Sales & Marketing

Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC) is a multi-billion dollar public/private initiative developed by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) in 2011 that introduces Michigan companies to opportunities that help them grow and expand. 

PMBC’s mission is to help Michigan businesses grow by:

  • Connecting local, national and global purchasers to Michigan suppliers by offering customized procurement or joint venture matchmaking searches, summits and buyer tours.
  • Partnering with local and national purchasers to organize dedicated buyer-supplier matchmaking events.
  • Delivering full concierge services to businesses to help find the right connections.
  • Offering dedicated international trade services for Michigan businesses who want to start or expand export activities.

More Details on Pure Michigan Business Connect (PMBC)

pmbc.connect.space

See how PMBC can help you forge partnerships and grow your business by creating an account in the “PMBC Community”.  The PMBC Community is an online and mobile business-to-business platform linking Michigan companies with private sector procurement opportunities and business services available from other Michigan companies.  Michigan businesses may learn more about the platform and register at no cost. 

Here are a just few benefits to joining the PMBC Community:

  • Connect with other businesses in the Community
  • Apply to attend and participate in matchmaking procurement events
  • Add your own company’s procurement needs
  • Schedule 1:1 meetings with other companies

Instructions on Creating an Account:

  1. Go to pmbc.connect.space and click “Sign Up Now”.
     
  2. Complete the registration steps to create your personal and company profiles. Please note that if anyone from your company has created an account before you, your company may already be created. In that case you’ll simply select it from the options that show up when you begin typing your company’s name.
     
  3. Don’t forget to download the mobile PMBC app from the iOS App Store and Google Play stores by searching for “PMBC”, allowing you to access your account from your phone and interact with other businesses during events!

EasyDNNNews

Three tips to help you fight back against the big dogs of online retail

In January, Amazon.com ran a promotion encouraging consumers to use its mobile app. If customers purchased an item via its app while in a retailers' store, Amazon provided a monetary incentive to choose the online e-tailer over the brick-and-mortar store.

Retailers were outraged. It had finally happened--online retailers were turning small, independent and even chain stores into showrooms for the online giants. How could retailers ever compete with its online counterparts’ low-priced inventory?

Retailers would be hard-pressed to do so. Retailers have to acknowledge that the price wars are...well, over. Instead, successful retailing will depend on retailers’ ability to do the following for each customer that enters the store:

(1) Offer an exceptional experience--that can’t be recreated online. This is the biggest opportunity for retailers. With a little effort (and some teamwork), retailers can bring the magic back to shopping. It can be as simple as offering classes for customers to learn how to use products, or have local celebrities in-store to showcase their favorite items.

(2) Rethink the store footprint. Instead of having 30 kinds of hammers, why not have the two hammers that everyone wants? Ensure that the right inventory is easily accessible and clearly visible with effective, inviting signage.

(3) Don’t sell--consult. Customers are coming to the store because they didn’t get what they needed from manufacturers’ websites or Amazon. They already know about the items' best and worst qualities. Don’t be a salesman; rather, be a likable expert that the customer will come back to time and time again for insight and advice. 

Michael Koploy, an analyst at Software Advice--an online resource for buyers interested in retail software solutions--has put together an in-depth guide for independent retailers, including complementing technology to assist these strategies. To see the guide check out: How to Differentiate Your Store from Online Retailers | A Guide to Independent Retail in 2012

Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik/

What strategies do you use to fight back against the big online retailers? Share a comment below!

New survey report: small business confidence hits highest level in three years

SBAM’s national affiliate, the National Small Business Association (NSBA), today released its 2011 Year-End Economic Report, which shows a decidedly more positive outlook for America’s small businesses, with important gains in several key indicators. Most notably, more small-business owners report being confident about the future of their businesses than at any time in the last three years, up from 64 percent just six months ago to 75 percent today. 

“Although this report is by far the most positive we’ve seen in quite some time, it is imperative policymakers not mistake these gains for a task completed,” stated NSBA Chair Chris Holman, CEO of Michigan Business Network.com and President of The Greater Lansing Business Monthly. “There are countless issues that continue to hinder small businesses.”

While the majority of small-business owners (66 percent) continue to anticipate a flat economy in the coming year, the number expecting a recession was more than cut in half at 14 percent, down from 30 percent six months ago. Additionally, the number of small businesses expecting economic expansion in the coming year nearly doubled from 12 percent to 20 percent in six months.
Revenue growth was at its highest point in more than three years with 46 percent of small businesses reporting increases—up from 39 percent six months ago. There was a commensurate drop in those reporting decreases in revenue from 37 percent to 31 percent. And while job growth didn’t experience the same kind of growth—it remained unchanged at just 22 percent reporting increases—the number of small businesses (23 percent) reporting employment decreases was the lowest it’s been in three years.
When asked which issues are most important for policymakers to address, small businesses overwhelmingly ranked reducing the national deficit number one—up to 44 percent from 34 percent six months ago—followed by reducing tax and regulatory burdens and reigning in the costs of health care. Along those lines, there was a marked increase among small-business owners who cited regulatory burdens as a major challenge for their business—up from 31 percent six months ago to 40 percent today.
Please click here to access the 2011 Year-End Economic Report.


The 3 R’s to Handling Customer Complaints

(By Tom Borg, owner of Tom Borg Consulting)

Every organization receives complaints. The key is turning a complaint into win-win situation. Too often employees and managers take the customer’s complaint personally and get defensive. It would be better if they took the complaint professionally and look at the complaint as an opportunity to fix what went wrong and if possible keep the customer. The second reason is to take an action that would prevent that sort of problem from reoccurring in the future with other customers.

The first R in my formula stands for the word RESPECT. It is critical that you show respect to the customer. You can do this by listening and letting the customer vent their feelings and frustration. The longer you are able to listen, the better. Use cushion statements to ease the frustration level of the customer. A cushion statement is anything you say or do that shows the customer you empathize with their concern. Some examples would be: “You are right to feel concerned” or “That must be frustrating”.

The next R stands for the word RAPPORT. You can develop rapport with the person by sincerely apologizing for any trouble that was caused by the person who experienced the problem. One way you could say this is: “Mr. Jones, I want apologize for any trouble this has caused you”. Then thank them for bringing this concern to their attention.

The third R stands for RESOLVE. Here is where you resolve the situation to the best of your ability. One question you could ask is: “What action would you like us to take?” Many times the complaining person’s idea of a resolution is much less than you would think. The key here is to take action and if possible, resolve the problem. 

By following this three step process you will be able to use your customer’s complaints to strengthen and grow your business.

(How to you handle customer complaints? Tell us below in the discussion section!)

Biggest business trends in 2013 - part two

By Steven Strauss

Last week, I began my annual look at the Top Trends in Small Business. This week we get to the Top 5 and what is interesting about the overall list is that it is dominated by changes to the way we work, mostly due to technology, but additionally, because of shifting attitudes and values.

Which brings us to No. 5:

5. The rise of the solopreneur: I thought I was probably onto something last year when I launched my new venture TheSelfEmployed, but little did I realize that the rise of the self-employed army would turn out to be a trend that is actually altering work itself. Whether it is Fortune Magazine stating “Welcome to the age of the freelancer,” small business expert Barry Moltz stating that “Micro startups are everywhere,” or columnist Jan Norman noting that “almost 17 million Americans are now solopreneurs, 900,000 more than in 2011” there is no mistaking that there is a new class of independent, creative, take-charge small business solo entrepreneurs on the rise.

4. You are headed to the clouds: The next three trends can all be lumped together under the title “The changing nature of work.” Here, what we see is that cloud computing is no longer a stranger to small business. Indeed, a Dell survey not long ago found that 69% of small businesses preferred to purchase software and applications as an Internet service – in the cloud – rather than as an off the shelf product. That same poll stated that those surveyed planned on adding three additional cloud-based services as the year progressed.

Cloud computing, Software as a Service, call it what you will, is proving to be a cheaper and easier way to do business and as such, is the new way that business will continue to get done.

3. Say hello to my little friend: That we are living in the time of mobile work is no surprise, but beyond that, we are quickly leaving even the laptop in the dust. Forrester Research states that 55% of businesses consider smartphone support a “high or critical priority.” And more than half of those same companies indicated they also now need to support tablets.

The challenge for the small business is that we normally rely on what is known as BYOD – Bring your Own Devise. While a smart choice and certainly a less expensive option than buying everyone a smartphone or tablet, it comes with security risks. When people are tapping into your system from anywhere on any devise, security breaches are far more possible.

This in turn means that your security systems and software must be top-notch. As one online security expert put it, it is not a matter of if you will be hacked, but when and how bad.

2. Virtual is the new physical: According to a piece in Entrepreneur Magazine, if you are looking for the workplace of the future, you are not going to find it. “”Who says there’ll be an office at all?” asks Tom Austin, vice president at Gartner, a Stamford, Conn.-based technology research firm. “Already we work from Starbucks, in the car and at our kids' softball games.””

The article then goes on to profile a company called Floor64. “The media and consulting company maintains a brick-and-mortar space in Sunnyvale, Calif., but also runs a bunch of Skype-powered chat rooms for remote workers--many of which are buzzing for most of the day. “These [chat rooms], more than anything else, represent our 'office,'” says CEO Mike Masnick, “and they don't exist in physical space.””

And what is fueling this radical shift from the physical to the virtual are all of the trends that make up this column: Cloud computing, powerful mobile devices, technology, new places to work, etc.

1. Happy days are here again: For the past few years, the dour economic news permeated my annual trends column. In 2013, happily, the opposite is true. Not only is there scant bad news to be found above, but
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