Small business owner Debbie Cole knows first-hand the challenges of managing operations and the bottom line, so her company focuses on helping owners be successful.
Employing her skills in marketing, advertising and graphic design, Cole’s Biz Well Corporation helps companies promote their services and attract customers.
“A lot of small business don’t have the big marketing budgets where they can hire a fulltime marketing person,” Cole said. Expensive large-scale marketing corporations may also be unaffordable. That’s where Cole’s skills and experience can help.
“Being a small business owner myself I know that you have to make every dollar count,” she said. “I am pretty reasonable with my rates and I give them a one-on-one working relationship.”
Cole’s career began 23 years earlier at a local Illinois newspaper following college graduation. Soon after, she moved to North Carolina and worked for an advertising agency for 10 years. Eager to pursue her own interests, she decided to launch her own business, beginning with designing and publishing magazines for several area cities. While Biz Well continues to expand its services, Cole continues to public annual magazines for Waxhaw and Mint Hill as well as a publication covering five municipalities in eastern Gaston County.
Those magazines, promoted as welcome guides and available throughout each city’s municipal offices, cemented Cole’s connection with many small local businesses, who often advertise in the publication and offer copies to customers.
“It is kind of neat to look back at some of the older magazines and see an advertiser that has been with us every year,” she said. “That’s what makes me proud because they know they’re getting their money’s worth and I’m delivering what I say I’m going to deliver and the magazines are doing what they’re supposed to do.”
For business owners eager to learn more about increasing their exposure to customers, Cole said she first schedules a meeting to discuss goals. While some customers may be in the market for a company logo, others are interested in ways they can improve or revamp their image.
“The first step would be talking to them in detail about what they’re looking to do,” she said, adding those goals can range from attracting more customers to updating an online presence or promoting new services. “If they do have a logo we will take an in-depth look at that and see if its effective the way they want it to be.”
Cole can help coordinate such services as brochure design, in-store displays and direct mailing campaigns. She can also provide guidance with internet and social media marketing, a skill she said is largely self-taught in a rapidly-changing industry.
“My senior year was when my college got a computer lab set up. I’ve definitely seen a big change,” Cole said. While the online platform may change how a product or message is promoted, she said the basic premises of effective advertising remain the same.
“Having a strong brand and a good logo, that’s something that I don’t think will ever change because you just have to have some kind of icon that people can relate to and match it with your services,” she said, adding that a visually appealing design sends a strong message. “If social media was only text…it would probably get kind of boring because people just relate to photos much more.”
Biz Well’s annual municipal magazines have always carried a community-centered approach, Cole said. The past few years, however, she’s noticed an increasing interest in highlighting local businesses and service providers, including those in Waxhaw and Mint Hill. That theme fits well with Cole’s preference for promoting small enterprises.
Cole’s goal, she said, is “to let people know that these businesses are in town, that they don’t have to go to Charlotte or a larger metropolitan area to get the services they need.”
That approach helps local business stay healthy and thrive, and Cole said she develops long-standing relationships with many first-time customers.
“They know that they can come back to me, that they can trust me and I will work with them as long as it takes to achieve their goals,” she said.