Archive for Biz Profiles

5 Questions With Think Ink Marketing

This week's 5 question interview features Craig Dickhout of Think Ink Marketing. Think Ink Marketing helps you get your mail opened by providing 100% handwritten mail pieces. See some great samples on their website.

1.  What do you do for a living?

I own Think Ink Marketing, a direct mail company with a unique and effective niche.  We specialize in 100% real handwritten marketing.  Our standard mailing method is to use a #10 white envelope, with a live stamp and a blue handwritten name and address.  This guarantees at least a 95% open rate.   Our mail simply does not look like a solicitation so it gets opened and read.  It also works great for companies that are looking to strengthen their relationship with their customer or potential customer.  We can personalize mail with a simple hand signature on a letter or write full greeting card messages for our clients.  A handwritten envelope, note or message has and always will be a very personal and effective way to communicate with your target audience.

2.  What makes you different from others in your industry?

Think Ink Marketing is the original and largest hand personalized company in the nation.  We mail between $2 and $6 million hand personalized pieces per month and can handle marketing campaigns of any size.  We provide excellent quality in every piece we produce at the most reasonable prices in the industry.

3.  Who is your ideal customer?

Handwritten envelopes ensure that the direct mail pieces get opened.  So my ideal customer is really anyone who wants to ensure that their mail is getting opened and see an increase in their response rates.  We successfully handle marketing campaigns for a wide range of industries including mortgage, automotive, skin care, diet, real estate, debt and seminar.

4.  What has been your most effective marketing strategy to date?

We recently did a marketing campaign for Direct TV that was especially successful.  A card was sent to all prospects that had called inquiring about Direct TV's service but did not sign up.  The card offered the exact same offer that customers were offered initially.  The card was sent in a hand addressed envelope with a live $.44 stamp.  Direct TV had a response rate of over 10%.  This is virtually unheard of in the direct mail industry.  For us, it's not too rare!

5.  I would be more effective at marketing my business if…

This is a tough one.  I think I market my business pretty well simply because that is my business.  We send our personalized direct mail to our prospective clients often to ensure that we continue to grow as the largest hand personalized mailing house in the country. 

5 Questions With Jeremy Lattimore

This week's interview features 5 questions with Jeremy Lattimore of Borea Systems, Inc and Refocusing Technology.

1. What do you (really) do for a living?

I am a technical problem solving guru.  My passion is to help people/organizations find creative and efficient solutions to their business problems utilizing technology.  Technology should make your life easier and more efficient, not more complicated, as it often does.

With years of experience in using technology to solve business problems, I can help you use the technology to make you and your business better.  I have spent time in many languages (VB, C#, T-SQL, PL-SQL, etc., etc., etc.) and in many different platforms (Windows, Web, Handheld, etc.).  Also, I have focused my education and experience on solving business needs not just learning the next technology.

Summary: I solve real world business problems by utilizing technology.

2. What makes you different from others in your industry?

Really there are two things that differentiate me from others.  I have a focus on solving business problems instead of just creating and implementing neat new technologies.  The main focus has to be solving the business problem.  This puts technology in it's proper place… as a tool to solve problems. 

Second, my focus on efficiency.  Because I am interested in solving business problems instead of just implementing technology, it makes no sense when a solution makes things more difficult.  A new solution should solve your solution in a very efficient manner to allow you/your business to do the task more effectively with less effort.


3. Who is your ideal customer?

A customer who is interested in spending the time to understand their processes and the problem in order to create a solution to that problem that will truly make their business systems better.  In many cases, corners are cut to save time and money in the short term only to find that it costs a lot more over the long term. 

4. What has been your most effective marketing strategy to date?

Well, I have to admit that I need work on my marketing strategies.  Using a strategy of focusing on social media and networking has brought some level of reward but will need to have better focus in the future.

5. I would be more effective at marketing my business if…

I "finalized" my longer term focus and could prioritize marketing a specific service or product.  Focus needs to be tightened significantly to be effective.

5 Questions With Great Plains Direct

This weeks blog interview features Great Plains Direct, a Lenexa based company specializing in direct marketing.

1. What do you (really) do for a living?  – We’re Master TouchPlanners. Our customers lack the necessary expertise and/or struggle to make time to plan their direct marketing efforts and manage the time consuming tactical execution details. They come to us for help in crafting and executing direct marketing TouchPlans.

2. What makes you different from others in your industry?  – We put special emphasis on the planning and segmentation phases of Direct Marketing. Unlike many of our competitors we are not tied to specific assets (i.e. printing presses or other capital intensive equipment) and therefore we are able to make unbiased recommendations about the most efficient and effective combinations of direct marketing touches.

3. Who is your ideal customer? – Best fit customers tend to be those that see great value in direct marketing and advance planning, but don’t have the time, expertise, or priority to design, calendar and manage the execution details of a specific direct marketing TouchPlan.

4. What has been your most effective marketing strategy to date?  – A thoughtful referral strategy – we plan and act in specific extraordinary ways to help partners and customers. Later these same partners are delighted and proactive in introducing us to new prospects.

5. I would be more effective at marketing my business if… – We will be significantly more effective when we finish implementing the Duct Tape Marketing System in our own marketing efforts.

5 Questions with Rachel Phillips – Search Engine Guide

This week's interview features 5 questions (plus one) with Rachel Phillips of Search Engine Guide and Small Business Brief. Both of these sites are great resources for small business owners and I highly recommend them.

1. What do you (really) do for a living?
Well, sometimes I ask myself that same question!  Having only been with Search Engine Guide for a year, I'm still fairly new to the industry.  The addition of my position has been a learning and growing process for all of us (only 3 full-time employees).  My official title is Business Development Manager, but I dabble in a little bit of everything.  My primary responsibilities include ad sales, conference sponsorships, networking (on and off line) and writing the occasional blog post.

2. What makes you different from others in your industry?
I'll take this in context of Search Engine Guide.  As a whole, Search Engine Guide and our Small Business Answers network are different because of our down-to-earth, easy to understand teaching style.  Jennifer Evans Laycock, our editor-in-chief and conference chair, works really hard to make sure articles are written in a way that small businesses can understand and implement. 

3. Who is your ideal customer?
Anyone who want so learn more about online marketing, SEO, SEM, etc.  We serve over 600,000 small business people, the bulk of whom are the business decision makers for their companies.  This includes owners, marketers, PR people and industry professionals.

4. What has been your most effective marketing strategy to date?
Honestly, just talking to people, investing time in social media, getting to know people, building relationships online that then transfer to offline.

5. I would be more effective at marketing my business if…
I were a marketer. ;)

6.  What big things should we look for from Search Engine Guide in 2009?
The new year brings growth and positive change in two ways for Search Engine Guide.  I would definitely be on the lookout for the next Small Business Marketing Unleashed conference.  We launched SBMU last year.  Two shows and rave reviews later, we're hoping to continue the series in 2009.  The other item on the agenda is the official launch of our Small Business Answers Network.  By funneling Search Engine Guide and our other sites through Small Business Answers, we hope to reach an even broader market and become a resource for everything small business related.

5 Questions With Huckabay Holdings

This week’s featured business owner is Caylon Huckabay, Managing Partner of Huckabay Holdings.  Located in Kansas City, MO, Huckabay Holdings is a national distributor Lumber Loc hidden deck fasteners,  . You can learn more about Huckabay Holdings at

What do you do for a living?
I sell eco-friendly plastic products that help people build a maintenance free deck with a hidden-deck-fastening system.

What makes you different from others in your industry?
I make a green statement while providing the most cost effective hidden-deck-fastener in the nation that is the easiest to install, and is the only fastener that handles expansion and contraction movement on both the length and width of your deck board.

Who is your ideal customer?
My ideal customers are Lumberyards and deck contractors, though I also sell to homeowners where no distributor has been set up.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to date?
My most effective marketing strategy to date has been my internet advertising. Since my target markets are national it is the most cost effective way to get information to people and create leads for sales that may not be worth traveling in order to secure. My web advertising varies from websites, to online shopping carts, to Amazon listings et al.

I have also recently started a blog where I discuss deck building materials, deck ideas, and pictures.

I would be more effective at marketing my business if…
I would be more effective at marketing my business if I were more passionate about it. I know I should be doing more marketing, but it always seems to get pushed to the back of the line of everything else that needs my attention.

5 Questions With Bernier Accounting

This week I am starting a new feature on this blog. Once a week, I will be interviewing business owners to find out how they “do marketing”.

First up is Beth Bernier, Owner & Translator of Bernier Accounting, an Accounting & Computer Consulting company located in Prairie Village, KS. You can learn more about Bernier Accounting at

What do you do for a living?

I translate Accounting into English for business owners so that they can use the information to make valid educated decisions. I also work to help the company make more profit by cutting expenses, raising prices, and many other methods.

What makes you different from others in your industry?

I am different than others in my industry because I go to the client’s office to perform the accounting duties. This gives me a distinctive perspective on their unique business. Also, I have a wide network of professionals to recommend for business issues that may arise.

Who is your ideal customer?

My ideal customer is in the first 5 years of startup. They may have employees and be either a service or a product based business. They need to be open to being coached by me in their accounting matters.

What has been your most effective marketing strategy to date?

My most effective marketing strategy to date would be a combination of a couple of things. First, I have formed alliances with other business people who are in a position to refer work to me. Second, I always do my best when I am working, even going above the call of duty to help the client. Third, I ask my clients to refer me to people they know.

I would be more effective at marketing my business if…

I worked my networking event contacts better (follow up with handwritten notes and offers of coffee), if I sent out newsletters or postcards on a regular basis,  if I taught some seminars/classes and/or write articles for magazines or newspapers.