Corrections or additions?

This article by Kathleen McGinn Spring was prepared for the May

21, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Help Clients Make Money, Not Save It

Her license plate reads "AdLady," and she is

new in town, banking on creating a PR and marketing niche by catering

to the advertising needs of mid-size businesses. Freddi

Silverman’s

shop, Strateg-e, has taken offices at 379 Princeton-Hightstown Road

(Building 2, Suite 5, Cranbury 08512, 609-443-3500) after a move from

Morris County.

"Most people find a job and then look for a house," she says.

"I did it the other way around." After attending Princeton

University basketball games over the years with a good friend, she

and her husband decided that this was the area in which they wanted

to live.

Silverman had been in business in the northern part of the state for

some 25 years. A journalism major at Bradley University in Peoria,

she has worked as a reporter and an editor, but moved to public

relations

when her two children were young. She says she didn’t see how she

could combine a 9 to 5 job with child raising, and thought that the

entrepreneurial route was a better solution.

"People think you make lots of money running your own

business,"

she says, "but you don’t." What the life does deliver, she

found, was "lots of freedom." Still, there wasn’t quite as

much freedom as she first thought. "The company grew really

fast,"

she says.

Three years ago, she sold her marketing and PR firm and became a PR

consultant. The move didn’t work out. "People want both,"

she says. "I would go in to do PR, and clients would want

marketing

too." In her new location, she will combine the two strategies.

Within her niche, companies with sales of between $5 million and $20

million, Silverman says she aims to attract clients by being

"faster,

cheaper, better."

She serves all kinds of companies, but has specialties in community

banking and in professional practice consulting for law, engineering,

and architectural firms. "They’ve all begun advertising,"

she says of professional practices. They have to. "The competition

is fierce," she says.

No matter what the service or product, there are ways that small to

mid-size companies can prosper through smart marketing, even in a

down economy. Here’s how:

Power ahead. One of Silverman’s all-time favorite clients

was a car dealer who grew from one dealership to 15, amassing one

of the largest network of showrooms in the northeast. "When the

market got tough, he’d spend more," she says. He would tell her

that "when everyone is pulling back, I’m going forward."

Don’t save money. As a recession appears, many business

owners strive to survive by cutting costs. "Don’t save money.

Make money," advises Silverman. She cites current trends in

marketing

as a case study in what not to do. Trying to save a few dollars on

copywriting costs, any number of companies now have their marketing

managers and product managers turning out newsletters and writing

ad copy. It would be far better, she says, if these creative

individuals

spend their days concocting campaigns to bring in more money.

Eat out. Another recession tendency is to make sure no

money is wasted and no one is fooling around. But a boss chained to

his desk is a boss who is not developing new business. "Take your

clients out to lunch," says Silverman.

Analyze your clients. In good times and bad too many small

and mid-size businesses deliver what they think their clients want.

Often, they miss the mark. Conduct surveys, says Silverman. Find out

what your clients really want. If a company is too small to commission

a customer survey, phone calls to 10 to 20 clients can be nearly as

good. Find out what is on their minds, and avoid some expensive wheel

spinning.

Keep a high profile. Taking out one advertisement is never

enough. "Continuously be there," stresses Silverman.

Sometimes,

an ad doesn’t seem to be bringing new business. "People get

frustrated,"

she says. "They just stop." Don’t. Instead, realign, try

something

different. But do not let your name slip from sight.

Mix up your media. PR is vital, as is paid advertising.

But neither alone is ever enough, says Silverman.

Be your brand. "A brand is not a logo," says

Silverman.

"It’s your whole being." It is of paramount importance to

develop a brand and then to stick to it — "right down to the

phone answering." Every piece of advertising in every medium must

project a unified brand, and everyone in the organization must

understand

just exactly what the message is. "You can have a great ad,"

says Silverman, "but fall down with the person who answers the

phone."

Hold clients close. "Eighty percent of your business

comes from 20 percent of your clients," Silverman says. Keep up

your relationships with these clients no matter what. Doing so is

a lot easier than building relationships with new clients.

Silverman’s two children, the reason she started her own

business

in the first place, have followed her into it. Her son, now working

in Japan, is a branding specialist who began his career in her shop.

Her daughter runs a film editing company in Manhattan. "I’m so

proud," she says. "Both kids love what they do. In my

profession,

you have to love it."

— Kathleen McGinn Spring


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