Small Business, Big Impact Q&A: Sandra Brooks, BROOKSLACAYO
Posted on May 20, 2012
Sandra Brooks is founder and president of BROOKSLACAYO, a full-service advertising, branding, and public relations agency in Jacksonville, Florida. Sandra started the company in 2002, enjoyed double-digit growth through 2007, and now has six employees.
BROOKSLACAYO specializes in intelligent strategy; on-target design; and clear, concise, and compelling messaging. The team has years of experience developing strategies and creating effective work for a variety of clients in many market segments, and the agency has won a number of Addy, American Graphic Design, and other awards.
We recently spoke with Sandra to learn more about her business, success, and the impact BROOKSLACAYO has had in the community, economy, philanthropy, and innovation.
[BuildMyBiz] How knowledgeable were you on what it takes to start and run a business? Did you have any business training or schooling?
[Sandra Brooks] I’ve taken advantage of resources provided by the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the University of North Florida campus. The Small Business Administration has set up SBDCs at colleges and universities all around the country. The centers are designed to provide current and prospective small business owners with the information and guidance they need in one central and easily accessible location.
What kind of growth have you experienced?
We enjoyed double-digit growth year-over-year from 2002 to 2007. In the past five years we’ve been off by about 50 percent, collectively, which we attribute to the down economy. They say the bellwether of economic health can be seen in staffing and marketing. Both sectors have been down through the recession. We are seeing more activity, but the spend is still conservative.
What do you feel are the most important issues small business owners are facing today?
First, we have to get the economic engine running again. I worry less about health care reform because I don’t think Washington D.C. really knows yet what that regulation requires/provides. Sure, we’d all like easy credit, but if there is no business, are we borrowing to meet payroll? That is not a good idea.
What are some ways your business provides a needed service, expands local opportunities, or improves neighborhood quality of life?
We support a number of non-profit organizations through our Pro Bono Publico annual grant. One of these, We Care Jacksonville, provides specialty medical care for the indigent and under insured. We rebranded them, produced new collaterals and a website, which contributed to their being awarded a $1 million grant. Other benefits include it being easier for them to recruit volunteer physicians and facilities.
Another, GlobalJax, works to build global relationships to facilitate better understanding among cultures to maximize business and educational opportunities. This program is sanctioned by the U.S. Department of State International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) and brings over 200 emerging leaders to Jacksonville each year. Over 300 of the Program’s Alumni are current and former heads of state.
What are some of the local and national charities you support through your business and what makes you recommend them?
We support the Arthritis Foundation; American Lung Association; American Heart Association; American Diabetes Foundation; The Players Championship, which donates to local non-profits; The Tom Coughlin Fund because he’s the best coach from Jacksonville; and miscellaneous other things as they come up. The goal is to improve the quality of life in our community.
Has your business improved the local economy through hiring, investment, or maybe a “buy local” philosophy?
We like to think so. Despite the recession, we have added three employees. Some of our clients are manufacturers, educators, hoteliers – some of the largest employers in the Jacksonville area. Additionally, we use local vendors almost exclusively. This market is very competitive to the rest of the country.
What advice can you offer to new business owners and entrepreneurs just starting out?
First, get a good CPA that can help you understand what is happening financially in the company and how to make it better and profitable. Second, get an attorney to help with contracts, trademarks, and other legal matters – especially intellectual property. Find an insurance agent – it’s not just about personal property, it’s also about what employees say and do on the job. Once you have employees, hire a professional payroll processer. It saves time, errors, and problems with the IRS.
POSTED ON MAY 20, 2012 BY BUILDMYBIZ
Paychex Honors Small Businesses for their Big Impact during National Small Business Week
Posted on May 18, 2012
ROCHESTER, N.Y., May 18, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Paychex, Inc., the nation's leading provider of payroll services to small businesses, announced today that it will honor small businesses with the following theme during National Small Business Week: Small Business, Big Impact.
As a co-sponsor of the Small Business Administration's (SBA) weeklong tribute to America's small businesses, Paychex is recognizing small businesses for the big impact they have on communities, economies, philanthropy, and innovation. A recently released infographic from Paychex offers a visual representation of small businesses' big impact.
"The impact of small businesses can be seen in numerous ways in every corner of the nation," said Paychex CEO Martin Mucci. "Small business owners grow the economy by keeping our neighbors and family members employed; they drive innovation to make things easier for us all; they support local charities through donations of time and money; and they serve on community boards and sponsor little leagues in our communities. The face of America would look different without small businesses, and we're honored to join the SBA in celebrating their contributions."
Throughout the month of May, Paychex is asking small business owners to share in their own words how they're making a difference in their local communities and economies.
"Small businesses play an important role in strengthening local communities," said Cassie Piasecki, co-owner and office coordinator of the Optimal Orthopedic Medical Group. "In Santa Ana, we provide free physicals to local youth and sports teams, and we work with trade schools on their intern/extern programs. This community has given so much to us and we enjoy giving back by mentoring the future workforce and preparing them for life after school."
"Aside from providing quality creative work for our clients, we take community stewardship very seriously and are mindful of opportunities to improve the quality of life or help boost the economy in our community," said Sandra Brooks, president of BROOKSLACAYO, a six-employee full-service graphic design, advertising, branding, and public relations agency. "We do that by taking an active role in local nonprofit organizations by donating branding and creative work to better position them for success in front of their prospective donors, sponsors, and volunteers."
Throughout the week, Paychex will provide new resources and features for small businesses on its new website for entrepreneurs and small business owners, BuildMyBiz.com. BuildMyBiz is a website designed to provide information and resources to people who are thinking about starting a new business or expanding their current business. The resources and features Paychex is making available include:
-- Podcast Series: available on iTunes and the BuildMyBiz blog, the series includes commentary from Paychex and industry subject matter experts, as well as small business owners.
-- BuildMyBiz Social Media Kit: this includes an introduction to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn; templates for designing your own Facebook and Twitter pages; and links to additional social media resources.
-- Small Business Success Stories: Small business owners share their stories about starting and growing their business and their impact on communities, economies, philanthropy, and innovation.
-- Live Webinar -- Navigating Health Insurance Options for Businesses: With help from Paychex Insurance Agency, small business owners can get a head start on making a confident, informed decision about health insurance. The webinar is Monday, May 21 from 2:00 p.m. -- 2:45 p.m. ET. Register today.
-- New articles added to the collection of hundreds of materials, webinars, calculators, and tools on important business topics.
You can visit Paychex in the registration area of the National Small Business Week Conference, held May 20-26 in Washington, DC. Or, visit http://www.paychex.com
Paychex, Inc. PAYX -0.07% is a leading provider of payroll, human resource, and benefits outsourcing solutions for small- to medium-sized businesses. The company offers comprehensive payroll services, including payroll processing, payroll tax administration, and employee pay services, including direct deposit, check signing, and Readychex(R). Human resource services include 401(k) plan recordkeeping, section 125 plans, a professional employer organization, time and attendance solutions, and other administrative services for business. A variety of business insurance products, including group health and workers' compensation, are made available through Paychex Insurance Agency, Inc. Paychex was founded in 1971. With headquarters in Rochester, New York, the company has more than 100 offices serving approximately 564,000 payroll clients nationwide as of May 31, 2011. For more information about Paychex and our products, visit http://www.paychex.com
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SOURCE: Paychex, Inc.
Creativity Can Be A Rare Commodity
Posted on March 20, 2012
We have all seen a campaign launched for a competitor that is just brilliant and out of the box creative. You beat yourself up about why you didn’t think of that first or what you will say to your client or boss when the campaign is mentioned. You start racking your brain trying to think of what you can come up with to top it…and you can’t come up with anything.
With multiple clients all wanting the next greatest PR strategy, it is hard to keep the creative juices flowing. Creativity doesn’t happen on demand and it usually happens in strange places, such as the shower or at the dry cleaners, when your mind is elsewhere.
“Essentially, PR Pros are information junkies. We read, scan, touch, speak to anyone about anything…and we listen” says Sandra L. Brooks of BROOKSLACAYO. “Then we transform passive information into fresh ideas…sometimes there is a direct connection, other times there is no obvious reason why some tidbit sparked the idea of the day.”
Here are just a few ways to get your creativity batteries recharged:
• Get out in the field. “Being in the field allows me to talk to my audience and active journalists,” says Elana Scherr of Kahn Media. “Then I am able to gauge how campaigns are being received and what new trends are popping up.”
• Host a contest. “We have contests in our office for the most unique ideas,” says Jonathan Abramson of bluetone Marketing and PR. “We stay creative by having weekly brainstorm meetings when we try to come up with the most unique and strangest way to get clients publicity.”
• Meet over food. “There is something about good food and conversations that just gets people talking and coming up with great ideas,” says Brian Chandler, APR of Commonwealth PR. “It’s a relaxed atmosphere where team members aren’t afraid to be themselves and share their expertise.”
• Watch TV. “Pull inspiration from your interests,” says Meagan Feeser of Gavin Advertising. “Coverage on Cougar Town creators using social media to spread the word about their show could serve as inspiration. I’ve also taken event ideas form old episodes of Beverly Hills 90210 and Saved by the Bell.”
• Keep an idea book. “I have a notebook where I jot ideas that come to me in dreams,” says Leigh Steere of Incisive. “If I see an interesting photo, article or quote, I will clip it and include it in the notebook.”
“Creativity can quickly become a rare commodity in our business, as we often spread ourselves thin and can easily work ourselves to the bone,” says Steven LeVine of grapevine PR. “The way that I stay creative is by always looking for what’s new and fresh—something that will pique my interest and make me think.”
Read more: Creativity Can Be A Rare Commodity | PRBreakfastClub http://prbreakfastclub.com/2012/03/20/creativity-rare/#ixzz1pf3T99Me
Challenges Facing Today's Advertising Company: American Express OPEN Forum
Posted on March 05, 2012
If the predictions are right, 2012 will be a good year for the advertising industry. ZenithOptimedia is predicting a 3.6 percent increase in advertising revenue over 2011. The prediction was even slightly increased late in the year due to signs of an improving economy, such as growth in retail sales and record Black Friday sales of $11.4 billion. Additionally, the 2012 Olympics and the 2012 Presidential Election are expected to steadily increase the advertising dollars spent.
Most likely, the trend where dollars are spent will follow the same path as 2011, with increases in Internet and cable TV advertising and decreases in newspapers, magazines, network TV and syndication. But even with the positive news, the significant changes in the advertising industry and the economic downturn in recent years has left the industry with many challenges.
The recent recession has left a large impact on the staff of advertising agencies. Many agencies downsized or laid off employees while other employees moved to different industries because they were unsure about their jobs. These changes resulted in high turnover at many firms, which weakened client ties to the agency because many people that clients had developed relationships with were no longer at the firm—or may not be there tomorrow. The lack of consistent relationships makes it easier for a client to take their business down the street. (Get advice on how to hold on to your best employees.)
“Perhaps more significantly, it's difficult to maintain consistent creative approaches and media buying strategies when writers, art directors and media buyers don't remain agency employees beyond one airing of an ad campaign,” says Bill McCabe, CEO at TV ad agency A. Eicoff & Company.
The Role of Print in Advertising
For many years, advertising agencies focused primarily on traditional print advertising, along with television media. But the Internet and social media have dramatically changed the role that print advertising plays in a company’s overall strategy, and advertising agencies must determine the new role for print, if any
Sandra L. Brooks, with BROOKSLACAYO, an advertising, branding and PR firm in Jacksonville, Fla., says that she is not convinced that print will go away entirely, but that the use of e-readers and other devices will simply increase. “For agencies that have kept pace with technology advances over the past 20 years, this progression should be viewed as logical next steps and not be daunting. But if a young agency is trying to get in the game, building the internal knowledge and/or external resources takes time and patience,” Brooks says.
Evaluating the Effectiveness of Content and Brand Marketing
Content and brand marketing have become a leading advertising strategy in recent years. But one of the challenges is evaluating the effectiveness of this type of advertising and selling the client on the ROI of brand marketing. Advertising agencies will need to master brand marketing and also be able to quantify the increased revenue to clients. The industry will also need to work to focus more on the customer than the client with this type of marketing. Those agencies that turn the art of brand marketing into more of a science will find themselves with an edge over others.
Effectively Using Social Media to Sell Services to Clients
Social media has dramatically changed the advertising game and presents many challenges for advertising agencies. Some of the hurdles include using social media to make money for clients, successfully integrating social media into overall campaigns and convincing clients that hiring experts in social media can be more effective than doing it themselves.
“The broad social media phenomena is a game changer for the advertising industry and must be integrated with traditional campaigns,” Brooks says. “One of the challenges is that virtually every individual with a Facebook page believes themselves to be experts and hang out their shingle. Doing it right is hard work that requires a strategy for capturing followers, responders and a specific action beyond 'like.'”
The challenges might seem significant, but the changes and obstacles give agencies many new chances to stand out from the crowd. And although the technology seems new, it provides more opportunity for creative and innovative thinking in the industry.
Jennifer Gregory is a journalist with over 17 years professional writing experience. Jennifer blogs via Contently.com.
BROOKSLACAYO Among Jacksonville's Top 50
Posted on May 18, 2011
The results of the nominations for Advantage Magazine’s Top 50 Small Business Influencers.
We put it to you, the small business community, to come up with who you thought were the top 50 small business influencers in Jacksonville—and you exceeded our expectations.
After hundreds of nominations to sort through and multiple back-and-forth conversations between many, the list has been narrowed down to this Top 50 (in alphabetical order) and some honorable mentions that just couldn’t be eliminated.
Be sure to attend the Meet the Top 50 event on June 8 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Aloft at Tapestry Park and meet the “dream team” of influence makers that will open doors and help you make connections to push your business to reach new levels of success.
Calling All Non Profits
Posted on November 22, 2010
We are accepting grant applications for our 2011 Pro Bono Publico award.
It's been an amazing year working with the 2010 Pro Bono Publico award recipient, We Care of Jacksonville and Sue W. Nussbaum, MD, MBA, Executive Director.
Now it is time for BROOKSLACAYO to once again offer its award-winning skills to non-profit organizations. We will provide high-quality creative work completed by our best talent to support your 2011 initiatives. Download our informational PDF today. Deadline is December 17, 2010, no exceptions.
Five Graphic Design USA Awards in 2010
Posted on November 19, 2010
BROOKSLACAYO has won five 2010 American Graphic Design Awards, presented by Graphic Design USA and sponsored by NewPage Corporation, for logo development and collateral work for the Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE), Automotive Industries, LLC, Computer Evolution of Jacksonville, LLC, Haskell Company, and Patterson Academy for the Arts. Our work appears in the December 2010 issue of GD USA at http://www.gdusa.com
The Most Effective Ways to Market Your Business in 2010 and Beyond
Posted on August 02, 2010
BROOKSLACAYO President, Sandra Brooks, will be among the expert panelists addressing the topic of "Revolutionary Changes in Sales and Marketing Strategies" at the SBRN general membership luncheon, August 26, 2010, 11:30 - 1:15, at the Southpoint Marriott.
Sales and marketing trends through blogs, social networking and other web based networking sites are now the norm. The panel will speak to the most effective ways to market your business in 2010 and beyond.
Sandra will be joined on the panel by Brian Barquilla, Jacksonville Advantage Small Business Magazine, and Steven Kaufman, SJK Public Relations.
The public is welcome to attend. Online reservations are required for all attendees. For more information go to http://bit.ly/9LE5gl
and select the "Northeast" tab or call the Small Business Resource Network at 904-620-1071.
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