Health & Productivity: Bryan Markowitz

Small & Minority Business Advocate

For Women Only

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

themselves

from other businesses. To achieve success, says Lisa Hines,

partner in Acadia Marketing and Design, "a company needs to

understand

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,

Hines

says, will yield an identity that will position a company in the

marketplace.

"It’s creating a brand."

Hines and Debra Newton, president of Newton Interactive

(www.nrg-i.com),

will offer a seminar on "Positioning Your Company for Market

Success,"

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

success,

Hines suggests the following process:

Assess the marketplace and the customer base. Look at

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

marketplace?

If not, do I offer a compelling advantage that will make me

successful?

Analyze the company, its product or service, and the

competition.

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

company’s

competitive edge or differentiation."

Investigate how the marketplace perceives or will perceive

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

wasn’t

better enough and didn’t offer enough of an advantage for customers

to make a change from what they were currently doing."

Position the company or product. Decide how the market

is to perceive the company and its products. A company may position

either a single product or, particularly in the case of service

companies,

the company in its entirety. "Although the companies may be

supplying

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.

Set marketing objectives and goals. Decide on desired

sales volume, market penetration, and the target level of market

awareness

of the company and its products.

Develop a creative platform. Develop the language and

visual imagery that will be used to communicate about the company

and its products: logo, headlines, taglines (for example, Bell

Atlantic

Yellow Pages’ effective tagline "Life, listed

alphabetically"),

and talking points (to be used when talking or writing to customers,

on the company website, and in brochures and other marketing

materials).

Critical to the success of a creative platform is that it be used

consistently in all of the company’s interactions with its customers

and market.

Specify a marketing strategy for delivering the positioning

message.

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

market,"

these conflicting messages might nullify each other.

Hines did not follow a direct path to marketing. She majored

in biology and minored in chemistry, graduating in 1984 from Bowling

Green State University. While working in medical research after

graduation,

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

founded

Business Plan Concepts, which did business and strategic planning

for high tech companies. A year and a half later, she decided to

return

to her roots in marketing by co-founding Acadia

(acadiamarketing.com),

an advertising agency and marketing consulting firm, with a partner,

Dale Schierholt, who had been an art director of an advertising

agency.

Hines recently worked with her co-speaker Debra Newton’s company,

Newton Interactive, on an unusual positioning problem: Although

Newton’s

25-person firm on Pennington Road is a substantial company, the market

identified it entirely with its very dynamic CEO. Because the

customers

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

process

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

involvement

of the management team, as well as the fact that Debra Newton fully

embraced her recommendations. "We developed collateral and

brochures,"

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

customers.’"

"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

Top Of Page
Health & Productivity: Bryan Markowitz

It’s easy to take our good health — and our

employer-paid

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

609-520-1776.

"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

resources

of his organization to help today’s business leaders make informed

decisions.

"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

Rutgers,

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

members)

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

questions,

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

assistance

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

Confidential

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

University.

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

financial

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

evaluations).

Various health education services include smoking cessation programs,

stress management, cardiac risk factor assessment, and worksite

evaluations.

For details, visit www.mcp.org or call 609-497-4206.

— Vivian Fransen

Top Of Page
Small & Minority Business Advocate

Another networking group, Mercer County Business

Association,

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.

(609-278-9600,

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

Bristol-Myers

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

Development

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

guarantees

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

contracts

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."

Top Of Page
For Women Only

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

Brunswick

(near Wal-Mart). Cost: $10 at the door. Dress is casual, but

reservations

before January 15 are requested. A continental breakfast will be

served.

Call Susan Young of Susan Young Media Relations at 732-613-4790

or Maggie Glynn at 732-603-9519. Alternatively, E-mail:

syoung@sueyoungmedia.com

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."


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