Thinking Outside the Box 2013 - 4th Annual Seminar - Monday, September 16, 2013

The fourth annual “Thinking Outside the Box” seminar for local non-profit organizations was held on August 16th at the Naples Daily News Community Room.

The seminar had over 120 attendees representing various non-profit organizations from Collier and Lee Counties. Each year, a different theme ties the topics together; this year’s theme Making the Leap featured six speakers who engaged and encouraged attendees to leap forward in their thinking and actions. 

Founders and organizers of the annual seminar, Sue Huff, owner of E. Sue Huff and Associates, Inc., and Kelly E. Capolino, local real estate professional with Keating Associates and founder of the Diamond Volunteer program, already have plans for a 2014 event.

This year, Allegra Naples, Storm Force and Scott Robertson Auctioneers helped to keep the seminar a free event by being corporate sponsors. The Naples Daily News and Costco were in-kind sponsors offering the venue and refreshments.

Speakers for the 2013 half-day seminar were: Sue Huff, owner of E. Sue Huff & Associates Marketing & Management Consulting; Paul Kessen, President of Allegra of Naples; Jim Henderson, President of William C. Huff Companies; Kelly E. Capolino Realtor/Philanthropist; Jay Schlichter, Naples News Media Group, and Scott Robertson of Scott Robertson Auctioneers.

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The lastest on our seminars - Friday, August 10, 2012

The 3rd Annual Thinking Outside the Box Seminar for non-profits will be held Aug. 16th, we will have over 100 in attendance again this year. For added value, we will post all the presentation information on my website by August 21st. Be sure to watch for it.... you will find on my website at on the Conference Page.

Topics and Speakers include:
Connecting with your audience - presented by Sue Huff, owner of E. Sue Huff & Associates
Connecting a winning image to tell the story - Paul Kessen, President of Allegra of Naples
Connecting with the Board so they don’t get bored - Arnold Klinsky, retired  NBC TV General Manager, Rochester, New York
Connecting 20 important tips for grant writing – presented by Mary Ellen Barrett, Vice President of Nonprofit Programs and the Director of the Center for Nonprofit Excellence (CNE) 
Connecting what we see and hear to prosper and grow – presented by Kelly E. Capolino, Realtor and Founder of the Diamond Volunteer Programs.

Panel presentation session to include:
Connecting the world via the internet - presented by Russell Tuff, Managing Partner of Social-Impact, along with Steve Rowe, Social-Impact Marketing Director 
Connecting the message through video - presented by Hope Daley, Executive Producer, Guerilla Media, LLC
Connecting with the community through print  and news media - Robin Calabrese, Naples Daily News


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Business Etiquette - Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mention the word “etiquette” and you might conjure up images of stuffiness and outdated rituals. But in the business world, “etiquette” translates to making people feel comfortable and respected.  Old-fashioned courtesies put a personal face on our impersonal world (think Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) and promote a healthy atmosphere of cooperation.

The next time you encounter a new business contact, whether its at a job interview or a lunch with new clients, devote a few minutes to write a thank you note and send it through the USPS. Don’t send it via e-mail, even though that is easier. If you do, your “thank you” is likely to be seen as a rote exercise instead of sincere graciousness.  And while we’re on the subject of email, when you're in a meeting or listening to someone speak, forget about your electronic devices. Turn off the phone, don’t check your messages.  Just because other people are doing it doesn’t mean its still not rude.

But what is even worse than sticking your face in a screen while someone is talking is gossiping  about them as soon as you step out of the room.  Have you ever been in an elevator with people, only to hear them criticize, mock or otherwise trash the people they have just left?  You are pretty sure they didn’t behave this way in the meeting, but seeing their phoniness in public makes you wonder what kind of people/company they really are.

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Why Small Businesses Fail - Saturday, February 18, 2012

I love The New York Times Small Business Blog “You’re the Boss.” One blogger is Jay Goltz, owner of five small businesses in Chicago. His top ten reasons why small businesses fail in his January 5, 2011 post are worth noting, especially Reason #2, which is: “Owners who cannot get out of their own way.”

Mr. Goltz suggests these owners may have qualities that make it difficult for them to notice mistakes that need fixing, qualities such as stubbornness, fear of conflict, perfectionism, greed, self-righteousness, paranoia, or insecurity. I call this owner blindness.

Some examples, which I’ve come across recently, point to owner blindness when it comes to their customer service staff. And, this is especially true if they are family or friends. My favorite small cafe has a front door that hangs open because it doesn’t have an automatic closer. This wasn’t a problem for patrons when the weather was warmer. Now it has become an unpleasant dining experience and no one seems to step up to fix it. Our florist hired a delivery person who smokes in the van. After a full day of riding in the van, my Valentine’s Day roses smelled like -- you guessed it -- cigarette smoke. And finally, a new bistro near my house offers morning rush hour coffee and pastry take-out. But they don’t have heat sleeves for their coffee cups. The counter person seems confused that customers balk at this inconvenience. Simple problems with simple solutions, if only the blinders were removed.

I imagine small business owners are often overwhelmed with the “big picture” and don’t appreciate what they see as customer complaints about insignificant things. If a customer is willing to give feedback, it pays to investigate the cause of their dissatisfaction. This is where having conscientious and alert support staff can make or break the business plan for success.

Deb Davidson
Associate, E. Sue Huff & Associates

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Journalistic Marketing - Tuesday, January 10, 2012

At E. Sue Huff & Associates, we understand the value of staying connected to customers by showing them that we value their experience with us. So it is especially enjoyable to begin the new year with some of the latest news in customer connecting.

Marketing predictions for 2012 point to, of course, social media and video as vital avenues that lead to consumers. Experts understand that the growing reliance on these resources to get information is not only here to stay, but here to be utilized. And they are using something called “journalistic marketing” to get the job done.

A recent example involved a story about a man who proposed to his girlfriend on a Southwest Airlines flight. She accepted, and this happy story went viral, thanks to YouTube.

Southwest contacted the couple and blogged about it on their website. I managed to find three different “marriage proposal” stories that involve the same airline. No slouch in the opportunity department, Southwest’s blog website encourages customers to contact them with their travel stories. Recently, they announced they were joining forces with the TLC network to produce a new series giving viewers a behind-the-scenes look at modern air travel, slated to appear in spring of 2012. There will be opportunities for customers to actually travel with a film crew to record their experiences for a television audience.

Deb Davidson
Associate, E. Sue Huff & Associates

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Shop Local this Holiday Season - Wednesday, November 30, 2011

There’s good news for the small business industry. The buzz among some consumers this season is to shop locally. For the second year in a row, a national campaign sponsored by American Express and labeled Small Business Saturday, urged consumers through social media to keep their holiday spending local, at least for one day. This year’s kick-off date was Saturday, November 26.

Using Facebook and Twitter, consumers shared tips on mom and pop restaurants in their neighborhoods, community art center gift shops, and not-yet-trendy areas of town hoping to bring their economies back to life.

I noticed this marketing phenomenon on my own list of Facebook friends. I recently spoke with a couple of them who shared their reasons for keeping the dollars close to home. Maureen, who has spent years working in sales and marketing, has a special place in her heart for small businesses. She decided to explore her own city this year in search of hidden treasures with a handful of friends. Dubbing themselves “The Retro Shoppers,” they found ordinary neighborhoods with extraordinary diners, cafes, shops and farmers markets. The owners and staff welcomed new faces and The Retro Shoppers came away with one-of-a-kind gifts.

“Communities were once centered around their own business districts,” says Robin, one of Maureen’s Retro Shoppers. “Reinventing community life as I remember it as a child seemed like a fun thing to do. Now, shopping locally has become a habit instead of driving to a big shopping mall."

Deb Davidson
Associate, E. Sue Huff & Associates

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Does Your Website Look Homemade? - Thursday, October 27, 2011

What’s the most important piece of your business’s web presence? Your website, of course.

Creating a website requires a good deal of thought; it’s important to plan what information you want on the site, what the layout will look like, and how you’ll connect each piece together.

Think of your website as your hub; it’s what people will see when they look for you. There are many elements that go into creating an effective web presence, but let’s start with your homepage. It will be the first impression for potential clients.

A good homepage will answer the questions “What do you do?” and “Why should I trust you?” Consumers will make a split-second decision on whether they’ll stay to learn more or go to a competitor. Don’t lose them at the start.

The look of your homepage is extremely important. Invest in a professional web designer. If the budget is tight, go to a local college and contact the graphic design department. Ask to speak to the design professor. Many students need to build their design portfolio before graduation, so the professor might have someone in mind who would give you quality at an affordable price.

If you create your homepage yourself, keep in mind that you can do more harm than good if the end product looks “homemade.” Too many fonts, inharmonious color choices, and grammatical mistakes translate to “amateur” right away. If you can’t present a polished and professional face on the web, clients might think you operate your business the same way.

Deb Davidson
Associate, E. Sue Huff & Associates

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Previous Posts

Thinking Outside the Box 2013 - 4th Annual Seminar...
The lastest on our seminars
Business Etiquette
Why Small Businesses Fail
Journalistic Marketing
Shop Local this Holiday Season
Does Your Website Look Homemade?
Inter-Office Business Communication
The 15 Minute Organizer
Keep Customer Communication Strong


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