IN THIS ISSUE
"as needed" is now Business Odyssey
Why a "plain vanilla" newsletter
Marketing feature: Back to Basics - Marketing Infrastructure
Entrepreneurship feature: Are You Ready?
Write to us
"as needed" IS NOW BUSINESS ODYSSEY
If you are wondering who the heck Business Odyssey is, here is the answer - we used to be "as needed." We adopted the new name about a year ago and have now completed phasing it in. The name "as needed" will no longer be used.
The name change reflects a more focused effort in meeting the needs of both veteran and novice entrepreneurs. While we
continue to offer marketing support services, we have added
increased emphasis on training and strategic, business and
marketing planning functions.
For more detailed information about our services, visit our web page at
WHY A "PLAIN VANILLA" NEWSLETTER?
Deciding to start an e-mail newsletter is easy. Figuring out exactly how to accomplish the task is a little more difficult. One of the most important things to consider is
technological limitations - both yours and your subscribers'.
You can choose to have a service produce the newsletter for
you and let them worry about these details. Or, you can keep
the format simple and do-it-yourself which is what we have
This "plain vanilla" format has several advantages. All
e-mail systems can accommodate this simple text format. It
transmits and downloads quickly. Text-only newsletters can
take up much less space on subscribers' hard drives and are
easily copied and pasted into files where they will be used.
More sophisticated formatting, graphics and colors are
possible with HTML. However, some e-mail systems will
rearrange the formatting or even convert the document into
a garbled mass of code. With other formats such as PDF, the
reader needs the correct software - although that is usually
free and easily downloaded.
A side note: Most reputable e-mailers who use HTML also will
provide an option for receiving messages in plain text. You
might want to look for this option because spammers sending
only in the HTML format often insert script in the program
which can verify that your e-mail address is valid. Your
address is then added to their list and can be sold to
others generating still more junk e-mail.
BACK TO BASICS: MARKETING INFRASTRUCTURE
Many years ago, I chose the field of marketing largely
because it looked like fun. I find the work very satisfying
because it can be alternatively creative and analytical.
In this series of articles, I am going to address the part
of marketing that nobody wants to discuss - the boring part.
In more than 12 years of working with smaller businesses, I
have learned that a lot of time, energy and money is wasted
because there is no marketing "infrastructure" in place. A
company might have great brochures, a sophisticated logo,
an advertising budget to be envied. Yet, sales do not reach
In reality, these businesses are probably generating more
than enough leads but are not fully utilizing them to close
the sale. And, it could be that YOU have more than enough
leads if you knew how to get the most out of them.
The key is to have a system or infrastructure. In order to
build an effective marketing infrastructure, you need to
know how the selling process works. First, let's start with
several points which seem to surprise many people.
SURPRISE #1. Every contact is a potential sale, even the ones who say "NO." People say "no" for many reasons. Timing might be bad. They have a headache. Money is short this month. They have other things on their mind. And so on.
Contacting them at a later date might yield different
results. And, the prospect is a little "warmer" because
they already know about you.
SURPRISE #2. Everyone who you know, knows someone who needs your product or service. Everyone - even your Great Aunt Tilly. Even if you market an exotic industrial technology product. The thing is that your Great Aunt Tilly probably does not know that she knows someone who could use that product. You need to be telling EVERYONE you know about
your product or service.
SURPRISE #3. The easiest sale to make, is to someone you already know: clients, customers, friends, business
associates, clubs, churches, etc. People usually prefer to
do business with someone they already know. With family,
friends, fellow club members, etc., a relationship is
already there. This is your "warm" market.
Which brings us to the subject of the next installment in
this series: Relationship Building vs. the Sales Pitch.
Watch for it in the next edition of the Chronicle.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP: ARE YOU READY?
Some of our readers are just starting out in their own
businesses while others are old hands. No matter what your
experience level, everyone needs to do a periodic self-
assessment and keep their skills up-to-date. If you have
been in business for a few years and have not examined your
own strengths and weaknesses in a while, this might be a
good time to do that. If you are starting a new business,
the self-assessment is an important first step.
A good starting point is to compare your skills to the
skills that are needed to run a business. As a business
owner you will need to understand finance, marketing,
purchasing, contract negotiation, hiring, employee
management, and much more. Fortunately, most of us have at
least a few of the skills needed to get started. No one
needs all of them to be successful. The trick is in being
brutally honest about what you are able to do yourself,
where you need additional training, and where you need to
hire expert help.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to determine your
basic skill and interest levels for some very routine
FINANCE: Are you good at budgeting, paying bills on time and
doing your own tax return? Is it easy for you to balance
your checkbook each month?
OPERATIONS: Are you good at organizing and planning family
events, delegating tasks to other family members and clearly
(patiently) explaining how something should be done?
MARKETING: Are you good at utilizing library and on-line
sources for gathering information? Can you see things from
someone else's point of view even if it's different from
your own? Are you comfortable starting conversations with
If you are good at these things and enjoy doing them, then
you can learn how to apply them to a business. If you are
not comfortable with any of them, then you need to decide if
you have the desire and interest to learn or if you would be
better off hiring or partnering with someone who knows that
aspect of the business.
Many resources are available to help you do an in-depth
evaluation and to educate yourself about operating a
business. Visit www.businessodyssey.com and go to our Web
Links and Resources & Tools pages for a start. Reviews of
several books which we have found especially useful can be
found there as well as links to internet business resources.
If you are in the Greater Cleveland area, you can sign up
for one of the Business Odyssey classes at either Polaris
Career Center in Middleburg Heights or at Lakewood High
School in Lakewood. Go to the Training & Seminar Calendar
for class descriptions and registration information.
WRITE TO US
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