Marketing & Sales for Business Seminar Summary

In a recent Marketing and Sales Business Seminar, counselors from SCORE spoke about the importance of marketing and sales at First Financial.

Marketing is about building trust and a relationship with clients. 70-80% of your time will be spent in marketing your business.

You want to ask yourself:

  1. What is the uniqueness my business offers?
  2. What problem will I solve for my client?
  3. How can I get my message out?

Some different types marketing outlets to consider using include:

  • Family and friends
  • Past Business Acquaintances
  • Cold Calling: telephone or door to door
  • Direct Mail
  • Advertising: Print and Media
  • Networking (something you want to constantly work at)

Social Media

When considering the use of social media here are five commandments to consider:

  1. Thou shalt understand the reach and power of the social Web – Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networks give you cost effective access to more prospects than even before. It also gives you a chance to share information without sending out email blasts or cold calling.
  2. Thou shalt not become a Satan of Spam – offer members helpful ideas or links.  Never spam members or use automatic friend-adding software.
  3. Thou shalt not mix business and pleasure – to avoid confusion, use a professional identity for your business.  For example, when using Facebook, set up a page that is strictly for your business, not your personal account.
  4. Thou shalt be 100 percent transparent – when using social media programs always be upfront about who you are and what you do.  Never leave a positive comment or testimonial about yourself.
  5. Thou shalt be kind to others – online communities can be vicious at times, with people feuding and spreading rumors and innuendos.  While using online sites, remember the Golden Rule, treat others, including your competitors, as you want to be treated.

Selling a product or service is 70-80% listening.  You need to understand the right questions to ask and when you should ask them.  When trying to make a sale – be yourself, be natural, be confident, and be positive.

Sales are generally lost due to neglect of listening, lack of a trustful relationship, the client wasn’t educated enough, or you didn’t ask for the sale.

SCORE is a nonprofit organization that helps small businesses. It offers free counseling sessions, workshops, and more. To learn more about how you can get free help with your small business or to set up an appointment, visit SCORE’s website, give them a call at 732.224.2573, or find them at library counseling locations at Shrewsbury, Manalapan, Wall, and Middletown; main office at Brookdale Community College. They are also available through EMACC, SMCC, and GMCC Chambers of Commerce.

LinkedIn for Business Seminar Summary

New-LinkedIn-Updates-resized-600LinkedIn is the “Trade Show” of all social media platforms…

Social media expert, Deborah Smith, recently joined us for an informative and educational presentation on LinkedIn tips to optimize your profile. With the dozens of ways to improve your profile, Deborah reveals the “hidden secrets” to fully complete that desired page to really market yourself and your business.

Did you know that LinkedIn enables you to…

  • Customize your interests and news content on your LinkedIn homepage.
  • Add additional applications to your profile (i.e. events, polls, books you may be reading, presentations, etc.).
  • Turn on/off activity broadcasts when you update or edit your profile.
  • Connect with people that your connections are connected with (kind of like 2nd and 3rd cousins in relation to 2nd and 3rd tier connections).
  • Upload your resume to your LinkedIn profile for potential employers and clients to view.
  • Opt in or out of an “Open Network” where anyone can connect with you.
  • Ask for recommendations (and publish them on your profile) from colleagues, clients, and/or people you have worked with and you can also endorse them in return.
  • Send out 3,000 invitations (per account) to connect with other users.
  • Post statuses (similar to Facebook) where you can share with your network and link to your Twitter account as well.
  • Get “Introduced” to someone you would like to get to know in order to possibly connect with them through a mutual connection.
  • Group your connections based on customized Tags (i.e. Business Partners, Colleagues, Clients, etc.).
  • Create your own Group to publish on LinkedIn.
  • Utilize the “Advanced Search” option to narrow down specific professionals.
  • Save 3 job searches that you may be interested in that you might want to refer back to at a later time.
  • Register and customize your LinkedIn profile URL.
  • Update your LinkedIn title summary with keywords (not too broad) in order to appear more frequently when people search for those certain keywords.
  • Make your profile anonymous or public when you view other people’s LinkedIn profiles.
  • Convert profile to .pdf format, print profile or download vCard into Outlook (1st connections only).
  • Create a personal company page for others to follow and receive updates.

LinkedIn provides numerous options to help you market yourself and your company. Remember, when you’re sending an invitation to a potential employer or client, you want to stand out and build a relationship. Try to only send out invitations to people who are already on LinkedIn and utlitize your network of connections. When you are looking to connect with someone, take the time to craft a personal message to each person and not just use the generated message that LinkedIn provides you. You can reference something special you liked in particular on their profile or something you have in common like a group or connection.

Deborah Smith has had a very successful food blog for the past couple of years which focuses on great eats in New Jersey. Check out her blog for great tips and inspiration! For more social media tips and tricks, subscribe to


Blogging for Business Seminar Summary

The 3 “P’s” of Blogging: Passion, Persistence & Patience…

Recently, Deborah Smith gave another information packed seminar at First Financial to talk about how to build and operate a successful blog for your company. Her seminar was a success, as she covered the whole spectrum of what there is to know about blogging for your business.

Keep%20visitors%20coming%20to%20your%20blogA “blog” is an internet page where you control the content that gets published through individual articles known as “posts.” Make sure you do your research before creating your own blog. See what you like in regard to color schemes, themes, layout and design. Most importantly, see what other blogs are doing right and what they’re doing wrong, so you don’t make the same mistakes.

Deborah told our attendees, “Your blog is like real estate on the internet. Search engines love new content and blogs give you that content.”

Just to recap, Deborah made several other important points that are helpful to remember when operating your business’ blog:

  • Purchase a dot com for your blog (if you plan to have a stand-alone blog. One that is not part of an existing website). It lets your readers know that you are established and serious about your blogging. This can be purchased at where you can pay as low as $17 per year.
  • Learn to write! Blogging at its core is a writing intensive process and the better your writing is, the better your blog will be. People want the facts, so be a conscious self-editor and remember that less is more!
  • Try to be consistent in your schedule when publishing blog posts. Pick a set day or several days of the week to post. If you remain consistent with posting, you will see a stonger following.
  • Capture a larger audience by getting people to subscribe to your blog so they receive posts automatically without having to check your site everyday for a new post.
  • Title your blog posts carefully. Although it can be fun to give your post a clever name, it’s important that your title contains keywords so the post appears in search engines.
  • You want to keep your content fresh, so try to mix it up a bit and keep your posts between 500-800 words. Depending on your business, you might want to do some seasonal suggestions, reviews or interviews. “Top 10” lists seem to be very popular in the blogging world, but don’t over do it.
  • Tagging is a key element to your blogging process. Tags help your blog show up in search engines when users are looking for something particular.
  • Connect with other blogs on the web. There are tons of special interest blogs out there that you can either guest post with or trade links. Link trading is helpful because the amount of links to your site increases your blog’s page rank, and of course the higher the better!
  • Always remember to follow the formula for successful blogging: Great Content + Other People – Marketing Messages = Growth.  The formula is from Michael Stelzner’s book “Launch,” which Deborah strongly recommends for those running their own blog.

Some common blogging platforms include: WordPressBlogspotJoomla,TumblrSquarespaceTypepad and Drupal.

Deborah has had a very successful food blog for the past couple of years which focuses on great eats in New Jersey. Check out her blog for great tips and inspiration! For more social media tips and tricks, subscribe to

Exit Planning for Business Seminar Summary

Recently, SCORE presented a workshop designed for business owners on exit planning strategies.  They discussed how to identify the causes and circumstances for exiting a business; how to evaluate the impact of exiting a business on employees, family, and clients; and options and issues for exiting a business.

Exiting a business impacts you as a business owner, your family, your clients, and business partners – not just the business itself.  Every business should have at the very least – a brief exit plan strategy, which is a necessary component of your regular business plan.  If a partnership is involved in the business, the exit strategy should be established and in writing at the start of the partnership.  While you can make all the plans you wish, there is enough chaos in the world to have contingency plans prepared for any shift of business, health, personal issues, and disasters. Exit plans will need to be updated periodically during the lifespan of your business. Exit plans are living documents, it’s a good idea to evaluate yours once every year and be open and honest with all business partners throughout the life of the business.

Why exit a business?  There could be a number of reasons, however some of the most common include: family issues, death or disability of the business owner or partners, financial insolvency, decline in business, tax issues, the product is no longer viable as a revenue source, or you have achieved all your business goals and wish to sell your business to another company or new owner.

Once you have decided you want to exit your business, it is important to make sure all your obligations are met.  It’s also important to finalize all payroll and sales taxes – the government will collect all necessary funds – so meet your obligations!

Here are some other key points to think about when getting ready to exit your business: exit strategy contingency fund, buyer/seller agreements, life insurance, conditions of any partnership agreements, and potentially speaking with a trusted advisor like an accountant or lawyer during the exit process.  Do what’s reasonable for your business!

Stay on the lookout for future seminars at First Financial – we offer a business seminar each month! If you have any business banking or loan related questions, contact Business Development.

Advanced Facebook for Business Seminar Summary

_mg_1381-resized-600Recently, social media consultant Deborah Smith returned to First Financial for another spectacular social media seminar – Facebook for Business, Advanced Techniques. In this seminar, she discussed Facebook’s timeline, her favorite Facebook applications, Facebook advertising, and more.

For those who missed the seminar or those who attended and need a refresher, here are several important Facebook tips provided by Deborah:

  • The cover image is not a place to advertise. Refrain from using contact information and ‘calls to action’ on it.
  • Next to the ‘About’ section, you’ll notice images that may link to photos, likes, videos, and so on. You can and should, create your own custom images in this section to get your fans’ attention.
  • The ‘milestones’ feature allows users to feature notable company events. Some ideas for milestones include: launching a new product or service, company awards, and new staff hires.
  • Using applications is another great way to call attention to your fans. Some applications allow the design of custom tabs. One of Deborah’s favorites is ShortStack.
  • Within Facebook Advertising, you can create sponsored stories to generate interactions from fans.
  • Also within Facebook Advertising, it’s best not to use photos that look too polished.

To be notified of the next social media seminars at First Financial with Deborah Smith join First Financial’s email list, or subscribe to this blog (enter your email address in the upper right hand corner) for seminar previews and other articles from First Financial.


What You Missed at Networking for Business

Recently, SCORE presented an important workshop called Networking for Business. They covered how to build a business through networking, tools for the networker, types of events to attend in order to network, considerations to take when networking, and following up with contacts made at a networking event.

Networking-resized-600Here are some key points within each of those areas to remember when networking:

  • Before attending any networking event, define why you would like to attend it and consider what goals you plan to accomplish by attending.
  • Prepare and practice your introductory speech and keep it at 45 seconds or less. Consider what you are going to talk about that will make you stand out — perhaps you specialize in a certain area. Use what will stick in someone’s mind.
  • While business cards can be handy, all you really need to have on hand at a networking event is something to write on. If you do not have a business card, you can ask those who you are interested in doing business with for theirs.
  • Remember names whenever possible. Sometimes this can be difficult but if you do remember a name, it shows you have a genuine interest in the person you are communicating with.
  • A few types of events to attend include: Business Expos, Chamber of Commerce events, and structured events such as BNI and LeTip meetings.
  • Always be professional when you are networking — keep your mobile devices turned off, be courteous toward others, and get permission to follow up.
  • If you say you are going to follow up, be sure to do it, and do it within a reasonable time period.
  • When following up, you can try for face-to-face meetings and if you have one, ask your connections if you can add them to your email list. Keeping yourself in the head of the people you would like to do business with can help you to close a sale.

Stay on the lookout for future seminars at First Financial – we offer a business seminar each month! If you have any business banking or loan related questions, contact Business Development.