Monday, November 30, 2009

Cyber Sales

I understand that web based sales are still foreign to many but please take a few moments to read the attached report and it should start to sink in why they are so important. They only account for about 10% of all retail sales but with a projected 20% rate of growth, they will soon start making in-roads. If you are not taking advantage of this potential source of revenue, my question is why not? It is relatively easy, it is cost effective and it is growing by leaps and bounds.

Friday, November 27, 2009

First EDC Supported Web Site Up

After months of preparation and the assistance of many local partners, the first web site to be built for Stokes County businesses by the Stokes County Economic Development Commission is on the web. The link is : There is still work being done to fill out events and create the persona of the site but it already looks great. There are links to their facebook page and a blog. This site should help the course draw play from outside the area and allow them to create attention as the closest mountain golf course to the Triad and Triangle areas of North Carolina. I am so pleased to see the progress they are making and will be following their efforts in the future.

The web building project is supported by a grant from Northwest Piedmont Workforce Development Incumbent Workers Grant Program. The sites are being built on templates provided and designed by NVizion, a local Stokes County Company and are being built by interns from the local community. There is no charge to the companies for the design and uploading of the sites. They simply provide the information and the background on what they expect the site to do. The companies pay for their domain name and hosting, about $60/year. Their sites will be linked to the Stokes EDC Site our Stokes County facebook page and Buy Local Blog.

There are approximately 30 companies that have requested assistance from this program and it is our goal to build as many sites as are needed. If you have a company in Stokes County or know of someone that does and they need a site have them give me a call or send me an email:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

2010 Stokes 4 H Calendar

It is hard to believe how busy these folks are. If you want to get involved, here is a place to start. Wow!

2010 Calendar
Event/Program Date Deadlines/Info
Excellence Scholarship Due January 1 Can be found online
Advisory Council meeting January 6 4:00pm Extension office
County Council/Leaders mtg January 7 5:30pm
Project Books Due January 8 By 5:00pm
4-H Honor Club and Scholarships
January 15 Send to 4-H Office
Fitness Day (tentative) January 16 9-2pm YMCA program center?
Achievement Night January 22 6:00pm
Wii with the Senior in WC January 25 Walnut Cove Sr. Ctr. 10:30-11:30
Teen Night Out February 12 5:30pm-8:30pm
Nutrition Fair March 4 6:00pm
Leaders/CC mtg April 1 5:30pm
Ambassador Portfolio Due April 15 Due to Terri April 12
Presentation Workshop April 29 5:30pm Extension Office
Talent Show May 6 6:00pm
ARI Due May 14 Due to Terri May 7
Summer Registration ends May 28 Begins May 1
County Presentation Day May 29 9:00am
Excellence Scholarship Due June 1 Can be found online (only apply 1x per year)
Advisory Meeting June 2 4:00pm Extension office
Electric Congress July 12-14 Must complete a electric project book/cumulative
record or teach an electric workshop
4-H Congress July 19-23 Raleigh—will plan fundraisers
Advisory Meeting August 4 4:00pm Extension Office
District Officer Training August 7-8
Advisory Meeting October 6 4:00pm Extension office
Leaders/County Council mtg October 7 5:30pm Extension office
Ambassador Portfolio Due October 15 Due to Terri by October 11
Halloween Party/Scavenger Hunt October 29 or
-find a Deejay, make clues, advertise in August,
September, October
Gingerbread Competition December 9
More things will be added and dates could change…however I am trying to keep it simple…please see
me if you have suggestions, additions, or deletions. Thanks so much!!!s

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Web Site as Your Store Window

For this weeks marketing tid-bit, I wanted to address the question: Why do I need a web site. I am attaching a link to an article written by Jim Walton of Brand Acceleration. In the article, Mr. Walton compares a web site to a store window and I think it is and excellent illustration. Your business may be small, it may be in a small town, you may be the only employee but your customers don't need to know this or even care. A web site that is well done is a great equalizer. If you don't have one, you are losing business, if it isn't interesting and current, you are not maximizing your potential. Please think about this as you read the article and have a Great Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another Reason be part of the digital world

Just picked this up from my Digital Boot camp Class. For anyone not in the digital world, this should cause you to sit up and take notice.

Stories like these are why I believe that what we are trying to do in Stokes County with building a web presence, developing better broadband connectivity and helping small businesses is exactly the right strategy.

Marketing Tid Bit: Leave them wanting More

Running a successful business has many components. The article I am posting below addresses what I think is a critical point: give more than you receive when dealing with your customers and keep them coming back for more. I am a firm believer that your best source of advertising is word of mouth. If you do a good job, your customers will tell others, either in person or on-line. It you fail to live up to expectations those same customers will tell hundreds. You have the power to control that message, based on your service, product and delivery.

How to make your customers Cheerleaders for your business.
First let me begin by apologizing for my long absence. But I am back. For those of you who do not know, I own a "bricks and mortar" cleaning company. We steam clean carpets, rugs, upholstery, tile and grout, and we are certified to do Crime Scene/ Trauma clean up. Whenever one of my people does a job, I GIVE my client something extra, FOR FREE. Something they were not expecting, for example; I will give free deodorization if they have pet stains, or do the bathroom tile along with the kitchen, or I will do the drapes for the customer. The key here is that I don't do any advertising, but I DO give my clients 10 business cards with their client code written in the corner on the back. I ask them to give these to their friends, and let them know that any work I get from their referral, will result in 10% of the job coming back to them in the form of a gift certificate to a popular local restaurant. They can take their spouse out to dinner on me. By the way, the restaurant is also a client of mine, therefore I am bring my commercial clients business, while rewarding my residential clients for bringing me new business. The beauty of this practice is that I am GIVING far more value, than the customer expected to receive, when they called. This makes them fans of my business, and aggressive cheerleaders for my company. The same practice holds in MLM, Or Internet marketing; GIVE value first, then your customers/prospects will want to follow you to see what else they can obtain from you, be it education, advice or technical savvy. Let's face it the same reason you monitor where your kids go on the internet, and who they talk to, is exactly why you need to give before you seek a return. It is Dr. Ivan Meisner's principle of "giver's gain". You need to give value before you seek to influence the decision making of others. This is because no one online really knows who you are unless they can see verifiable aspects of your life, talk to you on the phone, read your articles and gauge for themselves, the value of your training, advice, etc. This is why established internet marketing trainers like myself, give away their content. I don't charge for all of the training that I provide. I instead make small commissions of of several affiliate marketing arrangements. This way I am giving my clients value, and helping them build their business' long before they ever become clients of mine. I build a relationship with my clients before they become my clients, and it is that way that the internet becomes a tool for me while remaining a game for my kids, and wife. This is the latest in a series of articles designed to apply traditional business training to the online marketing environment, for more insights like those above, or to learn where I got my training, check out; To learn more sign up for the free training on my site, And I will send you a FREE bonus. Mark Acciard Owner, Business Builder Autopilot 781-424-8863

Monday, November 16, 2009

Good Business Advice

Thanks to Homer Dearmin, Town Manager of Walnut cove for sharing this information. It sounds like common sense but I am always surprised at the number of businesses that fail to do the simple things.

A Business Dies Every 2 Hours
It breaks my heart to go shopping sometimes. There's the "Going out of business sale!", the pride saving "Lost our
lease sale!", and the cardboard headstone "Space For Rent". They are all a result of the same problem . . . not
enough customers.
It's nice when you can open a business and attract new customers the next day. It's great when a web site
guarantees your profitability. But none of those things happen without good planning. Without a good plan, and
the proper execution, businesses die very quickly.
1. Let people know you exist - Advertise and market yourself -- don't forget social media. If people don't know
where you are and what you do, they can't buy from you. Advertising and marketing greatly increases your
chances of success.
2. Don't scare the customer - Make the customer feel comfortable with your product, service or services.
Provide an environment that they will feel safe in. Make them feel good about spending their money.
I walk by stores all the time that are open, but look very dark inside. That doesn't make me feel like going inside.
You can't attract new customers if they are not comfortable with you.
3. Look the part - Businessmen wear suits. Policemen carry guns. You are reading this article because we look
the part. We effectively display our ability to attract new customers. You can do the same when you look the part.
If you were going to buy tools, you would expect a guy with a tool belt and a smock to help you out right? After all,
he looks like he knows what he's talking about. What if you went to go buy a power saw and a lady in a clown suit
asked if she could help you? Exactly. Look the part and you can attract new customers without any problems.
You be surprised at how many people break these simple rules. I go exploring around my city and I find little out
of the way businesses that I would have never known about before. They are good businesses with absolutely no
exposure. So when I go back a few months later to see them again, they are out of business. It's very sad. They
don't go out of business because they are bad at business, it's just that no one knew where they were so they
never made enough money to stay open. You can't attract new customers when they don't know you exist.
"Our work is the presentation of our capabilities."
Edward Gibbon
English historian and Member of Parliament
Barbara Wold
International Speaker, Author and Business Strategist
Global Retail & Consumer Expert
Keynote Presentations -- Seminars & Workshops -- Retreats
Manager Meetings & Corporate Conferences
Downtown Revitalization & Merchant Retention
P.O. Box 5755, Balboa Island, California 92662 USA
949.675.8845 fax 949.675.7732
Barbara Wold is a street-smart, down-to-earth business speaker, presenting topics from sales and marketing to
customer service and tourism. She is an international speaker who has "WOWED" over 450,000 people from all 50 of
the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam, Canada, Colombia, Brazil, Venezuela, Singapore, Hong Kong, Philippines,
Japan, Indonesia, China, Malaysia, India and the United Ar

Stokes Business Extravaganza Save the date

Economic Development Commission

Stokes County Business Owner:

The Stokes County Economic Development Commission has scheduled an event in January 2010 to bring all Stokes County businesses together for a night of fun, food, networking and socializing. In doing so, we are asking our businesses if they would like to participate with a display or in some other manner.

The event will be held at YMCA Camp Hanes in their Dining Hall on January 21, 2010 from 5:30 until 7:30 PM. (Set up time for those having booths will be from 2:00 till 4:30 PM.)

Display space is limited so booths will be issued on a first come first serve basis. We will provide tables and table cloths. Power availability is limited, so if you will need power, please make that request when reserving your booth. (No floor displays are permitted)

If not interested in a booth, please consider providing business cards, brochures, or promotional items (Pens, Notepads, Magnets, etc.) These items will be available to all attendees as they register.

We anticipate this being a fun and entertaining evening. We will be providing numerous door prizes and will have give-aways through out the evening. We will be happy to accept door prizes (all companies providing door prizes will be featured in our program handout.) Deadline for receiving door prizes is January 10, 2010. This event is free of charge. Event sponsorship is available

If you have any questions about this event or to reserve your booth, please call Alan Wood (Economic Development Director) 336-593-2496 or Missy Dodson (Office Administrator) 336-593-2811 ext 1677 or via email at .

We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at the

Stokes County Business Extravaganza

PO Box 20 Danbury, NC 27016 336-593-2496

Friday, November 13, 2009

Weekly Tid Bit

As any of you that know me are aware I believe that digital marketing holds one of the keys to success for many businesses. Our EDC is working to promote this in numerous ways, building web sites at no charge for local businesses, providing a local facebook page, a blog and our just started by local campaign.

To further continue these efforts, I am attempting to find relevant information on how, what, when, why and where to go in digital marketing. I hope this information is useful. Please feel free to share comments and other links as you find them.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Stokes County Branding

We have been working for the past six months on an updated brand for Stokes County. This is an exhilarating and often frustrating process. If you have never been involved in such and effort, give it a try, you will most assuredly learn something. Below is a link to a story an edition of USA Today on such a process.
After you finish the story, take a look at our efforts and remember it is a process and not a science. We are trying to promote Stokes County as the playground of the NC Piedmont. Let me know what you think. I think it is pure fun! Let me know which logo you prefer.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Depopulating of Rural America

I just finished reading this article: and I believe it provides a reasonably accurate description of what we are seeing occur in rural North Carolina and to a certain extent Stokes County. I think it is exactly the reason that we must move forward with our plans to strengthen our local infrastructure, to become more engaged with our elementary and HS students. We must also make every effort to have training made available through our community college system and reach out to our institutes of higher learning. If we can not provide a reasonable opportunity for our best and brightest to earn a competitive wage, they will continue to leave for rural America and our small towns will die a slow and agonizing death.

I do not think this is inevitable but it will take a concerted level by everyone from local governments to institutes of higher learning with egos checked at the door to turn the situation around. I welcome your thoughts and comments after reading the article.

Friday, November 6, 2009

George Fest Celebration Saturday

Many thanks to the Winston Salem Journal for this report (see Below) I think this will be a wonderful event and the weather is supposed to be spectacular.

-- Lisa O'Donnellrelish reporterlo'

Published: November 5, 2009


To all the curious folks who have heard about the Hare Krishna Temple tucked among the Baptist churches and old tobacco barns in Stokes County, Mitra Das says, "Hare bol."

That's the Hare Krishna version of "Hey" or "Howdy." Das knows that many people may be wondering about the 15 or so Hare Krishna families who have lived on a gorgeous 360-acre spread in northeastern Stokes County since 1991.

"We're just living our lives, raising our kids. Most of us have grandkids," said Das, who was sitting in one of two homes he built on the temple's grounds. "We're trying to present what we have to people in a way that is relevant to their lives."

One area where the devotees (as Hare Krishna followers are called) and others can find common ground is George Harrison, whose interest in the Hare Krishna movement and all things India colored much of his creative output, beginning in the late 1960s until his death in 2001.

In celebration of Harrison and his contribution to the movement, Das is organizing George Fest at the temple from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.

"It's a way to let people outside of the community interact with others in the community," Das said.

The Hare Krishna movement is a branch of Hinduism that was founded in 1966 by Swami Prabhupada, an Indian who took his message to the West in the 1960s. Devotees are most known for chanting a 16-word mantra that they believe brings them to a higher level of consciousness with Krishna, or God.

The group was often associated with hippies of the 1960s, but true devotees walk a straight line and abstain from any kind of intoxicants and illicit sex.

The festival is family-oriented and will include a sitar concert and workshop, yoga and meditation classes and a talk by Guru Das, who was among the first of the Hare Krishnas to meet with Harrison in London in the late 1960s. The two spent time together eating, chanting and talking about spiritual matters and developed a lifelong friendship.

At the festival, Guru Das will share photos and stories of Harrison.

Also included will be a big vegetarian buffet -- Hare Krishnas have become known for their lavish and exotic food spreads -- as well as more familiar fare, such as pizza, brownies and bread. Das' wife, Maharha Dasi, will prepare much of the food. The grounds and its trails will also be open for people to explore, and Carolina Ziplines, which is based in Stokes County, will have a temporary zipline set up.

The festival will culminate with a sing-along of Harrison's hit, "My Sweet Lord," which includes the famous Hare Krishna chant. Das said he is hoping that 100 people will bring guitars to the festival to play and sing the song. The chords are posted on the festival's Web site, www.

Late last week, Das was hoping to find a local church choir to sing with festivalgoers. "I think that is something that George would be happy about," Das said.

Although Harrison never became a devotee of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, the official name of the Hare Krishna movement, his interest in chanting and mediation lent it legitimacy, Das said. "I'm sure because of his involvement, there was some credibility given to it. People thought, ‘If George is into it, it can't be all that bad,'" Das said.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 on the day of the festival. Teenagers are $10 and children under 12 are free. Attendees who bring guitars will get $5 off the ticket price.

For more information, including directions, visit www.ncgeorgefest>


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Marketing Tidbits

It is my aim in some small way to bring new concepts or well developed ideas to the people who may stumble on to my blog. These ideas may come from many places, the web, friends on Linked-In, news articles or the dark recesses of my own mind. I found the following in a blog from Deborah Drake's ( and think it tells a great story on how social networking and marketing on facebook can bring people closer and create income opportunities for small business. Please enjoy:

A Startup Success Story (and Facebook played an active role!)
October 8th, 2009 admin Leave a comment Go to comments
Ok, it’s late and I am up too (again) late but before I sign off for the night: I “gotta” share this story that ran in the San Francisco Business Times for a couple of reasons that have me beaming and I hope you can feel my enthusiasm leap off your screen:

September 25, 2009 — The San Francisco Business Times featured How Fast Time Flies as its Startup Spotlight (read the story!) Web site helps weave memories into digital scrapbooks .

A pleasantly surprised How Fast Times Flies founder recently shared it with her Facebook circle (of which I am gratefully part of.)

#1 Cathy Biddy Bennett was once upon a time a high school classmate of mine and well I don’t think any of us of the Santa Catalina class of 1983 figured back then (as we headed off to college) that for some, our fortunes would be made via the internet. Were we even conscious of it as we chose Liberal Arts degrees and pursued careers in medicine, finance, law, teaching and other fine fields?

#2 Real Relationships and Strategic Alliances played a significant role in catalyzing this success story. And trust and collaboration paid off big time.

#3 Utilizing Facebook successfully helped build a brand and generate interest that became sales and more sales:

“Ecom also built Bennett a Facebook presence in January 2009, and the business took off.

Prior to Facebook, How Fast Time Flies had about 11,000 members. Membership more than doubled within six months. Bennett now advertises on Facebook, has a Facebook application and a dedicated fan page.

“That medium is so, so powerful,” Bennett said. “I didn’t get into it at first because I didn’t think my customers were there; I didn’t think moms were there. And, yeah, they are.”

Cathy very gently, genuinely and tactfully used first her personal page and later her business page to showcase some of the cool things that customers had created. I watched as time passed that she got a little bolder, but remained understated as well, in her posts to share wins and wows. And her way “of being” herself, clearly attracted even more interest and customers.

No hype, just honest and genuine enthusiasm from Cathy the person (and the proud business owner), sharing customer creations month after month and contest winners as voted upon by the community. I recall one time months back, she unknowingly double posted only then to apologize for the duplicate posting. I suspect no one minded the double take. For her authenticity always shines through for me.

Using social networks like Facebook or perhaps one that is more targeted, such as Greenwala, a newer network established to champion all things Green will increase awareness of you as individual or cause or company over time. Facebook is for everyone AND within the entire population are the tribes we identify with also.

More specialized social networks may be easier to locate by online searches and they may have fewer members BUT at least you know they are more than likely receptive to you and your values and offering. The question may be how many active profiles in different communities can you consistently cultivate and participate and contribute to? A dormant profile within a community could send a mixed message, so being discerning about where you spend your energy seems a valuable dialogue to have.

Now, I don’t think it’s necessary to “over think” a Social Media Strategy. In fact, over thinking it could backfire sometimes. Authenticity trumps strategy time and again and good finds are naturally shared through friends and family and groups and now, social networks. So imagine that you have a good thing that simply needs to be more easily found. God bless the entrepreneurial cheerleaders” who created first newsletters, then websites, and now populate their blogs with the great exciting things they have found as they journey the web or the physical world.

Social networks allow for you to reach out, as yourself, be yourself, and be more easily discovered (if you are ready to be). Planning your involvement professionally and tactically is important, like the foundation of a home is. And genuineness rings true and clear where posts and pitches are concerned. And responsiveness when one can be, builds rapport naturally.

One of my favorite phrases is “Social Media is Straight Up Honesty.” -Francisco Rosales, of

And for as long as I have seen Cathy posting on Facebook as the mom and friend and business woman she is, I have felt her gentle spirit in every post and comment and share. Inspiring in me a desire to use her company’s fun service (aka patronize her) and let my circles know about this cool way to digitally beautify and share photos with others.

Good Product/Service I need/want + Generous/Gracious Leadership + Values that Align with Mine = Gets My Attention and Business!

I celebrate this former classmate’s enterpreneurial success and again gently encourage all you who are waiting to join in Social Networking, as the meaningful channel it is to grow personally and professionally and organically over six months, one Facebook post at a time, with some strategic and well-timed ads to attract new followers (per the article).


Grant Assistance For Farmers

This information was forwarded from Michael Hylton in our local Cooperative Extension Office. If you are a farmer or know of one that can use assistance in applying for grants, this is great information.

NC Western Piedmont Farmers Eligible for Grant Awards
The Rural Advancement Foundation International will host a “how to apply” grant workshop at the Stokes County Extension office on Tuesday, November 24th, at 3pm. All area farmers with new farm enterprises that demonstrate innovative opportunities in production, processing and marketing are encouraged to attend.

The program is managed by Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI-USA)
As the “Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund (TCRF)”. RAFI coordinates information workshops, accept applications, awards grants and monitors the results.

Supported by the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission, the grant program is designed to keep farmers in farming and to maintain the economic base of North Carolina’s rural communities. All farmers are eligible. Priority is given to projects that provide opportunities for a new generation of farmers and to applicants who had tobacco income at the time of the Master Settlement Agreement.

Eligibility: Qualifying producers must be farmers or farmer “groups” actively engaged in full or part-time farming in the Western Piedmont. Western Piedmont counties include Ashe, Alleghany, Surry, Stokes, Rockingham, Wilkes, Yadkin, Forsyth, Guilford, Caldwell, Alexander, Iredell, Davie, Davidson, Rowan, Burke, Catawba, Rutherford, Cleveland, Lincoln, Gaston, Mecklenburg, Cabarrus, Stanly, Union, and Anson.

Awards: The maximum amount available to individual farmers is $10,000 and $30,000 for collaborative farmer or community projects. Grant applications for the Western Piedmont Region are due January 13th, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. The timeline for submitting grants in other NC regions can be seen at:

“The TCRF is designed to help farmers put their own ideas to work to develop new income sources,” said Jason Roehrig, RAFI Program Director. “Through cost-share grants, we can help reduce the risk of trying new ideas.” Examples of past projects have included improved greenhouse vegetable production, supplies for pasture-raised livestock, expansion of nursery operations, farmer’s market assistance and more.

“We anticipate a large number of farmers benefitting from this unique opportunity,” said
William Upchurch, Executive Director of the Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. The ultimate impact is preservation of the family farm.

Project Partners:
Tobacco Trust Fund Commission:
Established in 2000 by the NC General Assembly to manage funds that are part of the
Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement. Grants target farm areas that have historically
depended upon tobacco income through farming or tobacco-related businesses.
William Upchurch, Executive Director, 919-733-2160
Jeff Jennings, Program Officer

Rural Advancement Foundation International
Private non-profit that promotes sustainability for family farmers and communities.
Joe Schroeder, Field Coordinator (Western Piedmont) 919-323-7587
Jason Roehrig, Project Director, 919-542-1396

Interested farmers and representatives of agricultural cooperatives or associations may
obtain applications at or by calling 919-542-1396 ext. 208.