Small Business Marketing News Update - Jacksonville's Weakest Marketing Argument For Recruiting New Business Is Education

Northeast Florida is one of the greatest places in the world to live, work and play. The fantastic year around weather allows the ultimate enjoyment of fishing, boating, tennis, golf… you name it.

For the most part, the business climate is not too bad, with low corporate income taxes, no personal income tax, a city and state government that is trying to reduce permitting delays and access to a labor market trained by the U.S. Navy.

But when it comes to a homegrown workforce, an employee pool educated in Duval County Schools… well, that’s another story.  

Over the past few years, we have seen a Duval County School Board that oversaw…
  • the selection of a superintendent who was hired even though he left his previous school district in a mess, then firing him in a messy settlement, and then having our system left in shambles;
  • the hiring of an unproven interim superintendent who 1) spent additional money on questionable public relations; 2) held back knowledge of a $100 million emergency fund, while the board had to cuts jobs, school transportation and magnet schools and parents had to conduct fundraisers to save high school sports; and 3) presided over the last two issues listed here;
  • the failure of four local schools, and after searching for an outside source to run the schools for them, the state board decided let Duval try to run the schools again for another year;
  • the school system by flagged by the state for misapplying $2.7 million of federal grant money in Title 1 to pay teachers’ salaries.

With an on-going track record of poor performance by this board, it is surprising that there is very little outrage from the community, and little notice of what is happening with our schools, outside of the investigative articles in the Florida Times Union. 

The school board appears to lack answers for solving the problems of educating Jacksonville children. When you look at the make-up of this board, you will find it is filled with want-to-be career politicians and those failed politicians who found the school board as an elected option to land on. 

However, no matter how inept this board may or may not be, you cannot place the entire blame on them. You can first blame Duval County parents. If there were enough public pressure placed on this board, things could change. Secondly, area businesses are also to blame. They too could put pressure on board members and put their discretionary community funds to use to make a difference.

I realize this is a broad brush and that there are individuals and companies in the community who are going the extra step to remedy these problems, with outstanding work from individuals such as Gary Chartrand, the executive chairman and former CEO of Acosta, Inc. But regardless of a few extraordinary individuals, the community has to step up and take responsibility.

Obviously, we have a moral commitment to our children to provide them with quality education. But we also have a commitment to our existing businesses and the companies we recruit to Jacksonville to provide them with a highly educated workforce.

If you reside in Duval County, please make sure you are registered to vote in the school board elections. But don’t just vote. Too many candidates are elected because their name is familiar or they can afford a big money campaign.

Analyze each candidate and see what he or she can bring to the school board table. And if you’re not sure what they can do, ask them. Either through emails, chat rooms on their website or even a phone call. Education in Jacksonville is far too important to take for granted.

And yes, the presidential election is probably the most critical election we will have, perhaps in our lifetime. But so is the school board election. This is the future of our children’s education. And it is the future of business growth and economic opportunities for citizens in our community.   

Branding to Generate Sales Leads

The Golden Arches, a partly bitten apple, the dynamic ribbon design, the Nike swoosh. All of these brands have achieved worldwide distinction and easy recognition with the help of amazingly simple yet memorable brand logos. Proper brand marketing gives a brand distinction, one that makes it easily recognizable to potential sales leads once its logo, catchphrase, jingle or even token colors are presented. Every company aims to have their brand recognized, to the point where they no longer have to spend so much on lead generation marketing because the sales leads themselves come to them.

Generating Quality Sales Leads

Due to the popularity of globally recognized brands, it can be difficult for local brands to find quality sales leads no matter what lead generation techniques their company employs.


The Malaysian government is eager to help local brands earn recognition amidst hundreds of internationally popular brands and help local business industries. Through the Putra Brand Awards, local brands are exposed to about 6,000 consumers nationwide. Participating brands avail of free marketing, and aside from nationwide recognition, they are also able to generate sales leads.

One might argue that achieving brand recognition can be relatively easy these days with the help of various social media. Once a new brand has achieved virality status, the sales leads come flooding in and further lead generation marketing seems irrelevant. However, this type of popularity is often short-lived; once the hype has died down, the gush of sales leads becomes a trickle.

The challenge then is not only how well a brand marketing campaign can attract new and qualified sales leads, but also how reliable that branding is to sustain the company and continue to generate sales leads.

Can Telemarketing Boost Business?

Why do you think Singapore so popular with entrepreneurs? It is possible that lead generation services have created a lot of business opportunities in the country. How good the image that Singapore projects to the international market depends on the B2B leads that you get. Remember, qualified leads can act as a mirror, providing interesting market details for a company like yours can use to analyze your markets. Of course, this means that you will need a medium that can ensure that only the best business information is made available. And this is where telemarketing services comes in. You will be amazed at the level of effectiveness that telemarketers can bring to a business. As a marketing tool, you will be amazed at what professional telemarketing services can provide you.

This may very well be the answer that you will need. Telemarketing services can be a great way to put your business on the way to success.

Small Business Marketing News Update - Jacksonville Manufacturers Create Unique Networking Opportunities For Its Members

Networking is the most critical tactic for maintaining and growing a business today. The tremendous growth of social networking is proof of that. But when it comes to business networking, the most effective means is still the use of person-to-person contact.

In Jacksonville there is a trade association that has developed the most innovative ideas when it comes to creating networking opportunities for their members.

The First Coast Manufacturers Association (FCMA) is an organization dedicated to promoting the manufacturing industry in Northeast Florida through its support of manufacturing companies, helping the local economy, working to ensure a safe environment and creating jobs. But within the organization, FCMA is dedicated to assisting its manufacturers members and its associate members with generating additional business interaction with each other.

That mission has led the organization to creating networking opportunities that will cultivate relationships that result in more transactions within the local business community.

While some of the networking programs could be considered “usual” by most associations standards, there are several activities that are very unique in nature. For example, FCMA set up a workshop/luncheon/golf event that allowed purchasing agents from four large manufacturers – BAE Systems Southeast Shipyard, CSX, Gerdau and Vistakon – to meet, talk and spend personal time with associates, who were smaller vendors wanting to do business with large corporations.

The luncheon/workshop lasted two hours and then each foursome of associates was teamed up with a representative from one of the large manufacturers, giving everyone an opportunity to develop a one-to-one relationship. Over 33 companies, 10% of the FCMA manufacturers membership, participated.

In another effort to connect manufacturers with associates, FCMA created an unusual practice at their general membership meetings. When members check in at the monthly gathering, manufacturers get two playing cards from a blue deck and associates get three cards from a red deck. Everyone then has about 20 minutes before the meeting starts to match up their cards for a poker hand. The winning hand gets a free dinner for both the manufacturer and associate in order to provide them with a friendly environment in which they can get to know each other’s business.

On a structured basis, FCMA has established Special Interest Groups (SIGs), which provide regular meetings for subcategories within the association to meet and compare ideas and resources. Currently the association has a SIG for plant managers and is developing additional subgroups that have similar issues and concerns.

For more casual settings, the association has quarterly gatherings, called M.O.N.E.Y (Members Only Networking Events For You) at local restaurants. There, members can set up exhibit booths and pass out marketing materials. And FCMA has just set up “Decompression Fridays,” where members can enjoy refreshments and network on an informal basis, giving them one last chance to connect with new business before the week ends.

Having been a member of many business and trade associations, both locally and nationally, I have never seen an organization as committed to helping its members grow their business by offering as many unique networking opportunities as FCMA.


Small Business Marketing News Update - 121 Financial Credit Union Markets To Kids During National Credit Union Youth Week

With National Credit Union Youth Week beginning April 22, Jacksonville's 121 Financial Credit Union is conducting a series of marketing activities to encourage young people to be more aware of their finances and to start saving at an early age… and hopefully turn to a credit union such as 121 Financial to do their banking.

During Youth Week, each 121 Financial branch is holding a drawing for a free child’s bicycle. While there is no requirement to qualify for the drawing, credit union officials are hoping to have an opportunity to talk with those kids and their parents who come in about finances and savings for the future.

From time to time, the credit union conducts financial seminars for kids and helps them establish goals, create savings strategies and assist with a savings account. The seminars are conducted by Gail Lewis, 121 Financial’s Director of Consumer Lending. She appeared this week on WJXT-TV The Morning Show’s 4 Your Money segment with one of her seminar students. 121 Financial also publishes and provides an exclusive Youth Financial Workbook (see cover below) for any child wanting a copy. They can be requested online or at each branch.

“In today’s economy, it’s never too early to learn about taking care of your finances and how you should be saving for the future,” reported William Braddock, CEO of 121 Financial Credit Union. “We’re always ready to welcome any customer into our membership, regardless of their age!”  

How Can Cheaper Technology Help Small IT Firms?

As the business world becomes more and more global in reach and markets, the main players in the IT business game appears to evolve as well. Traditional business tools and viewpoints will have to be changed, as new players using the newest technologies and tactics has altered the playing field. Big firms are not the only ones getting the customers. Even small and medium sized companies are making a name for themselves. The keyword here is information technology, and the system supporting it.

David Mills wrote an interesting article in the business section of BBC News. According to him, “…businesses will experience significant change in their industry sectors in the future, due to the impacts of technology.” And this can apply to small and medium sized companies as well. Traditionally, small companies are unable to compete with bigger competitors because of the limits in infrastructure, tools, as well as technology needed to do business. In the past, these can carry a very hefty price tag. But that has changed over the recent years.

With the advent of cloud computing technology and infrastructure, a new range of products and services have become available for many small and medium sized firms – and at a lower price. This allows greater support for businesses that, in the past, would have had a lot of logistical problems in their operations. Thanks to cloud computing technologies, companies are now enjoying greater data processing power, higher bandwidth, as well as data storage. Not only that, but the advent of social media marketing, video communication, and other business tools are becoming more common. It is good to note here, as Mills had, that these have been around for several years already, only catching the eye of entrepreneurs recently.

But what do these developments have to do in IT lead generation services? Heaps, simply put.

To start with, this implies the evolution of IT leads. What techniques we may have found canon over the years may no longer work in today’s business. While telemarketing would still remain as the top medium for IT leads, it must also be augmented by other business tools like social media and video presentations to maximize lead generation results. These very important business tools are now more available for a lot of small and medium sized firms.

That is not all. Even the way work is organized has also changed. Before, you have to invest heavily in equipment, employees, and other technologies. But along with the changes today comes the evolution in the workplace. Smaller companies, especially start up ones, can lease the job to outside specialists who can do it at a fraction of the in house cost. This levels-up the playing field for businesses, allowing everyone a fair chance to expand their markets and improve their profitability. What matters here is your firms capacity to collect, analyze, and utilize market data. That makes all the difference for entrepreneurs.

There is still a lot of space for improvements. As for these changes, it would be interesting to know what these are in the future.

Small Business Marketing News Update - Jacksonville Industrial Clamp Manufacturer Steps Up Its Marketing Efforts In The South Pacific Rim

J.C. Renfroe & Sons, Inc., one of the premier international manufacturers and marketers of industrial lifting clamp products, headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, has stepped up its efforts to take advantage of the increased industrial and construction growth in South Asia.

While the company already has a strong international presence throughout most of the world, including manufacturing partnerships with companies in Germany, Spain and Japan, Renfroe has the opportunity to expand its product line to an under-serviced region.

Through the appointment of The Allan Marketing Group of Victoria, Australia as its Master Distributor-Agent, Renfroe’s products will be available to a sales territory that includes Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, South Pacific Islands, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea.

Renfroe offers a full line of lifting clamps and ancillary products such as crane blocks, sheaves and swivels. Renfroe selected Allan Marketing because the company has over 35 years experience in the lifting industry as an Asian supplier of hoists, chains, winches, wire rope fittings, plate clamps, hydraulic equipment, pallet trucks and lashing.

“We have been more aggressive with our international marketing,” according to Ron Raymond, vice president and general manager of Renfroe. “We see where there is substantial growth in the Asian markets. So with Allan, we are hoping to increase our market share in the Pacific Rim.”

Small Business Marketing News Update - While Big Banks Are Seeking More Fees, 121 Financial Is Eliminating Charges

Due to its financial strength and its commitment to its members to provide banking services at the lowest possible costs, 121 Financial Credit Union has eliminated its $5 monthly maintenance fee for member accounts, effective November 1, 2011, announced William Braddock, CEO of 121 Financial Credit Union.

“To our knowledge, we are now the only financial institution in the Northeast Florida market with absolutely no maintenance fee,” reported Braddock.

Sending a message that 121 Financial is a member/consumer advocate institution that is less concerned about generating profits than its banking competitors, particularly the big banks, 121 management is seeking ways to eliminate members’ banking expenses.

“Maintenance fees in financial institutions are generally charged on small dollar account relationships to “level the playing field” for those who use (or only qualify for) very limited services,” Braddock explained. “In other words, the Credit Union is unable to generate revenue on these accounts, so the fee was imposed as a matter of fairness to those who use more of the Credit Union’s services. For that reason, our maintenance fee was originally established nearly a decade ago.

“But in reviewing the current environment where institutions have been adding fees, such as $5 per month debit card fees, and then having to back down due to customer anger, we felt we needed to be proactive. Our goal is to always pass on savings to our members whenever and wherever possible,” Braddock said.

“For example, we have never charged a fee on our debit card use. Our members are our “shareholders” and they reap the benefits. We answer to them not to stockholders who are just looking at the bottom line.”

Is Telemarketing Right For Australia?

Among the many countries are emerging as economic powerhouses in the world, there is no doubt that Australia is among the names that is being talked about. And really, this does not come as a surprise. After all, this is one of the countries that have been able to weather the world financial crisis. It has even emerged stronger than before. This makes this very attractive for many investors. Of course, there is the challenge of knowing who to do business with. There are so many companies to choose form. But that is a concern that can be easily solved. All you need to do is to invest in good B2B leads. You will be amazed with the way qualified leads can introduce you to new business opportunities, as well as provide you with a glimpse of what your company will want. You will need lead generation services to get these B2B leads.

What makes lead generation services so popular is the results that they bring. This is important when you are generating good B2B leads. After all, this is one business tool that has been able to deliver for their clients useful market data. You can benefit from this, too. Your marketing team can then use the these qualified leads contain to pursue new business opportunities. While it may be enticing to start your campaign to generate qualified leads on your own, there is something that you must remember. B2B leads can be difficult and costly to generate on your own. If you are a large company, then it would not be that much of a trouble. It is the smaller firms that needs the professional help of lead generation firms. There are plenty of firms that you can work with. The key here is for you to work one that uses good telemarketing services. In this type of business, you will need telemarketers to do the job for you.

It may be true that some people have misgivings over the use of telemarketing, owing to its shady past, but there is a reason for this. Think about it. What other lead generation tool has been able to reach out to the most number of prospects in the most effective and cost-efficient manner? It has to be telemarketing. This is the only marketing tool that can transcend physical boundaries and produce results in the fastest way. And besides, telemarketers have evolved in the way they do business. They are no longer the company that creates problems for customers and giving their clients a bad name. Also, telemarketers are the best for this kind of job. They can talk to your prospects, encourage them to do business with you, and engage them, keeping the prospects interested in what you have to offer. This is a good investment.

Of course, only you can decide whether lead generation services will work well for you. There may be risks involved in leaving the job to an outsider, but the rewards will more than make up for it.

Stay Confident In Ten Easy Ways

Small Business Marketing News Update - Take Caution When Traditional Media Hawks Online Services To Bolster Sales

Both broadcast and print media in Northeast Florida are turning to online services, specifically to their websites, to increase revenues and to tap into the ever-growing movement to online marketing.

While it makes sense for media outlets to pursue this new direction, they seem to be in a panic mode when it comes to getting their share of the online pie. First of all, online sales still have a way to go to be an effective marketing medium. There is much refinement that is needed to be able to track ROI for most online businesses (restaurants not withstanding). But secondly, traditional media, particularly broadcast and cable, are still extremely valuable in building brand awareness and driving traffic to websites.

As is the case with most broadcast stations in their pitch of traditional media services, they push their unique reach to various demographics by day part. Now each one is touting their value and their power to reach markets online.

To obtain an objective look at the real power potential of any website, you can go to Alexa.com, a web information company that evaluates businesses worldwide with free web analysis. To take a picture in time of the websites of all of the Northeast Florida television stations, the Florida Times Union and a few Jacksonville radio stations, I researched their sites on Alexa and came up with a “non partisan” ranking of their web traffic. The results show the following rankings by web traffic, with the lower the rank, the better…

U.S. Rank vs. Global Rank
Comcast Cable – Xfinity.comcast.net: 40 vs. 178
Florida Times Union – Jacksonville.com: 3,262 vs. 16,380
WJXT-TV (Channel 4) – News4jax.com: 6,966 vs. 39,255
WTLV-TV (Channel 12)/WJXX-TV
(Channel 25) – Firstcoastnews.com: 9,864 vs. 49,580
WTEV-TV (Channel 47)/WAWS-TV
(Channel 30) – Actionnewsjax.com: 33,786 vs. 200,293
WOKV Talk Radio – Wokv.com: 48,375 vs. 308,004
1010 Sports Talk Radio – 1010xl.com: 190,338 vs. 348,914
WAPE Radio – Wape.com: 197,626 vs. 1,353,565
CW17-TV – Yourjax.com: NA vs. 5,153,240

(To understand the above chart, consider Jacksonville.com’s ranking. It means that there are 3,261 websites in the U.S. that have higher traffic than Jacksonville.com. Also note that the Comcast site is a national site with local sites incorporated that gives it such a high ranking.)

Along with selling banner ads on their individual sites, some media outlets are partnering with national search engines to assist with social marketing. Again, caution should be taken because they too are ranked by their traffic. The three major search engines, ranked by ComScore.com as of January 2012 are as follows…

Based on percentages of searches in the U.S.

Google 65.9%
Bing 15.1%
Yahoo 14.5%

When working with the media today, again, particularly broadcast and cable, almost all of them insist you incorporate web banner ads or an online partnership with your on-air advertising. In some cases they even penalize you by charging higher airtime rates if you don’t incorporate their site banners. And then some will position their online products as a bonus. Depending on whom you are dealing with, and what strength their online capabilities are, buying into a media’s website may or may not be the best use of your ad dollars.

The Power Of Confidence In Business

How important is being confident in business? A lot, if we are talking about dealing with other people. This is perhaps the one most important trait that all business people must have, particularly those in telemarketing services. How can you convince prospects to believe in the products or services you are selling if you yourself don’t sound convincing enough.

The job becomes doubly hard since you are doing the job using the only the phone. Many of the visual cues that you could have sent to your prospects will never be seen. This means that only your voice can make or break the telemarketing campaign. So it pays if you can make yourself sound confident enough.

Confidence is an internal quality that translates into an external cue. If you can make yourself feel good, if you can boost your self-esteem, then it can translate into better performance. Better performance would then translate into better results for the telemarketing firm you are working for. And if your company is doing well, then this means you get to keep your job longer.

Given the current status of employment, which is clear all over the world, being confident is a simple, yet effective, investment in your future. And it is not just you and your company who will benefit from this. Your prospects will be assured that at least they are talking to someone who actually knows what they are talking about.

Next time, look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that everything is going to be great. And do not forget the smile. It helps.
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