Category Archives: Announcements


January Business After Hours

BAH Hosts

Join us for our January Business After Hours hosted by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lakeland & Mulberry and Alpha Appraisal Services. So come out and network with 250 other business professionals at the James J Musson Boys & Girls Club. Located at 950 Pinewood Ave. on the corner of W. Highlands.

BAH Hosts

Cost to attend:  $10.00 Chamber members ~ $30 Non-Chamber members


Please R.S.V.P. by 5:00 PM the day prior to the event.  You may register and pay online or call (863)688-8551, Ext 301



Increase Your Business Potential at the Chamber’s Hats Off Event

Looking to increase your business potential? Mark your calendars as The Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce presents the Hats Off! event, scheduled for January 26, 2010. Volunteering for Hats Off! offers you a unique opportunity to visit businesses as a Chamber representative while still promoting your company. In one afternoon, each volunteer will deliver up to 20 packets with 2010 Buyer’s Guides and new membership window clings to our 1,800 member businesses.

The day begins at 8 a.m. with breakfast provided by Florida Technical College and ends as volunteers return delivery receipts to the Chamber office.

How can you get involved?

1) Be a Volunteer

Volunteer to visit up to 30 chamber businesses on January 26 to deliver the 2009 membership materials

2) Be a Secret Hat Company

Create a decorative hat or basket incorporating 50 one dollar bills into the design to be presented to the volunteer who delivers membership materials to your company

Please make sure that everyone in your company knows to answer YES when asked, “Are you a Secret Hat Company?”

To secure your place as a volunteer for Hat’s Off, please click here to register using our online registration software. If your company is interested in more recognition as a “Secret Hat”, please contact Terry Ottinger at  or (863)688-8551 Ext. 231.


Retail aCCess – Creating Customer Communities

Lakeland retailers were at work well before their shops opened yesterday, meeting at Bramble Ridge Golf Course for the inagural event of the Lakeland Chamber’s Retail aCCess program.  After indulging in Chef Paulie‘s superb omelet bar, attendees were treated to an informative and inspiring presentation from Mary Kay National Sales Director, Bett Vernon.  

Bett’s 24 years as an entrepeneur provided her insights into creating customer communities and persevering.  She likened our current economic situation to a deep winter storm back home in South Dakota.  Even on the darkest of days, she knew that, early or late, the Spring would come.  She encouraged us to use exceptional customer service to set us apart from our competition and turn our customers into a salesforce.  Without undue optimism, Bett painted a hopeful picture for those willing to put their customers’ needs above their own.

My portion of the program was intended to show that the internet can be used to deepen personal interactions with customers instead of substituting for them.  I went over how companies can use blogs, twitter, facebook, and other social networking applications to enhance their customers’ experience.  I even snuck in a picture of Chef Paulie at the omelet bar!

Many thanks to Jennifer at the Verizon Wireless store at 4120 S. Florida Ave.  for providing us with internet access.

Staff Picks and Additional Reading:
Bett recommended subscribing to SUCCESS Magazine,
published by Darren Hardy.

Matthew recommends you read “Tribes” by Seth Godin.

Amy recommends “Word of Mouth Marketing” by Andy Sernovitz.


Marketing Mondays – Seth Godin on Email

Seth Godin, author of “Permission Marketing,” Small is the New Big,” and “Tribes,” is an expert at using the internet to deepen human connections.  In a recent post to his blog, Seth outlines several simple principles for creating more personal, meaningful interactions with the people we email.  Terry and I were discussing these principals and how there was a time (pre-email, pre-SMS) when this type of courtesy was common sense, but in the era of facebook and mass email, it’s good to be reminded on occasion.  While these guidelines may require additional time and forethought, your clients and co-workers will greatly appreciate the effort:

Here are some easy to follow tips that will help you avoid being seen as a spammer, or having your emails trashed or ignored. The thing is this: email reduces friction. Greedy, lazy organizations have embraced this and tried to figure out how to blast as many emails as they can as cheaply as they can, relying on the law of large numbers. The real law of large numbers is, “using large numbers is against the law.”

I want you to add friction back in. If you want to be seen as being personal, the best strategy is to be personal, which is slow and expensive.

  1. Don’t send the same email to large numbers of people.
  2. If you have more than a few people to contact, you’ll be tempted to copy and paste or mail merge. Don’t. You’ll get caught. It shows. If it’s important enough for someone to read, it’s important enough for you to rewrite.
  3. Careful with the salutation. Don’t write, “Dear Claudia,” if you don’t usually write “Dear” at the beginning of all your emails.
  4. Don’t mush the salutation together with the rest of the note. If I had a dollar for every email that started, “Joe, When experts come together…” That’s not personal. That’s lazy merging. See rule 1.
  5. Don’t send HTML or pictures. Personal email doesn’t, why are you?
  6. Don’t talk like a press release. Talk like a person. A person is reading this, so why are you talking like that?
  7. Be short. The purpose of an email is not to sell the person on anything other than writing back. If you don’t have a personal, interesting way to start a conversation, don’t write.
  8. Don’t send an email only when you really need something. That’s not personal, that’s selfish.
  9. Do you have a sig with a phone number in it? Your phone number? If you don’t trust me enough to give me your real phone number, I don’t trust you enough to read your mail.
  10. Don’t mark your email urgent. Urgent to you is not urgent to me.
  11. Don’t lie in your subject line, and don’t be cute. You’re not clever enough to be cute. Just be honest.
  12. Following up on an impersonal spam email is twice as dumb as sending the first one. Invest the time to do it right the first time.
  13. Anticipated, personal and relevant permission mail will always dramatically outperform greedy short-term spam. I promise.
  14. Just because you have someone’s email address doesn’t mean you have the right to email them.

Marketing Mondays is a weekly feature of the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce’s blog, offering insights and guidance from some of today’s leading marketers, adapted to meet the needs of our member businesses.


Retail aCCess – Creating Customer Communities

“Creating Customer Communities” 
How can you keep your small business growing in today’s economy? Relationships!

Join fellow retailers as we discover new ideas that keep customers engaged
& coming through your doors.
Monday, January 12, 2009
8:00-9:30 a.m.
Bramble Ridge Golf Course
2505 Bramble Ridge Drive
$10, includes full breakfast

RSVP today!
· At Click on Chamber Store
· Email
· Call Mary Stevenson at 863-688-8551 Ext. 232


Retail aCCess is a new, hands-on tool for retailers! Created with you in mind, this series of workshops will offer attendees the opportunity to hear new ideas and take home ways to build a better business. From HR issues to grassroots marketing to embracing technology, you won’t want to miss out!