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June 14, 2011

Written by Bob Meyer, Editor of BarterNews

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From the desk of Bob Meyer... 06/14/2011

IRTA Convention Will Be Held At Mexican Resort

The International Reciprocal Trade Association has announced that the 4.5-star Aventura Spa Palace Resort in Riviera Maya will be the site for their 32nd national convention scheduled for September 19-21, 2011.

ITEX �New Era� Now Into 8th Year

It was eight years ago this month that Steve White took over as the new CEO of the ITEX organization in Sacramento (CA). He immediately began implementing changes at the largest trade exchange in the U.S. A focus on greater efficiency was of foremost importance. After one year the headquarters relocated to Bellevue (WA).

Shareholders in the publicly-traded company have done very well under White�s leadership, seeing 100% per year gains, on average, since 2003.

Squatter Nation �

In the U.S., homeowners who haven�t made a payment for as much as 5 years continue to live in their homes. Nationwide, it takes an average of 565 days to foreclose on borrowers in default � from their first missed payments to the final auction.

NATE Convention Was Notable Success

The National Association of Trade Exchanges annual convention was recently concluded, with the participants returning to their home offices having gained renewed enthusiasm for the barter business. The event was held at the beautiful Phoenix Marriott Mesa Hotel & Convention Center, and was hosted by the Arizona Trade Exchange.

Some thirty independently owned and operated trade exchange owners and staff met, exchanging ideas and aspirations, as well as products and services. Such annual meetings are the ideal setting for brainstorming where exchange owners can gather new ways to better their individual operation, as well as furthering the commercial barter industry.

The video ABC-coverage of the event can be viewed on their web site. For more information on NATE click here.

How Long Will You Work?

Fifty-six (56%) percent of U.S. workers have less than $25,000 saved, while 60% percent of retirees have less than $50,000 set aside. Additionally, some 45 million Americans are on food stamps. People in these situations will likely be working long after retirement age.

California Still Economic Powerhouse

Statistics from the Bureau of Business Analysis reports that the Golden State accounted for 13.1% of all the goods and services produced in the U.S. last year. (They have approximately 10% of the country�s population.) Texas was a distant second at 8.3%.

All back issues of "From the Desk...� can be accessed by clicking here.

(Please feel free to forward our newsletter to your friends and colleagues. We have a �box� at the end of the newsletter for your convenience. See you next week. . .)

Astute Entrepreneurs Know That Joining Groupon Is NOT The Way To Go

Talk about making it tough on yourself �

Groupon, the three-year-old coupon company, is all the rage these days with its upcoming and much-anticipated billion-dollar IPO. But for the small business owner trying to blaze a trail and build a successful business, it isn�t beneficial for your company. Here�s why:

First, with Groupon there�s a good chance that you will lose money, especially if you have high fixed costs and low marginal costs. That�s because the cost to work with them � the split with Groupon � is actually more than 50%, as Groupon does not share your credit card burdens.

Then there�s the concern you should have about offering your products/services at steep discounts as it dilutes your brand. Your company offers a real value and also has a reputation to uphold, which for many has taken years to build.

Groupon deals � offering the newbie your products/services for half the price your loyal customers have been paying you � upsets your loyal customers. Plus these new customers are questionable for the long term, since they�re deal seekers. Will they return and pay full price?

There�s no magic formula here with Groupon�s model. Working at a 50% off certainly isn�t the smartest way to go. Instead, providing value with outstanding service, while establishing rapport and building empathy with your customers is the way to go � both in the cash marketplace as well as the barter marketplace.

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ITEX Announces Earnings

The largest trade exchange in the U.S. has announced results for its fiscal 2011 third quarter, ended April 30, 2011.

Third Quarter 2011 Highlights

         Revenue of $3.960 million, compared to $4.158 million in the same period last year;

         Income from operations of $388,000, compared to $421,000 in the same period last year;

      Net income of $239,000, compared to $269,000 in the same period last year;

      Cash at end of period was $4.765 million, compared to $5.169 million on July 31, 2010;

      Repurchased 92,125 shares of common stock;

      Paid a $0.04 per share quarterly cash dividend.

Additionally, ITEX acquired a membership list of approximately 1,500 businesses from an unnamed commercial trade exchange for $400,000. The new ITEX members are concentrated primarily in the states of Washington, Oregon, Utah and Georgia.

Is Your Trade Exchange Missing Out On Valuable New Business?

If your barter company�s listing on isn�t current, you are definitely missing out on new business. The web site receives heavy traffic � with over 150,000 page-views every month. Entrepreneurs and corporate executives check the thousands of articles, the weekly �Tuesday Report,� and the �Contacts Section� of our site. They use the latter to find barter companies with which to do business.

Is your barter company�s listing up-to-date?

To keep your listing current is very easy. See the links below to (A) update any changes to your company�s listing, such as new location, phone number, web site or other information, and (B) if your company has not been listed.

Here�s how to get on board:

To make changes to your listing click here.

For new listings click here.

Barter-Fest Scheduled In St. Louis

The Cowry Collective and the UnderWEARS, two community barter groups in St. Louis, will be working together cooperatively in the future. On June 12 they will be hosting the first-ever scheduled �Barter Fest.�

Their goal is to strengthen their community, with the objective to grow independently from the conventional dollar.

A variety of foods, drinks, crafts and services, will be offered at this initial event. The organizations feel bartering is a healthy and empowering exercise in which to showcase individual talents and passions while sourcing locally.

For more event information call Joseph at 708-256-0994.


25 Years Of BarterNews Issues Now In Digital Format

Welcome to the largest repository of barter contacts, strategies, and barter techniques in the world. All 64 issues of BarterNews now available in digital format at

(Part 1 of 2)


Listening To Your Customers Necessary For Significant Feedback

By George F. Brown, Jr.

In (the book) CoDestiny, we argue that the most successful business strategies are ones that build upon shared successes. If your strategy creates value for your customers, it opens the potential for your own firm to capture some of that value for its own shareholders. Unlike strategies that focus on winning a zero-sum game with your business partners, CoDestiny strategies have the potential for sustained contributions. But while the logic of such win-win strategies is compelling, identifying their elements and implementing them successfully is a challenge.

One of the tools that is critical to successful CoDestiny strategies is developing an effective and continuing flow of messages from the market, gaining insights from participants at every stage of the customer chain about their issues, challenges, priorities, and perspectives. While not the only element needed for successful strategy development, such customer-based insights are on the short list of critical ingredients.

Today, most businesses have implemented some formal programs through which they can listen to their customers, many going by names such as Voice of the Customer Program and others involving variants on the theme of customer satisfaction. Such programs can make a significant contribution to strategy development. In the paragraphs that follow, some insights that have emerged on this topic are provided as guidance for firms looking to either develop such programs or take existing ones to higher levels.

Research and experience suggest that there are three primary goals that can be achieved through a Voice of the Customer initiative. Clarity as to the goals of the program and about the ways in which it can connect to strategy development and implementation, provides focus to its design and execution.

The first of the three goals is the most critical in terms of its value and the most challenging in terms of its degree of difficulty. The goal is simple: gain customer inputs into your own strategy development process by learning of their perspectives on the future business environment and on their most pressing needs. This goal connects to many of the elements of any company�s strategic plan � gaining insights related to product innovation, identifying new services critical to customers, learning about trends at each and every stage of the customer chain, identifying new applications that customers are targeting, etc.

Success in gaining customer insights about the future business environment and new needs can enable a supplier to get ahead of opportunities and strengthen its value proposition in areas of vital importance to its customers. The key here is ensuring that Voice of the Customer interactions are forward looking. (And most approaches fail miserably in that regard, focusing on past performance instead.)

We�ve all had �Duh!� moments in our business experience � instances when an insight dawned upon us that was quite obvious, but had been overlooked. One of my Duh! moments (and I admit to many) occurred in a company I was running some time ago at a senior staff meeting when discussions turned to the major challenges we were facing in keeping up with customer service expectations as our customers rapidly expanded to one new global location after another.

The Duh! moment occurred when a colleague asked, �Have we ever asked our customers about their expansion plans?� We started to do so, and the problem never resurfaced. Some customers provided us a very solid five year plan, and none of them were without an answer. We just had to ask.

The lesson here is that thinking about what information you need to be effective in supporting your customers should be among the first questions you ask of them. If you translate all of the themes associated with future plans and the evolving business environment into what insights you need for the decisions your firm is contemplating, the potential for customer contributions is huge.

That doesn�t eliminate the need for some open-ended discussion about opportunities and challenges that you might be overlooking, but the starting point for a future discussion ought to be the arenas in which you need to be prepared to create shared successes along with your customers.

One other important lesson that is critical in gaining insights about the future involves paying attention to the entire customer chain. A firm�s customer chain is the path that leads from its suppliers all the way to the final users of its products. In business markets especially, customer chains can be complex and extend for many stages.

An electrical component manufacturer, for example, sold to integrators who in turn sold to distributors who sold to contractors who handled installations at end customer sites. The perspective about the future can vary at each and every stage of the customer chain, with implications that ripple backwards and forwards. Effective listening doesn�t stop with direct customers. It�s necessary to listen to all of the customers. And one trick that best-practice firms employ is asking customers at each stage of the customer chain what they would like to know about the other stages of the customer chain. Some remarkable insights have been gained by simply asking that question.

George F. Brown, Jr., is co-author with Atlee Valentine Pope of the book, CoDestiny: Overcome Your Growth Challenges by Helping Your Customers Overcome Theirs. He is also the CEO and cofounder of Blue Canyon Partners Inc., a strategy consulting firm working with leading business suppliers on growth strategy.


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