Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Download Your Dividends - The Apps to Help With Financial Success

By: Maggie Quinn

You tried to avoid it, but it showed up like a bad penny. It's tax day.

April 15 creeps up on us every year, but if your check to Uncle Sam is larger than you expected, now is the perfect opportunity
to start fresh with financial goals for the rest of the year. 

Ben Franklin said, “In this world nothing can be certain, except death and taxes.” Though that still seems to stand true, today we have
tools to manage personal finances that Benny lacked.

Mint.com

This free app, available for Android and iOS users, is the overwhelming favorite among tech and financial blogs. Simply add your bank, credit card, home loan and investment account information and Mint creates a budget that is easily tracked and edited. The app also makes recommendations for areas in which users can save and warns when accounts are low. With bank-level security, Mint alerts users to any suspicious transactions with text messages and emails.

Expensify

Did you get an eye roll when you handed your accountant a
box of expense receipts? If so, it’s time to use Expensify. Tracking business expenses can be difficult, especially when traveling. With this mobile app, users can create expense reports through a photo log of receipts. Additionally, there is an option to connect most major credit cards including American Express, Chase, Discover and Bank of America to automatically generate expense reports as they occur.

LearnVest

Like Mint, LearnVest offers suggestions as to where to cut spending by looking at your accounts and spending habits. It takes this concept to the next level by offering access to Certified Financial Planners in three programs.

Betterment

Betterment is an excellent tool for those who would like to begin investing but have little idea as to where and how to start. Its step-by-step program helps optimize portfolios by first teaching users about the markets and then directing them as to where to invest based on their financial goals and risk tolerance.

As with any app, these are only worth the space on your phone if you actually take the time to use them. In this case, it will actually pay off. But before you start clicking through the AppStore, give a sigh of relief that you are done (until next year), enjoy some of the tax day freebies. Adopt these habits now, and you'll be better prepared for next year's visit from Tax Man Max - who by the way, is voiced by my uncle. Let's hope his advice manifests in a nice tax return!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Technology & Maturity – Closer than you think!

By: Kim Tarasiewicz

When anyone mentions the technology generation, our minds go right to teens and twentysomethings. But don’t rule out the older generation when using technology to market your product or service. 

With their kids grown and out of the house, today’s Baby Boomers are living longer and are willing to spend on luxuries. More and more, this group is becoming Web-savvy and technology driven, either from remaining in the workforce longer and keeping up with technologies or sometimes out of necessity to keep in touch with family and friends.

While in their late 60s, my parents decided to purchase smartphones so they could keep in touch with their grandchildren. They now check email on their phones, download apps and use tablets while traveling. This trend is quickly becoming the norm; according to Pew Research, 50 percent of seniors are using social media. Sure, there are seniors that don’t know how to log onto a computer – but do you want to miss marketing to those who do?


Email use by Americans 65 and older is at a whopping 88 percent and this group may very well have more time to read your message. Social media also has captured the attention of seniors as almost half of those using the Internet are on Facebook. These numbers most likely will increase as this population ages and continues to use more technology. The trick is identifying the right mix of marketing for this group while keeping the other target clients in focus as well.

Review your marketing plan to see what age groups currently receive your messaging. Younger audiences use mobile apps and social media regularly, so those tactics should be included in your plan if targeting that segment of the population. The mid-age range group is using a variety of technologies while the eldest group is on email, at the very least. If your budget allows, choose a mix of several methods to reach your audience such as text messages, advertisements in demographically chosen publications and newsletters. Supplement these items using social media, but be sure to target the messaging - tweet to the younger audience, which spends a lot of time on Twitter, but post a message on Facebook if trying to appeal to the older age group.

If your company has an electronic newsletter, consider creating several versions, which is an inexpensive way to appeal to your different audiences. Your website should hold Frequently Asked Questions that relate to all age groups and it should be kept current to engage clients. Post relevant videos on YouTube and add them to your website. Another way to reach different age groups is to use technology that identifies very specific audiences such as Pandora which can identify the exact age of its users and send specific messages aimed at that group.  

The key is to be sure your message reflects the values of the company and how you will meet the needs of your clients. Your clients may be aging, but they still see themselves as young, and with technology, they can keep up with current trends and feel young. Keep up with them as they grow old and you will keep them as clients. Who knows? They may even “share” your information with their grandchildren while on Facebook.


Thursday, April 03, 2014

Discussing Inter-Generational Communication at the Legal Marketing Association

By Gina F. Rubel

During my presentation at the Legal Marketing Association Annual Conference in Orlando this week, I had the opportunity to speak alongside Kim Huggins, CEO of K HR Solutions, Inc. on Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and the Four Generations in the Workplace. We spoke about how legal marketers can harness their EQ and an understanding of generational similarities and differences to be more affective managing their marketing teams and getting the lawyers they serve to embrace marketing and new technologies.

One of my favorite parts of the program was when we broke out into groups to talk about how we, as marketers, could handle various scenarios.

Scenario 1: Lawyer Doesn't Know What a Podcast Is

You have landed an interview for one of your senior attorneys with a well-known online publication that also records and podcasts the interviews. This outlet reaches your firm’s target audience. How can you use emotional intelligence and generational understanding to successfully solicit buy-in from the attorney who doesn’t know what a podcast is?


Audience suggestions included:

  • Have a reference point; provide examples to demonstrate the reach the podcast will have and the relevant demographics it will reach
  • Explain how the attorney can repurpose the video and how it enhances the law firm brand 
  • Demonstrate value and explain limited costs 
  • Share the benefits - i.e. “what’s in it for me”
  • Provide the attorney with case studies of other lawyers who have successfully leveraged podcasts in order to demonstrate peer validation 
  • Play off of the attorney's competitive spirit by giving examples of competitors using podcasts 
  • Make the attorney comfortable by providing coaching and media training so he or she is confident when using the medium
Scenario 2: Managing Partner Believes all Law Firm Business Comes From Referrals and Word-of-Mouth

You have been asked why the firm’s website “doesn’t show up” in search engine rankings. You have decided that one way to increase SEO is to have all of the attorneys create robust LinkedIn profiles, take ownership and complete their Avvo profiles and join JD Supra. How can you use emotional intelligence and generational understanding in your law firm to successfully solicit buy-in from the managing partner who believes that all of the business comes from word-of-mouth and referrals?

The attendees who worked on this scenario almost all decided that the managing partner was a Baby Boomer. Here's how they decided to tackle this opportunity:
  • Have an agenda to meet with the managing partner to discuss SEO 
  • Define what SEO is - many don't understand the term 
  • Demonstrate the value of SEO and why it matters
  • Educate the managing partner on how to accomplish SEO 
  • Demonstrate the ROI of various platforms including LinkedIn, Avvo and JD Supra
  • Feed into the competitive nature of lawyers by highlighting what other lawyer influencers are doing
  • Share successes internally 
  • Utilize engagement tools 
  • Demonstrate competitive intelligence 
  • Provide time management resources and tools 
  • Give the managing partner an action plan 
  • Follow up with the managing partner to secure buy-in
One of the things I enjoyed most about this program was hearing from the smart attendees, all of whom are in the trenches of legal marketing every day. We shared great ideas, we sometimes commiserated, and we always came up with ways to approach legal marketing more effectively.

If you want to follow our conversation, jump on Twitter and check out the hashtag #LMA14.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Keeping the Brain Alive – Or Why Did I Walk In this Room?

By Rose Strong

They say elephants never forget. I used to have the memory of an elephant, but no more.

Have you ever walked into a room and forgotten why you’re there? Do you ever say, “My mind is like a sieve?” In the midst of conversation, do you find you can’t recall a specific name or place or word? Do you worry that perhaps dementia or another old-timers’ memory thief may be creeping up on you? Don’t fret. It happens to all of us. As we age, our brains literally become full and need time to recall events, words and thoughts.


Our lives are busy caring for children, home, spouse, working a paying job, volunteering, being caregivers to aging parents, all while trying to carve out time for ourselves. These day-to-day duties all play a part in our occasional forgetfulness.

While researching this blog topic, I took this test to see how good my memory is right now.  Try it for yourself. You don’t have to tell anyone your score! Click through and see the hints on how to keep your memory from fading.

Distractions, multitasking and everyday stress can cause us to forget little things, like stopping at the store for milk on the way home from work or recalling where we filed away those important tax papers we’d need in a few days. They can also make us forget the big things, like an important client meeting, forgetting a deadline on a project or not remembering it was your turn to pick up your child from an afterschool program.

According to Harvard Medical School’s Health Publications, unless forgetfulness becomes extreme and persistent, being forgetful is a normal part of aging. This article “Forgetfulness – 7 types of normal memory problems,” explains different types of memory problems that are considered normal and not a sign of a medical condition.

With our client roster here at Furia Rubel, we have many, many deadlines, so we are all about lists. Without some way to manage our projects and deadlines, we wouldn’t be as successful as we are. We’re very task oriented in completing our assignments for our clients.

Not only do we all manage tasks through our Outlook calendars, but we also use a project management system that specifies each step of a project. Some may seem like minutiae, but without this system, I don’t know where we’d be in getting our projects completed.

The National Institute on Aging, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, offers insight on its web page, Forgetfulness: Knowing When to Ask for Help. Besides giving a rundown of normal age-related and other not-so-normal reasons for memory loss, it offers a nice list of tips on ways to keep your memory sharp.


Personally, I use a combination of old-fashioned and tech-savvy methods to remember things I need to do.

Trusty pencil-written sticky notes on my desk or my computer screen  help remind me to take something home. Stapling a piece of paper around the handles of my tote bag also works just fine.

My reminders on my Outlook calendar pop up all day long, since I have a multitude of jobs here at Furia Rubel, from taking mail to the post office, to keeping calendars for my associates, issuing press releases and monitoring media clippings, proofreading to minor account management, ordering office supplies, and even watering the office plants.

Here are some approaches other members of the Furia Rubel team use to remind them of the important details and appointments in their lives.

Gina F. Rubel, president and CEO of Furia Rubel Communications has similar methods of using her online calendar and the project management system, but in lieu of those, she sends herself emails to be sure to remember something important.

Gina explained, “If I don’t have access to my calendar or project management system, I simply use my cell phone or iPad to email myself  items I wish to put on either of those places when I get to the office.”

Our Chief Marketing Officer, Laura Powers, has all her tasks listed in the project management system and prioritizes her jobs with a list in order of importance each morning.

“At home, we use a weekly whiteboard on the fridge that everyone's activities get put onto each Monday from our other calendars all around the house, including my husband’s, mine and the family calendar,” she said.

Sarah Larson, our Vice President of Public Relations, turns to tech for organization, making her iPhone the “Mission Control” of her work and home life. Calendars from Outlook, Google and iCal all sync to keep her work and family schedules straight. She uses the Paprika app for meal planning, grocery shopping and recipe organization, an “Errands” app to keep track of tasks to complete and even a “Sort It” app to track her ever-expanding collection of books.

“I used to make lists, but I’d write them on various pieces of paper or envelopes and they were never where I needed them, when I needed them,” Sarah said. “Now, everything is in my phone – which is great, unless I forget to charge it.”

Furia Rubel’s account manager, Kim Tarasiewicz is a self-proclaimed “list lady,” and finds it rewarding to check things off as they are completed.

“I also find that putting things on a list take them out of my mind temporarily so I can focus on what I’m doing at that moment while still knowing it’s written down so it will get done. On weekends I keep a list on the counter of what I want to accomplish,” said Kim.

Looking for a few apps to help tame the forgetful blues? There are plenty out there for both iOS and Android. I don’t currently use any app other than my calendar for appointments, bills or other important reminders.  I also use the Notes, which mostly comes in handy for grocery lists as I often find my brain isn’t working much when I get out of work and simply wander the aisles in the store.

If you’re looking for ways to help your brain stay supple and  alert, memory specialists recommend several tactics. Learning something new, such as how to play an instrument or how to sew or knit, helps keep the brain engaged, as does any craft or hobby. Doing word puzzles and even playing video games also can help to keep the mind sharp.


Along with ideas to help improve memory function, this article has a list of health-related symptoms and guidelines for when to seek medical help for memory loss.

Although it’s sad and often frustrating for me when I forget things, it’s nice to know that my elephant memory wasn’t supposed to last my entire life, and that I’m not alone and I can work at keeping my brain charged! How about you? Do you have any funny or memorable stories about not remembering something? Share in the comments! I’d love to hear about them.

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