Tom Egelhoff: Author, Speaker, Sales Trainer, Teacher and Business Consultant

My name is Tom Egelhoff. In 1998 I started this web site. Its purpose is to help small business owners learn to do their own advertising and marketing.

After 35 years of making hundreds of business mistakes I decided it was time to use the education of those mistakes to help others not to make the same ones I did. So I guess it's only natural that you might like to know a little about me and how I got this far.

I'm not going to bore you with where I was born and raised except to say it was in Illinois in a town of 5800. My father was a florist/farmer/landscaper. We had 20 acres of land at the edge of town and we planted corn, beans, and wheat. My father learned to be a florist by studying successful florists in neighboring towns. He felt very strongly that the best way to learn anything was to find someone doing it successfully and do what they do.

Although I didn't realize it at the time, I learned a lot from my father that prepared me for my career today. He was a master at customer service, networking, and business planing long before they were the buzzwords they are today. The business lasted over 60 years and , after my father's death, was run by my older brother until his retirement in 2001.

I attended Kilgore Jr. College in Kilgore, Texas on a basketball scholarship. Upon graduation I transferred to Southern Illinois University in Alton, Illinois where I completed my education majoring in business administration.

After a stint as a carpenter in the US Army, I worked in a sales or marketing capacity with several large companies including Prudential, Victor Business Machines, Circuit City Stores, The Wickes Corporation, and Xerox to name a few.

In 1980, I moved to San Diego, California. I accepted a position with Video Library, a video rental chain, as a store manager/management trainer of their Oceanside, California location. When I joined the company they had four stores. When I left five years later they had over 40. Eventually the chain was sold to Blockbuster Video for $12 million dollars.

During this period I opened three locations and managed their training store. I eventually moved into the main office working primarily to assist in opening new locations and to train new people.

I had always been interested in marketing and advertising and this was the perfect opportunity to study the marketing of this booming business first hand. All the advertising, marketing and promotion was done in house so I was able to observe the successes and mistakes first hand.

One of the major mistakes documented in my book, "How to Market, Advertise, and Promote Your Business or Service In A Small Town", is the Yellow Pages mistake that cost several thousand dollars worth of business. It wasn't what we put in the ad but what was left out that cost us.

In 1984 I left Video Library to join Video Marketing Concepts, a video tape distributor in Los Angeles. Video Library became one of my customers. I made contacts with nearly every video store in San Diego and Orange County. I was elected to the Board of Directors of The Video Software Dealers Association.

By 1985 I had become good friends with the movie buyer for the Video Library chain. He and I decided to leave the video chains and start our own video consulting business. The video industry was in its infancy during the mid 1980's and we were two of the most knowledgeable and well known video consultants in San Diego at that time.

Our business took off and we quickly had several video stores under contract. We also published a monthly trade subscription newsletter "The Movie Buyer " that was purchased by some of the biggest video stores in the nation. I may still have some "Movie Buyer" T-Shirts if you're interested.

In the later 1980's, 99¢ video stores came on the scene and many of our clients who were renting movies at $2.50 found we were a luxury they could no longer afford. As a result we dissolved our partnership and I took over the company.

Some of our video clients remained and I expanded the company to include small businesses outside the video industry. My new clients included computing companies, accounting firms, repair shops, retailers, wholesalers and small construction companies of 25 employees or less. People who needed marketing help but couldn't afford downtown San Diego marketing firms.

In order for me to be cost effective for these businesses, I had to produce results at a very low cost. Small or startup companies often have small marketing and advertising budgets. This is where the "101 Ways To Boost Your Business Anywhere" originated as well as the Small Business Marketing Plan in "How to Market, Advertise, and Promote Your Business or Service In A Small Town." I needed to find ways to get their company message out at the lowest possible cost.

Some of these initial marketing and advertising ideas I created with these new clients, I adapted from the video business during that 40+ store growth. Some were adaptations of things I had seen my dad do.

During those early years with the video company most assets went to buy movies. We had to be very creative in our advertising and marketing. For example, in the book I detail how we came up with a very creative way to get our name in front of the public and keep it there at a very small cost.

In the course of a year our video chain name became a household word in the San Diego area. As I mentioned above Video Library was eventually sold to Blockbuster and it was time to decide where we really wanted to live and what we really wanted to do. Blockbuster wasn't it.

In 1993, my wife and I moved to Bozeman, Montana. The "Last Best Place On Earth". We both grew up in small towns and missed the small town personality. After living 13 years with the traffic of San Diego and Los Angeles it was great to live somewhere with 6 people per square mile in a county larger than Rhode Island. To say its beautiful here is a major understatement.

Being in a small town again brought back memories of my father. "Get involved in your community, and leave it a better place because you were there.", he always said. So I went to the Chamber of Commerce and volunteered to serve on the Business Support Committee. In six months I was elected chairman.

I joined Kiwanis. Two years later I was president. In 1996 I was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce. January 1998 I am starting my first year as a member of the Gallatin County United Way Board of Directors.

In addition I teach adult education night classes in marketing, home based business marketing, sales training, business card and brochure design, and internet marketing. I also teach the marketing portion of the "Thinking of Starting Your Own Business?" seminar sponsored twice yearly by the Chamber of Commerce.

So why write a book? It was a suggestion first made to me in 1993 by Professor Mike Riley, Director of the Montana State University Marketing Department. He and I had presented a marketing seminar to a group of Montana educators and I told him I was toying with the idea of a monthly newsletter devoted to small business owners.

He felt that the type of information I had would be more useful in book form than in bits and pieces from a newsletter. Fortunately with the internet you can have the book and also benefit from the many business tips by me and those submitted by our visitors. So in 1998 I self-published "How To Market, Advertise And Promote Your Business Or Service In A Small Town." Mike was also kind enough to write the preface to my first book.

In 2002, I began giving keynote speeches, seminars and workshops on small business issues all over the United States. In order to promote my speaking career I founded The Montana Speakers Network, Inc. I have presented the "101 Ways To Boost Your Business Anywhere" seminar to various business and civic groups around the country.

In 2003, I published my second book, "The Small Town Advertising Handbook: How To Say More And Spend Less." Eight more books are planned.

If you've managed to make it this far, and you're still awake, you probably know more about me than most people I come in contact with on a daily basis.

Seriously, I sincerely hope you will use the information contained in the books, articles and tips that appear here and that you achieve all your dreams of business success.

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