Monday, February 13, 2012

Marketing A New Charitable Endeavor on a Non-existent Budget: The Souderton’s Chestnut Street Playground Renovation

Recently I was asked by a friend, Jen Ruggiero to meet for coffee, she had begun a new fundraising program for a local playground renovation and wanted to discuss ways to market it to the local businesses. From my perspective, being a single girl with no children, I had first thought: “I really could care less about a playground renovation.” It wasn’t going to effect me and isn’t there enough parks in the area? After a few minutes of discussing her goals I couldn’t help but get involved. I soon realized that she was focusing on something much more meaningful than just a playground renovation.
Pour and Play Matting and Safety Swing Seats.
She was building a playground that was handicap accessible, that included braille markings for the blind, safety swings, wide pathways for wheel chair accessibility, cushioned pour and play material to prevent injury, and even a musical play area that is designed to encourage development for autistic children.
Music maker encouraging intellectual growth.
I’d like to pass on a quick scenario: the current location has mulch, imagine for a second a father in a wheel chair who wants to play with his children but can’t wheel over the mulch bed. The 5 foot-wide pathways that will be installed around the play equipment will help families really enjoy time together! Find out more about the progress by by visiting

I’ve become more involved than I ever imagined. Quickly I’ve learned ways to promote this great cause on a shall I say non-existent budget. I’d like to pass along some quick tips that you can use in your charitable endeavors.

1. Advertising Charitable Events: These days social media sites have made it easier than ever to get the word out - so make sure each event is listed on Facebook, Linkedin, and you’re promoting through Twitter. But we’re looking to generate funds and create registration pages, the best site I’ve found to accomplish this is Eventbrite. Within a few minutes I was able to explain to Jen how to post her events and create tickets. We now have multiple events up and running. Check them out by clicking here. You can event use there Facebook integration to post your events automatically to your page, the site also allows us to send free email invitations and include registration boxes on your website.

2. Sending Email Blasts: MailChimp, a well-know email system offers a free package for email campaigns with under 2,000 subscribers. The package allows you to send 12,000 emails per month at no cost, track your results, and automatically publish your campaigns to your social media sites. When you’re just getting started with your fundraising campaign, this is the best program out there! Like many other email service providers you can pick from multiple templates or design your own - you don’t have to be an experienced designer to get the word out! They even offer tools to help you gain subscribers - check out our sign up page by clicking here.

3. Creating A Web Presence: It can be very costly to establish a web presence, but with recent template assisting websites and free blogging platforms you can make it happen on a budget. If you are a Mac user I recommend trying iWeb. I used the program to design the Chestnut Street Playground Community CARES fundraising site: Other options for both Mac and PC users include platforms made by Intuit and 1&1 - many of these cost around $10 per month and include your web hosting, email addresses along with other helpful features like SEO integration. If you choose to go the blogging route, I recommend checking out Tumblr, Word Press and Blogger. Because all of these are well known you’ll be able to find tutorials on YouTube to walk you through the process.

Getting involved in community projects gives back ten fold! You’ll learn and network like the pros in no-time. I recommend setting clear personal expectations for yourself, deciding how and when to get involved, and only promising what you know you can deliver.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Goals for the 26th Year of My Life

Last year around this time I woke up one morning realizing that on my 25th birthday I wouldn’t start living the 25th year of my life, in fact that had already been lived; and while this shouldn’t be a big shocker, I hadn’t realized that the first quarter of my life would be complete. I began to panic over what I had accomplished and was concerned about building new goals for the future.

With my 26th birthday just a few days away (December 21, 2011), I felt it was important to analyze both the goals I set for myself a year ago, the accomplishments I’ve made aside from those goals, and tell you about one of the most exciting things I’m doing to celebrate my birthday...I’m going to jump ahead and start with this!

Celebrate! On December 21st I’ll be hosting my birthday party, The Red Tomato Birthday Benefit will help to raise money for a local organization; Keystone Opportunity Center. They play an important role in the Souderton community with a few key components: food bank, housing program, ESL classes, and so much more. I’m so thankful for the support of both the Red Tomato owner, Giuseppe Chiaro, the local businesses who have donated to the silent auction, and to one of my best friends, Charlotte Carey. Charlotte is a Chef from London and visits each Christmas, she will be preparing a special hors d’oeuvre for the event. If you’d like to join in on the fun you may register at 

My Goals. I made five - two out of the 5 are fully accomplished. The others I knew would be a work in progress.

1. Take Spinning Classes: I now take Spinning Classes 1-2 nights a week and I kick butt! In January I began spinning once a week along with water aerobics 3-4 times per week, at this time I started weight watchers online. I’ve now lost a grand total of 30 pounds! Recently I’ve started teaching water aerobics at the YMCA, now I can pass on the encouragement my instructors gave me.
2. Learn to Ride a Bike: Yes, by 25 you should know how to… but in fact I didn’t, and I was scared I would fall. On a trip to Wildwood this Spring, my friends Amanda and Dan put up with my screaming, slow pace, and eventual victory laps on the boardwalk. Here is a video so you can see yourself!


3. Learn Italian:
One day I would like to intern in Italy while gaining my Masters in International Business. And guess what, my Mother has let it slip - this Christmas I’ll get to begin this goal. I’ll be receiving Rosetta Stone to learn Italian. Thanks Mom! 
4. Study for GMAT’s: I have began! For now that’s all I will say - I promise to keep you updated. 

5. Learn to play an Instrument: For the past year I’ve been debating between the Piano and the Guitar - I’ve finally settled on the Piano. I’ll be purchasing a keyboard and learning the keys on my own first.

    One of my favorite quotes is “In life, the journey is the destination.” Over the last year I did not achieve each goal, however, the experiences, friendships, and the continuous push to reach each goal have made the journey memorable. This includes little achievements throughout the year. Volunteering more than ever, presenting to business owners about how to improve their social media efforts, throwing successful, well attended professional networking events, learning to use InDesign and Dreamweaver. 

    For my 26th birthday, beginning the 27th year of my life I’ll be setting even more goals and continuing to work towards those set last year. Stay tuned for them! It’s important that we all keep living, learning, growing, and challenging - try it out for your next birthday or even for New Year’s and keep reminding yourself that the journey is what makes it worthwhile!

    Hope to see you at the Red Tomato Birthday Benefit!

    Saturday, October 29, 2011

    5 Cost Saving Event Planning Tips

    Whether you’re planning a charity event and looking for the best return on your investment, planning a party for friends from your personal stash of cash, or on a tight budget at work, these 5 tips will help to make your party successful without breaking the bank.

    1. Invitations
    Email invites can be a great way to slim down costs. Social media sites take a ton of work out of the process, but I will caution that using Facebook invites for a work event or LinkedIn invites for a personal party may not be appropriate. Instead there are many sites available that help you design invitations, event registration pages and include systems that help promote and organize your events.

    My favorite site for professional event marketing is The combination of email promotion, event webpages and custom registration help you create a custom image without too much time, knowledge or effort. And the cost to use Eventbrite: a free event costs you nothing. If you’re charging for your event you’ll pay a nominal fee for each transaction or pass this fee to the ticket buyer. For personal events I’d recommend checking out sites like or; both sites allow you to send personal invitations and manage RSVP’s online.

    2. Food & Drink
    Negotiation for some can be scary, here’s a few tips to make the process less daunting. Almost everything is negotiable. Decide before you start meeting with catering companies what you’d like to pay per person attending. Think about the kind of menu you’d like to serve and how you’ll start that negotiation process. Like all negotiation, start low on price and set high expectations. Clear expectations are key.

    As much as we’d like to give everyone what they want at the bar, its not always possible. Most will drink what’s available, keep your menu simple. One red and one white wine, a light and a dark beer. With too many options, you’ll need to overstock which leads to waste. 

    3. Staff
    It’s common knowledge that volunteers are the best way to cut down on staff costs. So what’s the key to getting volunteers and assigning them to a specific task? First think about what they’ve done well in the past and their interests. Also, take time to ask them how they’d like to help. Volunteers that are excited about their part will work harder and take responsibility. Share your list of to-do’s, make jobs clear including the time you’ll need the person available. Just like working with a caterer, it’s important to state your expectations.

    4. Decoration
    Check with the venue of your event to see what decorations they have available, many times you can use items left from past events, with a few alterations you can make them unique to your event.

    The dollar store is a great place to grab accent pieces like candles, glass candle holders or vases, and even gift wrapping. Be creative, use a base product from the dollar store and incorporate your own accents.

    5. Sponsors
    Depending on the type of event sponsors will help with financing. Many times companies are more than willing to trade services as a sponsorship instead of spending their own cash. Typical sponsorships usually include signage at the event and incorporation into advertising. These traditional methods may work, but don’t be afraid to customize sponsorships. Just like your volunteers, ask them what they’re looking to gain from the experience and how they’d like to help. Donations such as tables, chairs, tents, decorations, or event staff will help you cut down on costs and are mutually beneficial to your business relationship.

    Visit for more information about DLB Creative Marketing Services.

    Sunday, February 13, 2011

    The New Consumer-Driven Customer Loyalty

    In our new marketing reality, consumers shop for quality, added benefits, and look for perceived bargains that validate their buying decision. This same “new consumer” wants an experience, not just a service. It’s our job as a business operating under these consumer-driven guidelines to create that experience; one that is far better than our competitors.

    For those who operate small to medium sized businesses, you may be far better off than you realize. You have the ability to influence a larger majority of your staff and affect how they treat your customer base. Just over a year ago we, at Moyer Indoor|Outdoor, redefined our service technicians. The Moyer Service Professional™: More than just a technician. A trusted advisor. Of course this impacted our marketing, but even more so it was imperative that we work on providing opportunities for our customers to see the benefits of working with a Moyer Service Professional™.

    Just the other day, one of our Customer Service Representatives told me that many  of our customers had been calling, telling her how much they appreciated the ice melt we left for them - part of a program we started for all of our pre-pay lawn care customers. Every touch our customer receives from their Service Professional adds to the unique experience they perceive. During the off season, this quick service is a reminder: Our blue & green lawn care truck pulls up (somewhat shocking when you can’t even see your lawn buried under the 2-feet of snow) and their Service Professional, dressed in uniform, stops by to give them an easy-pour bottle of ice melt as an added bonus. They even receive a notice that we’ll deliver more if they need it throughout the season.

    The customer experience doesn’t end there. The challenge in lawn care is that many times the homeowner isn’t present during the application. Using a voice broadcast system we’ve instated Call Ahead Care™. A day before their treatment, our customers receive a call notifying them that we’ll be coming. After our visit we place a flag in their lawn and information in a bag on their doorknob. We’ve now created an experience for the customer: tips to help them maintain their lawn until the next treatment along with the ability to move their treatment until after their neighborhood bar-b-q.

    Pool & Spa Care has it’s own set of marketing challenges. Primarily because not all homeowners need this service and many of those who do, want to be do-it-yourselfers. Here’s how we addressed the problem. Our new Silver Reflections Program includes 1.5 hours with a Pool Service Professional. During this time the homeowner can ask questions; learning how to operate their pool throughout the season. This time with the customer creates a bond and displays our expertise without forgetting the customers end goal; avoiding stress, avoiding expense, and increasing time spent with their family. Next time they need a part replaced or service during their vacation, the trust will be there with a call to Moyer.

    Portion of a post card
    describing the benefits of
    attending Pool School.
    Free workshops have become a trend for business-to-business marketing. Workshops provide networking opportunities and encourage idea sharing. We took this structure and created Pool School. When you look beyond the catchy name, this workshop scheduled twice a year for any area pool owner helps us build relationships. Over time we’ve found such value in these interactions that in 2011 we’ve decided to restructure our Pool & Spa Care service with a new store location and dispatch center in the heart of our service area. On a daily basis, pool owners can receive the same quality care that they’ve found at our Pool School workshops, during our visits, and over the phone, right inside the store.

    For businesses operating in this consumer-driven world, we have an opportunity to adapt. You can do so by starting conversations with your customers, building relationships and creating positive interactions. Each small experience adds to your customer’s loyalty and encourages referrals.

    This article was written for IBS Direct, a direct mail house in King of Prussia, PA. It will be published in their spring 2011 newsletter.

    Friday, January 21, 2011

    Independent Thinking

    During my last blog post, I began by speaking about an event I attended with a friend, Oz Whitesell. On our way, Oz and I started talking about the public school system. Oz worked as a school teacher for 10 years, so I was eager to hear his thoughts.

    Today I'll be exploring a topic that he brought to my attention during this conversation: Independent Thinking. How much does our school system prepare us to become independent thinkers? In our society, who is accepted? Those who follow or those who choose to act on their own individual, unbiased thoughts?

    I recall sitting in Mr. Mitchell's Social Studies class in 9th grade. Going a bit off topic, he brought up a realistic scenario - he asked, "When the bell rings in 10 minutes, what will you do?"

    What would you have thought? -- Well, we're gonna get up, talk to our friends while we head to our locker, grab our books, and go to the next class. Right?

    Right! But what could your answer have been? You could stay in your seat and get your thoughts in order, you could leave the school, you could go to a different class; really the possibilities are endless. It's up to you, isn't it?

    Ok, so what are the consequences for choosing differently then most? You're late for your next class, you miss time with friends, you could get detention.  Or, what if you time it out right? You are more prepared for the next class, you don't get involved with gossip that day, and your head is clearer and ready for what you're learning next.

    So, what do you think happened when the bell rang? Ask yourself: If the rest of your class sat there, would you get up and leave? If your class got up, would you have stayed? What would an independent thinker do?

    I'm not sure I was personally ready to think independently. But, I do remember that a large majority of my class went on their way as usual. This is where peer-pressure sets in; you still look around and see what others are doing, and you do it. I stayed for a few moments with a few of my peers, but nonetheless, it was time to go.

    To be able to think independently you need to practice, it is an ability that many of us have not learned. It isn't always the most accepted. To this day, can we think independently? We still market as others do; we still get on Social Media and follow what others say. What can make us stand out?

    Here are some of the ways I will start developing my independent thought:
    • Research others belief systems, religion, politics, theories, etc. Find about their culture, the history, and see why these have become their beliefs.
    • Listen to music, any and all music. Try something new and random. 
    • Turn off the TV and experience life! 
    • Read. Explore your personal thoughts. Design a picture in your mind with the characters. 
    • Write. Put your thoughts on paper, get them out of your head. It's the best way to hold onto your ideas.
    • Push yourself. Get involved in things that are unfamiliar, that scare you. 
    • Stop believing what others say. They might be right, but think harder. Disprove your theories, their theories, keep brainstorming.
    Find out more in this article: 5 Ways to Develop Independent Thought. 

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    Examining My Community Footprint After a Morning with Jamie & Karen Moyer

    Oz Whitesell & Jamie Moyer at
    the Philadelphia Chamber Event.
    Yesterday I traveled into Philadelphia with a friend, Oz Whitesell to participate in the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Event: Examining the Impact of Good Corporate Citizenship. The event featured Jamie & Karen Moyer. You know Jamie best by his World Series-winning baseball career. During his professional baseball career Jamie and his wife, Karen, have given back to not only his community, but to many communities in the United States with the Moyer Foundation. I'll give you a quick blurb about the Moyer Foundation from their website that helps explain just a small portion of what they do:

    "Through the generosity of a giving community, The Moyer Foundation supports programs that directly serve critical needs of children in severe distress. Since its inception, The Moyer Foundation has raised over $20 million to help support more than 225  different programs that help children in distress in a variety of ways." Find out more 

    In my life I've been encouraged by my parents and teachers to be involved, give back, and stay active. It was only natural for me to devote some of my time to the Souderton community and the surrounding communities that Moyer Indoor Outdoor serves. So I started reflecting back on the last year and how the involvement has helped me grow and create lasting connections.
    • How have I helped?
    • How has being involved help me grow?
    • Who has helped me grow?
    • What can I do to make sure that my efforts go towards something worthwhile?
    • How has this changed me in the past year? 
    These are all questions that help me analyze my time spent over the past year, and decide where to lend my time in the coming year. Instead of talking about how I've given back, I wanted to recognize those who have helped me. You see, these few have made great impacts on my success, and many of them might never understand how their selfless involvement in the community has made an impact.

    Tara King, Executive Director, Upper Bucks Chamber of Commerce
    I started serving the UBCC on their Foodie committee. I have to give credit to a friend, Wendy Ringenary, Owner of Minute Man Press in Quakertown, for pulling me into this committee. My first meeting I started throwing out ideas (as I do) and Tara jumped right on board! She gave me the confidence in my thoughts and designs. Her encouragement and positive attitude along with the others on our committee made me love to be apart of a great cause. The proceeds from The Foodie event go towards Eduction programs in the surrounding school districts; mini grants and scholarships.
    The Foodie.

    The outcome of her encouragement towards not only myself, but the entire committee: Well, excitedly, we had the highest attendance and the most restaurants participate. We found new oportunities to advertise so that in the following years we can use the promotional package we've set in place to raise more money for Education in our community.

    John Ralston, CEO, Sitecats Web Development
    During a conversation about Indian Valley Week on John's new radio show, Indian Valley Live, I spoke about how being involved in the chamber just a year before gave me the opportunity to sit across from John on the radio a year later.

    During the Indian Valley Celebrate Week Show
    on John's show, Indian Valley Live.
    John and I met at one of the Chamber week events in 2009. In 2010, John and I served on the Marketing Committee together for Indian Valley Chamber, and with his recommendation, I now serve as the Chairperson for that committee. John gives to our community in so many ways; we cross paths as he gives his time and web development services to many causes, including: Souderton Telford Main Streets, Keystone Opportunity Center, Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce, Souderton-Telford Rotary, just to name a few.

    Ken Byler, Principal and Senior Consultant, Higher Ground Consulting Group, LLC and Marketing Director, Detweiler, Hershey & Assoc., PC

    Ken has been a figure in the Souderton community well before I even knew Souderton existed. When you go to his LinkedIn Profile you see that Ken states he is "Committed to creating a sustainable community of inspirational leaders." I don't think anyone could have said it better!

    Ken taking a tour of the Moyer Feed Mill
    during the Fall Moyer Indoor Outdoor Mixer.
    As the President of the Indian Valley Chamber, Ken was present during many of the Marketing Committee meetings. As soon as I became Chairperson, Ken asked me to lunch and gave me some very important advice for running a committee. He told me the harsh realities, the difficulties that I would come across, and gave me encouragement. He started molding another "inspirational leader".  

    I would reccommend following Ken:

    Mikaela Danielle Martin, Certified Health Counselor and Coach, Guidance for Growing
    While I've only known Mikaela for a short time, she has definitely taken so much of my time...
    You see it takes me an eternity to get through the grocery store now - and this is all due to the Guidance for Growing, Cholesterol & Fat Workshop. THANK YOU!

    Guidance for Growing Workshop.
    While during a Young Professionals Event I helped organize, Ken Byler and John Ralston encouraged me to get to know Mikaela and her partner Jason. Since which time they have been involved in the Indian Valley Chamber Puttle Tournament with Moyer, attended a Moyer Mixer I organized this Fall, and have become long-lasting friends.

    Through Mikaela's positive thinking during her daily affirmations on Twitter and Facebook, her unforgettable workshops (for only $5!), and her column in the Souderton Independent, Healthy Bites, she has influenced a new healthy lifestyle. It may take me an hour+ to get through the grocery store, but it's worth it!

    While I can't name all who have influenced me over the past year, you can see how much I've been changed by my community. You get involved to help others, many times you don't realize how much you'll receive back! I encourage you to be involved, get excited for others, learn from others, and continue to become an "inspirational leader", as Ken suggested.