businesses, it always helps. One business that literally was formed overnight, because we needed to make a halftime adjustment, really has become the more profitable of the two businesses that operate out of our office space. There is an answer, you just have to find it! You have to think of how you can solve the issue, not harp on the fact that there is an issue.
(The above is an excerpt from Deryck's book. Go Play: The Ultimate Road Map to Winning the Game of Life which can be found here).
By Tami Harris
You have protected them from the very beginning, freely giving of your time, attention and love to your family. What better way to look after your loved ones one last time, than with the ultimate and final gift of life insurance? Life insurance is often referred to as a final act of love and that could not be more true. Losing a family member is difficult enough itself but the financial burden that can arise as a result of that loss can be crippling for many families. This is precisely why purchasing a life insurance policy is an absolute necessity. Securing your family's future with a life insurance policy can not only provide for them financially, but it can give them the much needed time they will need to grieve their loss without concern for pressing financial matters.
It is often assumed that life insurance is all about leaving a windfall for families. While that can certainly be the case in some instances, more often than not, life insurance is more about practicality than some get-rich-quick lottery ticket for your loved ones. It is about providing your family with the ability to handle day-to-day expenses in your absence. It’s replacing your income (for a time) and giving your family the time they need to adjust to that loss of income. It is giving them the funds needed to pay off debts like the mortgage, student loans, credit card balances, unresolved medical bills, etc. By having all of these expenses and debts paid for with life insurance protection, other financial resources can be freed up for the actual support of your family when you are no longer around to support them yourself. You can rest assured that you did all that you could to ensure this transition is as smooth as possible for your loved ones. While you can’t spare them the personal loss, with life insurance you can spare them a financial one.
So, now that we know the importance of life insurance overall, how do you know the type of policy that is right for you? This is where working with an experienced, licensed Insurance Sales Professional comes into play. With so many types of policies and financial protection products to choose from, your Life Insurance Agent will help you navigate the product that is best. Your age, health, current earning potential, surviving family member dynamics and financial situation all play a vital role in choosing the appropriate life insurance products. Are you in good health? Do you have some pre-existing conditions? Would your policy need to provide for the needs of your young family or is it just you and your spouse? Are you single and want a simpler policy to unburden your adult children from paying your funeral, burial or cremation expenses? The answers to these questions and others like them are key factors in determining the size and type of policy that is best suited for your unique circumstances.
The process of purchasing life insurance doesn’t have to be an intimidating one like some people may think. A good Life Insurance Agent will walk you through the insurance buying process, making sure you feel comfortable not only with the monthly cost of your policy while you’re still living, but with the peace of mind that policy will one day provide for your loved ones as well. So what exactly should you look for in an insurance agent? Let’s take a look at some key things to consider:
Julia, a 30-something single mother with two school-aged children works 40 hours per week as an Office Manager and also has a part time job as a Server at a local restaurant to help make ends meet. Julia already has life insurance through her full time employer but knows that she can’t take this coverage with her should she ever change jobs. She wants to purchase an additional life insurance policy to continue to provide for her children financially if something should happen to her. Julia reaches out to an agent she was referred to by her neighbor. Her new agent, David arrived 30 minutes late to their initial appointment and seemed quite frazzled upon his arrival. Throughout the appointment David continually suggested the same low-cost final expense policy from a particular carrier despite Julia’s repeated request for more coverage to care for her children. David’s high-pressure and pushy sales approach ultimately left Julia with a policy that, while well below her limited budget, didn’t meet her family’s needs. She left the appointment feeling unsettled and ultimately canceled the policy only to have to begin the daunting task of finding an agent all over again. Julia’s agent came far from checking the boxes in what to look for in an Agent and her resulting situation was par for the course. Let’s take a look at another, more favorable case…
Anthony, a married, retired Forklift Operator has prepared well for retirement and is looking for a simple final expense policy to pay for the funeral costs for himself and his wife. He finds a qualified insurance sales agent after searching online and makes an appointment. Before even meeting, his new Agent John asks a series of questions to find out more about Anthony and what his specific needs might be. John shows up to appointment on-time complete with a variety of pre-planned Final Expense coverage options based on their previous conversation. John takes all the time needed to answer Anthony’s questions, leaving him feeling comfortable and informed with the options presented to him. Not quite ready to sign on the dotted line, John tells Anthony he’d like to take a few days to narrow down his decision and discuss the options with his wife, who wasn’t available for the appointment. After a few days, Anthony and John touch base once again and Anthony feels comfortable enough to move forward with his decision and eagerly calls his adult children to inform them that his final expenses were all taken care of. He can continue on, enjoying his retirement without the worry of burdening them and putting them in a tough spot financially.
It’s so easy to see which of the two scenarios is best for everyone involved.
Choosing the right agent and the right product at a price that is right for you is possible and can be the winning combination in handling this lasting and final gift for those you love the most. Spare your family any unnecessary grief by gifting them with a much-needed cushion to not only grieve their loss and provide for your final expenses, but to look positively toward the future knowing that you cared enough about providing for them, even to the very end. What a gift indeed!