Anda di halaman 1dari 101

Get The Scoop

Everything you ever wanted to know about your customers--from your customers
By Gwen Moran | Entrepreneur Magazine - February 2000
When it comes to promoting your business, knowledge is power. The more you know
about your market, customers, competition and prospects, the more likely you are
to make smart decisions. So why do so many small businesses ignore the power of
even the most basic market research?
According to Paul Richards, president of Castle Hill Consulting, a Morris Plains
, New Jersey-based market research and consulting firm, many entrepreneurs think
research is either too expensive or can't tell them anything new. Richards main
tains that varying degrees of market research are available to even the smallest
businesses--and those that avail themselves of such information maximize succes
Fundamentally, two types of research exist: quantitative and qualitative. Quanti
tative research answers basic questions--who, what, when, where, how many, how m
uch and how often--using statistical analysis to draw conclusions. Quantitative
studies can benchmark awareness levels for your company, brand, product or compe
tition, and give you a glimpse of what your customers, prospects and other audie
nces think of each. Qualitative research, on the other hand, is designed to answ
er questions such as "why" and "how." These studies are used to guide product an
d service development as well as the development of marketing programs.
A number of research mechanisms can give small businesses valuable information.
Some of the most effective are:
Interviews: They should be done by phone or in person by a trained person. The r
esults, hypothetically, should not be biased by preconceptions, emotional attach
ments or business pressures.
Surveys: These are generally conducted by mail. It's important to pay attention
to how the survey is worded to ensure that biased language doesn't influence the
Focus groups: Focus groups range in size but are most effective with between eig
ht and 12 participants. Led by a moderator, they're used to encourage free and o
pen discussion. Although focus groups can reveal helpful information, they are v
ulnerable to the dynamics of the group. A participant with a dominant personalit
y or the perception of a moderator's bias can seriously influence results. There
fore, be sure you hire a trained moderator who has experience in, or a thorough
understanding of your field. (For more information on focus groups, see "Marketi
ng Smarts" in our June 1999 issue.)
Online focus groups: Some of the larger chat-based Web sites offer low-priced on
line focus group opportunities. Online chat sessions are less likely to be skewe
d by a dominant participant due to the relative anonymity of the situation. Howe
ver, this can also lead to exaggerated responses or enhanced claims by participa
nts. Again, hire a trained moderator who understands the dynamics of the tool an
d your industry.
Observation: This method involves the study of the habits of your buyers by obse
rving them in action. In addition to placing video cameras in stores, Sapient Co
rp.'s Experience Modeling Discipline, an experience-based design research consul
ting firm in Chicago has even given subjects disposable cameras for photographin
g their usage habits.
Richards has two warnings for entrepreneurs taking the market research plunge. "
First, business owners should be extremely cautious about doing research themsel
ves," he says. "Interview subjects are not likely to be totally frank with a `re
searcher' who is part of the business, much less the owner. Second, keep an open
mind. Don't be defensive if your company or even you personally are criticized.

Look for the opportunities the information creates."

The Market Research Toolbox: A Concise Guide for Beginners (Sage Publications),
by Edward F. McQuarrie.
Check your local municipal or college library for the American Marketing Associa
tion's Green Book, an international directory of marketing research companies an
d services, that includes an addendum of focus-group facilities.
Contact Sources
Castle Hill Consulting, (973)984-0556,
Sapient Corp., (312) 640-4450,

Know Thy Enemy

Gleaning knowledge from your competitors
By Jacquelyn Lynn
Entrepreneur magazine, December 1999
Do you see your competitors simply as your worst rivals? Did you know they may a
ctually be your best source for ideas?
Part of starting a business includes studying the competition--if they're doing
something that's working, look for a way to do the same thing, or better, in you
r own business.
That's what Amy Ratekin, 30, did when she started Little Elf, an event decor, ba
lloon sculpture and gift basket service in West Des Moines, Iowa, in 1996. She s
tudied not just local businesses that offered similar products and services, but
also balloon and gift basket companies in other states. "I wanted to learn from
the best," she says. "By discovering what other businesses in the industry do,
finding out what works in other parts of the country and even other parts of the
world, and using those ideas in my business, I've become very successful."
For example, Ratekin copied inventory management and production techniques from
retailers and adapted them to her homebased business. And, after determining tha
t other balloon and basket services arranged their items on shelves with a combi
ned purpose of storage and display in mind, Ratekin solved her inventory storage
issue the same way. Her facility uses a shelving system that allows all items t
o be easily seen and reached, letting her rotate stock efficiently.
Next, she visited two local balloon companies and examined the custom-built work
stations they used to assemble their baskets and bouquets, then reproduced the d
esign in her own shop, having her husband complete the construction at a substan
tially lower cost.
Studying competitors that were faltering also taught her what not to do. "I lear
ned I needed to stay on the cutting edge of the balloon industry," she says. She
attends seminars and conventions, reads trade publications, and networks to avo
id stagnancy.
And Ratekin's examination of businesses outside her area showed her that local s
tores had been lax in educating the public. Ratekin realized she could gain an e
dge simply by showing people the many creative ways they could use her service.
"People don't know what's available," she says. "By teaching them, you increase
your business."
Contact Sources

Little Elf, (515) 225-3439

Reuse, Recycle, Repeat

PR tips for getting your company written about
By Elaine W. Teague
Business Start-Ups magazine, September 1998
Don't think of PR as shameless self-promotion. Think of it as simply smart busin
ess practice. If you don't put your company's name in the limelight, who will? G
et double the bang for your publicity buck with marketing consultant Joan Stewar
t's tips for recycling PR.
"Climbing the media ladder is a great place to start for people who have never h
ad any publicity," says Stewart, whose monthly newsletter, The Publicity Hound,
is packed with ideas for getting noticed. "If you've never had a newspaper write
about you, don't start by trying to get a front-page story in The Wall Street J
ournal. The best place to start is at the very bottom rung of the media ladder.
Try to get your alumni magazine or a special-interest publication in your commun
ity to write an article about your business.
"Once you've gotten a special-interest publication to write about your business,
take a copy of that story, attach it to a query letter and send it to an editor
at the next-highest rung of the ladder--your local weekly newspaper. Once you'v
e gotten the weekly to write about you, clip out that story and send it along wi
th a query letter to the editor of your local daily newspaper. Keep climbing tha
t ladder until you get to the top.
"Anytime you get a publication to write about you, always have reprints made of
the article. You can use those reprints in a variety of ways. Include them along
with proposals you're making to potential clients. Take them to trade shows. If
you have a retail establishment, put them on your counter where customers can s
ee them. Placing the articles in your media kit helps establish your credibility
For a sample copy of The Publicity Hound, send a $5 check payable to The Publici
ty Hound to Joan Stewart, 3930 Highway O, Saukville, WI 53080.

Social Graces
Making social responsibility work for you
August 23, 2004

Does your business use recycled paper products or donate to a homeless shelter?
A growing number of consumers consider such factors when deciding whether to pat
ronize your business. If you think getting involved in social causes would work
for your business, here are some things to consider. First and foremost, custome
rs can smell "phony" social responsibility a mile away, so unless you're really
committed to a cause, don't try to exploit customers' concerns to make a profit.
Here are some steps to making social responsibility work for you-and your commun
1. Set goals. What do you want to achieve? What do you want your company to achi
eve? Do you want to enter a new market? Introduce a product? Enhance your busine
ss's image?
2. Decide what cause you want to align yourself with. This may be your toughest
decision, considering all the options out there: children, the environment, seni
or citizens, homeless people, people with disabilities . . . the list goes on. C
alabria suggests considering a cause that fits in with your products or services
; for example, a manufacturer of women's clothing could get involved in funding
breast cancer research.
3. Choose a nonprofit or other organization to partner with. Get to know the gro
up, and make sure it's sound, upstanding, geographically convenient and willing
to cooperate.
4. Design a program, and propose it to the nonprofit group. Besides laying out w
hat you plan to accomplish, also include tangible indicators that will measure t
he program's success.
5. Negotiate an agreement with the organization.
6. Involve employees. Unless you get employees involved from the beginning, they
won't be able to communicate the real caring involved in the campaign to custom
7. Involve customers. Don't just do something good and tell your customers about
it later. Get customers involved too. A sporting goods store could have custome
rs bring in used equipment for children's shelter, then give them a 15% discount
on new purchases.
From Start Your Own Business: The Only Start-Up Book You'll Ever Need, by Rieva
Lesonsky and the staff of Entrepreneur Magazine (Entrepreneur Press)

Marketing Expert Frederick Newell

How do you take database marketing to the next level? Customer relationship man
By Laura Tiffany | June 12, 2000
You know the drill: Go through the checkout line at the supermarket and whip out
one of the several hundred plastic cards in your wallet so the checker can scan
it for your extra-special "club savings." So did the savings of $.35 on a can o
f olives and $1 on dog food buy your loyalty for that particular chain? Not like

There's a whole lot more to gaining customer loyalty than discounts, and that's
where customer relationship management comes in. We've asked marketing guru Fred
erick Newell, author of Customer Relationship Management in the New
Era of Internet Marketing (McGraw-Hill, $29.95), to give us a primer on the sub
ject and explain how marketing has changed with the times. What is customer relationship management? How is it revolution
ary compared to database marketing?
Frederick Newell: It's the next stage of database marketing. In database marketi
ng, we were trying to learn about customers to sell more of what we wanted to se
ll. With customer relationship management, we're trying to learn more about cust
omers so we can offer them things they want to buy. There's a big difference. What are the biggest mistakes you see companies making when tr
ying to build customer relationships and loyalty?
Newell: One of the major points of my book is that discount and points programs
are not going to build loyalty. They'll get people to show a card so you can cap
ture transactional information and that's fine, but you can't buy loyalty with d
iscounts or points. You have to develop loyalty by making customers' lives easie
r and more pleasant, making it easier for them to do business with you. And that
's a mistake many, many people are making. What are a few examples of what companies are doing right to m
ake customers' lives easier?
Newell: In the book, I talk about Nat Sherman, the tobacconist. The company keep
s track of all its customers' likes, dislikes and purchases, and knows so much a
bout its customers that it can serve them beautifully. The company knows when it
's time for customers to reorder. Their reminder is online for them, their order
form filled out, and all they have to do is just click it. And the company lite
rally does make customers' lives easier. The reason for the loyalty is that cust
omers aren't going to bother to teach somebody else everthing they've already ta
ught Nat Sherman.
Many, many businesses now are collecting data, but they don't know what to do wi
th it, or if they know what to do with it, they're not doing it. And that includ
es most of the dotcoms and most of the supermarkets in North America. Some of th
e supermarkets in Europe and the United Kingdom are doing excellent work with th
is. If Tesco [a supermarket chain in the United Kingdom] does a 5 million mailin
g, it will have five different magazines based on people's interests. Within eac
h version, there will be 100,000 totally different cover letters addressing spec
ific interests of the customers. Why shouldn't a company try to build relationships with all it
s customers? Why is it important to focus on certain groups?
Newell: Because some customers are just cherry pickers. They come in for low pri
ces, and when the discount goes away, they go away. So you want to find out whic
h customers are profitable and invest your efforts with them. Take the money you
were spending in trying to reach everybody and wasting on that bottom group, an
d you'll be able to afford more communication with your best customers. What are some ways a company can use the Web to develop custom
er relationships?
Newell: First, they've got to get e-mail addresses, which not many companies hav
e done yet. And in the process of getting them, they've got to get approval to s
end e-mails to customers because customers don't want any more spam. Once you ge
t that information, it's quick and easy and near zero cost to send out thousands
of very specific, personalized messages. And I think that's the secret. If you'
re using e-mail, it has to be very, very personalized.
If you get in the e-mail game and are asking people to reply to you, you'd bette
r be able to handle the replies because people don't want it next week or next d
ay. They want it right now. And not too many people are well staffed to do that,
though some are outsourcing it very well. So it's a different ball game. How are customer relationship management and the Web changing
brick-and-mortar businesses?
Newell: The fact is that customers have the power now because they have so much
more information. But I don't think it's the end of brick-and-mortar businesses.

I read the other day that 63 percent of people shopping online get their resear
ch and information online and then go buy at a brick-and-mortar location. So I a
ctually think that brick-and-mortar companies, in the long run, will do better t
han the pure dotcoms. The multichannel is going to be the answer, although I thi
nk they have to understand that there's a lot more to the Web than just selling
merchandise. E-commerce is fine, but e-service and e-information is just as impo
rtant. Customers value information highly, and the smart retailer, whether pure
dotcom or brick-and-mortar, is going to use the Web as a communication tool more
than just as an e-commerce selling tool.

Your Public Face

Putting together a media kit that gets results
By Jacquelyn Lynn | Entrepreneur Magazine July 2000
Picture This: You're trying to interest a journalist in writing a story featurin
g your brand-new company-or, even better, you've been contacted by a writer who
wants to use you as a source for an article. And then the writer says, "But befo
re we schedule the interview, can you send me a media kit?" What you do next can
mean the difference between valuable media exposure and another month of relati
ve business anonymity.
"Media kits are essential tools for any business that wants to gain exposure in
print, on television and radio, or even through Internet sources," says Alan Sek
o, vice president of Axsys Resource Public Relations in Salt Lake City. "In addi
tion to providing important in-formation, the kits help establish a company's cr
edibility." After all, reporters want to know that the sources they cite are rel
iable and will be around for a while after their stories are published or aired.
And, best of all, media kits are relatively inexpensive.
So exactly what is a media kit? Seko defines it as an informational package that
reflects the personality of the company while providing important facts in simp
le, nontechnical terms. "The best media kits are those that can be easily custom
ized to fit a specific story angle the reporter may be pursuing," Seko adds. He
says the basic elements of a good media kit are:
A oneor two-page fact sheet. Fact sheets provide quick overviews of companies in
an easy-to-read format, and typically include information such as a description
of products or services, company history, key personnel, the number of employee
s, the number of offices and locations, statistical information (number of produ
cts produced, sales, number of clients), any other notable company facts, and in
formation for reaching a contact person. "Since many reporters work under tight
deadlines, include phone numbers where your contact person can be reached after
hours or on weekends," Seko advises.
Biographies of key individuals. If possible, keep them to one page and focus on
information that's pertinent to the company.
A list of products and services. When applicable, include retail prices and outl
ets, or other information on how consumers can acquire the company's goods and/o
r services.
Photograph(s). Depending on your specific business, you might want to include pr
ofessional photos of your product(s), your services (or somehow depict the servi

ce being delivered), your facility and/or your key people.

A news release. Ideally, the release should be specific to the reporter's needs,
or it may be about any timely or event of interest to the reporter.
Always include a cover letter, which should either make reference to the fact th
at the kit was requested or, if you haven't had any previous contact, pitch a sp
ecific story. Keep in mind that more is not necessarily better. Reporters don't
have time to wade through pages of material looking for the infor-mation they ne
ed, so make sure everything you include in your kit has a reason for being there
Finally, let your media kit work for you in other ways. Seko says he's adapted A
xsys's media kit to use as a tool to attract new investors. You can also use it
as a recruiting device for top employee talent, to support loan applications or
on any other occasion when you want to showcase your company in a positive way.
Contact Source
Axsys Resource Public Relations, 1366 E. Murray-Holladay Rd., Salt Lake City, UT
84117, (801) 274-8616

Kim T. Gordon: Marketing

Attracting Customers
Use your business's assets to bring in more clients.
By Kim T. Gordon | August 07, 2000
Q: I've been in business for 11 months selling automotive electrical supplies to
small and large repair shops and trucking companies. The problem I have now is
trying to get both old and new customers to buy my products. I have a contact ba
se of about 90 customers-about 15 percent of them have bought something from me.
I have the best prices in my area, but I don't advertise a lot because of the c
ost. I've called my customers, seen them in person, and talked to them to see wh
at they would like to see me sell. This month, I even released another flyer giv
ing all my customers 20 to 40 percent off. I know it cuts into my profit, but I'
m running out of choices. What should I do?
A: You're operating under the misconception that price is the overriding factor
affecting your customer's decision to buy from you. When asked to rank the impor
tance of price on a scale of one to five, customers typically put it somewhere a
round the middle behind value, which is usually number one. So while offering th
e lowest price is an important factor in your favor, your customers will be sway
ed by other benefits they consider to be of equal or greater importance.
Think about how your company stacks up against its competitors in the following
Service. Easy ordering is vital when your busy customers have other suppliers at
hand. Can your customers order by phone, fax or via the Internet? How long does
it take to place an order? If customers must play phone tag with you or encount
er other sales barriers, they'll quickly move on.
Delivery. How do your delivery costs and schedule compare with those of your com

petitors? If others deliver electrical supplies in 48 hours or less and you offe
r same day delivery, for example, you'll have a definite marketing advantage.
Inventory. Reliability is a vital and highly marketable feature. Do customers re
ceive exactly what they ordered when they need it? Have at least the same number
of products available as your chief competitors, or customers may assume your b
usiness is too small to depend on regularly.
Features such as top-quality service, on-time delivery and complete inventory en
hance your company's value and add up to an important benefit-peace of mind. Bui
ld these elements as well as cost savings into your marketing message and then s
et up an ongoing program that includes contact with your database at least every
six weeks. It takes an average of eight contacts with a prospect before a sale
is closed. So if you're not continually asking for the business, you can bet you
r competitors are. Communicate via direct mail, broadcast fax, telephone and in
person. And regularly mail postcards with brief survey questions to current cust
omers to gauge their satisfaction and future needs.
Kim T. Gordon is a multifaceted speaker, marketing expert and media spokesperson
-and one of the countryis foremost experts on entrepreneurial success. Her newes
t book, Bringing Home The Business (Perigee, $13.95, use http://www.smallbusines, identifies the 30 "truths" that can make the difference bet
ween success and failure in a homebased business. From formulas for positioning
a business and creating an image to Internet marketing strategies and tips for w
ork-at-home parents, by reading just one truth per day, in one month, readers wi
ll master a complete course on homebased business success. To read an excerpt, g
et information on media appearances and seminars, receive free how-to articles a
nd advice, or contact Kim, visit

Budgeting Promotions
Becoming a household name is difficult when you have a shoestring budget. Our P
ublic Relations Expert has a few cost-saving tips to help you make a name for yo
By Joan Stewart | August 14, 2000
Q: When starting a business as a sole proprietor, how much of my capital should
I realistically allocate to public relations? How can I secure regular PR opport
unities on a shoestring budget?
A: Ah, the shoestring budget. Most of us entrepreneurs know it all too well.
Even if you don't have much to spend, take heart. There's no rule of thumb on ho
w much capital you should allocate to PR. Besides, you can more than make up for
a shortage of cash by promoting yourself creatively, and if you're doggedly per
sistent, you'll sell more products and services than if you spent thousands of d
ollars on advertising.
Here are some guidelines that should help you and other start-up entrepreneurs d
etermine where to spend your PR money and energy:
The basics. Buy good-quality business cards, letterhead and a marketing piece su

ch as a brochure. The brochure should concentrate more on how you can help peopl
e than on specific tasks you perform.
Paid advertising. Don't spend money on paid ads early in the game. They're usual
ly very expensive and sometimes not effective. There are far better ways to prom
ote yourself. These include:
1. Speak, speak, speak. Speak for free to audiences that are part of your target
market. That could include Rotary clubs, chambers of commerce and trade associa
tions. Public speaking engagements give you instant credibility.
2. Write, write, write. Write how-to or advice articles for your weekly and dail
y newspapers, local business magazines, trade publications, and print and electr
onic newsletters. Be sure you maintain the copyright so you can offer the same a
rticles to other publications. If you can't write, hire a freelancer who can gho
stwrite them for you under your name.
3. Teach classes. Your local adult education program might need your services. Y
ou won't get rich, but teaching will give you valuable exposure.
4. Do media interviews. Call local reporters who write for publications read by
your target audience. Invite them to call on you when they need background, comm
entary or story ideas about your industry. Small-business news is hot right now.
Tell reporters you're willing to discuss the challenges you're facing in your b
usiness. Position yourself as a helpful source.
5. Start a newsletter. Publish an e-mail newsletter, and pack it with helpful in
formation and special offers. This is much cheaper than a paper-and-ink newslett
er because you don't have to pay for printing or postage. When you eventually ge
t a Web site, be sure to link the newsletter to your site.
6. Build strategic alliances. Introduce yourself to other businesspeople who don
't compete with you but sell products or services to the same target audience. O
ffer to promote them if they promote you. Make sure they're people you like and
7. Do pro bono work. Offer your free services to an influential nonprofit group.
It will give you a chance to get in front of their board members, who may be in
a position to hire you for their own companies.
Keep doing what works and stop doing what doesn't. Then look forward to the glor
ious day when someone says, "I see your name everywhere!"
Joan Stewart, a media relations consultant and professional speaker and trainer,
works with companies that want to use the media to establish their expertise, e
nhance their credibility and position themselves as the employer of choice. She
also publishes The Publicity Hound, a bimonthly print newsletter featuring "tips
, tricks and tools for free (or really cheap) publicity," as well as tips bookle
ts on how to find and keep valuable employees. Visit

Research for Less

You don't need a big budget to find out if there's a market for your business.
By Kimberly Stansll | November 13, 2000

Q: I want to start a hobby shop in an area around Boston where there are current
ly no hobby shops. I've been conducting my own market research by asking local p
eople about my idea, and I've gotten a huge positive response. I think there's a
large market for this store, but I'm not sure how to begin the process. Any adv
A: Your hunch about the need for a local shop may be right on. However, your res
earch efforts shouldn't end here. There's more data you can uncover to support y
our expectations about a business's success as well as to uncover any potholes i
n your thinking.
You should cover the bases more thoroughly by examining a variety of information
sources. Once you've squeezed out more details from both conventional and uncon
ventional sources, then you can confidently move ahead. Here are more strategies
to consider:
Contact the appropriate industry or trade association. Inquire about research re
ports or survey data available to members. Information gleaned from these resour
ces can help you connect with more local hobbyists and shop owners, spot trends,
and circumvent unprofitable or problematic situations. Industry organizations o
ften provide a business with a start-up resource package upon request-so ask for
Start with two groups: the Hobby Industry Association (HIA) and the National Ret
ail Hobby Stores Association (NRHSA). HIA produces a "Nationwide Craft/Hobby Con
sumer Study" that includes data on purchasing habits and information sources use
d by hobbyists. NRHSA's Web site includes a Hobby Resource section and a searcha
ble database of its membership. Both organizations host annual conferences. You'
ll find more industry groups listed in the reference book, World Directory of Tr
ade and Business Associations, which you can usually find at your local library.
Hire an MBA team. Through the Small Business Institute program, qualified gradua
te students are assigned projects to tackle for local businesses, including mark
et studies. The work team gives you a detailed report and an oral presentation.
Located at nearly 250 colleges and universities nationwide, some schools collect
nominal fees from their clients. Any small-business owner or manager is eligibl
e to participate. For information on a local program, call the Small Business Ad
vancement National Center at (501) 450-5300.
Call on a business research center. There are sites nationwide that provide inex
pensive research services to businesses. These facilities are usually affiliated
with an academic library. For example, the Center for Business Research (516-29
9-2833) at Long Island University has researched projects from the organic food
market to high-tech firms moving to Silicon Mesa. The Internet-Plus Directory of
Express Library Services: Research and Document Delivery for Hire lists 500 lib
raries that provide low-cost research services.
Study a set of old and current phone books. A shop may not exist today but are y
ou sure there's never been one in the area? Look to see if there's a category he
ading for your idea, confirm how much competition exists and the movement of oth
er businesses-those who've closed their doors or have grown or moved to other lo
cations. Old phone books can be found at public libraries.
Expand your focus group effort. Aim to interview a few hundred local hobbyists.
Where do hobbyists hang out online? Find out what listserv discussion groups are
available for your prospective customers. Subscribe to that list, learn the gro
up's posting protocol, and then pose your research question, asking members from
the Boston area to reply. Begin your listserv search at
Also find out which hobby magazines sell their subscriber lists. You may be abl
e to purchase a tailored list of names, addresses and phone numbers of neighborh
ood folks for you to contact for your survey. Check out entities such as Krause
Publications, which is dubbed the world's largest hobby publisher.
Visit your "first stop" business information center. These offices can provide i
nformation about licensing, permits, your particular business type and running a
business in your community in general. Check the government listing in your pho
ne book.
Go through these additional steps, and you'll be on your way to business success

Kimberly Stansell is an author, entrepreneur and businesswoman in Los Angeles. S

he has a knack for turning her desires into reality with little or no money and
helps others do the same in her book Bootstrapper's Success Secrets: 151 Tactics
for Building Your Business on a Shoestring Budget(Career Press). For more busin
ess-building tips and resources, visit her Web site,

Kim T. Gordon: Marketing

Fishing for Customers
Reel in clients with these helpful marketing tips.
By Kim T. Gordon | November 20, 2000
Q: We have a small fishing charter business in southeastern Alaska and are looki
ng for ways to find new clients. We've thought about trying to find an agent who
would sell our charters for a commission, but we don't know where to start. We
get inquiries through our Web site, but we need other ways to get our business o
ut there. Any ideas?
A: Whether you own one of a hundred dive-and-snorkel charter businesses in Key W
est, Florida, or a charter fishing boat in southeastern Alaska, your principal c
hallenge is to differentiate your business from the competition and create a uni
que sales and marketing proposition that makes tourists want to sail off into th
e sunset with you. Since your charter business is particularly remote and touris
ts must take two planes (Alaska Airlines from Seattle and then a smaller plane)
just to reach you, your story must be extremely compelling. You must also select
ively target potential visitors who are predisposed to your message using media
that reach out to them when they're most receptive.
What makes choosing your fishing charter a unique, not-to-be-missed experience?
And why should fishing enthusiasts book with you vs. a sea of competitors? Take
a long, hard look at what you have to offer, and create a list of unique benefit
s that incorporate the mystique of your remote and beautiful wilderness area and
the bounty of fish to be had, along with your own compelling story. Weave these
unique benefits into a print advertising campaign in publications targeting vis
itors to your part of the state. Research outdoorand fishing-related magazines t
hat offer regional advertising rates using tools on the Web, including www.publi Also contact major newspapers in feeder cities, such as Seattle, for adv
ertising opportunities in related travel or sport fishing editorial sections.
Make your company's Web site more compelling by using your unique sales and mark
eting proposition to make a stronger case for your charter business. Put listing
s on all related Alaska sites that focus on fishing and outdoor vacations. And p
articipate in discussion lists on the Web that draw fishing enthusiasts using a
signature line that includes your Web address and a brief benefit statement. To
locate discussion groups, visit You may also want to institute
a commissionable referral program for select travel agencies in key cities.

Kim T. Gordon is a multifaceted speaker, marketing expert and media spokesperson a

nd one of the country's foremost experts on entrepreneurial success. Her newest
book, Bringing Home The Business(Perigee), identifies the 30 "truths" that can m
ake the difference between success and failure in a homebased business. From for
mulas for positioning a business and creating an image to Internet marketing str
ategies and tips for work-at-home parents, by reading just one truth per day, in
one month, readers will master a complete course on homebased business success.
To read an excerpt, get information on media appearances and seminars, receive
free how-to articles and advice, or contact Kim, visit http://www.smallbusinessn

Become A Press Release Pro

Why write a press release that will only end up in the trash? Follow these rule
s for getting in good with editors.
By Linda Formichelli | December 2000
David Sabot has managed to have his business,, mentioned in Ho
me Business magazine and Long Island Newsday, and even on Good Morning America-w
ithout slinging a single inverted-pyramid, standard-issue press release. Sabot's
winning technique, which has garnered a 60to 70-percent response rate, isn't fo
r everyone. For example, it's not for those hard-line homebased business owners
who read sales pitches from scripts and spend their evenings cruising networking
What Sabot does is called "friendly e-mail."
"I tried to write a press release and had total writer's block," says Sabot. "It
seemed so dry and contrived." So instead he e-mailed the editor of a business m
agazine to say how much he'd always enjoyed the magazine and attributed the succ
ess of to the advice he'd read there. The editor, impressed wi
th Sabot's success story, included him in an article on how to grow a homebased
business when your advertising is limited to telling two friends in the hope tha
t they'll tell two friends, and so on, and so on. . . .
Do you, too, want to get press sans press release? You do. I can see it in your
eyes. So just follow these words of wisdom:
Target your letter. What magazines do you read? What magazines does your target
market read? Can your knowledge shine a bit of light into their readers' dreary
, empty lives?
Get personal. Send your letter to a live, breathing human, not to letters@magaz, or delete-me-please-because-I-couldn' To find names and e-mail addresses, scope ou
t the magazine's masthead or check your local library for a magazine directory l
ike 2001 Writer's Market.
Be honest. Don't slobber to an editor that her magazine has changed your life i
f you've never so much as cracked an issue.

Offer your expertise. Can you tell other graphic designers how to hire assistan
ts? Has running a gift basket business given you the uncanny ability to suggest
the perfect present for any occasion? Editors are way more interested in finding
good content than in plugging your business-and giving advice can establish you
r credibility to potential customers.
Linda Formichelli has written for more than 70 magazines, including Entrepreneur
's Start-Ups, Redbook, Woman's Day and Psychology Today. You can visit her onlin
e at She also runs a site that's against intrusive advertisi
ng at

The Basics of Tip Sheets

Get publicity by providing publications with useful information.
By Joan Stewart | December 11, 2000
Q: Sometimes I see lists of tips on various subjects printed in newspapers and m
agazines with the name and Web address of the author at the end of the list. Thi
s seems to me to be a very effective way to get free publicity, but how do you g
o about getting these lists to editors? Do they call you on the phone and interv
iew you, or do you send them the tips?
A: They're called tip sheets, and they're a very powerful way to get thousands o
f dollars in free publicity without ever having to buy an ad or spend a cent. Mo
st of the tip sheets you see in the media are sent to media outlets.
A tip sheet is a simple list of six to a dozen tips that tell people how to do s
omething-usually how to solve a particular problem. Examples:
"7 Ways to Complain About Bad Customer Service-and Get What You Want"
"8 Tax Tips the IRS Wishes You Didn't Know"
"11 Mistakes You Don't Want to Make When Buying a Used Car"
"9 Easy Ways to Winterproof Your Home"
Editors love them because they're ready-made lists that require no extra work on
the part of the reporter. So they can reprint them verbatim. TV stations love t
hem because they provide content for the short bulleted lists that are flashed o
n the screen and often accompany stories. Sometimes even editorial writers use t
he sheets as fodder for their editorials.
Anyone can write a tip sheet, usually in less than an hour. Here's an example of
a tip sheet I wrote that explains how to write tip sheets. Notice the identifie
r paragraph at the end that gives contact information and leads people to my Web
8 Tips for Tip Sheets That Position You as an Expert
1. Use numerals in the headline. There's something psychologically enticing abou
t them.
2. Limit the tips to one page. Six to 12 tips is ideal.
3. Start with the first tip immediately after the headline. You don't need an in
troductory sentence.
4. Begin each tip with a verb.

5. Tell people what to do in the first sentence. If you use a second sentence, i
t should explain "how" or "why."
6. Avoid the temptation to promote yourself or what you're selling in the tips.
Instead of "9 Reasons to Buy Car Insurance from the Honest Insurance Company," w
rite "9 Ways to Save When Buying Car Insurance."
7. Use tip sheets to tie your company to an upcoming holiday, to lobby for a par
ticular issue, or when you're introducing a new product or service. If you're a
seamstress who specializes in custom-made clothing, your tip sheet might be "9 T
hings to Look For in Well-Tailored Clothes."
8. Let your tip sheet double as a news release.
Tip sheets can also be used in your media kit, at trade shows, to stay in touch
with customers, on your Web site, offered free at your store, or used as a premi
um for current customers if they buy something by a particular date.
Joan Stewart is the "Ask the Experts" PR columnist for Sign up
for her free e-zine, The Publicity Houndis Tips of the Week.

Picture-Perfect Press Photos

Be prepared for photo requests by making sure you have press photos on hand.
By Joan Stewart | January 01, 2001
Q: I own a gourmet food store. My friend said she thinks I need a professional p
hotograph. Frankly, I think my money would be better spent elsewhere. Who's righ
t-me or my friend?
A: Your friend, and let me tell you why. Here's what will happen if you don't ha
ve a photo:
You'll be called unexpectedly by a reporter for a local magazine who wants to do
a feature story about you. When she learns you don't have a photo to offer, she
'll say, "Today is the only day we can send a photographer to get a photo."
It figures. You were up half the night before and have big circles under your ey
es. You just got your hair cut yesterday, and the bangs are about an inch too sh
ort. The outfit you pulled out of the closet this morning when you were running
late looks like a Goodwill reject. But you say yes anyway. The magazine photo tu
rns out-not surprisingly-ghastly.
That's why you need your own photo. Newspaper and magazine photographers can't p
erform miracles, but studio photographers can. So why risk looking awful in fron
t of thousands of people when a pro, who has time, can polish and primp you? If
you're worried about the price, rest assured you can get a good quality above-th
e-shoulders studio portrait taken and about six wallet-size shots for well under
Think of all the ways you can use photos:
You can incorporate them in your brochures and marketing materials.
You can offer them to publications you write articles for.
You can send them to the local media when you win an award, are sponsoring a sp

ecial event or when you're part of a larger news story.

You can post them on your Web site.
You can include one on your business card to help people remember you.
A standard, above-the-shoulders photo in either color or black and white is the
bare minimum for publicity hounds. Keep at least six prints on hand and use them
for the media, club newsletters, fliers or anyplace else you want your photo to
Another option is the storytelling photo that shows you with props related to yo
ur business or hobby, such as you holding a big mixing bowl filled to the brim w
ith fresh vegetables. Weekly newspapers that don't have photo staffs would welco
me these types of photos.
Here are tips to follow if you're having your portrait taken:
Wear your usual hairstyle. Don't try anything new.
Have your hair cut at least one to two weeks before your photo session.
Make sure your hair is styled the way you want before you arrive at the studio.
Avoid high-neck clothing that obscures your neck.
Avoid sleeveless clothing.
It's risky to wear prints that draw attention away from your face. When in doub
t, be safe with solids.
When applying make-up, pay special attention to your eyes. That's what people s
ee first.
Eye shadow adds depth. Avoid iridescent colors. Stick to neutral.
Powder reduces shine and helps eliminate shiny foreheads and noses. Be sure to
use it.
Also be sure to tell your photographer the photos are for publicity so he knows
what kind of backdrop to use. And one last reminder: Don't forget to smile.
Joan Stewart, a media relations consultant and professional speaker and trainer,
works with companies that want to use the media to establish their expertise, e
nhance their credibility and position themselves as the employer of choice. She
also publishes The Publicity Hound, a bimonthly print newsletter featuring "tips
, tricks and tools for free (or really cheap) publicity," as well as tips bookle
ts on how to find and keep valuable employees. Visit

Kim T. Gordon: Marketing

Testing International Waters
Find out if your business is ready for the global marketplace.
By Kim T. Gordon | January 15, 2001
Q: If I were looking to expand a company globally, what would be the best way to

go about researching how and to whom I would want to market my company? Where c
an I obtain the data I need in order to know whether I should venture into the g
lobal market with my business?
A: The biggest question you have to ask yourself is this: Where will you find pr
ospects who need what you offer, can afford it and are willing to pay for it? Fo
reign markets may be the answer, but you can't know for sure until you do a fair
amount of homework.
Your first step should be to contact the Trade Information Center (TIC) at the U
.S. Department of Commerce, a comprehensive resource on all federal government e
xport assistance programs. Call TIC's toll-free number, (800) USA-TRADE, to spea
k to an international trade specialist and get advice on how to locate and use g
overnment programs, sources of general market information, and basic export coun
seling. The TIC's Web sitehas FAQs concerning international trade and informatio
n on trade missions to overseas markets where you can meet with potential distri
butors and buyers. You can also request a package of information that includes a
list of publications to guide you through export transactions, trade leads and
information on export financing, and supply sources for market reports and count
ry information.
For even more information on specific countries and regions, international confe
rences, trade shows, business events and laws, visit Michigan State University's
Center for International Business Education and Research. On a recent visit, on
e click on "global" revealed links to an extensive array of the sites offering r
eports and analyses from such groups as American Express Small Business Services
and the World Bank.
Most businesses adding international components to their marketing programs use
two principal strategies. First, they establish a relationship with a business o
r individual in each of their targeted foreign markets, often with help from som
e of the resources mentioned above. Then they carefully craft a Web site to make
their products and services available to their new customers. Once you've ident
ified your target markets, you'll need to create a site that's accessible in the
appropriate languages and meets the unique needs of your international customer
Kim T. Gordon is a multifaceted speaker, marketing expert and media spokesperson
-and one of the country's foremost experts on entrepreneurial success. Her newes
t book, Bringing Home The Business(Perigee), identifies the 30 "truths" that can
make the difference between success and failure in a homebased business. From f
ormulas for positioning a business and creating an image to Internet marketing s
trategies and tips for work-at-home parents, by reading just one truth per day,
in one month, readers will master a complete course on homebased business succes
s. To read an excerpt, get information on media appearances and seminars, receiv
e free how-to articles and advice, or contact Kim, visit http://www.smallbusines

Kim T. Gordon: Marketing

When Selling Gets Personal
Pushing the intangible benefits
By Kim T. Gordon | Entrepreneur Magazine February 2001

What's the difference between buying a Ford and buying a Jaguar? Presumably, bot
h will get you from point A to point B. But when you buy a Jaguar (or any luxury
car) and park it in your driveway, it conveys an image of status-an often unspo
ken, though important, intangible benefit marketed to buyers of luxury cars.
Intangible benefits can be powerful motivators because they appeal to customers'
emotional needs and desires. When formulating marketing strategies, entrepreneu
rs often focus on the concrete, tangible benefits, such as money saved or conven
ient delivery, yet overlook the intangible benefits, which sometimes carry great
er weight.
What They Want Most
Imagine that you're the owner of a company that provides communications networki
ng solutions to midsized companies, and you're developing a new company brochure
. Your brochure should include a description of all the tangible benefits your c
orporate prospects might reap by hiring your firm, such as increased sales thank
s to better communication with customers. But unless the brochure also addresses
the intangible benefits your service will give the primary decision-maker (the
IT manager or chief information officer), your brochure is bound to fall flat.
Take into account, for example, that when your company performs well by carrying
through on its promised tangible benefits, the IT manager will look good to his
or her bosses and co-workers, possibly getting raises and promotions as a resul
t. Your brochure copy should convince the IT manager that he or she will enjoy p
eace of mind knowing you'll carry out your promises, thereby making your firm a
safe and career-enhancing choice.
Peace of mind and enhanced status are just two intangible benefits widely used t
o market products and services around the world. Another hugely popular intangib
le benefit is the way products make users feel. Case in point: the cosmetics ind
ustry. The late Charles Revson, founder of Revlon, is reported to have said, "In
the factories, we make cosmetics. In the stores, we sell hope." A cosmetic may
or may not make a woman look beautiful, but it can certainly make her feel beaut
Beauty marketing knows no bounds: At the high end, stores like Bergdorf Goodman
sell 1.36-ounce jars of face cream for $500. Then there are the newly affordable
day spas that have sprung up nationwide to offer full-day pampering. Here, the
marketing goal is to promise tangible benefits, such as reduced wrinkles or inch
es, while conveying the intangible benefits-the feelings of confidence and enhan
ced self-image these products and services may bring.
Make an Emotional Appeal
To increase the success of your own marketing materials, include intangible bene
fits that appeal to the emotions of your key decision-makers. For example, expan
d beyond the tangible benefits of making or saving money to include benefits tha
t zero in on how your products or services will help your customers look and fee
l good-whether to their bosses for professional performance, their neighbors or
their sweethearts.
Suppose you own an 11-year-old ac-counting firm that specializes in tax and esta
te planning for individuals and businesses. The tangible benefit of hiring your
firm is clear: Thanks to your 11 years of experience, you know the tax codes and
all the legal deductions available and will make fewer mistakes. As a consequen
ce, your clients will benefit by saving money on their taxes. What is the intang
ible benefit to be gained from your experience, which spans more than a decade?
Beyond saving your clients money, knowing you'll make fewer mistakes will allow
them to enjoy peace of mind. Whether you own an accounting firm or a sky-diving

school, clients and customers will appreciate your putting their safety and well
-being first. And your marketing materials should place those benefits front and
A nationally recognized marketing expert with more than 21 years of experience,
Kim T. Gordon is the author of two books, including Bringing Home the Business:
The 30 Truths Every Home Business Owner Must Know. She is a top-rated speaker on
small office/home office success and president of National Marketing Federation
Inc. To contact her, visit

Kim T. Gordon: Marketing

Finding Appropriate Prospect Lists
How to hit a bull's-eye when defining your marketing demographic
By Kim T. Gordon | February 02, 2001
Q: I've opened a new business in a fairly competitive area and am planning to ma
il out some informational brochures about the services we offer. Where I can fin
d the names and addresses of my target market?
A: U.S. businesses will spend nearly $50 billion on direct-mail marketing effort
s this year. From retailers to marketers of consumer products and services, find
ing the best lists can mean the difference between success and failure for many
businesses that target consumers in their homes.
The more precisely you target your audience, the greater number of qualified res
ponses your program will generate. Typical positive response rates for direct ma
il are just one to five percent, so the majority of your respondents must fit th
e profile of your ideal client or customer. Before you approach list vendors, de
fine the characteristics of your target audience using such demographics as age,
gender and household income, and refine your geographic market. You might decid
e, for example, that your best prospects are married, homeowners, age 50 and hig
her, in specific zip codes.
List rental companies call these demographic characteristics "selections" and pr
ice their lists accordingly. Lists are rented on a cost per thousand basis (CPM)
with an additional charge for each selection. If you intend to follow up your m
ailings with telephone calls, you can expect to pay an additional fee for a list
with phone numbers.
The best place to start your search is at the library with a comprehensive direc
tory, the Direct Mail List Source (Standard Rate and Data Service), which shows
available lists by category. Choose the best vendors and supply them with your t
arget audience profile. They'll give you their "list counts"-the total number of
names they have that fit your selection criteria. Then you can shop for the bes
t CPMs. It's also smart to negotiate upfront to purchase multiple sets of labels
. Your total rental costs will be lower and your response rates will improve wit
h the second and possibly third mailings to the same list.
Select vendors with quality lists who guarantee they'll be at least 90 percent d

eliverable. Within about three to seven business days, you'll have your lists-ei
ther transmitted electronically, delivered on magnetic tape or on labels directl
y to your mailing house.
Kim T. Gordon is a multifaceted speaker, marketing expert and media spokesperson
-and one of the country's foremost experts on entrepreneurial success. Her newes
t book, Bringing Home The Business(Perigee), identifies the 30 "truths" that can
make the difference between success and failure in a homebased business. From f
ormulas for positioning a business and creating an image to Internet marketing s
trategies and tips for work-at-home parents, by reading just one truth per day,
in one month, readers will master a complete course on homebased business succes
s. To read an excerpt, get information on media appearances and seminars, receiv
e free how-to articles and advice, or contact Kim, visit http://www.smallbusines

Kim T. Gordon: Marketing

Finding New Prospects
If you're trying to drum up more business through a trade show, these tips from
our Marketing Expert can help you expand your client list.
By Kim T. Gordon | April 12, 2001
Q: I'm the owner of a new studio that specializes in creating and designing stru
ctural packaging for toys, novelties and gift items. Do you have any advice on h
ow to better communicate the studio's capabilities as well as where to search fo
r good prospects? I've had no luck searching for trade associations or trade sho
ws to attend. Currently, I spend my time primarily calling toy manufacturers obt
ained from a trade association Web site. It's been very difficult to get the cor
rect decision-makers on the phone.
A: To expand your prospect list through participation in trade shows, visit site
s such the Trade Show News Network, where you'll find a searchable database of s
hows in more than 100 industries. But whether you work from a prospect list or f
rom leads generated at shows, like anyone involved in B2B sales, your first big
challenge will be to reach the right individuals, as you've already found. It's
not uncommon to speak with several people in one company before discovering the
name of the ultimate decision-maker. Then it will usually take several more trie
s before you connect.
When you encounter voice mail, think of it as a 30-second opportunity to leave a
message relating the ways your studio will benefit your prospect's company. Cal
lbacks from prospects are rare, so you should expect to continue calling until y
ou get through (though you probably shouldn't leave more than one message). Rece
ptionists and executive assistants can be great allies in your effort to speak w
ith key executives. They can help out by letting you know good times to call or
by setting up phone appointments for you.

The second half of the battle is knowing what to say when you finally get a pros
pect on the other end of the line. A good opener always includes an introduction
of yourself and your company ("This is David Jones, president of Jones Design")
, followed by an opening benefit. The biggest mistake B2B salespeople make at th
is point is to launch into a litany of features instead of summarizing how their
offerings will benefit the prospect. Make a list of your studio's top four or f
ive benefits, and weave them into a sentence you can easily say. Then be prepare
d to adapt it depending on the needs of each prospect. He or she will be listeni
ng to you with one question in mind: "What's in it for me?" And when your opener
provides a reasonable answer, the stage will be set for a successful call.
Kim T. Gordon is a multifaceted speaker, marketing expert and media spokesperson
-and one of the country's foremost experts on entrepreneurial success. Her newes
t book,Bringing Home The Business(Perigee), identifies the 30 "truths" that can
make the difference between success and failure in a homebased business. From fo
rmulas for positioning a business and creating an image to Internet marketing st
rategies and tips for work-at-home parents, by reading just one truth per day, i
n one month, readers will master a complete course on homebased business success
. To read an excerpt, get information on media appearances and seminars, receive
free how-to articles and advice, or contact Kim, visit http://www.smallbusiness

Buzz Skill
Need a little good press? Forget those costly PR agencies--sharpen your own pub
licity-getting skills.
By Nichole L. Torres | Entrepreneur Magazine June 2001
Sure, you've heard it all before the importance of PR and the tactics guaranteed t
o get your company noticed. We here at Entrepreneur are as bored as you are with
fluffy stories titled "10 Tips to Great PR." We wanted to get down to the nitty
-gritty of PR the stuff financially strapped start-ups can actually do to get them
selves noticed.
First things first. "Don't spend your last dime on a PR agency. You can do it yo
urself," says Eric Yaverbaum, founder of Jericho Communications and author of Pu
blic Relations Kit for Dummies (IDG Books Worldwide). This kind of initiative is
especially important during start-up, when there are more important things to s
pend your money on.
Your immediate priority: making sure your product or service is ready for public
consumption. "Get your product out and make sure it works and does something th
at people care about," says Ryan Chamberlain, a PR consultant who specializes in
start-ups. Once you're sure your widget is the coolest around, that's the time
to tell the world. And though you won't need to ante up the dough for an agency,
you'd better be prepared to spend tons of time on your PR.
The center of your campaign is your message. Make sure it's clear, concise and (
take it from a reporter) brief. If your basic mission can't be summed up in a fe

w sentences, it's too complicated and editors won't read it (trust us on this).
The best way to get media coverage, according to Yaverbaum, is to gauge the type
s of stories that are hot current events, breaking news, the latest scandals and tie
your company in with them. Every reporter is looking for a different spin on th
e story of the day. If you can think of a way to present the story with a fresh
angle and link it to your name, you won't be able to stop the press. But please,
for the love of God, read the publication (watch the TV show, listen to the rad
io program) before you pitch it. That way, you won't pitch Field & Stream about
your latest round of financing.
Media relations are only a small part of your job, though. One of the best, and
cheapest, ways to get publicity is to get out in your community. Network with ot
her entrepreneurs, join organizations, sponsor charities now's not the time to be
Finally, in the words of your 8th grade teacher, "Do your homework!" Do what the
professionals do and scour the industry publications: Inside PR, PR Week and th
e Public Relations Society of America's Tactics are all good places to read up o
n case studies and learn from the big boys. Says Yaverbaum, "Just because you're
not Procter & Gamble doesn't mean you can't get the kind of press Procter & Gam
ble gets."
Oh, and before we forget: If your press release says anything like, "the B2B sol
ution for the 21st century," go back to the drawing board.
Sweet Release
Who better to talk up a company to reporters than its intrepid founder?
Got tons of ideas but just ounces of money? Tenika Morrison, founder of Catching, found herself in exactly that situation. Her online vintage cl
othing store was groovy she just needed to do a little work to get the word out. H
aving no formal PR training and no funds to hire a PR consultant might have hind
ered a lesser entrepreneur, but 25-year-old Morrison was determined to get her c
ompany on the map. Her first stop? "The library! It's just been an amazing resou
rce," says Morrison. "You can get business magazines, computer magazines, busine
ss books, marketing books, vintage clothing books . . . it's incredible."
With the expertise she gained from all her reading, Morrison sent out a press re
lease just a week after starting her business in November 2000. She knew the key
to getting noticed was to be original her press release was short and fun and det
ailed the who, what, why, where and how of her company while still demonstrating
the funky side of her venture with a tongue-in-cheek list of the "Top 10 Reason
s to Write About"
Working out of her home in Puyallup, Washington, Morrison sometimes spends all d
ay on marketing issues from scanning different publications to searching for place
s to list her Web site. Still, she knows her mission is far from over. "I can't
just say, 'Hi, my name is Tenika. This is my story; please print it.'"

Kim T. Gordon: Marketing

Capture the Best Prospects
If you're trying to sell oranges, don't sell to people who like apples.
By Kim T. Gordon | June 18, 2001

Q: I manufacture archery target backstops. One of my markets is archery clubs wh
ose members are 95 percent bow-hunters. The remaining percentage is made up of t
arget archers. There are some 5 million archers in North America.
I want to attract new people to the sport of archery, which will spur additional
sales for me as well as other manufacturers I'm affiliated with. My plan is to
target the nonhunting interests. What is the most effective means of drawing the
ir attention? Should I publish articles about archery in inexpensive, small week
ly newspapers? How about offering classes or going to special events where I wou
ld give people a chance to shoot a bow? Am I on the right track?
A: I'm absolutely delighted to answer this letter. You see, so many entrepreneur
s make this same mistake: Instead of focusing their efforts on the segment of th
e market closest to making a purchase decision, they expend time and resources t
rying to convert a vast group of people who have little or no interest in what t
hey offer.
Major companies don't commit this error. Michelin Tires, for example, doesn't ta
rget its marketing efforts on people who don't own cars hoping to convert them i
nto car buyers who will someday want to buy tires. That would put them too many
steps away from the buying customer. Instead, they market to people who own cars
and are planning to replace their tires. Likewise, you must market to folks who
are actively involved in archery and who want to replace/upgrade/purchase new t
arget backstops. Leave the promotion of the sport to associations and others who
are directly responsible for enticing new participants. If you truly feel commi
tted to this aspect of the marketing effort, perhaps you can join such a group a
nd participate in its activities during your spare time.
To build your business, focus all your marketing efforts in media that reach arc
hers, with the least amount of waste. That means using well-targeted print media
for advertising and public relations efforts, like placing print ads and submit
ting articles or columns for publication that position you as an expert and your
products as superior.
Explore the availability of good direct-mail lists of enthusiasts who participat
e in the sport. You can probably rent subscriber lists from special-interest pub
lications or participate in their card decks. If you don't already have a terrif
ic Web site, you should set one up with links to major archery-related sites. Al
so, your idea to offer classes is a good one, provided you target those who have
already decided to participate in the sport and want to improve. Just be sure t
hat when you preach, you're preaching to the choir.
Kim T. Gordon is a multifaceted speaker, marketing expert and media spokesperson a
nd one of the country's foremost experts on entrepreneurial success. Her newest
book, Bringing Home The Business(Perigee), identifies the 30 "truths" that can m
ake the difference between success and failure in a homebased business. From for
mulas for positioning a business and creating an image to Internet marketing str
ategies and tips for work-at-home parents, by reading just one truth per day, in
one month, readers will master a complete course on homebased business success.
To read an excerpt, get information on media appearances and seminars, receive
free how-to articles and advice, or contact Kim, visit http://www.smallbusinessn

How to Market to College Students

Step 1: Don't think of them just as college students. They're a lot more threedimensional than that.
By Kathy J. Kobliski | July 01, 2001
Q: What is the most effective means of marketing to college students in the Unit
ed States?
A: Most colleges and universities have their own newspapers and often their own
campus radio stations with ad space for sale, and lots of businesses sponsor cam
pus activities, events or contests in student haunts. If you have the money, you
can wrap a few buses with your ad and request that they operate on runs that se
rvice those institutions.
But you also have to look beyond the fact that these adults are in college and a
pproach them demographically (by age and gender). They make up a good portion of
the 18to 35-year-old population, so you can also reach them via appropriate non
student radio stations, TV shows and publications, all of which have audiences m
ade up of very specific demographic groups. It's age and gender that binds these
audiences together, not individual traits, habits and hobbies.
To make matters even more complicated, you'll also need to consider psychographi
c information-education, wealth, habits, etc. Psychographic information tracks p
eople by their unique personal traits, such as what musical instruments they pla
y, what magazines they read, what credit cards they use, how many children they
have or in what neighborhood they live. That kind of information makes sure your
marketing efforts hit the right targets.
It all boils down to understanding more than one thing about the people you're t
rying to reach-in this case, more than the fact that college students go to coll
ege. Yes, that's important because you know their physical whereabouts for most
of the year. But where do they eat their meals? What do they eat? Where do they
shop? How do they get around? How do they pay for products? Do they bank locally
or get money from home? What's the climate like where they live? Are they buyin
g hot soup or ice slushies? Parkas or bathing suits? Tires for their mountain bi
kes or snow tires for their trucks? Sandals for the beach or insulated boots? Cl
early, the fact that they all go to college can't be the only factor in deciding
how to reach these people.
By way of example, let's consider cable TV's The Golf Channel. If you've got a n
ewly designed golf widget, you know you can advertise on The Golf Channel and re
ach the right audience. But not every advertiser on The Golf Channel is selling
equipment or club memberships-financial services, luxury car companies, and crui
se and resort operators also advertise on The Golf Channel, knowing that viewers
tend to be wealthy professionals who look for high-end products and services to
satisfy their active lifestyles. So no matter what your product is, there are m
ultiple advertising channels available to you.
It's worth your time to learn everything you can about your consumer, both demog
raphically and psychographically, before you spend your dollars trying to reach
Kathy Kobliski is the founder and president of Silent Partner Advertising, where
she oversees multimedia advertising budgets for retail and service clients. Her
book, Advertising Without an Agency, was written for businesses owners who are
working with small advertising budgets and can't afford professional help. You c
an reach Kathy at (315) 487-6706 (weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST), or visit
her Web site at

Kim T. Gordon: Marketing

Partner Power
Want to strengthen your marketing muscle and save money? Team up.
By Kim T. Gordon | Entrepreneur Magazine August 2001
Open your mail on any given day and you'll find terrific examples of marketing p
artnerships at work. Just take a look at the next credit card solicitation that
shows up on your desk; it probably pitches a variety of services, from low-cost
car rentals to speedy Internet connections, offered by the bank's partners. Buil
ding such strategic partnerships could be a smart move for you, too. Your compan
y can benefit from income-generating alliances and avoid the financial risks inh
erent in other expansion tactics.
If you're ready to see what effects partnering can have on your marketing muscle
, here are three ways to take advantage of marketing alliances:
1. Gain a competitive advantage. When businesses that offer complementary serv
ices team up, they often form a whole that's much greater than the sum of its pa
rts. They can market together to pitch and win major accounts, provide additiona
l services as a unit, and diversify and expand their customer bases.
For example, a plumbing parts and accessories showroom that wants to market desi
gn services might partner with a remodeling firm that specializes in upscale bat
hroom additions. To support and promote the partnership, the two companies could
run a joint advertising campaign in the local newspaper and show prospects who
visit the showroom a brochure and video showcasing a completed bathroom remodel.
Both companies would benefit from the new revenue stream: The retailer would ga
in a competitive advantage, and the remodeling contractor would get exposure to
the showroom's retail customers.
Often, individual companies don't have all the expertise required to win major g
overnment or corporate contracts. But by choosing the right marketing partners,
they can form teams with the specific background and capabilities required. A We
b design company, for instance, that aims to solicit turnkey Web design and mana
gement projects from major technology companies might beat its competition by pa
rtnering with content providers experienced in writing about high-tech issues.
2. Enhance your image. What happens when a skills assessment and placement fir
m in Seattle develops strategic partnerships with similar, independently owned b
usinesses in Chicago and Miami? It creates the image of a firm with national sco
pe, enabling the company to target larger prospects-such as major corporations t
hat have offices in multiple locations. Setting up strategic partnerships with b
usinesses like yours in other cities can help you expand your market area and ta
rget larger accounts. Another benefit is sharing resources and marketing costs w
ith your new partners-to create a joint Web site, for example.
3. Reduce your costs. Launching a new product can cost millions. But what if y
ou could launch or test market a product nationally for a fraction of that cost,
yet still gain input from experienced marketing partners with a ready-made audi
ence? That's what you get when you form a strategic marketing partnership with a

large company or association that regularly markets to your target audience.

Suppose you own a sports apparel business that manufactures a new commemorative
bomber-style jacket for auto racing car enthusiasts. You could take a large fina
ncial risk by renting a list and mounting a direct-mail campaign to market the n
ew product on your own, or you could partner with an association of racing fans
and offer your jacket as a special premium to its members. Your product message
would reach the association's highly qualified membership in its regular package
or catalog and thus dramatically cut your costs.
There are unlimited ways to partner to achieve your marketing objectives and red
uce your financial risks. No matter what your expansion plans may be-from launch
ing a new product or service to taking on additional markets-consider the advant
ages of building strategic partnerships instead of going it alone. Whether you f
orm these alliances with other entrepreneurs or with major corporations that hav
e abundant marketing influence, strategic partnering will help you successfully
market your business without breaking the bank.
Contact Kim T. Gordon, author of Bringing Home the Business, at www.smallbusines

Conducting Market Research

Prospects need a reason to buy, even if you're just asking them whether they'd
use your product or service.
By Karen E. Spaeder | July 23, 2001
Q: I really like working with numbers and enjoy payroll processing, along with f
iguring quarterly tax forms and reports. I enjoy it so much, I want to start a b
usiness out of my home doing payroll and possibly expand to other business servi
ces, such as collections. My problem is, in order to research whether there's a
market in my area for payroll processing, I have to contact local small business
es and ask if they would be interested in outsourcing their payroll. How do I ju
st call them up and ask without them feeling like I'm wasting their time? After
all, they're busy enough without having to answer my questions.
A: You're smart to want to research your potential market to determine whether t
here's a need for your services. However, you'll want to do more than just call
local businesses. And I'd bet that if you did call them without doing any other
research, many of them would give you a resounding "No, thanks" if you asked the
m whether they'd use your services. Even though you aren't selling something to
them yet, that's the impression they might get if you're calling them with no pr
ior understanding of your target market.
That's not to say you should never call them, but I would recommend doing other
research first. That way, when you do call, you'll be armed with information abo
ut why they might need your services--and why they might choose you over the com
petition. Here are some market research tactics that can help you approach poten
tial customers knowledgeably:
1. Find out what your competitors are doing. Take a look at all the services t
hey offer. You could even approach them as though you are a customer and ask que

stions about their offerings. What do they do that you could do better? Is there
anything they're not doing that you could do? What are their prices like?
2. Set the right price. That means being priced competitively while also allowin
g you to cover costs and earn you a profit. Don't price yourself so low that cli
ents view you as a lesser value, nor so high that they choose one of your compet
itors over you.
3. Test-market your service. Before you start offering your service en masse,
try it out on a few local businesses. You'll get valuable feedback that could he
lp you make the necessary adjustments to your offering.
4. Visit the library. You'd be surprised at the wealth of information you can
find there just by digging around a bit. Not only can you get specific informati
on about your target group, but you can also discover industry associations and
professional organizations (many of which publish their own reports and publicat
ions) related to your business.
Once you've gone through these steps, you might also want to develop a questionn
aire. Based on your other research, think of several standardized questions that
you could easily ask prospective customers over the phone or even in person. Ha
ving this list of questions in front of you will help you feel less like you're
wasting anyone's time, and the answers will help you fine-tune your offering eve
n further.
You always have the option of conducting focus groups or hiring a market researc
h firm, but the costs can be prohibitive, so consider doing it on your own first
. In the end, when you're ready to actually start selling your service, you'll b
e able to pick up the phone and call prospects with confidence, knowing they'll
have trouble turning you down.
Karen E. Spaeder is editor of and managing editor ofEntrepreneu
r magazine.

How to Generate Publicity for Your Business

Make the buzz be about you.
By Jane Applegate
Publicity can be elusive for the small-business owner, but nothing can be more i
nstrumental for long-term recognition and success. One secret to attracting inte
rest from a reporter is to position yourself as an expert. Before you say, "But
I'm not an expert at anything," remember that everyone is an expert at something
. If you're a lawyer, you can give legal tips or interpretations. An accountant
might offer tax tips. And almost anyone who provides services is an expert in so
For example, Doug Markham, a Los Angeles-based chiropractor and nutritionist, re
cently sent out a news release to dozens of radio and TV producers titled, "Eati
ng Fat Does Not Make You Fat." In it, he asserted that the "low-fat, high-carboh
ydrate diet that has gotten so much attention does not work." He said the studie
s that promoted this diet were biased and contended they were financed by the fo
od industry.

In the following week, Markham received 25 phone calls, including one from CNN,
and he's been booked for five radio interviews. Why was Markham's effort so effe
ctive? His target was radio and TV stations, and he crafted the news release to
fit that audience. His release touched on much of what broadcasters are looking
for: health, fitness, food and, most important, controversy. Not only was he arg
uing that the conventional wisdom was wrong, but he asserted that the science it
self-the nutrition studies underwritten by the food industry-was corrupt.
Remember Hillary Clinton's statement about a "vast, right-wing conspiracy" out t
o get the Clintons? That received an enormous amount of press coverage, proving
provocative statements are memorable and entertaining, perfect for TV.
Since Markham wasn't sure how to approach reporters, he turned to Paul Krupin, f
ounder of, a news release advisory service in Kennewick, Washingto
n, for help. A former attorney, Krupin started his business after winning a big
case and vowed never to practice law again. He was so successful promoting his n
ew publishing business that others began asking him for help publicizing their o
wn businesses. He built his media-advisory practice from there, charging about $
500 to write a press release. (He's also the author of Trash Proof News Releases
, which he sells for $37, plus $5 shipping and handling, available by calling 80
Krupin says it's critical to target the right media person, whether it be a busi
ness editor, calendar editor or book reviewer. Whoever it is, make sure to spell
the name and title correctly. (Find out when the publication or program is on d
eadline, and don't call at that time).
"What most business owners need to do is put themselves in the position of the e
ditor or producer," said Krupin. "You have to look at what they do. The key to b
eing successful is to give them news that's better than anything else they have.
It's that simple. Everything else is content and style."
Krupin says many business owners make the mistake of trying to sell their produc
t or service in a press release. "The media is adverse to anything that looks li
ke advertising," he says. "They want to educate, entertain, stimulate or provoke
their audience."
Another common mistake in writing news releases, according to Krupin, is trying
to tell the whole story: "People write way too much. Tell them what the story is
about and why it would be good for their audience." Remember, a press release i
s not the first draft of an article-it is the spark designed to prompt a reporte
r to want to write the story or an editor to assign it.
There's also a real difference between the needs of print, radio and TV outlets.
"Print media focus on facts and figures. They talk about strategies," said Krup
in. "Radio and television don't lend themselves to detailed information. It's ab
out sound bites, tone and excitement. For radio and TV producers, you want to te
ll them why their audience is going to love what you're going to say, or hate wh
at you're going to say. The focus is on the emotional reaction: 'Why am I going
to be entertaining?'"
Krupin said he has to tell many potential clients they are simply not ready to d
eal the press. "People who have business services and consumer products think th
ey can walk in with one news release and get coverage. I have to tell them, 'It'
s not gonna happen.'"
For instance, he met recently with a photographer who wanted to create a news re
lease promoting his new Web site. Krupin told him to forget it-he was never goin
g to interest the media in a story about his Web site. Instead, Krupin asked him
, "What do you know that people don't know about photography?" The photographer
said, "They don't know how to hang pictures up on the wall." Working from that i
dea, they created a news release with tips and tricks for hanging pictures. It l
ed to a number of print articles featuring Krupin's client, the photographer, as
the expert.
If you have positioned yourself as an expert, the payoff may not be immediate, b
ut be patient. Carl Fowler, vice president and general manager of the Rail Trave
l Center, a Vermont-based tour company that specializes in selling rail tours al
l over the world, said he got a call one day from a reporter working for a large
-circulation senior-citizen newsletter (Fowler's target market). He was trying t

o figure out which train was the "real" Orient Express-half a dozen trains claim
to be the real thing. Fowler spent time on the phone with the reporter, explain
ing the intricate history of trains and routes, including the fact that the "rea
l" Orient Express stopped running 20 years ago.
Some months later, the same reporter called back, asking Fowler if he had any to
urs for the fall foliage season, and has since written up several Rail Center to
urs in the newsletter. The Rail Travel Center issues news releases about three t
imes a year, sometimes to promote a new catalog or service. "Sometimes it works
and sometimes it doesn't," he said. "I don't have a clue as to why it sometimes
works. All I know is when the articles come out, it produces a wonderful surge o
f bookings."
Next week, in part two of this series, I'll talk about how to follow up on press
releases, tips for handling interviews and how to make friends with a journalis
Jane Applegate is a syndicated columnist and the author of 201 Great Ideas for Y
our Small Business. For a free copy of her "Business Owner's Check Up," send you
r name and address to Check Up, P.O. Box 768, Pelham NY 10803 or e-mail it to in Sarah Prior contributed to this article.

How to Create a Marketing Plan

What is a marketing plan and why is it so essential to the success of your busi
ness? Find out here, in the first section of our comprehensive guide to creating
a marketing plan.

Firms that are successful in marketing invariably start with a marketing plan. L
arge companies have plans with hundreds of pages; small companies can get by wit
h a half-dozen sheets. Put your marketing plan in a three-ring binder. Refer to
it at least quarterly, but better yet monthly. Leave a tab for putting in monthl
y reports on sales/manufacturing; this will allow you to track performance as yo
u follow the plan.
The plan should cover one year. For small companies, this is often the best way
to think about marketing. Things change, people leave, markets evolve, customers
come and go. Later on we suggest creating a section of your plan that addresses
the medium-term future--two to four years down the road. But the bulk of your p
lan should focus on the coming year.
You should allow yourself a couple of months to write the plan, even if it's onl
y a few pages long. Developing the plan is the "heavy lifting" of marketing. Whi
le executing the plan has its challenges, deciding what to do and how to do it i
s marketing's greatest challenge. Most marketing plans kick off with the first o
f the year or with the opening of your fiscal year if it's different.
Who should see your plan? All the players in the company. Firms typically keep t
heir marketing plans very, very private for one of two very different reasons: E
ither they're too skimpy and management would be embarrassed to have them see th
e light of day, or they're solid and packed with information . . . which would m

ake them extremely valuable to the competition.

You can't do a marketing plan without getting many people involved. No matter wh
at your size, get feedback from all parts of your company: finance, manufacturin
g, personnel, supply and so on--in addition to marketing itself. This is especia
lly important because it will take all aspects of your company to make your mark
eting plan work. Your key people can provide realistic input on what's achievabl
e and how your goals can be reached, and they can share any insights they have o
n any potential, as-yet-unrealized marketing opportunities, adding another dimen
sion to your plan. If you're essentially a one-person management operation, you'
ll have to wear all your hats at one time--but at least the meetings will be sho
What's the relationship between your marketing plan and your business plan or vi
sion statement? Your business plan spells out what your business is about--what
you do and don't do, and what your ultimate goals are. It encompasses more than
marketing; it can include discussions of locations, staffing, financing, strateg
ic alliances and so on. It includes "the vision thing," the resounding words tha
t spell out the glorious purpose of your company in stirring language. Your busi
ness plan is the U.S. Constitution of your business: If you want to do something
that's outside the business plan, you need to either change your mind or change
the plan. Your company's business plan provides the environment in which your m
arketing plan must flourish. The two documents must be consistent.
A marketing plan, on the other hand, is plump with meaning. It provides you with
several major benefits. Let's review them.
Rallying point: Your marketing plan gives your troops something to rally behind.
You want them to feel confident that the captain of the vessel has the charts i
n order, knows how to run the ship, and has a port of destination in mind. Compa
nies often undervalue the impact of a "marketing plan" on their own people, who
want to feel part of a team engaged in an exciting and complicated joint endeavo
r. If you want your employees to feel committed to your company, it's important
to share with them your vision of where the company is headed in the years to co
me. People don't always understand financial projections, but they can get excit
ed about a well-written and well-thought-out marketing plan. You should consider
releasing your marketing plan--perhaps in an abridged version--companywide. Do
it with some fanfare and generate some excitement for the adventures to come. Yo
ur workers will appreciate being involved.
Chart to success: We all know that plans are imperfect things. How can you possi
bly know what's going to happen 12 months or five years from now? Isn't putting
together a marketing plan an exercise in futility . . . a waste of time better s
pent meeting with customers or fine-tuning production? Yes, possibly but only in
the narrowest sense. If you don't plan, you're doomed, and an inaccurate plan i
s far better than no plan at all. To stay with our sea captain analogy, it's bet
ter to be 5 or even 10 degrees off your destination port than to have no destina
tion in mind at all. The point of sailing, after all, is to get somewhere, and w
ithout a marketing plan, you'll wander the seas aimlessly, sometimes finding dry
land but more often than not floundering in a vast ocean. Sea captains without
a chart are rarely remembered for discovering anything but the ocean floor.
Company operational instructions: Your child's first bike and your new VCR came
with a set of instructions, and your company is far more complicated to put toge
ther and run than either of them. Your marketing plan is a step-by-step guide fo
r your company's success. It's more important than a vision statement. To put to
gether a genuine marketing plan, you have to assess your company from top to bot
tom and make sure all the pieces are working together in the best way. What do y
ou want to do with this enterprise you call the company in the coming year? Cons
ider it a to-do list on a grand scale. It assigns specific tasks for the year.
Captured thinking: You don't allow your financial people to keep their numbers i
n their heads. Financial reports are the lifeblood of the numbers side of any bu
siness, no matter what size. It should be no different with marketing. Your writ
ten document lays out your game plan. If people leave, if new people arrive, if
memories falter, if events bring pressure to alter the givens, the information i

n the written marketing plan stays intact to remind you of what you'd agreed on.
Top-level reflection: In the daily hurly-burly of competitive business, it's har
d to turn your attention to the big picture, especially those parts that aren't
directly related to the daily operations. You need to take time periodically to
really think about your business--whether it's providing you and your employees
with what you want, whether there aren't some innovative wrinkles you can add, w
hether you're getting all you can out of your products, your sales staff and you
r markets. Writing your marketing plan is the best time to do this high-level th
inking. Some companies send their top marketing people away to a retreat. Others
go to the home of a principal. Some do marketing plan development at a local mo
tel, away from phones and fax machines, so they can devote themselves solely to
thinking hard and drawing the most accurate sketches they can of the immediate f
uture of the business.
Ideally, after writing marketing plans for a few years, you can sit back and rev
iew a series of them, year after year, and check the progress of your company. O
f course, sometimes this is hard to make time for (there is that annoying real w
orld to deal with), but it can provide an unparalleled objective view of what yo
u've been doing with your business life over a number of years.
Source: The Small Business Encyclopedia and Knock-Out Marketing.
Continue on to the next section of our Marketing Plan Plan How-To >>Researching
Your Market

Researching Your Market

Whether you're just starting out or if you've been in business for years, you s
hould always stay up-to-date with your market information. Here are the best met
hods for finding your data.

The purpose of market research is to provide relevant data that will help solve
marketing problems a business will encounter. This is absolutely necessary in th
e start-up phase. Conducting thorough market surveys is the foundation of any su
ccessful business. In fact, strategies such as market segmentation (identifying
specific segments within a market) and product differentiation (creating an iden
tity for your product or service that separates it from your competitors') would
be impossible to develop without market research.
Whether you're conducting market research using the historical, experimental, ob
servational or survey method, you'll be gathering two types of data. The first w
ill be "primary" information that you will compile yourself or hire someone to g
ather. Most information, however, will be "secondary," or already compiled and o
rganized for you. Reports and studies done by government agencies, trade associa
tions, or other businesses within your industry are examples of the latter. Sear
ch for them, and take advantage of them.
Primary Research
When conducting primary research using your own resources, there are basically t
wo types of information that can be gathered: exploratory and specific. Explorat
ory research is open-ended in nature; helps you define a specific problem; and u

sually involves detailed, unstructured interviews in which lengthy answers are s

olicited from a small group of respondents. Specific research is broader in scop
e and is used to solve a problem that exploratory research has identified. Inter
views are structured and formal in approach. Of the two, specific research is mo
re expensive.
When conducting primary research using your own resources, you must first decide
how you will question your target group of individuals. There are basically thr
ee avenues you can take: direct mail, telemarketing or personal interviews.
Direct Mail
If you choose a direct-mail questionnaire, be sure to do the following in order
to increase your response rate:
Make sure your questions are short and to the point.
Make sure questionnaires are addressed to specific individuals and they're of in
terest to the respondent.
Limit the questionnaire's length to two pages.
Enclose a professionally prepared cover letter that adequately explains what you
Send a reminder about two weeks after the initial mailing. Include a postage-pai
d self-addressed envelope.
Unfortunately, even if you employ the above tactics, response to direct mail is
always low, and is sometimes less than five percent.
Phone Surveys
Phone surveys are generally the most cost-effective, considering overall respon
se rates; they cost about one-third as much as personal interviews, which have,
on average, a response rate which is only 10 percent. Following are some phone s
urvey guidelines:
At the beginning of the conversation, your interviewer should confirm the name o
f the respondent if calling a home, or give the appropriate name to the switchbo
ard operator if calling a business.
Pauses should be avoided, as respondent interest can quickly drop.
Make sure that a follow-up call is possible if additional information is require
Make sure that interviewers don't divulge details about the poll until the respo
ndent is reached.
As mentioned phone interviews are cost-effective but speed is another big advant
age. Some of the more experienced interviewers can get through up to 10 intervie
wers an hour (however, speed for speed's sake is not the goal of any of these su
rveys), but five to six per hour is more typical. Phone interviews also allow yo
u to cover a wide geographical range relatively inexpensively. Phone costs can b
e reduced by taking advantage of cheaper rates during certain hours.
Personal Interviews
There are two main types of personal interviews:
The group survey. Used mostly by big business, group interviews can be u
seful as brainstorming tools resulting in product modifications and new product
ideas. They also give you insight into buying preferences and purchasing decisio
ns among certain populations.
The depth interview. One-on-one interviews where the interviewer is guid
ed by a small checklist and basic common sense. Depth interviews are either focu
sed or non-directive. Non-directive interviews encourage respondents to address
certain topics with minimal questioning. The respondent, in essence, leads the i
nterview. The focused interview, on the other hand, is based on a pre-set checkl
ist. The choice and timing of questions, however, is left to the interviewer, de
pending on how the interview goes.
When considering which type of survey to use, keep the following cost factors in
Mail. Most of the costs here concern the printing of questionnaires, envelopes,
postage, the cover letter, time taken in the analysis and presentation, the cost
of researcher time, and any incentives used.

Telephone. The main costs here are the interviewer's fee, phone charges, prepara
tion of the questionnaire, cost of researcher time, and the analysis and present
ation of the results of the questioning.
Personal interviews. Costs include the printing of questionnaires and prompt car
ds if needed, the incentives used, the interviewer's fee and expenses, cost of r
esearcher time, and analysis and presentation.
Group discussions. Your main costs here are the interviewer's fees and expenses
in recruiting and assembling the groups, renting the conference room or other fa
cility, researcher time, any incentives used, analysis and presentation, and the
cost of recording media such as tapes, if any are used.
Secondary data is outside information assembled by government agencies, industry
and trade associations, labor unions, media sources, chambers of commerce, etc.
, and found in the form of pamphlets, newsletters, trade and other magazines, ne
wspapers, and so on. It's termed secondary data because the information has been
gathered by another, or secondary, source. The benefits of this are obvious--ti
me and money are saved because you don't have to develop survey methods or do th
e interviewing.
Secondary sources are divided into three main categories:
Public. Public sources are the most economical, as they're usually free,
and can offer a lot of good information. These sources are most typically gover
nmental departments, business departments of public libraries, etc.
Commercial. Commercial sources are equally valuable, but usually involve
costs such as subscription and association fees. However, you spend far less th
an you would if you hired a research team to collect the data firsthand. Commerc
ial sources typically consist of research and trade assocations, organizations l
ike SCORE (Society Corps of Retired Executives) and Dun & Bradstreet, banks and
other financial institutions, publicly traded corporations, etc.
Educational. Educational institutions are frequently overlooked as viabl
e information sources, yet there is more research conducted in colleges, univers
ities, and polytechnic institutes than virtually any sector of the business comm
Government statistics are among the most plentiful and wide-ranging public sourc
es of information. Start with the Census Bureau's helpful Hidden Treasures--Cens
us Bureau Data and Where to Find It! In seconds, you'll find out where to find f
ederal and state information. Other government publications that are helpful inc
Statistical and Metropolitan Area Data Book. Offers statistics for metropolitan
areas, central cities and counties.
Statistical Abstract of the United States. Data books with statistics from numer
ous sources, government to private.
U.S. Global Outlook. Traces the growth of 200 industries and gives five-year for
ecasts for each.
Don't neglect to contact specific government agencies such as the Small Business
Administration (SBA). They sponsor several helpful programs such as SCORE and S
mall Business Development Centers (SBDCs) which can provide you with free counse
ling and a wealth of business information. The Department of Commerce not only p
ublishes helpful books like the U.S. Global Outlook, it also produces an array o
f products with information regarding both domestic industries and foreign marke
ts through its International Trade Administration (ITA) branch. The above items
are available from the U.S. Government Printing Office.
One of the best public sources is the business section of public libraries. The
services provided vary from city to city, but usually include a wide range of go
vernment and market statistics, a large collection of directories including info
rmation on domestic and foreign businesses, as well as a wide selection of magaz
ines, newspapers and newsletters.
Almost every county government publishes population density and distribution fig
ures in accessible census tracts. These tracts will show you the number of peopl
e living in specific areas, such as precincts, water districts or even 10-block

neighborhoods. Other public sources include city chambers of commerce or busines

s development departments, which encourage new businesses in their communities.
They will supply you (usually for free) with information on population trends, c
ommunity income characteristics, payrolls, industrial development, and so on.
Among the best commercial sources of information are research and trade associat
ions. Information gathered by trade associations is usually confined to a certai
n industry and available only to association members, with a membership fee freq
uently required. However, the research gathered by the larger associations is us
ually thorough, accurate and worth the cost of membership. Two excellent resourc
es to help you locate a trade association that reports on the business you're re
searching are Encyclopedia of Associations (Gale Research) and Business Informat
ion Sources (University of California Press) and can usually be found at your lo
cal library.
Research associations are often independent but are sometimes affiliated with tr
ade associations. They often limit their activities to conducting and applying r
esearch in industrial development, but some have become full-service information
sources with a wide range of supplementary publications such as directories.
Educational institutions are very good sources of research. Research there range
s from faculty-based projects often published under professors' bylines to stude
nt projects, theses and assignments. Copies of student research projects may be
available for free with faculty permission. Consulting services are available ei
ther for free or at a cost negotiated with the appropriate faculty members. This
can be an excellent way to generate research at little or no cost, using studen
ts who welcome the professional experience either as interns or for special cred
it. Contact the university administration departments and marketing/management s
tudies departments for further information. University libraries are additional
sources of research.
Source:The Small Business Encyclopedia and Knock-Out Marketing.
Continue on to the next section of our Marketing Plan How-To >>The Ingredients o
f a Marketing Plan

Kim T. Gordon: Marketing

Secret Service
Boost your business by doing a little shopping undercover, of course.
By Kim T. Gordon | Entrepreneur Magazine September 2001
Thomas Stemberg, the CEO and founder of Staples, is addicted to shopping. Despit
e the fact that he heads an $11 billion store chain, Stemberg continues to shop
the competition in person, sometimes even enlisting family members to help-inclu
ding his mother-in-law, who, he says, "was a regular shopper at Office Depot's d
elivery business to help me learn how it worked."
Shopping the competition is one method of stimulating growth and innovation for
your retail operation. It's easy, do-it-yourself research that can help you find
your marketing edge by monitoring service from the customer's perspective.

Mystery shopping is an early warning system for any business that relies on exte
nsive public contact.

Getting the most out of competitive store visits means having clearly defined ob
jectives and knowing what matters most to you and your customers. A clothing sto
re owner, for example, might shop her competitors to compare prices, the variety
of sizes and styles in stock, store hours, store clerks' friendliness and the w
ay customers are greeted. With a good shopping program, you experience your comp
etitor's store the way customers do, then apply the best of what you learn to yo
ur business.
Also shop retailers outside your industry. Laura Livers, president of Shop'n Che
k, a mystery shopping firm in Atlanta, recommends finding a company in a noncomp
eting field that faces similar operational challenges, such as handling phone or
ders and comparing their tactics and techniques so you can develop ways to impro
ve yours.
Stemberg suggests small retailers study the tactics used by leaders outside thei
r industries-"such as the Wal-Mart greeter," he says-and learn to emulate them.
The other side of shopping-based research takes place in your own store. Mystery
shopping is an early warning system for any business that relies on extensive p
ublic contact. Because poor service is most often cited as the reason for loss o
f sales, consider hiring a mystery shopper to evaluate the experience your store
offers. Professional mystery shoppers go to businesses posing as ordinary custo
mers and then provide evaluations of their experiences using written questionnai
res and reports.
"A successful mystery shopping program can evaluate and measure the product know
ledge and skills of salespeople," says Livers, whose company has nearly 30 years
' experience and 90,000 shoppers throughout the United States. She says a visit
from a mystery shopper is a "snapshot of time, and the more often you shop, the
more you fill your photo album and start to identify strengths and weaknesses."
Before starting a mystery shopping program, understand what your customers want.
Suppose you own a store that sells energy-efficient windows and doors. Mystery
shoppers can't help you build sales over the long term if the product quality is
poor, and they can't tell you what your target market wants from your business
or products. But they can help ensure that people who come in to shop for window
s are waited on promptly and courteously and that the sales information is prese
nted consistently. "Identify what the consumer wants and build a training progra
m around meeting their expectations," says Livers.
For help putting your own mystery shopping program together, go to
m, where you can search more than 250 mystery shopping service providers. You'll
also find an extensive searchable database at the Mystery Shopping Providers As
sociation Web site.
Contact Kim T. Gordon, author of Bringing Home the Business, at www.smallbusines
Contact Sources
Shop'n Chek Worldwide
(508) 253-1833,

Kim T. Gordon: Marketing

Say What?
How to get customers buzzing about your business
By Kim T. Gordon | Entrepreneur Magazine November 2001
People love to talk, and when they say great things about your business, it tran
slates into increased sales and a strong growth curve. Buzz is all about what's
hot, new and interesting. It's more persuasive than traditional advertising, bec
ause buzz is based on trust-we're more likely to believe what's told to us by fr
iends or co-workers.
Influencers and opinion leaders are the engines of buzz. These people can be exp
erts, members of the press, politicians, celebrities or well-connected customers
others rely on for information. For example, when Oprah recommends a book, it s
oars to No. 1; or when Sarah Jessica Parker wears a new dress, it's pictured in
fashion magazines. The fuel these influencers require is compelling information,
whether it's about the latest books, fashion or software. Your public relations
and referral programs are the keys to generating this information.
Avoid Bad Buzz
The trick is to give people something positive to talk about. Emanuel Rosen, aut
hor of The Anatomy of Buzz: How to Create Word-of-Mouth Marketing (Doubleday), b
elieves the more interconnected your customers are, the more crucial word-of-mou
th becomes. Thanks to the Internet, bad buzz can spread fast. According to Rosen
, "Very often, buzz is truthful. If people have a bad experience, they'll say so
How do your customers learn about your products or services? If it's through cha
t rooms and discussion groups, you can monitor customer comments and fuel positi
ve buzz by fixing any problems that arise or dealing directly with any customer
complaints before they become big problems. Companies that ignore this strategy
risk suffering the same setbacks that Intel did back in 1994, when a complaint p
osted on the Net concerning its Pentium chip was belittled by the company. The r
esult, says Rosen, was more than 25,000 customer phone calls a day about the pro
blematic chip.
Get People Talking
Companies that are masters of good buzz never stop innovating and sharing inform
ation, and they use samples, demos and events to get the word out. Trivial Pursu
it was an unknown game until its producer's PR department began sending copies t
o the celebrities mentioned in the game. Celebrities received a letter from the
company president clipped to the game card that held the question about them. "T
his kicked off Trivial Pursuit parties in Hollywood," says Rosen, and the buzz s
oon spread nationwide.
"Very often buzz is truthful. If people have a bad experience, they'll say so."
Back in 1983, when coach Brian Maxwell and a student, Jennifer Biddulph, invente
d an energy bar for athletes called the PowerBar, they sent local athletes boxes
of five bars and follow-up surveys, and handed out samples at sporting events.
Over the years, they continued to enlist coaches and leading athletes, and by 20
00, the company had surpassed $140 million in sales and was sold to Nestle.
Want to build maximum buzz? Try combining the one-two punch of media relations w
ith special events for your best customers, like BMW did for the highly successf
ul launch of its Z3. First, they created an innovative product and placed it in

the James Bond movie GoldenEye. Prior to the movie's release, BMW dealers held p
rivate screenings and receptions for as many as 40,000 customers. They also held
a sneak preview of the car in New York's Central Park attended by about 200 mem
bers of the media who were treated to a surprise appearance by GoldenEye's star,
Pierce Brosnan.
While something of that magnitude is likely beyond your means, establishing excl
usivity-like being among the first to see the new BMW-and scarcity can help fuel
buzz. For proof, consider the craze over collecting Beanie Babies toys, the pop
ularity of TV shows that reveal the value of rare collectibles, and the enormous
buzz that fuels eBay.
The biggest myth about buzz is that buzz is all you need. Word-of-mouth often sp
reads slowly, so traditional marketing, including advertising and promotion, is
still necessary to facilitate sales. Buzz is the added spark you ignite when you
give the media and your best customers something to talk about.
Contact marketing expert Kim T. Gordon, author of Bringing Home the Business, at
Contact Source
(510) 843-1330, ext. 2544,
Emanuel Rosen

Managing Your Reputation

Follow these tips to save your brand during a crisis.
By Kay Marie Ainsley and Michael H. Seid | October 22, 2001
Q: Particularly since the terrorist attacks, it's become clear how important it
is to have a disaster plan in place for your company. What are some ways I can m
ake sure my company survives a crisis with its image intact?
A: Let me start off with two examples of possible behavior in a crisis: first, w
hat not to do, and then, how a savvy franchise did the right thing.
No one can question the generosity of Starbucks founder Howard Shultz. Shultz an
d the Starbucks Foundation are leading supporters of literacy programs, environm
ental initiatives, neighborhood development programs as well as fair pricing for
coffee growers internationally. But in one moment, in the middle of a national
disaster, ground zero for Starbucks was not the World Trade Center, but how it h
andled a crisis caused by one of its locations in downtown Manhattan.
As the crisis began to unfold on September 11, an employee of Midwood Ambulance
raced into a Starbucks location near the World Trade Center looking for bottled
water for the victims of the terrorist attack. Rather than giving them the water
, Starbucks charged $130 for three cases, which the ambulance employees had to p
ay out of their own pockets. If the story ended there, you might chalk it up to
an error in judgment by a store manager not knowing what to do in the midst of a
disaster zone. But it didn't.

Al Rapisarda, president of Midwood, called Starbucks headquarters a few days lat

er to complain about the incident and was reportedly told by a Starbucks employe
e, "This could not have happened." On September 17, he then faxed Orin Smith, CE
O of Starbucks, repeating his complaint. Reportedly, he did not get an immediate
response. It was not until the story began to be repeated on the Internet and i
n major newspapers that Starbucks finally contacted Rapisarda, offering regrets
and refunding the $130 paid by Midway's employees. Thirty years of building a na
tional brand put in jeopardy for $130 and an inability to execute a crisis plan.
Compare Starbucks' reaction to that of a McDonald's franchised location in the s
ame area. Not only did the local McDonald's not close its doors, but it started
to cook and cook and cook. It stayed open 24 hours, providing free food, coffee,
juice, soft drinks and even bottled water to the rescue workers.
Since September 11, McDonald's, with the support of its franchisees, has served
more than 650,000 meals and distributed bottled water, soft drinks and orange ju
ice to rescue and recovery workers at the disaster sites. McDonald's even set up
several 45-foot mobile units by the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the cr
ash site in Somerset, Pennsylvania, to ensure that even if there was no McDonald
's nearby, the heroes of September 11 would be fed.
Next Step
Learn more about handling crises with Crisis Managment: Planning for the Inevit
ableby Steven Fink.
McDonald's collected more than $4.5 million for the American Red Cross and pledg
ed an additional $2 million from Ronald McDonald House Charities and from McDona
ld's Corp. to aid in disaster relief. McDonald's was even smart enough to provid
e cookies and juice to Blood Donation Centers throughout the United States. A gr
eat brand and a great company acting with greatness in a time of national disast
In the days following the crisis, McDonald's executed its crisis strategy, while
Starbucks acted like a deer in the headlights. But should Starbucks management
be faulted for the action of one employee in not providing disaster assistance?
Maybe. Training employees to deal with crisis situations and to make independent
decisions is a responsibility of management. Should they be blamed for the bad
press and damage to the Starbucks brand caused by their failure to deal with the
crisis immediately once they were informed at headquarters? Absolutely! They fo
rgot the first rule of crisis management, which is don't ignore the crisis.
According to the Institute for Crisis Management, 65 percent of the crises compa
nies face are of the "smoldering" variety. In other words, most are problems com
panies are aware of that could erupt and therefore are caused by management. Onl
y 35 percent are of the "sudden" variety. Management at Starbucks did not have a
real crisis on September 11; the crisis only began once they ignored the proble
m. Just as businesses have to plan and provide direction to all its locations on
how to operate the business, they must plan for and manage through the unexpect
ed crisis. Most professionals agree that the existence of a working crisis plan
and its successful implementation must be viewed as important to the survival of
In addition to taking immediate action to correct the problem, according to Cris
isTrak, a service of Kansas City, Kansas, public relations firm Barkley & Evergr
een, you have to be prepared. Barkley & Evergreen recommends a few simple rules
companies should follow when dealing with the media following a crisis:
Have updated company information readily available, including the number of loca
tions (franchised and company-owned), profiles of company executives and key fra
nchisees, and information concerning the system's products and services.
Keep the telephone numbers of key influentials on hand, including those of manag
ement, your crisis management advisors, key vendors, franchisees, the press and
anyone else you might possibly need in a crisis.
Practice your crisis communication plan, and schedule annual training exercises.
Speak with a single voice. Use only one spokesman. Make certain that the franchi

sees receive training in crisis management and that they understand how to execu
te the company's plan, including calling the correct contact person at franchiso
r headquarters and their responses, if any, to the press.
Be open, honest and factual with the media.
Let the media know when you will be communicating with them.
Keep your message simple. Make certain that everyone can clearly understand and
follow the situation.
Use a steady hand-never panic.
The cornerstone of any good crisis management program is the ability to execute
your plan. Companies need to train everyone in their system on how to identify a
crisis (something that Starbucks obviously missed), what to do and who in the c
ompany to contact.
Speed, honesty and a plan you can execute are all central to an effective crisis
management program. Singular in importance in valuing a company's trademark is
its reputation. And, unfortunately, the damage from a poorly handled crisis can
cause long-lasting and often permanent damage to a company's reputation and its
Michael H. Seid, founder and managing director of franchise advisory firm Michae
l H. Seid & Associates, has more than 20 years' experience as a senior operation
s and financial executive and a consultant for franchise, retail, restaurant and
service companies. He is co-author of the bookFranchising for Dummiesand a form
er member of the International Franchise Association's Board of Directors and Ex
ecutive Committee.
Kay Marie Ainsley, managing director of Michael H. Seid & Associates, consults w
ith companies on the appropriateness of franchising; assists franchisors with sy
stems, manuals and training programs; and is a frequent speaker and author of nu
merous articles on franchising.

Bringing in the Business

How to find your target market and tell them all about wonderful, fabulous you
By Karen E. Spaeder | December 17, 2001
Q: I live in an apartment complex and am getting ready to start up my business a
gain after putting it on hold for several months. I'm in the tax-preparation bus
iness, and I am also currently studying accounting. Besides advertising, how els
e can I attract customers?
A: This is by far one of the most common questions I receive. Working from home
presents a unique challenge in the way of marketing and sales-it's not like you
have a storefront to attract customers. Even if you have an online presence, sel
f-promotion is tricky for homebased entrepreneurs, no matter how you look at it.
Promoting your homebased business means letting people know what you can do for
them in a way that will make them not only try your service, but also come back
and provide you with repeat business as well as tell their family and friends a

bout you.
As such, advertising is just one method of self-promotion. Don't forget about ma
rketing and public relations. And all three of these things have various subsets
-networking, direct mail, press releases, a logo and generating word-of-mouth, t
o name a few. Basically, you have to try a combination of strategies and find ou
t what works. You'll know what works when you start bringing in clients, those c
lients start bringing in clients, and so on until all the sudden you're running
a growing, thriving homebased business.
Before you get there, though, you have to research whether there's a market for
your services. If there isn't, you won't get any business, no matter how well yo
u think you've planned out your marketing campaign. Actually, part of that plann
ing means finding out whether you've got a target market waiting for your servic
es, so make that your first priority. You've indicated that you're relaunching t
his business after a hiatus; is there a reason you put business on hold for a wh
ile? Did you have trouble finding customers? Or did you have potential customers
, but you were you having trouble successfully promoting your business to them?
What strategies, if any, did you use before? What worked and what didn't? Let th
e answers to those questions guide you as you launch a new marketing campaign.
If you haven't yet figured out whether there's a market for your services, here
are three simple ways to find out:
1. Talk to the competition. Are there others in your area providing similar serv
ices? Look closely at their offerings. Are they successful? Can you offer someth
ing they can't? What kinds of marketing tactics are they using?
2. Talk to your prospects. Once you've talked to your competition and figured ou
t why you're better, go to businesses and individuals to find out whether they w
ould use your services. Tell them exactly what you're offering, and pay attentio
n to their reactions. Find out whether there's anything else you could offer to
meet their needs. This is most effective if done in person, since your prospects
won't need to mail anything back to you, and you'll get an immediate response t
o your questions. As an incentive, you could offer a prize or discount on servic
es to those who complete your survey.
3. Attend a trade show or expo. Trade shows are a great place to network and col
lect business cards and can help you locate prospects.
The information you gather from these three market research methods will provide
you with a foundation on which to build your marketing campaign. Entrepreneur.c
om's Sales & Marketing channelhas dozens of resources to help you build your bus
iness, including a step-by-step guide to writing a marketing plan. Just remember
to constantly assess your marketing tactics to determine whether they're workin
g, and don't ever be afraid to go back to the drawing board.
Karen E. Spaeder is editor of and managing editor ofEntrepreneu
r magazine.

PR: More Than Just a Press Release

You need the complete ingredients of public relations before you start your cam

By Al Lautenslager | January 21, 2002

Q: I've heard that PR is very cost-effective marketing, but does that mean just
sending out press releases?
A: Yes, PR is extremely cost-effective. Often the cost is zero, but PR is not li
mited to just sending out press releases.
Your visibility will increase with powerful publicity. Publicizing your business
, you or your services will help increase the value of each to you and your whol
e target audience. The idea is that publicity will bring the news of your compan
y to the world, online or off. The basic weapons you can use to do this are a pr
ess kit, a company background piece, press releases, story ideas, and articles o
r columns about your firm. As you can see, there are many vehicles to distribute
through the media, even though the most important of all is the press release.
A press kit can include the background piece, press releases, photos, story idea
s, reprints of previous articles about your business, a list of customer referen
ces and anything else the news media might find newsy. If you provide the media
with news that will appeal to their readers, you will gain instant credibility a
nd have a valuable promotional relationship. This can be very powerful from a ma
rketing point of view.
A publicity campaign should begin with a master plan. The more newsworthy you ma
ke your company, the more coverage you'll get. And publicity will earn credibili
ty that advertising just can't buy. Your goals should be uniqueness, timeliness
and top-of-the-mind awareness. With publicity and visibility, your company profi
le rises, as do your client and prospect level. One successful story about your
company can result in free publicity worth hundreds and thousands of dollars.
Part of managing the total marketing campaign and especially the public relation
s portion is supplying the media with a unique story that will grasp their reade
r and viewer audiences. Press releases also have a dramatic impact on customers
and your targeted prospects.
PR is one of the most cost-effective parts of marketing that an organization can
undertake. The cost is in the development of an organized campaign and the writ
ing and distribution of press releases-there is usually no cost associated with
printed pieces or placement into publications.
There is definitely a knack to writing a newsworthy press release, even though s
ometimes the goal is awareness and promotion. Editors do not like promotion, so
crafting a press release to appeal to an editor is key. There is no guarantee th
at your story will ever be published, but with a consistent professional, newswo
rthy approach with editors of reputable publications, the probability is good th
at you'll gain some publicity. Press releases are also great vehicles for commun
icating with clients and prospects. Putting them on your Web site is a very effe
ctive means of promotion to your captive markets. It also further substantiates
your credibility in your field.
Alfred J. Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant, direct-m
ail promotion specialist, principle of marketing consulting firm Marketing Now,
and president and owner of The Ink Well, a commercial printing and mailing compa
ny in Wheaton, Illinois. Visit his Web sites at
m and, or e-mail him at

Get Over Your Networking Shyness

You can't get the word out on your business unless you're talking it up. Overco
me your marketing hesitance with these 5 tips.
By Sean M. Lyden | January 28, 2002
Q: I keep hearing that networking is a good way to drum up new business for my h
omebased business support firm, but I hate doing it. I'm shy and I get embarrass
ed when I'm trying to talk about my company, like I'm forcing myself on the pers
on I'm talking to. How can I get over this?
A: Your success as an entrepreneur hinges on how well you communicate with peopl
e. Therefore, it's a good thing that you're trying to address this issue right n
ow before shyness can jeopardize your venture. Use these five tips to break the
power of shyness and take your business to the next level:
1. Set clear goals. What do you want to accomplish in your business? What income
level do you want to achieve? Think in tangible terms: What would your life loo
k like if you accomplished your goals? Where would you travel? What kind of home
would you own? What kind of car would you drive? Then consider the alternative:
What might happen if you allow shyness to stop you from pursuing your dreams? W
hat would it cost you in terms of potential income and life fulfillment? By simp
ly taking the time to define your goals and write them down, you intensify your
desire to overcome your shyness.
2. Turn your focus away from yourself. When you're at a networking event, instea
d of feeling embarrassed about "forcing yourself" onto the other person, simply
switch the focus of the conversation to that person. Ask questions like:
Are you a member?
How have you benefited from your membership?
Do you attend regularly?
Are you on any committees?
What business are you in?
How did you get into your business (or career path)?
The irony is that when you allow people to talk about themselves, they'll be mor
e likely to enjoy the conversation with you-and naturally view your business in
a positive light. In other words, you're indirectly promoting your business with
out having to force yourself on that person.
Also, after you've met someone new, take it upon yourself to introduce that pers
on to others. This gives you a job to do and the activity takes your mind off yo
ur fear.
3. Practice, practice, practice. A key step to overcoming shyness is preparation
and practice. Write down in advance the questions you think will stimulate and
sustain conversations. Then practice in an environment where you won't feel inti
midated. Try role-playing with someone you feel comfortable with, perhaps a spou
se, friend, coach or even a sales trainer. This way, even when you feel insecure
, you're equipped to push through the fear because you have a clear idea of what
you want to say and how you're going to say it.
4. Learn from your mistakes-don't fear them. Often shyness comes from a fear of
making a fool of yourself. Diminish that fear by focusing on what you can learn
from networking situations, whether good or bad. Perhaps you notice particular p
hrases you use that generate positive responses. Write these phrases down and us
e them. On the other hand, when a phrase or action gets no response or a negativ
e response, take notice and avoid it in the future. When you take time to assess

your approach, you'll position yourself to be more successful with your interac
tions with people.
5. Reward yourself when you've done well. If you make it to a networking event a
nd speak with, say, five or six new people and stay as long as you planned, give
yourself a reward. Perhaps it's a new book, a dinner out-whatever motivates you
. Withhold the reward if you don't meet your goal.
The bottom line? The more you network, the more proficient and confident you'll
become at it. And the more your confidence grows, the less power your shyness wi
ll have over you.
Sean Lyden is the CEO of Prestige Positioning (a service of The Professional Wri
ting Firm Inc.), an Atlanta-based firm that "positions" clients as leading exper
ts in their field-through ghost-written articles and books for publication. Clie
nts include Morgan Stanley, IFG Securities, SunTrust Service Corp. and several p
rofessional advisory and management consulting firms nationwide.

The Best Ways to Contact Editors

Want to know how to get in good with the media? Follow these tips to make sure
your company gets written about.
By Al Lautenslager | February 18, 2002
Q: What is the best way to contact publication editors, and how is information b
est communicated to them?
A: I had the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion on The Insider Secrets to
Publicity. There were many questions asked, but the majority of them centered o
n finding out what editors are interested in printing and determining how to con
tact the editor/reporter. The answers from the three panelists had some very com
mon threads that answer these questions.
Communications to editors/reporters vary with the person. It is truly their pers
onal choice. Some of the older, experienced editors still like to sort through t
he faxes in their in-box, regardless of how busy they are or how tech-savvy they
want to be. Some of the younger reporters and newer publications always ask for
communication by e-mail. Editors and reporters get hundreds of communications a
day. Making the communication stand out is key to making sure it won't go into
the delete file or the waste bin. Editors expect e-mail communication and faxes,
so don't think of it as spam or unsolicited faxes.
Some hometown publication editors like to get phone calls. This is especially tr
ue if they have the liberty of assigning a reporter to a story. Editors like two
weeks lead time on features for dailies and more if it is something like a spec
ial edition or monthly publication. They do not like calls requesting a story th
e day something is happening. Also don't call at the end of the day. Editors and
reporters are on deadline at this time of day and are scrambling to finalize th
eir stories. Call in the morning when things are more relaxed.
As far as what editors and reporters will publish, it depends primarily on the t

ype of publication its readership. Daily local newspapers are truly looking for
items of local interest, national stories with a local angle, timely topics with
in the readership community and the like. National or regional publications are
reporting on hot trends and items affecting the lives of those reading the publi
One editor wisely suggested: "First put yourself in the readers' shoes and think
of what you would like to read about. Then put yourself in my shoes, and think
about what could be reported on out of all the stories I get that would appeal t
o our readers."
Summarize your information, and be prepared to tell the editor/reporter why your
story is important or of interest to their readers. Don't overwhelm them with t
oo many details.
The preferred vehicle of communication is the press release. The editors on our
panel stated that 99 times out of 100, press releases are edited and shortened.
Because of this, they ask that press releases be short and to the point. Ramblin
g and unnecessary details will get noticed and remembered in a negative way. Sho
rt is good for press releases. This is one reason why the press release is prefe
rred. When asked their opinion on the submission of feature articles, all unanim
ously stated that these are not desired. That's what editors and reporters do--w
rite stories about news. They usually don't want anyone else doing it, or they a
re not needed. If, for some reason, an article is all they have, it will get rew
ritten and probably shortened anyway.
As I've said in previous articles, editors do not like promotion. They like news
. They see right through a PR spin to make promotion news. If you get one past t
hem, they remember. After all, they have control over what goes into the publica
tion. Establishing as positive a relationship as possible is advantageous for an
yone desiring PR and using the media to tell their story.
Alfred J. Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant, direct-m
ail promotion specialist, principle of marketing consulting firm Marketing Now,
and president and owner of The Ink Well, a commercial printing and mailing compa
ny in Wheaton, Illinois. Visit his Web sites at
m and, or e-mail him at

Achieve Growth Without Borrowing Funds

Use strategic alliances to grow your business fast.
By David Meier | February 25, 2002
Q: I would like to grow my business; however, I would rather not borrow anymore
money for now. Is there any way I can increase my business' sales and profitabil
ity without having to invest additional dollars?
A: Yes. One of the most powerful ways to facilitate business growth is through t
he application of strategic alliances. These alliances, or virtual funding as th
ey are sometimes called, allow you to enjoy many of the benefits typically assoc

iated with the infusion of cash into your business, and to do so within a very s
hort period of time. By using strategic alliances, you can avoid having to borro
w, or bring outside investors into your business.
Two important strategic alliances are marketing alliances and product alliances.
Under a marketing alliance, you and another business exchange customer bases. T
his allows you to gain access to another business's customers, to whom you can m
arket your business's products and services. Additionally, you may be able to ea
rn a royalty or share revenue from the other business' (your alliance partner's)
sale of its products and services to your customers.
With a product alliance, you are able to offer another business's products and s
ervices to your existing customers, while your alliance partner sells your busin
ess's products and services to its customers. Under this type of alliance, your
business is able to sell products and services without any additional costly req
uirements, such as manufacturing know-how and capabilities, product distribution
networks, or increased investment in inventory and storage. Under most circumst
ances, your alliance partner can direct-ship its products and/or provide service
s directly to your customer, without your business having to be involved at all
beyond the sale. All your business has to do is collect the money and divide thi
s sales revenue between your business and your alliance partner.
Next Step
Get the alliance lowdown with The Strategic Partnering Handbookby Tony Lendrum.
The Internet has more clearly defined the respective roles of strategic alliance
s for business owners. Marketing alliances are facilitated by merely creating a
direct link from one business's Web site to their alliance partners'. The other
business's customers can reach your business with the click of a mouse (and visa
versa). Product alliances are created and activated when one business's custome
rs move to your business' site and purchase products and services, and when your
customers travel to other businesses' sites and make purchases.
The ideal businesses with whom to form alliances are those that offer products a
nd services that are complementary to those of your business. For example, if yo
ur business offers sporting equipment, you could create an alliance with a sport
s clothing retailer as a way of offering their sports clothing to your business'
s customers, while they sell your business' sporting equipment to their customer
Before you enter into an alliance with another business, you must complete due d
iligence research and analysis to determine the trustworthiness, capabilities an
d reputation of any potential alliance partner. Referrals from a business's cust
omers and/or suppliers are good sources of information, along with any credit in
formation you can access. If the potential alliance partner has any existing suc
cessful alliances with other businesses, this feedback should be very useful to
you in making your decision about this potential alliance partner. Also, be cert
ain that you obtain signed copies of any and all appropriate confidentiality and
noncompete agreements, as well as any operating contracts, before you enter int
o any agreement. This requires that you have legal documents drawn up, protectin
g such assets as your business's proprietary trade secrets, its reputation and,
above all, your business's relationships with its existing customers.
Finally, before you make a strategic alliance a permanent agreement, you should
test your alliance concept with each potential alliance partner. Once you have t
he results of your tests, you can refine the terms and conditions of the allianc
e and then finalize all legal documents and operating agreements.
Remember, in order to be successful, an alliance must benefit all members suffic
iently to both entice them as well as maintain a strong level of interest and wo
rking cooperation throughout the entire term of the alliance.
David Meier received an MBA in Finance from Loyola of Baltimore, and spent much
of the 1970s teaching business courses; later, he created a consulting group, an
d for the next two decades, provided accounting and tax services to small-busine
ss owners. He is currently the founder and COO of Small Business 411, which prov
ides small-business owners with ongoing business coaching and the knowledge and

support required to enable them to become truly successful entrepreneurs. Visit

the Small Business 411 site at

Who Is Your Market and What Do They Want?

Before you get set on one target market, figure out if there are any others eag
er for your product or service.
By Karen E. Spaeder | March 18, 2002
Q: I am putting together a memory improvement course for college students and ev
entually plan to tie this in with seminars as well. But, for now, I'm a bit unde
cided about what kind of finished product to sell. My choices are as follows: a)
Write the course up and present it in printed workbook form; b) Write the cours
e up, copy it to CDs and sell it in that format; or c) Offer the course in both
workbook and CD formats.
My way of thinking is that the CD format is better because of the following pres
umptions: 1) Most college students own or have access to computers; 2) Students
would prefer learning from CDs than from printed workbooks (although the student
s may want to print out a few pages of learning material from the CDs); and 3) I
t's less expensive to produce and sell CDs. Of course, regardless of either or b
oth these formats, I will have a Web site. Any thoughts on these presumptions an
d how to go about researching these concerns? I have a college degree but do not
go to college presently.
A: Before I address your question, I have one of my own: Why is this course only
for college students? Keep in mind, college students are just that-college stud
ents, and many of them already have full schedules of classes that they're takin
g for college credit. Plus, they've already paid their tuition and/or fees-will
they be willing to fork out additional cash to take your course? Some of them mi
ght be interested, but if they're not getting any college credit-and they're pay
ing extra money to boot-they might pass it up in favor of classes that meet thei
r graduation requirements.
As such, you would be wise to extend your course to your community as well. You
could of course market it to local college students, but don't leave out busines
s professionals, elderly individuals and others who might need a memory boost.
As for how to present this course-on CD or in a workbook-you'll find that this d
epends on the individual. Personally, if I'm studying something or reading somet
hing longer than a few pages, I prefer looking at it on paper rather than on a c
omputer screen. But others might not care about that-they might prefer a CD-ROM.
Your best bet is to make it easy for students to decide which method they prefer
. Your Web site will come in handy here-you could put all the course material on
line, making it easy for anyone with Internet access (which, let's face it, is e
veryone, given the proliferation of home PCs as well as public places by which t
o access the Internet) to download and print the information. You might not even
need workbooks or CD-ROMs.
Of course, you'll need to test it out. You could start the course with the cours

e material strictly online and see how students respond. If they overwhelmingly
prefer to access the information via your Web site, that might take care of your
question about whether to offer the material in a workbook or CD-ROM. If, howev
er, they overwhelmingly want a tangible product, you could make workbooks and CD
-ROMs available.
You can start your research as soon as you have a Web site ready, even if your c
ourse material isn't ready. Post an application form on your Web site, and inclu
de a question on the form about whether they prefer a tangible product (and what
kind) or online material that they can browse and print out at will. Market the
Web site to your target groups--see what kind of response you get. Good luck, a
nd happy teaching to you.
Karen E. Spaeder is editor of and managing editor ofEntrepreneu
r magazine.

Publishing as a PR Vehicle
Write an article to establish yourself as an expert and garner publicity.
By Al Lautenslager | March 18, 2002
Q: Can feature articles be used to generate PR and promote my business?
A: When thinking of PR, one usually thinks of the media. When thinking of the me
dia, one usually thinks of press releases to communicate with the media. There i
s, however, another way to leverage the media for exposure and awareness, and at
a low cost. Feature articles are considered a media-rich vehicle for communicat
ing to the masses. Just pick up any magazine.
A feature article does a number of things:
1. It supplies content to the media to hopefully enhance the publication. Most p
ublications need a steady stream of informative articles. After all, this is the
raw material for the product of publications.
2. Having a feature article published gives the writer almost instant credibilit
y. Communicating through the media, to a target market, that a particular writer
is an expert has a long-lasting touch with residual value. This credibility is
certainly higher than what a paid, sponsored advertisement can provide.
3. Along the same lines as building credibility and establishing a high level of
expertise is just the very fact that an article was published. Other promotiona
l messages used in a total marketing campaign can be enhanced when stating thing
s like "As seen in Entrepreneur magazine" or "As published in USA Today." This w
orks with obscure publications as well.
One of the more important parts of feature article PR is the bio paragraph that
accompanies the article, usually at the end of the article. (Some publications w
ill feature bio information in a box apart from the article.) This source box, a
s it is commonly referred to, is where contact information-phone, fax, e-mail an

d Web site-is communicated. There is a higher probability of contact information

being published in an article vs. an article written from a press release. The
source box also generates more response than a paid advertisement would.
Feature article PR costs little and should be part of your overall awareness pla
n. The only cost is if a professional PR firm, marketing agency or writer is con
tracted to develop the feature article or series of articles.
Just like a press release, feature articles should have a newsworthy angle to in
crease the probability of it getting published. How-to articles, new-product inf
ormation articles or anything related to the trends of a particular industry app
eal to editors as newsworthy.
Alfred J. Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant, direct-m
ail promotion specialist, principle of marketing consulting firm Marketing Now,
and president and owner of The Ink Well, a commercial printing and mailing compa
ny in Wheaton, Illinois. Visit his Web sites at
m and, or e-mail him at

Recovery Marketing: Hop on and Take a Ride

Now that the economy is on the road to recovery, here's how to get your marketi
ng efforts back on track as well.
By Al Lautenslager | March 18, 2002
A little over a year ago and probably before, articles started popping up all ov
er the place about selling in tough times, marketing in a down economy and the l
ike. Now that we have started to see a few more positive headlines, what now?
For the sake of prognostication, let me review. No, I am not driving the car by
only looking in the rearview mirror.
When times got tough, managers all over the place looked for places to cut costs
. Marketers looked for newer places to sell and to sell more. Some business mana
gers cut marketing and sales expenses. Let me state here, once and very clearly,
that is the wrong thing to do. Jay Conrad Levinson of guerrilla marketing fame
says that "recessionary marketing" is a real opportunity. Bear with me on this r
eview as we approach some new thoughts on "recovery marketing." During tough tim
es, customers are looking for real value. Effective marketing points out that re
al value to customers with the ensuing result of increased sales and increased s
hare of market.
What Levinson states for "recessionary marketing" applies to "turning-the-corner
-and-coming-back" marketing, or "recovery marketing" as well, maybe even more. D
uring recovery, lots of positioning occurs, while at the same time skeptics are
still about. During recovery, some people choose as their favorite form of trans
portation to be hopping on a bandwagon. Once the bandwagon fills up, companies l
ook around at each other and start to feel that it is almost too late to start a
ggressive marketing once again. The same old adage applies to marketing, much li
ke it does to work: "It's easier to keep it up than catch it up."
Learn More

Do you know who your customers are? Read "Different Strokes" so your marketing c
an keep up with changing times.
Borrowing from "recessionary marketing" and applying the same mind-set, thought
processes and applications to recovery marketing will further separate the margi
nal companies from the successful ones. Recovery marketing boils down to investi
ng in the three things that should have been invested in when times got tough:
1. Increase the size of orders.
2. Increase the frequency of orders.
3. Increase the number of customers you sell to.
Enhanced marketing programs and increased investment in marketing accomplishes t
he above items. Free samples, seminars, consulting and speeches are incentives f
or the customer to buy more and to do it more often. Now is the time to put that
marketing line-item expense back into the budget. Prioritize three recovery mar
keting initiatives now, don't deviate, and certainly don't cut the expense or in
vestment that is made. We'll leave the concepts of consistency, persistency and
long-term thinking to other marketing articles.
Here are a few recovery tactics that will help your positioning as customers and
prospects decide where to spend their growing dollars earned from a recovering
Get publicity. If you don't already have a PR program in place, start one now. T
here are a multitude of reasons to write a press release. Focus on one editor an
d get something published. This is free marketing and an effective technique tha
t shows up in all the "marketing in tough times" articles.
Enhance current customer attention. The best prospect is a current customer. Thi
s is true whether we are marketing in a recession or in a recovery or in a boom.
Pay them the proper amount of attention. Prioritize them and see how far into t
heir account you can gain share. Share of customer is always a priority and will
help focus marketing efforts in a recovery.
Increase networking. Referral programs and word-of-mouth marketing are still low
-cost techniques associated with high success rates. There are ways to enhance t
his, but you have to put yourself in front of the potential buyer in some fashio
n or another or have someone else do it for you.
Repackage your products and services as bundles or higher-ticket items. This cer
tainly attains that goal of selling more per order. Customers who have stuck wit
h you through thick and thin will probably spend more in times of recovery.
Spend some money. Invest in that direct-mail program that you've been putting of
f. Send that new brochure to customers and prospects. Sometimes positive talk ab
out "preparing for the recovery" is very contagious. You'd be surprised what kin
d of mind-set you can create in your own market.
These are a few things to get you back on track if you cut that marketing expens
e (and want to beat the bandwagon hoppers) and want to ride the recovery wave. I
can't wait to write the next article in this series about "Marketing In Boom Ti
Alfred J. Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant, direct-m
ail promotion specialist, principal of marketing consulting firm Market For Prof
its, and president and owner of The Ink Well, a commercial printing and mailing
company in Wheaton, Illinois. Visit his Web sites at
and Al invites everyone to sign up for his free report, "
50 People to Instantly Add to Your Network." You'll also receive a free online n
ewsletter, "Market For Profits."

Kim T. Gordon: Marketing

Attracting Referrals
Encourage your happy customers to spread the word about your business.
By Kim T. Gordon | April 01, 2002
Q: What can we do to win more referrals for our business? We see a lot of our co
mpetitors getting customers this way, but we don't seem to have the same luck.
A: When it comes to winning referral business, luck plays a smaller role than yo
u may think. What matters most is cultivating current customers or clients and c
reating an ongoing program to generate referrals from "influencers."
Learn to Ask
Your first step is to communicate with your customers to let them know you're op
en to receiving referrals and what you're looking for. This may be done in perso
n-when meeting or speaking with them on the telephone-and it's best to be direct
. Let's say you write a newsletter for a division of a major corporation. When m
eeting with a department head with whom you regularly work, you could ask her to
refer you to other divisions within the company that might benefit from copywri
ting services. If you have a good, solid working relationship and a happy client
, she may be willing to make introductions for you throughout the company.
But sometimes this kind of direct request is difficult for entrepreneurs, and yo
u may find you're more comfortable using comment cards, surveys or other forms o
f written communication with your customers to get referral names. A remodeling
contractor, for example, could send a follow-up letter at the end of each projec
t asking for feedback and include a section requesting referrals. Depending on y
our type of business, you may find it advantageous to offer an incentive to your
current customers to provide referrals, such as a discount or rebate, when thei
r friends or family members make a purchase or sign up for services.
Market to Influencers
Influencers are people who have direct contact with your primary prospects and c
an send them your way. For instance, real estate sales associates are major infl
uencers for home inspectors, since many prospective homeowners rely on them to r
ecommend an inspector before they make an offer on a home. Likewise, home securi
ty companies that install smoke detectors and other equipment often consider ins
urance agents major influencers, as they frequently recommend installing such de
vices when reviewing new policies with homeowners.
What types of businesses or individuals are major influencers for your company?
There may be thousands in your area-as in the case of a home inspector who relie
s on referrals from real estate sales associates-or just a handful. Often, marke
ting to them can be as important as the campaigns you use to reach your prospect
ive customers or clients. That's why it's essential to set up a program that inc
ludes a combination of sales contacts and marketing tactics to keep referrals co
ming in year-round. Since referral relationships are based on trust, it's vital
to get to know your key influencers one-on-one. So you'll need to identify them,
then call and set up meetings to get acquainted.
Once these relationships are initiated, it's important to nurture and maintain t
hem by staying in contact by telephone, in person and through marketing tools su
ch as direct mail, e-mail or by fax. A great way help your influencers send busi
ness your way is to supply them with marketing tools to use directly with your p
rospects. The home inspector, for instance, could create a "10 Point Inspection
Checklist" with his company's name and contact information for real estate sales
associates to use with prospective home buyers.
Set up a database with your referral list and schedule your ongoing activity in

your contact management program just as you would contacts with prospective clie
nts or customers. This will keep your program on track and important contacts fr
om falling by the wayside.
The way you handle the referrals you receive will solidify your relationships wi
th your sources. So be sure to keep your influencers in the loop with thank-you
notes or calls and updates on the satisfaction of each referral they send your w
ay. With a hard-working referral program in place, you won't have to rely on luc
k to win the business your company needs.
Kim T. Gordon is an author, marketing coach and media spokesperson-and one of th
e country's foremost experts on entrepreneurial success. Her newest book, Bringi
ng Home The Business, identifies the 30 "truths" that can make the difference be
tween success and failure in a homebased business. Kim offers one-on-one coachin
g by telephone to motivated individuals, providing practical marketing advice an
d budget-conscious strategies unique to your business. To receive free how-to ar
ticles and advice, get information on coaching and appearances, read a book exce
rpt, or contact Kim, visit, a huge site devoted
exclusively to marketing your small business.

Query Letters That Sell Your Story

Learn how to leave editors wanting more.
By Al Lautenslager | April 15, 2002
Q: I have something I think the press/media will be interested in, but it's not
in press release form-it's an article. Can I send that to editors?
A: The way to get your "story" in front of the editor is to use what is commonly
known as a query letter. The purpose of this letter is to briefly suggest facts
and information to an editor about your story. The key word is briefly. A query
letter is a summary of information; it is not the whole article. It is sort of
a "tease" that makes the editor want more. The challenge here, of course, is to
take your information and condense it into a few paragraphs for the query letter
Many times a company will send out a press release and, at the conclusion, menti
on something about the contact person being available for interviews. Interviews
are most often requested as a result of queries, not press releases. If you're
trying to get a radio or TV interview, then pitching the producer (the equivalen
t of editor in the print world) with a query letter will increase your probabili
ty of success.
What goes into a query letter? First, it is still a letter, so you should presen
t it as such, professionally and concisely. Start the letter with something that
immediately captures the interest of the editor/producer: a quote, a controvers
ial question or something that would make a reader stop, think and read what you
have to say. Remember, you are teasing here, so your goal is for them to want t

o read further.
Following this, get right to the point of your pitch. It's always good to put wh
y your article/information is important to the readership/viewership of the publ
ication. At this point, it's OK to get a little deeper into your subject matter
to round out the summary, but remember, you are still "teasing." Any special twi
sts or reasons why your situation is unique can be stated here. A few more facts
(not fiction or opinions) can be included to round out the summary.
Back to writing basics and communicating what editors want to hear, you would th
en communicate exactly what you are proposing. Editors will check here to make s
ure you understand their publication-what column, what department, what section
of the publication. Editors also like to know the length of your proposed articl
e. It again lets the editor know that you know what you're doing.
To further lend yourself credibility, you can cite other publications where your
information has been published or where similar stories were printed. Also, inc
lude a brief bit about your bio/background, not the long, drawn-out bios that yo
u would use when people introduce you to speak. A standard letter closing, stati
ng next steps and follow-up with the appropriate level of courteous, respect and
etiquette, concludes the query letter.
Query letters can be very powerful. They can be the start of some very good medi
a relationships and will once again help editors and reporters do their jobs. Do
that, and your ability to use the media in your marketing mix will have a highe
r probability of success.
Alfred J. Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant, direct-m
ail promotion specialist, principle of marketing consulting firm Marketing Now,
and president and owner of The Ink Well, a commercial printing and mailing compa
ny in Wheaton, Illinois. Visit his Web sites at
m and, or e-mail him at

Drum Up Publicity
Ready to hit the papers with the latest news about your business? Hire a public
relations firm to help out.
By MieYun Lee and | April 15, 2002
Want to see your company mentioned in an article? While you can hope that a jour
nalist calls you, your odds improve dramatically if you take active steps to int
roduce your company to the media. A public relations agency can do the hard work
for you.
Advertising can be very effective in projecting the image that you want, but get
ting mentioned by the press can provide credibility that thousands of dollars in
advertising can never hope to achieve. PR firms can help you secure that credib
ility in the local, industry or national media through all different types of me
dia including print, radio, television or even the Internet.
What should you look for in a PR agency? In the end, PR firms are judged by the
press mentions, also known as "placements," that they can get for their clients.

As a prospective client, you should, too. Evaluate not only where the client wa
s placed but also what kind of placement they received, e.g. article vs. quote v
s. mention. Don't be turned off by placements in publications you might not be f
amiliar with; this may have in fact met the client's objectives.
Some may argue that reviewing portfolios may not reflect the results a public re
lations firm will actually be able to deliver for you. That is true. But assumin
g that your company is worthy of coverage, you will have the advantage of having
people working for you who already have established contacts with journalists w
here you may want to be placed.
Get free price quotes on public relations at
See how well they can package your company. Read the press releases they have de
veloped for their clients. They should all be clearly written, informative, and
interesting. While there will no doubt be standard releases about new product an
nouncements, company results and executive appointments, the firm should also ha
ve some creative campaigns that promote their clients in a compelling manner. Pr
ess releases that grab your attention are likely to be interesting to the media
as well.
One of the most critical aspects to explore is to find out who will actually be
responsible for handling your account and pitching your story to the press. The
person should be friendly, articulate and persistent both in person as well as v
ia e-mail. No matter how newsworthy your story is, unless there is someone to pi
tch and follow up, you are unlikely to get picked up by the press.
Finally, look for enthusiasm. I don't care if you sell the most boring product o
r service in the world. If a PR firm is not honestly excited about your widgets,
they sure won't be able to convey it to any member of the press that they want
to encourage to write about you.
Working with a PR agency is not cheap. At minimum, you should budget thousands o
f dollars for a full campaign, with more limited projects being less costly. But
the return can be well worth the investment.

Power-Schmoozing Your Way to the Top

If you want to get in good with potential clients, you've got to schmooze it up
. Here's how to do it without making enemies.
By Phyllis Davis | May 06, 2002
"Never allow a person to tell you no who doesn't have the power to say yes." -El
eanor Roosevelt, American First Lady, 1884-1962
Twenty-first century networking and marketing is a tough, edgy game that require
s planning, execution and follow-up. There's a lot more to successful networking
in today's competitive marketplace than just "suiting up and showing up." If yo
u want to learn the insider secrets and shortcuts for becoming a power-schmoozer
to save yourself time and money, read on.
News flash: Everyone wants to conduct business with people they like who offer s
ervices or products they believe in using. If people like you, they'll help you.
If they don't like you, they won't. Power-schmoozing is a highly developed skil
l that develops trust and deep levels of rapport with people who will, in turn,

help you with some aspect of your business.

Remember that networking is not selling. Networking is about meeting people with
whom you can begin to build a relationship over time. If you attend a networkin
g event with that "hungry look" in your eye, people will avoid you. In fact, if
you're too aggressive in your card-gathering efforts, people will avoid you.
If you want to become a power-schmoozer, here are some fail-proof suggestions fo
r you to follow:
You need a good business card and a 10-second elevator pitch that introduces you
: "Hello. I'm Catherine Clark. I'm the regional vice president for Coo-Coo Clock
s Unlimited in Cincinnati. We design, manufacture and ship more coo-coo clocks t
han any company in the country."
A successful power-schmoozer attends networking events with the attitude that th
ey are attending the networking group to contribute their time, talents and expe
rtise to a group, to get involved with the group and to be of service to them. T
hey also let the people at the networking group know that they are attending to
learn from the group. If the people in the group think you're there to sell thei
r attendees anything, you will fail to create mutually beneficial relationships
and you'll strike out before the second pitch.
Power-schmoozing takes time. Attend networking events as if you are on a relatio
nship-building campaign. If you make a minimum 90-day commitment to become a pow
er-schmoozer and you attend two networking groups per week over that 90-day peri
od, you will develop a minimum of 10 new contacts that you can begin to develop
over time.
Next comes the part that separates the wanna-be power-schmoozers from the ones w
ho succeed at high levels. After you have identified a few people who fit your c
riteria for relationship development, then begin a personal campaign around each
one of these individuals by sending them articles in the mail that might intere
st them, asking them to lunch, offering your time to help serve them in their af
filiate networking groups, sending them birthday cards, and e-mailing them updat
es or things that might interest them. Your job as a power-schmoozer is to devel
op a professional relationship with at least 50 new people every year. By demons
trating your value to these individuals, you are building a quick history with t
hem through your efforts at personal contact.
If you're a widget salesperson, don't go to too many gatherings of widget salesp
eople-they already have their own widgets. Go to groups to meet people that can
help you with some aspect of your business.
When you attend a networking function, don't talk to anyone for more than eight
minutes. You're there to work the room, not chitchat. You will have the opportun
ity to demonstrate your value to these new people at a later time, but not the f
irst time you meet them.
Eat as early in the networking event as possible so you can talk to people.
Meet people by standing near the food. People like to talk when they're eating.
Ask the people at the registration desk to give you the names of the leaders of
the group. When you see them (or spot their name on their name tag), introduce y
Listen 80 percent of the time and talk 20 percent of the time.
Learn More
Looking for a great way to network? Try joining your chamber of commerce.
Trade shows are another opportunity to power-schmooze.
Phyllis Davis coaches senior-level executives through her company, Executive Men
toring and Coaching Inc., and has taught corporate etiquette and protocol for th
e past 28 years. She is the author of the forthcoming book E The Power of Ethics
and Etiquette in American Business, available from Entrepreneur Press in Spring

Market Research on the Web

Use the Internet to find out if your business has potential.
By Dan Blacharski
Q: I have an idea for a business, but first I need to find out if there's a mark
et for it. How should I go about doing this?
A: It's easy to spend tens of thousands of dollars on market research, but the g
ood news is, you don't have to. In particular, if you're starting an e-business,
you can use the Internet to your advantage to conduct your research on a very w
ide audience that you wouldn't otherwise be able to reach.
A lot of market research utilizes the Web, newsgroups and e-mail as platforms. B
ut before you start polling potential customers, the first step is to take a loo
k at the competition. Find out who else is offering the same products or service
s, look at their Web sites and see if you can determine how successful they've b
een. If some of your competitors are publicly held companies, this is a lot easi
er because their annual reports will be publicly available. If not, you'll have
to go by feel, appearance and what they say on their Web sites. Granted, much of
it is nothing but puffery, but you may be able to derive some useful informatio
n out of it.
Once you've compiled a list of competitors, you can then create a survey. Some o
f your survey questions will revolve around which of those competitors the respo
ndent has heard of, as well as which they may have purchased from in the past. O
ther survey questions, of course, will describe your offering and ask whether or
not the respondent would be interested in using it. Be sure to include variable
s-for example, a question may read, "Would you buy this product if it were price
d between (a) $10 and $15, (b) $16 and $25 or (c) over $25?" Make sure to includ
e questions that highlight any options you may be considering to get an understa
nding of what specifically your audience will buy and what they won't. (For exam
ple: "Would you prefer to buy this product with option A or option B?")
Now-how do you entice people to take time out of their busy schedules to complet
e your market survey? Depending on what you're offering, some people may do it j
ust because it interests them. But, in general, you have to offer them something
. Companies with deep pockets sometimes offer cash rewards, but you can offer so
mething as simple as a discount on future purchases, a free sample, travel vouch
ers or a coupon book.
The next big question is, where do you find all these people? Of course, you cou
ld ask your friends and family to participate, but you'll get a more accurate re
sponse from strangers who are not afraid to offend you. Here's where you really
put the "e" into "e-business." Besides posting the survey on your existing Web s
ite, you can also attract people to your market survey by posting small notices
in relevant newsgroups and discussion boards. Placing an ad under the "Free" sec
tion of any Internet-based classified page, advertising whatever freebie you're
giving away in exchange for participation, will also get you a lot of responses.
If you have an e-mail list of existing customers, prospects, associates and so
on, that's another resource.
An important point here is that the people who take your survey are very likely
to be eventual customers. So keep track of that contact information. When your p
roduct becomes available, make sure they know about it.
Dan Blacharski has more than 15 years of industry experience, has written severa
l books and writes about business and technology for a wide variety of trade pub

lications. A Silicon Valley refugee, Dan now lives in South Bend, Indiana, and c
overs high-tech start-up news in his Startup Trends newsletter. Free subscriptio
ns are available at

Marketing From the Inside Out: A Coach's Perspective

Part one in a series on reframing your marketing efforts, analyzing your target
market and creating a marketing plan
By Rebecca Cooper | May 20, 2002
Recently I was participating in a group of entrepreneurs who were discussing how
to market their professional services. Many of the people in the room had never
marketed anything, let alone themselves. The group leader asked a simple questi
on: "What does marketing mean to you?" The negatives came pouring out: dishonest
y, fear that my message will turn some people off, manipulation, I don't like th
e idea of "packaging" myself, junk mail, obnoxious telemarketers, used car sales
men, unethical. The negatives went on for 15 minutes. Their feelings can be summ
arized in the following statements:
"Marketing is a necessary evil to survive in business."
"I don't want to put myself in the same group as unscrupulous salespeople and ob
noxious telemarketers."
"I'm afraid I'll screw it up because I don't know how to 'do' marketing."
And the biggest fear of all, "What if I market my services and products and no o
ne is interested?"
In executive coaching, we often reframe a client's statement so that he or she m
ay look at it from a different perspective. Reframing the above statements might
look like the following:
"Marketing is the way I communicate my passion to the outside world."
"I choose to honor my values and ethics by marketing in the same way I enjoy rec
eiving information from others."
"Marketing is nothing mysterious, but simply an activity directed at satisfying
needs and wants through the process of exchange. I will use my common sense and
enlist the help of others to do things beyond my interest and skill level."
"I am confident that I am filling a stated need in the marketplace."
I have shortened these to four simple guidelines:
Express your passion.
Honor your values.
Use common sense.
Find a need and fill it.
Learn More
Need to know if your idea is doable? Do some market research on the Web.
Express Your Passion
How many times have you made a recommendation to a friend about something you e
njoyed? "You have got to see that new movie!" or "I went to the most amazing mas
sage therapist yesterday!" or "A week at that resort changed my life!" It's easy

to get excited and convey your ideas with enthusiasm when you're really moved b
y something. There are myriad things that touch our lives and change them for th
e better, increasing our sense of wellbeing. We relay stories about compassionat
e acts. We show off our latest gadget and extol its virtues. We encourage friend
s to seek help and support them by recommending professionals we have dealt with
. All of this comes from the heart-because we care. We are not lying. We have no
thing to gain by sharing this information, other than the good feeling that come
s from sharing and helping.
Marketing yourself and your business is no more than sharing your passion. You c
hose your profession for a reason-presumably because you believed there was valu
e in what you do. Focus on that value. Telling your story-marketing your busines
s-is most credible when it comes from the same place that led you to your busine
ss in the first place.
Think of a product or service that you really admire and imagine yourself tellin
g a friend about it. What are the benefits you received? How did it help or chan
ge your life? Why is this one better than anything else you've tried? Now do the
same exercise describing your own business. Detach from the fear of rejection,
or the embarrassment of talking about yourself. Try to be objective, and remembe
r the passion that drove you to start this business in the first place.
Honor Your Values
Product value can be defined as price plus perceived benefit. If the price a pe
rson pays is equal to the benefit a customer perceives he is getting, he feels t
hat he got a fair deal. If the price is too low, he might think there is less pe
rceived benefit-that the product is cheap or shoddy. If the price is too high, r
elative to the perceived benefit, the customer might not waste his money. The go
al is to understand the benefit of what you offer and then price it appropriatel
"We will compromise on almost anything, but not on our values, or our aesthetics
, or our idealism, or our sense of curiosity."
-Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop

There is another place for the word "value" in marketing. Our personal values ar
e the principles we live by, and a fulfilling career is one where our core value
s are honored. Ask yourself how your business honors your core values. Are there
any aspects of your business that do not honor your values? If so, those are ar
eas that you might want to realign. In order to express your passion fully, ther
e should be nothing that you are "fudging" on or making excuses about. If you do
the best you can and honor your values, your business will be more fulfilling.
To paraphrase the golden rule, market to others as you would have them market to
you. In what marketing textbook is it written that marketing must be intrusive,
obnoxious, insulting or unethical? If you love receiving phone calls during the
dinner hour, then by all means, telemarket your service. But consider how your
customers or clients like to receive information. If you are unsure, ask them.
As to ethics and manipulation, your ideal customer doesn't like being lied to an
ymore than you do. A business that honors your core values will more than likely
honor your customer as well. The impact of customer satisfaction is huge. A gen
eral rule of thumb is that when someone likes a product, they tell an average of
three other people about it. However, when they are unhappy, they will tell sev
en other people about their negative experience.
The last common-sense guideline is to do what you are comfortable with. If you d
etest public speaking, don't do it. You will be uncomfortable and probably not s
how your business in its best light. An alternative might be to write articles o
r put up a Web site that people could visit. Create the marketing mix of product
, promotion and pricing that works with your style and supports your values. Thi
s might mean hiring people to do the parts you feel are necessary but are not pr
epared to do yourself.

Find a Need and Fill It

The best definition I ever saw of marketing was on the side of a cement truck o
n a California freeway. The big mixing drum was rotating, and the slogan painted
on the side was "Find a Need and Fill It." Rarely do people purchase goods or s
ervices unless they perceive a need. And it is an uphill battle to educate someo
ne who doesn't believe they need something. So target marketing was invented. Yo
u have to find the people who have the need for what you're offering.
Define your ideal customer or client. Then spend some time thinking about how th
ey make purchasing decisions. Who influences them? Where do they get their infor
mation? What is the need your business fills, and what are the benefits to the c
Once you have identified customer needs and benefits, checked your business agai
nst your core values, assessed your personal strengths and weaknesses in communi
cating with prospects, and reconnected with the passion that brought you to this
career in the first place, you are well on your way to marketing from the insid
e out.
Later articles in this series will examine how to do a market analysis and build
an effective marketing plan that works for you.
Rebecca Cooper is a professional and personal coach who works with visionary peo
ple seeking to create and live authentic lives. She helps provide clarity, illum
inate choices and reflect the passion of her clients. To explore what's next in
your life, e-mail her at or visit her Web site at www.auth

Make Online PR Work for You

Thanks to online PR tools, spreading the word about your business can be both s
imple and cost-effective.
By Al Lautenslager | May 20, 2002
Q: What different online PR tools are available?
A: One of the most cost-effective ways to publicize and market your business is
to use the many PR tools, methods and opportunities that exist online. Many of t
hese are either free or low-cost PR options. With online PR, you're simply takin
g traditional PR and extending it to the online community. This includes targeti
ng online and traditional media that have a significant online presence. In addi
tion to promoting interaction with individuals, online PR allows for a very wide
distribution of news and information.
The first and probably most popular method is the online press release. It seems
that every day more Web sites appear, more online newsletters are published and
an increasing number of e-zines are sent out by businesses. Because these kinds
of electronic publications need content, editors are always looking for new inf
ormation, ideas and any other creative content. Online press releases are a grea
t way to communicate that information to editors. And of course, standard print
publications also accept electronic press releases.

Online press releases are a great way for your authored content to spread withou
t having to spend too much money. In fact, several online press release sites wi
ll let you post your press release free of charge. Some of the more popular and
user-friendly sites are PRWeb, pressboxand WebWire.
Internal PR, or PR on your site, is another form of online PR. Once press releas
es are written and distributed, posting them on a separate Web page gives you mo
re bang for your buck. You can take this a step further by developing key words
for each page these releases appear on and then registering them individually in
search engines. Another advantage of posting press releases on your site is tha
t you can add hyperlinks for additional information. Streaming video and sound m
ay also be added to enhance the communication of your information.
Because editors, Web publishers and site owners want fresh content, the writing
and distribution of feature articles is another way to take advantage of the eff
iciencies of online PR. Feature article writing is one of the best online or off
line marketing techniques. Sending well-written articles to various editors and
publications is often done online. I have seen many online newsletters comprised
solely of articles made available online for free, written by someone else. Typ
ically, these features are about your business or a subject related to your busi
ness or area of expertise. The following will accept your online article and pub
lish it on their site or in their e-mail list distribution: editor@saintrochtree
.com,, Newsletter@webpromote.comand PublishInYours@ For more leads, type "article submission" in any search engine and
you'll find additional choices.
One of the primary benefits to posting articles online is the opportunity to inc
lude a bio/contact/resource box at the end of the article. This box should inclu
de contact information for your business and background information. This resour
ce box just might bring you more response than most paid advertisements, and it'
s completely free.
Online press kits, another option, are becoming more and more popular. An online
press kit contains the same items you'd find in a traditional press kit, but it
comes in an electronic, Web-friendly form. For more on press kits, visit When online press kits are put on your Web s
ite, that area is usually called an online press room. These press rooms might c
ontain any of the following: articles about the company that have run in the med
ia, white papers in PDF form, company position papers and statements to the pres
s, industry statistics, and usually the names and contact information for those
responsible for PR within the company.
Other cost-effective online PR strategies that work well include e-mail marketin
g and announcements; posting on forums, online bulletin boards and newsgroups; a
nd online radio, which is just starting to gain in popularity.
PR on the Net is so widely used because of its ease of distribution, the broad p
otential of contacts and, of course, its cost-effectiveness. Positioning it as y
ou would your traditional PR will increase the bottom and top lines of your busi
Alfred J. Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant, direct-m
ail promotion specialist, principle of marketing consulting firm Marketing Now,
and president and owner of The Ink Well, a commercial printing and mailing compa
ny in Wheaton, Illinois. Visit his Web sites at
mand, or e-mail him at

Marketing From the Inside Out: Analyzing Your Market

Part two in a three-part series: how to determine what your market wants and gi
ve it to them
By Rebecca Cooper | May 28, 2002
This is the second of a three-part series on "Marketing From the Inside Out." In
part one, I offered four guidelines for marketing: express your passion, honor
your values, use common sense, and find a need and fill it. In this article, I w
ill explore market analysis.
One of my marketing maxims over the years has been "Know your audience (before y
ou open your mouth)." People will hear your message a lot better if you are spea
king their language. You don't communicate with your doctor like you would with
a toddler, and you don't assume a Russian speaks Japanese. Communications that r
ely solely on cleverness, chest-thumping superlatives or jargon are often missin
g the target.
Step 1: Conduct Customer Analysis
Most businesspeople have heard of the concept of communicating benefits, not ju
st features. To identify benefits, you must first understand your customers, the
ir motivations and needs, and how well they are being served.
I've met many people in my career who identify their market as everyone or anyon
e. Well, it's pretty difficult, not to mention expensive, to let everyone know a
bout your product or service. So you need to find the people most likely to buy
your product. Answer the following questions (use your gut if you don't have har
d data):
Why would someone want your product or service? What need does it fill? List the
benefits and the problems it solves. In what way does it improve the life of th
e user?
Would you personally buy this product? Why or why not? The "why nots" may give y
ou an insight into potential weaknesses.
Who, in your opinion, is most likely to buy it? Be as specific as you can. How o
ld are they? Male or female? Where do they live? Where do they work? These peopl
e are your primary target market. It doesn't mean that you don't have secondor t
hird-tier markets.
How does your primary target market currently go about buying existing products
or services of this type? What are their sources of information? Word-of-mouth?
Trade publications? Yellow pages? The Internet?
Step 2: Survey the Competition & Other Hurdles
So you have a pretty good idea of whom you will go after first. This is your ma
rket segment. And you're not alone. As you look around, there are lots of other
companies vying for your customer's attention. Your goal is to create value, a r
eflection of worth rather than cost. This is where you have to differentiate you
rself. If there is no difference between you and the next guy, it all comes down
to price.
It is also important to understand what the competition is. The competition is t
he method by which your prospective customer is meeting his needs now. To a land
scape service, the competition might be a lawn-mower manufacturer whose new self
-propelled Mower 9000 makes it look so easy to do it yourself. To a company sell
ing tax software, the competitive landscape includes other software products as
well as CPAs, storefront tax services and the prospect's brother-in-law.
The following questions can help you get a clearer picture of where you fit in:
Who and what is the competition? Include every way a person currently solves the
problem your product or service addresses.
Is there room for another competitor in your primary market segment? If the answ
er is no, you might look to see if there is another segment where you could add

value. If the answer is yes, go to the next question.

Why would a customer come to you vs. one of your competitors? This is defining y
our value proposition. They might come to you for a number of reasons: convenien
ce, price, reputation, quality, expertise, recommendations, etc.
In addition to the competition, it is useful to understand the bigger industry y
ou are playing in as well as the environmental and regulatory climate.
Now that you've chosen your target market and understand the competitive landsca
pe, how do you fit in? The easiest way to find out is to take a snapshot a SWOT an
alysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). Included in this shou
ld be:
A cost analysis what does it cost you to deliver the product and service?
What are the financial resources and constraints of the company?
What are your distinctive assets and liabilities?
What strategic questions do you have?
In part one of this series, I talked about honoring your core values, and the re
lative ease of expressing your passion when you operate from those values. The s
ame is true for your company. What does the company stand for? Clearly it is the
re to make money, but money is the byproduct of a well-run organization. A compa
ny that understands and operates from its ethical core will also produce a susta
inable business with satisfied customers, fulfilled employees, industry respect
and the potential to do great things.
External Analysis & Internal Imperatives
It is easy to look around today and see examples of companies that either didn'
t have an ethical core, or moved away from it. How else could one explain how co
mpany executives could lock down their employees' stock investments while remain
ing free to sell stock themselves? That kind of behavior is evocative of the gal
ley slaves in Ben Hur that were shackled to the oars as the ship was sinking.
Executives only responding to the external demands of Wall Street might see a sh
ort-term financial uptick, but they'll ultimately pay the price by compromising
the company's long-term sustainability. To build a healthy business (as contrast
ed with the smash-and-grab mentality of many of the dotcoms), core values must b
e part of the business culture and woven into the business plan. Ask yourself: W
hat are my values, and how am I honoring them in the way I do business?
The final article in this series will examine how to build a values-based market
ing plan.
Rebecca Cooper is a professional and personal coach who works with visionary peo
ple seeking to create and live authentic lives. She helps provide clarity, illum
inate choices and reflect the passion of her clients. To explore what's next in
your life, e-mail her at Rebecca@authentes.comor visit her Web site at www.authe

Marketing From the Inside Out: Clarity + Alignment = Traction

Part three in a three-part series: how to create a values-based marketing plan
By Rebecca Cooper | June 03, 2002

This is the last of a three-part series in Marketing from the Inside Out. In the
first article, I offered four guidelines for marketing: express your passion, h
onor your values, use common sense, and find a need and fill it. In the second a
rticle, I laid out a fundamental marketing analysis, which included the importan
ce of examining core values at a corporate and personal level. Now we will explo
re how to create a values-based marketing plan.
The biggest obstacles in my life were usually put there by me. To quote the cart
oon character Pogo, "We have met the enemy, and he is us." As a life coach, one
of my jobs is to help people get out of their own way. In their hearts, they kno
w what they want to do. They know right from wrong. They know when they are lyin
g to themselves. They know they have choices. But sometimes they forget. Instead
, they get in the habit of reacting to external demands, or following the herd,
instead of listening to their own inner wisdom.
Clarity & Alignment
Hopefully the earlier articles in this series helped you gain some clarity abou
t your product, your marketplace and your most authentic style of communicating
your message. You also had an opportunity to explore your core values and to see
where they were aligned with how you do business. Now it is time to put it toge
ther in order to gain some traction in today's mercurial marketplace. Begin with
a situational analysis. This includes an external analysis as well as a self-an
The external analysis includes:
Customer analysis: What are the market segments, motivations and unmet needs?
Competitive analysis: Identify who your competitors are and their relative stren
gths and weaknesses.
Market landscape: This includes an industry analysis, the regulatory climate, et
The self-analysis includes:
Performance analysis: What is your ROI, expected growth, etc.?
Cost analysis: Define your sustainable advantage, experience curve, etc.
Financial resources and constraints
Strengths and weaknesses: Include distinctive competencies, assets and liabiliti
Strategic questions
Identify your core values and where in your business you best honor them as well
as where you would like to more fully honor them.
Gaining Traction
You are now ready to identify strategic alternatives based on your company stre
ngths and core values. The goal is to develop a sustainable competitive advantag
e (SCA), which has three components:
1. The SCA must be important to the marketplace. (Find a need and fill it.)
2. The advantage needs to be substantial enough to really make a difference. Thi
s can be challenging in a saturated market, but becomes easier when one focuses
on a specific niche.
3. It needs to be sustainable in the face of environmental changes and competiti
on. This also speaks to how the company defines itself. The classic example is t
he railroad industry. Were they in the business of running trains or in the busi
ness of moving people and goods? How you define your business will have an impac
t on your ability to adjust to external factors.
There are three basic types of strategies: differentiation, low-cost and focus o
r niche.
Differentiation strategy: To differentiate your product or service from your com
petitors, you must make it appear different in some meaningful way. This can be
based on quality, reliability, innovation, level of service or product features.
Low-cost strategy: This is self-explanatory. When you are unable to differentiat
e your product from someone else's (e.g., it is a commodity), the purchase decis
ion is often based on price. The focus then becomes on controlling costs and red

ucing overhead in order to maintain margins.

Focus or niche strategy: The focus strategy will involve either differentiation
or low-cost, and it will target one or more specific areas of the larger marketp
lace. It will not attempt to compete across the board, nor be all things to all
people. For small businesses with limited marketing funds and resources, it is i
mportant to choose these niches where you have the greatest sustainable competit
ive advantage.
Selecting the Strategy
To select the most appropriate strategy, consider the following questions:
What is or what should be your business mission?
What investment level can you make in the strategy? Which is the most cost-effec
tive for your long-term goals?
What is your sustainable competitive advantage? Which type of strategy (differen
tiation, low-cost or focus) best supports your SCA?
Which strategy best fits your strengths, objectives and core values?
Examples of how this might apply to a product or service business are given belo
w. Notice how the product or service offering reflects the values of the owner.
Product-Based Business
Chef's own salad dressing
Service Business
Industrial cleaning business
Mission To bottle and sell well-known restaurant chef's private-label salad dres
sing to 1) begin product line and generate revenue and 2) publicize and increase
name recognition of restaurant To become the largest cleaning service of office
buildings in the greater Seattle area
Investment Level
Small Medium
Award-winning chef developed this house-favorite recipe and uses it nigh
tly in his famous high-end restaurant. All bonded, legal-resident employees. Pr
ovides highest quality with lowest cost.
Core Values
Aesthetics, leadership, independence
Honesty, wealth, service
How Core Values Are Honored
Beautiful packaging and highest-quality ingredie
nts. Branded products will contribute to long-term financial independence and en
hance restaurant recognition. Only using legal residents (even though illegal
aliens would work for less). Carefully managing overhead, through computerized s
cheduling, multilingual checklists and other economies of scale. Helping the imm
igrant community by providing employment benefits, which also minimizes turnover
Marketing Strategy
Focus strategy: gourmet cooks and purchasers of high-end
specialty food items. Distribute through gourmet shops, online gourmet retailer
s, the restaurant and through its Web site.
Low-cost strategy. Highest-quali
ty service for lowest cost.
An effective marketing plan will address the 4 Ps: product, price, place (distri
bution) and promotion. The following decisions should be made based on your valu
es, mission and strategic goals.
Product Decisions
Develop new product/service
Change current product/service
Add or drop product or service from line
Product positioning: How are you perceived relative to the competition? What is
your sustainable competitive advantage?
Branding: What is the image you are projecting in the marketplace?
Other product decisions: You add to list.
Price Decisions
Price level (above, same as or below competition)
Price variation (discount structure, bundling of services, etc.)
Margins (price less cost to deliver product or service)
Other pricing decisions: You add to list.
Distribution Decisions
Intensity of distribution (Will your product or service be widely available or o

n an exclusive basis?)
Multiple channels (How will your product or service reach your customers?)
Distribution structure (Will you use intermediaries, wholesalers, retailers, sel
l direct, etc.)
Other distribution decisions: You add to list.
Promotion Decisions
Promotional mix of personal selling, advertising, dealer incentives, sales promo
tion, direct mail, etc.
Media (e.g. print, Internet, broadcast, etc.)
Other promotional decisions: You add to list.
Two last things to think about:
1. When external factors change, your marketing program must change as well. For
that reason, revisit your situation analysis and strategic alternatives on a re
gular basis. A marketing program is not cast in stone. It is a reflection of the
situation at a point in time.
2. Do not assume that you can make customers change their current behavior patte
rns. It is a much safer strategy to adapt to existing behavior patterns. Marketi
ng does not "make" people buy goods and services. Wise marketers monitor the rea
sons people purchase and then adapt their programs accordingly.
The key to marketing from the inside out is in developing your skills of making
supported and reasoned decisions that are grounded in a sound marketing analysis
and are in alignment with your core values. The world is moving quickly, and th
e Internet allows your customers to educate themselves, compare prices, understa
nd your company structure and even check you out as an individual. The BS detect
or is set on high, and it is the most authentic products and services, those tha
t offer true value for an expressed need, by people with ethics and honor, that
will survive and prosper.
Rebecca Cooper is a professional and personal coach who works with visionary peo
ple seeking to create and live authentic lives. She helps provide clarity, illum
inate choices and reflect the passion of her clients. To explore what's next in
your life, e-mail her at or visit her Web site at www.auth

Making PR Work
Is your PR not doing its job? Perhaps it's time to revisit your strategy.
By Al Lautenslager | June 17, 2002
Q: Although I've invested a lot of time and money, I'm not sure if my PR strateg
y is really working. How do you suggest I evaluate its effectiveness?
A: Troubleshooting PR is almost the reverse of planning your PR. Think of all th

ose things you would do in a public relations campaign and see what's working an
d what's not. Once you understand these components, they can be isolated, change
d if necessary and then retested for contribution significance.
Usually when you feel that PR is not providing results-or at least the results y
ou had hoped for-it's due to one of four primary components. The four components
to isolate, analyze, fix and test are as follows:
The message: Although sometimes subjective, you must check to make sure your mes
sage is clear, concise and attention-getting to your audience. Does it clearly s
ay who, what, where, when and how in the first few sentences or paragraphs? Is t
he message newsworthy or a blatant promotional message? Does the message relate
to you, your company, product or service, or does it relate to the challenge tha
t you're offering the solution for? If all is in order-and if the message is per
suasive, newsworthy and unique-consider one of the other components.
The headline: We all know the importance of a headline. Not only is the headline
in a news release important, but if you're communicating via e-mail, the headli
ne or subject line in the communication is just as important. Think about how yo
u read a newspaper or magazine. You look at the pictures first and the headlines
second. If the headline doesn't grasp your attention or really interest to you,
you skip over it. Writing a crafty headline can entice a reader to read on, whe
ther there's distinct interest or not. Don't forget about sub-headlines as well.
A large majority of press releases do not use sub-headlines, which can be a sec
ond chance at grabbing a reader's attention. Test different headlines using e-ma
il or reworded releases.
The editor: Editors get hundreds of press releases each week. They have one job,
and it isn't to please everyone sending in a release. Their job is to please th
eir readership. Knowing this, releases and other PR should be directed at this o
ne objective. Put yourself first in the readers' shoes. Second, put yourself in
the editor's shoes. Ask the same question the editor asks in regards to pleasing
his or her readership.
Having a relationship with an editor can increase the probability of positive PR
. Showing an editor that you're a reliable source of information on certain subj
ects can be very valuable. This does not imply schmoozing or overbearing followup, but it does require a proactive communication strategy. Editors are the gate
keepers. They hate promotion. Give them news, a unique angle or a story that is
of local interest, and you'll have successful public relations.
The target audience: We've all heard the saying about what is heard if a tree fa
lls in a forest and no one is there to hear it. The same anecdote can apply to P
R when it comes to the target audience. You could have the best message ever and
the best vehicle over and over, but if the right potential buyer doesn't receiv
e your message, nothing gets marketed and no one acts.
Putting yourself in front of a potential buyer is the key to marketing and selli
ng. No potential buyers? No selling. The right target audience might be the righ
t segment, the right niche within a segment or the right people within a niche.
If you are marketing to banks, are you targeting the bank president or the branc
h manager? If you're marketing to manufacturers, are you marketing to the operat
ions department or the purchasing department? From a PR point of view, this mean
s targeting the right publications. What do your prospects and customers read? W
here are they most likely to see you? What media do they pay attention to? All t
his has to do with having the right target audience for your marketing. Just as
a side note, don't forget about current customers as part of your target audienc
e. Even breaking up current customer segments into different targets may be more
effective for your marketing. Find the people to populate the forest and let th
e trees fall.
If all the above is in order and deemed to be effective, don't fix anything. If
all the above is in order and PR is still not being effective, then you need to
revisit your overall marketing strategy. Hopefully, before any campaign, you hav
e strategically evaluated your product, distribution, pricing, promotion and adv
ertising. Troubleshooting means not only trying to find out what the problem is,
but also what the problem is not. With these four components outlined, you can

differentiate what's working and what's not and increase the probability of a mo
re successful PR campaign.
Alfred J. Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant, direct-m
ail promotion specialist, principle of marketing consulting firm Marketing Now,
and president and owner of The Ink Well, a commercial printing and mailing compa
ny in Wheaton, Illinois. Visit his Web sites at
m and, or e-mail him at

Ivan Misner: Networking

How to Combat a Slow Economy
Don't join the ranks of miserable complainers. Instead, use this time to improv
e your networking skills.
By Ivan Misner | June 17, 2002
Q: When the economy is slow, new business is harder to get. What can I do to bui
ld my business in a recessionary economy?
A: It's been about 10 years since our last recession in the United States. For t
he most part, the U.S. economy has been strong, and business has been good for t
he past decade. However, the fact is that the economy goes through cycles, and b
usiness has slowed down for many people. Unfortunately, every time it takes a do
wnturn, the fallout is felt strongly by salespeople, business owners and profess
ionals alike.
Successful business owners learn from the past. For many of us, this will not be
our first recession. So, what did we learn from previous economic downturns? In
the early '90s, right in the middle of a nasty recession, I was at a business m
ixer in Connecticut where I was meeting many local business professionals. It se
emed that everyone was feeling the crunch from the slow economy. Throughout the
entire event, the favorite topic of discussion was how bad the economy was and h
ow things were getting worse. The whole affair was depressing, because nearly ev
eryone was obsessed with the problems of the economy and its impact on their bus
I was introduced to one of the many real estate agents in attendance. Given the
decrease in property values in the state, I was leery of asking this gentleman t
he standard "How's business?" question. I didn't want to hear yet another variat
ion of how bad business was. He shared with me, though, that he was having a gre
at year. Naturally, I was surprised and asked, "You did say you were in real est
ate, didn't you?"
"Yes," he said.
I asked, "We are in Connecticut, aren't we?"
"Yes," he said with a slight grin.
"And you're having a good year?" I asked.
"I'm actually having my best year ever!" he said.
"Your best year!" I said in amazement. After thinking for a moment, I asked him,

"Is this your first year in real estate?"

"No," he replied with a laugh, "I've been in real estate for almost 10 years."
I asked him how he could be doing so well, given the conditions of the economy a
nd the stiff competition. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue-and-w
hite badge that read: "I Absolutely Refuse to Participate in the Recession!"
"That's your secret?" I asked. "You refuse to participate in the recession, so b
usiness is booming?"
"That's correct," he said. "While most of my competitors are crying the blues ab
out how bad business is, I'm out drumming up a ton of business networking with m
y contacts and generating referrals by talking about the great opportunity that
exists right now to purchase real estate."
Considering what he said, I looked around the room and listened in on people for
awhile as they complained about how bad business was. While nearly all were com
miserating with one another, I concluded that very few were actually networking
and working on seeking new business. As a result, very little business was actua
lly being accomplished.
If you want to do well in business, you must understand that it does absolutely
no good to complain to people about tough things are. When you complain about ho
w bad business is, half the people you tell don't care, and the other half are g
lad that you're worse off than they are!
While you cannot control the economy or your competition, you can control your r
esponse to the economy. Referrals can keep your business alive and well during a
n economic downturn.
During the last recession, I watched thousands of business owners grow and prosp
er. They were successful because they consciously made the decision to refuse to
participate in the recession. They did so by developing their networking skills
and learning how to build their business through word-of-mouth. You can do the
same during a slow economy by:
Diversifying your networks. You need breadth and depth. Participate in d
ifferent kinds of groups.
Refusing to be a "cave-dweller." Be visible. Get out there and meet peop
le at business events.
Learning how to work the meetings you attend. It's not called "net-sit"
or "net-eat," it's called "network." Learn networking systems and techniques tha
t apply to the different kinds of organizations you attend.
Being prepared. Prepare effective introductions and presentations to giv
e to other business professionals at networking events and meetings.
Developing your contact spheres. These are a groups of business professi
onals who have a symbiotic or compatible, noncompetitive relationship with you.
Knowing your goal. Perhaps most important, understand that networking is
more about farming than it is about hunting. It's about building relationships
with other businesspeople.
Don't let a bad economy be your excuse for failure. Instead, make it your opport
unity to succeed. It's not what you know or who you know, it's how well you know
people that counts. In a tough economy, it's your social capital that has value
. Make good use of it, and you'll thrive while others struggle.
Ivan Misner is the founder and CEO of Business Network International (BNI), whic
h has more than 2,700 chapters throughout the world. He is also the author of fi
ve books, including his New York Times bestseller, Masters of Networking, as wel
l as Entrepreneur Press' forthcoming Masters of Success.

Kim T. Gordon: Marketing

Get Big Marketing Results With Little Cash
Don't dry up your funds with expensive marketing methods. Instead, make a name
for your company with creative (and outlandish) grassroots methods.
By Kim T. Gordon | July 01, 2002
Q: We have a very limited marketing budget. What can you suggest to make our com
pany stand out and bring in new customers?
A: Marketing doesn't have to cost a lot to have a big impact. Thinking outside t
he box--from outlandish stunts to quirky grassroots marketing--can make your com
pany stand out. The challenge lies in making your promotion memorable, consisten
t with your company image, closely linked to your product or service message, an
d, above all, motivational.
Get Customers Involved
The best way to motivate customers for very little money is to get them involve
d on an emotional or experiential level. Here's a great example featuring a fami
liar product. The LifeSavers five-flavor pack has been around for years, and the
company has consistently studied consumer response to each individual flavor. B
ut it wasn't until LifeSavers considered phasing out its pineapple flavor that i
t turned research into a highly effective promotion.
LifeSavers set up a special Web site and toll-free number asking customers to vo
te to keep pineapple or replace it with strawberry or watermelon. When more than
1 million passionate responses were tallied overall, the pineapple flavor was s
aved from extinction. LifeSavers got tremendous publicity from media reports on
the company's responsiveness to the overwhelming public demand. And LifeSavers e
nergized its customer base with an extremely low-cost promotion, when compared w
ith what it would have paid to gain the equivalent number of gross impressions t
hrough advertising or any other marketing means.
Entrepreneurs often use low-cost grassroots marketing tactics to introduce produ
cts. Bill Flaherty, the 45-year-old president of Toy Craze, makers of Crazy Bone
splastic toys, used scout meetings, club groups, fairs and shows for toy demos t
o get his product in front of the target audience and create a buzz. His company
eventually landed Crazy Bones in a McDonald's Happy Meal, plus chain stores Zan
y Brainy and Learning Express, and remains committed to grassroots marketing.
Make It Memorable
You don't have to host a bungee jumping contest to stand out. Consider the San
Francisco mission-district restaurant, Casa Sanchez, which offered free lunch fo
r life to anyone who got a tattoo of their Jimmy the Corn Man logo. When the con
test was announced with a simple flier in the restaurant window, two local night
club employees got the tattoos and spread the buzz. If you think this is too out
landish a proposition to be effective, note that through the course of the promo
tion, 39 people were willing to be tattooed with the sombrero-wearing mariachi b
oy riding a blazing corn cob, according to an Associated Press story. That's rig
ht, the Associated Press, LA Weekly, USA Today and local TV stations were among
the media that picked up the story, affording the restaurant extensive coverage
for what was essentially a free promotion.
If you can't induce customers to tattoo themselves with your company logo, try t
he next best thing. Use giveaways with your logo in conjunction with a promotion
. During the Thanksgiving 2000 holiday weekend, the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce
gave away 3,000 pairs of sunglasses in New York's Times Square with the Web addr

ess printed on the earpiece, all designed to build awarenes

s of high-tech career possibilities in the Atlanta area.
Link to Your Company Message
Whether you use outrageous stunts or basic grassroots marketing, you still have
to rely on strategic thinking to develop a core message and strategy. While stu
nts may be platforms for your product, they must be relevant and communicate som
ething memorable that reflects well on your company. The bottom line is to have
a theme you can support with other tactics, not just a single event. Then get cr
eative by combining fun with customer involvement, and you'll grab attention and
make your message stand out.
Kim T. Gordon is an author, marketing coach and media spokesperson-and one of th
e country's foremost experts on entrepreneurial success. Her newest book, Bringi
ng Home The Business, identifies the 30 "truths" that can make the difference be
tween success and failure in a homebased business. Kim offers one-on-one coachin
g by telephone to motivated individuals, providing practical marketing advice an
d budget-conscious strategies unique to your business. To receive free how-to ar
ticles and advice, get information on coaching and appearances, read a book exce
rpt, or contact Kim, visit, a huge site devoted
exclusively to marketing your small business.

Ivan Misner: Networking

Word-of-Mouth: The World's Best-Known Marketing Secret
Everyone knows about it, but hardly anyone does it well. It's time to change yo
ur approach to word-of-mouth marketing.
By Ivan Misner | July 01, 2002
What if there were a way to build your business, year in and year out, regardles
s of fluctuations in the economy or the activities of your competition? Well, th
ere is. It's called word-of-mouth. Word-of-mouth marketing truly is the world's
best-known marketing secret. You're probably wondering how anything can be both
the "best-known" and "a secret" at the same time. Easy. Practically every busine
ssperson knows how important word-of-mouth marketing is. Yet almost no one truly
understands how to build their business through word-of-mouth.
Some people think that word-of-mouth is a little like the weather: fairly import
ant, but not much they can do about it. Many others think that it's just about g
ood customer service, but it's not. Don't get me wrong-good customer service is
critical for the success of any business, but if you expect happy customers to t
alk about you a lot, think again.
For the past two decades, I've talked to tens of thousands of business professio
nals about word-of-mouth marketing and customer service. I've described how the
"average unhappy client" can talk to dozens of people about their bad experience
. I've then asked my audiences if their "average happy client" truly talks to as
many people as a potential unhappy client. In two decades, no one has ever said

yes to that question!

Unfortunately, people are more likely to talk about your business when they are
unhappy than when they are happy or satisfied. Therefore, good customer service
generally reduces "negative" word-of-mouth. However, the good news is, there are
many things entrepreneurs and business professionals can do to positively impac
t their business through word-of-mouth.
Below are the three most important things that a business professional can do to
start the process of increasing their business through word-of-mouth.
Learn More
How can you deal with negative word-of-mouth? Try these strategies.
1. Diversify your networks. I believe that most business professionals are cave
dwellers. They get up each morning in a large cave with a big-screen TV called t
heir home. They go out to their garage and get into a little cave with four whee
ls called their car. They go to another really big cave with plenty of computers
called their office. At the end of the day, they get back into their little cav
e with four wheels and drive back to the large cave with the big-screen TV, and
they can't figure out why no one is referring them. If you want to build your bu
siness through word-of-mouth, you have to be visible and active in the community
by participating in various networking groups and/or professional associations.
2. Develop your contact spheres. Contact Spheres are businesses that are symbiot
ic and noncompetitive to you. For example: a lawyer, an accountant, a financial
planner and a banker. All of them have clients with overlapping similar needs. T
hey can all work with and refer each other easily. Another good example is what
I call the wedding mafia: a florist, a photographer, a travel agent and a jewele
r. A referral for one of them becomes a referral for all of them. You should imm
ediately determine what professions fit within your Contact Spheres and start de
veloping relationships with them.
3. Word-of-mouth is more about farming than it is about hunting. Building your b
usiness through word-of-mouth is about cultivating relationships with people who
get to know you and trust you. People do business with people they have confide
nce in. One of the most important things I've learned in the past two decades is
this: It's not what you know, or who you know, it's how well you know them that
counts. If you go into this process understanding this one key point, you will
have a better opportunity to build your business through word-of-mouth.

Ivan Misner is co-author of the New York Times bestseller Masters of Networking.
He is the founder and CEO of BNI, the world's largest referral organization wit
h more than 2,400 chapters in 13 countries around the world. He also teaches bus
iness courses at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and resides in
Southern California with his wife and three children. Dr. Misner can be reached

Using Publicity to Your Advantage

Even local efforts can get a boost from national PR.
By Al Lautenslager | July 15, 2002

Q: I'm working with a PR contact, and they have the opportunity for me to be quo
ted in a national publication. However, my market is typically a local market. H
ow can this national publicity help my business?
A: First of all, it is a well-known fact that any PR is good PR, unless it is as
sociated with a crime or an obituary. Any national PR you receive can always be
put to good use in a local market.
If you only do business in a local market, and national exposure will not necess
arily lead to direct sales or awareness unless someone in your local market happ
ens upon the national story, there are still benefits to be gained. For instance
A copy of the publication containing your national PR can be passed around, mail
ed or generally distributed to clients and prospects. This is another way to "to
uch" customers and prospects; they typically like to be informed about special a
ccomplishments and kept up-to-date on both you and your company.
If the national publication is noteworthy, you can cite "as seen in" on
all printed advertising, e-mail signatures and point-of-purchase marketing. "As
seen in Time magazine" or even The Wall Street Journal can give you tremendous c
redibility and set you apart from your competition in a big way.
One of the objectives of PR is to become known as an expert. What better
way to be deemed an expert than to be published or mentioned in a prominent nat
ional publication? Which do you think your prospects would rather choose? One of
the 10 people in your business with average awareness, credibility and exposure
or someone who's been quoted, published or who has appeared in a national publi
cation as an expert?
With national PR comes the chance that your story will be picked up by a
syndicated service, increasing exponentially the potential places for publicati
National PR can lead to national interviews on TV, radio and so on. This
can be followed up by even more PR about the nationally publicized interviews;
it starts feeding on itself. If it doesn't automatically come as a result of the
original publication, you can generate press releases talking about your press
releases. For example: "XYZ Co., a local provider, was recently featured in the
national business publication Fortune magazine. Mr. Smith is available for inter
views, on-air appearances and visits."
National PR can give an air of celebrity status for a local business. On
ce again, this truly separates you from your competition. Rarely are there two c
elebrities in the same market from the same business. There is only room for one
, and it might as well be you.
National interviews can be taped and distributed to clients and prospect
s. These can be offered for sale or as a free incentive to get people to contact
you or to send in for more information. These leads can then be followed up wit
h sales calls and closed for eventual sales.
These are just a few ways national publicity can aid a local business in a local
market. In some cases, it may even give a local business the impetus to conside
r taking the business to a more national level or at least investigate the feasi
bility of a regional business.
Remember, too, this is just one component of your marketing plan. You should be
using many, many strategies that work well together, offer results and raise awa
Alfred J. Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant, direct-m
ail promotion specialist, principle of marketing consulting firm Marketing Now,
and president and owner of The Ink Well, a commercial printing and mailing compa
ny in Wheaton, Illinois. Visit his Web sites at
m and, or e-mail him at

Ivan Misner: Networking

Network With Confidence
Afraid to meet new people? It's time you faced your fears, because that's what
networking is all about.
By Ivan Misner | July 15, 2002
Q: I have a lot of trouble feeling comfortable enough to introduce myself to tot
al strangers, but I know this is important in networking. How can I overcome thi
s obstacle?
A: In her book Skills for Success: A Guide to the Top for Men and Women, Adele M
. Scheele tells about a cocktail party where she met someone who was hesitant to
introduce himself to total strangers. Scheele suggested that he "consider a dif
ferent scenario for the evening. That is, consider himself the party's host inst
ead of its guest." She asked him: What if he were the host? Wouldn't he introduc
e himself to people he didn't know and then introduce them to each other? Wouldn
't he watch for lulls in conversations or bring new people over to an already-fo
rmed small group?
Scheele's new acquaintance acknowledged the obvious difference between the activ
e role of the host and the passive role of the guest. Scheele concluded that "th
ere was nothing to stop this man from playing the role of host, even though he w
asn't the actual host."
Now I know that sounds easy, but when it comes right down to it, actually acting
like the host isn't so simple for many people. Not all individuals are good at
"acting" like something they are not. Therefore, I have one important thing to a
dd to this advice: Don't "act" like the host, "be" the host.
Most of the business organizations you go to have a position that is responsible
for meeting visitors. And I know it sounds crazy telling someone who is uncomfo
rtable meeting new people at a networking event to be the host. At first, it mus
t sound a little like telling a boxer to "lean into a punch!" But there's a big
difference, and it really works.
Most people's fears relating to meeting new people at networking events come fro
m not having a proper context to introduce themselves to others. Just as Scheele
points out, when you are the host, you don't feel uncomfortable introducing you
rself to someone you don't know who's at your party. So the key in feeling comfo
rtable is to establish the proper context.
To establish the proper context, I recommend that you volunteer to be an ambassa
dor, or a visitor host, at the networking groups you belong to. An ambassador or
visitor host is someone who greets all the visitors and introduces them to othe
rs. Over time, this type of position will give you an opportunity to meet many p
eople, put them together with others and become an accomplished gatekeeper. Help
ing others connect, meet and get what they need will unquestionably help you bui
ld your business. Furthermore, it will do it in a way that helps others.
By using this technique, you'll start to develop excellent networking skills and
get great exposure to many business professionals in a short time.

A distinguishing characteristic of self-made millionaires is that they network e

verywhere. Most importantly, they do it all the time--at business conferences, a
t the health club, on the golf course or with the person sitting next to them on
a plane. This fact alone should motivate you to place yourself in situations wh
ere you can meet new people and do so in a way that you feel comfortable.
It's not called net-sit or net-eat, it's called net-work. If you want to become
a better networker, give this technique a try. You will be pleased with the resu
Ivan Misner is the founder and CEO of Business Network International (BNI), whic
h has more than 2,700 chapters throughout the world. He is also the author of fi
ve books, including his New York Times bestseller, Masters of Networking, as wel
l as Entrepreneur Press' forthcoming Masters of Success.

Kim T. Gordon: Marketing

Market a New Product on Any Budget
Let the whole world know about your latest product launch, even on the tightest
By Kim T. Gordon | Entrepreneur Magazine August 2002
Bringing a new product to market is a major challenge for many entrepreneurs. Wh
ether you're marketing software or an exercise video, your choice of tactics wil
l be shaped by the size of your marketing budget and whom you're trying to reach
. So this month, the focus is on ways to successfully launch a product-nationall
y, city by city, or in your own hometown-no matter your budget.
$100,000 to $150,000: Retail shelf space is hard to acquire, and new products th
at go directly to retail often languish on store shelves. Cable TV is emerging a
s the best-and sometimes, the most affordable-way to market a new product prior
to its retail arrival. Sixty-second direct response spots typically feature prod
ucts with visual appeal that are sold for the impulse price of $19.95. You can r
un a national cable TV campaign for as little as $5,000 per month, excluding pro
duction, according to Thompson Everett Inc., a buying firm in Glen Allen, Virgin
ia. And when cable TV is used in combination with other media, you can create a
well-rounded campaign and build sales and enough consumer demand to place your p
roduct in stores.
Suppose you owned a health club and decided to market your own exercise video. Y
ou could run cable TV spots nationally, in select cities or locally, where wordof-mouth from your members would fuel buzz. For an effective marketing mix, a me
dia relations campaign targeting key editors and direct response print ads would
complement the TV spots. Often, consumer magazines, such as Self, for example,
offer reduced rates if your ad is for a product ordered by mail, and many city p
ublications, like D magazine in Dallas, have lower rates for retail advertisers.
$50,000 to $100,000: Magazine advertising is also useful in launching a business

product. For example, imagine your company has created inventory-control softwa
re. You could advertise in business and trade publications, which often have spe
cial classified sections or offer lower-cost regional editions. And you could re
nt direct mail lists of businesses that fit your target audience profile, then s
end mail to each list up to three times. With a technology product like this one
, e-mail marketing could provide a low-cost supplement to your mail campaign. Yo
u can expect to pay $100 to $350 per thousand for an e-mail list (www.edithroman
.com) and escape the printing and postage costs of direct mail.
With a limited budget, success often comes from developing a wholesale marketing
program that targets select catalogers or retail stores.
E-mail marketing could also be used to launch a computer game, for example. Outd
oor billboards, magazine ads and place-based media that target young males-from
posters in nightclubs ( to ads on stadium snack packs (www.inno enhance the campaign.
But some products must be experienced by potential buyers firsthand. Consumer cr
aft shows ( and expos, as well as trade shows for B2B marketer
s (, can help present your product in a stimulating way.
$10,000 to $50,000: With a limited budget, success often comes from developing a
marketing program targeting select catalogers or retail stores. A new line of f
urniture, for instance, could be introduced at home furnishings trade shows, whi
ch would also let you develop a list of catalogers and retailers to call. A PR p
rogram that includes releases and product photos, followed by phone calls to edi
tors at decorating publications, would complete your media mix while adding litt
le to your costs.
PR can also lay the groundwork for taking a local product to a national audience
. Let's say you market gourmet brownies. A compelling story in a major magazine
about your old family recipe could help you sell to stores nationwide. Smart PR
and solid, creative thinking are investments of time, not money. And they can ma
ke things happen for you.
Your sales force needs critical customer information to make a sale, and Partici
pate Enterprise software from Participate Systems Participate Systemsprovides an
swers in just seconds. Offering more than your standard contact information, the
software gives salespeople real insight into customer relationships. For instan
ce, salespeople can access details about how to deal with a particular customer
who was either landed or lost. The software's "knowledge bank" integrates seamle
ssly with e-mail or a Web browser; pricing starts at $500 (street) per user. -St
eve Cooper
Contact marketing expert Kim T. Gordon, author of Bringing Home the Business, at

Permanent Press
Make your Web site a magnet for news-hungry journalists.
By Paul and Sarah Edwards | Entrepreneur Magazine August 2002

Your Web site is many things: an introduction to customers, an information hub a

nd a showcase for your stellar product or service. What many entrepreneurs forge
t, however, is their Web site is often the first stop for journalists seeking in
formation about a company. Savvy business owners know that to get coverage, Web
sites not only have to be accessible to journalists, but also be attractive to t
We asked Deborah Schwartz, president of Media Relations Inc., a public relations
firm in Bethesda, Maryland, to give us the skinny on how you can get noticed by
reporters without being an irritation at the same time.
Make it easy to navigate. Reporters are usually on deadline and have a very limi
ted amount of time to research-they don't want to spend 10 minutes watching your
extravagant Flash intro while it sucks up their bandwidth. Always include a cle
ar "skip intro" button.
Include basic information. Make sure the press contact phone number, address and
e-mail are easy to find. Reporters like to follow up-and it helps if they have
a number to call.
Be picky about press releases. "I'm a stickler," says Schwartz. "A press release
has to be legitimate news." While John Q. Employee's big promotion to head of a
ccounting may be very exciting to you, it's not exactly what you'll see on CNN.
Be very choosy when deciding which press releases you want to put on your Web si
Edit your bios. When a reporter is looking to do a story on you, the company Web
site is one of the first places he or she will look for background information
on you and your key executives. Make it brief and interesting, and include topic
s in which you have expertise. "It's an overview of who you are," says Schwartz,
"not where you graduated from school."
Create interesting links. Point visitors to your site toward a charity your busi
ness is involved with or to articles that have been written about you in the pas
t. Says Schwartz, "It lends credibility."
Contact Source
Media Relations Inc.
(301) 897-8838,

Ivan Misner: Networking

6 Ways Others Can Promote Your Business
When people ask if they can help you, be prepared to say yes with these simple
By Ivan Misner | August 05, 2002
How many times have friends, family and associates said "If there's anything I c
an do to help you, let me know"? How often have you said "Well, now that you men
tion it, there are a few things you could do"? If you're like most people, you a
ren't prepared to accept help at the moment it's offered. You let opportunity sl
ip by because you haven't given enough thought to the kinds of help you need. Yo

u haven't made the connection between specific items or services you need and th
e people who can supply them. But when help is offered, it's to your advantage t
o be prepared and to respond by stating a specific need.
Don't let the next opportunity for others to help slip through your fingers! Bei
ng prepared with some simple requests can make a real difference in the success
of your business. Systematic referral marketing requires that you determine, as
precisely as possible, the type of help you want and need. There are many ways y
our sources can help you promote yourself and your business:
1. They can provide you with referrals. The kind of support you'd most like to g
et from your contacts is referrals--the names of specific individuals who need y
our products and services. They can also give prospects your name and number. As
the number of referrals you receive increases, so does your potential for incre
asing the percentage of your business generated through referrals.
2. They can introduce you to prospects. Your contacts can help you build new rel
ationships faster by introducing you in person to people they think need your pr
oducts and services. Furthermore, they can provide you with key information abou
t the prospect. They can also tell the prospect a few things about you, your bus
iness, how the two of you met, some of the things you and the prospect have in c
ommon, and the value of your products and services.
Learn More
Want to encourage your happy customers to spread the word about your business? H
ere's how.
3. They can endorse your products and services. By telling others what they've g
ained from using your products or services in presentations or informal conversa
tions, your sources can encourage others to use your products or services.
4. They can display your literature and products in their offices and homes. If
these items are displayed well--such as on a counter or bulletin board in a wait
ing room--visitors will ask questions or read the information. Some may take you
r promotional materials and display them in other places, increasing your visibi
5. They can distribute your information. Your contacts can help you distribute m
arketing materials. For instance, a dry cleaner might attach a coupon from the h
air salon next door to each plastic bag he/she uses to cover customers' clothes.
Including your flier in the middle of their newsletter is another idea.
6. They can publish information for you. Your contacts may be able to get inform
ation about you and your business printed in publications they subscribe to and
in which they have some input or influence. For example, a source who belongs to
an association that publishes a newsletter might help you get an article publis
hed or persuade the editor to run a story about you.
Keep this list with you and add to it as other needs occur to you. Knowing how t
o match your needs with the right sources is key to obtaining the type of help y
ou need. But remember--it's a two-way street. These support activities are also
things you can do to help your contacts promote their businesses and generate re
ferrals. Helping your sources achieve their goals goes a long way toward buildin
g effective and rewarding relationships.
Finally, it's good practice to develop a list of ways to reward referral sources
for helping you. Once a referral has become a customer, be sure to recognize an
d reward your source appropriately. Doing so encourages them to send you more re
ferrals. Distinguish between tangible (e.g., cash) and intangible (e.g., a publi
c thank-you) rewards. Estimate the cost, and set aside some money to pay for you
r recognition program. The key is to find a unique, memorable way to say "Thank
you" and to encourage your colleagues and friends to keep sending you referrals
that turn into business.
It may take a while, but if you've selected and trained your sources well, and i
f you use the system to its best advantage, you will speed up the process of tur
ning the ever important referral into business.
Ivan Misner is co-author of the New York Times bestseller Masters of Networking.
He is the founder and CEO of BNI, the world's largest referral organization wit

h more than 2,400 chapters in 13 countries around the world. He also teaches bus
iness courses at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and resides in
Southern California with his wife and three children. Dr. Misner can be reached

Kim T. Gordon: Marketing

Partnership & Place-Based Marketing Techniques
This one-two punch is a great combination for a low-cost, high-reach campaign.
By Kim T. Gordon | August 05, 2002
Q: I've recently started my own custom wiring and home theater business and have
a limited advertising budget. I've sent business cards to contractors and devel
opers, made cold calls and even gone door to door in some of the newer neighborh
oods, but we still have few customers. What do you suggest?
A: Launching a consumer product or service business on a tight budget can be cha
llenging. To get your new business off to a solid start, try combining two prove
n techniques: strategic partnering and place-based, or "ambient," marketing.
Right now, you have limited funds and staff. To overcome these negatives, you ca
n partner with other businesses that have more extensive marketing budgets and c
an provide a means to reach your prospective customers. Since you market home th
eaters, having a display in a retail store that specializes in upscale furnishin
gs could expose the right prospects to your product and message. Their retail st
aff would sell for you, and your product could be included in the store's newspa
per ads for considerably less than if you were to create your own campaign.
Place-based, or ambient, advertising reaches prospects wherever they happen to b
e--preferably in the right environment to be receptive to your message. You can
now reach consumers the way search engine Ask Jeeves did--by sticking its name o
n 15 million grocery store apples. You can make blanket-sized impressions on pub
lic beach sand like Skippy peanut butter or Snapple, or purchase wraparound bann
ers on gas station and convenience store light poles like Gatorade and McDonald'
s. Advertisers are putting their product names and logos on athletic stadium sna
ck packs and on posters in nightclub bathrooms. It seems if there's an empty sur
face of any kind anywhere, there's a company selling ad space there.
Do-It-Yourself Savings
But why pay an advertising fee when you can create your own place-based opportu
nity? The key is to find the right environment and to stretch your marketing dol
lars by getting other businesses to market with/for you. Here's a good example:
If you have a pet, you probably spend some time in the veterinarian's office. Ev
er notice all the rack brochures and posters that contain helpful information su
pplied by the makers of pet foods and flea remedies? These companies are taking
advantage of place-based advertising opportunities. Chances are, since visitors
to the veterinarian's office are thinking about pet health and nutrition, they'l
l be more likely to pick up, read and perhaps take home these marketing tools.
With a bit of negotiation, you could put a home theater display in a retail show
room frequented by your target customers. The display might be accompanied by si

gnage with your company name and contact information and a rack brochure on your
business and its products. You could give scheduled talks for customers on how
to set up a home theater and create a contest or giveaway that could be promoted
in the store and in its advertisements to draw attention to your display.
By combining marketing partnerships with place-based marketing strategies, you'l
l create a low-cost, high-reach campaign that affords multiple opportunities to
make impressions on B2B prospects as well as consumers. Having a quality display
in a good retail location will help you earn credibility as a viable business a
nd will go a long way toward building the trust you need to gain valuable B2B co
ntracts. It will also help you create effective marketing tools. For example, yo
u could shoot a short promotional video demoing the installation and setup of th
e retail display to use as a presentation tool with B2B prospects. And you could
use the retail display site to meet with select contractors and developers.
All in all, your marketing efforts can go as far as your imagination and your ab
ility to foster successful marketing partnerships will take you. With a bit of n
egotiation and hard work, you'll get what most new entrepreneurs need most: lots
of bang for very few bucks.
Kim T. Gordon is an author, marketing coach and media spokesperson-and one of th
e country's foremost experts on entrepreneurial success. Her newest book, Bringi
ng Home The Business, identifies the 30 "truths" that can make the difference be
tween success and failure in a homebased business. Kim offers one-on-one coachin
g by telephone to motivated individuals, providing practical marketing advice an
d budget-conscious strategies unique to your business. To receive free how-to ar
ticles and advice, get information on coaching and appearances, read a book exce
rpt, or contact Kim, visit, a huge site devoted
exclusively to marketing your small business.

Will You Hit a PR Home Run?

Don't bet on it--but there are other ways to win the publicity game.
By Al Lautenslager | August 19, 2002
Q: I'm looking for that PR/marketing home run. Any tips?
A: Many people see marketing as a panacea to all their business woes. Some peopl
e implement marketing and expect immediate short-term results. Those that expect
this are misinformed. Marketing is a long-term, persistent and consistent activ
ity that should never end.
In view of this, many companies, organizations and people look also for the mark
eting or PR home run--that one story, event or customer touch that will bring a
windfall of business.
Home runs aren't what usually wins baseball games. Usually, it's a collection of
singles and doubles that make up the run total of the victor. The same applies
in business, marketing and PR. It's the little things that add up and contribute
to the success of a business. Sure, there can be a home run now and then, but y

ou can't go into the game expecting to win just with the home run.
During the rise of the not-so-recent economy and the related dotcom boom, good t
imes could be had by all. Many people found home runs, while singles and doubles
were forgotten. Now that the economy has turned downward and the dotcom boom ha
s reversed, those still looking for home runs are coming up empty-handed. It's s
till a game of singles, even in the world of PR and marketing. A press release h
ere, a news conference and a feature article there--these all add up to effectiv
e communication of a company's message or brand. Notice it's not one event or on
e communication.
I've said before that marketing is made up of many, many, many things. They all
support one another. They all work toward getting the job done, just like in a b
aseball game. Sure, there's a chance every now and then to hit that home run, bu
t looking for it all the time is futile.
Communicating with the media often takes baby steps. You have to get the word ou
t about your company, product or service. This starts the process of awareness a
mong editors and producers of the media they control.
Jay Conrad Levinson of "guerilla marketing" fame speaks often about how many tim
es a customer or prospect must be touched before he or she takes action. All the
se touches represent baby steps (or singles in the baseball vernacular). Not onl
y is marketing made up of many, many things, but so is public relations. Think o
f all the topics you can write a press release about. Get one or two published,
and you'll hear prospects and customers saying things like, "I see you in all th
e papers," or "Every time I turn around, I see your name published." In actualit
y, this is only one or two publications that are working the minds of the reader
in synergistic fashion--"synergistic" being the key word. After all, synergy re
fers to the concept of adding the few to make the whole strong--hitting singles
to win the game and taking baby steps to make great strides. PR and marketing wo
rk the same way.
Alfred J. Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant, direct-m
ail promotion specialist, principle of marketing consulting firm Marketing Now,
and president and owner of The Ink Well, a commercial printing and mailing compa
ny in Wheaton, Illinois. Visit his Web sites at
m and, or e-mail him at

Ivan Misner: Networking

Developing a Networking Contact Sphere
Forming symbiotic relationships with other entrepreneurs may help you boost bus
By Ivan Misner | August 19, 2002
Q: My question is about so-called "contact spheres." How do I decide which busin
esses are in my contact sphere?
A: First, let me describe how I defined the concept when I introduced it in The

World's Best Known Marketing Secret: Building Your Business With Word-of-Mouth M
A contact sphere is a group of business professionals who have a symbiotic relat
ionship. They are in compatible, noncompetitive professions, such as a lawyer, a
CPA, a financial planner and a banker. If you put those four people in a room f
or an hour, they're going to do business together. Each one is working with clie
nts that have similar needs but require different services. Hence, they're worki
ng that symbiotic relationship.
My favorite example of a contact sphere is the caterer, the florist, the photogr
apher and the travel agent. I call this the "wedding mafia"! If one gets a refer
ral to a wedding, then they all get a referral to the wedding. These professions
, more than most, have truly learned how to work their contact sphere.
Here are some other examples of contact spheres:
Business services: printers, graphic artists, specialty advertising agents and m
arketing consultants.
Real estate services: residential and commercial agents, escrow companies, title
companies and mortgage brokers.
Contractors: painters, carpenters, plumbers, landscapers, electricians and inter
ior designers.
Health care: chiropractors, physical therapists, acupuncturists and nutritionist
Let's take a computer sales and service company as an example. That contact sphe
re may include sales reps for telecommunications hardware firms and photocopier
companies. Also, contractors who specialize in installing wiring may fit within
this contact sphere to assist in wiring installations. Also, don't forget the co
mputer trainers, who work with people and their computers on a daily basis, as w
ell as business coaches and accountants, who may have clients that need to impro
ve their company's technology.
To get the most out of your contact sphere:
Identify as many professions as possible that fit within your company's contact
sphere. Take a look at what professions your industry tends to work with to get
an idea of repetitive and reciprocal referrals. Create a list of these professio
Identify specific individuals who could fit into your contact sphere. Go to vari
ous networking groups and consult your business card file and database.
Invite these people to participate in networking groups with you so you can form
alize your relationship and have a way to stay in regular contact. Maintaining t
he relationship is key. A good way to do that is to participate in groups that p
ut you together on a regular basis.
Evaluate the professionals in your contact sphere that you are presently referri
ng. If they are not reciprocating, you may have the wrong profession or the wron
g person. Fill the spot with someone who is willing to reciprocate.
Although developing a solid contact sphere will greatly increase your business,
you must remember that it alone is not enough. Because contact spheres consist o
f small groups, you're not likely to gain exposure to a large number of individu
als. Hence, work on developing your overall network of contacts at the same time
you are developing your contact sphere.
Good luck. Contact spheres are a great way to start building your professional n
Ivan Misner is the founder and CEO of Business Network International (BNI), whic
h has more than 2,700 chapters throughout the world. He is also the author of fi
ve books, including his New York Times bestseller, Masters of Networking, as wel
l as Entrepreneur Press' forthcoming Masters of Success.

Hold On to Existing Customers

Afraid that customers will forget about your business? Periodic newsletters hel
p you stay in touch.
By David Meier | August 26, 2002
Q: I own and operate a successful retail business. I've found it easy to attract
new customers, but while these new customers contribute to my business's growth
, I find that a number of my existing customers leave for one reason or another,
sometimes for no apparent reason at all. This makes me feel like it's "two step
s forward, one step back," thereby severely limiting my business's net growth. H
ow can I do a better job of holding on to existing customers?
A: It's absolutely essential to the success of your business that you keep your
existing customer base intact while you take time to find new customers.
If you appear to ignore your business's customers, they will be more likely to b
ecome influenced by the marketing efforts of would-be competitors and switch the
ir loyalties to another business. And as you have experienced, this loss of cust
omers tends to come without warning, and by the time you know they're gone, it's
typically too late to do anything about their leaving.
A newsletter allows your business to communicate with customers directly and on
a regular basis. As a marketing tool, a properly designed newsletter will contai
n information that is important to customers--things to which they wouldn't ordi
narily become exposed that are nonetheless of more importance than just passing
interest. When your customers hear from your business, they're less susceptible
to your competitors' marketing efforts. By staying in communication with your cu
stomers, you are sending a message to them that they are indeed important to you
r business. This attention alone can make the difference between a loyal custome
r who stays with your business and one that feels neglected and ultimately decid
es to leave.
Do You Have a Question?
Visit our Expert Center to ask our experts your most pressing business questions
A newsletter should provide more than just news about your business. Although in
formation such as changes in staff or product lines may be of interest to your c
ustomers, a newsletter allows your business to market in an entirely new fashion
. Your business's newsletter can be an important marketing tool that not only en
courages your existing customers to stay on as customers, but also motivates the
m to buy more of what they currently buy and/or to consider buying products that
they haven't purchased to date. These additional sales (or "plus sales" as they
're called) represent a real growth opportunity for your business.
There are many decisions that precede the actual publishing of a business newsle
tter, including: format of the layout, size and color, frequency of issue, the p
roper mix of information and sales promotional materials, who will actually rece
ive the newsletter, and the distribution methods(s) to be used to get the newsle
tter into the hands of the right readers. In the past, newsletters have traditio
nally been sent via direct mail or as a handout at your place of business. But w
ith the growth of the Internet, both brick-and-mortar and e-businesses have been
turning more frequently to e-mail as a cheaper and faster alternative.
Your goal should be to develop a strong following of customers who enjoy your bu

siness's newsletter on a regular basis and who, in return, remain loyal customer
s. By properly using a newsletter, your business can enjoy a greater degree of r
etention in its existing customer base, while at the same time encouraging them
to buy more. This combination of retention and plus sales can make a significant
positive contribution to your business's net growth. You'll lose fewer customer
s while selling more to those who stay!
David Meier received an MBA in Finance from Loyola of Baltimore, and spent much
of the 1970s teaching business courses; later, he created a consulting group, an
d for the next two decades, provided accounting and tax services to small-busine
ss owners. He is currently the founder and COO of Small Business 411, which prov
ides small-business owners with ongoing business coaching and the knowledge and
support required to enable them to become truly successful entrepreneurs. Visit
the Small Business 411 site at

Ivan Misner: Networking

The 10 Commandments of Networking
Leave out any of these strategies, and your networking is just a waste of time.
By Ivan Misner | September 03, 2002
Do you suffer from "butterfly-itis" at the very mention of networking at busines
s functions? If you answered yes, you are not alone. Many entrepreneurs get a bi
t uncomfortable when it comes right down to walking up to someone and starting a
conversation. Many others are concerned about getting effective results from th
e time they spend networking.
The process doesn't have to be traumatic, scary or a waste of time. When done pr
operly, it can truly make a difference in the amount of business your company ge
nerates. With the right approach, you can use it to build a wealth of resources
and contacts that will help make your business very successful.
Use the following ten commandments to help you network your way through your nex
t business networking event:
1. Have the tools to network with you at all times. These include an informative
name badge, business cards, brochures about your business, and a pocket-sized b
usiness card file containing cards of other professionals to whom you can refer
new business.
2. Set a goal for the number of people you'll meet. Identify a reachable goal ba
sed on attendance and the type of group. If you feel inspired, set a goal to mee
t 15 to 20 people, and make sure you get all their cards. If you don't feel so h
ot, shoot for less. In either case, don't leave until you've met your goal.
3. Act like a host, not a guest. A host is expected to do things for others, whi
le a guest sits back and relaxes. Volunteer to help greet people. If you see vis
itors sitting, introduce yourself and ask if they would like to meet others. Act

as a conduit.
Learn More
Get more networking tips in "Networking With Confidence."
4. Listen and ask questions. Remember that a good networker has two ears and one
mouth and uses them proportionately. After you've learned what another person d
oes, tell them what you do. Be specific but brief. Don't assume they know your b
5. Don't try to close a deal. These events are not meant to be a vehicle to hit
on businesspeople to buy your products or services. Networking is about developi
ng relationships with other professionals. Meeting people at events should be th
e beginning of that process, not the end of it.
6. Give referrals whenever possible. The best networkers believe in the "givers
gain" philosophy (what goes around comes around). If I help you, you'll help me
and we'll both do better as a result of it. In other words, if you don't genuine
ly attempt to help the people you meet, then you are not networking effectively.
If you can't give someone a bona fide referral, try to offer some information t
hat might be of interest to them (such as details about an upcoming event).
7. Exchange business cards. Ask each person you meet for two cards-one to pass o
n to someone else and one to keep. This sets the stage for networking to happen.
8. Manage your time efficiently. Spend 10 minutes or less with each person you m
eet, and don't linger with friends or associates. If your goal is to meet a give
n number of people, be careful not to spend too much time with any one person. W
hen you meet someone interesting with whom you'd like to speak further, set up a
n appointment for a later date.
9. Write notes on the backs of business cards you collect. Record anything you t
hink may be useful in remembering each person more clearly. This will come in ha
ndy when you follow up on each contact.
10. Follow up! You can obey the previous nine commandments religiously, but if y
ou don't follow up effectively, you will have wasted your time. Drop a note or g
ive a call to each person you've met. Be sure to fulfill any promises you've mad

Ivan Misner is co-author of the New York Times bestseller Masters of Networking.
He is the founder and CEO of BNI, the world's largest referral organization wit
h more than 2,400 chapters in 13 countries around the world. He also teaches bus
iness courses at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and resides in
Southern California with his wife and three children. Dr. Misner can be reached

Getting the Most From a Press Release

Sending it out just once isn't enough. Here's how to really make that press rel
ease work for you.
By Al Lautenslager | September 16, 2002

Q: I recently sent press releases to several editors of publications and produce

rs of radio and TV programs, but nothing was ever published or aired. What more
can I do with that one press release or bit of newsworthy information from our c
A: A lot of times we hope to gain PR for our business because it involves no cos
t or cash outlay. The pundits, experts and professionals always tell us to start
with a press release and then follow up with specific editors of specific publi
cations. This sounds good, but we have all experienced a targeted press release
campaign with little or no results. We get discouraged, say that the publicity c
ampaign didn't work and abandon further efforts. Sound familiar? At least there
are ways to improve your results, such as by getting more mileage out of a singl
e press release.
Finding a newsworthy angle for the information you want publicized is a key to g
etting in print. But beware: What you think is news may not be news to an editor
. Put yourself in the editor's shoes. Put yourself in the reader's shoes. This w
ill help with your angle and newsworthiness.
Press releases can also have a synergistic effect. Sending out one press release
may or may not get published. Sending a follow-up press release on the same new
s with a different angle and attaching the original press release can increase t
he probability of getting published by more than twofold.
A good example is the local printing company that offered free business cards to
the company that chose to relocate to the city where the printing company was l
ocated. One press release about this incentive yielded two articles--small parag
raphs hidden on back pages of local suburban weeklies. Once the relocating compa
ny chose the city where the printing company resided, a second press release was
sent, tying the choice to the earlier communicated incentive. The first press r
elease was also attached. The end result? Stories placed in eight newspapers and
on one radio station, as well as a PR bonanza, all from sending just two press
releases. The follow-up plan definitely yielded significant PR results. Followin
g up an original story with another newsworthy angle increased the PR and the en
suing results for the printing company. There are many more examples like this,
but the key is always follow-up.
Besides follow-up, there are other things that can be done to make PR more effic
ient with even more results. The following are just a few more ideas:
Post press releases on your Web site.
Send a copy of a press release with a letter letting customers and prospects kno
w what is going on in your company.
Include a press release as part of a sales kit/presentation folder.
Use a press release that's been published as grounds for a letter to the editor.
Attach to a follow-up press release.
Include a link to a press release published online in any e-mail correspondence.
Include the same link in your e-mail signature.
Put the press release in a frame and display it in your place of business.
Include the press release in any sales correspondence with prospects and custome
These are just a few ideas. But it's easy to see that even when your campaign do
esn't catch the attention of editors or producers, there's always more marketing
that can be done with a single press release.
Alfred J. Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant, direct-m
ail promotion specialist, principle of marketing consulting firm Marketing Now,
and president and owner of The Ink Well, a commercial printing and mailing compa
ny in Wheaton, Illinois. Visit his Web sites at
m and, or e-mail him at

Ivan Misner: Networking

Networking on the Net
Learn how to utilize the Internet as part of your networking strategy.
By Ivan Misner | September 16, 2002
Q: What do you see as effective strategies for further facilitating business net
working using the Internet?
A: The short answer is that it's a great way to communicate with people, but it'
s not a panacea to solve your networking needs anymore than it will solve all yo
ur advertising needs.
The Internet is an excellent vehicle for networking via bulletin board and chat
room communities. These communities allow people to connect on a regular basis,
exchange information and ideas and get to know one another a little better. In a
ddition, staying in touch via the Internet has no equal. I've found it to be a v
ery powerful mechanism for regularly connecting with people with whom I already
have a casual relationship. That's the key--that the Internet is a great tool fo
r staying in touch with people you've already established a connection with. Gra
nted, you may do some business with people that you've met on a Web community. H
owever, for the most part, people do "repetitive" business with people they know
and trust. Sure, I've seen some business relationships begin, develop and prosp
er via the Internet, but I've found that most repetitive referral relationships
start through personal contact and are maintained via Internet communication. No
thing beats good old-fashioned face-to-face networking to start the process of b
uilding a relationship and trust.
A couple years ago, I wrote the forward to the book Internet Prophet by Mary Dif
fley. In it, I stated that we don't live on Little House on the Prairie anymore,
and today's frontier isn't in the West, it's on the Net. We live in the Interne
t age, where change seems to take place at light speed. If you're in business to
day, you definitely need to be on the Net.
The Internet simultaneously flattens the communication hierarchy while broadenin
g people's access to ideas, information, products and services. The Internet is
to the world what the printing press was hundreds of years ago. It is to the wor
ld what radio and television were only decades ago. The Internet has opened door
s and opportunities in a way beyond anything that has preceded it.
In only a few short years, an entire technology, vocabulary, culture and marketp
lace has been born. Cyber entrepreneurs, customers and a whole new economy have
evolved at such a blinding speed that it's no wonder so many business owners are
at a loss about what to do and how to do it when it relates to the Internet and
their business.
Understanding e-business fundamentals, creating an Internet business plan, devel
oping and marketing a company's Web site and understanding how to network on the
Internet are all new concepts for today's business professional. Those business
es that neglect to consider these issues today will most surely be a casualty of
this new technology tomorrow. But more importantly, those businesses that do co
nsider these issues today will be the success stories of tomorrow.
Ivan Misner is the founder and CEO of Business Network International(BNI), which
has more than 2,700 chapters throughout the world. He is also the author of fiv
e books, including his New York Times bestseller, Masters of Networking, as well
as Entrepreneur Press' forthcoming Masters of Success.

Conducting Surveys and Focus Groups

Check out these effective market research options that won't take a toll on you
r budget.
By MieYun Lee and
Extensively researching your target market has long been viewed as a luxury--a p
erk available only to the corporate giants with deep pockets. But the past decad
e's surge of small businesses have made understanding and accurately targeting y
our customers a make-or-break means of survival.
Market research comes in all shapes and sizes, and some forms certainly have hig
h price tags attached. Of course, not every business has thousands of dollars to
dish out on analyst reports and services from big-name market research firms.
Luckily, there are quite a few effective options available that won't take a nas
ty toll on your budget.
What Is Market Research?
Researching your market helps you understand your customers, your competitors, a
nd the industry in which you operate. It's an ongoing process that involves usin
g data to drive decisions related to running your business.
Conducting market research involves collecting data to be analyzed. Data can be
collected through various processes, and the method you choose depends on what y
ou are hoping to discover or better understand about your market.
Once your data is collected, it takes careful analysis to come to any conclusion
s or understanding. But if done right, the results will make all your business d
ecisions smart ones.
Why Use It?
Market research has definite value. It gives you the information you need to mak
e smart decisions about your business, so your revenue increases.
In fact, your ROI on market research often exceeds the cost of conducting the re
Proper market research helps you:
determine how to correctly target your marketing campaigns
identify opportunities in the marketplace
determine what you are doing wrong as well as what you are doing right
identify your customers' specific needs
uncover problems with your business that may not have surfaced otherwise
evaluate your success with measurable data
Secondary Research
Even though its name may imply otherwise, secondary research is where market res
earch usually begins.
Secondary research is conducted by consulting published reports from trusted sou
rces in order to find out:
who makes up your target market
what the needs of your market are
the size of the potential market

Secondary research is less expensive than primary research. It's often free, in
fact. It's also more readily available than you may think.
Secondary research can be internal, like sales reports or internal market analys
es. But most of it will be external, including:
web-based directories and resources
nonprofit agencies
government agencies (try www.fedstats.govfor access to 70 government sites with
valid stats and information)
back issues of magazines and newspapers at the library
However, analyzing secondary data can sometimes be overwhelming, and your result
s can end up inaccurate or inconclusive. It may make sense to use the knowledge
gained through secondary research to guide your decisions regarding primary rese
arch or even to hire an outside consultant to do the analyzing for you.
Primary Research
You can think of primary research as getting down to the nitty-gritty.
Primary research is conducted to get really intimate with your market, to answer
specific questions you might have or address specific areas of focus. It costs
more and often takes longer to conduct than secondary research, but it gives con
clusive results.
Primary research can be broken down into two subcategories:
Qualitative research includes studies done on smaller groups of people, like one
-on-one consumer interviews or focus groups. It's meant to give you direction, t
o get an answer to a particular concern or question--not to make predictions.
Quantitative research includes studies done that result in a large amount of dat
a-like surveys. This type of research is statistically valid and can be used to
make predictions.
About Surveys
Surveys are a type of quantitative primary research that aim to collect specific
data from a sample audience.
Surveys can be administered via email, snail mail, or phone, and usually target
customers or potential customers.
There are four steps to attacking a survey: identifying your audience, writing t
he survey, conducting the survey, and analyzing the data collected.
When you write the survey, keep the questions simple, but be very specific. Also
, including a "reward" for completing the survey--a promotional product or coupo
n of some sort--is a good way to increase participation.
Although it is possible to conduct a survey completely in-house, your best bet w
ould be to outsource the survey conducting and data analyzing to a research firm
that conducts surveys as part of their business.
About Focus Groups
Are you developing a new product? Embarking on an advertising campaign? Interest
ed in assessing your customers' needs beyond simple questions and answers? Here'
s where focus groups--a type of qualitative primary research--can help.
Focus groups are typically composed of about 10 pre-screened people that meet cr
iteria you specify. They are assembled in one room--either on your site or offsi
te--to discuss and react to a specific topic relevant to your business.
Meeting offsite has its advantages; facilities designed for focus groups usually
have access to cameras to tape the session. Some also have one-way mirrors to t
he participants can be observed.
The discussion is guided by a moderator. You can either hire an outside moderato
r or assign the role to someone in your organization--but keep in mind that he o
r she can't participate beyond moderating.
Focus groups are helpful because the participants can be probed for the reasonin
g behind their opinions, and conversations can be generated around a particular
topic--giving you what's known as "rich data" as opposed to, for example, the fi
nite answers you get from survey questions.
It's best to hold at least two sessions in order to arrive at any sound conclusi
Survey Costs
Survey prices will range depending a number of factors, including whether you pu

rchase a mailing list, who designs the questions for the survey, what communicat
ion channel you use to send the survey, and how you want the results analyzed.
Costs are also dependent on the incidence rate, or the number of surveys that ne
ed to be sent (or calls that need to be made) in order to get a response. For ex
ample, if you send 100 surveys and 10 people respond, your incidence rate is 10
Phone. Phone surveys can cost anywhere from $5,000-$15,000. They typically cost
an average of $40 per interview (or person surveyed).
However, this per-interview price can increase or decrease according to the succ
ess of responses. The fewer the responses, the higher the price. For example, if
only 50 percent of the list responds, you'll pay a little more than $40 per int
Mail. Surveys via snail mail will run close to the price of phone interviews, us
ually about $5,000 to $7,000 for 200 responses.
E-mail. E-mail surveys are becoming more popular because their costs are lower-about $3,000-$5,000.
Costs are lower for two reasons. First, postage isn't a concern. Also, email has
a higher incidence rate, since the option to answer questions on participants'
own time makes them much more likely to respond.
However, a word of caution: Using email for surveys limits your population to th
ose with e-mail access (currently about 40 percent).
Options for Cutting Survey Costs
To save some cash, design the questions for your survey in-house. Also, if you h
ave a ready-made list of recipients (say a list of registered users on your webs
ite), you can avoid the cost of purchasing a mailing list (usually five to fifte
en cents a name, which can get pricey).
And certainly consider email as opposed to snail mail. You don't have to pay for
printing or postage, and the response rate seems to be better.
Focus Group Costs
Prices for focus groups can range from $4,000 to $6,000 per session if you outso
urce to a company that runs focus groups. Since it's recommended that you hold a
t least two sessions, that price can be a little hefty.
But there are ways to save. You don't have to outsource every aspect of a focus
group (facility, moderator, recruiting, and script). If you come up with the scr
ipt of questions for discussion yourself, don't hire a professional moderator, a
nd use a conference room in your office as opposed to an outside facility, you c
an cut costs almost in half.
However, recruiting is the one area where you don't want to cut corners. The tim
e spent recruiting eligible participants can be more than you want someone in yo
ur office to spend, especially if your guidelines are strict. For example, findi
ng cell phone owners may not take much time, but if you want to find cell phone
owners that have dogs, that will take a bit longer.
Participants also need to be compensated for their time, either with cash or a r
eward of equivalent value (stock options, a gift certificate). For a two-hour se
ssion, you can expect to pay $35 to $50 each for consumers, $50-100 each for pro
fessional level individuals, and $100 to $150 each for executives.
Secondary Source Costs
Many published reports and resources can be found at your library and online for
free. Just make sure that the information you're using isn't outdated.
Some analyst reports run as low as $250, but most of the well-known research fir
ms charge at least $1,000 for their reports.
Mie-Yun Lee is the founder of, the leading online marketplace for
business purchasing. The site features extensive buying advice and a free Reques
t for Quotes service for more than 100 common business purchases ranging from ph
one systems to forklifts.

Ivan Misner: Networking

The G.A.I.N.S. Approach to Networking
Leave out any of these strategies, and your networking will be just a waste of
By Ivan Misner | October 07, 2002
If you want to be successful in generating referrals, it's crucial to find out a
s much as you can about the members of your network. And there are five critical
things that you must know if you truly want to be a productive networker. These
five things are not mysterious secrets; they're actually facts we're exposed to
every day but often pay little attention to because we're not aware of the bene
fits we can gain by sharing them. In our book, Business by Referral, Robert Davi
s and I call this sharing--the GAINS Exchange:
If you know the GAINS categories and use them effectively, you can strengthen yo
ur relationships, create strong organizations, and live a more rewarding, produc
tive and enjoyable life. Of course, the exchange is a two-way street: Not only s
hould you know these things about others, you should share the same type of info
rmation about yourself with them.
Goals are the financial, business, educational and personal objectives you want
or need to meet for yourself and for the people who are important to you. They c
ould be problems you want to resolve or decisions you need to make, either immed
iately or down the road.
Whatever they are, you need to clearly and specifically define your own goals an
d also have a clear picture of the other person's goals. Indeed, the best way to
develop a relationship is by helping someone achieve something that's important
to him or her. If you do, they'll remember you when you need help achieving you
r own goals. You'll become valuable sources for each other, and your relationshi
p will endure.
Some of your best insight into others comes from knowing what goals they've achi
eved, what projects they've completed, and what they've accomplished both for th
emselves and for others. Accomplishments, whether as student, employee, organiza
tion member, parent, friend, sports fan or neighbor, tell you more about a perso
n than any number of intentions or attitudes.
People like to talk about the things they're proud of. Engage your network membe
rs in casual conversation; encourage them to talk about their accomplishments. S
haring your accomplishments may lead to fortuitous surprises, such as a mutual i
nterest or a connection that can be beneficial for both of you.
Your interests--the things you enjoy doing, talking about, listening to or colle
cting--can help you connect with others. People are more willing to spend time w
ith those who share their interests or know something about them.
Knowing other people's interests makes it easier to help them in some way. Let t

hem know your interests as well; if you and your contact share many of the same
interests, it will strengthen your relationship. Don't forget that your passions
are your most important interests. A passion is something you love to do, somet
hing you could do all day long without encouragement or prodding from others.
A network starts with any group (formal or informal), organization, institution,
company or individual you associate with for either business or personal reason
s. Most business people have a broad network of contacts. The question is, how w
ell cultivated are those contacts?
There's an old saying that goes, "It's not what you know but who you know." Well
, I believe that it's not "what you know" or "who you know"--it's "how well you
know them" that makes a difference. Each of us has sources in abundance that we
don't effectively cultivate. Each member of your network is part of several othe
r networks; each of your prospective sources is connected, directly and indirect
ly, with hundreds, even thousands of people you don't know. If you can tap the r
esources represented by your network of contacts, you can significantly increase
your return on investment in networking.
The more you know about the talents, abilities and assets of the people in your
network, the better equipped you are to find competent, affordable services when
you or someone you know needs help. Think about what you do well and identify t
he special skills you have; exchanging this information will help business relat
ionships grow as well.
Recording the GAINS You Discover
There are several ways to gather information about these five topics from your p
rospective network members or anyone else you deal with. To do so, you should li
sten, observe, ask questions, review written material, ask others and of course s
hare your GAINS.
To help you in this process, use the form at this URL to complete your GAINS Pro
file and the GAINS Profile of people in your network that you would like to know
better. If you think that getting to know the GAINS of the people you deal with
is too easy and you need a greater challenge, take the quiz at this URL to test
your knowledge of each member of your network:
As you discover the GAINS of the people you're interested in, keep a record; oth
erwise, you're likely to forget important information. Use the GAINS Profile (or
whatever database you utilize) to record the facts you learn about your most im
portant contacts. Spend more time with the people you already know, particularly
with those you believe you want to know better. Concentrate on learning these f
ive essentials--their goals, accomplishments, interests, networks and skills. Fi
nd overlapping areas of knowledge and interest. Make sure you give back the same
kind of information. The more they know about you, the faster your name will co
me to mind when an opportunity arises in which your products, services, knowledg
e, skills or experience might play a part.
Ivan Misner is co-author of the New York Times bestseller Masters of Networking.
He is the founder and CEO of BNI, the world's largest referral organization wit
h more than 2,400 chapters in 13 countries around the world. He also teaches bus
iness courses at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and resides in
Southern California with his wife and three children. Dr. Misner can be reached

Why You Need Competitive Intelligence

Competitive intelligence should be moving up your list of entrepreneurial prior
By Mark Henricks | Entrepreneur Magazine November 2002
For a long time, Lois Melbourne didn't worry much about competition. When she an
d her husband, Ross, started TimeVision Inc. in Irving, Texas, in 1994, they wer
e pretty much the only company using human-resource databases to create speciali
zed software for organization charts and corporate phone directories. Today, how
ever, the 28-person company has at least two direct competitors, a Canadian comp
any and a Belgian firm that popped up in 2000.
Now, says the 36-year-old CEO, "we look at a lot of things when we look at our c
ompetitors. We look at who they're selling to, we look at feature sets, and we l
ook at service offerings." Melbourne searches the Web and employs a clipping ser
vice to gather news about her rivals. She visits competitors' booths at trade sh
ows and quizzes others in the field to see what they know about rival products.
She calls competitors' support lines to see what help she gets.
Melbourne is in good company, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey that
found high-growth companies are increasingly interested and active in gathering
competitor information. Responding to the accounting firm's Trendsetter Baromete
r March 2002 survey, about one-third of fast-growing companies' CEOs said compet
itor information was more important than a year ago. Sixty-five percent said com
petitor information was no less important today, and just 4 percent considered i
t less important.
"As things become more competitive for the companies that have survived the down
turn, it's imperative that they understand what their competition is doing," say
s Steve Hamm, who heads PricewaterhouseCoopers' U.S. middle-market practice. As
many customers remain reluctant to buy, he says, sales-hungry companies search f
or new and more receptive markets.
What D'ya Know?
Before you start looking, ask yourself what kind of information you want. Most
CEOs look for pricing changes, new product initiatives, corporate strategies, op
erating or financial information and changes in management or staffing levels. I
n addition to product pricing, Melbourne looks for information about implementat
ion and support costs. In the technology industry, she notes, those costs can ea
sily exceed the cost of the software license.
Next, think about where to get the information. If you're like the Trendsetter B
arometer companies, your own sales force will be the most important source of co
mpetitor information. You should also look at trade and industry magazines and n
ewsletters and other published sources, trade associations, ex-employees of comp
etitors, industry analysts, market research with competitors' customers and publ
ic officials. Find what works best for you. Melbourne doesn't rely much on her s
alespeople and uses trade associations, ex-employees, market research, analysts,
and officials little or not at all.
Don't forget to apply an ethical filter to everything you do in competitor infor
mation gathering. Melbourne stops short of employing illegal or unfair means of
gathering information. "We don't do anything that compromises anyone's integrity
," she says. "We don't call and pretend to be someone else to find out any type
of information. I'm very adamant about that."
Finally, consider some unexpected benefits you can get from having better compet
itor information. Melbourne, for instance, says competitor information can have
a powerful effect on company morale. "Sometimes it fires up the troops to know w
hat competitors are doing," she says. "It's like 'Oh, they took another one of o
ur features, so now we have to fight harder.'"

Kim T. Gordon: Marketing

Fame and Fortune
A campaign starring a celebrity spokesperson could be the ticket to off-the-cha
rt marketing success.
By Kim T. Gordon | Entrepreneur Magazine November 2002
You wouldn't guess by looking at me that I have something major in common with S
ammy Sosa and Pete Sampras-but we've all been endorsers or celebrity spokespeopl
e for Nortel Networks. While I've never been able to hit a baseball or serve an
ace, as a small-business expert and author, I can drive home key messages that r
esonate with business owners, a skill Nortel Networks has put to good use.
Typically, star athletes command endorsement fees in the millions, but other spo
kespeople, such as authors and industry experts, have considerably less stratosp
heric rates. So while your budget probably doesn't include a national ad campaig
n featuring a superstar, there are excellent, lower-cost ways your growing busin
ess can increase its visibility using a celebrity or expert spokesperson.
Creating a marketing program using an outside endorser draws attention to your m
essage and confers credibility. It's what I call the "made you look" factor. You
r choice of a spokesperson should be based on your message and target audience.
And there's a wide range of academics, authors, athletes, actors, association le
aders and experts available for your events, retail promotions and public relati
ons tours.
Draw a Crowd
To really stand out at your next trade or consumer show, use a celebrity or exp
ert to draw traffic to your booth. For about $2,000 to $5,000, you can bring in
a retired athlete, a local celebrity or a popular author. Say your company decid
es to exhibit at a trade show. You could invite an author to hand out free copie
s of his or her latest book to the first 100 people who visit the booth. In retu
rn, you'd get the opportunity to meet hundreds of potential new customers.
If you're a retailer, you can follow the same principle to bring traffic to your
store. Just promote the event using space in your regular advertising, then sen
d releases to the press and special invitations to your customers.
Make News
Public relations media tours are an affordable way to reach millions of custome
rs in a highly credible news format. A radio media tour consists of a series of
fiveto eight-minute telephone interviews with your spokesperson. Qualified booki
ng companies, such as North American Network Inc. in Bethesda, Maryland, offer a
ll-inclusive rates based on the number of interviews scheduled. They book the st
ations, write the press release, send media kits, moderate and tape the intervie
ws, and provide a comprehensive report. A three-hour satellite radio tour with a
pproximately 15 interviews would cost just under $5,000, plus your celebrity rep
resentative's fees, which can range from $8,000 to $10,000 for the interview tim
e and endorsement.
There will also be fees for message development and any consulting or writing wo
rk your spokesperson may do. But the costs are reasonable in relation to the aud
iences reached-as spokesperson for Sprint, I did a major radio tour that yielded

18 million impressions. I also did a tour for eBay's Business and Industrial Pr
oducts that reached more than 6 million listeners.
DWJ Television in Ridgewood, New Jersey, specializes in satellite TV media tours
and offers similar services. For tours shot in a studio, the two-hour cost for
a dozen interviews is $15,000, plus your spokesperson's fees.
Your broadcast spokesperson should work with you to develop a "news hook" so you
'll gain the most interviews possible. You should expect your company to receive
at least one or two mentions per interview, and the spokesperson must be adept
at bringing interviewers back to the key messaging points no matter what questio
ns are asked. He or she should have excellent on-air skills, be unflappable, and
be able to deliver the same message in different ways, once every 10 minutes fo
r several hours.
To find a celebrity spokesperson, visit For a technical e
xpert, author or academic, visit a site designed for journalists,
Quick Pick
Have your marketing campaigns been less than successful lately? Signing up with
a Web-based service such as Respond Networks can be helpful in matching buyers w
ith your business's products or services.
All you have to do is provide some information about what your company offers, t
hen sit back as targeted pre-qualified buyers' leads are sent to you via e-mail.
You can even set up filters or establish special offers to customize the servic
For more information, contact Respond Networks or any of its open network affili
ates, such as, Lycos or Verizon; a full list of contacts is also ava
ilable online. Price: $30 per month, plus various per-response fees that range f
rom 50 cents to $5.
-Steve Cooper
Contact marketing expert Kim T. Gordon (author of Bringing Home the Business) at

Ivan Misner: Networking

The ROI of Networking
Is networking really worth the trouble?
By Ivan Misner | October 21, 2002
Q: My question to you is the holy grail of business ROI (return on investment):
Are there any benchmarks for quantifying word-of-mouth?
A: There has been very little quantitative research on the ROI of networking. Ho
wever, having spent most of the last two decades participating in or managing bu
siness development networks around the world, I've amassed substantial evidence
that suggests that there is a substantial ROI on one's networking and word-of-mo
uth efforts.
Let me begin with a study done by Robert Davis at the University of San Francisc

o. Davis found that people who participated in networking groups appeared to be

"above-average networkers." The study concluded that participants in networking
groups develop certain networking skills that the average business professional
does not possess, and that these skills in fact result in more referrals to othe
r business professionals, leading to substantially more new clients. This makes
a very strong argument for participating in organized networking groups.
As part of my doctoral work at the University of Southern California, I conducte
d a thorough study of referral generation amongst members of a business developm
ent network or referral group. In the study, published in 1993, I found that the
longer an individual participated in a business development network, the greate
r the number of referrals. In fact, the likelihood of receiving a hundred or mor
e referrals virtually doubled with each passing year of participation. One parti
cipant told me that in his first year as a member (1993), he received roughly $6
,000 in referrals for his paging business. During his second year, he got more t
han $11,000, and in his third year more than $22,000! The study clearly showed t
hat the longer people participated in their networking group, the higher the ret
Some of the most exciting discoveries from my doctoral study and later discussed
in my book The World's Best Known Marketing Secret involve the length of member
ship in a networking group. For example, the study found that the people who wer
e members for one or two years identified their largest referral to be more than
50 times higher than people who had been members for less than one year!
Years of Membership:
Largest Single Referral
(Net Income):
Under $1,000
76.3% 57.5% 40.9% 27.0% 20.0%
Over $1,000
23.7% 42.5% 59.1% 73.0% 80.0%
(percent by category)
Source: The World's Best Known Marketing Secret
This trend continued as long as the person remained a member. For example, 52.3
percent of the respondents who were members for less than a year stated that the
ir largest referral was $250 or less, while only 7.5 percent said it exceeded $2
,500. On the other hand, none of the respondents who were members for several ye
ars said that their largest referral was less than $250, while 52 percent said t
heir largest referral was more than $2,500, with 32 percent actually exceeding $
5,000! Thus, large referrals are directly related to length of membership. In ot
her words, individuals who stay with a networking group longer are much more lik
ely to get referrals that are substantially larger.
The chart below illustrates this point. You will notice that the longer someone
was a member, the higher the likelihood he or she would receive a referral worth
more than $1,000. It should be noted that many of these referrals were substant
ially more than $1,000 (or in some cases, over $100,000). In some years, many me
mbers got at least one referral worth more than $10,000 in business.
It is clear that the longer an individual is a member of a business development
network, the greater the individual's opportunity to get larger referrals. In fa
ct, members are almost twice as likely to get referrals worth more than $1,000 i
n net income if they are in the group for more than one year. In addition, the o
verall number of referrals increases substantially the longer someone participat
es, as shown in the figure below.
Years of Membership:
Number of Referrals
57.4% 13.5% 9.9%
10-19 23.1% 24.5% 8.5%
20-29 10.1% 16.8% 19.7% 10.8% 8.0%
30-39 3.4%
17.4% 14.1% 16.2% 4.0%
40-49 2.7%
13.5% 4.0%
50-59 1.9%
11.6% 21.1% 18.9% 4.0%
60-99 1.1%
12.7% 21.6% 40.0%
10.8% 24.0%

(percent by category)
Source: The World's Best Known Marketing Secret
In addition, take a look at a book I co-wrote with Robert Davis entitled Busines
s By Referral: A Sure-Fire Way to Generate New Business. On pages 23 26, we talk
about some of the payoffs of networking based on a survey of more than 2,000 bu
siness professionals in several countries.
I believe that we will eventually see more quantitative research done on the ROI
of networking and word-of-mouth marketing. It is clearly one of the most cost-e
ffective ways to build one's business, and the more research that is done, the m
ore evidence we will have to support that.
Ivan Misner is the founder and CEO of Business Network International (BNI), whic
h has more than 2,700 chapters throughout the world. He is also the author of fi
ve books, including his New York Times bestseller, Masters of Networking, as wel
l as Entrepreneur Press' forthcoming Masters of Success.

Ivan Misner: Networking

How to Become a Master Networker
Adopt these 10 traits, and you'll have people knocking down your door trying to
do business with you.
By Ivan Misner | November 04, 2003
Networking is more than just shaking hands and passing out business cards. Based
on a survey I conducted of more than 2,000 people throughout the United States,
the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, it's about building your "social capi
tal." The highest-rated traits in the survey were the ones related to developing
and maintaining good relationships. For years I've been teaching people that th
is process is more about "farming" than it is about "hunting." It's about cultiv
ating relationships with other business professionals. It's about realizing the
capital that comes from building social relationships.
The following traits were ranked in order of their perceived importance to netwo
rking. They're the traits that will make you a "master networker."
1. Follows up on referrals. This was ranked as the No. 1 trait of successful net
workers. If you present an opportunity, whether it's a simple piece of informati
on, a special contact or a qualified business referral, to someone who consisten
tly fails to follow up successfully, it's no secret that you'll eventually stop
wasting your time with this person.
2. Positive attitude. A consistently negative attitude makes people dislike bein
g around you and drives away referrals; a positive attitude makes people want to
associate and cooperate with you. Positive business professionals are like magn
ets. Others want to be around them and will send their friends, family and assoc
iates to them.
3. Enthusiastic/motivated. Think about the people you know. Who gets the most re

ferrals? People who show the most motivation, right? It's been said that the bes
t sales characteristic is enthusiasm. To be respected within our networks, we at
least need to sell ourselves with enthusiasm. Once we've done an effective job
of selling ourselves, we'll be able to reap the reward of seeing our contacts se
ll us to others! That's motivation in and of itself!
4. Trustworthy. When you refer one person to another, you're putting your reputa
tion on the line. You have to be able to trust your referral partner and be trus
ted in return. Neither you nor anyone else will refer a contact or valuable info
rmation to someone who can't be trusted to handle it well.
5. Good listening skills. Our success as networkers depends on how well we can l
isten and learn. The faster you and your networking partner learn what you need
to know about each other, the faster you'll establish a valuable relationship. C
ommunicate well, and listen well.
6. Networks always. Master networkers are never off duty. Networking is so natur
al to them that they can be found networking in the grocery store line, at the d
octor's office and while picking the kids up from school, as well as at the cham
ber mixers and networking meetings.
7. Thanks people. Gratitude is sorely lacking in today's business world. Express
ing gratitude to business associates and clients is just another building block
in the cultivation of relationships that will lead to increased referrals. Peopl
e like to refer others to business professionals that go above and beyond. Thank
ing others at every opportunity will help you stand out from the crowd.
8. Enjoys helping. Helping others can be done in a variety of ways, from literal
ly showing up to help with an office move to clipping a helpful and interesting
article and mailing it to an associate or client. Master networkers keep their e
yes and ears open for opportunities to advance other people's interests whenever
they can.
9. Sincere. Insincerity is like a cake without frosting! You can offer the help,
the thanks, the listening ear, but if you aren't sincerely interested in the ot
her person, they'll know it! Those who have developed successful networking skil
ls convey their sincerity at every turn. One of the best ways to develop this tr
ait is to give the individual with whom you're developing a referral relationshi
p your undivided attention.
10. Works their network. It's not net-sit or net-eat, it's net-work, and master
networkers don't let any opportunity to work their networks pass them by. They m
anage their contacts with contact management software, organize their e-mail add
ress files and carry their referral partners' business cards as well as their ow
n. They set up appointments to get better acquainted with new contacts so that t
hey can learn as much about them as possible so that they can truly become part
of each other's networks.
Do you see the trend with these ten points? They all tie in to long-term relatio
nship building, not to stalking the prey for the big kill. People who take the t
ime to build their social capital are the ones who will have new business referr
ed to them over and over. The key is to build mutually beneficial business relat
ionships. Only then will you succeed as a master networker.
Ivan Misner is co-author of the New York Times bestseller Masters of Networking.
He is the founder and CEO of BNI, the world's largest referral organization wit
h more than 2,400 chapters in 13 countries around the world. He also teaches bus
iness courses at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, and resides in
Southern California with his wife and three children. Dr. Misner can be reached

Kim T. Gordon: Marketing

'Tis the Season for Business Gift-Giving
Don't have a lot to spend? With a little creativity, you can still let your bus
iness associates know you care.
By Kim T. Gordon | November 04, 2002
Q: Is it a good idea to send gifts to customers this holiday season? This has be
en a tough year for us, and we're not sure if we should take on the added expens
e. What do you think?
A: Gift-giving is an excellent way to make a personal connection with your custo
mers or clients, and it can play a strong role in building long-term relationshi
ps. While some companies may go to the extreme with lavish gifts and parties, ac
cording to entrepreneur Corinne Dalby, giving gifts doesn't have to be expensive
. Her company, Media Specialists Inc., makes a practice of sending gifts to 300
of its best customers four times per year--spring, summer, fall and at holiday t
ime--for a total cost of just about $1,000.
Based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Media Specialists (877-622-0077) distributes professio
nal audio and videotape and equipment, computer data cartridges and magnetic opt
icals to broadcast facilities, production houses, corporations and ministries. W
ith the help of her four-person staff, holiday gifts are created by lining clear
video boxes with Mylar, stuffing them with different kinds of candy and tying t
hem with a decorative bow. Since most of her customers are in the video business
, "They just love it," says Dalby.
The boxes may only cost 50 cents to $1 each, but customers have come to expect t
he gifts, which Dalby delivers personally to local customers and ships to others
nationwide. It's this individual connection with customers that makes Dalby's c
ompany stand out and her gifts so well-received--even expected and missed when a
Last year, I didn't send my gifts out after 9/11 and during the following econom
ic crunch, and I had customers get very upset about it to the point that they st
arted using someone else as their supplier," says Dalby. Since then, she has res
umed her quarterly program.
Etiquette Counts
The cost of your own holiday gift program will vary based on the number of custo
mers or clients you have and your type of business. But to keep it affordable, y
ou may want to send gifts to your best customers and cards--signed by you and yo
ur staff--to the rest. The key is to reinforce the connection you have with the
people on your holiday list, so sending a holiday card imprinted with your compa
ny name, but lacking a personal signature, is a faux pas.
To avoid other breaches of etiquette, it's best to stay away from religious or e
ven Santa images and focus instead on the spirit of the season with nondenominat
ional cards and gifts. And some major companies have no-gift policies, so before
sending holiday gifts, you may need to confirm that your customers can accept t
Share the Spirit
Online shopping can take some of the sting out of the time-consuming task of sel
ecting the right gifts. It's fast, and you won't have to wade through the holida
y shopping crowds. This year, there are so many brick-and-mortar retailers with
fully functional presences on the Web, in addition to the proliferation of quali
ty e-tailers, that now you can buy anything for your clients--from inexpensive g
ift baskets to monogrammed golf clubs.

You can even contribute to your favorite charity while adding nothing to your gi
ft budget at sites such as, where you can shop from more than 10
0 leading online merchants, including Sharper Image, L.L. Bean and Harry and Dav
id, and up to 15 percent of your purchase costs will go to the charity of your c
hoice. You can support the Humane Society, The Nature Conservancy or Special Oly
mpics, for example, or you can enter a specific organization in'
s database and search to see if they are affiliated. What better way to share th
e holiday spirit?
Kim T. Gordon is an author, marketing coach and media spokesperson-and one of th
e country's foremost experts on entrepreneurial success. Her newest book, Bringi
ng Home The Business, identifies the 30 "truths" that can make the difference be
tween success and failure in a homebased business. Kim offers one-on-one coachin
g by telephone to motivated individuals, providing practical marketing advice an
d budget-conscious strategies unique to your business. To receive free how-to ar
ticles and advice, get information on coaching and appearances, read a book exce
rpt, or contact Kim, visit, a huge site devoted
exclusively to marketing your small business.

The Ingredients of a Press Kit

Whatever the size of your business, you can make use of a good press kit.
By Al Lautenslager
Q: I've heard people refer to a "press kit" or a "media kit." What exactly is it
, and what does it contain?
A: Press kits aren't just for large, high-profile businesses. Whatever your size
or line of business, whether you are a start-up entrepreneur, a franchise, a br
oker or a large commercial company, you need a press kit. While many companies a
dopt aggressive marketing campaigns, when it comes time to address the media's r
equest for a press kit, many entrepreneurs are at a loss.
What Is a Media Kit?
A media kit, sometimes called a press kit, is simply an information packet about
a business or product. It is called a media kit or a press kit because many tim
es potential advertising mediums will ask for more information on the potential
advertiser. Since most of this advertising is pressand media-related, the term m
edia kit was adopted.
A press kit is like a resume for your company. In it is a collection of company
information and articles put together to address questions from the media, inves
tors, potential clients and others. The goal of the press kit is the same as all
other marketing that a company does. It should grab the reader's attention, mak
e a lasting impression and create enough interest that they will contact you for
more information.
What's in a Press Kit?
There are many items that can go into a press or media kit, depending on the sit
uation, the audience or the use. A media kit for potential investors is much dif

ferent than a kit for potential clients. Although a press kit should be comprehe
nsive, every promotional item or piece of marketing collateral ever produced by
a company should not be included. Only put information that is current and most
relevant to your target reader. When targeting media editors, be respective of t
heir time.
Here are some ideas about what to include in your press kit. Of course, this is
a comprehensive list and intended only to provide ideas for what is needed for y
our target audience. Do not include all of them in your press kit.
1. Letter of introduction: Sometimes referred to as the pitch letter, this first
impression item is where you will grab or lose the reader's interest. Tell them
upfront why they should care about what you're telling them. Provide a table of
contents or a brief description of the items enclosed in the actual press kit.
Let them know you are available for follow-up interviews and questions. Also mak
e sure to include your contact information in this letter.
2. Information on the company: This includes your company's history, a company p
rofile, and profiles of the chief officers, senior management and ownership. Inc
lude bio sheets, if appropriate.
3. Product and service information, including a product, service or performance
review: This will let editors see what others are saying about you or help the e
ditor write his own review. This should also be supported with product or servic
e fact sheets, sell sheets or company brochures that are specific to your produc
t or service.
4. Recent press publications and articles: Copies of recent press coverage is ve
ry appropriate for a press kit. After all, what other media have done will be of
interest to current media targets. This can include article reprints and printo
uts of online press that a company might have received.
5. Press releases: Many times, these are what instigated and caused the printing
of the articles described above.
6. Audio and video files of radio or TV interviews, speeches, performances and a
ny other media-covered event: Hard copies will suffice if the actual media is no
t available. Today, some companies are now putting online audio clips on their W
eb pages and in online media kits.
7. A sample news story: This is your chance to guide the media or your reader. S
ome editors will even print it verbatim, as they view ready-to-print articles as
an easy way to fill up space with little effort on their part. They do, of cour
se, usually edit these stories, so be prepared.
8. Since many media kits are put together for investors, any news related to the
industry, financial statements or any other investor-related news is very appro
priate for the press kit.
9. List of frequently asked questions: This helps the editor determine what ques
tions to ask you in an interview or what to include in the article.
10. Other items to include:
Nonprofit and community-service involvement
Recent awards
Photos (if appropriate)
Factual background material and/or white papers
Specific information and schedules of upcoming promotions and events
Significant statistics specific to your industry, demographics and target audien
Feature article material, such as articles written by company officers or senior
Missions, goals and objectives

Samples or examples
Camera-ready logo art
Giveaway information
An order form
The Key to Getting Noticed
Busy editors sort through piles of press kits each day. Getting your press kit n
oticed is the key to publication and action! Remember, getting attention is impo
rtant not only with audiences, but also with editors. Package your materials in
a unique way and make sure the materials are presented professionally.
It's also crucial to follow up to make sure your intended recipient received you
r press kit. Plus, follow-up calls provide the perfect opportunity for editors t
o ask questions or schedule an interview. Use this opportunity to build relation
ships with editors--in fact, doing so will improve your chances of publication o
r acceptance by your intended audience. But because the distribution of media ki
ts can get a little expensive, you've got to make relationship-building a part o
f your marketing strategy.
The best thing to do right now is to start assembling part of your press kit, ba
sed on available materials. Then, add to it as you see fit and develop new mater
ials. You don't want to create a press kit at the last minute for the editor, in
vestor or potential client who requests one.
The challenge is to put it together on paper, electronically or both. There is a
trend now toward online media kits. A lot of these items can be developed for o
nline distribution; it's just a matter of putting what you already have online o
r onto letterhead and fact sheets.
Typically, the media kit doesn't have to be as fancy as people think. Those requ
esting media kits just want information--not necessarily glitz. See what items y
ou already have and then work on the rest.
Alfred J. Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing and PR consultant, direct-m
ail promotion specialist, principle of marketing consulting firm Marketing Now,
and president and owner of The Ink Well, a commercial printing and mailing compa
ny in Wheaton, Illinois. Visit his Web sites at
mand, or e-mail him at

Ivan Misner: Networking

Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking
Don't shy away from a networking group because they ask you to do a presentatio
n. Here are five ways to vanquish your nervousness.
By Ivan Misner | November 25, 2002
Q: As a management consultant with a training background, I have no problem inte

racting and doing a 10-minute presentation when asked to do so in the networking

group I belong to. I have a colleague, however, who is terrified to give a pres
entation about her business. She's great in one-on-one situations, but a long pr
esentation paralyzes her. It's not the content of her presentation; it's the pro
cess of getting up in front of a group of people and speaking. What advice can y
ou give to someone with this great fear?
A: In the many surveys I've seen over the years, people have ranked the fear of
public speaking higher than the fear of dying! Standing and talking to an audien
ce can be frightening, especially if it's for more than a couple minutes.
Here are five suggestions that I have for people who are nervous doing presentat
ions at their networking groups:
Prepare, prepare, prepare! Don't wing it! Prepare an outline of what you
want to say and practice it.
Be specific and talk about the things you know best. Don't try to teach
people everything you do. Focus on no more than two or three areas of what you w
ant them to learn about. Most importantly, cover the topics you feel you underst
and the best. This will reduce some of your stress
Use handouts, visuals or PowerPoint slides to support your presentation.
For people who are worried about stage fright, these props can help carry them
through the talk.
Remember, you're the expert. Think about ways that help show that and ar
e not threatening for you.
Be creative. Think of some way to communicate the information in a way y
ou feel comfortable.
Many years ago in Business Network International (BNI, the networking organizati
on I founded in 1985), I met a CPA who asked me if she absolutely had to do the
10-minute presentation that members did. I told her that everyone in the group n
eeded to do them. She then informed me that in that case, she quit! As you might
suspect, I was taken off guard with that and I asked her why. She told me that
it took everything in her power to stand and do a brief 60-second presentation.
She then, in no uncertain terms, informed me that if she was required to speak f
or 10 minutes, she would have to quit because it was too stressful for her. I to
ld her not to quit and that we wouldn't "make" her speak if she didn't want to.
This seemed to alleviate some of her anxiety, and we continued talking. I told h
er that if she didn't do the presentation, it would eliminate an important oppor
tunity to educate the members about what she did. She acknowledged that, but ins
isted that speaking was just too stressful for her.
I then changed my approach and asked her how she felt about giving a test. I ask
ed her if she could come up with 10 true/false questions about the tax law and s
mall business and asked if she could just read the questions and read the answer
s. She thought for a moment and said yes, she could do that easily enough--as lo
ng as she didn't have to do a speech. I said no problem, this would be informati
ve and helpful to the members.
Well, the day she read the test was hysterical. About three questions into her t
est, she started becoming more and more animated. As the test went on, she went
further and further off her written answers and responded to questions and discu
ssions in a very professional, humorous and informative manner. After 15 minutes
, the president running the meeting had to nudge her along to wrap it up because
she was going over the allotted time. She was shocked! She had totally lost tra
ck of time and completely lost her fear because she wasn't doing a "speech," she
was doing a "test."
The bottom line is this: You should do a presentation that you feel comfortable
with. Think creatively about what you know and what you feel comfortable doing t
o express that knowledge. You'll discover that you don't have to pass up an oppo
rtunity to talk a little longer to the networking groups you belong to.
For additional information on this subject, I recommend taking a look at the man
y books and tapes that specifically talk about public speaking. In one of my boo
ks, Masters of Networking, there is an excellent contribution on the subject of
public speaking in a networking context by Joe McBride (beginning on page 103).

If you have this book, I recommend you read that section.

Ivan Misner is the founder and CEO of Business Network International(BNI), which
has more than 2,700 chapters throughout the world. He is also the author of fiv
e books, including his New York Times bestseller, Masters of Networking, as well
as Entrepreneur Press' forthcoming Masters of Success.