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

DIVERSIFICATION – One Path to Increasing Revenue

By Nancy Boese, Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center. From SBAM’s member-only Focus on Small Business magazine.

Companies have different stages of development and the decision to diversify into new markets or new products can be daunting. There are several situations that indicate a company may be ready to diversify. Companies should consider diversifying for any of the following reasons:
  • One customer is over 50 percent of the total revenue
  • One industry is over 50 percent of the total revenue
  • Company has reached a plateau in sales and the market is saturated
  • Company has reached a plateau in sales and opportunities are available
  • Company has excess cash and can purchase a business to expand its markets

There are many options to solve these situations. One factor to consider is the risk the company is willing to take to expand. A renowned business tool is the Ansoff matrix. The Ansoff Matrix provides four options for diversification:

  • Market Penetration: The company increases revenue with existing products in existing markets. The intent is to increase its market share.
  • Market Development: The company sells existing products to new market segments.
  • Product Development: The company develops new products/services to sell to its current customers.
  • Diversification: The firm grows by developing new business opportunities with new products for new markets.

What are the Risks?

There is risk involved with each quadrant. The Market Penetration quadrant with existing products and existing customers is the least risky, takes the least amount of money, and provides the quickest results. The highest risk section would be Diversification. This area takes the longest to develop and requires extensive investment of time, people, resources, and money. The Product Development and Market Development both have a higher level of risk than using the Market Penetration strategy. The level of risk for these two areas is dependent on development time, financial commitment, and company resource requirements.

To determine which opportunity the company should pursue, several steps need to be completed.

1. The first is to conduct market research. This can include any or all of the following: Primary research, which could include surveying current or future customers, in-depth interviews, focus groups, and various other techniques. A wealth of information is also available through secondary sources. Research conducted by various government offices, trade associations, or private companies can help provide a base for discussion and analysis. For example: If the company decided to use the Market Development Strategy and wanted to diversify geographically, information could be gathered on the area’s economic situation, number of customers in the area that meet the target market definition, and other vital information.

2. Once the information has been gathered and analyzed, the company needs to establish what they want to accomplish with their strategy. Establishing realistic goals that will accomplish the outcomes desired by the company is vital to evaluating if the diversification strategy is working. The outcomes should be easily extracted from the accounting system or customer relationship management system.

3. Reaching an agreement on which diversification strategy to use can be the most challenging step. There are different decision making models which can be utilized. In general, the company wants to determine which opportunity will best help accomplish the goals already established. In addition, the company may need information on costs, staffing, new infrastructure requirements, etc to identify the best diversification strategy.

A Business of One is Really a Business of Many

By David Fant, chairperson of SBAM’s Strategic Communications Advisory Committee. From SBAM’s member-only Focus on Small Business magazine.

Sitting here in my home office, I got to thinking about the idea of a company of one. Working alone can be a daunting task. Basically isolated, so many distractions (television, the kitchen, the couch for a nap are just a few) that focusing can be difficult at times. I remember when I first started my business 20 years ago. My wife would come home from her work, ask how my day was and I would recount the various talk show topics of the day. Her immediate question to me was, “Are you actually doing work? ” To which I answered, “Yes, I am!” But in the beginning business is slow and prospecting is difficult-so you find distractions to fill your time.

Now, 20 years later, I find myself in a totally different world. I have clients who need the attention, vendors who need prodding to get me information I need. Marketing, accounting, client meetings, administrative work – not to mention volunteer work with the Small Business Association of Michigan, the American Marketing Association and the Advertising Federation – all take up time and energy in the day. However, I got to thinking about my business and what resources a business of one may need to have at their finger tips and came up with a daunting list of support options for a company of one.

Accountant – This person is critical to understanding your cash flow, what purchases will most positively impact your bottom line, and most importantly, your accountant can provide you with a realistic view of profitability today and in the future.

Banker – If you need a loan, or cash to build/grow your business, your banker can be your best friend. He can also help you better understand your needs for bank accounts and how to best utilize them to maximize your cash flow and minimize processing costs. In addition, your banker is in touch with hundreds of other small and large businesses and may be able to assist you in identifying new or growing markets.

Trade Associations – Meeting others is one way of getting out of the office. Networking can be the lifeblood of a business when first starting, and later on in a business life cycle you become a resource for others to turn to for advice.

Customers – Each of them can provide input regarding new products/services to sell, and they can offer ideas as to other areas you may want to expand in to. Last year, a client of mine told me about a conference I should be a sponsor for. I decided to try it and got eight new clients with gross sales over $20,000. Not bad for an investment of $2,500. Use your customers as a sounding board for new/innovative ideas.

Vendors – The number of new products in the marketplace never ceases to amaze me. Talk to your vendors, see what’s hot, what’s working and what’s not. This knowledge can help you in the long run develop new and innovative products and services.
Family – There is no one more attuned to my business than my wife. She can tell when something isn’t going well. She will listen, offer advice – she is someone who I can count on to help me talk through a problem or issue that I am having difficulty solving. An asset often over looked in a small business.

What does this all mean? A company of one is not just you. It’s you and everyone you come in contact with. Everyone has friends/family/customers/vendors/service providers who can and will help you when needed. All you need to be is open, willing to share and most importantly, be willing to ask.

David Fant is a long-term SBAM member and the chairperson of the Strategic Communications Advisory Committee.

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.”
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