More bang for the buck

Published 2:06 pm Tuesday, July 1, 2014

From left, Diana Mitchell, Susan Melton and Sondra Dickens represent The Roanoke Center as they accept the Corporate Business of the Year Award from Judy Collier (right) at last week’s annual meeting conducted by the Northampton County Chamber of Commerce. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

From left, Diana Mitchell, Susan Melton and Sondra Dickens represent The Roanoke Center as they accept the Corporate Business of the Year Award from Judy Collier (right) at last week’s annual meeting conducted by the Northampton County Chamber of Commerce. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

JACKSON – There are numerous opportunities for a business to advertise its goods or services.

Taking advantage of which form of advertising is the best for a particular business is often the toughest decision a business owner will face, especially when that company operates in a rural area.

That was the topic John Brown chose to discuss here June 26 at the annual meeting of the Northampton County Chamber of Commerce.

Brown, a Rich Square native who serves as Agency Manager for the three Northampton County Farm Bureau offices, got his point across in multiple areas upon discussing successful, creative marketing initiatives in rural areas.

“We look at all different types of advertising at Farm Bureau,” Brown said. “There’s not a lot of TV stations covering our market. When I grew up we had four options when it came to watching TV – CBS, NBC, ABC and PBS.

“Now, as my brother told me, he can watch four football games at the same time….changing from one to another in-between plays,” Brown continued. “If you’re advertising on TV and my brother is watching, you’re out of luck. He’s not going to see your ad because he’s switching back and forth between games.”

His brother isn’t the only Brown apparently bored at TV commercials.

“When I have the TV remote and a commercial comes on, I’m checking out something else to watch,” he said. “If my wife has the remote and a commercial comes on, she mutes it.

“Advertising on TV really doesn’t work for our area, so we look to newspapers,” he added. “But our local papers do not publish each and every day. And when you advertise in the newspaper, just one ad doesn’t work. It has to be continually in print to work. We try to do that.”

Reading the news online is a direction some are heading, especially the younger generation, Brown noted.

“Young people are not buying newspapers, they’re looking online,” he said. “That’s another advertising venue we’re looking at.”

Radio is another advertising means, but Brown noted an apparent decline in listeners.

“There is satellite radio, but that’s a tough market for us to advertise,” he said. “How do we know how many people are listening?”

Brown said Northampton County Farm Bureau has used billboard advertising in the western end of the county.

“I had more talk about that type advertising than any other,” he stated. “We tried it for about six months and then our contract was up. When our billboard came down we had people to call and say they missed seeing our faces. I got almost as much bang for my buck after our contract ended as I did when the billboard was up. Our plan is to use that method again, but change it about every six months. The same thing gets stale.”

Some other advertising methods Brown employs are yard signs, and customer referrals.

“I’m fortunate to have some of the best customer service people in the business,” Brown said. “Go into any of our three offices…talk with Linda Davis in Jackson; go to Conway and talk with Pat Hodges; go to Gaston and talk with Georgia Taylor….they don’t have bad days. They are there for you. They’re the type of people you need in your business. They are our best advertising.”

The key in any form of advertising is using something to catch an eye, Brown stressed.

“In newspaper, printing in color is needed because it stands out,” he said.

Facebook and Linked-In are other markets that Brown is studying.

But good business goes far beyond making money…it’s also about giving something back.

“I would encourage business owners to offer something to help the non-profit organizations when they conduct fundraisers,” Brown said. “Those folks need help and they are appreciative when our local businesses chip in and help. Helping them can turn out to be your best advertisement.”

Brown also put in a plug for the Northampton County Chamber of Commerce.

“We need these folks to help promote the businesses here in our area,” he stated. “They’re great to sit down with and bounce around some ideas. They do a lot of great things for our county. This is home. It’s a great place and we’ve got a great thing going here at home. We need to promote just how great this county really is…the great things we’ve got. We have a lot to be proud of.”

The business side of the meeting served as an introduction to a new member of the Northampton Chamber Board of Directors – Garysburg businessman Gene St. Clair, owner of A&E Restrooms, Inc.

Other Board members include Wendell Edwards, Jim Gossip, Robin Phillips, Sidney Joyner, Susan Skinner, Tammy Vinson, Fannie Greene, Robert Wilkins, Dick Collier, and Lance Jenkins.

“I’m so happy to have these individuals working for our Chamber because they are a working board,” said Chamber Executive Director Judy Collier.

Officers announced for the year are President Lance Jenkins, 1st Vice President Wendell Edwards, 2nd Vice President Sidney Joyner, Secretary Robin Phillips and Treasurer Jim Gossip.

As part of the annual meeting, Judy Collier announced the annual award winners:

Small Business of the Year – Claudine’s Restaurant of Rich Square; and

Corporate Business of the Year – The Roanoke Center of Rich Square.

The Eyes of Emiline (sisters: Jessica, Amanda and Emily King) provided the entertainment at the meeting, which was held at the Northampton County Cultural and Wellness Center.


About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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