“Some people are born for entrepreneurship and others have entrepreneurship thrust upon them”. I’m one of the latter. States Lori Synder, President, and Co-Founder of The Local Marketers Association (TLMA).
She began to see what can best be described as a ‘gold rush” of people claiming to be local marketing consultants approaching business owners with offers to get them “to the top of Google” or listed in local directory sites. Too often their strategies were what are called “black hat” tricks that ran a very high risk of having the website penalized for using them or, if the service was legitimate, the prices were hugely inflated. At the time there was no oversight or standards in place so our local merchants were seen as sheep to be sheared and that’s just what was happening.
Lori got together with several colleagues who were also very concerned about the “fleecing” they saw happening in their communities. Soon there were almost 100 of them. They established standards and best practices and created a Code of Conduct.
“If you’re looking for the answer that turns your time into the most money possible, then turn your attention to marketing” says Dan Kennedy, Small Business Marketing Authority.
That’s how The Local Marketers Association (TLMA) came to be. They wrote curriculum for training newcomers to the industry and continuing education to keep all of them at the top of their game. They took the additional step of establishing a credentialing process for their members so business owners can rest assured that the consultants they are working with are endorsed by them. Small businesses are the life-blood of our communities so they wanted to make sure they were doing everything they could to protect them.
“As important as that is, explains Lori Synder, something magical happened when we all got together and started “talking shop”. We realized that all of the most successful businesses we had worked with had four things in common…four supporting “pillars” that were working in perfect harmony to drive growth and sustain it over the long term. These pillars had been tested by time and proven to work so we built a system to optimize them and taught it to all of our members. For the business owners we work with, it’s almost like having a crystal ball that shows them a step by step plan for reaching it. It creates the most consistent results I’ve seen.”
Lori is no stranger to Small Business Marketing, She had a strong medical background and OSHA had just released new standards that had medical offices scrambling, so she saw an opportunity and started a part time business as a freelance OSHA compliance consultant. It worked out very well so she started a second business helping local artist reach a wider market for their creations. This was in 1995 just as the internet was beginning to be a viable way for businesses to market their products ad she threw herself into learning all she could about the online world. Lori had her first website built in early 1997; and opened up a whole world of possibilities…literally.
“Soon I was selling things to countries I had barely heard of and other business owners were asking me to help them “figure out this online marketing thing”, so I started holding workshops and teaching people what I knew…something that became my passion and has been my career for almost 20 years now. Explains Lori, those workshops led to private consulting which led to ghost-writing opportunities that reached millions of small business owners around the world.”
So what’s on the horizon for TLMA?
“We have several irons in the fire…as always! We’re working right now on a start up incubator built around the pillar system so new businesses can be profitable much faster and a micro-loan program to help get some new businesses rolling. That should all be in place by early summer. We’re also ready to launch a program that we created because the demand for our services is so much greater than we can meet right now. It’s an entry-level training program designed for returning veterans or anyone wanting to start a career as a local marketing consultant. We’ll be accepting applications for that by mid-May, Explains Lori.
“I’m very proud of TLMA and the work our members have done so far. I love the idea that a few people working together can have such an impact.”