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Michigan Location Named America's Most Beautiful Place

From ABC News & "Good Morning America":

Tens of thousands of viewers voted online for this Michigan park, which is one of the nation's best-kept secrets. The hidden gem boasts 64 miles of beaches along Lake Michigan, two islands, 26 inland lakes, more than 50,000 acres of land, and the monumental sand dunes from which it gets its name.

See the original item at ABCNews.com

Just for Fun - Summer Biz Quiz

Please enjoy my annual summertime Biz Quiz.
(Answers at bottom).
 
1. Who are “the two Steves”?
 
A: Steve Forbes and Steve Case
B. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak
C. Steve Jobs and Steve Case
D. Steve Strauss and Steve Sax

2. What was the first product ever built by Apple?
 
A: The Apple
B. The Apple 1
C. The Apple Core
D. A Calculator

3. How did the Xerox Machine get its funny name?
 
A: The inventor heard it in a dream
B. The inventor had 2 X’s in his name
C. The inventor wanted to be last in the phone book
D. A professional linguist coined it from Greek words

4. What is the most money ever stolen in a white collar crime?
 
A: $304 million, in a scheme in Holland
B. $2.6 billion, in a copper trading scheme in Japan
C. Approximately $900 million, from a company in the U.S.
D. $1.3 billion in today’s dollars, in Austria-Hungary

5. Henry Ford invented…?
 
A: The $5 dollar work day
B. The 40 hour work week
C. Both A and B
D. Neither A nor B

6. Why is a valuable stock called a “blue chip”?
 
A: For a famous basketball player
B. Because blue chips are worth more in poker
C. For what was, at the time, a rare South American tortilla
D. Because it performs like a ‘chip off the ‘ol block’

7. Who was the first Starbucks franchisee in the U.S.?
 
A: Magic Johnson
B. HR Corporation
C. Howard Schultz
D. There are no American franchisees

8. How many businesses are there in the U.S?
 
A: 4 million
B. 40 million
C. 3 million
D. 30 million

9. Why are the awards for the best billboards called the “Obies”?
 
A: Because Obie Wan-Kenobi was a great Jedi
B. Because the “King of Billboards” was Obie Green
C. They are named after ancient obelisks in Egypt
D. Because Obie is short for Obinski, the inventor of the billboard

10. What is an SBDC?
 
A: A “Superior Business” in the nation’s capital
B. A small business devoid of currency
C. A Small Business Development Center
D. A starter business dba corporate

11. How many McDonald’s are there in the world?
 
A: 3,700
B. About 10,000
C. Around 30,000
D. 129,000

12. How old was Ray Kroc when he invented the McDonald’s franchising system?
 
A: 53
B. 40
C. 19
D. 21

13. In the movie Risky Business, what sort of business did Tom Cruise finally start?

A: A car club
B. An investment club
C. A hot dog stand
D. A prostitution ring  

14. What quote is NOT from Jerry Maguire?

A: “You had me at hello”
B. “Help me help you”
C. “Show me the money!”
D. “Don’t get me started!”

15. What product did Preston Tucker make?

A: A car
B. A cookie
C. A food storage devise
D. A computer

16. What movie does not have a key entrepreneur angle?

A: Citizen Kane
B. Forrest Gump
C. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
D. Casablanca

17. What product did John DeLorean attempt to buy to finance his car company?

A: Heroin
B. Gold
C. Uranium
D. Cocaine

18. The Barbie doll was named after

A: The inventor’s daughter
B. Marilyn Monroe
C. Barbara Stanwyck
D. The inventor

19. What company invented the disposable diaper?

A: Proctor & Gamble
B. Johnson &

Business Next radio: how small employers can take advantage of the new Michigan Jobs Portal

Michigan Economic Development Corporation Talent Acquisition Manager Joe Quick on how small employers can take advantage of the new Michigan Jobs Portal.

Business Next 
is part of the new MichiganBusinessNetwork.comInternet radio network. Hear great tips and ideas for growing your business on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays at 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. (Repeated at 3 p.m., 8 p.m. and 1 a.m.)

Tune in to MichiganBusinessNetwork.com from your PC or mobile device and get the advice you need to be a successful entrepreneur!

“The Best of Business Next” will air on TalkLansing.net at 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday.

Don't forget to become a fan of the "Business Next" Facebook page! Got an idea for guests and topics for “Business Next”? Forward to Michael Rogers at michael.rogers@sbam.org or 517-267-2209.

Workshops to Help Economic Gardening Sprout Across Michigan

The Small Business Association of Michigan, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, and Public Policy Associates, Inc. are hosting a series of free workshops to help local officials and economic development professionals understand economic gardening. The workshops will be held Sept. 9 in Saginaw, Sept. 20 in Traverse City, Sept. 21 in Lansing, Sept. 28 in southeast Michigan and Sept. 29 in Grand Rapids.


These workshops are an opportunity for you to learn first hand what economic gardening can mean for you and your community.

These free workshops will enable you to hear directly from MEDC officials as well as other economic gardening experts.  You will:

  • Learn the basics of economic gardening:  What it is, where it came from, and why it makes sense for Michigan.
  • Hear about the State’s plans for making economic gardening part of our overall economic development strategy, including a Pilot Program launching on October 1.
  • Learn how you can partner with the state to strengthen local efforts to support growth-orientated companies.
  • Leave with concrete ideas to start the planning process to proceed with an economic gardening strategy in your area.

LectureTools adds 7 jobs in prep for product launch this fall

If the mother of invention is necessity, then it might also be the surrogate parent of start-ups. LectureTools, a University of Michigan spin-out that is reinventing educational materials, makes a good argument for it.

The 1-year-old start-up got its start late in 2009 when a small group of graduate students approached U-M Prof. Perry Samson, co-founder of Weather Underground, about reinventing the software program for educational materials, such as course packs, handouts and quizzes. That grass roots movement turned into $650,000 in National Science Foundation grants that allowed U-M students and Samson to redesign the software from the ground up.

"It's more efficient," says Jason Aubrey, sales and marketing director and co-founder of LectureTools. "The design is much better and the usability is a lot nicer."

The Ann Arbor-based firm plans to debut its product this fall at U-M, thanks to the work of a team of 10 employees and several interns, up from the company's three original founders. LectureTools is working with the university's Office of Tech Transfer and another company to fully integrate the program with U-M's infrastructure and begin marketing it beyond Ann Arbor.

Tried and True: Direct Mail Marketing Still Holds Value in an Electronic World

By David Fant, owner of Market Mapping plus. From SBAM’s member-only Focus on Small Business magazine.

Tips and Tricks for a Successful Campaign

Today everyone seems to be leaning toward Social Media, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to reach out to clients with marketing messages. While there is great value in these web-based strategies for communicating, direct mail still holds appeal when coupled with an electronic twist – and of course executed well.

When considering a direct mail/e-mail campaign, or really any marketing campaign, it’s important to remember the goal: generate sales. Direct mail and e-mail share a number of characteristics that are important to understand when developing a marketing strategy. Here are a few:

1. Both direct mail and e-mail are personal programs. Anything that is not specifically addressed to the recipient is deemed “junk mail” or “Spam” and instantly discarded.

2. Targeting is EVERYTHING. Why advertise to people across town, if there are four other companies between you and your prospective customer. Focus on where your customers are coming from and maximize your frequency of contacting them by mailing fewer pieces. For example, 2,500 pieces mailed once will generate less response/sales than 500 pieces mailed five times to a targeted list.

3. Don’t try to sell the farm. Pick one or two items to feature and get customers into your store or to consider your business, to your website or to call to discuss options you have available for them to buy.

4. Remember: focus on selling the benefits of buying your products/services over the features. What’s in it for the recipient? A computer with a 500 GB hard drive is a feature of the machine. The ability to store 5000 songs or 2300 pictures is a benefit of the machine.

5. Look for direct mail to acquire new customers and e-mail to retain those customers. The Direct Marketing Association recently conducted a study that discovered people still prefer a direct mail offer in their mailbox over an e-mail solicitation for companies new to them. Most people are leery of e-mails and links in e-mails, making direct mail a strong choice to get people to actually look at your message and create some familiarity with your brand. Direct mail is ideal for capturing new customers. E-mail is preferred for customer loyalty and ongoing promotion.

6. TRACK PERFORMANCE! It doesn’t matter if you are using direct mail or e-mail. It’s extremely important to track how your campaign is performing. Key coding who you are mailing to (age, income, family status, interests) is simple and allows you to track when people respond. Remember, each mailing gives you more information about who is responding and who is not responding. From this data, you can fine tune future mailings and become more accurate and cost effective.

7. Be cautious when buying an e-mail mailing list. The rate of outdated e-mail addresses is high, so verifying and spot checking accuracy is important. Also ensuring the vendor will refund you for bad addresses is critical.

8. Partner with a quality list broker to develop your direct mail or e-mail list. A good list broker will help you with all of the above issues and will have resources that you may not now know about to help make your campaign a success.

The key to any campaign is to design the most powerful offer you can. Find the best, most targeted list available for your business and design a piece that competes with the other mail in a prospects mailbox. Remember, what it looks like is less important than what you’re offering and who you are offering it to.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What would interest you? What would YOU like to see/have?

David Fant is the owner of Market Mapping plus and chair of SBAM’s Strategic Communications

Steven Strauss Column: To Groupon or Not to Groupon?

Question:
My partner would like us to jump on the Groupon bandwagon for our bike shop and do a promotion with them, but I remain unconvinced. What’s the real deal, anyway?

Answer:
My wife has always wanted to try Yoga, but for one reason or another, never did. Then one day she stumbled upon an offer from Groupon that was too irresistible to resist: 10 classes for $50. So she signed up and has been going to her classes for the past few weeks. She’s hooked and it looks like the Yoga studio has created a new customer, which of course is the idea.

But is that typical?
Not always. There is a lot to be said for these new breed of group discount buying sites like Groupon or Living Social, not the least of which is that for the consumer, they offer some unbelievable deals. But one main question that small business owners must answer is whether they will be able to convert all of these new looky-loos into return, repeat customers.

If not, then Groupon and its kin are not loss leaders, they are just losses. So the question of the day is whether you should jump on the Groupon bandwagon. Here are the pros and cons to consider:

Pros

Exposure: Undoubtedly, maybe the best part of Groupon is that the huge discounts offered by your business via the site will expose your business to a huge number of new people. That’s tough to beat. In an era when there is just so much darn competition, the ability to make an impression on a lot of potential new customers is not to be underestimated.
Sales: The correlation to all of this exposure is that you will sell more, maybe a lot more. People love a bargain and they love to save money, especially these days. So by offering steep discounts on what it is your business sells, you will no doubt sell more. Now, will you be able to make a profit? That is the question.

Advertising and Marketing: Another significant factor when considering the Groupon model, aside from increased sales, is that it can also be viewed as a unique way to advertise, market and/or brand your business. I always say that being in business is like being in a room without the light on – no one knows you are there. You turn on the light by marketing and advertising your business – that is how new people know you are out there.
So in that vein, if nothing else, a Groupon-type campaign will turn the light on and expose your business to a lot of new people.

OK, so there is a lot of good to be said for Groupon. There is also a lot of bad to be said.

Cons

Conversions? What do you get when you offer a steep discount to the masses? Masses looking for a steep discount. They may not necessarily be looking for your auto detailing service, but can’t pass on the deal. The problem then, and the problem is, will you be able to convert that bargain-hunter into a real, ongoing customer willing to pay your normal prices?

Not a few small businesses who have tried this model have answered that question, “no.”
Loss Leader: Groupon, Living Social, etc. promote loss leaders. Same question: Will you be able to go from loss to leader?

Capacity: I once had a colleague who really wanted to get his pizza restaurant reviewed by the local paper. So we put together some press materials and lo and behold, the restaurant critic bit and came out a few weeks later. That next Friday, there was a five-star glowing review in the paper.

Marketing gold, right?

Wrong.

It was a total disaster for my friend. He was completely unprepared for the onslaught of customers that stormed his establishment that night, that weekend. He ran out of dough early, did not have enough wait staff on hand, the line grew to an hour and a half long, etc. In the end, he pissed a lot of people off.

Business Next radio: exclusive interview with Gerald Moore, the new Michigan District Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration

How the U.S. Small Business Administration can help you be a more successful small business owner. Business Next radio host Michael Rogers talks with Gerald Moore, the new Michigan District Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Business Next 
is part of the new MichiganBusinessNetwork.comInternet radio network. Hear great tips and ideas for growing your business on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays at 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. (Repeated at 3 p.m., 8 p.m. and 1 a.m.)

Tune in to MichiganBusinessNetwork.com from your PC or mobile device and get the advice you need to be a successful entrepreneur!

“The Best of Business Next” will air on TalkLansing.net at 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday.

Don't forget to become a fan of the "Business Next" Facebook page! Got an idea for guests and topics for “Business Next”? Forward to Michael Rogers at 

Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM) Partners with SBAM

The Mobile Technology Association of Michigan (MTAM) announced that it has partnered with the Small Business Association of Michigan (SBAM) to offer enhanced membership benefits to its members.

“This new strategic partnership between SBAM and the Mobile Technology Association of Michigan brings tremendous added value to small business owners,” says SBAM President and CEO Rob Fowler. “It focuses the power of tens of thousands of small business owners across the state of Michigan to provide outstanding product and service opportunities, and helps advance our shared vision of a more entrepreneurial economy in the state.”

The Mobile Technology Association of Michigan is a trade association for the mobile industry, including carriers, manufacturers, hardware developers, software developers, wireless system installers, tower manufacturers/installers, mobile marketing vendors, advertisers, users of the technology, and anyone else interested in Mobile.

For more information on the benefits available to Mobile Technology Association of Michigan members, including access to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan group health insurance, visit www.sbam.org/mtam or contact MTAM at info@GoMobileMichigan.org.


Business Next radio: How can mobile technology help make your small business more successful?

Business Next radio host Michael Rogers talks today with Linda Daichendt, Executive Director/President, Mobile Technology Association of Michigan.

Business Next 
is part of the new MichiganBusinessNetwork.comInternet radio network. Hear great tips and ideas for growing your business on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays at 10 a.m. – 11 a.m. (Repeated at 3 p.m., 8 p.m. and 1 a.m.)

Tune in to MichiganBusinessNetwork.com from your PC or mobile device and get the advice you need to be a successful entrepreneur!

“The Best of Business Next” will air on TalkLansing.net at 9 a.m. – 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. – 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday.

Don't forget to become a fan of the "Business Next" Facebook page! Got an idea for guests and topics for “Business Next”? Forward to Michael Rogers at michael.rogers@sbam.org or 517-267-2209.


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