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Businesses joining forces to compete

Several local business owners were fired up after the New Richmond Chamber of Commerce and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College presented the "Guerrilla Marketing Boot Camp" on April 29.

They were so inspired that by May 14 they had already formed their own group and met as the Motivational Marketing Group.

The phrase from the "Guerrilla Marketing Boot Camp" that hooked Amy Measner, owner of Printing Plus in New Richmond, was "it is easier to work in the business than on the business."

The Motivational Marketing Group is dedicated to working together on each other's businesses for the common good.

"Our overall goal, through knowledge," Measner said, "is to work together to better ourselves and our community."

So far, the group has ranged from five to 20 in attendance at their twice - monthly meetings at the Bean Bag Coffee House. The invitation is open to all business people who may benefit from such a group.

For now the meetings are held the first and third Thursday of each month from 9 - 10 a.m. Business people from surrounding areas are welcome to attend.

"We average about 12 - 15 people generally," Measner said. "It was surprising to us how many women business owners there are in the area. We have some men attend, but by far the women have outnumbered the men."

The casual, open-forum style meetings allow participants to freely express their concerns and ideas regarding their companies, employee practices, marketing questions, customer expectations, feedback and customer service as well as the local business climate.

One person is assigned the task of keeping the conversations to only one hour per session.

Two rules are strictly enforced. The forum is confidential and all members agree not to discuss others' businesses outside of the meetings. The other rule is that a constructive criticism of any kind must be followed by a compliment. It keeps the atmosphere of the meetings safe and positive.

"In this setting, everyone can work together even though they are competitors," said Amy Lund, owner of Arch Copy in New Richmond.

The group is working toward rotating their meetings to each member's place of business to evaluate at what customers see when they come in the door. The members will provide the host business with feedback on what it feels like to come into their place of business and what it is like to spend time in the establishment.

"We give opinions as business owners, but sometimes we need to step back and be the customer once in a while to get their perspective," Lund said.

For member Judy Monette, account representative for the New Richmond News, it is "empowering to watch these people come together, work together and to get to know each other."

Monette leaves each meeting feeling energized and ready to tackle her work day.

The benefits of attending the group for Measner include the knowledge she gains from others, as well as the insights she receives regarding her own business. There's also the cross marketing factor, which is important to Measner.

"The meetings are motivational to help us do more work for our businesses," said Lund. "So far the meetings have answered a lot of questions we all have such as how to be a good employer, how to hire and fire and basic things about running a business. But we expect to expand into more marketing type issues as we go along."

Some members do bring marketing pieces for the group's input before sending them to the public. That's where the constructive criticism comes into play. It's an "all for one, one for all" attitude.

"The main thing for us all to succeed, is we have to work together," commented Lund. "By marketing together, the more people we can bring in to shop in these areas, the better for everyone."

The group is working toward a "Doe on the Go" type promotion for downtown New Richmond during the opening weekend of deer hunting. There are plans for restaurants, hair care salons and other businesses to provide specials during that time for local shoppers.

The group is open to Chamber of Commerce members as well as non-Chamber members. For more information call Amy Lund at 246-5191, Amy Measner at 246-2225 or Judy Monette at 243-7757.