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These articles by Teena Chandy and Melinda Sherwood were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on June 30, 1999.
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Business Promotion: Better, Not Bigger
You have just started a business and you want to get
the word out. Perhaps you’ve built a company website or run an ad
in the daily newspaper. Setting your sights high is good, says Al
Warr of the Business Owners Institute, but when it comes to promoting
a small business, "bigger" is not necessarily better. "American
Express can send out a million pieces of mail and work with a 1.2
percent return, but if Joe’s Plumbing Shop does that it’s going to
seriously cut into his budget," Warr says. "You can spend
a lot of money on various types of promotion and you may get two calls."
Warr will give "14 Proven Techniques to Promoting Your Small Business,"
on Thursday, July 1, at noon at the Business Owners Institute at 676
Route 202/206 North in Bridgewater. The seminar is free. Call 908-526-1500.
At the Business Owners Institute, Warr helps entrepreneurs find the
money they need to start up or go public with their companies. "I
always recommend that people put their own money aside in order to
introduce discipline to the equation," he says, "because you
have to pay back the money every month. If you use your own money
you use excuses that a bank or an investment house or a friend won’t
Warr comes from both corporate and small business backgrounds. A chemist,
he went to Mercer University in Georgia and did rocket research during
the Sputnik era. He left a job at an oil company at Exit 8A to found
a graphics company that pioneered in high-end computerized typesetting
for Wall Street businesses. In 17 years he grew it to be a $5 million
firm and then sold it. He has also had a documentary film company,
a real estate firm, and a classical music publication.
Most people starting a small business don’t know much about promotions
and advertising because "they’ve always had someone else take
care of it," he says. "We talk to a lot of corporate people
and they want to own a small business," he says. "Corporate
America and small business are two different planets," and when
it comes to promoting a business, they speak a different language
Small business owners, for example, shouldn’t try to spread the word
far and wide; they need to focus on boosting their visibility within
the local community. Warr’s suggestions:
a longer shelf-life than dailies, says Warr, which means your ad will
or three-panel brochure created on your own computer and reproduced
at OfficeMax or Staples, have it ready to go, says Warr.
team or a volunteer effort goes a long way towards getting the business
on the ones already there, says Warr: "They will tell everyone
else about you."
In today’s tight labor market, it is very difficult
to keep people motivated, says Robert Murray, president of RCP
Management Company, a Research Park property management firm. One
of the tools he uses to retain his staff and keep them happy about
their jobs is by letting them do community service. "It’s a paid
day off and almost like a company picnic. They work shoulder to shoulder
on a project that benefits the community," says Murray. "It
develops a sense of team work and camaraderie that they can’t get
from their day-to-day jobs."
Everybody has a duty to give back something to the community, says
Murray. Working together in a community service activity makes the
employees feel that their company is involved, says Murray. "It
might be difficult for an individual to give of themselves but as
a group you can give a lot." Murray speaks on volunteerism in
America at the Princeton Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Thursday,
July 1, at 11:30 a.m. at the Forrestal. Cost: $28. Call 609-520-1776.
Murray and his three dozen employees volunteer their time and labor
one week of the year to participate in Habitat for Humanity’s efforts
to build houses in the Trenton area. "If they feel they are part
of this community, this is their chance to help others in their community
who may not have the jobs and benefits that they enjoy," says
The goal of Habitat for Humanity is to help eliminate substandard
housing in various communities one neighborhood at a time, says Murray,
whose commercial and property management company has been involved
with Habitat’s efforts for many years. Murray graduated with a degree
in American Studies from Yale University in 1962, and has served in
the United States Navy and in Vietnam.
Murray is also involved in Habitat’s corporate support advisory committee,
which aims to raise money to build 15 houses in the North Clinton
corridor of Trenton, a project connected to the overall redevelopment
of the area along with the Department of Housing and the City of Trenton.
Habitat for Humanity, the international Christian ministry dedicated
to providing all people with affordable housing, has built 85,000
houses since its inception in 1976. Habitat has spread to 1,500 communities
in the United States and 50 countries around the world. In 1998 Habitat’s
house-building efforts in the Trenton area raised $119,600 from individuals,
$135,460 from businesses, and $55,088 from churches. Six families
in Trenton were provided with houses last year.
Some companies contribute labor for their community service days.
This month, for instance, FMC Corporation sent employees out on 12
different one-day projects, and, says Kristine Piazza, 25 of
the FMC-ers worked at Habitat for Humanity sites.
Every year, during Habitat’s "corporate building blitz" week,
corporations in the area make a $5,000 contribution and volunteer
for much of the labor. Some companies sponsor the costs of a whole
house, or a substantial portion of it. Last year Bristol Myers Squibb,
Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Summit Bank, Congoleum, Merrill Lynch, Church
& Dwight, Gillespie Advertising, NorWest Mortgage Company, and Target
Stores participated in building houses in the Trenton area.
Typically, says Murray funds for construction come entirely from private
sources. Low income families selected to become the future home owners
provide 500 hours of "sweat equity" and they can purchase
a completed house from Habitat with a no-interest mortgage. Those
mortgage payments are recycled to build more homes in the area.
"In RCP’s case, the boss always comes and works with everybody
else and that is part of the joy," says David Gibbons, executive
director of Habitat for Humanity.
"I got involved with Habitat for Humanity because I wanted to
give not just monetary but also physical support to achieve their
objective," says Murray. "My employees are working on a building
trade they know nothing about. It appeals to their sense of pride
and workmanship. Like vacation and sick days, an opportunity to do
community service is another benefit you can offer."
— Teena Chandy
You don’t have to be a Machiavellian, but strategy is
essential when you’re working a crowd, says David Bailin, founder
of the Professional Alliance Exchange — a networking group for
professionals. "Many people equate networking with idle gossip,"
he says. "People often go to a networking function and talk about
anything from the weather to sports and at the end they’ve had a fun
time but no new leads."
In the techno-centric world of business, schmoozing could easily becoming
a lost art, says Bailin. Drawing on 13 years experience at the Prudential
and New York Life, Bailin composed an original seminar entitled "Tools
of the Trade: Networking, Follow-up and Client Retention," that
he presents for free on Friday, July 9, at 8 a.m. at the Daily Plan
It on 707 Alexander Road. Call 732-274-0098.
Bailin, who earned a BS in finance and marketing at Lehigh University,
Class of 1984, wrote his first business seminar on networking while
recruiting for Prudential. Now president of his own home-based business
— Comprehensive Assets Management — Bailin has a complete
repertoire of seminars that build on his knowledge of business and
financial planning. These are often centerpieces for the Professional
Alliance Exchange meetings on the first Friday of each month.
Networking, says Bailin, can help you establish the personal relationships
that keep people loyal. "You want your clients to become emotionally
attached to your business," he says. Once you have established
a personal relationship, he says, "it wouldn’t matter whether
your product was good or bad or lower priced, as long as you have
a line at your door you’re always going to be in business."
By building solid relationships with other business people, you also
elevate your standing with clients. "You can recommend someone,
not just refer someone," he says. Ultimately, that reflects better
on your company.
How do you get from being a nameless face (or a faceless name) among
potential clients, partners or employers? Bailin says that good networkers
should be strategic but brief, and ask lots of questions:
function know that the purpose is to develop sales leads, or do whatever
it is you’re looking for," he says. Get specific: if you want
to leave with the names of 10 people who might be good contacts, set
that as your goal. Whatever you do, don’t confuse business with friendship,
you think of that pushy salesperson stereotype in your mind, you probably
don’t think of them asking questions — you think of them as telling
you things," he says. By asking questions, the "psychology
of reciprocity" goes to work for you. "If you want to tell
someone about your company, ask them what they do," he says. "They
will typically turn around after and ask what you do. You’ve achieved
your objective and the other person doesn’t think about it as being
uncomfortable because it’s normal conversation."
says Bailin. "The objective is to get just enough information
to develop relationships at a later date," he says. Don’t just
collect business cards: you’ll get a lot of business cards, but not
a lot of contacts.
of client retention, you should be networking 24-hours a day,"
says Bailin. Eventually it becomes second nature, and doesn’t need
to be more than a 20-second conversation.
you can be gracious by keeping the conversation short. "The best
thing someone can hear is `this is neither the time nor the place,
let’s set a time to follow-up.’"
Bailin admits that even he sometimes needs to psychologically prepare
himself for networking. His personal trick: "As I’m going in I’ll
think about other networking successes in the past — when I met
someone who didn’t seem like much but who turned out to be a good
— Melinda Sherwood
If you think you will be confused by the energy deregulation
process (who isn’t?) and if you are a program chairman of a business
group or club, call the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to schedule
a workshop. These free workshops result from a partnership with Rutgers
University to help small companies make their energy choices in the
new competitive marketplace.
The Small Business Energy Awareness Program will provide nearly 200
presentations to chambers of commerce, Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, and
other business alliances. Using federal grant funds of $134,900, the
Cooperative Extension department of the university will distribute
specific energy efficiency, renewable, electric and natural gas restructuring
literature to small business owners.
"Rutgers University has already demonstrated its expertise in
educating entrepreneurs and small businesses about important management
and consumer issues," says Herb H. Tate, NJBPU president.
The Electric Discount/Energy Competition Act mandates a minimum 10
percent rate reduction over 36 months for all New Jersey consumers,
starting August 1. Electricity customers will also save an extra five
percent in the next 48 months, due to the Energy Tax Reform Act of
"Small business owners are also residential customers and active
in their communities," says Commissioner Carmen J. Armenti,
"and educating these key customers will help disseminate the word
about deregulation throughout New Jersey."
Joe Savino, general agent of Northwestern Mutual
Life at 777 Alexander Road, underwrote the awards dinner for the Tribute
to Women and Industry program sponsored by YWCA Princeton last month.
State Museum $5,000 to help fund the world debut exhibition of "Unseen
Treasures: Imperial Russia and the New World," which will debut
at the Museum on September 26. The New Jersey State Museum is the
only stop on the East Coast for this collection of over 300 art objects
and artifacts from 18th and 19th century Russia.
awards of up to $6,500 this summer, jointly sponsored by AT&T,
the Communication Workers of America, and the International
Brotherhood of Electrical Workers . The awards are given to students
whose parents are AT&T employees.
Among them are Ripan Kadia, from Hillsborough High School, who
will attend the University of Pennsylvania, and Jane Wu, from
Holmdel High School, who will attend Princeton University.
look to the YWCA of Trenton, which celebrates its 95th anniversary
this year. Duron has provided a donation of goods and services to
facilitate the much needed painting of the YWCA’s gymnasium, fitness
center, children’s room, and more.
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