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
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
"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
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 www.hcesc.com.
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
– 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 www.Pandora.com. 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
OneTrueMedia.com 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
LogMeIn.com. Have you ever been away from home and needed a document
on your computer? LogMeIn.com 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 LogMeIn.com
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 www.en.Wikipedia.org, 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.
Del.icio.us. 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 www.Del.icio.us 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
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
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
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