Corrections or additions?
These articles by Michele Alperin and Vivian Fransen were prepared
for the January 10,
2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Position Yourself: Lisa Hines
In the face of stiff competition in today’s marketplace,
companies are finding it increasingly difficult to differentiate
from other businesses. To achieve success, says Lisa Hines,
partner in Acadia Marketing and Design, "a company needs to
where it stands as compared to the competition and how it can bring
value to its customers." This analysis of internal strengths in
the context of customer needs and the competitive marketplace,
says, will yield an identity that will position a company in the
"It’s creating a brand."
Hines and Debra Newton, president of Newton Interactive
will offer a seminar on "Positioning Your Company for Market
for the Mercer Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, January 17, at 8
a.m. at the New Jersey Hospital Association, 760 Alexander Road. Cost:
$20. Call 609-393-4143.
Successful positioning demands careful analysis, ongoing contact with
the marketplace, and creative and consistent marketing strategies.
To ensure the appropriate positioning so critical to a company’s
Hines suggests the following process:
market trends and market size and determine the strength of the niche
that the company’s products or services will address. New companies
or those launching a new product or brand must specify their customer
base and what its needs are. Companies must ask themselves: Is the
field large enough to support the number of companies in the
If not, do I offer a compelling advantage that will make me
A company must examine its own strengths and weaknesses and those
of its competition and then compare the two, says Hines. "You
should come out of this process with an understanding of your
competitive edge or differentiation."
the product or company.
Possessing strengths is not all it takes;
it is even more vital that the marketplace recognize these strengths
as an advantage. Hines has seen many young technology companies, who
indeed "come out with the best of all possible products."
But as she points out, "they find out later that the product
better enough and didn’t offer enough of an advantage for customers
to make a change from what they were currently doing."
is to perceive the company and its products. A company may position
either a single product or, particularly in the case of service
the company in its entirety. "Although the companies may be
the same services," says Hines, "the messages they send to
the marketplace may be different, based on what their core strengths
are." Sometimes a company may need to change its product offerings
to be perceived as valuable by its customers.
sales volume, market penetration, and the target level of market
of the company and its products.
visual imagery that will be used to communicate about the company
and its products: logo, headlines, taglines (for example, Bell
Yellow Pages’ effective tagline "Life, listed
and talking points (to be used when talking or writing to customers,
on the company website, and in brochures and other marketing
Critical to the success of a creative platform is that it be used
consistently in all of the company’s interactions with its customers
After setting a reasonable budget, says Hines, "create
a comprehensive plan where everything that happens reinforces the
same message." A company must send consistent messages that the
marketplace can use to evaluate the company and to understand how
its products are differentiated from competitive ones. Hines warns
that a company can weaken its positioning by not being consistent
and thereby fail to convey its position to its proposed market. For
example, if a company were to say in one place "we have a premium
brand" and in another "we have cheapest product on
these conflicting messages might nullify each other.
in biology and minored in chemistry, graduating in 1984 from Bowling
Green State University. While working in medical research after
she decided to take a business class for fun — in accounting of
all things. Hines remembers, "I realized, almost immediately,
that I’d have to make a shift. I took the business course for fun,
and I loved it." She went on to get her MBA in marketing from
the University of Connecticut and thought that her science background
would give her an edge in understanding technology-based products.
After a number of years of marketing technology products, Hines
Business Plan Concepts, which did business and strategic planning
for high tech companies. A year and a half later, she decided to
to her roots in marketing by co-founding Acadia
an advertising agency and marketing consulting firm, with a partner,
Dale Schierholt, who had been an art director of an advertising
Hines recently worked with her co-speaker Debra Newton’s company,
Newton Interactive, on an unusual positioning problem: Although
25-person firm on Pennington Road is a substantial company, the market
identified it entirely with its very dynamic CEO. Because the
loved the CEO, they did not sufficiently understand the depth of the
company’s staff. To continue its growth, explains Hines, "Newton
Interactive needed to move away from Debra." The positioning
revealed that what had actually made the company so strong was the
quality of its employees — people who are creative, not just in
the design sense, but in getting a complete solution to customers.
Musing about what had made her efforts with Newton Interactive so
successful, Hines cited the collaborative process, with full
of the management team, as well as the fact that Debra Newton fully
embraced her recommendations. "We developed collateral and
says Hines, "but they made it part of their culture." The
visual imagery, headlines, and positioning themes that Hines developed
were implemented consistently and across the board, from the web site
to new customer presentations to all written materials. Says Hines:
"The management team was part of the positioning process, embraced
it, and said to their staff, `This is who we are. Understand who we
are and what our advantages are and how we will communicate with our
"You have to be known," says Hines, "in order to gain
market share. Successful positioning or branding, in conjunction with
a successful sales program and making good on promises, will help
sales grow and enhance profitability."
— Michele Alperin
It’s easy to take our good health — and our
health care benefits — for granted until an illness or injury
occurs. Facing the harsh realities of health care policy and financing
issues at the personal level is when many people begin to understand
the intimate relationship between one’s health and productivity.
But for business leaders and employee benefits professionals, health
and productivity are daily concerns. According to one study of 43
large private and public employers released last April, employers
are spending more than $9,992 annually per employee for health and
related costs, including group health benefits, turnover, unscheduled
absences, non-occupational disability, and workers compensation. (See
www.medstat.com for more details).
Successful businesses can’t afford to remain in the dark about how
to best manage the health and productivity of their workers. That’s
why the Business Council of the Princeton Chamber of Commerce has
chosen the topic, "Knowledge is Power: What You Need to Know About
the Increasing Costs of Health Care Plans," for discussion at
its breakfast on Wednesday, January 17, at 7:30 a.m. at the Nassau
Club, 6 Mercer Street in Princeton. Cost: $23. For reservations call
"The cost of health insurance is increasing across the board,"
says Bryan Markowitz, vice president of health affairs at the
New Jersey Business and Industry Association, who will be a featured
speaker (www.njbia.org). "With double digit inflation rates, this
situation is especially scary for small businesses."
The good news is that information is readily available for those who
know where to look for it, according to Markowitz. He offers the
of his organization to help today’s business leaders make informed
"With standardized plans, it is much easier to make comparisons
based on price and benefits," adds Markowitz. He refers to the
website at www.njbia.org, where employers can review data on quality,
based on customer satisfaction surveys.
Born and raised in East Windsor, where his mother worked as a teacher
and his father is an associate dean of the School of Business at
Markowitz earned his undergraduate degree in political science at
Rutgers and recently completed his master’s degree from the Boston
School of Public Policy at Rutgers. He has been working with the New
Jersey Business and Industry Association (which now has 16,500
for seven years now, spending much of his time as a lobbyist.
"Everyone should be an educated consumer," he says, noting
the need to be well-informed about health benefits and resources.
"It’s important to know what your own health plan covers."
Of special interest to employers are detailed answers to these
which he will cover in his presentation: What are other companies
doing? And what about self-insurance?
Bonnie Butler, director of corporate health and employee
programs at the Medical Center of Princeton, will also speak. "My
focus is helping employers understand why it’s important to care about
what is happening in the personal lives of their employees," says
Butler, who oversees an employee assistance program called
Advisory Program (CAP) (www.mcp.org). "There is a spillover
in terms of productivity and absenteeism."
Born and raised in Kendall Park where her mother worked as a nurse
and her father is an engineer, Butler earned her nursing degree in
Miami and a master’s degree in business administration at Rider
She has been working with the Medical Center at Princeton in various
capacities for 14 years. And she freely admits her bias is promoting
prevention and wellness issues.
"Employee assistance programs are not only a resource for mental
health issues," she explained. "We also help people with
and legal services, as well as anything else that can be a source
of distraction or stress for individuals."
"We are a filter, directing people to the most appropriate service
for their particular need," Butler added. "That helps people
by not wasting their time. We can help people determine which is the
best course of action, whether inpatient services are needed or a
tune-up with a counselor."
Butler describes a wide range of corporate health services, including
programs that address the physical and mental health needs of area
employers and occupational health programs (such as drug screenings,
pre-employment physical exams, immunizations, and back-to-work
Various health education services include smoking cessation programs,
stress management, cardiac risk factor assessment, and worksite
For details, visit www.mcp.org or call 609-497-4206.
— Vivian Fransen
Another networking group, Mercer County Business
has changed its name to Business Entrepreneurs Network of New Jersey
(609-883-2424; fax, 609-278-9500). "The name change is meant to
reflect advocacy on the statewide level for small and minority and
women-owned enterprises," says Greg Williams, president
of this group and of his own company, G.W. Enterprises Inc.
48 West Lafayette Street, Trenton 08608.
Active in BENNJ are those in charge of diversity opportunities at
major companies such as Merrill Lynch (Bruce Perkins) and
Squibb (Donna Westerman). Verizon and Summit Banks will maintain
seats on the board.
Williams is also a board representative for Fleet Bank. "With
Fleet Bank, the BENNJ will be in the forefront of their efforts to
reach out to minority and women-owned businesses," says Williams.
He says that Fleet is bringing $2.6 billion into New Jersey to assist
small and minority and women-owned enterprises.
Williams’ fourth hat is as chairman of the board of the New Jersey
Development Authority, which works with the New Jersey Economic
Authority to help small businesses. Williams was appointed to the
NJDA board three years ago and became chairman this year. "We
do loans from $50,000 to $125,000 but can leverage our activities
by joining forces through other institutions and can do loan
as well," says Williams. Larger loans go through the EDA, and
NJDA shares staff with the EDA.
He and fellow BENNJ members have received multimillion dollar
from the likes of Merrill Lynch, IBM, and Bristol-Myers Squibb, but
Williams says these contracts are only the byproducts of good works:
"My belief has always been, from when I was a little boy, that
you should go out and serve the community and don’t worry about what
comes back to you."
Women who are staff or freelance career professionals
in the media communications field — print, radio, television,
PR, dotcoms — are invited to the first meeting of a new networking
group, Women in the Media. The launch will be Sunday, January 21,
from 10 a.m. to noon at the Ramada Inn on Route 1 South in North
(near Wal-Mart). Cost: $10 at the door. Dress is casual, but
before January 15 are requested. A continental breakfast will be
Call Susan Young of Susan Young Media Relations at 732-613-4790
or Maggie Glynn at 732-603-9519. Alternatively, E-mail:
or Email: NJJaunts@aol.com.
"It will be a great way to see old friends and colleagues, network
with new people, and lend support and creative ideas," says Young.
"We are not advertising but are simply telling people by word
of mouth and E-mail and counting on everyone to reach out to their
own circle of friends."
Corrections or additions?
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