Tuesday, July 07, 2009

More of "Getting Back to Basics"

The following is an article from The Suburanite weekly newspaper covering business in greater Fort Lee, NJ. I was the guest speaker at the Great Fort Lee Chamber's annual General Membership event.

Getting back to basics

Chamber members learn value of image


The Greater Fort Lee Chamber of Commerce (GFTCC) believes many of the businesses in the area need to learn more about successful marketing and advertising techniques in order to build their company’s brand, especially in a down economy.

When they scheduled a guest speaker for their June 24 general membership luncheon, they chose Walter Guarino, president and managing partner for SGW.

“The message today is that a lot of people don’t realize how important their brand is,” said Guarino. “In fact, it’s their whole lifeline.”

Inside Villa Amalfi restaurant in Cliffside Park, Guarino, who was acknowledged by Business Week New Jersey as one of the “top ten” most influential business leaders in the state, advised GFLCC members and guests to get back to the basics.

“If you have a brand, and people think of you in such a way, have you gone out and determined how you’ve been affected by the economy?” Guarino asked. “If it has changed, your lifeline could be dead. You’re going to have to respond.”

Guarino, a 40-year resident of Fort Lee, explained that a brand has to connote value, as people are in a “value” mode today when making purchases. Using a popular discount chain store as an example, Guarino said that Wal-Mart was successful in part because it attracts a higher-level income demographic by showing brand name products in commercials.

“You can get a brand name product for less money and you want to keep that crowd after the recession is over,” Guarino explained. “Their perception is to create value with a new target audience.”

Guarino said small business owners can also create open dialogue with the local community by utilizing social networking Web sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to find out what people are saying about a company’s products and services.

But he also recommended a more traditional medium---weekly newspapers.

“Local newspapers like the Suburbanite and the Bergen News are a great medium because you get readership,” Guarino explained. “There’s more readership time spent with weeklies than any other medium. This is one of the main stages where people find out about a community.”

The luncheon also served as an award ceremony to honor local businesses. Nelson and Joanna Gutierrez from Strictly Bicycles received the Conceptual Award, Anthony and Stacy Papavasiliou from It’s Great To Me restaurant won the Merit Award and Commander Jimmy Viola from the Cairola-Barber Veteran of War Post 2342 took home the Landmark Award.

“We were delighted with the turnout for our General Membership Luncheon,” said Judy Auerbach-Adamo, executive director of the GFLCC. “Congratulations to our award winners and special thanks to Dr. Walter F. Guarino.”

Craig Weinstein, president of the GFLCC was equally moved by Guarino’s words and found his message encouraging.

“I think businesses in Fort Lee are starting to see that we are turning the corner toward economic prosperity. Dr. Guarino’s presentation lifted everyone’s spirits toward that direction,” said Weinstein. “I left the luncheon with a strong feeling that smaller, localized businesses still have a place in today’s economy.”

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