September 29, 2006

Second Bixpo brings businesses together

Northern Colorado business people enjoyed a unique opportunity to network and learn from each other – as well as from some of today’s most innovative business experts – at Bixpo 2006.

Held Sept. 13 and 14 at The Ranch in Loveland, Bixpo offered two distinct events. First, the Speakers Series brought five experts to the stage of the Budweiser Event Center. The series kicked off Wednesday morning with Ralph Trombetta, senior strategist with the Value Innovation Network, who took the audience on a Blue Ocean voyage.

Trombetta, said the successful navigators of the Blue Ocean – uncontested market space that is ripe for growth – have learned first to see their target market in new ways, while most sail only on the Red Ocean, known market spaces. Blue Ocean sailors include Starbucks and Cirque du Soleil, he said.

Lucinda Yates then led listeners along the path of her life, from a suburban upbringing in Portland, Maine, to homelessness in California, then back to Portland and waitressing to support her daughter. And to the moment of inspiration when she put some scraps together to make a decorative pin in the shape of a house – the first of what has become a multimillion dollar business that not only supports nonprofits working with the homeless but also provides employment for low-income women.

Wednesday’s speakers concluded with customer service guru Lisa Ford sharing five easy steps to “wow” even the most dissatisfied clients.

As a rule, all customers should hear back from a company within 24 hours. Any longer and the customer could be looking elsewhere – especially if the product or service is not unique, explained the author of “Developing A Customer Retention Program” and star of the number-one selling business video, “How to Give Exceptional Customer Service.”

Terry “Moose” Millard warmed up the Thursday morning crowd with a talk about employee relations interspersed with humor and wisdom. Millard, a consultant for Southwest Airlines, traced the development of the company’s famed corporate culture that creates “fully engaged employees” willing to do whatever it takes to give the company and customers their best.

“It’s about respect,” Millard said.

Economist Steven Levitt, University of Chicago professor and author of the bestselling “Freakonomics,” covered both topics in the book and some of his current research projects.

“Freakonomics,” he said, was not meant to be a business book – the analysis of the dealings of a crack cocaine-selling gang was the only business element in it. However, he’s been getting calls from businesses asking him to solve their problems.

Levitt said that he often can’t answer questions he finds intriguing because he can’t find existing data. But businesses have the ability to conduct their own experiments, if they are willing to risk doing things differently than they’ve done them before to see what really works for them.

Exhibition traffic steady

Doors of the First National Exhibition Hall opened each day to welcome visitors from as far away as Wyoming and Boulder to the free business exposition. This year, more than 175 businesses manned more than 200 booths to introduce the more than 4,000 attendees to their products and services.

“We were very pleased with the high level of traffic through the exhibits,´ said Christopher Wood, publisher of the Northern Colorado Business Report, which put together Bixpo along with its sister publications the Boulder County Business Report and the Wyoming Business Report. “We saw good, steady attendance both days.”

In their post-event evaluations, exhibitors all rated the exposure for their business, opportunity for networking with other businesses and meeting potential clients as the greatest benefit of being part of Bixpo.

Plans are already in the works for Bixpo 2007, tentatively scheduled for Sept. 19 and 20 at The Ranch.

“We will continue to tweak the Bixpo program to build on the solid foundation that we have laid,” Wood said.

Northern Colorado business people enjoyed a unique opportunity to network and learn from each other – as well as from some of today’s most innovative business experts – at Bixpo 2006.

Held Sept. 13 and 14 at The Ranch in Loveland, Bixpo offered two distinct events. First, the Speakers Series brought five experts to the stage of the Budweiser Event Center. The series kicked off Wednesday morning with Ralph Trombetta, senior strategist with the Value Innovation Network, who took the audience on a Blue Ocean voyage.

Trombetta, said the successful navigators of the Blue Ocean – uncontested market space that is…

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