Businesses Without Borders bolsters Grand County companies
Grand County, Colorado
At least one home-grown organization isn’t letting the sluggish economy prevent it from forging ahead to bolster local businesses.
Five years since it’s inception, Businesses Without Borders has grown to nearly 250 participants.
“In this economy, it’s more important than ever to support our neighbors,” said Borders founding member Francie de Vos, owner of a home gift-basket enterprise called Frank Expressions. “Our main focus is to support and promote Grand County businesses through networking opportunities that can increase leads and referrals.
The most economical ways to get yourself out there, the better off you’ll be.”
Businesses Without Borders offers a grassroots approach to marketing ” good old-fashioned word of mouth.
And for some business owners strapped for cash, the price is right: free.
“A lot of businesses can’t afford memberships to some organizations,” she said. “This is an avenue to get out there and get themselves known.”
Besides hosting bi-monthly card-exchanging sessions among business owners in rotated locations throughout Grand County, Businesses Without Borders recently launched its Web site. Participates may opt to pay $20 per year to post the name of a business and provide a link for more exposure.
The only “border” Businesses Without Borders has, de Vos said, is that all business participants must have a Grand County address.
“Some people think that if they hang up a sign, everyone will know about them. But it doesn’t work that way,” de Vos said. “You still need to market and promote.”
Her own business gained a boost, she said, when the organization blossomed.
She said she took advantage of networking sessions where each participant gives a 30-second introduction about what they do.
“I feel like now I have a much stronger local base,” de Vos said. “And I’m doing business with people I wouldn’t have known about. I’ve become familiar with locally produced products I’ve been able to put into my baskets for local flavor.”
The Borders’ Promo Pal Program links one business owner to another. “It’s a one-on-one marketing effort where I’m promoting another business and another business is promoting me,” de Vos said, whose “Pal” is JR’s Grill and Green Bean Specialties.
In closing e-mails, de Vos has information about JR’s and offers brochures about them in baskets. Such marketing is reciprocated by JR’s.
“Keep the Bucks in Grand County” is one of Borders’ ways of promoting local dollar circulation. Borders partnered with Millennium Bank to keep $2 bills on-hand, for which people can trade in cash to spend locally.
New for 2009, Borders plans to add coffee shop break-out groups, during which business owners may brainstorm on how to make their businesses work with people in a non-competitive field.
“The underlying obligation is to support our community businesses,” de Vos said.
” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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