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The GAME official rules

OFFICIAL RULES!!! Guess That Small Business GameBuynowphoto_2

Here are the rules for the game.

1)  You have to be a member to play. Now I know there will be those of you who say "wait a minute" I just want to play but I don't want to be a member. Well I say to you that you will get back way more than the $10 annual fee. Play the game even a couple of times and you'll get back a lot more than $10 can buy you. Just participate with the merchants by taking advantage of perks and you'll be really winning back more than $10. We must eat though if we are to keep adding merchants (they'll always be more added) AND play this game and the other cool things we have planned so we ask that you be a member to play. Whew!

2) You can guess as often as you want!Guess away. We want you to do that. The minute you get the answer right you can stop and we'll let you know what you win. I'm so excited because the merchants are offering cool stuff for you to win.

3) Send your answers to us at dsmbuzz@mchsi.com call us at 515.274.6703 and let us know your answer or leave a message with your answer. I thought you could just respond on the site but then I thought...what happens when someone answers it right? Then everyone else could just answer based on the right answer posted. For now I say let's call or email the answer but for fun you can add clues via posting on the game. Want to add a clue? Post it on the game for the month.

4) Share the game with others. We need help spreading the game so please pass it on!

5) Finally. The game clues will change each quarter. My husband and I negotiated this because I was so excited I thought we could run a new game more often but each month seems right. (don't let David know I thought he was right)

That's it I think. Those are the Guess That Small Business rules. Have fun and win!

The next round Starts tomorrow!!!!!!!

I'll be trying to announce this round via The Des Moines Register too.

Meet Betsy and Wally

Betsy_and_wally_2

I've been thinking and learning a great deal about marketing and promoting the dsmBUZZ brand. We're trying to discern who the ideal customer will be for dsmBUZZ membership cards and how our brand "story" will reach them. Who are these fine people? What do they care about?

I didn't have to search long to find Rohit Bhargava's blog. He speaks on branding and asks the question, "What brands are you passionate about?" I don't know if I would say I'm passionate about a lot of brands but maybe I'm "team loyal" to certain ones -our Prius, and L'Occitane Soap are a couple of examples. I like that our Prius is better for the environment and more fuel efficient than anything on the road. I like to think about L'Occitane in relation to Provence. I also like the scents and feel of this quality soap. (I especially like purchasing L'Occitane supplies at Eden in East Village).

So who do we hope to find that will feel loyal or passionate to dsmBUZZ? 

  • People who like to support their community and appreciate associating things they buy directly with people that benefit from the business and have invested right here in Des Moines.
  • People who care about the environment because small businesses often mean a return to neighborhood shopping areas and walking to stores rather than driving 10 miles out of the city and supporting more urban sprawl.
  • People who want local economic power because more of our money stays right here in the city when we buy local.
  • People who like local well-being. Small businesses donate more money to local issues that help sustain and improve our neighborhoods.
  • People who want to participate in fun and inspiring activities while gaining added value for shopping local.

We created the 1950s styled characters of Betsy and Wally for the dsmBUZZ logo to tell the story of a simpler time when people were more connected in community and businesses reflected the uniqueness of the town where they lived. We also like the idea that Word of Mouth and Buzz are a small business best marketing tools and wanted to participate in spreading buzz.

What do you think?  Can you suggest ways we can help spread the passion for dsmBUZZ?

 

Good Job!!!

Piece_of_cake This is me participating the 2006 Chicago marathon last fall. Okay, I didn't really run all of it. Fine, I didn't actually run any of it. But I was there eating a marathon-type breakfast. I watched the runners go by from the window as I ate. It was pretty tough. I had a side of French toast, 2 eggs over-easy, 4 strips of bacon and hash browns--the crispy kind with cheese and onions. Afterword, I went outside and had my friend take a photo of me running in spirit with my fellow marathoners.

I have not run a marathon but I do run. Now here's the thing. I used to be, for about 42 years or so, an athletic nothing. I mean I truly didn't like to do anything related to sports. However a couple of summers ago, my son, a long distance runner, convinced me that if I ran long enough I would reap the benefit of these endorphins that would make me feel really great. For some reason that sold me and there I was outside running a block and huffing the entire distance. It was pretty miserable and I whined, "I can't do it, I can't do it." My son said, "Yes you can." He then said I needed just to do that process each day and add a bit more distance each time.

For some reason, I still don't understand, I did go out each day and run. Now THAT was what I found so amazing. I didn't even think about getting to a particular distance. I simply focused on the success of running that given day. It was incredible that someone like myself who generally has a short attention span for such things kept it up. I have not run long distance marathons but last spring I did run the 8k during the Drake Relays. And any day I can manage at least 2.5 miles! That's really something...for me.

These days I get sort of overwhelmed and even a bit bummed when I look at all the things there are to learn about starting a business, keeping up with technology, and comparing myself with all the other creative people out there. Then I think about this running and I remind myself to praise today's accomplishment.

Today I made some calls to follow up on letters I sent to businesses last week. I have two appointments with businesses tomorrow that I hope will sign up for the dsmBUZZ network. Then on Thursday morning I have another. Good job today Sherry.

The concept of focusing on the little task is not a new one, and I'm no personal coach, but it never hurts to be reminded that it is the journey and not the destination that matters. Take a look at Inevitable Success by Robin Sharma at goalsuccess.com. That reminded me nicely to cool my jets on looking too far ahead at future expectations and focus more on the here and now.

So did you get something, even a little bit, done on something that matters to you today? Did you walk a bit or eat less, or spend more time with people that matter to you? If you did, congratulations on a great accomplishment!

The next GUESS THAT SMALL BUSINESS game is just around the corner. I'll post it at the beginning of February. Start anticipating the fun because it's going to be cool!

How do you do it?

Poochjennno1 A couple of weekends ago we hosted our daughter and son-in-law's dachshund puppy while they were out of town. Our 8-year old snoodle Poochie was a pretty decent host given her poor social skills (barks and yips at all foreign mongrels that pass). Jenny at 8-months and only about 5 pounds courageously bounded around and found EVERYTHING interesting. Her attention leaped and ran from one thing to another all the time. In an effort to not be outdone, Poochie became interested in things beyond napping all day as she saw the world anew through Jenny eyes. Old neglected bones were now flavorful, kibble in other bowls looked delicious. Poochie spent hours chewing rawhide she had not chewed in years because Jenny was chewing it too. We laughed all weekend watching the activity.

I'm feeling a little bit Jenny these days as I tap the resources of the blogosphere. There is so much to read, so many interesting voices, and ideas. I click my way from one thing to another and wonder how people manage it all. So I'm asking....how do you manage it all? If you are one of those really creative and clever people who actually run a business where you make an income (a novel concept to us at this point) and manage the information stratosphere that is blogdom, we want to know your strategy for allowing enough time to read, blog, and do the other activities of business. How do you do it? Really. Share! 

On the dsmBUZZ network front, I have two appointments so far for next week and will follow up some letters of invitation to small businesses. It's been suggested that we should create a FAQ sheet that really explains dsmBUZZ the network and membership so we're working on that.

I found Steve Pavlina's blog on 10 Business Lessons from Snarky Entrepreneur to be inspiring this week. I especially like the idea of "ready, fire, aim" as opposed to aim, aim, aim. We're firing away!

Buy the Story

Entreprenuer_article_scanWinter really hit here in Des Moines, Iowa this week. It is so cold we can actually use words such as "bitter" and "frigid" with sincerity. I walked outside briefly yesterday and my hands were aching afterwords. What's the cure for that? Cold water I think, although that always seemed a strange solution for cold hands when I was a kid.

No time like now to start thinking about sunny places that are far away.

We asked a few questions of Josh Hanson, Director, Wine Group at Small Vineyards. Their site describes wines and wine makers in Italy that can warm even the coldest of hearts. We found Small Vineyards compliments of Valeria Maltoni and her blog "The Genie is Outside the Bottle" . It may be that labels lure novice wine shoppers to purchase wines (We know Drew. Your point about labels seems true) but the description of these family-owned vineyards reminds us that wine is more than its cover...there beats the heart of a story in each bottle.

Sherry and David: Can you describe Small Vineyards?

Josh: We are importers, specializing in hand-harvested, family-owned, small production wines that clearly express terroir. In short, wines of great integrity. We are very interested, as a Company, in protecting “small” – a style of wine making and living that is in danger of becoming obsolete due to the rise of many Super Brands, like Yellow Tail.

Sherry and David: How did you decide to focus on these small vineyards in Italy?

Josh: Italy has some of the best small estates in the world; The decision was made because a) The founders have a deep passion for Italian wines and the family wineries, and b) There is a definite need in the marketplace for a reliable source of great quality, earth-friendly wines.

Sherry and David: Has the corporate wine industry made it more difficult for small vineyards?

Josh: Probably not intentionally. "Yellow Tail Fever" has changed the industry (and other wines before that, such as Kendall Jackson, Fat Bastard, etc). It is akin to the restaurant industry being hugely chain-driven. The quality might be consistent, but it is rarely, if ever, inspired.

Sherry and David: Distribution for small vineyards...what are the challenges?

Josh:  Organizing the wineries in Italy, actually. Over the last 6 years, we have created a consortium of families that share in costs and logistics to help make the "trains run on time".

Also, making sure the consumer knows it's a small production wine. That's why we put our gold seal "small vineyards discovery" sticker on every bottle we import. It's easy to spot, tells a simple story in three words, and is a powerful assurance of quality.

Sherry and David: Do you distribute to any wine stores here in Des Moines, IA?

Josh: Not yet. Iowa will probably be a 2008 venture (we are in 23 states now).

Sherry and David: Is there a location near here where people can find your wines?

Josh: Unfortunately no. Please stay tuned.

Sherry and David: What have you learned about yourself and the industry promoting small vineyards?

Josh: People want wines, foods, and experiences that are not manufactured - we have a basic desire to have more honesty in our lives, and wine is a big symbol of this.

We liked the concept of unifying small vineyards for collective influence. Do you have a story where a small business or concept gathered steam when joined with like-minded voices? We'll be working to make dsmBUZZ that powerhouse here where small can be mighty. We've started making appointments with small businesses to add them to the network! We'll keep you posted on our progress.

Thailand Meets East Village

The snow had already made a healthy assent Saturday, January 13 at 11:30 as we made our way down Walnut toward Des Moines’ East Village. We parked easily on the vacant street in front of Ban Thai at 215 E. Walnut St.  This is just kitty-corner from the Embassy Suites, and yet somehow feeling like it's far from the fray of the city. We had been to Ban Thai a few times before and decided to make it our first reviewed restaurant for what we’re calling the “Eat, Drink and Buy Local” blogs.

Eggrolls We started with appetizers of Egg Rolls and Crab Rangoon. David feels that the Egg Rolls at Ban’s are the best he has ever had in town. For one thing they are vegetarian, (even though David is not).   For another thing, they are crisp, stuffed with any amount of seasoned fresh vegetables, and served diagonally sliced for an inviting display across the square bone-white plates. Personally, I’ve never met a crab Rangoon that I didn’t like but these were particularly enjoyable because again they were light and crisp, and the mouth full of seasoned cream cheese filling is more delicate and flavorful than your standard Crab Rangoon faCrabrangoonre.   

Our waiter was appropriately attentive and we enjoyed the quiet of the snowy Saturday afternoon, recognizing that the sparse crowd has not been the norm on our other visits. Reviews of Ban Thai have been good across the board and people have been flocking in on our other visits.

For entrees, David ordered the yellow curry chicken, SPICY please. He needn’t have emphasized the Spicy. I wondered how the seasoning of Curry made its way into Thai food and learned Currychicken via Wikipedia that Thai food has been influenced by India, China, and South America. There are five flavors featured in each dish or meal which include hot, sour, sweet, salty, and bitter.  This would explain the unique blend of spicy curry and coconut milk mixed with the Chicken, Potatoes, Bamboo shoots, Red Peppers, and Eggplant that helped to compliment the heat of the Curry sauce.

I ordered the sweet and sour chicken with generous cuts of white Breast Meat Chicken pieces in the sauce along with green onions, mushrooms, those little corns (what are they called?), and the unusual addition of tomatoes and cucumbers. It was all very fresh and the flavors truly did run the gambit of offering the five flavors of Thai food all on one platter. Servings were large enough that we could easily sample from each others meal and take a little home for a spicy and memorable midnight snack.Sweetandsour

The ambiance was inviting and attention has been paid to the details of making Ban Thai a worthy restaurant addition to the East Village scene.

Do you know of a great local restaurant worthy of being inducted into the Eat, Drink, and buy local roster? Please let us know your thoughts.

First Name That Small Business - Varisity Theatre

Varsity_theatre To say that David and I are movie junkies is probably an understatement. If we could get paid a nickle for each one we've seen, both old and new, we would be millionaires. Want to try and stump David on the subject of movie trivia and you'd have a challenge on your hands. We've been long-time patrons of The Varsity Theatre. It was a pleasure for us to interview Bev Mahon regarding his many years of experience in the movie industry that eventually led to owning and operating The Varsity.

We dropped off his copy of Small Business Buzz this week and let him know he was our first pick for the "Guess That Small Business Game." He has been a generous supporter of our efforts and we appreciate his excellent feedback.

The clues from last week were as follows: 1) When we interviewed Bev last year he said he had been in the move industry for 74 years. 2) The photo is a section of the movie reel that stands at the entrance into the foyer of the theatre. 3) The Varsity REALLY DOES charge far less for popcorn, pop, and candy than the other theaters in town. Bev has made a point of that so that people don't have to "take out a second mortgage" just to enjoy a show. 4) A section of the top of Drake's Old Main across the street. 5) There is a kernal of popcorn and part of the popcorn box that is on display behind the concessions counter.

We got a few guesses with the first round of the game and learned some things. David says we shouldn't run the game every week but rather have each one go a month. I think he may be right so I'll be posting clues for the next game the first week of February.

We've also learned not to name our photos files with the name of the business. Thanks Brett Trout!!!

Finally, I think we made the clues to obscure for participation.

Stay tuned for the next round!

I'm No Jerk but....

Cardcarrying_1 Today we identify with that scene from "The Jerk" where Steve Martin's character runs around saying, "The new phone books are here, the new phone books are here!" We're feeling just that kind of giddy because The Member Cards are Here! Beeline&Blue printed them as opposed to the plastic card companies I looked at outside of the state. We think they look really cool and we're getting more excited every day.

It's amazing how feeling awesome changes the tone when speaking with others. It's easy to talk about something when it is mutually beneficial with tons of value for the consumer and for small businesses who become part of the network.

We spoke with several more businesses today about the program and have a goal of adding 25 new businesses to the network by the end of February. Think we can do it? We're also looking at having a booth at the Natural Living Expo in March.

Speaking of Steve Martin...We've learned something new just from heading out into the blogosphere. Steve Martin is a blogger! Funny stuff. Take a look if you just want to have a laugh.

I woke up feeling contagious, watch out if you get too close or you're likely to feel excitement, optimism, and euphoria. Yippeeee!

Talking to Myself

I talk to myself. I can be seen driving or walking down the street very engaged in conversation… Talkingheads_3 with nobody. As an “auditory learner” I only get the gist of what I’m thinking when I say it out loud.

As a beginner blogger and new business operator, the auditory side is having to give way for quite a lot of reading. One good post generally leads to another, and pretty soon I’ve been silent far longer than my baseline.  Thank goodness for the Central Iowa Bloggers meeting last week which afforded my auditory side a chance to break out. This group, in conjunction with Mike Sansone’s free Thursday morning meetings, helps solidify the information that comes in daily through blog resources.

I’m working to add merchants. Yesterday at a board meeting for Partners Unlimited, Chaden Halfhill of Silent Rivers set aside time to speak with me about possible contacts for the dsmBUZZ network. Thanks Chaden!

Speaking of networking, does anyone have thoughts on the new layout of the Des Moines Register’s Business Section? I dropped an email to Karen Mracek who is the new Business Editor. How has blogging changed the face of business networking here in Iowa?   

David and I are always looking for validation that a “buy local” program like dsmBUZZ has merit. There is a good list of benefits at Midwest Booksellers Association.

We’re thinking about adding some sort of measurement tool to help readers track the progress of our goals. We’ll work on this for a future post so you can keep us accountable. Have you played the game?

Warm Fuzzies of Blogging

Warmandfuzzyone I'm a terrible golfer. I enjoy blithely swinging at balls and spending the time outdoors but I have no talent or skill for the sport. I golf about once a year and my absolute favorite part is the golfer's etiquette. I'll be swinging and missing and finally the ball will basically fall off the tee. At this point the rest of the foursome will say something affirming like, "Good effort!" The first time I heard this I thought, "Oh this is for me." After all, who doesn't like to be affirmed for their effort?

Thus far the blogging community is much the same. I'm learning, trying, stumbling my way around and every so often someone responds to my outreach of gratitude with an affirmation. How cool is that!

This week I have a few warm fuzzy awards to bestow.

Mike Sansone - Mr. conversation! Why blog, how to blog, find help. A consistently terrific resource.

Sandra Renshaw - You keep directing me to really compelling stuff! Thanks.

Drew McLellan - Each post is fun to read and makes me think.

Kyle's Cove - Ohhhhhhh. I sort of get it now. Thanks.

Valeria Maltoni - Wow. Inspiration in a blog.

I just don't stop learning and each link takes me to something cooler and something new.

My Warm and Fuzzy bloppers. Our dog Poochie was not cooperating.

Warmandfuzzythree Warmandfuzzytwo Warmandfuzzyfour

or call 515-274-6703.

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