Pitch Perfect

Categories: Tameka's Tips

What’s your pitch? Not your singing pitch, but your 30-second pitch you use to describe your business.

 Michelle T. Dolberry, director of Marketing Advocacy at American Express OPEN offers six points that you need to remember when developing your pitch:

1. Stay unique. Start your pitch with what sets your business apart – your unique selling proposition. When you focus on what makes your business different, your pitch will be more memorable.

2. Focus on solutions. Every successful product or service solves some kind of problem. A successful pitch conveys this as a story with a happy ending provided by your business.

3. Provide proof. Interweave relevant facts into your pitch to support your claims, prove your benefits and show your success.

4. Be tangible. Don’t get caught up in jargon and clichés. Figure out how to express your business’s benefits in a way that most everyone could understand.

5. Show your passion. The perfect pitch appeals to the emotions, not the intellect. Think about what got you excited about starting your business – that story can often communicate the passion you feel about your company.

6. Practice. Spend enough time practicing your pitch so that is sounds natural. Run your pitch by as many different people as possible to get unbiased input.


Green is good

Categories: Cup of Joe

Earth Day was yesterday and, while I spent some of it driving around in my car in Denver (sorry about that), I was given to thinking about how “green” business has to be right now.

By “green” I mean effective, efficient and financially savvy. In today’s roller coaster economy, businesses big and small cannot waste a dime or a moment being inefficient or ineffectual. Customers give you one shot at earning their reluctantly given “green” (here I mean money, of course), and business must get right to the point of their customers’ needs, or risk losing them to a competitor.

It reminds me of United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) work. They build rockets, and they only get one launch to get the satellite in the right place, or they could end up with a very angry customer who just spent a lot of money to send something into space that didn’t end up there.

We must get it right. And ULA does do it right.

Next week we will celebrate great business achievements at the 2009 Business Awards event, held at the Hyatt Regency. You can sign up on the Chamber Web site at www.denverchamber.org  – of course, if you are reading this blog, then you know your way there.


Ten years later, Columbine still fresh in our minds

Categories: Cup of Joe

I am going to step out of my business shoes for a moment and write about history. Ten years ago this week a terrible tragedy was visited on the students, parents and faculty and friends of Columbine High School. It was a gray April day, and I remember it well. The faces of the 15 people killed in that horrific event are still clear in my mind. Among them were: Kyle Velasquez, the “gentle giant”; Lauren Townsend, the talented artist; the bespectacled straight-A sophomore Daniel Mauser and dedicated teacher Dave Sanders who gave his life to protect his students.

Since that time, there have been a dozen incidents of school violence across the United States and around the globe. While all of them are infamous and notable, the word “Columbine” still evokes a shiver among folks who remember April 20, 1999 as though it were yesterday.

For a generation of Colorado students, this event marks time they way the assassination of John F. Kennedy did for their parents. Every person knows where he or she was when they heard first of “a school shooting at Columbine High,” followed by reports of a potential hostage situation and video of children fleeing what should have been the safest of havens.

Today, school violence happens with alarming frequency. Still, our schools continue to be bastions of hope, optimism and learning—the place our future is nurtured and our country’s best commodity is found. The principal of Columbine High School that day was Frank DeAngelis – and he continues to steward Columbine every day, knowing that one event does not define his school, regardless of how tragic it was.


In an economic downturn, it’s “to market, to market”

Categories: Cup of Joe

The Great Depression evokes images of families waiting in bread lines blocks long, and not necessarily memories of many great business successes.

Nonetheless, there were survivors of those worst hard times. For business owners and patrons alike, we are reminded to heed those lessons learned by the survivors of the 1920s and 1930s era.

One such lesson, according to our own Denver Metro Small Business Development Center Counselor Jim Olp, may go against the instinct of businesses struggling today, but it’s a rule that is imperative to remember: “The moral of the story is: Contrary to what small businesses typically do, they should be maintaining or increasing their marketing dollars [in an economic downturn],” he said.

Statistics prove Olp correct.

Law Week Colorado reported in early February that a Roland S. Vaile study of 200 companies affected by the late-20s economic crisis found that those with the highest sales were those that advertised the most.

Research by McGraw Hill shows similar findings during the 1981-1982 crisis, in which advertising resulted in increased sales by an order of 275 percent by 1985.

Denver Metro SBDC counselors are now booked solid for weeks and months in advance. To meet the current needs of small business clients, the Denver Metro SBDC added a new marketing specialist to its ranks to help clients develop creative marketing strategies amid the downturn.

Olp encouraged businesses who even think they might struggle in the near future to seek help at the Denver Metro SBDC.

“Don’t wait until it’s too late,” he said, advising those entrepreneurial spirits, emblazoned with an “I can do it myself” attitude, to be willing to ask for help.

To contact a Denver Metro SBDC representative, go to: http://www.denversbdc.org.


Expected business trends in 2009

Categories: Tameka's Tips

Tameka recommends business owners read the article linked here to learn more about what to expect in 2009.