Second Rural Accelerator Workshop Held

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By Terry Rogers

Downtown Delaware, a program of the Delaware Economic Development Office, presented the second in a series of preview workshops through the Rural Business Accelerator program. This program, which is being piloted by Downtown Milford Inc., officially launches in the city on April 8, 2013.

The first workshop, held in February, focused on helping local businesses identify their target market. The second, held on March 27, 2013, and led by John Childress, owner of Childress Business Consulting, helped local businesses strengthen their Value Proposition, a statement to customers explaining how your product or service meets their needs. The topic for the preview workshops was determined from a survey completed by Milford merchants.

“Your value statement is a promise to customers about what you are going to deliver,” Childress explained to those in attendance. “It is an easy-to-remember phrase or sentence that concisely explains what your company offers that may be the unmet need of your customer.” Childress also explained that a value statement opens doors, and sets a company apart from competitors, while reaching a specific target market. Childress conducted an exercise with those in attendance, asking them to write a value statement using ten words or less, demonstrating that a value statement did not need to be long in order to get the message across.

“The good thing about a short value statement is that it is easily used as a tag line on business cards, in logos and in advertising,” said Lee Nelson, Executive Director of Downtown Milford Inc. Bryan Shupe of Milford Live agreed, saying that a value statement could become “part of your branding.”

“There is also limited space in most advertising sources,” said Glen Larson of Larson’s Mower Service. “A business card is only so big, and because my advertising budget is limited, I lean toward business card sized advertisements. Even a ten word value statement included in my advertising or on my business cards might be difficult to include.” Childress suggested using the back of business cards for the value statement, or learning from customers why they return to the business to determine what to include in ads or on business cards.

Another point that Childress made was that the best way to develop a target market was by talking to customers to see what they like, what they are looking for and what brings them back to a particular business. It is important to learn what customers value in order to effectively use your value statement. Businesses can use formal surveys to learn why customers frequent their business, or simply talk to them to see what they find attractive enough to return.

“Businesses that do not ask customers essential customers and adjust to the market, do not stay relevant, and this is one of the biggest reasons even large companies fail,” Childress said. “Many large, well-known companies are failing because they have forgotten to listen to the customer, and continue to do what they have always done, which may no longer be working in today’s business world.”

The next preview workshop is scheduled for Wednesday, April 24 at the Milford Library from 6:30 PM until 7:15 PM. The topic for that workshop will be Marketing Efforts.

Beginning April 8, local businesses are eligible for free expert assistance in the form of a one-on-one meeting with RBA Mentors. RBA Mentors are business specialists who can assess the strengths of local businesses, while targeting areas of opportunity that can help grow the business and increase profitability. RBA Mentors in Milford include Lee Nelson (director@downtownmilford.org), Sherry Shaffer (woof@furbabyboutique.com), Bryan Shupe (shupe9@gmail.com), and Chuck Stanko (chkgrg@comcast.net). Businesses interested in participating in the Rural Business Accelerator can contact the mentors or Downtown Milford Inc. at 320-839-1180.