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These articles were prepared for the December 8, 2004
issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
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
"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.
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
"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
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
– Michele Alperin
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
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
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
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
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
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."
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
‘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
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
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
"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
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
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
– Karen Hodges Miller
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
"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,"
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,
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
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
"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
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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