19Feb/09

Junior League of Greater Lakeland’s 4th Annual World of Reading Festival

 

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The Junior League of Greater Lakeland (JLGL) will hold its Fourth Annual World of Reading Festival at Barnett Park by the Lake Mirror Promenade in downtown Lakeland on Saturday, Feb. 21 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is free to the general public and provides an opportunity for children to learn through participation.

Upon arrival, each child will receive a passport. The attendees will then visit five countries and take part in an arts and crafts activity related to that particular region of the world. As the children exit each country, their passports will be stamped. After receiving all five stamps, the children will select a free Scholastic book to take home.

Last year, more than 650 children attended, and the JLGL anticipates a crowd of 800 children this year. In addition, the JLGL is excited to announce a guest performance by popular children’s singer/songwriter Jack Hartmann who will take the stage at 9:30 and 11 a.m.

“We are thrilled to have children’s musical sensation Jack Hartmann join us this year,” JLGL President Stacey McLaughlin said. “His music is educational and research-based, and equally important, kids love him!”

Other participants include the Lakeland Police Department, Lakeland Fire Department, Boys & Girls Club, Learning Resource Center, Huntington Learning Center, Success by Six and Parkland Puppets. Throughout the day, attendees will experience guest readers and performances, as well as inflatable activities for entertainment.

Families and children of all ages are welcome and encouraged to attend. For more information, please contact Kimberly Cassidy at 863-370-0054 or visit the JLGL Web site at http://www.jlgl.com.

16Feb/09

Marketing Mondays – Small Changes Today…

Heed these wise words from Ken Partain, posted in the OPEN Forum’s blog:

When times get tough and sales slow down, people start scrambling around trying to force things to happen.  I’d like to suggest another way to handle tough situations that can indeed help in the short-term, but create lasting rewards in the long-term.

First of all, take a deep breath and relax.  No matter what you do, you can’t really force a prospect to buy your product or service.  Yeah, you could slash your prices in hopes of making a quick sale, but you’ve just destroyed your profit at the same time.  You can’t do that very often or you won’t be in business for long.

There are four areas where you can make incremental changes that can help improve your business today and set you up for lasting success.

Leads

Leads are at the very top of the Marketing Hourglass, or what many people refer to as the Marketing Funnel.  Bottom line, the more leads you get, the more sales you’ll make.  So, what can you do TODAY to generate more leads?

Remember, you don’t have to knock it out of the park here.  Just get on first base.  If you improve your leads generated by just 10% and everything else remains the same, you should see a 10% increase in sales.
But let’s take this a step further.

Conversions

Now that you have increased the number of leads you are getting, how can you convert more of those leads into paying clients?  I have a one word answer, testing.  Test your headlines, test copy, test your offer, test your call to action, test everything.  Find the combination that works the best for your target market and continue to improve over time.

Pricing

It seems that everyone is hyper-sensitive about price these days.  The way to get around that is to offer a package of products and/or services that can’t be found anywhere else.  This one thing can differentiate you from all your competitors and make it virtually impossible for people to beat you up and compare your pricing to others.

Now that you have a unique product/service offering you can effectively increase your average sales price.

Transactions

Now that you are generating more leads, converting more of those leads into sales and selling at an effectively higher price, what can you do to sell more to your existing clients?

Offer a premium package and/or create a training or coaching program that turns those one-time sales into recurring sales.  The key here is to offer a tremendous amount of value for the price so that your clients will continue working with you for months and years to come.

By making small improvements in each of these areas, you will see a drastic improvement in bottom line profits.  If you’ll take the time today to make these changes, you’ll be poised for remarkable sales and long-lasting success when the economy turns back around.

13Feb/09

Florida Chamber | State of Florida Business

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Did you know that the Central Florida Super Region is the 15th strongest economic power on the globe ? And in 1970 Florida was the 5th cheapest place to live and today it stands as the 14th most expensive place to live ? I didn’t know either of these facts and was pleased to learn them and much more at a workshop I recently attended inTampa termed The State of Florida Business: Recovery, Jobs, and Growth held on 10 February 2009 at the St. Pete Times Forum and organized by the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Speakers at the workshop included Lakeland’s own Clayton Hollis, VP Public Affairs, Publix, and Chair of the Florida Community Development Partnership. Mark Wilson, President & CEO Florida Chamber of Commerce also spoke onFlorida’s Business Agenda which will be presented to the state legislature next week. Representing your Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce was myself as Chair and Katie Daughtrey, Vice President of Public Affairs.

The takeaway from the workshop was the clear message that the many seemingly disparate groups involved in improving Florida’s economic destiny appear to now be synchronized in their message about Florida. To read more, click the links below to access the workshop presentations from that day.

Florida Economy

Talking Points for Jeff Lyash

13Feb/09

Business and Breakfast | A New Service: Podcasts

The February 2009 Business and Breakfast event ushers in a new program for the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce.  In order to better serve our members, audio from our professional development events will be available for download from our website and as a Podcast through iTunes.

For the inaugural podcast, our presenter is  Dr. Franklin Schultz, who gave an engaging presentation on stress management.  The event was  hosted by the YMCA of West Central Florida, where attendees were treated to a delicious breakfast and a relaxing environment in which to learn about stress management.

Dr. Schultz clarified that our goal was not to eliminate stress, but to manage it.  He gave us a four step process for dealing with stress and encouraged us to practice it daily.  The very serious subject of stress (and the statistics about the damage it does to our bodies) was approached with an excellent balance of humor and relevant, helpful information.

Thanks to our podcasts, even if you could not attend, you can get all the great information for yourself!  You can play the presentation right from this window by pressing play below.  If you would like to subscribe to this and future podcasts, you can search the iTunes store for “Lakeland Chamber”.  For those of you using other devices, the feed can be found at http://blog.lakelandchamber.com/?feed=podcast.

If you are new to podcasting, there is excellent information available here.  We are looking forward to your feedback regarding the Chamber podcasts.  If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them here or email Matthew at mwengerd@lakelandchamber.com.

[podcast]http://blog.lakelandchamber.com/podcasts/Feb-09-Business-and-Breakfast.mp3[/podcast]

Have you done your exercises today?

12Feb/09

Lakeland Outgoing Mail Operations Threatened with Move to Tampa

Last night, I attended the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) public hearing in Lakeland along with more than 200 concerned citizens and postal workers, as well as city and county elected officials.  I have to say, I was very proud of the professional and respectful tone of everyone who attended and offered their comments, questions and concerns during the meeting.

The purpose of the meeting was to share recommendations coming out of a USPS Area Mail Processing (AMP) feasibility study supporting that the Postal Service would save roughly $1.5 million annually by consolidating the Lakeland originating mail processing operations with the Tampa operations center.  This proposal is one of 17 under consideration throughout the country in an attempt  to offset projected USPS  losses of $2.8 billion that could escalate to $6 billion if cost-saving measures are not implemented.

What impact will the move of the mail processing operations out of Lakeland have on the businesses and homes in the 338 zip code service area in Polk, Hardee and Highlands counties which account for an average of 284,00 pieces of mail a day?

Of immediate concern, up to 39 Lakeland postal workers will be reassigned to either Tampa or other service facilities.   While the Postal Service reps assured the audience there would be no layoffs, being relocated to other postal facilities within a 150-mile radius will create a great hardship on those affected employees.

From a business perspective, the other major concern is the loss of service and Lakeland identity this move will create.  The study reported that no disruption or delay in postal service will be experienced if the move takes place.  However, several postal workers stated that it would be impossible to maintain the level of delivery service currently provided by Lakeland, and questioned the real cost savings and efficiency if mail was trucked to Tampa for processing and then trucked back to Lakeland or to further points in the 338 service area.

I encourage you to visit the USPS Web site to learn further details on the USPS AMP study:  www.usps.com/all/amp.htm.

After listening to the presentations last night and hearing from members of the audience, a few observations and recommendations to consider………

Lakeland is recognized as the premier distribution center for the southeast, with its strategic location along the I-4 corridor making it ideally positioned to move goods and services to a broad geographic market.   8.5 million people live within a 100-mile radius of Lakeland and close to 600,000 people live in Polk County alone.

With Lakeland between two major metropolitan areas, wouldn’t it create greater cost and service efficiencies to EXPAND the Lakeland Postal Center  rather than shift the processing service to the west?

I was pleased to hear from the postal service representatives last night that Lakeland is rated one of the best mail processing plants in the country.  Why wouldn’t that level of service be utilized to its maximum capacity rather than forcing the Tampa facility to increase their overtime labor to handle the additional mail service?

In today’s economic environment, every business in this country is going through the same challenges the U.S. Postal Service faces to identify cost-savings measures to keep their doors open without jeopardizing their most valuable asset, the customers they serve.

In light of the global competition facing the USPS with the surge of on-line communications service, we ask the U.S. Postal Service to weigh the short-term economic and efficiency benefits reported in the study against the long-term impact to their customers, both internal and external,  and further erosion of their competitive edge in service areas such as Lakeland.

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO VOICE YOUR COMMENTS AND CONCERNS ON THIS ISSUE??

I encourage you to contact the U.S. Postal Service to voice your comments, questions and concerns regarding the potential relocation of the Lakeland mail processing center and its impact on your business.   Correspondence must be received by February 26 to be included in the AMP analysis:

Consumer Affairs Manager
Suncoast District, USPS
6013 Benjamin Rd Ste 201
Tampa, FL 33634-5178

Thanks for taking the time to learn more about this important issue, and let me know if you have any other thoughts or suggestions on how the Chamber can represent Lakeland’s interests as we move forward.