Why do women respond to certain types of advertising while men respond to others? How can you effectively market your brand to women? Fran Lytle of Brand Champs, a Bound Brook company, uses a mixture of social science and behavioral studies to help companies brand their products and effectively reach their target markets.
One message does not fit all. Biological and cultural differences ensure that men and women perceive the same message in very different ways. She discusses "Learning How to Target and Market to Women" on Wednesday, November 16, at 6:15 p.m. at a meeting of the North Central New Jersey chapter of NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) at the Hilton Parsippany. Cost: $45. Call 908-876-9861.
Lytle began her career in marketing with a traditional marketing degree, but after several years in the business she felt there was something missing. "We were trying to motivate people’s behavior without understanding how they are motivated," she says. "Something was missing in how we went about it." She went back to school for a degree in social science and now marries her knowledge of anthropology, sociology, consumer behavior, and cultural linguistics with marketing in an effort to "develop strong, relevant cultural connections between brands and people." Lytle has written "Connection Moments" on her theories of branding. The book will be published early in 2006.
It is ever more important that companies target their messages effectively, says Lytle. In the past several decades television and radio were very effective tools for reaching large audiences quickly and easily. But the advent of digital video recorders like Tivo lets consumers turn off commercial messages on television. Sirius and XM radio, meanwhile, provide commercial-free radio.
Marketing messages therefore must be carefully targeted if they are to hit their mark – the sitting ducks are now flying all over the place. While all potential customers are important, marketers have a tremendous incentive to grasp the habits and hot buttons of the half of the population that is female. Women were in charge of approximately $6 trillion in purchases in the United States last year. "That’s the same amount as the total GNP of the United Kingdom," she says, and it is too large an audience for companies to ignore.
Don’t think that just because your product has a traditionally male market that women are not either direct purchasers or part of the decision-making process in the purchase. "Women make up 51 percent of the population. Last year they made 83 percent of all retail purchases. In consumer electronics they made 52 percent of purchases and 60 percent of automobile purchases. They were key decision makers for 70 percent of the leisure travel purchases."
In the past, adds Lytle, many advertisers thought that the way to market to women was "to just change the photos in the ads from pictures of men to pictures of women." That strategy, she says, just doesn’t work.
Biological and cultural differences between men and women lead to differences in the way advertising messages are perceived. "Men focus, women multi-task," is how Lytle sums it up. Men like to receive their messages as bullet points, while women are story tellers. "If you don’t tell her the brand story, the brand is not relevant to her," she says. While it may sound easy to just give the information in story form, it is actually more complicated than it appears.
Just enough to share. Women want to hear brand stories that have just the right amount of information – "just enough information that she can share it," says Lytle. "If the story does not give a woman enough information about the brand she will add her own information to make it real to her." The obvious danger, of course, is that the information she mentally adds may not be accurate. On the other hand, if there is too much information, the woman will discard it, subtracting it from "the brand story." What she decides to subtract may not be what the company wants to lose. The trick, says Lytle, is to supply the woman with the right amount of information.
Personal value. "Women want to make a connection about how the brand is important to them," she says. "Women place the highest personal value on building relationships. Men place value on competition."
The differences, says Lytle, are biological and evolutionary. "Back when we were hunters and gatherers the men in the tribe went out to hunt. It was important to be bigger, stronger, faster to bring home the food." Women, on the other hand, stayed at home caring not only for their children, but for other children in the tribe. "The women worked together as a team to ensure that the children survived to reach adulthood."
Women became "collaborative, more interested in mentoring and in teamwork." Women are competitive, she added, but often it is self competition, not competition with others. "They want to do better at a task than they did the last time."
Conversational style. Women and men converse for different reasons, says Lytle. While both sexes use conversation as a means to share information and solve problems, women also see conversation as a way to nurture relationships. Men use conversation "to establish or defend rank." One very successful example of an advertising campaign aimed at men, she said is the Gillette "Best in Class" ads.
Women have a different "acoustic response" than men, says Lytle. "At birth, females have 80 percent greater hearing than men. Even in adulthood the average woman has 60 percent greater hearing than a man." Tones that men perceive as normal conversational levels, women hear as yelling.
The old "Crazy Eddie" ad where someone shouts at the top of his lungs irritates women because it actually hurts their ears.
But no matter who the target audience, marketers need to always be aware of how their brands are perceived. "People don’t want to be sold to," explains Lytle. "They want to make connections with."
What Price Intimacy? Viviana Zelizer
Should a divorced dad who agreed to pay for his son’s college education in his divorce settlement have to fork over $160,000 so that the B student can attend an elite school? The boy and his mother think he should have the advantages of a private school degree, while the dad thinks a state school would be fine.
Should the children of J.Seward Johnson have claimed "undue influence" in attempting to wrest their deceased father’s multi-million estate from his young(ish) wife, an estate that had made the former maid one of the wealthiest women in the country?
Should women who work from home be expected to do more housework than would be the case if they worked in an office?
Should parents be upfront with their adolescent children about household financial difficulties?
In her new book, "The Purchase of Intimacy," Princeton University sociology professor Viviana A. Zelizer looks at these issues, and indeed at the whole interconnected web of relationships and money. She talks about her book on Thursday, November 17, at 7 p.m. at the Princeton University Store. For more information on the free talk, call 609-921-8500.
While not many readers will be able to identify personally with anyone in the case of Seward and Basia Johnson, one aspect of their intimate relationship may be looming for many marital partners – Basia’s care of her husband during the final days of his life. That care became a critical element in the trial pitting the six Johnson children against their stepmother over the terms of their wealthy father’s will.
As Zelizer recounts the story, Seward Johnson first met Barbara (Basia) Piasecka when she emigrated from Poland to work as a cook at his estate. In 1971 Seward, then 76, divorced his wife and married Basia, a younger woman by 32 years. "Eight years later, in 1979, his health began to deteriorate," Zelizer writes, relying in part on David Margolick’s book documenting the subsequent legal battle. "Off and on until his death in 1983, Basia nursed him and supervised his care. One of the attending professional nurses called Basia his ‘number one nurse.’
"Indeed, during his final illness, Basia ‘massaged Seward. She gave him ice packs and heating pads where he ached. She salted his broth and prepared him her special herbal tea. . . She read to him, bathed him, cut his nails, combed his hair, trimmed his beard, put on his clothes, wiped his forehead/ She helped him walk, and when he could no longer lift up his hand, she could almost telepathically pinpoint his pain. . . She wiped his rectum, uncomplainingly.’
". . . Seward’s will made Basia the principal beneficiary of his $400 million fortune. . . After a protracted three-year suit, including extensive courtroom hearings, the parties settled in 1986, leaving Basia a substantial share of the estate. In effect, the children’s attorneys conceded that Basia retained substantial rights as a consequence of her relationship to Seward."
"Collectively," Zelizer writes, "such intimate transactions are not trivial. They have large macroeconomic consequences, for example, in generating large flows of cash from rich countries to poor countries and in transmitting wealth from one generation to the next. As intergenerational transmission of wealth illustrates, moreover, intimate transactions also create or sustain large-scale inequalities by class, race, ethnicity, and even gender. For participants, the secret is to match the right sort of monetary payment with the social transaction at hand."
Proactive Job Hunts: Jean Baur
John had been a CFO of a large firm. Now he chauffeured a limousine.
Business climates change. But not this man’s spirit. Even though the pay was lower than a taxi driver’s, John had taken the limo job. With each fare, he would engage the customer in conversation. Then as they neared the destination, if it seemed appropriate, John would give the person his resume from the neat stack he always kept in the passenger seat.
Jean Baur, Princeton-based career counselor with Lee Hecht Harrison, often cites John’s example as the epitome of the proactive job seeker.
If you are tracking a job, you know that every hunter in this wilderness is also grinding out his resume, poring over the classifieds, prayerfully setting up his ad on Monster.com – and waiting.
"Each of these is necessary," says Baur, "but they all shunt you to that big black pit of human resources, from which it is very difficult to be individually noted."
Baur speaks on "Targeting the Job Market" Saturday, November 19, at 8:30 a.m. at the free career networking group of Saint Paul’s Church on Nassau Street Princeton. Call 609-924-1743. This lecture is designed for jobseekers at all levels who have honed their search to at least a couple of specific fields. Everyone is welcome, regardless of religious affiliation or lack of same.
Baur’s wild and varied life has made her an expert on discovering employment. For decades she has undertaken careers in which she constantly works herself out of one job and must hunt up another. A native of Katonah, New York, Baur graduated from Lake Forest College with a B.A. in English literature in l968 and honors work in the poet Yates. This prompted a year’s study in Ireland, ending with drama studies in London.
She re-crossed the pond to New York where she strove to find work on the stage along with the unnumbered thousands of the Big Apple’s other actors. She later turned to freelance writing, completing a host of assignments for Prentiss Hall, Time Warner, McGraw-Hill, and others. She also had much of her poetry published. "You very fast become a real veteran at approaching people for work," Baur says. "All the shyness and psychological trauma drops quickly away."
In l983 Baur transferred her English teaching skills from New York University to the business market, working for ETS and others. Since l994 she has remained in the Princeton area, working as a career counselor and writing fiction. Her latest book, "The Real France," prophetically notes that even during her travels, in the 1960s, "the Algerian immigrants wander Paris looking like time bombs ready to go off."
Baur divides jobs into two basic arenas: published and unpublished. The former are those pre-established positions employers are seeking to fill. Odds are that someone has served in this position before, or if not, it is a newly created cog to help make an old wheel run more smoothly.
These are those jobs for which the employer has fictionalized one perfect individual in his head. If your profile comes close during his search, you’ll be asked for a resume, and then a series of interviews. "While this job-finding process is certainly better than the lottery," says Baur, "you can count on a very long wait if that is all you do." To hedge your bet, Baur suggests you supplement the search by trolling for the unpublished jobs.
Selecting prey. Before making the usual profile of several companies in your career field, review your field. If you have been a paralegal, before lining up other local law firms, think of your existent skills and the other business needs they might fill. Then, with a little research, list the firms and the hiring managers for your position level. Ideally, says Baur, you should be look for someone known to the hiring manager, who can give you a personal referral, but if not, at least obtain a solid E-mail address.
Remember, in any company there are many people who can close the access doors, but only a few who can keep them open. Go for the person with the power to open.
Studying a potential company. Gather statistics and data that can serve during interviews. See if the firm is expanding or changing product lines. If it has brought on more employees in a certain sector, find out why. And, of course, learn the benefits (and the minuses) of working for this particular company.
Arsenal assembled. Once you have a company and an individual in your sights, prepare an initial contact letter. For convenience’s sake, this can be a template letter, which basically fits most hiring managers. But it should be well crafted.
Open with a hook paragraph that shows your interest and knowledge of the company. For example, "I have watched with interest your recent expansion into foreign markets, particularly in Eastern Europe." Then connect it with a one line teaser that indicates, for example, your foreign language skills.
After this opening, follow up with a few bullet points listing your accomplishments. Try to avoid cramming in every professional triumph since the fifth grade spelling bee. Three quality achievements, modestly worded, outweigh an entire patter of little feats. Then end the letter with a catchy one or two line qualification summation.
"This should be the one phrase or sentence the hiring manager can pass around to his peers and supervisors," says Baur. "It’s the thing to make you easily remembered – clever, but not cutesy." Finally, keep control of the situation by mentioning that you will call the individual in two weeks.
The big thing to note is that this letter goes without a resume. This
letter is not a broadside of your talents. It is the beginning of a seduction that will lead to interview, then eventually the resume, after people at the company are already interested in you.
Planning an alternate route. America’s job market is in flux. U.S. Labor Department studies estimate that the average individual will have to retrain six times within his working career merely to maintain the same titled position. With this sort of shifting sand employment base, Baur urges every job seeker to have at least two other fields of endeavor in which getting hired at a manageable salary is probable.
If you are an IP worker whose level of job has all been recently swept away to India, ask yourself if you really want to chase from East Windsor to New Delhi to retain that line of work. If not, develop a mathematical model based on your viable work areas and the number of jobs in each. Then either go where the money is, or shift the way you make the money.
If all of the fields that fit your talents are overflowing with workers, it’s time to fall back to Plan B. Find associated temporary work or figure out who is doing contract work for the corporations you sought. You can even approach them as an outsourcer. Such independent work can often lead to employment on the inside.
Baur’s prime advice is persistence. I asked her where the limo chauffeur is now working. After begging confidentiality, she answered: "All I will say, is that he is making a lot more money now."
Historical Commission Awards
Eight organizations and individuals from across New Jersey will be honored by the New Jersey Historical Commission for their outstanding contributions to preserving and presenting the state’s history at its annual conference on Saturday, November 19, at the Trenton Marriott. Cost: $35. Call 609-924-0902.
Award winners include Bonita Craft Grant of Hopewell, who is being honored for distinguished service to the history and archival community at the special collections and archives division of the Rutgers University Libraries; Hunter Research of Trenton, a historical and archaeological consulting firm, for excellence in research and public outreach in history, archaeology, architectural history, and preservation planning; and Alexander Magoun, for his work as director of the David Sarnoff Library to establish the library as a professionally-run archive.
The conference, open to the public, will feature a continental breakfast, exhibits, keynote speakers, luncheon, the award presentations, and panel discussions. Cost is $35 per person. To register, call 609-984-0902.
Nano-Tech: Messing With Molecules: Ray Balee
What would happen if we could arrange atoms one by one in the way we want them? That question was asked in l961 by Cal Tech’s brilliant and bizarre scientific visionary, Richard Feynman. The answer was supposed to be that we could just lay the atoms down where the chemist told us. Then, voila! We could create any new substance desired. Since then hundreds of top companies have employed thousands of scientists to help make the "Feynman vision" come true.
Nanotechnology became the buzzword, referring to the billionths of a meter confines in which molecular researchers labored. Until recently the process has been described as trying to assemble Legos with boxing gloves on. But within the last five years the gloves have come off, and recent successes have the investment community envisioning nanotech as the brave new world.
In a crisis of energy needs, nanotechnology leads us again back to the immense power of the atom. To discuss the many possible energy solutions and business opportunities nanotechnolgoy offers, the New Jersey Technology Council presents "Commercializing Nanotechnology: Energy Storage and Conversion," on Monday, November 21, at 8 a.m. at Rutgers University’s Busch Campus. This day-long series of workshops includes panels covering a number of topics, including how nanotech addresses energy industry needs, who has the money to fund projects, where future nanotech energy opportunities lie, and stories of commercialization success.
Headwaters NanoKinetix, with offices at New York Avenue in Lawrence, is a growing nanotechnology company focused on alternative energy. At the seminar’s 3:10 p.m. session, CEO Ray Balee talks about the strategies his company used to bring its products to market quickly.
Balee attended the Citadel Military Academy, where he played football and graduated in l972 with a B.S. in chemistry. He then earned his graduate degrees from Wichita State University. For the next 25 years he was a vice president of Aarmco Chemical, and roamed the globe from Japan and Singapore through Europe and the United States helping to research and manufacture new energy technologies.
He views his move into NanoKinetix as a natural step in following the latest scientific discoveries. The company joins bigger players, including Dupont, IBM, 3M, Intel, and Hewlett-Packard, in trying to regiment whimsical atoms. The reasons are twofold: people and purse strings. Nanotechnology procedures make stem cell harvesting seem clumsy and simplistic by comparison. The delicate rearranging of molecules demands teams of the world’s most innovative minds.
Big firms, if they don’t have such talent already, can hire them competitively.
While the actual molecular alignment may take place in a small area, the required facilities and equipment are extensive and expensive. Imagine trying to construct an automobile by first designing and forging a wrench. But even greater than establishing a method, is the cost of producing huge amounts of the many basic resulting materials.
After Eureka! In early 2004 NanoKinetix developed the NxCat technology. More a method of construction than an actual item, NxCat proved to be a new step in nano catalysts. By maintaining a uniform particle size of 3 nm (3,000,000,000th of a meter or a mere 1,300 atoms), researchers could control ever more tightly the type of reactions produced. This reduced bad reactions, waste, byproducts, and per gram costs. It was a great triumph. But now what?
Among other capabilities, NxCat technology allowed NanoKinetix to produce synthetic hydrogen peroxide for half the former cost. "It involves no pots and pans, eliminates the toxins of former manufacture, and gets to market 20 percent cheaper," boasts Balee. Yet as with any prototype, NxCat opened the door to an ensuing minefield of production.
Hydrogen peroxide, in addition to its liquid form, is a main ingredient in foam rubbers employed in the majority of commercial mattresses worldwide. To turn out a competitive quantity for the market, Balee realized the company would have to produce at least 200,000 tons a year. Even Headwater Technology & Innovation Group, NanoKenetix’s parent, with its $1.5 billion in assets, would have a hard time meeting this goal. Thus, in the interest of global marketing and funding, HTIG teamed up with Germany’s largest chemical producer, Degussa Corporation, in March. Together the joint DegussaHeadwaters venture plans to open a plant by the end of 2006, making synthetic hydrogen peroxide available by 2007.
Expansive platform technology. As with many nanotech companies, NanoKinetix has employed its new NxCat method as a platform from which several new technologies could lead to new products and thus new business divisions.
Based on the NxCat method, the company has developed an iron-based catalyst, which, when sprayed on coal, will reduce its noxious effects as a burned fuel. It can also lead to the production of ammonia from plants, and, twisted another way, blend with oil to deliver a higher octane fuel. This new gasoline mix is equivalent of moving from regular unleaded up to premium. In each case, the large scale of the product demanded will entail a separate business division.
Eventually, Balee expects that the cost and complexity of nano-innovation may come down enough for a small companies to invent technologies and to feed their discoveries to larger firms. But now that’s just not the case.
Eye on the prize. Nano is the newest energy technology. While people have been catalyzing industrially-used substances for almost 50 years, dealing effectively on the molecular level is as new as this millennium. Perhaps because it is a child of the new era, nano’s business model has been strictly 21st century. The 1970 and 1980s model of placing researchers in a room, letting them tinker with new technology, and seeing what they come up with, is long gone.
"We are ruthlessly profit-driven in our research," says Balee. We focus our fundamental efforts on finding a specific answer to a specific market need." Additionally, nanotech firms have always been very sensitive to practical delivery. "The first question of every potential client is ‘How much can you make, on what schedule?’" says Balee. The fulfillment nightmares of the dot-com years are still fresh in investors’ memories.
Poker faced. Hewlett-Packard has just built an $85 million nanotechnology facility with, as Balee describes it, "hundreds of people all running around in white bunny suits." When these workers emerge from their protective lab gear, they are no more informative than when inside them. The only thing as elaborate as nanotech’s production process is its secrecy.
The products are the stereotypical better mousetraps that bring clients to their owner’s door without the expense of advertising. Better-octane oil, cheaper, cleaner synthetic chemicals, more exacting lithographic works, and faster computers are all pieces of the nano-pie. Investing millions – or billions – in development costs, no company wants to trumpet the results of its R & D efforts. "In fact, when I see some manufacturer splashing his latest invention in the media, I begin to get suspicious," says Balee.
The futuristic Feynman envisioned a day when businesses would build "a billion tiny factories, each models of each other, simultaneously stamping, drilling, all on the molecular level." Some have found this a trifle scary. Others, far fetched. But regardless of public hesitancy, thousands of companies have begun to make millions out of little particles just a few billionths of a meter long. Maybe that Star Trek replicator and even greater miracles – clean manufacturing and clean, efficient energy – are not that far down the galaxy.
Relationship Selling: Jim D’Ovidio
‘Being nice to people is easy. It never costs you anything," says Jim D’Ovidio. Being nice is just another way of saying that the best way to build a business is to build relationships. D’Ovidio, president of Brown Dog Marketing in Cranbury, calls it "Relationship Selling." But successful selling is more than just building the right relationships. You must also pass the credibility test by building trust in your professionalism and your capabilities.
D’Ovidio speaks at the second in a five-part series of professional development workshops presented by the New Jersey chapter of the Institute of Management Consultants on "The Key to Relationship Selling: Passing the Credibility Test." The program takes place on Monday, November 21, at 4 p.m., at the Doral Forrestal in Princeton. Cost: $45. Reserve online at www.imcnewjersey.org.
Brown Dog Marketing specializes in promotional products for a variety of clients from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses. What kind of advice can someone who sells promotional products offer to management consultants? "Whatever your business, what you are really selling is yourself," explains D’Ovidio, and selling is the key to success in any business. Whether you are selling a product or marketing a service, trust and credibility are necessary ingredients.
D’Ovidio began his career in sporting goods, selling ski and surf equipment, where he quickly learned that no matter what product he represented, the key to making sales was getting people to trust in him.
"If a product I’ve promoted didn’t sell well in a store, how did I get back in that store to see the manager? I wasn’t selling XYZ sunglasses. I was selling Jim D’Ovidio."
Building a relationship with a client is the easiest way to "sell yourself," he says. But what is the best way to build a relationship with a prospective client? "Don’t hit the person over the head with your business. Talk to the person. Find out about him," says D’Ovidio. Being a good listener will help you to learn about the other person’s business and give you an idea of his needs.
Speed networking events have become popular recently, and while they make be a good way to introduce yourself to a large group of people, they aren’t the best venue for building a relationship with a prospect. Go anyway, he advises, and listen to the people you meet. If they appear to be good prospects for your business ask them if you can call and set up an appointment to get to know them better.
Organizations such as chambers of commerce are often great places to meet potential clients. The best way to make these organizations really pay off is to become active. "Become a familiar face," says D’Ovidio. One of the best ways to get to know people you are interested in doing business with is to serve on a committee with them. You’ll learn a lot about them and they’ll learn about you. "It gives people a chance to see what caliber of person you are and after you get to know the person well it is easier to ask if their company can use your services," says D’Ovidio. "People do business with people they know and like."
D’Ovidio practices what he preaches. He is an active member of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce, and is on the board of the New Jersey Society of Association Executives (NJSAE).
Don’t forget, while someone may not be a direct client for you, he may know other people who could use your services. The best kind of referral, he says, occurs "when someone comes up to you and says, ‘Do me a favor and call so and so for me.’ Now you aren’t just another salesperson making a call."
Let other people know what you do and how you differ from your competition. "I often get referred to customers by people who aren’t actually clients of mine." he says. "You should let everyone know what you do and how you are different from your competition. That way, they become your sales force."
Building relationships is only the first step in selling your business and yourself. The second is making sure that your contacts believe in you – and in your ability to do what you say you will do for them. "Credibility is about how you brand and market yourself," he says. Make sure that all of your contacts feel comfortable referring you to their friends and associates. Some ways to build credibility include:
Looking professional. "It’s easy to say, ‘I do a great job,’" says D’Ovidio, but your collateral materials must say the same thing. "Don’t make yourself look like a fly-by-night company." Spend the time and money to make sure your materials have the look you need to get the business you want.
Making sure that your brand is consistent. "If you are looking for a personal trainer, do you go to someone who is out of shape?" asks D’Ovidio, "Of course not." No matter what business you are in your branding should be professional and consistent.
Beyond your own appearance, make sure that your business cards and letterhead look professional. Don’t make do with a homemade business card and letterhead. "Make yourself look like a big company," says D’Ovidio. Sure, a small "boutique company" can offer better service than a large corporation, but you must be trusted to have the same professionalism as the larger firms in your industry.
D’Ovidio tells about a consultant who asked him recently why he hadn’t referred any customers to him. "I had to explain to him that he was not referable. He has no E-mail address. His brochures are horrendous. How am I supposed to refer him to a client who is going to pay him $100 an hour?"
Positioning yourself. Finally, says D’Ovidio, you have to "decide where you want to be." Finding your target market will help you decide where to find the right clients for your business. Position yourself by figuring out your sphere and getting to know everyone who is in it.
No matter what your business, says D’Ovidio, grassroots selling and marketing is the key. "Roll up your sleeves and get back to basics."
Help Employees Get Tax Breaks: John Sarno
John Sarno, president of the Employers Association of New Jersey (EANJ) has written a report on tax refunds that the state’s lowest paid workers are leaving on the table. He says that the Internal Revenue Service reports that nearly 63,000 working people in New Jersey are giving up about $587 a year by not filing an income tax return to receive a tax refund. Nationally, the IRS reports that unclaimed refunds totaling more than $2.5 billion are awaiting nearly 2 million people who failed to file an income tax return to take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
Enacted in 1975 and expanded under both Democratic and Republican administrations, the federal EITC is widely credited for helping the working poor out of poverty. The concept is simple: working people receive a credit against their federal income tax (or a refund if they owe no tax), with the amount of the credit based on income and family size. A primary benefit of the EITC is that it eases the burden of Social Security and Medicare taxes that take a higher percentage of low-wage earners’ income than that of more highly paid workers.
In 2002 486,811 New Jersey families and individuals received $811.7 million in federal EITC benefits. However, the IRS also reports that New Jersey low wage workers are eligible for over $96 million dollars of unclaimed refunds, or a medium refund of $587 per employee.
The possibility of capturing the $96 million for New Jersey’s working poor was a high priority for Sarno during the recent debate over raising the minimum wage. During his testimony before the Assembly Labor Committee, Sarno explained that both advocates and opponents were exaggerating the impact on increasing the minimum wage.
In a written statement, Sarno says: "Trenton crowd tends to view labor policy in absolutes. It’s always a zero sum game. I was trying to point out that win-win solutions are sometimes achievable. Finding common ground is absolutely necessary now."
During his testimony, Sarno described an economy that was ever changing and dynamic, eliminating jobs and creating new ones. His wakeup call to legislatures: "As we sit here arguing about wages, thousands of jobs will be lost, not to outsourcing, but to productivity gains, producing more with less. Let’s focus on raising the standard of living." His idea was that if the minimum wage was going to be raised, employers should also notify their low wage workers about the EITC, potentially putting more money in their pockets each year.
In September Acting Governor Codey signed a bill requiring employers to notify employees whom the employer knows, or reasonably knows, or reasonably believes, may be eligible for the EITC. Such notification must take place no later than February 15 of each year and may coincide with issuing the W-2 wage statement.
Conceding that the notification requirement imposes an administrative burden on employers, Sarno believes that the extra time is worth it. "Every employer I’m aware of cares about employees. Getting more money in people’s pockets is a good thing." Contact Sarno at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chambers Link Up
The Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to provide U.S. Chamber membership to Princeton chamber members.
In a prepared statement, Princeton Chamber president Kristin S. Appelget said of the partnership: "We are pleased to bring an added benefit to our members. Our affiliation with the United States’ largest business organization provides a wide variety of resources to our members."
The program offers Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce small business members value-added benefits, including access to members-only sections of the U.S. Chamber’s online Small Business Center; discounts on products and services; Uschamber.com Weekly, the U.S. Chamber’s small business E-newsletter; and other communications that alert small businesses to pressing legislation or policy initiatives.
Federation membership is offered at no cost to small business members of the Princeton Chamber of Commerce. For more information call 609-924-1776.