International

Medical Records

New Web Offerings

Housing Advocates

Arts Advocates

Door Prize Donators

Expo Chances

Libraries Connected

Banking Directory

Generous Grants

Corporate Angels

Corrections or additions?

These articles by Peter J. Mladineo were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on August 12, 1998. All rights reserved.

Devilish Details of Marketing

It's the dog days of summer and marketing books seem to be descending like gulls on mackerel. In the last issue, U.S. 1 reviewed a self-published effort by Jeffrey Dobkin, "Uncommon Marketing Techniques," which stresses creativity, letter writing, press releases, and personal integrity. This week's offering reads more like Machiavelli's "The Prince."

Some of the tips Philip Nulman proffers in his debut business title, "Start Up Marketing," (Career Press, $16.99, see the following page for an excerpt), recall the Italian writer's credo, the end justifies the means. In fact, Nulman even quotes Machiavelli, "It is far safer to be feared than loved." But in Nulman's defense, he also quotes Groucho Marx, Lee Iacocca, and Peter Pan.)

Nulman's book is another windfall of marketing tips that might serve to show the seamy underbelly of the marketer's motives. He propounds that image is everything, or at least close to it. He details the art of flashing hundreds and bribing restaurateurs. Later he urges marketers to change their middle name or to just make one up if they don't have one. "This establishes you with more importance than before and begins to invite inquiries from those who've known you forever," Nulman writes. "Businesses change their names, logos and alter their identities every so often. It's good business to add a new dimension to your person and company."

Nulman, 46, is a founder and principal of FDN&P, a 17-year-old marketing firm based in Whitehouse Station. Before this business he started Working Mother magazine, which is now owned by the New York Times Company. Readers will get a chance to decide for themselves whether Nulman is a devil's advocate or just a very realistic marketing strategist when he appears at a Borders book signing on Thursday, August 20, at 6:30 p.m. Call 609-514-0040 for information.

Be prepared to bring plenty of note paper and a strong back to this event. "Every single question that the attendees have will be answered or I don't leave," Nulman warns. "If I haven't answered a question in an hour and a half of seminar, I'll stay all night." One of his book signing/seminar lasted for more than four hours, Nulman reports.

Here are some Nulman stratagems:

"Be unavailable." Don't take the first call from an important business prospect, he advises. Not only does this give the caller the impression they are dealing with someone important, but it also shifts the anxiety from your side of the aisle to the caller's. (This tip should not apply to calls from reporters.)

Keep a healthy stock of expensive accouterments. Nulman urges his readers to spend extra on the Armani tie or the Mont Blanc pen. "As superficial as it may sound, people associate money with business savvy. As a marketer, you want to employ every means possible to prove your worthiness, which may include flashing a roll of bills."

Spend big, when necessary. Nulman once endowed a maitre d' at a chic restaurant with an engraved crystal to ensure that he could always get a table when wining and dining clients. Of course, Nulman doesn't call this tactic a bribe. "I offered him an opportunity to make me feel important," he writes. "He placed it at his station and it has remained there ever since. I, too, have remained there ever since -- not on top of his desk, but in his mind, which is the goal of marketing."

In a phone interview, Nulman sticks to the basics. "The most significant single element in marketing is understanding the competitive playing field," he says. "Mostly, small business people enter the market without full awareness of the people they're competing with. Very often small business entrepreneurs can create a niche in the market by understanding where the void is in the market, and providing a value-added marketing effort."

Nulman calls this "tracking the competition," a low-budget variation of corporate competitive intelligence. "Most small businesses don't have a budget for market research or for focus groups," he says. Instead, they can find the voids by clipping ads and listening to radio stations, "paying attention to commercials rather than the editorial content."

Nulman suggests "grassroots focus groups," for another low-budget approach to brainstorming. This method involves inviting friends, relatives, and others over for coffee and asking them for input on your business ideas. "If you have 10 people, you'll get 10 different comments," he says. "But that's what focus groups do."

Ultimately, Nulman maintains, the goal for the entrepreneur is to develop proprietary inventory. "What small business people have to do is create this proprietary inventory, which is really guaranteeing the product or service in a demonstrative way," he says. "And the proprietary nature of it exists for a time. If it's a great idea, competitors will incorporate it. But in marketing, being first is a highly critical issue."

Nulman is working on his second book, "Extreme Customer Service." "It's taking Nordstrom's 10 steps further in a world where teenagers serve you everything," he says. Citing various surveys, he insists that customer service is "probably the most critical form of marketing today."

And one of the most overlooked. "Because the workforce has gotten younger or much older, customer service, with few exceptions, has become greatly diminished in the last decade," he reports.

Nulman believes one statistic, that 60 percent of those polled said they would stop doing business with a client "because of an attitude of indifference on the part of an employee," he says. "Gallup said that the number one factor in customer service and marketing is recognition."

-- Peter J. Mladineo

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International Etiquette

Summertime is a time of travel, but for those traveling on business, it's a time to learn some serious dos and don'ts. Mary Kay Metcalf, the public relations manager for Creative Marketing Alliance at 191 Clarksville Road cautions Americans on current international business etiquette.

"First and foremost," Metcalf writes in a press release, "don't automatically expect people to speak English. While many people do speak English -- especially those under 30 -- you should have a phrase book handy just in case. Speak slowly and distinctly, pointing out the correct phrase in your book if you need to. If you do speak the language even a little, use it as much as you can. It will be appreciated."

Metcalf mentions a few rules of thumb that apply just about anywhere on this orb:

Stand when being introduced. This applies to both men and women. Also, Metcalf warns, it's a good practice for women to extend their hand for a handshake first. "In some cultures men will not offer their hand unless a woman has offered hers first." Also, always shake with the right hand in Islamic countries.

Observe deference by rank. Introduce members of your party first to the highest-ranking person of the party to which you are making introductions.

Always introduce using the person's full name. When in doubt, use courtesy titles like "Herr Schmidt" or "Frau Kranz," Metcalf reports. And when in Mexico, never call a woman "senora." (It implies aging.) Use "senorita" instead.

Actually read other people's business cards. All over the world these small rectangles of card stock work as ice-breakers. In Asia, Metcalf reports, both sides of the business card should be examined. "Then greet the person extending it to you, noting that last names are listed first in China and Korea," she writes. "Do not put the card away until a reasonable interval has passed."

Metcalf notes several other important international customs:

In Argentina, don't bring chrysanthemums. Unless you're going to a funeral.

In Germany, men should enter the room first. Then, he should hold the door open for the woman.

Don't make a backwards peace sign to a Brit. Metcalf cautions against raising the index and middle finger with the back of the hand forward. "It dates back to the Hundred Years War with France."

In Ethiopia, break off food with your right hand. They don't use utensils there.

In Scandinavia, don't sip until the toast is finished.

Always cover your shoulders when entering a Thai temple. Also, be sure to doff your shoes in a Turkish mosque.

Don't give clocks or eagle symbols to Chinese. Clocks symbolize death and eagles portend bad luck. Our national bird also brings ill fortune in Saudi Arabia.

As far as American business etiquette is concerned, there's little to worry about. Metcalf reports we're much more informal, although the rules seem to change pretty fast. Since Metcalf issued her advisory yet another civility came to light: Don't wear a blue dress in the presence of an American president.

-- Peter J. Mladineo

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Medical Records

New Jersey is fairly protective of your medical records -- especially if you have one of three conditions: a history of mental illness, a history of substance abuse, or HIV/AIDS. If you have the latter, that seal is especially thick. The problem, says Jay Ganzman, an attorney with Smith, Stratton, Wise, Heher & Brennan at 600 College Road East, is that the seal on your medical records is significantly more porous within the hospital environment.

"What keeps any person who is working around the hospital, staff or not, from taking a peek?" says Ganzman. "There are no hard and fast rules about how to do that. Each hospital has to figure out in its own ways policies and procedures to protect their own medical records. Some have gone to computerized medical records with passwords."

Ganzman is a lecturer at a Medical Educational Services Inc. seminar on "Confidentiality of Medical Records in New Jersey" on Friday, August 14, at 8:30 a.m. at the Palmer Inn. The other instructors are attorneys Keith S. Grube of Buchanan Ingersoll, Sharon R. Klein and Maureen E. Cafferty of Dechert Price & Rhoads; and Brian M. Foley of Kalison & McBride. The cost is $145. Call 715-836-9900.

That said, Ganzman considers New Jersey's AIDS patients to be fairly well-protected. If you are found to be HIV-positive, the law requires that the information be reported to the state health department, which is required to keep that information confidential. "The information you provide will be in your hospital record except to the extent that it would be used to assist in your treatment, or if another party gets a court order asking for that information," says Ganzman.

And in the days of managed care, this could pose a problem. Everyone from plaintiffs' attorneys to insurance wonks might be interested in a medical record -- especially if it mentions HIV or AIDS. "The law says you've got to keep the records confidential except for people who need to know, and I think in regard to AIDS patients it's absolutely critical," says Ganzman.

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New Web Offerings

Mercer County College is now offering a non-degree WebMaster certificate, which consists of individual certifications for Web developers, Web designers, and Web administrators. Each 36-hour course takes six weeks, and all classes meet from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The Web developer certificate course starts Thursday, September 17. The Web designer course starts on Monday, September 21, and the Web administrator course starts on Thursday, November 5. Each course costs $800. For more information, call Rose Nini at 609-890-9624.

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Housing Advocates

Nominate someone for the 1998 Excellence in Housing Awards, to be presented on October 7 and 8 at the Governor's Conference on Housing and Community Development at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark. The award is meant to recognize the contributions of those involved in promoting, preserving, and building affordable housing in the state. Deadline: September 8. Call Sidna Mitchell, deputy director of the Council on Affordable Housing (COAH) for a nomination form at 609-292-4533.

Along with COAH, the conference sponsors are the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance AGency (HMFA) and the Department of Community Affairs. It attracts several hundred professionals from state and federal housing agencies, banks, and private enterprise.

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Arts Advocates

Nominate yourself to serve on the board of the Washington Township Arts Council. A lawyer and an accountant are needed plus other township residents willing to devote some time to the arts. "No special talents are required but a wish to have their township -- one of the fastest growing townships in the state -- shine culturally," says Diane Dixon, one of the organizers.

The first meeting will be Tuesday, September 1, at 8:30 p.m., at the township library in Robbinsville. The first event is supposed to be a one-act festival of plays early next year. Call Dixon at 609-259-2707 or Florence Wisn at 609-448-6074.

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Door Prize Donators

Everything from business cards to bus trips, cameras to sliced pork will be up for grabs as door prizes for the Princeton Chamber's business trade fair on Thursday, September 3, 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Forrestal at Princeton. Steven Gross of DevCom is donating a business card design, and Princeton Airporter and Starr Tours offer two bus trips to Atlantic City. James Blottman of AOE Ricoh is giving a camera, and Ken Marder of Heavenly Ham has, of course, the ham.

Gift baskets are coming from Joanne Meehan of Gifts on the Go, Freda Howard of Howard Lane Gift Baskets, Dale Baver of Klatzkin & Company, and Carla Cheifetz of Sovereign Bank. Peggy Bennett-Wise of Summit Bank is giving away golf balls, and Signs Etc. will make you your own three by five foot banner.

John Punyko has donated the tuition for a training program, and Office Interiors South's Steve Lang will give away a chair. Polly Anderson of Pine Creek MIniature Golf will issue a certificate for a party of eight to play through under the lights, and Peter Piccinini of Janney Montgomery Scott will foot the bill for dinner for two at Mediterra.

Punyko will give a seminar for exhibitors on sales tactics before the show opens at 11 a.m., and James Clingham, president of Galaxis USA Ltd., will speak at the luncheon on "Trade: Creative Trends through Technology." The wine and beer tasting will start at 2 p.m.

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Expo Chances

The New Jersey Society of CPAs solicits exhibitors for its mid-year members conference set for Thursday, November 19, at the New Brunswick Hyatt. For $350 exhibitors get a booth, a draped table with chairs, a sign, beverages, and two luncheon tickets. The closing date was supposed to be August 3, those who register immediately might still get to be listed in the conference's registration brochure. Call Michael Fastiggi at 973-226-4494, extension 240 or fax 973-228-7425 or E-mail: njscpa@njscpa.org. John M. LaPilusa CPA is the conference chair.

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Libraries Connected

<B>Jack Livingstone, the New Jersey State Librarian, says that Bell Atlantic has committed $3.5 million in networking equipment to libraries and schools in the state. Together with $5 million raised from a bond issue, it will help connect libraries statewide. Each library will have at least one computer with Internet access, and there will be 15 Hub Libraries/Consortia with an intranet and interlibrary loan systems. The Hubs will pay for the Internet Service Provider fees for local libraries and provide technical support

"This allows our state's public libraries to give patrons access to a world with no borders," says Livingston. Call 609-633-3805 for information, or check out http://www.njsl.tesc.edu/webpac/.

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Banking Directory

Banks come and go, and to keep track of them is tough. If you really need to know who owns what and which are open, you will what the latest edition of the NJBA New Jersey Financial Institutions Directory. Published by Thomson Financial Publishing, it costs $23 plus tax from the New Jersey Bankers Association. In quantities, it can be as little as $17.50. Call 609-924-5550.

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Generous Grants

The First Call for Help program sponsored by the United Way of Greater Mercer County has received $40,000 from the state budget. Also provided for in the budget was the Trenton Convention and Visitors Bureau, for $30,000.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Heritage Preservation has awarded the New Jersey Museum of Agriculture a $5,900 Conservation Assessment Program grant to evaluate its current procedures and environmental conditions, says Marita Goetz, development director. The museum specializes in agriculture implements and is located at 103 College Farm Road, North Brunswick ( http://www.agriculturemuseum.org).

The Children's Home Society in Trenton received $250,000 Early Childhood Challenge Grant, part of the Governor's Family and Children Early Education Services (FACES) program. A public private alliance, FACES gave $3.5 million to a total of 16 agencies.

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Corporate Angels

The Victoria Foundation gave MSM Regional Council a $25,000 challenge grant to produce the "Goal Oriented Zoning Handbook," a guide to link municipal planning goals to outcomes. MSM's June planning institute was on this topic; for information call Jon Carnegie at 609-452-1717.

FLM Graphics at University Park Plaza is sponsoring a Jackie Robinson Foundation scholar, Princeton Junction resident Oriana Lee, who will be a freshman at Rutgers University this fall.

Public Service Electric & Gas is giving a $5,600 grant to Neighborhood Housing Services of Trenton to help it put on its eighth "Paint a Bite Out of Grime" event in the Canal Banks area of Trenton on Saturday, September 19. This benefit provides free minor exterior repairs, painting, and street cleaning to the residents of a chosen block or street. More than 100 volunteers are expected.

Prudential Insurance Company gave $1,000 for its Community Champions Star Award to Mercer Alliance for the Mentally Ill. Honoring Nancy Ballek for her volunteer service, the award will benefit AMI's social group program "Just Friends." Mercer AMI is a non-profit advocacy organization with such free services as a speakers bureau, the "Family to Family Education Course," support groups for families and consumers of mental health services, and a HUD housing program, and a reference library. For information call 609-777-9766.

Area corporations have just participated in a "building blitz" for Habitat for Humanity. Teams of volunteers did the framing, roofing, and siding for two four-bedroom homes on North Clinton Avenue. The organization has made a commitment to dramatically improve housing on along a four block stretch of this street. Volunteers came from these companies: Bristol-Myers Squibb (two divisions), Congoleum Corporation, Merrill Lynch, RCP Management, Sovereign Bank, and Summit Bank. Financial support was supplied by NorWest Mortgage and Target Stores. Major contributions of labor are coming from members of the Mercer County Board of Realtors under the supervision of staff members from Home Depot. For information call David Gibbons at 609-393-8009.


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