Branding Strategies on International Markets

When a company is planning to enter some international market and is looking for a suitable strategy to brand its products there, it’s always very important to appraise all the nuances in order to make the right decision. There are three possible variations of how to brand your products on the foreign market and you should choose one basic strategy which is most suitable in your particular case.

The strategy of international brand

Company operating in the international market don’t make a broad adaptation of its offers, brands and marketing to different local conditions. So, a brand, designed for domestic market is used on external markets in the same form. Such a strategy is suitable for companies whose brands and products are truly unique and they don’t face any serious competition on foreign markets. For example, Microsoft Corporation.

The strategy of global brand

Company that uses this strategy don’t adapt the concept of branding to possible national differences and use same brand name, logo and slogan all over the world (like Intel Corporation did at the beginning of its operation). Market proposal, brand positioning and communications are identical. So, everything is originally developed for the multinational audience. Branding operations standardization leads to significant economies in terms of investments needed.

The strategy of transnational brand

Company using this strategy develops individual concepts of branding for each of foreign markets it’s interested in. Not only brand name, but also market proposals and marketing events are specially adapted to local conditions. Nevertheless, the concept of corporate brand is quite visible and it works as a framework, which guides local adaptation. So, a brand can be positioned different ways and an appropriate price can be settled and trade policies used. High investments needed to match all local requirements, as well as the absence of benefits of standardization are negative aspects in this case.

Implementation of branding strategy involves certain difficulties. Constant adaptation is important because of changing conditions and dynamic development of the market. In addition, these three main strategies are hardly seen in their purest form in practice. In reality we are dealing with a lot of options and a wide variety of hybrid forms. Nevertheless, these strategies provide a good starting point and help to characterize a general direction of brand strategy.

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Building Effective Brand Strategy Through Product Design

The world of product design is changing. For those companies intent on making products that are enthusiastically received and championed over time, it’s no longer enough to simply design them so they function well and are aesthetically pleasing. For a product to have stickiness in today’s market it must reach consumers on a deeper level.

Today’s new breed of product designers understand that the key to successful, long lasting products lies, not just in the look and feel of them, not just in the function of them, but in the entire experience, from the first contact in the store, to the product’s ultimate disposal. At every stage, the experience should be meaningful and positive for the consumer, fulfilling aspirations and emotions.

This trend in design, called “experience design”, underscores, at its most basic level, the folly of taking a reliable, aesthetically pleasing product and putting it in an aggressively sealed clam pack that’s nearly impossible to open. It looks askance at such brand killers as poor customer service, badly written instructions and missing peripherals, such as batteries or mounting screws.

Frustrating and angering the customer should never be part of the consumer experience at any level. Unfortunately, these negative touch points can occur anywhere, from misleading advertising, to poor merchandising, to difficulties in disposing of the product.

Accomplishing an effective brand experience means reaching across disciplines. The marketing manager must be on the same page with the product designer as well as the customer service manager, the supply chain manager, and the retailer; all parties must work in concert to achieve the same goal by the same brand strategy.

The brand strategy, the overarching plan to manage the consumer’s experience of the product is at the heart of experience design. But who conceives of and directs this strategy?

The most effective brand strategies flourish in the fertile soil of collaboration. The gardener of this soil is the corporate executive in charge of product development. But just as a good gardener will nurture the many different plants in his garden, giving them the light and nourishment they need to blossom, the good corporate brand strategist will recognize the talents and abilities of his team while marshalling them toward a common goal based on an agreed upon brand strategy.

Working in teams is essential to effective brand strategy, teams at every level. A more apt analogy may be to a league, a confederation of teams, a team of teams, working together to achieve a positive experience for the consumer with the product. There’s the marketing team, the merchandising team, the design team, the retailers, the shareholders, etc. If any one of these teams is not working effectively with the others the strategy bogs down.

This can present a significant challenge to the brand strategist, particularly when some of their teams are independent entities with their own agendas. So it is incumbent on the brand strategist to get complete buy-in from all his teams, which means communicating a coherent brand strategy, one with the power to move even the most stubborn holdout.

To accomplish this, the brand strategist should work with the design team to anchor the strategy in the firm bedrock of consumer experience. One needs to know how the consumer interacts with and feels about the product (or if the product is yet to be developed, similar products).

Today’s product design firms routinely call on anthropologists to observe and evaluate consumer interactions with their products to discover ways to improve them, to fulfill aspirations and connect with positive emotions. This is not done in a vacuum.

Traditional focus groups too often rely on a false environment, a corporate meeting room, a few words of advice, a video presentation, which does not observe the consumer interacting with the product in a natural way.

Anthropological field work – observing consumer interaction with the product in their own environment – tells a much deeper story. Imagine following the consumer through their first experience with a product, from finding a description of it online, to driving to the store, to searching the aisles for it, to purchasing it, unpacking it, assembling it and using it.

Were there any negative touch points? Did the online description create the proper aspirations and expectations? Was the store conveniently located? Was the product properly categorized and easy to find? Was the price right? Was the product easy to get out of the package? Were the instructions adequate? Did it come with the necessary peripherals? Did the appearance of it elicit positive associations? Was the function of it intuitive? Did it function according to expectations?

An anthropologist working with a design firm can get answers to these questions. Working with the corporate brand strategist, the design team can help devise ways to enhance the consumer experience at every level. They can make suggestions that can be picked up and analyzed by the marketing team, the merchandising team, and others, on the way to designing an overall brand strategy with the power to move all players.

So while the brand strategist will work with many teams in his effort to create his strategy, one of the first teams he will want to consult with is the design team. Product design in many cases becomes the catalyst to develop a coherent and powerful brand strategy.

Product design is so much more than it used to be. Today’s product design firms are working on a much broader canvas, incorporating the philosophy of experience design to help companies design products that connect with the consumer’s emotions and aspirations. After all, delighting the customer is the key to successful, long lasting products, and the way to a better bottom line.

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Personal Branding Strategies for Women in Business

How a Personal Brand Plan Benefits Your Business Brand
You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

Truer words were never spoken, and they apply to both you and your business.

If you’re a store owner, for example, you know that if someone has a negative interaction the first time they visit, they’re going to walk right out, and likely never come back. They might even tell a few friends.

But if they have the time of their life on their first visit to your store, you’ve got a loyal customer for life. And again, they might even tell a few friends.

But what about if you’re someone who works with clients? Someone who hopes to be a leader, a speaker, an author, an entertainer, a consultant?

Perhaps you’ve done the hard work of building your business brand, with a logo and professional website to match.

But your business brand is only half the battle. Because if you want to stand out and reach your ideal clients, then you need to spend just as much effort on understanding, developing and maintaining your personal brand.

While personal branding is critical for all business people of all genders, the reality is that women are so often conditioned to be meek and mild. So while anyone can benefit from the tips I’m about to share, I highly recommend that women, in particular, listen up (so they can get the confidence to speak up and stand out!).

Why You Need a Personal Branding Strategy
Women often ask me, ‘how does a personal brand contribute to my business?’

Branding takes work and effort, and business leaders are tuned in to ROI. So they often want to know how a personal brand can benefit their business, before putting in all the effort.

In short, your personal brand is a representation of your business, and people will judge you accordingly.

The reality is that people do judge a book by its cover.

So creating a brand is like the cover for your business. You want that cover to not only stand out, but also to be a true reflection of who you are, and what your business is all about.

And whether intuitively or directly, most people believe that how you do one thing is how you do everything. If your personal brand is haphazard, lazy or nonexistent, that will reflect on your business whether you want it to or not.

On the other hand, when you align your personal brand with your business brand, you’re much more likely to not only connect with the right people but also turn them into raving fans.

So that’s the ‘why’ of developing a personal branding strategy. To learn more about how personal branding dovetails with professional branding on our website.

Now let’s get into the ‘how.’

Creating A Personal Brand
If every journey begins with a single step, then the first step on this journey is to embrance your personal brand.

That means being confident in who you are. This calls for authenticity. Honesty is important over all else in branding – being genuine builds trust, and trust builds customers.
This can be difficult for women who are often raised to be people-pleasers and all-things-to-all-people.

That’s why you need to keep your target audience in mind.

When building up your brand you need to define yoour ideal client.

And then realize that only your ideal client matters.

Not everyone has to like you, and that’s OK. Remember that the people who don’t embrace your brand were never likely to be customers, anyway.

So be confident in who you are. Own it! Own your personality and don’t be afraid to share it with the world. Embrace what makes you unique, and share it with the world.

READ:8 Personal Branding Mistakes that are Hurting Your Business
Personal branding blunders can repel customers. But how do you avoid them so you don’t actually harm your business?

Here are the biggest personal branding mistakes to avoid.

Read more online.

Examples of Building Your Brand and Building Your Business
In my role, I wear lots of hats. Our Canadian-based agency provides just about every service you could require for digital marketing: logo and graphic design, custom website design and development, SEO and SEM marketing, social media marketing, content writing, copywriting, newsletters, and strategy consulting.

And while I love all my hats, I think what I love most is working one-on-one with small business owners and entrepreneurs to help them define both their personal and professional brands and use them both effectively.

It’s so powerful to help women have their ‘aha’ moment of getting crystal clear on who they are and what they have to offer.

For example, our good friend and (now retired) client Dana Smithers is a woman who lives, eats and breathes her personal brand. Always the ‘lady in red,’ Dana is a shining example of integrating her personal brand with her business brand and her whole life.

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A Branding Strategy Is More Than Just Looking Good

When hired as General Manager by the Chicago Cubs in 1981, George Dallas Green asserted at his opening press conference as well as every press conference thereafter that he was a baseball authority and expert. He spoke the truth. He played professional major league baseball for many years and managed major league teams for many years.

It wasn’t long before Chicago sportswriters, broadcasters, and local dignitaries came to label Green as an authority and expert on baseball. Newspaper articles routinely described him as a baseball expert or something similar.

What Dallas Green did back then was develop and implement a Branding Strategy. He positioned himself as not just one of the several major league baseball managers and general managers, but differentiated himself more so as an expert and an authority on baseball. He didn’t change his appearance. He didn’t need to be something other than what he was because his experience spoke for itself. It was a great branding marketing strategy at a time when the Cubs needed it.

Like the Cubs back then, today most small businesses need a great marketing strategy or business development plan to survive the economic ups and downs.

In my experience, a common consulting activity or action when addressing the business development needs of a small business involved connecting my client with an outside marketing or advertising agency. Usually, small businesses don’t have the resources or talent internally to provide the marketing needs or to develop the strategies required.

Typically, here’s how the process would go. Potential marketing or advertising agencies were invited to a fact finding and exploration meeting with the business owner, myself, and selected others. The outside agency would return in a week or so to present their plan. Virtually without exception, the strategy the outside agency would present was one of Branding or Re-Branding the client’s business.

Branding remains at top of the marketing and advertising buzz today. And rightfully so! Branding is a powerful and effective marketing process when designed and implemented properly.

However, after observing scores of Branding presentations by marketing and advertising firms, it is apparent to me that only a very few marketing and advertising firms really understand and know what a Branding Strategy is all about. In fact, most of the time the presentations I observed were not Branding Strategies at all, but more precisely Makeover Plans.

Sure the Branding Strategy may employ a new look, new logo, new colors, new tag lines, and so on. But the Branding Strategy needs to do more than change appearance.

The Branding Strategy translates the Company’s Vision and Goals into Strategic and Tactical actions and behaviors. New internal processes or procedures may be necessary. The Branding Strategy will establish and/or reinforce the Company’s Perception and Position in the marketplace.

Part of the Branding Strategy involves taking the Core Concepts and Core Competencies of a business and then identifying a singular concept, service, feature, or benefit that the business can claim that sets it apart from its competitors. That’s Competitors, not Alternatives.

There may be a number of alternatives for a person looking to replace the air conditioning unit, or to build an addition to the home, or to move to new home, or to replace the transmission, or to build a new deck. The alternatives range from the top quality and established brand name product and service providers to what is affectionately labeled as a Chuck in a Truck. The latter cannot be viewed as a competitor to a business that is among the former.

In most every market in the United States, there are usually about five or six established brand name product and service providers in each business category. Any one of the five or six would consider the others as true competitors. One of the primary objectives of the Branding Strategy must be more than to differentiate the company from its true competitors. The Branding Strategy must establish what separates the company from the others.

How? The Branding Strategy identifies or establishes a Singular Market Position that will separate the company from the others. The Singular Market Position or separation factor must be something tangible or concrete rather than abstract. Quality, Value, and Service are abstract, not really tangible or concrete. They are perceptions. More importantly, they are expectations particularly if the business is among the top providers.

Once the separation factor is determined or identified, then all the strategies and tactics associated with the marketing and promotion of the Branding Strategy will reinforce the Singular Market Position to everyone in the company’s Target Market. It is not just differentiation, but distinction and separation from the company’s competitors.

To illustrate, if the business is one of six short haul trucking companies in the market that is considered among the top alternatives, then most likely each company provides Quality, Value and Service. The six differentiate themselves by the color of their trucks. If one of the competitors has red trucks, the Branding Strategy surely would not be to have red trucks as well. So what could separate the company from the others? The answer usually comes from asking what the company does better or more often than the others. A look at the customer base may discover that the company has a number of electronics manufacturers or suppliers on the list. That discovery becomes the separation factor. The Branding Strategy centers on the claim that the company is the electronics products transportation experts of choice. The advertising and promotion programs reinforce the claim routinely.

Or, if the business is one of six residential roofing companies in the market that is considered among the top alternatives, then, like the truckers, each of the six provides Quality, Value, and Service as well as has different colored trucks and nifty logos. So what could separate the one from the others? Just like the truckers, the work history and customer base is likely to reveal what the company does the most and maybe more often than the others. So this company could be the clay tile roof experts, or singles and shakes roof experts, or metal roofs expert. That choice becomes the separation factor of the Branding Strategy. The advertising and promotion programs reinforce the claim routinely.

In short, the purpose or objective of the Branding Strategy is to alter the competitive arena in the company’s favor by setting the company apart from the others in its class, and then advertising and promoting the separating product or service until the message of the Brand is known and repeated by all who matter and more.

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The Importance of Brand Strategy

What is a Brand? Put simply, it defines the identity of an organisation, product or service. It’s more than just names and logos. The identity needs to be based on a unique idea and told through a compelling story. It needs to connect with potential customers and form positive emotional bonds. The idea needs to be distinctive from the competition and relevant to the target markets worldview. It also needs to be authentic, meaning that it’s not enough to simply make empty claims. The organisation needs to actually live its brand.

Brands increase the value of products and services by differentiating them from the competition, creating positive mental associations and forming emotional relationships with the customer. Philip Kotler from the Kellogg School of Management famously said that “if you are not a brand, you are a commodity. Then price is everything and the low cost producer is the only winner.”

Competing on price may increase short-term sales, but is a dangerous strategy for anyone serious about building a profitable, sustainable business. Brands provide businesses with the means to free themselves from constant price competition, increase the value of their services, reduce their marketing costs and develop long-term customer loyalty.

Building a successful, sustainable brand requires careful planning and consistency. It needs a strategy. Brand strategy is the plan that defines defines the ideas and stories behind the brands, the structure and relationship of the brands within the organisation and the core identifying elements. These can include elements such as company and product names, tone of voice, logo’s, colour schemes etc. It also provides the framework for implementing the brands throughout the organisations operations and for using them to efficiently work towards the businesses goals. It’s not just a cosmetic exercise; it’s a key element of business strategy.

With a clear strategy in place, managers can make appropriate, co-ordinated, informed decisions not just in marketing, but in all departments from product development through to customer service and recruitment. This process of embodying the brand idea throughout the organisation is what we call branding.

The beauty of branding is that by telling your customers authentic, compelling stories, you not only make your goods more attractive and valuable, you give your customers something to talk about. Humans naturally love to tell and share stories. By giving them good stories to tell, you gain access to what is by far the cheapest and most effective form of promotion – word of mouth.

Few organisations manage to achieve the full benefits of word of mouth, and worse still, for many organisations it spreads more negative stories than positive. To compensate for a lack of positive word of mouth, organisations spend huge sums of money on ineffective marketing exercises. Without an effective brand strategy these exercises are often unfocussed, inconsistent and unauthentic. Consequently, they rarely pay for themselves, let alone make a profit.

So what is the role of marketing? To a large extent, branding is the antithesis of marketing. Branding is the most effective way of generating positive word of mouth, making it both cheaper and more effective than traditional marketing techniques.

Marketing without a clear brand strategy is a chaotic, costly exercise that in essence is little more than shouting and showing off about your products and services. People don’t like or trust show-offs. If you want to make an impact, you need to talk to them like grown ups. With exposure to thousands of marketing messages every day, consumers have become largely immune to meaningless promotional messages, filtering them out and filing them in their mental recycle bins.

However, there is still a place for marketing and in many cases, marketing is part of the branding process as it provides a means by which to spread the brand story. This explains why there is so much confusion regarding the difference between them. Marketing used to be about the promotion of products and services. Successful marketing now focuses on the promotion of brands.

If an organisation developed a perfect brand idea but did nothing to promote it, then no one would ever have heard about it. The story would never spread and the strategy would be unsuccessful. It’s therefore important to combine the strengths of both branding and marketing in order to reach your target market.

The most successful organisations combine a confident and forward thinking idea with a robust and organised strategy. They then use carefully targeted marketing to help get their story out. The success of their brands means that as time goes on, the need for formal marketing reduces and the effectiveness of any existing marketing increases, thus paving the way for increased profits and organisational growth.

In conclusion, brands are a key element of building profitable businesses with long-term sustainability. When executed well, they increase sales, add value to products and services and reduce marketing costs. They also give focus to a business, boost staff morale and increase share value.

Building successful brands is not simply a cosmetic exercise. They need to be consistent, true to the organisation and embodied throughout their activities. This is only possible when a clear brand strategy is in place to act as a framework for their implementation, and to ensure that they are always working towards the business goals. Marketing has its place as a tool for promoting brands, but once they have made a connection with the core of their target market, successful brands can sell themselves through word of mouth.

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Payday Loan Help Directly or Peer-To-Peer Lending Services

Do you feel like you are fast payday loan help for friends and family? Is it something that you enjoy doing or feel obligated to do? Have you ever thought of making it an investment and get a return on the loan? Peer-to-peer lending is gaining popularity within the short-term lending world.

If you have access to the Internet, you have opportunity to make small gains on lending to those in need. It wouldn’t take much to find a lending site online. You should take some time to look through your options before you send in money. Find a reputable one and understand all lender and borrower terms and conditions before you send in your first investment. It is important to know what the risks are.

Peer-to-peer lenders have more security measures than direct payday loan lenders. There are credit checks involved in application approval. This makes these loans different than payday loans. Applicants have not hit rock bottom as far as their credit worthiness is considered and will have the benefit of alternative money without the high finance charges.

Investors will know that their investment is less risky than those of direct lenders. A small profit is a great incentive to reinvest the money once again. Don’t ignore the fact that as with any type of investment, the risk of losing your money is always there. Don’t put money in that you might need elsewhere. Investments are not savings accounts.

What kind of applicants can be found seeking peer-to-peer loans? Since the lending service performs credit checks, you will find applicants who are in a temporary position. These loans are less likely to be last minute or desperate decisions as with other types of alternative options. The borrowers may feel more responsible to pay back the loan knowing that it was a person behind the cash rather than a business. Mindset plays a big role in how money is managed. A debtor may feel more obliged to pay off their uncle rather than a creditor. Others may feel opposite since the uncle will not send a stinging report into the credit bureaus. Priorities play a big part in money management. Peer-to-peer lending will cover some of them by performing a credit check prior to approval.

The fast payoff will give investors a quick return on cash. There are hard-money investors who loan large amounts through private brokers. If you have the cash to invest in one of these, make sure you have a company seasoned in these types of loans before investing. The profit off of higher end loans is nice but the term limit offers a borrower more room for error. Most often these types of loans will have a home used as collateral to secure the return. If the borrower cannot afford to return the money, the property will cover the cost. Secured loans limit the risk for lenders. They will get their return somehow.

If you need a fast cash advance loan and have a decent credit score, peer-to-peer lending is one more option to look into. Not every option is going to be successful for every borrower. Some people need that threat of collections to make good on the payment while others would rather save a friendship first.

If you are already loaning to friends and family, you may as well make something from it. Many people don’t have the option to use people in their life when finances turn sour. Join the world of peer-to-peer lending to continue your efforts to help everyday people out of a jam and make a little bit for yourself. Get with the right company and make your money a win-win for everybody.

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Payday Loan Providers: Keep Options Open

Governments continue with their attempts to clamp down on payday loan regulations. In several countries, lawmakers are trying to make it more difficult for the average person to obtain a fast cash loan. Their motives are based on protecting citizens from falling further in debt. On the other hand, their methods are not as accepted. Clamping down on safe payday loan providers services and limiting access to emergency help has not proven overly successful. In fact, for many borrowers, it has made their situation worse.

It is true that payday loans are not a good solution for many people in a budget crunch. The interest is high and the payoff term is fast. People who continuously struggle with money issues are less successful with this type of money help. The ‘cycle of debt’ skyrockets once a short-term loan enters in. The root of the borrower’s financial problems is masked by the end result. There are major contributing factors to a household’s budget demise. Why the debt problems for lower income individuals are left to hang on the heads of a direct lender remains a conundrum.

Frequent payday loans are signs of ongoing struggles. For the most part, when a person has a functioning budget, the only interaction they have with payday loan direct lenders is reading about them in the news. These folks have been able to manage their income well or at least controlled the damage from too much outstanding debt. The balance between earning and spending evens out by the end of month.

When debt becomes out of control and people lose their ability to use credit cards, many opt for easy cash. Best payday loan providers approve applicants who are not creditworthy. There are other alternative fast cash opportunities but these unsecured loans fair well. If the direct lender is using fair business practices and has competitive prices their services are used successfully by many borrowers. Yes, they are more expensive options than credit cards or personal loans, but it is the nature of the beast. There are some predatory lenders that do try to take advantage of an applicant’s vulnerable position. They do not account for all lenders despite what the papers say.

Government officials need to find ways to promote money management education, regulate credit card debt before it becomes destructive and regulate alternative lenders in order to keep the fraudulent ones out. Taking away choices altogether will send those in need on a desperate search for any company that has a solution. When safe direct payday providers are shut down or overly regulated, those that are not will receive applications instead. This is not helping. Laws are pushing desperate people into the hands of predatory lenders. The chances for debt cycles to explode are there. Unregulated companies will often have higher fees, poor service and bad collecting policies. Financial woes will multiply.

Borrowers that are credit challenged have already sunk into unmanageable financial trouble. It is going to take lots of hard work to become debt free. In the meantime, there are alternative money options which may or may not help a person stay the course. Credit checks defeat their attempts and they turn to no credit check direct loans for help. It may take a few months to pay it back, but at least the option was there to take care of the money emergency.

The short-term loan industry does need regulation to help maintain a sense of order. The option should not be scrapped altogether. Applicants are safer when there is a choice between a safe direct lender and a predatory one. They have to be taught the difference rather than only having access to a bad lender.

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Payday Loan Debt: Comparing It To Other Debt

When we talk about debt, we usually think about the total of what we owe regardless of how it was accumulated or who we owe it to. Payday loan debt included. While some of us may define being in debt by our home mortgage or student loans, for others debt may be determined by our past financial mistakes. No matter how much we owe, how long it will take us to pay it back, or how we got there… it’s all considered debt. It’s only when we look at each type of debt individually that we can understand all of the different types of debt out there. It is then that we can respect the fact that whether we owe $1 or $1 million, to family or payday loan lender, that we are expected to payback what we borrow because it’s all considered debt.

*Mortgage Debt~ This type of debt is defined by a first mortgage on a home, a home equity line of credit, or any other type of loan that is secured by owing a piece of property or real estate. A lien will be placed on the property until the loan is paid off. This type of debt may come with an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) which will increase over time over a fixed-rate which stays the same for the life of the loan. With a home equity line of credit, which can also be considered a “second mortgage”, the lender is paid back only after the first mortgage is paid in full. The average repayment term on a home mortgage or line of credit is 15 or 30 years but there are 10 years ARM’s available as well.

* Auto Loan~ Incurring debt with an auto loan means borrowing a set amount for the purchase and then paying it back over a fixed amount of time with a monthly payment (usually 24-60 months). The interest rate will be fixed for the life of the loan unless the borrower decides to refinance for a lower monthly payment.

*Payday Loan~ Payday loans are short-term temporary loans meant to help people out with emergency financial issues or unexpected costs. They are unsecured with no collateral necessary in order to be approved. Most lenders don’t ask for credit history. Borrowers are expected to pay back their loan with there next paycheck but often times payday loan lenders will extend a person’s repayment period. Interest rates are higher than most loans and are fixed. The types of loans are best for people who are able to pay back their loans quickly.

*Student Loan~ Most often granted by the federal government, this type of debt is used for higher education. Interest rates are usually much lower than other forms of debt and repayment periods are usually 10 years, giving the borrower plenty of time to graduate, find gainful employment, and payback what they borrowed. These loans can carry extremely high balances depending on where the borrower went to school, how many years it took them to finish their education, and how many degrees they sought.

*Credit Card(s)~ This type of debt comes from the purchasing of good and services without having to pay up front. Creditors approve card holders for a specified amount in which they can use on a revolving basis provided they make their monthly payment on time and in at least the minimum amount required. Interest rates are based on the borrower’s credit score and can be some of the highest rates paid out of all forms of debt.

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10 Reasons Why Believing in a Christian God Is Good for You

NO WORRIES It’s good to know we can hand all our cares and anxieties to God. 1 Peter 5 6-7 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” It’s a great relief to know that God is always there to take care of business, so we don’t have to worry.
SEE BENEATH THE SKIN If we believe in God we don’t need to be concerned about how we look. There is no need to worry about our outward appearance because as 1 Samuel 16.7 tells us: “… the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” If we see others as God sees them, in other words by what’s in their heart, we become better, happier people.
NO NEED TO GOSSIP Social media offers plenty of opportunity for slander and criticism. James gives good advice on this (4:11-12): “Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you-who are you to judge your neighbour?” In other words we are in no position to criticize.
HAVE FAITH When we believe in God, we have faith, and faith brings salvation; see Ephesians 2:8-9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.” What does this really mean? It means trusting in God is a gift so we don’t have to work for it. And faith is its own reward, releasing us from all futile desires and endeavours and sorting out what really matters, the elimination of wicked thoughts.
STAY HEALTHY WITHOUT HAVING TO DIET When we believe in God we don’t have to worry about what we eat. Exodus 23.25 says, “Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water.”
BE STRONG WHEN YOUR HEART IS BROKEN Read Psalm 147.3 which says, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Trying to get over the loss of a loved one through bereavement or separation is one of the hardest trials we have to endure. The journey is a lot easier when God is with us.
YOU CAN STAY IN GOOD PHYSICAL SHAPE ALWAYS Exodus 15.26 “For I am the God who heals you.” As Christians we expect good health through prayer and meditation. The only way to see if it works is to try it.
YOU NEVER HAVE TO ASK “WHY AM I HERE?” Pointless existential questions disappear when we believe in God. His purpose for our life becomes manifest and fruitful. Psalm 57:2 says, “I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.” The deal is this: if we make all our choices with God in mind, He will fulfil his purpose through us. No more vexing over meaningless days as every day and everything we do has meaning in God’s eyes.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT DYING Ecclesiastes 12.7 says about death “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” This is such a comforting thought, to know that we are eternal spirits, that our appointed time on earth is temporary and our future will be spent in everlasting glory.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO WASTE TIME WONDERING WHERE THE UNIVERSE CAME FROM “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) This is all we need to know about the origins of our environment. And of course, God made us too.What is there not to like?

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Is My Pain From Tight Muscles Or Could It Be From Something Else

During the past 35 years of my chiropractic practice, I have been asked many times “Is my neck and back pain from tight muscles or could it be something else?” This article will discuss muscular pain, and other sources of discomfort and how relief of neck and back pain can be achieved.

Recently a patient in her early 30s came to my office with a complaint of chronic lower back pain. Her job required her to perform rigorous physical activities of installing flooring and carpeting. She told me that her discomfort was interfering with her ability to perform her work duties. She was afraid that she would have to discontinue that line of work and take another vocation because of her condition.

When I asked her what she had done previously to help with the problem, she told me she had seen orthopedic specialists who gave her steroid medication and muscle relaxers. She had also seen physical therapists who gave her stretching exercises. She noted these measures gave her some temporary relief but didn’t completely resolve her pain.

When I examined her, we found that she definitely had muscle spasms of her low back. However, her examination revealed a more significant deeper problem. Her muscles were tight and in spasm because they were trying to protect deeper spinal joint misalignments.

I told her that the body will always work to protect an injured area. In her case, her muscles were chronically tight and in spasm because they were doing what they are supposed to do to keep her condition from worsening.

Let’s take a moment to explain the difference between muscular pain and pain from other sources. If we over-use our muscles, they can be sore and go into some degree of spasm; it might be mild, or it could be severe. Typically, this muscle discomfort eases over the course of several days as the body heals itself. This is a completely normal type of healing.

However, if the source of the condition is from a deeper problem, such as a misalignment of spinal joints, superficial muscular pain will be continuous and become chronic. If this is the case treatment of the muscles will only result in temporary, minimal pain relief at best. To correct the problem, we must address the deeper source of pain. Pain relief can only occur if we solve what’s causing the problem.

In my patient’s case, treatment consisted of utilizing gentle, chiropractic spinal adjustments to correct the misalignment of the spinal bones of her back. After her first treatment she immediately felt the muscular spasm relax and loosen. She said: “Wow, I feel looser already!” It took some more treatments of safe, chiropractic adjustments to fully correct the deeper alignment problem so that she could perform her job free of pain.

Chiropractors are specialist healthcare providers, when it comes to relieving spinal neck pain and pain of the lower spine. Chiropractors are trained to diagnose and treat physical, mechanical alignment problems of spine pain. Most patients who go to chiropractors find that having chiropractic treatment is a safe, pleasant experience because it relieves tightness and spasm of the muscles by correcting the deeper spinal misalignment.

Remember, sore muscles should normally heal after a few days of rest. If, however, chronic muscular tightness, stiffness or spasm persists, it is most likely due to a deeper spinal misalignment problem. In this case, it is prudent to seek gentle, safe chiropractic care for muscle pain relief.

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