Dream of Teaching?

The Power of Play

Decision Making 101

A New MBA Option

Getting to the Top By Breaking All the Rules

Be Adver-Wise

Making Business & Holidays Co-Exist

Corrections or additions?

These articles were prepared for the December 8, 2004

issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Survival Guide

Top Of Page
Dream of Teaching?

If you have always harbored a yen to teach, you can earn your Master

of Arts in Teaching degree starting next summer. Mercer County College

holds an informational meeting on Wednesday, December 8, at 5:30 p.m.

at the Conference Center on Old Trenton Road. An alternate date is

Thursday, February 10, at 5:30 p.m. at the same location. Call

609-586-4800, ext. 3281 for information.

Mercer partners with the New Jersey City University as part of the

"New Pathways to Teaching in New Jersey" program. Choose from taking

this program as a noncredit, certification-only student, or use it to

earn 15 graduate credits toward the degree. Last year certificate

students paid $2,400 and credit students paid $5,400. A 10 percent

increase can be expected.

To qualify, you need a bachelor’s degree with a minimum grade average

of 2.75. Classes start next summer. If you get a classroom job, you

continue in the program as an alternate route teacher and finish with

a Capstone Summer Institute in June, 2006. Otherwise, you continue

with a program for graduate credit and have access to a hands-on

teaching experience.

"Some people use the summer as a trial," says Lynn Coopersmith, who

administers the program, "and not everybody continues. In 2003 we had

15 people continue, and we had twice as many people this year. During

the winter, the cohort of students acts as a support group and the

instructor is an ongoing mentor."

"People say ‘I always wanted to be a teacher,’ says Coopersmith. "You

can’t imagine how often I hear that." Although the participants can

teach elementary or high school, Coopersmith says the greatest need is

at the high school level for math, science, and world languages.

Top Of Page
The Power of Play

Play and work have gone hand-and-hand for Evan and Tara Marcus almost

literally since they met at a meeting of the American Society for

Training and Development. As Tara explains it, "We each had our own

company, and we partnered in two ways. We put all of our eggs in both

baskets."

"My background was corporate and his was peer team building," says

Tara. She had worked with hard-driving Jack Welch for 10 years at GE

Capital before starting her own company, Human Capital Consulting.

Evan had come to business through a less traditional route, with a

master’s degree in somatic psychology from Antioch University, three

years in rabbinical school, and study with some of the seminal leaders

of experiential learning.

Tara and Evan Marcus speak at the Mid-NJASTD (American Society for

Training and Development) meeting on Thursday, December 9, at 5:30

p.m. at the Princeton Courtyard Marriott. Cost: $40. For more

information about the workshop, call 856-667-4641. To register for the

meeting, contact Peter Rizza at 609-737-8098.

When planning for their own company, the Marcuses looked for a niche

where they could make the most impact together. They decided on

leadership and team-building retreats that would build connections

between people. "At retreats people take time to work on their

business rather than in it. In most organizations these days people

are asked to work together and rarely have time to get related before

that happens." Then, when things go wrong and personalities don’t

match, says Tara, there are no relationships to fall back on.

"Retreats provide an opportunity to let down your guard and your title

and get to know people as people. Then, back in the heat of business,

there is a stronger foundation."

What distinguishes DillonMarcus Executive Retreats from other similar

concerns is the connection the principals make between relationship

building and play. According to Tara, "most people’s view of play is

balls and recess, the approach that play is frivolous." The

traditional ethos of work – "Quit playing; we have to get to work" –

totally negates the power of play, and she and her husband are trying

to relieve play of its negative rap. "When we’re at our most creative

and collaborative is when we’re feeling playful," she observes.

But some of the games we indulge in are almost the antithesis of play.

"Most of us don’t realize that all of life is a game," says Tara.

"We’re playing the ‘I don’t have enough time’ game, the ‘I’m stressed’

game, or the ‘I don’t like my boss game.’" A truly playful stance can

turn these games around so that they work for us: "We have the choice

to view it all with some detachment, play with it, and see if a

different outcome is possible."

Tara shares an experience from her wedding ceremony to illustrate.

They were at the point of getting the rings blessed, she remembers,

and "I realized that the photographer had the rings last, that the

best man didn’t have them, and that they were a five-minute run away."

She realized she had a choice – she could get uptight and upset or

respond with a sense of fun, as she did: "Because my approach was

playful, it allowed others to be playful. We got the rings, and it

became a funny moment, not stressful."

The Marcuses have written a book entitled "Thirty Days of Play," which

serves as a resource in their workshops. Tara explains its genesis:

"The play book came out of our interest in working together and having

a life that felt more playful and less stressful. We found ourselves

getting tight in a lot of different areas, and the book came out of

our interest in exercising the muscle of play. The more we exercise

that muscle, the more we are able to use it when we need it."

With the holiday season in mind and the relational challenges it

involves, Tara shares the following "games" to help bring play into

the holiday season:

Do the least desirable tasks first. Tara describes a boss who started

each day "doing the things he dreaded most and found he was more

relaxed. Review your ‘to do’ list and do the things you don’t want to

do first. See if it frees you up to be more playful throughout the

day."

Let’s make believe we get along. A woman wanted to be closer to her

mom, so during the game, which lasted one week, they both made believe

they liked each other. After a week, their relationship did improve.

Are you stuck in an old pattern? Try a new behavior.

Cultivating relationships by saying "yes." The rules of this game,

which came from Tara’s husband, Evan, are simply to "say ‘yes’ to the

person you are playing the game with." She explains that her husband

Evan is a fairly controlling person; to relieve pressure on his

assistant, he instituted a once-a-week "say ‘yes’ to Jeannie day."

Another day of the week she would do the same for him. "It is

freeing," says Tara. "You don’t have to negotiate and figure things

out. It builds relationship and a willingness to give up control."

Play is the behavior we never outgrow. If we are going to be playing

games all of the time it is a good idea to say "yes" to the power of

positive playfulness.

– Michele Alperin

Top Of Page
Decision Making 101

Decisions, decisions – which house to buy, what college to attend,

which job will best advance my career? Our lives are filled with

decisions, some small, some large. But how do we choose between two

seemingly similar alternatives? "Systematic decision making helps a

person to think about decision making in a different, more

quantitative way," says Angela Deitch. "It helps in evaluating

alternative courses of action."

Deitch, of Angela Deitch Consulting, is a management consultant and

trainer. She speaks on Systematic Decision Making at the next meeting

of the Pay It Forward Career Networking Group on Saturday, December 11

at 8:30 a.m., at the First Presbyterian Church, 100 Scotch Road,

Ewing. For more information on the meeting, contact Pat Fletcher at

609-433-6191.

Pay It Forward is a nonprofit organization designed to help people who

are in career transitions. The group, founded by Fletcher, is

beginning its second year. Fletcher founded the organization when she

and her husband were both laid off in mid-career from positions at

BASF. "It is very painful to lose your job," Fletcher says, "and it is

so hard to find work again."

Fletcher’s husband, Shahn, has since found a new career in the

plumbing industry and Fletcher has opened her own business as a

management consultant. Pay It Forward, however, remains an important

part of her life. "People come in transition and they get together and

talk and you never know where it will lead," she says. "Two people

start talking and pretty soon a new little business has been born."

Others who have attended her group have gone on to positions similar

to their original jobs, or have moved on to new careers in another

field.

Pay It Forward meetings are "loosely structured," says Fletcher, and

include a skill-building discussion or seminar with a guest speaker, a

"one minute commercial," where each participant has one minute to talk

about their skills and goals, and time for networking. While most of

the participants are searching for new careers, Fletcher says the

group "makes a concerted effort to attract employment managers and

other people who are interested in our topics."

"We often think about making decisions as an either/or process. But in

reality, people have preferences for certain job characteristics and

try to avoid others. In general most people lack a systematic way for

arriving at results they are happy with," Deitch says. Deitch has

worked as a consultant and trainer for the past 10 years, and offers

seminars and workshops in three areas – critical thinking skills and

problem solving, management development, and employment practices and

awareness.

Prior to starting her own company she served as an organization and

management effectiveness consultant with the State of New Jersey and

worked as marketing director for Educational Technologies. She has

also worked in secondary education as district coordinator for

curriculum and instruction for the East Brunswick school system.

Her method of decision-making can be used not only to think about

careers, but in making a number of other decisions, such as choosing

the right car or house, or the right school. "This process gives a

decision-making model in which the individual job seeker identifies

the ‘musts’ and then the ‘wants’ of the position," she says. There are

several steps necessary to making a systematic evaluation of the

alternatives:

Talk to people. One of the most important first steps in making any

important decision, says Deitch, is to "talk to the other stake

holders; your spouse or significant other, your children, and any

other people who will be directly affected by your decision. It may

also be a good idea to talk to your accountant or a career counselor.

Talk to any number of people who can provide perspective on careers

and jobs."

Assign ranks. What people often neglect to do when faced with a major

decision is "to place a value or rank order on what they want," she

adds. "No job, no house, no car can meet all of our ideal

specifications, but in order to compare the alternatives, we need to

be clear on what we are looking for and how much value we give to each

of our wants."

Evaluate needs. Everyone has certain "must haves," things that are

absolutely necessary before they can accept a certain job, Deitch

says. These "musts" might include a minimum salary, a maximum number

of miles to commute, or a position that is in a particular field. "I

call these needs ‘gatekeepers,’" says Deitch. "If a particular option

does not satisfy the gatekeepers, if can be rejected."

Deciding that a job does not meet the minimum "gatekeepers" may be

easy. But what if we have two options available, both of which will

meet all of our needs?

Evaluate wants. "After looking at these musts, go on to look at the

options," advises Deitch. "Wants might include a certain type of

company, a growth company for example, or a company that offers

opportunity for advancement," says Deitch. A formal or informal

atmosphere, vacation time, opportunity for advanced training, and

benefits packages are all included in the list of wants.

Deitch suggests listing each of item on the "wants" list and ranking

it in order or importance. "Don’t just list the word ‘benefits.’ Be

specific. What about the health plan, what about the savings plan?

Fill it in exactly for each job. That way you are comparing apples to

apples, not apples to oranges."

After filling in the list, Deitch suggests ranking each item either

numerically, from one to ten, or as high, medium, or low value. "That

way you have a numeric way of calculating your data and visually

seeing which job best satisfies your needs."

Risk analysis. The final step in making the decision is to "look at

the leading contenders and analyze the risks," says Deitch. "Ask

yourself, ‘What could possibly go wrong?’" The job might sound

perfect, but there are always down sides. Does the company have a

reputation for transferring people often? Is the company stable? If it

is a small, privately owned business, is the owner nearing retirement

age? What will happen to the company then? "Thoughtful consideration

of your choices is the best way to make a decision," says Deitch.

"It may be highly idealistic to think someone always has the

opportunity to compare several jobs in today’s market," she adds.

"There a times when to be realistic, a person must take whatever job

is available. But this system works even if a person only has one job

offer. If we look at our musts and our wants, at least we have

opportunity to compare what we are being offered with what we’ve got."

-Karen Miller

Top Of Page
A New MBA Option

Is the MBA worth it? In the early l980s, those three little letters

became a golden key ushering you into an enviable fast track career.

So much envied, in fact, that every young and eager face rushed to the

schools, making the Masters of Business Administration both common and

required for the next 15 years. But lately job candidates have been

noticing that the wheel is cycling back and that many employers are

opting for good old-fashioned work experience over formal training.

As if to answer this somewhat wavering enthusiasm for the MBA, Rider

University announces the launch of its Executive Masters of Business

Administration program, to begin this January. Interim Dean Larry

Newman of the College of Business Administration explains that, unlike

the standard MBA, Rider’s executive version specifically targets the

already-working manager who seeks a broader business knowledge.

Candidates for the 21-month program must have been employed for five

years, with a minimum of three years management experience.

Additionally, they must hold a four-year undergraduate degree with a

3.0 or higher grade point average and a GMAT score of at least 550.

(Newman notes that this final requirement can be waived with certain

work experience.)

The university is hosting an information session on Monday, December

13, at 6 p.m. at the Talbott Library at Westminster Choir College,

Rider’s Princeton Campus. Call Christine Zelenak 609-896-5036. For

further information visit www.Rider.edu or call 609-896-1512. Space is

limited.

The American Management Association recently polled a group of

executives of all ages, asking them to assess the value of their MBAs.

Most responded positively, believing that the degree and training had

brought them varying degrees of benefit. But the major complaint,

common to almost all, was the time spent away from the career path.

That year-and-a-half of full time study usually came at some

occupational turning point, and many regretted, or at least wondered

about, the sacrifice.

For that reason, Rider University has tailored both the time and

content to the working professional. "Our goal is to enrich the

students for the jobs they currently hold and for the levels to which

they’ll rise in the future," says Newman. Toward that end, classes for

all 17 courses throughout the 21 months are conducted on Saturdays.

Additional to the regular course work will be five specialized

leadership and managerial training seminars taught by both consultants

and managers.

Each of the eight-week courses will be dually instructed by a

professor and a veteran executive from the business community. "Our

aim is to blend theory and practice," says Newman, "but also, when we

have students make presentations, we want them to face off against a

senior Fortune 500 executive, who may just clobber them back."

Yet it won’t all be grim. Rather than filing into cinder block

classrooms and cramming themselves into those wretched little

collegiate chairs with writing arms, MBA students will learn in a more

befitting atmosphere. Classes will be held at the Doral Forrestal with

catered meals. After all, you are a professional. Another pleasant

plus in this executive program is a summer seminar abroad. Students

will take an international business swing through either eastern Asia

or eastern Europe. The final choice of routes will be based on student

input, and on where their firms currently do business or see future

markets, says Newman.

And the price tag for this intensely informative and lavishly

presented educational experience? A somewhat daunting $50,000 covers

everything from books and classes to travel and tea sandwiches. Truly

it is an investment substantial enough to make one ponder exactly how

many promotions it will take to earn a pay back.

For years MBA critics have pointed to the growing number of on-job

training programs most companies now offer and have claimed that these

are equal to, and more targeted than, formal study. Intense seminars

can equip a manager with appropriate skills for a tenth the price of a

degree program, they say. Newman’s response is that while such

seminars do keep the company updated, they provide far fewer benefits

for the individual and his career.

The actual salary payback certainly depends on the career. Graduating

from the University of Virginia with his engineering degree, Hugh Wood

quickly landed the exciting job of construction engineer on the

Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, right near his home town of Norfolk,

Virginia. Upon its completion, he worked for several major

construction firms before deciding to enter Wharton Business School in

l971. "What really bothered me," Wood recalls, "was that after I

returned to the construction field with my MBA, it wasn’t financially

valued. There was absolutely no pay increase. Companies offered me the

same salary as if I had only had a B.S. degree."

But over the years, Wood climbed high as a civilian engineer for the

Navy, in charge of massive projects in Iceland, Guantanamo, and the

Norfolk Naval base. Much of his rise, and knowledge, he now credits to

his MBA. "Without a doubt, it gave me a better over-business

perspective," Wood says, "not just through the classes, but through

the people."

Wood recalls a session where a teams of various nationalities were set

up and confronted with the same problem. It was here he first noted

the Japanese cooperative effort as opposed to his American team’s

struggle-for-dominance approach.

Virtually every MBA graduate speaks glowingly of the old school tie.

It is small wonder that with so many upwardly mobile executives

sprawling out into different types of business, across such a broad

geographic scope, that the network becomes such a valuable tool.

Bankers find clients, entrepreneurs find venture capital. Legal,

accounting, and myriad other types of services get swapped across the

old alumni web. Nowhere does this bond become tighter than in an

executive-style MBA course, where the entire class takes every course

together.

But beyond buddies and perspective, Donna Meyers, 30-year veteran on

the board of Gerber Life Insurance, claims it’s the MBA book learning

that will boost managers up into the higher echelon. "The biggest

single stumbling block that keeps executives out of the board room is

a full financial training," Meyers insists. Many corporate boards are

now giving candidates actual financial examinations for qualification.

"That business masters gives you the required training that will allow

you to contribute," she says.

Doubtless, there is always room at the top for the entrepreneur with

no training but plenty of talent. But as most of these meteoric

successes readily admit, the very first step to a great company is to

fill your top positions with people who are expertly trained.

– Bart Jackson

Top Of Page
Getting to the Top By Breaking All the Rules

They needed it yesterday. Pearl Harbor had just been bombed and the

lagging U.S. military had to create a superior fighter plane. Swiftly

they gathered a design team, and 21 days later the new airplane was in

production. The Joint Chiefs never sent this team on a retreat; nor

did they select them for compatibility. Our military leaders simply

skimmed the nation’s cream and put them under life or death pressure

to produce.

"Success breaks the rules," says Gary Lynn, "but it does follow some

intriguing patterns." Recently professor Lynn and Richard K. Reiley

completed a 10-year study of 700 products that were brought to market

with exceptional success. Their analyses of exactly why Dustbuster and

Colgate toothpaste cleaned up while others failed are discussed in

their book "The Five Keys to Developing Great New Products." On

Tuesday, December 14, at 11:30 a.m. Lynn gives a seminar of the same

name at the Hanover Marriott in Whippany, sponsored by the Venture

Association of New Jersey. Cost: $45. Call 973-267-4200.

Raised in Munster, Indiana, Lynn was the poster child for the misfit,

successful entrepreneur. At age 12, his father hired him to work in

his shoe store, then quickly fired him because he just wasn’t working

hard enough. Let loose on his own, Lynn borrowed his Dad’s store

window washing equipment and began his own cleaning service. By

sophomore year in high school, he had a thriving, 70-client business,

which he then sold to a fellow student for $500.

In l980 Lynn gained a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Vanderbuilt

University. He then attended Kellogg Graduate School of Management at

Northwestern University, where he gained a master’s and wrote the

first of five books, "From Concept to Market." In l993 Lynn received a

Ph.D. in marketing from Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute. Within the

private sector, Lynn has helped create and bring to market everything

from aircraft engines for General Electric to a new type of ergonomic

crutch for California’s Oasis Medical. Lynn is an associate professor

at the Wesley J. Howe School of Technology Management at Stevens

Institute of Technology in Hoboken.

"The real surprise in this study," notes Lynn, "is how many of the

approaches to successful product development are similar, but are

totally counterintuitive." Business consultants have filled our heads

with countless maxims that seem to make sense, and frequently produce

adequate results. If a company wants to launch some small incremental

improvement, such traditional measures are fine. But for an extreme,

totally new blockbuster product the lessons of history suggest more

drastic measures.

CEO involvement. Conventional wisdom advises senior management to keep

its fingers out of the pie. Design teams, made up of specific experts,

should be gathered, then sequestered to make their way independently.

This way they can develop a product unhindered. But in Lynn’s studies

of the most successful projects, the CEO personally was involved as

part of the team every day. He listened, gave instructions, and

participated as ardently as any other member.

One reason for such active involvement, of course, is the overview

that the CEO alone can provide. He holds all the current information

from all departments and can work toward cohesion. Yet Lynn’s analysis

showed this was a minor factor. The real benefit of the CEO’s presence

was to free up the creativity of the group. "The individuals in the

team are more likely to step outside of the normal boundaries if the

firm’s president is there to assure them they won’t be fired," Lynn

says.

Team building. Bluntly, Lynn’s studies show team compatibility efforts

to be a waste of valuable time. Empowerment sessions, handholding,

personality selection, and retreats are absent from the team records

of real blockbuster product histories. Instead, urgency replaces these

as the prime cohesive force. "There will always be a natural tension

in product development," says Lynn. Marketers tend to promise the

world and engineers rave that they can’t possibly deliver such a

thing. But under the common stress of time pressure, such arguments

frequently get swept aside in an effort to bring a top notch product

in by deadline.

After the initial model is out on the shelf, there is time enough to

return and hack out what changes have to be made. But interestingly,

Lynn’s studies show that the team is so relieved to have pushed the

product over the top that old arguments tend to fade in the glow of a

job well done.

Stick with the pillars. When Polycom Inc. decided to design its new

Soundstation audio conferencing system, it established three pillars:

it must look space age and first class; it had to be dunce-simple to

operate; and it had to have full duplex operational capability

(allowing several voices to talk at the same time). These were the

deal-breaker concepts any design suggestion had to include.

Polycom’s design team stuck with these pillars, and in the end created

far and away the top selling system of its kind. But adherence to the

three tenets came only with great frustration. The titanium look was

achieved, but only through the use of a cost-effective plastic. To

maintain the "dunce-simple" mandate, many features had to be

sacrificed, and, in fact, several expanded capabilities can be found

today on Soundstation’s competitors. But people buy fewer of them.

No phase review. Successful firms find that the common cautious

process of testing the public’s pulse with a series of exploratory

marketings, then retreating into long review committees, just clogs

the creative arteries. Instead of hesitantly setting their prototype

on a road of costly tweaks and changes, blockbuster designers seem to

lurch forward with a glorious rush to market. Trusting their own

judgment, they say, "our Dustbuster is a grand concept, let’s slam it

out on the shelves as quickly as possible."

If the product is revolutionary enough, the public will be amazed at

the idea, and will wait for company’s rapidly improved models. The

first automatic clothes dryers did an excellent job of both drying

clothes and spewing vast amounts of lint all over customer’s

basements. But the concept was so novel that the public kept buying,

until, months later, lint-trapping models came into the stores.

All the great generals have at one time or another credited their

success to studying the triumphant campaigns of their predecessors.

Likewise, anyone planning to build a revolutionary new mousetrap,

might do well to brush up on their business history, and see how the

Alexanders of industry maneuvered their blockbuster products to top of

must-have shopping lists.

– Bart Jackson

Top Of Page
Be Adver-Wise

‘Advertising is an investment. Every business owner needs to learn

just how advertising can make them money," says Terri Petry, owner of

the Mercer County Woman and Burlington County Woman newspapers.

Petry speaks on "The Five Key Points in Establishing an Effective

Marketing Plan" at the next Marketing Roundtable offered by the Mercer

County Chapter of the New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners

(NJAWBO). The meeting takes place at the Mercadian Group, 3625

Quakerbridge Road, on Tuesday, December 14, at 8:15 a.m. Cost: $10. To

register call Stephanie Sharp at 609-392-8724.

No matter whether your business is brand new or has been established

for decades, advertising is still essential, not only to increase

business, but to maintain it, says Petry. "McDonald’s, Coca Cola, and

Chevrolet are three of the top advertisers in the nation, dollar wise,

each year. They still spend millions so that they will be the first in

the minds of the consumer. They don’t spend so much to establish a new

market, but not to lose their market share."

Petry has been in advertising sales for about 18 years and says she

loves seeing the results that advertising brings. "I really believe in

advertising," she says. "It can bring great results when it is done

right."

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in

psychology, Petry began working in sales for the Yellow Pages. While

her degree may not, at first glance, seem related to her current work,

the understanding of people that it imparted has helped her in her

sales career.

Petry moved from the Yellow Pages to advertising sales with a national

real estate publication and the Thomas Register, "the industrial

yellow pages." She was also "at the forefront" of Internet

advertising, bringing the concept of worldwide marketing to local

industries.

"Suddenly a small manufacturer could put its entire catalog on the

Internet and have a worldwide market. It was an interesting experience

to educate industrial clients about this new market," she says.

In the late 1990s she left her sales career to stay at home with her

family, but after a few years found that she missed her work. "I

researched a lot of options and I was looking into something in north

Jersey, but you have to be where your clients are. It would have meant

way too much travel and time away from home," she says. By chance, she

found a copy of the Sussex County Woman newspaper and "it all just

clicked." She reached a licensing agreement with the Sussex County

newspaper and in 2001 Mercer County Woman began publishing. A year

later she purchased the Burlington County Woman.

Both newspapers are distributed free through areas libraries,

hospitals, doctors’ offices, fitness centers, and day care centers. In

addition, over 10,000 are delivered to homes in the area.

Throughout her career in advertising, Petry has talked with "thousands

of advertising decision makers, from small business owners to leasing

agents to marketing professionals," she says. "Customers talk to me

about what they are doing in all areas of advertising," she says. "I

have learned a lot about where people choose to spend their

advertising dollars. I have had exposure to all advertising media.

There are many options."

"Have a plan," is the first point in Petry’s marketing strategy.

Others include develop a budget; know your audience; know your

demographics; and learn about your options.

Cover all the bases. "Marketing does not equal one definitive ad,"

says Petry. "It is an accumulation of many good decisions. The

customer sees your sign on the way to work, then he gets a direct mail

ad, then he sees a television or newspaper ad. Finally, when he is

ready to make a buying decision, it all comes together and he

remembers what he has seen." One particular ad, in one market, no

matter how great it is, "will not set the world on fire," says Petry.

"Anyone who thinks it will is delusional."

Build a strong brand identity. The marketing plan needs to include as

many "touches" as possible. "Put yourself in the consumer’s shoes,

always," she says. "Bombard them with information. How many times do

we say ‘I’ll have a Coke’ when we are really Pepsi drinkers?" Coca

Cola has made its brand name synonymous with soft drinks.

Budget for success. Developing a plan and a budget go hand-in-hand,

but, says Petry, many business owners develop both "by the seat of

their pants." She recommends an advertising budget that is, at the

minimum, at least 20 percent of anticipated gross earnings, whether or

not a business is just starting, or has been established for several

years.

Be ready to change. "As a business evolves, its marketing strategy

must change," she says. "The business may be changing to a different

type of client, or expanding, or adding a new line. All of these

things mean the business needs to redefine its target audience. "It

needs to look at advertising to the new audience as if it were a new

business," Petry says.

Most business owners, however, allot considerably less for

advertising. "So many owners have so little budget. They need to

remember they would not be in business at all without this advertising

animal."

Pour on the gravy. Many business owners state that "80 percent of

their business comes from word of mouth," says Petry, "But they forget

that that last 20 percent is their gravy, and they only way to get

that gravy is by advertising."

It is important to invest the time in researching advertising and

marketing options, says Petry. "Be specific. Ask for proof of

readership and distribution," she says. Reputable publications will be

glad to show proof of their print runs or will have audited

distribution, she says.

Track customers. A business owner should also take the time to learn

exactly who the target audience is and where it is located. "I have

business owners tell me that they sell to everybody," she says. "But

what zip codes are their customers in? Exactly where is the market? Is

it all of Mercer County or is it really northern Mercer and southern

Middlesex? If you are a new business, you are going to have to spend

time learning just exactly where they come from."

Buy the help you need. Another thing many business owners are afraid

of, says Petry, is hiring someone to help with marketing. Whether it

is market research, developing an advertising campaign, or writing a

press release, no single business owner has all the necessary skills.

"There is no harm in hiring help along the way," she says.

When it comes to advertising, "so many people say they are going to be

advertising and then they don’t," says Petry, but most important piece

of advice, taken from a well-known advertising campaign, is "Just do

it."

– Karen Hodges Miller

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Making Business & Holidays Co-Exist

The holidays are often a challenge for business people. With all of

the added activities, both business and personal, it can be difficult

to keep focused and motivated at work. From the days before

Thanksgiving right through to the days after New Year’s, the schedule

becomes increasingly hectic, with parties and end-of-the-year events,

not to mention shopping, travel, and all of the other myriad things

that must be taken care of before we settle into the new year.

To help deal with holiday stress, the Mercer chapter of NJAWBO

addresses "Keeping Motivated through the Holidays," at its networking

breakfast on Wednesday, December 15, at 8:30 a.m. at the Americana

Diner in East Windsor. The meeting is free, but each person attending

pays for her own breakfast. To make a reservation, call Amanda Puppo

at 609-448-6364.

"I love the holidays," says Liz Scafa of Scafa Financial Services. "It

is very easy for me to get caught up in all of the preparations and

lose sight of what my business is all about." One of her ways of

coping with the many added duties of the holiday season is to take a

little time out each week for shopping, baking, and other

preparations. "That way I don’t end up so stressed the final week,"

she says.

Megan Oltman of Your Life’s Work Coaching agrees. "We need to

recognize that there are extra demands on our time; parties, visits,

gifts, preparations. At the same time, these things don’t take the

entire month to do. Worrying about them can."

A good way to relieve the stress of the added activities, Oltman says,

is to make a list of all of the holiday-related things you want to do,

estimate the time it will take to accomplish them, and block it out on

your calendar. "It can give great peace of mind to know that something

is on the schedule and that you will be able to handle it," she adds.

"People still go to work from Thanksgiving until the New Year," says

Puppo, of MarketReach, a telephone marketing and lead generating firm

in Hightstown. To keep momentum and motivation going during the

holidays – even when it is hard to get anyone on the phone – focus

more on marketing, planning, and networking.

"Many people in business-to-business industries think that November

and December are the time to slow down or stop a marketing campaign,"

says Puppo. In reality, the holiday season is one of the very best

times for marketing.

"The holiday season can be very similar to summer," she says. "There

are less people out there doing marketing, so there is less noise in

the marketplace." There are a lot of low-cost marketing options out

there, she adds. "If you have never done a marketing campaign, now may

be the time to dip your foot in and try it out."

It may be more difficult to make yourself do that sales call, but

remember that no one really wants their business to sit idle for a

month and a half. Other people really are out there doing business,

too.

If you aren’t ready to go ahead with a specific marketing campaign,

the holiday season may be the very best time to plan for one. "Now is

the time to plan ahead and come up with a strategy that you are ready

to execute quickly starting January 3," Puppo says. "That way you are

ahead of the competition, who are just starting to make those plans in

January." Take the time between Christmas and New Year’s to look at

your business plan and your finances, "to work on your business

instead of at your business," she suggests.

It can be difficult to find the time for long term planning, however,

when the day-to-day items are filling up the calendar. In her work as

a coach for small business owners and professionals, Oltman often

helps people to get a better handle on their schedules. The holidays

are often a challenge to people who already feel overscheduled and

overstressed.

Oltman, who opened her coaching business three years ago after 13

years in law, recommends a "time map" as a great way to get a handle

on day-to-day activities. "Just as we need to organize our physical

space and put things in their proper places, we also need to organize

our time," she explains. "A time map is a visual representation of

each day that can help keep us relaxed and focused on what we need to

accomplish without getting overwhelmed."

A time map consists of columns for the days of the week, blocked into

"chunks of time," she explains. These can be listed in traditional

hours, or broken up in different ways, such as "before work," "morning

work time," or "lunch." Different types of activities are listed in

different colors to make a clear visual representation of what we need

to do.

"It can bring enormous peace of mind to know that there is a time for

everything to get done," she says. "Yes, there are emergencies, and it

takes practice to learn to make time for everything. But it is often

easier to take that four-hour block of time for work when you know

that at the end of it you have 45 minutes scheduled for relaxation."

The hectic holiday schedule can also be put to good use in making new

business contacts, says Scafa. The holidays are a time when many

people are invited to parties with different groups of people they

have not met before, she says. "One way to focus on your business

while still enjoying holiday parties is to look at them as a way to

meet new people and to network. You can have fun and consider your

business, too."

Networking doesn’t mean "looking at each party and each person you

meet as a sales opportunity," Scafa explains. "It is getting to know

people, taking a genuine interest in them, and learning about them."

No matter what your business, one important thing that everyone needs

to remember is that there are only 24 hours in each day. Says Oltman.

"You can’t spend the entire month and a half doing the Martha Stewart

thing and still have a business."

– Karen Hodges Miller


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