The Power of Giving Back

Small business owners find themselves trying to find more hours in the day and don’t really have any room on their already-full plates. But many find it is worth carving out some time anGiving backd resources for giving back to the community. Getting involved in non-profits, your local chamber or local government is a creative way of putting your business out there while helping the community. You can sponsor, organize or participate in an event. Any way you do it, you can make a real difference while generating visibility, positive word of mouth and goodwill.

I am involved in several organizations in this way. I am or have been on boards of several non-profits and I have been a very active participant in all of them. I have found this strategy to be a huge benefit to my business and here’s how:

  • Being active in organizations brings a high level of visibility to you and your business.
  • This type of commitment distinguishes yourself from your competitors. You will be remembered because of your involvement.
  • People see you in action and it helps build your reputation as a knowledgeable, reliable and supportive person.
  • You will be considered a socially responsible business, a plus in many people’s eyes. People like to see businesses making the world a better place.
  • It builds relationships within your community whether that is your town, your Chamber or other cohort that you identify yourself with.
  • It helps to surround yourself with positive, influential people.
  • You personally benefit because a deep level of involvement provides a profound sense of satisfaction.
  • Strong friendships tend to form because you are working with people like yourself who are dedicated to a cause.

Get involved and see what a positive impact it will have on your business. If you want more information on how giving back can work for you, email me at holly@mmpnewark.com.

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What To Look For When Selecting A Printer

printing press

Every company needs to have printed material for their business at one time or another. When it comes to promoting your brand, printed material is an essential part of your marketing mix. There are numerous printers to choose from but they are not all created equal. You want to make sure that you select one that will do it right and that it won’t create more work for you. Use the following criteria for choosing a printing company.

They have the expertise to make recommendations and help you select the best options for the particular printing job. Printers that have this capability can be a valuable asset and will make the process easier for you. They can become an important ally for your business helpful in addressing evolving business needs.

They provide graphic design services. Most people are not proficient at putting together the graphic files necessary for a high quality end product. Why spend the time and effort when you can let them do it for you.

Look for convenience. Do they offer easy methods of file delivery? Can you upload files and see proofs electronically? Can they deliver the finished product? Everyone’s time is valuable so don’t waste time you don’t have.

Check the quality of their work. Ask to see samples of something similar to what you are looking to print. Look for crispness of the images, proper registration of text and images. If the products printed are not up to standard, this will reflect badly on your brand.

Look for value for money. The reality is that going for the cheapest option can be detrimental to your business. Low prices often mean low quality. Select a printing company that offers good quality and service, and value for money. Plus, good printers will make suggestions on how you can save money on your jobs.

Investigate the level of customer service you will receive. You need to be able to trust your printer. Ensure that they are open and honest and will deliver a professional service with good communication and client management skills. Do they return your calls in a timely manner? Follow up on questions and quotes quickly? Are they available to you? Are they sensitive to your issues and do they listen to you?

Check the reputation of the company. Look at the printer’s website, consider their experience in printing. Ask for references, testimonials or recommendations. Check them out on social media such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Yelp to see other client experiences.

Investigate the printer’s green credentials. Look for a printer who is committed to the care of the environment. Many printers offer recycled paper and environmentally-friendly links to print your materials.

Finally, be loyal to your print provider. Once you have found a good printer offering quality, value for money and excellent customer service then stay loyal! A good working relationship with your printer will potentially enable you to get better service such as volume discounts, faster turnaround and personal delivery.

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Marketing Made Easier With 5 “Fun”damentals of Marketing

MarketingPuzzle

Most business owners find marketing to be daunting, but it’s actually a lot of fun. Before becoming owner of Minuteman Press of Newark, I was marketing professional with over 30 years of corporate experience. As the Chief Marketing Officer of my own business I use the following five fundamentals to guide me in my marketing efforts every day.

  1. Where to start

If you look up the definition of Marketing, you will get a long explanation.  I like to say that it is the activity and process of communicating to all potential customers about the product or service you have to offer.  After all, how can someone buy something from you if they don’t know you exist?  There are numerous ways to get the word out there…..networking, cold calling, direct sales, direct marketing/mailing, online marketing and advertising, just to name a few.  Which one should you use?  Well, the best thing is to use multiple channels of marketing, more than just one.  Which one you use depends on who you are trying to reach, what you want to accomplish and your budget. I would sell yachts differently than I would sell pencils.  This topic could be a whole book to itself, so I suggest talking to an expert.  A marketing specialist (or a good printer!) can help you here.

  1. Something is Better than Nothing

So many of my clients and other business owners I know strive for exactly the right marketing campaign…the right copy, the right pictures, the right colors…..and you know what happens??  The process goes on and on and on….  But, something is better than nothing.  So, don’t strive for perfection. To take a line from Nike – Just Do It.

  1. Talk to YOUR CUSTOMERS, not to yourself

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and all they did was talk about themselves?  Boring and annoying, wasn’t it?  Well, your marketing materials need to be designed to make your customers interested in what you are saying.  How do you accomplish that?  By talking to them about THEIR NEEDS.  What’s in it for them?  For example – will you save them money?  Save them time?  Make them look great?  Make something that is hard easy?  Tell them clearly and up front what your product or service can do for them.  Tell them in easy to understand terms how your product or service can help them.  Tell them clearly and succinctly how you can be of benefit.

  1. Give them a REASON to contact you and purchase your product!

The term for this is “call to action”, and that’s what you need to do.  Give your potential customer a good reason to contact you and purchase your product or service.  There’s a reason you always see discounts and coupons and free stuff…..it works!!  People are very busy, and you need to give them a strong incentive.  Some “calls to action” that I use in my business are discounts, buy 500 and get 500 for free, or color for the price of black and white.

  1. And lastly…..Measure the results of your marketing

This one might be the hardest, but how will you know if your marketing is getting any results unless you stop to figure out if you’re getting any sales from your efforts.  Get in the habit of always asking your customers how they heard about you.  You can then begin to understand how your marketing efforts are doing, and what is working.  And if something isn’t working, don’t necessarily give it up….try something different!  Once I tried a postcard that gave away a free coffee gift card to any new orders over $100.  When this didn’t work I tried a discount on the order instead.

While this might all sound easy, I know that it can be hard to execute.  You wouldn’t try to fix your own car, or to drill your own cavity, would you?  It’s the same for marketing….get help from a professional.  Many marketing companies are willing to spend some time discussing marketing strategies and tactics in the hope of getting some business.  Take advantage of these offers….you can learn a lot and at no cost!  Then, if you really want to get serious about your marketing, establish a budget and talk to the agency that you liked the most.  They will discuss what’s possible to do within your budget.  You can start slow and build over time.  And of course, your friendly printer is always willing to help.  You only need to ask.

 

 

 

 

 

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10 Ways To Plan For A Successful 2016

planning imageThe holidays are upon us and before you know it 2016 will be here. Are you ready for the New Year? Do you know what you want to accomplish in 2016? Do you know how you will get there? Use this as a guideline to make sure 2016 is your best year ever.

  1. Thank your customers. Before you start thinking about next year, send your customers a thank-you note or a gift to show your appreciation.  It’s easy, it will differentiate you and help build your brand loyalty.
  2. Don’t go it alone. As you embark on this process involve a friend, mentor or coach to be to look at things with a critical, unbiased way and to be able to think “outside the box.”
  3. Take a hard look at your business in 2015. Identify those things that helped move your business forward and those that perhaps held your business back. Make a list of the things you should repeat and the things you should change in your business to improve next year.
  4. Have a clear understanding of your financials. Let’s face it, everything comes down to how your business is doing financially. Effective changes can’t be made without knowing the impact on your bottom line.
  5. Research ways to improve or reduce your costs. Decreasing your costs is a great way to increase your profits on each and every sale.
  6. Set aside some time to read and catch up on the latest trends and news within your industry.  Knowing where your market is headed can show you where opportunities lie.
  7. Determine your goals for the year. Where do you want to grow your business – which product lines, which market segment, which prospects? Set a revenue and profit goal.
  8. Identify how you might grow your business through selling more of what you already sell to your existing market, expanding your market either geographically or demographically, or venturing into new products or services to sell to your existing market.
  9. Devise a plan. Once you have identified your goals, you need to figure out how you are going to get there. Make sure your plan incorporates specific activities for sales, marketing and operations.
  10. Prioritize. Assess which action steps will have the most positive impact on your business and put them high on your list.
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9 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Tradeshow Attendance

tradeshow1It’s trade show season and you’re probably registered to attend one soon or perhaps you’re thinking about going to one. While attending is not as big a monetary commitment as exhibiting at a trade show, it is still an investment of your time. So it is important to get the most out of your attendance.

  1. Do your research. Most trade shows provide detailed information online for the show including who will be exhibiting, who will be attending, hours, sessions and more. This is key in making your visit a success.
  2. Make sure it is the right trade show for you and your business. Consider the types of exhibitors that will be there and the other businesses that will be attending. For example, if you are a business-to-business company, and many of the exhibitors will be consumer oriented, then most of the attendees will be consumers and it’s probably not worth your time.
  3. Plan your visit. Have specific goals and objectives. Are you looking to connect with potential clients, partners or suppliers? Use that to guide which booths you will visit, when you will attend and what your message will be. When possible set-up appointments in advance.
  4. Bring plenty of business cards and brochures. Be ready to share them when appropriate, but avoid the mistake of shoving business cards at people before you take the time to get to know them.
  5. Select events that are running with the show that are helpful to your business. Find out which events your customers will be attending.
  6. Introduce yourself. Everyone is wearing a badge and is there to talk business. By taking the initiative you can make valuable contacts. Take the opportunity to get invited to receptions and hospitality suites. A quick conversation could lead to an invaluable find.
  7. Plan your day. Depending on the size, visiting a trade show can take anywhere from several hours to a couple of days. Use your time wisely to gather intelligence on your competition and make new industry contacts that will benefit your company.
  8. At the end of each day, or when the trade show ends, take the time before you leave to make notes and organize the materials you gathered from attending the trade show.
  9. When you return from the trade show, remember to follow-up with the contacts you have made to cultivate those relationships.  Either call or send an email to touch base, incorporating who you are, your encounter at the show, what you do and how you can help each other. They could be a potential client, supplier or referral source.
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How To Plan To Take Time Off From Your Business

It’s July and the peak season for vacations. Many small business owners and professionals worry that their business will fall apart if they are not there to “run the shop”. For entrepreneurs andTaking time off from your business business leaders, lines are often blurred between professional time and personal time and it is hard to shut it off at night, on weekends or for vacations.

However, everyone needs downtime to succeed. Taking a vacation and having time away will allow you to be more productive, get the creative juices flowing, and come back energized. It’s also an opportunity to do some big planning, dreaming of the future of your business. Here’s what you need to do to be able to take time off and make that distinction between work and personal time.

  1. Plan out and schedule downtime on your calendar for the next 12 months. Anything is possible if you plan ahead and you stick to it. Knowing that you have a vacation scheduled will help you put everything in place to keep your business running in your absence.
  2. Put systems and procedures in place so that your business can run like a well-oiled machine without you. Having documented systems and procedures will not only help when you are not there, but will have an overall positive effect on your business.
  3. Educate your team. Let them know how you manage your calendar and your time. Get your employees or partners on board so that they are comfortable filling in for you and can take over in your absence.
  4. Craft your programs, services and offerings so they align with your time off. Introduce customers to your team and build your absence into your proposals. Educate your clients of your availability and set clear expectations.
  5. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a completed to-do list. Don’t keep chasing the day when your to-do list is completed in order to take a vacation.
  6. Stay firm. There will always be a distraction or an exception that arises. Realize that your time off will be challenged. The biggest offender in not taking time off is you.

Remember, the more effort you make to take time off, the more productive, happier and successful you will be.

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10 Cost Saving Tips For Your Printing Jobs

Cost Saving Tips For Printing JobsThere are cost savings to be had at every step of the printing process from design to finishing. Consider these cost-savings ideas when you are planning your next printed material.

  1. Use standard paper sizes. Unusual or non-standard paper sizes require extra time in cutting and finishing. Design for standard paper sizes and create layouts that don’t require cutting to a finished size or shape.
  2. Use paper that the printer has on hand rather than ordering special stock.
  3. Avoid bleeds, i.e. having the image run off the edge of the paper. Bleeds require the edges of the paper to be trimmed. This can cost you more in paper and time.
  4. Have multiple pieces printed at the same time. If you need business cards for several of your employees around the same time, have them printed all at once. Ganging up printing jobs saves set-up time and therefore cost.
  5. Print more now rather than reorder later. In most cases, it is considerably less costly to print a larger quantity now than submitting another order at a later date.
  6. Reduce costs by making a newsletter or brochure into a self-mailer. You’ll save the cost of an envelope and possibly postage costs as well.
  7. If you do want to use an envelope, design the piece to fit in a standard envelope. Custom-sized envelopes add to the cost and the complexity of the job.
  8. Reduce the weight of the paper. Heavier paper means costlier.
  9. Have your printer design the project. It will save you time, and the files will be print-ready with no problem. Everything will be set up properly to print right from the start.
  10. ASK YOUR PRINTER how to save money! You’ll be surprised by what they may say.
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