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

Market Your Product? Look for Ways You Can Manage Perceived Value

Ernesto Sirolli in his book Ripples from the Zambezi (a business book even if it doesn’t sound like one) cites three key business areas as his “Management Trinity.” He says, “If one is missing, the business is not a business, it shouldn’t be called one, and it will never succeed. No matter how big or small a business, three areas must be handled:

  • Technical skills to produce the goods or services (whether shoes or travel tours)
  • Ability to market one’s goods and services 
  • Ability to financially manage one’s affairs.”

I’m not much in favor of long, multiple step guidelines, so we simplify the steps into one statement – “Manage perceived value.”

“Technical skills” produce “value.” Making the absolute best product isn’t enough; it has to have user value. Many early PC manufacturers engineered ultimate machines, only to find the public couldn’t handle (and thus didn’t want) complex functions. “Value” was an easy-to-use machine to make routine tasks easier.

Instant contact glues (Krazy Glue, etc.) originally came in a two-ounce bottle, half of which was thrown away when drips glued the cap on. Quantity was not value. Now you buy one-tenth the volume in three one-use tubes (at same price) but there’s a lot less frustration because you use it efficiently.

Are there ways your staff skills could produce more value, not just in faster production but in a more customer-attractive product or service? Customer requests and unusual applications are a good first step. There are probably others out there who would like to learn about that value. Can you combine production steps AND improve your final product? What resources do you have that aren’t being used? Disney World boosted revenue by opening all night for high school graduation parties. Think.

”Market one’s goods and services” relates to “perceived” and usually gets a lot of planning attention – “How can we sell more?” Improve perceived value of your product by focusing on benefits (not features) in your sales messages. Focus ads on their problem that you solve, not on what you do. Sales pitches should start with “what is your biggest problem” not “here’s what we sell.”

The saddest words a salesperson ever hears are, “We just bought one. I didn’t know you did that.”

Improved perception comes from sending messages where your target market gets new information – Facebook, Google, newspapers, magazines, seminars, trade shows, etc. Target your prospects’ “watering hole” – make a few visible connections, not a bunch of invisible ones over the year. Be perceived.

“Ability to financially manage” is more than a prompt monthly statement (although knowing last month’s results by the fifth of this month allows you to take informed action for the next 23 to 26 days).

“Manage” means every asset allocation. Are you priced to capture ALL the value you provide? Do you have the right people (assets) in their best slot (value) to produce value? Could you manage inventory more effectively? Sometimes that’s more inventory to improve delivery times, sometimes it’s less to lower investment. Most importantly, do you have someone polite and firm (NOT your sales people) who will make continual calls to be sure you get paid for your effort?

Manage is an active verb. If you have a staff, it’s also a collaboration verb. Gather ideas from everyone you work with. Many won’t bear fruit, but a good idea can come from almost anywhere.

Sirolli says that it’s difficult for one person to be passionate and proficient enough in all three areas to competently produce the product, market it and manage the finances. (Personal example: I hated accounting. It was the second job I off loaded.) He says identify what you are most proficient at and most passionate about, and then find a partner to improv

QR Codes

By John Westra, Director, NuWave Government Solutions. From the Small Business Association of Michigan’s member-only Focus on Small Business magazine.


You’ve probably noticed codes like the one shown here. They are popping up on in-store displays, print media and even Real Estate signs. They are called QR Codes and are a type of 2D scan code/tag. Next to the more familiar 1D barcode, QR codes are the most widely adopted form of scan code being used today. Microsoft has a competing and colorful 2D solution called Microsoft Tags, but very few content publishers have adopted it.


Besides linking to online web content, you can use QR codes for:
  • Contact information that will create a contact record on most phones
  • Email address that will open the smart phones email client and fill in the “To” address
  • Geographic (GIS) information that will allow people to quickly navigate to a destination
  • Almost any other free-form data you want people to have.

As the number of people using smart phones increases, you are going to see more of these QR codes being used. Like any other new technology, the greatest rewards will come to those who find a way to use it to add value, before their competitors!

Ready to get started? Connect to the Internet with your Smart Phone and point your mobile web browser to www.scanlife.com. The website will automatically detect if your phone is supported and you will be prompted to download the ScanLife software.

How Social Media and GOV 2.0 are Revolutionizing Public/Private Sector Collaboration

By John Westra is Director, NuWave Government Solutions. From SBAM’s member-only Focus on Small Business magazine.

Ask any small business owner about their “relationship” with government and you are likely to get an earful. Listen to small business owners carefully and you will hear one key complaint repeated over and over: “government doesn’t pay attention to us or listen to our needs.”

In fact, if it were not for the well organized advocacy efforts of SBAM, the voices of Michigan’s small businesses would be a whisper in comparison to the deep pocketed lobbying efforts and slick PR and marketing campaigns of national and international corporations. The good news; the explosive growth of Social Media, coupled with a push for government to use the Internet to be more open, responsive and accountable (GOV 2.0) is leveling the playing field and revolutionizing Public/Private Sector collaboration!

Social Networking is a phrase that for many brings to mind an afternoon on the golf course or a cup of coffee at the local diner. But to the more than 142 million Social Media users of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and various blogs, it means spending “an average of six plus hours per month, connecting with and expanding their online community of “friends.”” (Nielsen, June 2010)

Social media can be defined as “The social interaction, creation and distribution of content, including text, photos, audio and video, via highly accessible Internet-based applications.”
The main catalyst for the adoption of social media by government is politics. After the press credited social media for helping President Obama win, the flood gates of social media adoption by politicians opened wide. Although not all of them “get it,” virtually all current and would-be elected officials now have a Facebook page, with many having a presence on all the major social media platforms.

Rick Snyder is a great example of someone who understands the power of social media. Rick, who admittedly bills himself as “One Tough Nerd,” has seen his Facebook following go from a few hundred to over 31,000 followers in a matter of months.

Rick Snyder was quoted as saying “Social media provides new and more effective ways for government to directly communicate with citizens and involve them with the day to day operations of the state, offering opportunities to have their voices and feedback heard…Effectively communicating with citizens is an essential aspect of customer service government.”

So how does this translate into a value proposition for small businesses? The answer to this question can be summed up in three words: Access, Engagement and Influence.
Access to the people we’ve elected to represent us is the holy grail of representative democracy. In years past, campaign communication was one way. Elected officials could simply dismantle their campaign centers and walk away, effectively putting a “Do Not Disturb” sign on their office doors. Social media has made that impossible. Politicians who walk away from their social media network(s) would face an instant negative backlash.
An ongoing commitment to maintaining their connections to citizens and stakeholders (small business), translates into a defacto “open door” policy that benefits everyone. This is the type of access that previously cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars in lobbying to maintain.

Engagement is the “secret” ingredient for any effective communication and another reason why social media and Government 2.0 (GOV 2.0) applications are growing so rapidly. Before I talk about the importance of engagement, let’s first define what GOV 2.0 is.
“Government 2.0 or “e-government” is the philosophy of transparent, efficient and accountable governance, facilitated by the use of ubiquitous, easy to access and interactive Internet-enabled applications.”

Four Pillars to Understanding the Internet

There are four pillars for learning how to effectively manage the Internet rapidly and easily.

Pillar 1: Your website and content.

Pillar 2: How to use the best social media (Facebook, Twitter and YouTube).

This article covers the first two pillars. Click here to read about the other two.

It’s important under pillar 1 to maintain your website consistently – not every so often. Your website provides your customers with instant access to information about your business and provides a foundation to build lasting impressions and strong business relationships.

To get the most out of your website, it needs a robust out-reach effort:
  • content that changes from time to time (the easiest way to do this is by having a blog or a “news” area that lists new information)
  • useful information about your business that includes key words
  • a newsletter sign-up (so that you can retain contact information from interested parties)
  • links to your social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, YouTube) to give people a variety of ways to discover and interact with your business

Your social media outreach program is pillar 2. Social media are not complicated at all. They are simply new channels to reach your targets over the Internet. They provide a method of connecting your company to consumers via word of mouth recommendations. Poor or no representation of your company on social media sites can hinder your business.
The most popular social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Facebook is the powerhouse of web marketing and social media with more than 500 million users across the world. Customers can engage with your brand by leaving comments, generating content about your brand such as photos, participating in calls to action and sharing links to your information or products. Facebook also has a built in pay-per-click ad program.

  • Twitter is the fastest growing social media platform. Its primary advantage-brevity. Any “tweet” is limited to 140 characters. Journalists often use Twitter for leads and sources. Many people use Twitter to learn about news instantaneously. Some use it to communicate immediately in a crisis.
  • YouTube is a great way to use video rather than just pictures and words. Videos should be short and succinct, like 2-3 minutes. Easy to do with a smart phone or other video device.
The Internet is your best friend for marketing. It is easy to learn, easy to maintain, free or inexpensive. These two pillars are your guides to demystifying the whole online and new media process. Keep in mind developing content on your website is important because it is an extension of the passion you have for your business. Your Internet presence allows you to gather instant feedback, providing you with the opportunity to quickly access information and ideas, which can be used to generate new business, build brand loyalty and increase customer retention.

As a business owner, you may feel there’s no way you could possibly squeeze blogging and website updates into your daily schedule. If so, hire a web content specialist or someone who has knowledge of new media – the “nerd” component.

Wendy Williams and Ashley Smith are new media specialists at Eiler Communications, Ann Arbor.

Google Apps: A Guide to the World of Google

By Matt Harlow (from SBAM’s member-only Focus on Small Business magazine)

What is Google Marketplace?

Google Marketplace is an online store filled with online applications (Google Apps), all of which are available via a single user account (your Google Apps account) and many of which integrate with the Google office suite (Google Docs) and potentially your website. Let’s take a look at the many opportunities available to small business owners, through Google Apps, as well as some concerns.

Four Distinct Advantages:
1. Low Cost – The Standard Edition of Google Docs (the Google Apps office suite) is free for up to 50 users at the same domain. The Premier Edition is $50 per user per year for an unlimited number of users and has other advantages as well.

2. Cloud Computing – All Google Apps are part of the cloud computing movement. That means they exist primarily on the Web and are designed to store your data there as well. You can access your documents by simply logging in to a website. Your data is no longer tied to one computer. You can work from home, work or a cyber café on Maui, all with the same access to your documents. That also means you can work on nearly any type of hardware that can access the Web: a PC, Mac, smart phone, net book or tablet PC can access your Google Apps account and all your documents. As a bonus, should your hard drive crash or your computer die, your documents are 100 percent safe. You can be up and running again as soon as you are logged in to a different machine.

3. Collaboration – If you email a file to three people and ask them to make edits, and they send them back to you, you then have to manually assemble all of those edits into a single document. You then have five versions of that document (the original, three edits and the consolidated final). If you grant access to an online document to the same three people, they each make real-time changes to the document as it exists in the cloud. When they are done, a final truly collaborative version exists. But what if one, or all of them, makes changes you don’t like? Google Docs stores prior versions of each document during the process, giving you access to a document before and after each set of changes was made.

4. Upgrades – Because they exist only on the Web on Google’s servers, all Google Apps are upgraded the instant a new upgrade is released and at no cost to you. As long as you are using Google Apps, you and everyone in your company will all be using the most current version of the same products at exactly the same instant.

The Disadvantages:
1. Security – Many IT professionals question the security of documents that are not on servers they control and are accessible from all over the world via the Web.

2. Backup – Since the files are not on your computer’s hard drive or company server, you don’t have the control to make sure they are backed up.

3. Need for Web Access – While access to the Web is becoming more ubiquitous, there are still places where Wi-Fi or even a 3G cell signal is unavailable. While some cloud applications have versions you can save to your hard drive, many do not. When you can’t get online, you can’t get to the cloud.

4. File Compatibility – Once you switch to a cloud-based application, your old files generated on desktop software may not be compatible. At the very least, you might want to keep one computer set up with your old desktop software as a safety net.

5. Learning Curve – Just like any new software, cloud software takes time to become proficient in. In some ways, cloud software works differently than traditional desktop software.

Here’s a Rundown of Some Specific, Basic Google Apps
Gmail – An online email program that you can use with multiple accounts (not only Gmail) and set up with your own URL, not just “nam
RSS
First79808182838485868788