Corrections or additions?
These articles by Melinda Sherwood were published in U.S. 1
Newspaper on August 25, 1999. All rights reserved.
On Line Strategies: How to Catch Up
Be prepared for an onslaught of ads and commercials
this fall touting Internet companies, says the Wall Street Journal,
attributing the image-building to a pent-up supply of companies
funds in initial public offerings.
But if all the hype makes you think that your company has missed the
Internet bandwagon, think again, Tom Knight, principal at the
global management firm Sibson & Company, which has an office at 504
Carnegie Center (609-520-2700). "Faced with an ever-growing list
of questions about how to leverage the Internet, many managers are
increasingly reluctant, or at the very least perplexed, about how
to sell over the Internet," says Knight.
But, he adds, the key to transition is well within reach. Businesses
need to reacquaint themselves with their customers, learn what they
want, and re-deploy sales resources in a way that creates more value
to the company. To break into E-Commerce, Knight urges management
to take the following steps:
of the biggest initial challenges of E-commerce is determining which
products to offer and which customers to serve over the Web,"
says Knight. First, understand customer purchasing preferences. Then
come up with the cost to serve each segment via current channels,
and compare that to an estimate for serving this segment via
lot of companies miss this opportunity," says Knight.
affords most sales forces with significant freedom from transaction
processing and customer service-related follow-up." Decide which
services would provide additional value to the customer, and then
decide what skills your sellers need.
New roles mean you may not need as many sales people as before.
how many accounts each seller can cover, and which offer the most
using E-commerce applications.
not just a product .
"As Web surfers know, all good Internet
sites create a `reason to return’," says Knight.
in the world of E-commerce, the equation is not so simple; not only
must the site be enjoyable, but it also must allow customers to do
business the way they want to do it." Websites therefore need
to be integrated and "customer-facing."
"Many managers start E-channels because they allow
companies to get into business fast, but they fail to realize that
faster order capture also means geometrically faster delivery,"
says Knight. Information and production systems should be prepared
for the demand, or you stand to lose interested customers.
that’s exactly what your customers are doing. Set up a price
system and decide if discounts should be offered on certain products.
that the Web enables, listen
to customers, monitor your profit margins, and move quickly. "If
you wait too long," he says, "you’ll be passed up by an
Bringing your mildewed exhibition booth out of storage
is a good way to kick off the trade show season, but John
an independent sales and marketing consultant (215-757-5644) with
Pre-Paid Legal Services, says that companies should not stop there.
"All too often trade shows are a total waste of time for the
he says. "Companies send in their registration form, grab some
freebees to give away, select a trinket for their fish bowl, draft
some booth staff, get the tired old booth out of storage, and show
up 30 minutes before the show opens. After the show they are surprised
and often complain that they didn’t get any business."
A handful of business cards, in other words, is not worthy of your
time. This year, come back with solid contacts. It takes careful
diligence, and a touch of style, says Punyko, but here are some tricks
of the trade show — possibly useful for the nearly 80 companies
signed up to exhibit at the Princeton Chamber and U.S. 1 business
showcase next Thursday, September 2, at the Doral Forrestal:
demographics and resources of the company. More business is not
an objective. "Three new clients, $5,000 in new sales, and five
appointments with qualified people is," says Punyko.
to trade show appearances . The time line should include benchmarks
and objectives for dates leading up to the show.
want to attend . "Don’t expect the show’s advertising to bring
the right people to your booth," says Punyko. "All
including newspapers, magazines, and direct mail should tell people
to visit you at the show."
Try role playing with staff, or attend a sales
should work the booth, says Punyko, and never leave it unattended.
toys . Instead "give deep discounts on something directly
to your product or service," says Punyko. Keep the literature
slim and don’t use the television set medium unless you are in the
appliance or TV distributor business.
don’t get cold. "If you have a staff back at your office, lists
can be telephoned, faxed, or E-mailed several times each day,"
he says. The sad truth: "Most business cards collected at the
show will never be contacted."
"Determine what image you wish to project, and make sure your
booth is consistent," says Punyko. "Great trade show results
are not an accident; they require hard work."
Gourmet Junkfood: contradiction or marketing strategy?
For Loretta Kaminsky, owner of Lou-retta’s Custom Chocolates
Inc. in Buffalo, this clever oxymoron meant selling her
popcorn and gold-dusted pretzels at Saks rather than Sam’s. She
the Small Business Development Center for helping her do it. "For
a person starting a business to be able to sit down with knowledgeable
people who can help you get a loan, get a marketing plan, find the
real estate, that’s amazing," she says.
Fifteen years later, Kaminsky is on the SBDC’s national advisory board
and a member of New York State SBA. She tells her tale at
Management: Practical Advice to Grow Your Business," a
sponsored by the New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners,
on Monday, August 30, at 7:30 p.m. The teleconference is being
at the Edward Jones office at 301 North Harrison Street. Call
or 800-441-1384 to reserve a seat. For more information on a nearby
Small Business Development Center, call 800-8-ASK-SBA.
"I tell these women how to do it the right way, because I did
it the wrong way," says Kaminsky, who has a BA in education from
University of Buffalo, Class of 1958. Kaminsky taught kindergarten
for 20 years before a diagnosis of breast cancer in 1972, and
double mastectomy, got her business up and running. "That was
my wake-up call to life," she says. "It may sound hokey, but
once you’ve had a life altering experience like that you say `I’m
not going out of here until everyone knows that I was here.’ I’m a
She started from her home by making desserts and unique chocolates,
like a three-dimensional stemmed rose, and sold them to grocery stores
and beauty salons. Then the SBDC stepped in. "We were making `one
of a kind’ chocolate with a melter and selling it out in front,"
she recalls, "and of course what these consultants taught us is
no wonder I wasn’t making any money." The SBDC helped Kaminsky
put together a business plan, marketing strategy, and get financial
backing at time when banks were hesitant to lend to women. "The
obstacles for a woman in business are always 20 times greater than
for a man in business," says Kaminsky who, as it happens, now
supervises a factory that is run entirely by women.
Then came the tasty offers from big chain stores. "I am approached
constantly by mass markets," she says, "and believe me it’s
very appealing when they say I’ll take two truck loads. It’s so easy
to be wooed in other directions and that’s how people go under. They
try to be too many things to too many people."
Lou-retta’s Custom Chocolates (which also sells corporate and holiday
gifts like gourmet popcorn, $24, and pretzels, $5, with personalized
labels, http://www.louretta.com) has also survived the transition
to the E-commerce era, Y2K compliance, and, earlier, this year a
roof in her factory. The secret to her business’s longevity:
of people have called me and I tell them just to walk trade shows
before they even consider opening a business," she says. "Once
you see what’s there you go back to the drawing board and say: `What
can I do that can make me unique?’ Once you have a handle on one
niche that can make you different, you put together your business
plan and marketing plan and go after it."
For small businesses, the trade show has an extra advantage: "You
can be in a booth that’s 10 by 10 and you are on an equal playing
field with the Godivas of the world. That is a wonderful way for a
small business to be seen in every market."
make the decision: who do I want to sell to," she says. "Price
clubs came to us and wanted to sell our product at a very discounted
prices but they were not willing to take my product in a different
packaging. My daughter and I decided not to do it."
"This is what we want to do, this is how we see ourselves,"
she says. Even if it takes time, stick to it. "So maybe we didn’t
grow as fast as we wanted to grow, but I’m still here 15 years
is Kaminsky’s motto.
specifically in food goods, Kaminsky offers a few extra words of
fat/sugar free (an exploding market) and tasting samples. "Anyone
who tastes it buys," she says.
"Organization is the number one thing," she adds. "It’s
not a 9 to 5 job. It could be 14 hours a day. But there’s nothing
more rewarding in the world than to be your own boss. It’s very much
like, for a woman, having a baby. You watch this baby grow."
— Melinda Sherwood
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.