Archive for the ‘Sales & Marketing’ Category

By Charles Lamb, Marketing Director, Central Bancorp

ImageAn article in the Colorado Springs Business Journal last month (Most Small Business Owners are Marketing Online) reminded local small business owners of key challenges they face in creating the right marketing mix to establish—and keep—their customer base, create awareness, and differentiate their product in the marketplace.

A marketing program to do all of the above is tough work, assuming most small business owners do not have their own marketing directors, graphic designers, web developers, and social media experts on hand to do the work it requires to bring in customers and build their business. So, most small business owners—as the article states—resort to marketing online. The reputation of online marketing is it’s inexpensive and easy, and that’s why small business owners rely on the internet and social media to market themselves. I have some thoughts on why this should not be your only strategy outlined below, but first there are several points within the article on which I agree:

Small businesses need to go where their audience is. This is especially important if you have just one location and where your e-presence can benefit your growth.

Participating, networking, and being found online is extremely important. How customers interact with you electronically is critical and could be a prospect’s first point of contact with you due to the growing utilization of mobile and electronic devices.

A majority of consumers use the internet to research products and services in their local area. A user-friendly and attractive website or mobile application will drive customers to your business.

What made me stop and think a minute while reading Monica Mendoza’s article—who is, by the way, a great local writer for the journal—is the second paragraph, which says that of the small business owners surveyed by Manta—an online site for small businesses—74 percent find networking online just as, if not more, important than networking in person. Yikes!

Sure, you might need a Facebook presence. And, you need a decent website. But, as a small business owner, it’s to your advantage to also invest in developing strategic alliances and partnerships out in the community. You can do this by networking and getting involved in the Colorado Springs non-profit and business communities—creating ambassadors for your brand, which will drive business through referrals. And, the good news is that you don’t need a dedicated marketing department to create decent volume of word-of-mouth marketing.

Online marketing would be your mass approach and building strategic alliances and networking would be your grassroots approach to building your customer base—and it could most definitely take both efforts to do the job of building your business. But, my point is that you cannot put all of your marketing eggs in one basket and ignore the other. All effective marketing programs have a mix of both.

For further discussion or questions, feel free to contact Charles Lamb at 719.228.1143 or Charles.Lamb@CentralBancorp.com.


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Contributed by Steve Schneider, President, CB Insurance

ImageEntrepreneurs invest their personal capital to start and build businesses. They write personal checks to make payroll, to fund equipment expenditures, and pay operating costs. They put their own money at risk in hopes of an acceptable return on their capital. Historically, investment risk taken by the successful entrepreneur has been rewarded by increased profits and a long-standing business venture. Those who opened businesses were lauded for their propensity and willingness to incur risk and for their commitment to community and growth.  

Not so much today. In this political season, entrepreneurs are painted as greedy or labeled as Wall Street “fat cats” In reality, most entrepreneurs across the USA are Main Streeters, like you and me. They sit across from friends and neighbors in local churches and restaurants. They get up each morning to work another day–to make a product or provide a service, train or manage staff, attempt to smartly grow a business, and to participate in and enrich a community. Each day across our country, entrepreneurs incur risk and employ others with no guaranty; only the hope of their own success.

On January 1, 2013, the financial success these entrepreneurs seek–the economic reward they pursue by putting personal capital at risk—will be severely diminished. Ordinary income tax rates for many small business owners in the highest tax bracket will increase by over 10%. A new 3.8% Medicare Tax (Obamacare) will be applied to certain investment income, such as dividends and interest income. Capital gains on investments will be taxed at a rate 30% higher than in 2012. Income derived from stock dividends will be taxed as ordinary income, rather than the current 15% tax rate – a whopping +400% increase for those in the highest tax bracket.  All this after the company itself has paid up to 35% of its income in corporate taxes. 

So what’s the big deal? Those doing well should “pay their fair share,” right? We can always debate whether tax rates of 40% income, 35% corporate, 23.8% capital gains, 40% dividend income, and 55% estate (death) are “fair.” The question today is: “Would you write a personal check to start a business, knowing that almost half of what you earn over time will go to the federal government in the form of taxes?”  Or stated another way, “Would you invest your own money to grow a business and employ more people and take more risk, knowing that upon the sale of your business the increased value derived from your investment and sweat equity will be substantially taxed, and, to add further insult, that upon your death more than half of the remaining value might also go to Washington, rather than to your heirs?” 

If you are curious why the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high, why GDP growth is anemic, and why many of our best and brightest college graduates remain unemployed, you need only put yourself in the position of an entrepreneur and ask – “Would I write that check?”

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Contributed by guest blogger Chuck Kocher, Certified Diamond Master Coach, ActionCoach

Remember those days when business folks sealed deals through a handshake, and it was all about who you knew?  Yes, those were the good old days, and I’d like to tell you that they’re still here!

Even in today’s technology-driven, global business environment—where we’re more prone to catch up with our buddies or business partners via Twitter and Facebook—a wise business strategy is to build a network of close relationships to generate sales referrals and ultimately revenue for your company. I would estimate that 70 percent of my business is developed through my key strategic partners: people with whom I have developed strong personal and professional ties, who then provide warm referrals to people they know.

Another way to put this is to create a strategy around creating mutually beneficial relationships to drive your business—and theirs. Here are a few key tips to get you started:

–  Tip 1: Make this a priority in your business life. Schedule 4 to 5 strategic partner meetings every week to build upon relationships and develop revenue channels.

–  Tip  2: Take your time and be a giver. Don’t go into the first meeting making it all about you and what you need. Learn more about your potential partner, what their business needs are, and ways in which you can assist.

–  Tip 3: Set the table. In meeting number 2 or 3, let your partner know that a mutually productive business partnership is a goal of yours.

–  Tip 4: Give again. Once a partnership has been established, give referrals to him or her as often as possible.

–  Tip 5: Build upon your network. Now that the groundwork for exchange has been completed, ask for the names of your partner’s trusted advisors and then go about making those people or firms a part of your network.

–  Tip 6: Perform well. Once your strategic partner has referred you to one of their advisors, perform well so that your strategic partner has confidence to provide you with more opportunities.

In short, it’s important to think foremost about the people around you and the networks you want to develop to generate revenue and opportunities for your business. Yes, social media and advertising are important tools for business generation—but so is building strategic partners.

For more information on action coach Chuck Kocher, CLICK HERE.

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Contributed by Jill Johnson, Director of Marketing, Central Bancorp

I recently got on the bus — and what a ride!

As one of the newest board members of Community Partnership for Child Development, the local non-profit organization administering the Head Start program, I was excited to attend a Get on the Bus Tour with the staff of CPCD. A one-hour tour along with several other local business people, philanthropists and community members is designed to help attendees better understand the mission and programs of CPCD in a highly-engaging way. 

The experience solidified for me all the reasons I decided to join the board of CPCD, and it also got me thinking about the marketing applications of a Get on The Bus Tour.

The concept is simple and powerful — provide a way for potential clients to experience what you do and why it matters to them.

For Central Bancorp, our “bus tour” is a modified lunch and learn concept where we gather our top professionals to meet with the owners and executives of a business to learn more about them and help develop and drive solutions to their challenges. Acting as an informal board of directors during an hour and half lunch meeting has helped our clients and prospective clients experience what doing business with the Central Bancorp family feels like.

So, a few good questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the bus tour for my business? or How do I feature the best qualities of my business to my potential clients?
  • How do I help potential clients experience what doing business with me is like?
  • And how can I make that experience unique and compelling?

If you need inspiration I would highly recommend that you Get on The Bus with CPCD, click here for more information!

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Contributed By:  Jill Johnson, Director of Marketing, Central Bancorp
Goat Treats?

“Can I help you?” he asked her.

“Well, I’m actually looking for goat treats,” she said. Kind of sheepishly.

“Um, goat treats?” he stuttered. He wasn’t used to being stumped. “What do goats eat?”

“Well, the Internet said they like vegetables!” she was sure that would impress him. She HAD done her homework.

Eventually he and the high-heel clad, goat-treat seeking businesswoman found an appropriate treat for the lucky goat. He then stocked her basket with delectable dog and cat treats upon her request and dropped her off at the checkout, strangely sad that she would be leaving.

He = the worker at PetSmart one unsuspecting day

She = the fearless Jill Webb, our business development director, who is so in touch with her clients and their interests that when assembling novelty packages of pet treats for them, she let no goat go unnoticed

Here’s to marketing!

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Contributed By:  Jill Johnson, Director of Marketing, Central Bancorp

Because our company often collaborates with other businesses for seminars and presentations, I get the unique opportunity to review scores of power point presentations to ensure brand compliance.  Yes, I know, you are all very jealous of my job now!

While building a solid power point presentation can be complicated, it doesn’t have to be.  Whether you have a fancy template or not, here are 6 very simple principles you can observe.  If you do, I promise you your presentation will be more refined than most.

  1. THERE IS NEVER A GOOD REASON FOR EXCESSIVE USE OF CAPS, BOLD, THE COLOR RED AND EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!!!!!!!! You may be passionate about your topic, but let that come through your personality, and use restraint in your actual presentation.
  2. The use of bullet points:
    –  When a bullet is a complete sentence, include a period at the end of it.
    –  No period here
    –  And though I’m breaking my own rule here – Be consistent in a set of bullet points by making them all complete sentences or all phrases.
    –  Use CAPS consistently in your bullets as well – especially in a list of bullets with several, short phrases.  Either capitalize the first word of each phrase and none of the others, or capitalize all proper words in each phrase.
  3. Small, the new big. For some reason, many users fall prey to the temptation of making fonts as large as physically possible.  Don’t do it.  White space has value and makes for a more clean read for your viewers.  Especially if you will be projecting the presentation on to a large screen, stick with a reasonable font size.
    –  If using a Times font, larger than 48 pt isn’t necessary. Somewhere between 24-40 is about right for headers/titles, and then between 16-24 for your text.
    –  Don’t go too small either or you run into another visual challenge.  If you are forced to go below a 14 or 16pt Times-style font, break that slide into two. (more…)

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