Working from Home
Long before Angela and Tom Balsamo became Coffee News publishers, they knew the “ins and outs” of the local advertising market. Looking for an opportunity that would allow working from home and having owned and operated three learning center franchises for nine years, the couple spent plenty of time and money advertising and marketing their businesses in the community.
When it came time for a new business adventure, they found exactly what they were looking for in Coffee News.
Their search criterion in the beginning consisted of something they could do working from home home together, without the need for employees, and was a concept that would be new to the market in their area.
“After the initial call to the Home Office in Maine, we knew Coffee News was exactly what we were looking for,” says Angela.
“We were so impressed that the franchisor answered the phone himself and spent nearly 90 unplanned minutes on the phone with us answering all our questions,” added Tom.
That phone call and subsequent conversations took place nine years ago. Originally starting with two editions, Tom and Angela quickly added an additional two editions shortly after launching.
Earlier this year they added a fifth edition. “The Ellicott City/Columbia area is where we both grew up, so it was hard for us to pass up the opportunity to take over an edition that has been publishing consistently for over seven years,” Angela says. Plus, she adds, “It’s really great to have this opportunity to interact with our hometown as adults and be a part of the business community.”
Community is what it all boils down to for this husband and wife team. “With our previous businesses, we never got engaged in the community like we should have,” says Tom. “Coffee News allows us to be active in all the communities we serve, which in turn helps us expose our clients to new people and opportunities. We’re more than just ‘ink on paper’. We want to provide our clients with exposure throughout the area, often times acting as an extension of their marketing department.”
Tom and Angela are active members of five Chambers, a handful of business networking groups, and sit on the Boards for two Chambers and four non-profit organizations.
In addition to all the networking, this dynamic duo seeks to provide as much added value for their clients, whether it’s exposure via social media, help with setting up social media accounts, free ad design (not just limited to Coffee News ads), advice on marketing strategies, introductions to power partners, Quickbooks questions, etc.
One may wonder how they find the time to do all of this for their clients.
From the start, Tom and Angela decided they were not going to make cold calls. They were simply going to build relationships. Nine years later that plan is still working out well.
Additionally, they partner with a local non-profit that works with developmentally disabled adults (Opportunity Builders, Inc.) to handle all of the delivery. “Initially, we did all the distribution ourselves. It was a great way to build relationships with our distribution partners. As time went on, outsourcing delivery was the best way for us to recapture valuable time that can otherwise be spent meeting with prospective clients and assisting current clients with their marketing needs,” said Tom.
Tom and Angela offered these tips to be successful in the Coffee News business:
1. Network Unselfishly
Don’t go out and network with the intent to sell. If you’re not going out with the willingness to buy from someone, do you really think others are? It’s not about handing out your business card, but the business cards (the paper itself) of all your clients.
2. Don’t Undervalue Your Product!
Research pricing for all advertising options in your area before setting your prices. You’ll always have someone that will say you’re too expensive; they are not your target audience. You want to work with business owners who see value in being the only one in their category advertising in Coffee News.
3. Don’t Sell Short-run Ads (Community events/carnivals are the exception.)
You’re selling yourself and the product short and you’re going to have to constantly resell that space and have business owners walking around saying “Coffee News doesn’t work.”
4. Set Up Systems to Manage Your Business
Use Quickbooks. Take credit cards for payment. Find a CRM that you can use to keep track of inquiries (they like Zoho). Create email templates so you can respond to a request for information quickly.
5. Working From Home Is Not For Everyone
Take a shower and put on ‘real people’ clothes every day! Even if you don’t have outside appointments! You’ll feel more professional and will be more productive.