Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Marketing Secrets for Silent Auctions and Raffles

It seems everyone has a fundraiser, auction or raffle that they'd like you to donate to. The Chamber too has two silent auctions coming up in the near future

Should you or shouldn't you consider donating something to these events?

I think you should really consider it. But you don't have to take my word for it.
ChamberSmallBusiness.com calls this “Masterful Marketing, when you donate a prize, giveaway or auction item you can generate some low cost exposure and publicity for your company."

But before you rush out to donate something--I urge you to do a little strategic analysis.

STEP ONE: Who's the target audience for this event?

Donating can be a good decision if the audience at the event is your target audience/customer base.

Donating can be a good decision if the audience is your strongest pool for referral partners and leads.

Donating does not make sense if the audience is completely unrelated to potential leads or customers.

STEP TWO: You've decided to donate something, now what will you give?
Think about that audience and identify the broadest common denominator.

You want the winner of your donation to be thrilled to have won. That means what they bid on or win in the raffle needs to be

something they can use immediately
something they would be proud to show off to others (all the more marketing mileage when they show off their winnings)
something that makes them connect with your business name and helps brand you as a thoughtful, customer oriented business
You get extra credit if you can donate something that cannot be purchased or obtained easily--if at all. (One of a kind items are hot commodities at auctions).

STEP THREE--Need some ideas?
If you're a season ticket holder for sporting or entertainment events, consider donating a set of tickets.
How about a week at your vacation condo, cottage or time share?
Maybe you have connections to get autographed sports memorabilia

Don't waste the opportunity to emphasize one of your services or value propositions. Is your company brand include: Great Customer Service; Easy communications and follow up; timely delivery of services . . . then create a donation that reinforces that message.

Tried and true items like a gift certificate for "dinner out" at a local restaurant can be coupled with a bottle of champagne and your gift card that says, "Congratulations! Celebrate your next memorable event with our compliments!" and be sure to add a tag line that matches your business.

Insurance companies: "Always here for you when you need us."
Financial planners: "We are pleased to help customers and clients have more to celebrate."
Mortgage specialists: "We can help you celebrate a new home or renovations."
Attorneys: "Good planning leads to more celebrations. We can help."
Or consider the ever popular spa or salon gift certificate.
"Relax. We're ready to help you lower your stress in other ways too--call us when you'd like more information."
"Our customers and clients agree, everyone can use a little pampering."

Or maybe you'd like to donate a gift certificate for your company's services.
A free hour of consulting, or a free evaluation . . . jazz up your donation by coupling it with a couple of your logo mugs, a pound of gourmet coffee and a sampler of chocolates.

Is somebody in your office a good baker? Add two dozen home baked cookies, an apple pie (with small American Flag!), or decadent brownies to your donation. While bidders want your company's services, the homebaked goodies provide instant gratification and urgency for them to BID ON YOUR CERTIFICATE IMMEDIATELY!

STEP FOUR--DO NOT FORGET that this is a marketing opportunity! Include your business cards, or a hand written note congratulating the "winner" of your item.

Donate your item early so the event hosts can coordinate custom signage that includes your logo

STEP FIVE--Be the "stickiest" business at the auction!
Marketers agree that it's important to create a brand, image or message that's sticky. (Meaning you stay in the audience's mind long after they've seen your advertisement.)
Auction donations and raffle prizes are a great opportunity to develop that sticky message.

What can you donate that will intrigue most of the audience? In a silent auction, your goal is to get them to bid! In fact--you want audience members to get in a bidding war for your donation.

Taking the extra time to design a dazzling basket display or creative presentation pays off big time when people talk about you AT the event and AFTER the event. Better yet--will people take pictures of your donation and post it on their Facebook pages?

Get them talking! With a little creativity, your auction item could be the buzz of the event.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Two step Technology Slide

Have you ever had one of those days--when everything you start moves you one step forward and two steps backwards?

I will confess right now that part of the issue is technology. We're upgrading to a new server and in the process we will also be implementing 2 replacement work stations. Which means we need to upgrade software . . . which means we have to convert old data files . . .which means those files don't talk to the website anymore . . . which means we need to fix the translation . . . which means . . . .

I am learning way more about software and hardware than I truly ever wanted to.

On the plus side--this transition has been much easier thanks to the expertise of chamber members. Knowing I have great go-to resources to ask questions, get advice and help implementing has made this so much easier.

Jackie Kopp, ATD Solutions is helping us upgrade our Quickbooks software and in the process helping us categorize classes to improve the ease of event program and project reports. She and Steve Hyer, IGD Solutions are helping us coordinate the newest release of Quickbooks with our online registration system.

The end result will be very nice for our members and reduce the bookkeeping time required to re-enter registrations. A direct sync with the online payments will save a lot of time!

It will also allow us to go to online invoicing and statements--saving postage. And we are looking into ACH processing as an option in addition to credit cards.

As part of this upgrade--we're also replacing our server. It's nearly 10 years old and has performed well. Periodic piecemeal upgrades have extended it's life--but it's time is done. It needs to be retired.

PC Miracles (who does our off site back ups) is taking care of the server and also the two new workstations. The computer workstations will replace our oldest machines . . . which . . . we got used from Clarkston Schools 5 years ago. These two units have had major failures this winter--and were recovered enough to limp along while we coordinated the replacement plan.

The new hardware, means we will be upgrading operating systems and therefore upgrading our database management systems. Which is where I learned that the upgraded software doesn't talk to our website . . . yet . . . but it will.

This black hole of interrelated technology woes could have been avoided with a regular technology upgrade plan.

I will admit to being, at times, too thrifty. If there's a mile left in that baby--I'm going to run it that mile! The motivation has been simple--out of necessity, I've needed to get the biggest bang for every dollar. The budget has been squeaky tight.

The thrill of dancing close to total technology failure, though, is not in the best interest of the Chamber--or you--our members. While I don't care for the adage "penny wise, pound foolish" it does apply here.

The board of directors supports and is funding a technology plan that includes regular upgrades and replacements--before we have catastrophic failures.

So if you're reading this . . . (thanks, by the way) . . . consider what you're doing to keep your data safe, your productivity high and your future clear.
  1. Invest in offsite back up services for your data. It will help you sleep at night. Trust me.
  2. Take time to inventory what your technology status is right now--today. And pay special attention to how old your hardware is and whether or not your software has the latest updated version.
  3. Make a plan for your recommended replacement schedule.
  4. Include in that plan an annual check up--where you update your technology audit.

And just do it.

Saving a few pennies today will be of little comfort when your technology decides to die.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

History of Clarkston--An Interview with Buck & Joan Kopietz

Interview with Buck & Joan Kopietz:
March 2005—interviewed by Geri Batt

Buck and Joan moved to Clarkston in 1973 opening their first business, Tierra Arts and Design at 3 S. Washington Street.

In 1975, they moved their business to 20 N. Main Street.
They recall the downtown area doubling in retail businesses between 1975 and 1980, hitting its peak in the early 1980’s. The current Prudential Building, the apartment building across from the current Tierra, and Mill Street Mall housed a number of small shops and a large restaurant. Clarkston was booming!

The Kopietz’s referred to this time frame as the “Camelot Era”. There were approximately 45 stores in downtown during that time frame and visitors came from all around including Birmingham to shop in Clarkston. The business district at this time was primarily between Washington and Church Street.

Some examples of stores included: Clarkston Auto Parts in the Clarkston Travel Building, Reekwald Realty where the Village Grill is, Hallman Apothecary in the Essence on Main space, Yea Coffee Shop, Pam’s Sewing Basket, Pat’s Beauty Salon, and the Clarkston Bar, where the Clarkston CafĂ© is today. Across the street there was a clothing store owned by Fred and Sheila Ritter.

The Kopietz’s described this era as a time when the resident primary shopping needs could be met in downtown Clarkston. It was a busy small town atmosphere with the streets filled with local walking traffic and visitors. The current Summit Place Mall, then known as Pontiac Mall, was available for more extensive shopping. During this time frame, Concerts in the Park were sponsored by BAIT (Business Association of Independence Township), which later started the Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce. Joan Kopietz, a BAIT member, was responsible for Concerts in the Park for 10 years before they were taken over by the Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce.

Business changed drastically in the early 80’s due to a financial crunch in the United States and local government. Interest rates soared and small businesses in the Clarkston area folded. Retail buildings were sold and converted to office space, primarily Real Estate. The morale of the business community suffered and the draw of residents and visitors to Clarkston for shopping decreased dramatically. Tierra Arts and Crafts moved to 64 N. Main in 1982 upon the closing of one of the towns hardware stores. Buck recalls town folks thinking he was crazy for moving south of Church Street. However, in time this extended the downtown area of Clarkston. The building across Main from the new Tierra which was mini mall was sold and converted to apartments. The Mill Street Mall building on Washington also gradually changed from a restaurant and retail shops to offices.

The Clarkston Union Bar and Kitchen was opened in 1996 when the Catallo Family converted an old church into the current restaurant. The Kopietz closed their art and office supply in the late 90’s and concentrated their efforts on the Tierra Fine Jewelry portion of their store renting additional space out to other small businesses. The Hallman’s Apothecary also closed in the early 90’s and after remaining vacant for awhile became a gift store and is now Essence on Main. The Kopietz opened the Millpond Bed and Breakfast at 155 N. Main Street in the 90’s.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

History of Clarkston--1st person interview with Dick Morgan (2005--when Dick was 90 years old)

History of Business in Clarkston
Info gathered by Geri Batt
March 8, 2005

Interview with Dick Morgan (born in 1915)

In 1932, Dick opened his business in Clarkston, Morgan’s Service, a full service auto repair with a gasoline pump. At that time the town was full of retail businesses: 4 grocery stores, 2 hardware stores, 3 car dealerships, 3 barber shops, an apothecary and a bank. There was also a grist mill, central telephone operator, and a restaurant. Dick described Clarkston as a “thriving town”. Farmers would bring their crops into the mill, go eat, and shop in town. He mentioned enjoying conversations with who he referred to now as the “old timers”. Personal service was important in those years. If you dropped off a prescription, it was filled and delivered to you when requested. At the grocery stores, 2 men worked to fill your order. Customers were treated with kindness and waited on. Dick said, “Fifty years ago, no one was in a hurry”. He too prided himself on giving personal service.

Through the years, the village has remained the same size, one square mile but the downtown area has changed considerably. The grist mill is now a real estate office as is one of the old dealerships. Dick believes the development of franchise businesses forced the independent business owner out. Pharmacies like Walgreens, Rite Aid, and CVS of today replaced the small business owner. The independent town hardware stores were also slowly driven out of business first by franchise stores and then “big box” businesses like Home Depot. While this was a gradual process in the town of Clarkston, the 80’s brought forth the greatest changes. Offices replaced retail in many buildings.

Dick stated that “Time waits for no one”. Dick, who has lived on Washington Street since 1945, says he continues to spend 10 hours a day at work.

(Dick Morgan passed away October 2005. He was 90 years old)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Anniversaries--and Core Values

This February, my parents will be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary. So much has changed since 1951. They raised 5 kids, have 13 grand children and 5 great grandchildren.

My father turns 80 this year and he's still a techie. He's got 2 computers--a super fast desk top and an efficient lap top. He's on Facebook (but thinks Twitter is ridiculous) and regularly reads newspapers, blogs and sports columns online.

While he's an early adopter, mom is more traditional. She makes Dad type up her volunteer organization newsletters. She knows what data bases can deliver in terms of customized letters and mailing labels, but she pretends not to know how to "turn the computer on."

In 1951, when my parents got married, they had no idea or expectation that their children and grandchildren would be speaking multiple foreign languages, travel all over the world on a regular basis to do business. That 7 of the 13 grandchildren are working in careers that didn't exist in 1951.

What got me thinking about this was the fact that Royal Oak Chamber and Ferndale Chambers are celebrating 75 years in 2011 . . . . 75 years! Do the math--it means they were founded in 1936.

Think about it. All of the changes in the world, the business world--technology, communication, marketing, radio, TV, Internet. Think about how different Detroit is--How different Michigan is.

Did the charter members of these Chambers dream about what their chambers would look like, or be in 75 years? Where would you begin to even dream? The context of what the world is like and how businesses interact in it--is so different from 1936.

Perhaps that's why we build our foundation with core values. Values that do not change even when technology or the world changes.

The Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce is member focused. We intentionally include new members and rotate leadership opportunities. We believe in positive promotion of our member businesses--not high pressure sales and spiteful competition.

Lifelong learning is important and it requires continual investment in listening, learning and evaluating what works. This isn't 1936 . . . or 1951.

How you grow your business is different than what you might have done in 1970. The tools available are certainly different. And the value of your personal brand--your honesty, integrity and value offerings have never carried so much weight.

A glitzy marketing campaign no longer covers up a lackluster product.
Miserable customer service isn't a secret for long and is a business killer.
The command performance expectation of, "you should do business with me because I'm here." just doesn't cut it anymore. (if it ever did)

When I think about our Chamber 75 years from now, I believe the core values will be the same. What we look like, how we do business--flying cars--that remains to be seen.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A word from one of our Ambassadors

Town Planner Community Calendar
Jay/Deb Gordinier
11632 Old Oaks Dr
Davisburg , MI 48350-3447

Monday, February 7, 2011

On the hunt for great values?

Did you know that Chamber member businesses that host BOBs (Business Over Breakfasts) often have special offers/values available while you're at the event?

I'm just saying, that if you're looking for the perfect Valentine's gift, you may want to check out the February BOB at Belle Visage Spa.

February 10, 2011

7:45-9:00 a.m.

Belle Visage

6507 Town Center Dr.

Clarkston, MI 43846

Monday, January 31, 2011

A word from one of our Ambassadors

Allstate Insurance Company
Ron Vaughn
3093 Sashabaw Rd
Waterford , MI 48329
Fax: 248-673-9450

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Great Networkers--Great Expectations (A Goofus & Gallant Blog)

Recently a chamber member brought a concern to my attention.

This person is what I would refer to as a "Great Networker." They noted that there are people out there that think just because you've been introduced and exchanged business cards that you're now obligated to purchase their services or send a referral. The member with Great Expectations may (or more likely may not) have done the same as they're expecting, but the expectation is there.

Now stop and think about this for a minute. Is everyone you meet a prospective customer or client? Is it possible to give business to everyone you meet for the first time WHEN you meet them for the first time? (We have nearly 600 members in our Chamber alone--and many of our members belong to multiple networking groups.)

Yes, networking can pay off with valuable referrals--but there's a difference between being a Great Networker and getting those referrals and being a "Great Expectations" kind of networker. Which one are you?

Great Networker
People do business with people they know.
Great Expectations
I gave you my business card--so now we know each other--give me business.

Great Networker
People do business with people they like and trust.
Great Expectations
I'll like you better when you give me business.

Great Networker
Relationships are about the lifetime value of a connection--not a flash in the pan.
Great Expectations
If you're not giving me business--there's no lifetime value.

Great Networker

It's not just the person I'm meeting and getting to know--it's about all of their connections too. Maybe you aren't a good prospect for my goods or services--but I'll bet you know someone who is. I treat our relationship with respect and care--it's an example of how I treat customers and clients. So even if you don't use my services or products--you know I have high integrity and value. Hopefully that makes it easy for you to think of me when a referral opportunity crops up.

Great Expectations
I'll give you some more business cards you can give your friends.

Great Networker
I ask questions about your business, learning more about you, your goals, how things are going.
Great Expectations
Why are you asking me all of these questions about my business? If you're not a potential customer or client, stop wasting my time.

Great Networker
After learning about your business, I often am asked similar questions about my own business.
Great Expecations
Well I told you all about my business--time to move on.

Rereading this before posting, I am reminded of the old Highlights Magazine cartoon strip "Goofus and Gallant." Yes, I'm a baby boomer--this was long before the days of Dilbert or Calvin & Hobbs.

Basically these are classic themes about having good manners. I strongly urge you to NOT be a Goofus.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Chamber Luncheon Mixers are BACK!

Join us Thursday, January 20, 2011 11:45-1 pm at Outback Steakhouse, Clarkston.
They're opening special just for our luncheon!

After our holiday season hiatus, Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon mixers are back!
January -August + October, the Chamber holds monthly luncheon mixers at various Chamber member restaurants in our area. This year we'll return to some familiar haunts and also stop by some new locations. This gives you a chance to experience the culinary treasures of our area while networking--meeting new and old friends.

We have spent years evaluating and designing our events based on member needs, member feedback and keeping things member focused.

1. We value your time and pledge not to waste it or keep you waiting. All Chamber events start on time and end on time. We know you have busy schedules. We will not keep you waiting for an event to start or finish. You can count on us.

2. Early bird registration saves you money and will save you time at check in. How many times have to gone to an event, stood in line to register or check in and waited while the people in front of you take forever at the registration table--either to make a name badge, pick up a name badge, pay for the event or chit chat with the registration staff.

We don't have a registration table. We greet you at the door with our clipboards. Your name badges are on the luncheon tables. When you're preregistered you breeze right through check in and get to the fun stuff--meeting friends and new businesses!

Not to be too blunt about this--but we offer that early bird discount to help us help YOU get the most out of an event. That's why the discount is only offered up to 48 hours prior to the event. In the last 48 hours we're already in motion, planning seating, pulling name badges, placing strategic seating charts together. We do a lot behind the scenes to make it EASY when you get there.

3. A little of this--a little of that.
If you observe an event, you learn that people have predictable behaviors. When you enter a room you gravitate to a familiar face. You smile, say hi and catch up. It feels familiar and comfortable.

Out of politeness, you'll often reserve a table and invite your friends to sit with you.

To a newcomer, it's intimidating to break into that clique--and yes--you're being cliquey. You may not mean to be--but it's a clique.

At our events, we let you meet and greet on your own and when it comes time to sit down, we've got a place for everyone with our reserve seating. We do table seating charts to help you meet more people. Who's your target audience? Tell us and we'll seat you at their table. Where possible your table will include at least one ambassador or board member. They're there to help facilitate conversation, make introductions, answer questions and help YOU get the most out of this event.

4. Eat first--and you will Listen better.

Okay--we really learned this lesson when we were raising our families--but it's true at networking events too. People will not pay attention and listen if they are hungry. That's why we serve food first at luncheon mixers and bring the speaker out after everyone has been served.

5. Keep it Short and Sweet (The KISS rule)
We carefully select chamber speakers and presentations. It must be timely. It must be applicable to the largest target audience attending the event and it has to be short--15-20 minutes. On rare occasions for special speakers, (like L. Brooks Patterson) we juggle the schedule to allow for more time.

6. We close our event with the Rolling Jackpot Drawing. Our treasure box has every chamber member's name in it. When we draw a name (you must be present to win) we plan to give away $50! If you're not there--the $50 is rolled into the next month's drawing and builds until we give it away. Then we start it all up again.
JANUARY 2011--the Rolling Jackpot is at $100.

7. And we're done! At 1:00 we conclude the event, though many people may stay after to ask questions of the speaker or continue networking. We never kick you out of the restaurant.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Do you have the Right Stuff?

January 27, 2011 kicks off our Women in Business Season with guest speaker Charlie Wollborg, Curve Detroit.

The theme is: The Right Stuff

Baby boomers (or movie fans) will understand that we're talking about the undefinable qualities that make a few exceptional individuals candidates for being an Astronaut: The Right Stuff.

We're not going to submit you to a plethora of medical tests and g-force experiments--but we will help you tap into your Right Stuff in this fun, motivational and interactive networking event.

Women in Business events aren't just for women, but they are designed for women business leaders. You can register online for these and other Chamber events at: www.clarkston.org

Monday, January 3, 2011

Women in Business 2011 Season

Not just for women, these events are hosted January-April. Topics are selected and themed to be of particular interest to women business owners but all members are welcome to attend. Events are the last Thursday of each month January-April. 10:45-1:00 p.m. (though sometimes these times vary, based on presentation/activity) Events include a keynote speaker or workshop component.

Vision: A strong network of member-to-member support, camaraderie, inspiration and motivation, helping women business leaders to be successful in meeting their personal and professional goals.


Registration $50 per person/per event

BEST VALUE! Members SAVE with early bird pricing! (Just $30 per person/per event)

Planning to attend all 4 events?

Check out our WIB All Access Pass and guarantee your spot!

The Right Stuff!

With speaker

Charlie Wollborg

January 27, 2011

10:45-1 pm

Clarkston Schools Administration Bldg.

6389 Clarkston Rd.

Clarkston, MI 48346

Lunch is included

The Best Defense

With speaker and demonstration

by Clarkston Self Defense

Darwin Bannister

February 24, 2011

10:45-1 pm

Fountains Golf & Banquet

6060 Maybee Rd.

Clarkston, MI 48346

Lunch is included

Go Red for Women

With speaker

from Crittenton Hospital

March 24, 2011

10:45-1 pm

Red Knapps

6722 Dixie Hwy.

Clarkston MI 48346

Lunch is included

Who's Your Gladys?

With speaker

Marilyn Suttle

Author, Who's Your Gladys?

April 28, 2011

3:00-5:00 pm

Location tba

Networking Cocktail Hour included

(Calling all Women who Wine!)

TOPIC: Customer Service

A dynamic presentation suited for all types of business & service industries.

Sponsorship packages for WIB 2011 events are now being offered.


  • Logo on website and registration materials
  • Display table at the event
  • 3-5 minutes at the event to address the group
  • 2 complimentary tickets to the event

and more

  • SPONSORSHIP PRICE $250 per event.
  • LIMIT 4 sponsors per event.

Check out PHOTOS from the 2010 Season