The name Princeton is known around the globe. But the same is not true

for the county that contains the famous university and town. Yet

Mercer County is a fine place to spend an afternoon or a weekend.

Working to raise the county’s profile are Michele Siekerka, president

of the Mercer Regional Chamber of Commerce (MRCC), and Kimberly

Stever, executive director of the Capital Region Convention and

Visitors’ Bureau (CRCVB).

The Mercer Chamber and the Convention and Visitors’ Bureau are

co-incubating to form an arts and business council and a nifty new

traveling gallery that is intended to promote a relationship between

the business and arts communities of the area. "There are a lot of

exciting things happening, and we will provide a space to help foster

that here in our joint offices" says Siekerka. "We are just continuing

to grow with the community."

According to Stever, the time is right for just such an exhibition

space. "We thought it would be very appropriate to utilize our meeting

space here, which is used by businesses throughout the region, to

feature original artists," she says. "We want to promote art to our

business community."

Both Siekerka and Stever will be on hand for a special event entitled

"New Home, New Connections." It is a grand opening and ribbon cutting

for the MRCC and the Capital Region Convention and Visitors Bureau’s

new offices at 1A Quakerbridge Plaza Drive, Suite 2, in Mercerville,

and takes place on Thursday, June 1, at 5 p.m. Sponsored by Merrill

Lynch, Nexus Properties, Trap Rock Industries, and AAA Mid-Atlantic,

it will feature the unveiling of the new traveling gallery. For more

information, call 609-689-9960.

The gallery, which will initially feature art from Mercer County

Community College provided by a variety of area artisans, is expected

to offer a new exhibit every 10 or 12 weeks. But as of now, there are

no shows scheduled after the first one. "We want to make sure we can

do this first one and do it really well because we are still novices

at this," says Stever. "But we have begun to reach out to a number of

different arts organizations in the area. Our hope is that we will be

able to offer a very diverse showing."

While traditionally, arts and business mix about as well as oil and

water, Siekerka says that there are tangible benefits to fostering

art. "Art can be a very good economic driver for an area," she says.

"That is because people will go to an exhibition or a show and then

eat dinner and shop in the area as well. The arts attract many

different kinds of people who may never go into the area. This allows

other businesses to take root and grow around arts venues."

In fact, Siekerka says that Mercer County is often overlooked as a

tourist destination despite such cultural establishments as McCarter

Theater, Passage Theater, Grounds for Sculpture, Trenton Thunder

Baseball, and the Sovereign Bank Arena. "There certainly are a number

of exciting things to do in Mercer County," she says. "We believe that

there is more that can be done to build on them."

Nestled neatly between New York and Philadelphia, the Capital Region

has a variety of often overlooked historical attractions, including

the William Trent House Museum in Trenton and a number of

Revolutionary War sites in Trenton and Princeton areas. "We would like

to involve an arts and business council with the historic sites in the

area, but we need to find the right fit," says Stever.

With a stated mission to stimulate the economy through tourism

throughout Mercer County, Stever is working to get the word out in a

variety of ways, including direct mail, a soon-to-be launched outdoor

transit campaign, placement in the new AAA tour book guide, and an

online contest.

"We are going to overlay traditional marketing with some

non-traditional promotions," she says. "One thing we will be doing is

an online contest wherein every month we will offer what we are

calling a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It won’t be just two tickets

to an event but two tickets to a real life experience."

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Stever is a graduate of Temple

University. She worked for Anheuser-Busch theme parks for nine years,

spent two year promoting the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, and

eventually owned her own company, which generated revenue and

revitalization for tourism through Pennsylvania.

The Capital Region Convention and Visitors Bureau works to connect

businesses, services, and attractions with visitors, meeting planners,

tour operators, and group leaders, and the travel media. Offering a

variety of marketing materials, a website, familiarization tours,

networking events, and other activities, CRCVB works to promote the

region, enhance businesses’ visibility and name recognition among

potential customers and clients.

With over 1,200 member companies representing over 45,000 employees,

the MRCC is one of the largest chambers of commerce in the state. Born

and raised in New Jersey, Siekerka has been president of the

organization since 2004. A graduate of Rutgers University and Temple

University School of Law, she was an associate at Backes & Hill, a law

firm in Trenton, before partnering with several attorneys in Hamilton

Township to form Needell, Siekerka and Castellani. A resident of

Robbinsville, she is has been a member of board of education for the

Washington Township School District since 1996.

Living a Mercer life, Siekerka knows of what she speaks when she

guarantees that visitors will find beauty, history, unique cultural

and historical attractions, and a thriving arts environment whether

they choose the county for a family outing or find new places to visit

after doing business in or around Princeton or Trenton.

– Jack Florek

Marketing: Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?

You’re a good little customer, aren’t you? The marketers feed you

carefully crafted stimuli. They define and package your specific need.

Then they ring the bell with their shiny new product and you dutifully

respond by opening your wallet – and maybe even salivating. Right? "No

way," says Bryan Eisenberg, founder of Brooklyn-based marketing firm

Future Now. Not any more. "This 60-year-old view of the buying process

is not only condescending, it is very wrong."

In his new book, "Waiting for Your Cat to Bark" (Nelson Books, New

York), Eisenberg and his co-author and brother Jeffrey, insist that

buyers are less like salivating dogs and more like suspicious felines.

They browse, they play with potential prey, and after a whole lot of

circling, they cut out the one they want – and pounce.

Marketers intrigued by the challenge of today’s less linear buying

process may find some answers from Eisenberg and a long roster of

other speakers at the New Jersey Communications, Advertising, and

Marketing Association’s (NJ CAMA) annual conference on Thursday, June

1, at 8:30 a.m. at the Sarnoff Center. Call 609-499-4900.

Eisenberg was born, raised, went to college, and now runs his own

marketing company in Brooklyn. Planning a career in social work, he

attended Brooklyn College, graduating with degree in health and

nutrition science. Meanwhile, his older brother, Jeffrey, had passed

on college to become a currency trader. The two joined forces in 1998

when Jeffrey launched Future Now and Bryan joined him, taking on the

role of developing a whole new marketing approach.

"The customer is in control," says Eisenberg. "And more than ever

people simply ignore marketing." The advent of the Internet, with its

bargain sites and product review sites, along with an ever-growing

immunity to endless sales pitches, has left Americans not more, but

less, susceptible to the quick buy. If a marketer wants to market in

this era, Eisenberg says he had better get attuned to the complex,

suspicious nature of his potential buyers.

Buyers’ labyrinth. With all the products and information available the

contemporary customer tends to make a series of microactions toward a

sale, rather than one single plunge. Surveys indicate that consumers

are investing substantial and increasing amounts of online study

before making major purchases.

Sitting quietly before his screen, Joe Consumer is defining his own

problem, thank you. He is conducting his own information search, and

evaluating alternatives and prices. He may or may not buy online. That

is a personal preference, which depends, at least in part, on factors

of age, type of item, and ease of return. (Even highly complex,

multifaceted, costly items, such as Palm Pilots are purchased online

if a refund is easy to obtain.)

By the time the buyer enters a store – be it virtual or bricks and

mortar – he has gathered lots of information. He does not need

seduction. He needs clarification.

This being the case, retailers have to work to make their websites,

newsletters, and ads even more informational, Eisenberg says. Trusted

product information today does what fins did for cars 50 years ago.

Brand before product? Product study is good. But the information

superhighway has long since evolved into an information tsunami, and

most of us are struggling to stay afloat. If it is a large or complex

purchase, odds are that the potential customer will enter your shop

overladen with data. "It becomes the seller’s and the marketer’s job

to eliminate all the extraneous noise," says Eisenberg. Go with the

facts the buyer has thus far garnered, and sift through them to help

him discover the most vital purchase factors.

The individual looking to buy a HD DVD needs to feel armed with a

strong comparative list of features. He needs to first focus on the

technology – contrast ratio and pixel size. Only afterward do brands

come into play.

People go with specific brands for incredibly varied reasons. "This

has made brands the fuzzy part of marketing," says Eisenberg. "And it

makes the accountability for brand marketing just as fuzzy." Yet, the

brand has its place, if it knows its place. After the product has

presented itself well, it can turn the spotlight over to the company

that makes it, that is, the brand.

But here again, customers are far less apt to be swayed by a cute

jingle or a sincere spokesperson with an imposing baritone than was

the case just a few years ago. They want solid information. Having

swift technical support, easy access, continual contact and problem

solving, and a good return policy will definitely add luster to the

firm’s logo. Operating environmentally and ethically are also brand

selling points. How long the company has been in business, how

brilliant its staff, and how clever its TV spots are just so many

noises offstage.

Front end focus. Marketing still matters, and it matters most well

before the customer reaches the point of purchase. In almost every

field, for almost every product, psychographic profiles can be


Are the majority of customers spontaneous or methodical purchasers?

What are the issues that concern buyers most? What information is

unnecessary or annoying? "Once these factors are determined," says

Eisenberg, "the marketer can map out the relevancies."

Left behind. "Probably the one area that the little guy has most

ignored is the new speed of business," says Eisenberg. "We have

instant messages, text messaging, and that means the time for an

answer or a deal closing is now – 48 hours from now is too late."

He urges companies to bring not only their products, but also their

entire business process online. Speed gives the illusion of simplicity

to a customer. Contracts with clause changes and revisions that can be

instantly signed and fixed online present a more attractive, doable

deal in both parties’ minds.

It is difficult to determine the extent to which Eisenberg’s new

consumer has taken over the marketplace. Autos packaged in

l930s-nostalgia bodies with nothing new under the hood seem to sell

well. Computer software editions that add only a few new whistles and

more numbers to the title are still being snapped up. But for the

marketer, that’s probably not the way to bet.

The American public is becoming ever more choosy and less Pavlovian.

The marketers who win will be those who provide lots of support, an

easy way to buy and to return, and enough product information to

satisfy the most curious cat.

– Bart Jackson

Easing Homemakers Back to Work

How do you find a job when you’ve been out of the job market for five

years, ten years – or more? Many women face exactly that situation

each year, says Denise Brown-Kahney, director of the Career and Life

Planning Center in Flemington. The center works with displaced

homemakers from Mercer, Hunterdon, Somerset, and Union counties.

The center holds an orientation session for potential clients on

Thursday, June 1, at 10 a.m. at its office at 215 Route 31,

Flemington. The orientation session, and many of the center’s

services, are free. For more information call 908-788-1453.

Information can also be found at

Funding for the center comes from the New Jersey Department of

Commercial Affairs, Division on Women. The only requirement for

service is to be a "displaced homemaker" – a woman who has lost her

income due to separation, divorce, the death of her spouse, or because

her spouse is unable to work due to illness or disability.

The center offers a wide variety of services including one-on-one

career counseling, career interest and abilities testing, computer

training, and seminars on a variety of personal and career growth

topics such as self-esteem and legal and financial issues.

A job readiness series, aimed at helping women re-enter the job market

includes several topics, including writing a resume and cover letter,

job interview skills, business ethics, and time management. The series

ends with the most popular topic – a make-over workshop for all of the


"We have someone from Mary Kay come in and help them with their

make-up and a fashion consultant talks to them about business

clothing," says Brown-Kahney. The center also has a "Working Woman’s

Wardrobe," which accepts donations of used business clothing for women

who need to quickly upgrade their wardrobes for their new careers.

Clothing donations should be clean and in good condition.

Women who have been out of the work force for many years need a

variety of services to help them return. "Some of our clients have

specific needs," says Brown-Kahney. "They just want a little bit of

advice. Others stay with us for six months to a year." Writing a

resume is one of the most important tools in finding a job, but for

someone who has been out of the job market for several years it can be

difficult. Brown-Kahney suggests these steps.

Emphasize skills. "For many of our clients job history is old enough

that it is not really relevant," says Brown-Kahney. Jobs held decades

ago may be irrelevant to the hunt for employment. She asks instead

that her clients look at the skills they have used while they are out

of the work force.

"Many of them have been very active with their children’s schools or

Scouts or their church. They’ve held positions as treasurer or

secretary. We have them emphasize these accomplishments in their

resume," she says.

Don’t give too much information. While most employers are aware that

asking specific questions about age or marital status is illegal, that

doesn’t mean that they aren’t eager to find out, and many people still

tip their hands by putting unnecessary information on their resumes.

"Listing the year you graduated from high school or college is a clue

to your age," says Brown-Kahney. "Listing exactly what years you

worked at each job is another give-away." She suggests leaving exact

dates off the resume.

Interview skills. Once the resume has gotten you in the door, the next

step is the interview. But an interview is not a one-way street. "The

person being interviewed should ask questions as well as answer them,"

Brown-Kahney says. "Ask the interviewer what skills he or she thinks

are needed for the job." This gives you a clue as to what to emphasize

in your answer. Even if you feel that you are not strong in certain

areas, showing enthusiasm and a willingness to learn makes a good


The center serves about 150 clients each year, and Brown-Kahney

credits "great volunteers" with helping to make it a success. Classes

are taught by volunteers and she is currently looking for teachers to

help with a new program, a workshop on non-traditional careers for

women, specifically women who work in careers areas where the majority

(75 percent or more) of the workers are male.

The center is also looking for a new home. It has been at the same

location, on the site of the Hunterdon County Educational Services

Commission, since 1980, but the campus has been sold and the center

must move in July. Brown-Kahney is still looking for a new, preferable

inexpensive, site for the center, but she promises that even with the

move it will still exist. "We may be in a tent," she jokes, "but we

will be here for people."

– Karen Hodges Miller

What Do they Want? Raise, Bonus, Benies, Or a Pat on the


Just what does that woman want? The boss did everything he could. He

proclaimed her dedication and performance in front of all her fellows

at the company dinner. He even invited her up to the podium to receive

her cash bonus and say a few words. The next morning, she wouldn’t

even look anyone in the eye, and all you could hear from her cubicle

was negative grumbles.

Be it money, recognition, or a chance to speak their minds, employers

puzzle over exactly what type of carrot will provide their workers

with the right motivation. To help company owners and human resource

professionals get a handle on this make-or-break business problem,

Mercer County Community College presents a five-session course,

"Compensation: How to Develop an Effective Rewards Package," starting

on Thursday, June 1, at 6:30 p.m. Cost: $270. Call 609-586-4800.

Instructor Bruce Doherty, director of human resources for Dataram on

Princeton-Hightstown Road, covers everything from the design of

standardized salaries to managerial techniques for special


The sheer variety of Doherty’s career has, by his own admission,

allowed him to witness the effects of all kinds compensation on all

kinds of employee cultures. Following a childhood spent in a Cleveland

suburb, Doherty joined the Air Force. He liked his first four-year

hitch in maintenance so much that he re-upped and was placed in

recruiting. "This was my first taste of individualized compensation,"

Doherty says, "and I was impressed by how successful the Air Force


After his term in the service, Doherty tried his hand at real estate

sales, working for the Gigliotti Group in Levittown, Pennsylvania. He

soon left sales and took charge of the company’s personnel department.

Doherty then spent several years helping entrepreneurs select and

reward their startup staffs. Two years ago he joined Dataram, where he

employs the same compensation principles he developed for the small


"The trick is not to look for what’s valuable, but to look for what’s

perceived as valuable," says Doherty. Employers have a full range of

tools: basic pay, bonuses, benefits, rewards, and recognition. By

giving individual employees what they most want today, even if it has

a lesser cash value than yesterday’s plan, the company gets a

reputation of caring about its workers. And the firm finds itself

attracting the caliber of workers it seeks.

Feeling the pulse. "Keep walking around, absorb the sources of

motivation, and constantly survey employees for suggestions," says

Doherty. Surveying workers’ opinions on what they need and on how to

improve their jobs is the most effective form of acknowledgment. In

addition to the advice gleaned, it provides the cheapest form of


"But for heaven’s sake tell the people the results of your surveys,"

says Doherty. To ask a person for his opinion and then never let him

know it has been considered is a slap in the face.

As managers are strolling around, they should be perceptive to change

in how the benefits are being used. One owner noticed that when his

company first launched almost none of his young staff used any of

their three annual sick days.

Now five years later, his crew is out a lot more. The reason is

biology. During those five years, many of those young, single workers

had gotten married and produced babies, a group notable for its

propensity for catching colds and running fevers. Rather than an

allotment of whole sick days, this firm’s employees needed more

compensatory time, allowing them to work late one night, so that the

next day they could take their children to the doctor.

Individualize rewards. The woman who responded so negatively to her

boss’s public praise and surprise bonus was not being ungrateful – she

was simply very shy. The boss would have realized that had he taken

the time to get to know her. Doherty recalls numerous occasions where

surprise and public gifts have backfired. Not everyone enjoys being

singled out, even for hard work. Additionally, employers should

consider the effect on other employees – who feel they, too, have

given their all.

Yes, acknowledgment remains the one compensation as powerful as money,

but custom tailor it. Some people will labor like Trojans if given a

little public praise. Yet for others, a quiet private lunch at a

lavish restaurant, and a bonus check slipped into their hands with a

single sentence of sincere thanks is far more effective than public


If the situation is right, suggests Doherty, a member of the board

might be asked to join in this special luncheon.

It’s always $$. "I don’t care about the salary as much as the

benefits," has become the common cry of job seekers. But call it what

you will, this is the voice of an employee seeking financial security.

The shift toward ample benefits – coupled with soaring healthcare

costs – has saddled employers with an expense so great that it

eclipses raises and bonuses.

Employers search for a healthcare plan they can afford, while fearing

that their staff will jump ship if the competition offers better

coverage. Yet even in healthcare, employers can select options that

show their concern. Walk past any row of offices and you will notice a

large percentage of workers wearing glasses. Most plans pay a mere $50

for this $300 to $400 replacement item.

The employer who can work out an insurance plan where the emergency

care deductible is raised a bit, while, at the same time, the pay-out

on glasses goes up to, would be a hero. For the same cost to the

company, he would be giving his employees a greater perceived value.

Creative perks. Doherty is always fascinated by salespeople who earn

high six-figure salaries, but compete like mad to win sales prizes

like getaway weekends, which they could buy on their own with one

afternoon’s labor. Part of the motivation, of course, is the sheer

competition. But what Doherty notices is that these special vacation

weeks or weekends offer the sales person something all too rare in his

life – free time with his family. Ironically, these contests both

create and answer a need.

In flat organizations with little chance for actual promotion, or in

unionized shops where percentage increases are difficult, bonuses can

be effective, if creatively designed. Recently, one area company

announced its CEO’s Award for Exceptional Service. The company is

small and funds are tight. So instead of presenting a check whose size

might be considered an insult, the company gave prized employees a

getaway weekend at an expensive hotel. They partnered with the hotel

for some publicity and then set up a plaque in the foyer, thus

establishing the award as annual and perpetual.

All of us run on rewards. Providing them, says Doherty, is less a

matter of giving away the store than staying in touch. "It’s all right

to be a hard taskmaster," he says, as long as you are reachable,

appreciative, and let your employees know that you are giving them all

you’ve got.

– Bart Jackson

From the Internet: Great Free Stuff

What’s better than free stuff? Really free stuff, no strings attached

(or very few, anyway), can be found all over the Internet if you have

the time to go searching for it. If you don’t have time to do the leg

work (mouse work?), head for the Princeton Public Library, which is

holding a seminar on Internet freebies – "Fabulous Freebies for

Everyone" – on Tuesday, June 6, at 7 p.m. Yes, the seminar is free.

Free services, free websites, and free downloads are "multiplying

monthly at an astonishing rate," says technology librarian Janie

Hermann. She and Bob Keith, the library’s technology training team,

are working together to compile a lengthy list of their favorite

Internet freebies for the seminar.

The new explosion of free technology is part of a new concept of what

the Internet is all about. "In the last couple of years people started

to notice that the Internet was changing," says Hermann. "It began as

a way to communicate, a way to retrieve information. Now it has

matured into something new. It is a social network, a place for

sharing." In the past people used the Internet as a way to find and

retrieve information. Now they are using it to "participate and to


The name for this "new Internet" is Web 2.0. One of the best

explanations of this new concept of the Internet can be found at a

free site, Wikipedia, says Keith. Wikipedia is a free, interactive

encyclopedia that encourages its users to add new entries and edit and

update existing entries.

According to Wikipedia, Web 2.0 "generally refers to a second

generation of services available on the World Wide Web that lets

people collaborate and share information online. In contrast to the

first generation, Web 2.0 gives users an experience closer to desktop

applications than the traditional static Web pages."

The name came into play in 2004 through a series of web development

conferences. Applications that are considered to be "Web 2.0" use a

combination of techniques that allow for "social software," according

to the Wikipedia citation, and include blogging, and "wikis." Web 2.0

"is a buzzword, incorporating whatever is newly popular on Web, and

its meaning is still in flux."

So what great free stuff is out there, on the very much in flux Web


Pandora. One of Hermann’s favorite sites is Pandora

is a free music website, but it is not a downloading site. Instead it

"streams audio," she explains, so it violates no copyright laws. The

site "becomes your personal DJ," playing a variety of music, which you

customize to your own individual tastes. It is an off-shoot of the

Music Genome Project, a project that began in 2000 as an attempt to

classify music into similar styles or "genes."

Reading about the project on Pandora’s sites is fascinating, and the

site works just as advertised. As you type in various artists, titles,

or genres you enjoy, you hear a selection of songs that not only

includes the specific artists you have chosen, but also music by

similar artists. The result: your own personal radio station, which

plays exactly what you want to hear. The free version does include a

few commercials. Or for a small fee you can choose to listen without

commercials. is a website that allows you to create, edit, and

share your videos online. Hermann has used the site to make and share

videos with family and friends. While sharing online is free, the site

also offers other paid services, such as transferring your videos to

DVD. Have you ever been away from home and needed a document

on your computer? allows you to log into your home

computer from any other computer and access the data on it. Keith is

particularly fond of this site, he says, because it allows him to log

onto his mother’s computer and help her out of difficulties when she

calls him for tech support.

"It saves so much time when you are trying to explain what to do on a

computer to someone on the phone," he says. With the

software he can "take control" of his mom’s computer and show her

exactly what needs to be done. Again, while you can access a remote

computer for free, there are additional charges for software that

allows you to download the information to another computer.

Wikipedia. Located at, this site really

illustrates the meaning of Web 2.0. This interactive encyclopedia is

available in several languages, including English, German, French,

Spanish, Japanese, and Polish. It invites readers to add new entries

or update existing entries with new information.

"The Encyclopedia Britannica on the Internet is an example of the

original web," says Keith. "Wikipedia is an example of Web 2.0." The

term "Wiki" means "quick" in Hawaiian, says Keith. Wiki is actually a

type of server software that allows users to create and edit Web page

content using any Web browser. In other words, anyone reading the web

page is able to log on and make changes to it. In theory, this means

that a "Wiki" encyclopedia is never outdated because users will

constantly update the information. The site also includes many obscure

references not found in a traditional encyclopedia.

Of course, there is always the problem of incorrect information being

added, says Keith, but the site also includes a special database so

that "older" pages are not lost and can easily be uploaded again by

the site’s webmaster. This is a website with an interesting concept. It allows

you to place your list of bookmarks to favorite places on a website

where it is available to be shared by others. The site has several

advantages, say Keith and Hermann. First, if you want to access your

favorite sites from another computer, at the library, for example, you

can log into and find exactly what you need. You can

also use keywords to search other people’s bookmarks and find out

their favorite sites. This allows you to find other sites similar to

your favorites that you might not have known about.

This type of sharing of information is exactly what the Web 2.0

concept is all about, says Keith. "It’s just about using the

architecture of the web in new ways."

GoogleEarth. This free website pulls up satellite images of almost

every place on earth. "The information has been on the Internet for

years," says Keith, "but it was hard to find it. GoogleEarth takes

that information and makes it quickly and easily available. It makes

it transparent and easier to use. Web 2.0 is about making life


These are only a few examples of the vast number of free websites

available on the Internet. Everything from systems tools to image

editors to word processors to just plain fun sites are out there for

the asking. Hermann and Keith promise to divulge more of these great

sites at their seminar, and they promise more "Technology Talks" on

subjects such as creating your own blog and sharing photos online.

– Karen Hodges Miller

Tending to Your Marketing Garden

"Marketing your business is like sowing seeds," says Arlene Schragger.

"Some will grow and resonate with your customers. Others won’t."

Still, it’s not enough to toss seeds around at random. They have to be

carefully placed – and of the right variety. Otherwise, the business

owner is just wasting time and money.

Schragger, head of ads Public Relations and Marketing, discusses

"Building a Marketing Plan" on Wednesday, June 7, at 10 a.m. at a free

workshop offered by the Women’s Business Center of NJAWBO (New Jersey

Association of Women Business Owners) at NJAWBO headquarters at 127

Route 206, Suite 28, Hamilton. For reservations call 609-581-2220.

Schragger, who founded her business in 1987, has offices at 600

Lawrenceville Road. She specializes in providing public relations and

marketing communications to professionals, consultants, non-profit

organizations, and small businesses.

A marketing plan should be more than just a plan for advertising, says

Schragger. It needs to be a plan "for building your entire image. It

is about the entire package. Looking professional gives you

credibility in the marketplace."

Start with a name. Your marketing plan needs to begin with the most

basic element – your business name. "Pick a name that makes sense,"

says Schragger. "Make sure it is descriptive, and tells people who you

are and what you do." For example, "Smith Family Dentistry" is

self-explanatory. Schragger’s own business name, ads Public Relations

and Marketing, is a play on her own initials. "I tell people that my

initials explain what I do," she says.

Most businesses don’t have such an obvious tie-in with the owner’s

name. That’s okay. But what is not okay in most businesses is choosing

a name that in no way describes the company’s product or service. If

that is the case, though, it is essential to add a tagline – a

descriptive sentence underneath the name that provides more

information. John Smith and Associates, for example, might add a

tagline such as "Landscape architects specializing in water features,"

or "Financial advisors with your future in mind." An example from a

business with which Schragger recently worked is: "We know what you

need since 1929." The sentence points out the company’s expertise and


Tie it all together. Once you have a name the next step is a logo and

an overall image for your business. "The logo should work with your

name, and it should look good in both color and black and white," says

Schragger. "You don’t want it to fade to nothing if you send a fax or

an invoice or use it in a black and white newspaper ad."

Your logo and "look" should be tied together throughout all of your

marketing tools, she adds. Your website, brochures, flyers,

advertising, and even your physical space – your storefront or office

– should all tie in.

Find your target market. If you have been in business for more than a

few months you have heard the phrase, "target market." Finding out who

your potential customers really are is one of the most important

principles in marketing, says Schragger. "You need to define your

target market and then continually refine it. When you ask people who

their target market is so many people say `everyone.’ You need to be

much more defined than that."

Schragger uses a dentist as an example. "A dentist might say he wants

to advertise to every house in the community with children from birth

through high school. But if his practice is in an established

neighborhood not every house contains potential patients. Most people

in that neighborhood have a dentist already, and they are not going to

change. Instead, he needs to target new families who are moving into

the area."

Schragger suggests picking one group of potential clients and

targeting your advertising to that group. "If someone comes along who

is not in that group, of course you are going to work with them. But

your target market is your starting place. Pick a niche and target

your advertising to it."

Stress your unique selling properties. What makes your business

different from everyone else? What are the features and benefits of

your business? Many business owners try to sell features, says

Schragger, but what their clients are interested in is their benefits.

Using her dentist example, Schragger suggests one of his features

might be "24 emergency service." This is a huge benefit, providing

peace of mind to anyone who has ever been hit by a tooth ache at 2

a.m. That is the selling point, says Schragger, the benefit that

should be stressed. "Look at your features from a different point of

view – the client’s," she says.

Broaden your view of marketing. Marketing is more than advertising.

"The average television viewer sees more than 200 television

commercials every day," says Schragger, and this number doesn’t

include all the other types of advertising that registers on his

consciousness. With all of the messages out there it is difficult to

make an impression on a potential new client. "It takes 12 to 15

impressions before someone notices you," she says. That means that

advertising can’t just be a "one shot deal."

Business owners should try a variety of different things to get their

message out. Mix up the marketing package to make sure that the

message is being heard. "You can’t just put an ad in the local

newspaper and expect it to work. Try radio, cable, Internet

advertising too," says Schragger.

"People say to me, `I sent out a postcard and I never got any

results.’" Sending out one marketing piece without any follow-up is a

"sure way for it to fail," says Schragger.

Other tools in marketing are press releases, seminars, and networking,

she adds. "Networking is a give and take relationship. You need to

learn to be a good listener to try to help out the other person as

well as expect them to help you." she says.

Sending press releases is another way to get publicity, but just

sending a press release by itself will probably not be effective.

"Warm up the editor by calling and talking with him," says Schragger.

"Then send the press release. Afterward call and follow-up, and make

sure that article idea and press release have value for that

publication’s readers."

Schragger suggests that business owners come up with a plan for a

six-month campaign. "Try something new every six weeks or so and see

what works." Make sure that you track your advertising to find out

which methods are right for you. Ask customers how they heard about

you and measure your success with various techniques. The most

important part of building a marketing plan is to just do it.

No gardener has 100 percent success with his seeds. Some are duds,

some get gobbled up by robins, and some show promise, but then wither.

Invariably, though, a good number of seeds take hold and grow into

healthy, productive plants. So it is with marketing. There is no

reason to be discouraged if a website gets few hits or a coupon draws

little response. There is a good chance that another marketing

initiative – anything from a visit to a chamber of commerce meeting to

a newspaper’s interest in doing a story based on a press release –

will be just the thing to get a new company growing.

– Karen Hodges Miller

Helping Technoids Become Leaders

It’s often who people are as much as what they have studied that

determines in which career they end up. Donald Shandler first followed

an academic path – a bachelor’s degree in speech communication and a

master’s in dramatic arts, both from Montclair State University. Then

after five years of teaching communication, dramatic arts, and debate

to high school students in Madison he got his Ph.D. in theater from

Ohio State University.

A logical next step was to become an associate professor at Boston

College, where he designed, directed, and taught theater and

communication courses. As an extrovert, he enjoyed it. But the rest of

his Myers-Briggs personality inventory – he is an ESTJ (extrovert,

thinking, sensing, judgmental) – contained a hint that other

possibilities might be equally or more satisfying.

One day he was volunteered for an assignment that was to change his

direction completely – to something that would enable him to use

different aspects of his personality. The college asked him to work on

a project with the New England Telephone Company involving 10

engineers and 10 marketers. "It fascinated me so much," he says, "how

different the two groups were." The engineers, he says, started by

re-creating in the conference room neat facsimiles of their work

areas. The marketing people, on the other hand, opened by talking to

him, "Hey, Don, we’re glad to be here. How can we help you?"

One thing led to another, he says, and he starting working with

engineers and scientists. "Maybe it’s that opposites attract," he


Whatever the reason, the attraction was strong. "I developed an

interest in administration and management and jumped ship from being

an assistant professor in theater, and became the director of

continuing education at McKendree College, a Methodist school in

Lebanon, Illinois."

Shandler is still working with technical professionals, different from

him on the introvert/extrovert scale, but otherwise identical to him

according to Myers-Briggs categories.

Shandler, now the dean of graduate studies and continued learning at

Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, offers a seminar on

"Transitioning into Technical Leadership: Helping Technical

Professionals Become Effective Leaders," on Wednesday and Thursday,

June 7 and 8, at 9 a.m. each day at Mercer County Community College.

Cost: $395. For more information or to register, call 609-586-9446.

Through years of teaching and consulting, Shandler has learned what

makes technical professionals – engineers, database managers,

physicians, and attorneys – tick. "Historically," he says, "technical

professionals have a really strong commitment to some type of

discipline, and these disciplines encourage individuals to focus on

their own individual achievement." The plus of this technical training

is that it "creates very autonomous people," and the minus is the

same. "They are educated to find an answer in a particular field," he

says. "There is little or nothing in their education that focuses on

management, people skills, and communication."

As these techies become whizzes at what they do, they get promoted

into management, but are clueless about the skills they need: how to

communicate, motivate, and delegate. Not only did they not study these

areas during their training, but they may well have chosen their

careers expressly because they didn’t have great people skills.

To make matters worse, unlike Germany and Japan, companies in the

United States are not committed to training. "Many companies have

dismantled their managerial and supervisory development programs,"

says Shandler. "Unfortunately, in the United States, when budgets have

to be cut, they cut human resources and training." In the old days, it

was different, and many large companies had a clear path for

developing their people through education and training. "Now, for the

most part," he says, "that doesn’t exist."

The seminar at Mercer County Community College focuses not only on

developing new competencies via learning, practicing, and coaching,

but also on changing the attitudes reflected in the following

question, one that is typical of a technical professional: "Why should

I delegate when I can do it better myself?" Clearly some "attitude

adjustment" needs to precede the learning of new skills.

Yet knowledge-based organizations and technically-educated people face

some unique challenges: They may need to vary their personal styles of

communication to deal appropriately with different situations and

individuals. They must be able to deal with the rapidly changing

environments that result from mergers and acquisitions, downsizing,

and process reengineering. Finally, they have to develop communication

strategies that encourage other departments to buy into projects.

To illustrate in an extreme way how these technical professionals view

the world when they walk into his seminars, Shandler shared a story.

He was doing an exercise for a major corporation with the goal of

showing that groups working together come up with better results than

individuals on their own.

He divided the participants into four teams of five people each.

Suddenly one technical guru got up and left the group to find an empty

room where he could do the group exercise by himself. When Shandler

called him on his decision to desert his teammates, the guy said – out

loud in front of all the other participants, "Once the assignment was

made, I looked at my teammates and saw that they didn’t come up to my

intellectual capabilities. So I thought it would be more productive to

do it by myself."

Shandler usually works with technical professionals who are a little

less "off the charts," but still, the first thing he helps them with

is developing situational communication strategies. First they use an

assessment tool to identify their own personal styles – how they

communicate under both favorable and stressful conditions.

"Communication with others begins by understanding yourself," he says.

Next Shandler examines four styles of interpersonal communication,

when they are effective, and how to use them:

Telling. This is very direct. With a project that has to be out the

door in a day and a half, telling is probably the way to go. "There’s

not time for the Southern California experience," observes Shandler.

First managers spell out the expectations, for example, "Quite frankly

your work has to improve by the end of the month." Yet they must be

careful both to acknowledge what is going well and specify what is

not. The next step is to communicate the advantages and importance of

doing the project the way the manager wants it done. Finally, managers

have to express clearly the consequences of noncompliance. (Although

technical professionals are good at writing nasty E-mails, says

Shandler, it is hard for them to say something negative face-to-face.)

Selling. This is useful when you are trying to get someone to consider

a new idea. The first step is to thoroughly explain its benefits and

key features, using compelling, vivid language. The manager must also

anticipate objections and try to build agreement and get to "yes."

Consulting. This approach, which encourages the sharing of ideas and

data and involves summarizing, evaluating, and deciding, helps build a

collaborative team. The first step is to check the other person’s

understanding of the problem and then to clarify the roles of the each

team member in arriving at a solution: "My role as team manager is….

Your role as team member is…." Then together you try to develop

criteria for a good solution.

"Technically educated people thrive on collegial, collaborative

effort," observes Shandler. At the end of the process, you measure

each person’s performance by industry standards – time, quality,

keeping to the budget – that technical people use regularly.

Joining. This approach is very similar to consulting, but is more

informal. Senior managers might stop by to shmooze with an employee

and use the social situation as a context for communication.

Employees, who think they are involved with informal chitchat,

suddenly find themselves with a new work assignment.

"It’s fun for me as both a consultant and a manager to see how

different people are consciously or unconsciously using this," says

Shandler. After checking on each person’s understanding of the problem

and clarifying each person’s role, the entire group tries to develop

criteria for a good solution. "This can be a hard process for

technical people who rely on themselves," he says.

"The fact that different situations require different techniques may

seem matter of fact," observes Shandler, "but for some folks you see a

light bulb going off."

Since he started working with doctors, engineers, scientists, and

researchers in the mid-1970s, Shandler has learned a lot about them

and about himself. "What I took for granted," he said, "getting

excited from working with others, loving intense one-on-one

conversations – I had assumed everyone was like that." But they


Shandler grew up in East Orange and Glen Ridge. His dad, who came from

Russia as child in the last boat before World War I, had only an

eighth-grade education. He owned a general store, and both parents

worked very hard. But learning and education were a strong value, and

it’s something of a tribute to them that Shandler has come so far.

An educator, but also an entrepreneur, he "floated a loan to develop

an organizational training and consulting firm" when he turned 45. But

after 12 years he got a little tired of doing it all on his own and

decided to re-enter academe, becoming director of continuing education

for the graduate school of the United States Department of Agriculture

and finally moving to his current position as dean of graduate studies

and continued learning.

For the last six months he has begun to consult again, because it

seems like such a perfect fit for him. Shandler loves giving seminars.

"I have lots of experience with the public and private sectors," he

says, "and working with supervisors and managers, and can always come

up with practical applications."

The combination of experience in organizations, dramatic flair, and an

extroverted personality lends an almost spiritual power to his

workshops. When he tries to put his finger on what his seminars are

like, he concludes that "they most resemble a Baptist revival


-Michele Alperin

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