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Showing posts from April, 2006

The Art of Selling Intangible Services

Law, accounting, consulting, advertising, public relations and human resources software, insurance, property management. These are some of the intangibles. They present marketing challenges to the entrepreneur trying to get the word out about their businesses. Below are a few articles that discuss some of the issues that face these services and how they can show potential clients something they can get their hands around..

Selling Your Services Pop quiz: How do you sell something you can’t touch? We've got a few answers
August 28, 2000
By Danielle Kennedy

Ten Myths about Selling Intangible Services
By Charles H. Green
Trusted Advisor Associates

SWOT Team: Selling the Intangible
Marketing Profs.com
By Meryl K. Evans and Hank Stroll
October 26, 2004


Selling the Intangible: The Value of Perceived Security
IMAGE SUBSTATION Corporate Identity Consultants
By Hamish Chadwick

Carolina Entrepreneurship Club
Business Resource Center
How to Understand Your Customers

For Your Health

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Health Status, Health Insurance, and Health Services Utilization: 2001 - How often do Americans use health care services? If you're looking for an answer, this report may be "just what the doctor ordered." It provides data on the frequency of visits to doctors, dentists and hospitals and whether or not people are taking prescription medicine - by characteristics such as self-reported health status, age and health insurance coverage status. Internet address:
http://www.census.gov/prod/2006pubs/p70-106.pdf.


A New Librarian

The Research Network is happy to announce the hiring of Amelia Birdsall, who will be starting her time with the SBDC on May 1st. Since Josee Fonseca will be unable to attend the upcoming Staff Conference, she will be working with Amelia - in a very quiet office - in introducing her to the ropes.

Amelia graduated from the SUNY at Albany library program last December, and interned with both Empire State Development (where Mary Beth interned several years ago), as well as with the NYS DEC library. She had been working part-time at a local public library, but she now eagerly enters the world of specialized business librarianship. She comes highly recommended by those who've worked with her in the recent past, and we (Al Scher, Josee & myself) were very impressed with the answers given during her interview.

We're all certain that you, too, will be impressed with the answers she'll be providing as a member of our library team.

"Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature and Climate Change"

Last night I attended an event held by the NYS Writers Institute program at the University at Albany where Elizabeth Kolbert, a journalist for the New Yorker and the New York Times discussed her new book, "Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature and Climate Change."

This book grew out of a series of articles on climate change Kolbert wrote for the New Yorker that hoped to get the full story on climate change or global warming. Kolbert described her experiences in Alaska and Greenland, noting the dramatic changes that have already occurred. She also discussed the disconnect between the scientific community and the lay community. Apparently the majority of the scientific community not doing research sponsored by energy companies, agree that we are in a dire situation that needs immediate attention. The damage we do now will have a knock-on effect that will severely affect our children.

From the point of view of small business, I wondered what if anything was happening. While…

Protocol

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Last May, at Staff Training in Lake Placid, we had some special visitors from the province of Zhejiang, China at Staff Training this year. Mary Hoffman send out an e-mail to alert staff about the sensitivities of hosting international dignitaries, a message that may have future applicability:

The following notes are excerpts from several sources regarding protocol for interactions with visitors from other countries.

The cardinal rule that should guide your thoughts as you plan to receive international guests or travel abroad is: "When in doubt, err on the side of excess." One doesn't have to apologize for being too kind and respectful - but one cannot recover from an affront and disrespect. Often what Americans might view as appropriate would be seen as minimal in many other cultures. As members of the global community, a sensitivity and understanding of cross-cultural protocol is vitally important.

It is very important to ensure that neither your actions, nor your appearan…

Grants - Payback!

Many clients come to your doors telling stories of how they gave money to some organization - be it an inventors assessment program, or a grants provider group - only to have regrets soon after. I recently received an e-mail from Walter Reid, an advisor with the Farmingdale SBDC. He'd been keeping me posted regarding a client who sent $1,000 to the National Grants Conferences, an organization that promises attendees of their conferences with the "secrets" on how to obtain "free" government money for any number of endeavors. Walter took it upon himself to write a letter on behalf of the client, insisting on his money back. Recently, the client received a check for the full amount. Persistence, then, can pay off. If you're interested in Walter's methods, give him a call down in Farmingdale.

I know that there've been several clients with bad experiences with NGC and similar types of organizations. In fact, go here to read about other people & their …

New Books

Before anymore is added to the pile on my desk...here are the latest additions to the collection both purchased and donated:

SRDS The Lifestyle Market Analyst 2006
Media Solutions

Federal Yellow Book: Who's Who in Federal Departments and Agencies
Leadership Directories
Spring 2006

Congressional Yellow Book: Who's Who in Congress, Including Committees and Key staff
Leadership Directories
Spring 2006

2005 New York State Staistical Yearbook
30th edition
The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government

Don't Make me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
Steve Krug

Constructing Accessible Web Sites
Jim Thatcher, Paul Bohman, Michael Burks, Shawn Lawton Henry, Bob Regan, Srah Swierenga, Mark D. Urban, Cynthia D. Waddell

You Need to be a Little Crazy
The Truth about Starting and Growing Your Business
Barry J. Moltz

Staying With It: Role Models of Perserverence
Emerson Klees

Entrepreneurs in History
Success vs. Failure - Entrepreneurial Role Models
Emerson Klees

No More Frogs to Kiss:
99 Ways …

Small Biz Resource blog

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smallbizresource.com

This is a useful business blog. Actually, it's three blogs: the Balancing Act that a business person must face (Rules About Blogging, Working At Home Not For Everyone); MyTech (virus protection, mobile speech to text); and Thinking Big (patents, preparation).

The main page of this site also has helpful information on finance, growth, management, marketing, sales, technology and more.

Market Research reports

Clients who do their own research often find reference to very expensive market research reports. Often, these items are not available on the shelves of your local public or university library. (They're certainly beyond the budget for our library, too.)

However, there is a site that your clients might consider visiting in these circumstances. It's www.marketresearch.com. This site makes available for sale reports from many market research firms. Of course, they'd rather your clients buy the whole report. However, they also allow them to buy "by the slice".

When there, your client can search for a given report. If it's in their database, they can then search within the report for a given word or phrase. They'll then get results that show them the context of the report in which that word or phrase is used. If only one or two instances fit your client's needs, then they can buy just that chapter. It still won't be super cheap, but they'll…

Thanks, Mary Beth

Before I ever met Mary Beth, I heard her. Specifically, I heard her laugh. She had just been hired, and since I was not on the search committee, I had no information about her, other than the assurances from the librarians who were on the committee that she was "really good."

Well, that turned out to be correct; she is a fine librarian. She has the dogged determination and the requisite curiosity of a good researcher. She also is in charge of the SBDC web page, which is more than a design task; it’s asking, sometimes cajoling, newspapers to provide rights to display stories about the NYS SBDC on the site.

It’s probably because of the varied experience she had before coming to the SBDC – she had worked at ASCAP, the New York Assembly and Empire State Development.

Mary Beth is currently the president of a local branch of a national library association. In fact, it was attending a library conference meeting where MB came up with the idea of the Research Network doing a blog, which…

Wal-Mart to Offer Help to Small Business?

At the Research Network, we have a book in the collection entitled, "Up Against the Wal-Marts: How Your Business Can Prosper in the Shadow of the Retail Giants," published back in 1994. Competition can be fierce for small businesses in communities where Wal-Mart set up. Now Wal-Mart is stepping up to remarks of criticism according to a New York Times report by offering "financial grants, training on how to survive with Wal-Mart in town and even free advertising within a Wal-Mart store." Read more about the "Wal-Mart Jobs and Opportunity Zone” initiative.

CELCEE

A source that offers a number of resources to entrepreneurs is the CELCEE website. CELCEE stands for Kauffman Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Clearinghouse on Entrepreneurship Education, a non-profit add-on to ERIC, the Educational Resources Information Center. They offer articles related to entrepreneurship, as well as conferences, government publications, books, among many other things. There is a simple search function that searches the entire site. Materials are also arranged by year and there is an advanced search feature that allows you to choose the type of record.

Some examples are:

Native American Gaming and Tribal Economic Development: Myths and Realities
By Amy Fann
June 2005
DIGEST Number 05-11

Entrepreneurial Opportunities Serving Aging Adults
By Jennifer Paek
June 2005
DIGEST Number 05-03

July 2004
Women in Agriculture
CELCEE Clearinghouse on Entrepreneurship Education
EDINFO Number 04-07

Tax Free

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Beginning Saturday, April 1, a year-round exemption from the four percent New York State sales and use taxes went into effect on the purchase of clothing, footwear, and items to make or repair exempt clothing, costing less than $110 per item or pair.

The exemption does not apply to locally imposed sales and use taxes unless the county or city imposing those taxes elected the exemption.
To find the local sales tax, if any, on these products, go here.

Survey - Personal Productivity

Sam Kandel from the Mid-Hudson SBDC sent me an e-mail regarding one of his clients. She's an author, and is currently researching and writing a book about improving personal productivity in the workplace.

Ideally, this woman would like small business owners to take a brief survey, so that they can add their "voice" on the issue. It's only 17 questions, and most of them are a matter of selecting a rating on a scale. Participants are entitled to an advance copy of the book.

The client would be grateful if you could ask your existing small business clients to take the survey. It can be found here.