Small Business Marketing Strategy – The Importance of Customer Commonality

Cliché but true: customers come in all shapes and sizes. Just check out any grocery store or gas station: you see a cross-section of society, right? You find people from many walks of life and all income levels. But underneath the surface these people share something in common: for some reason–known or unknown to the store’s owner–they all made a choice to shop at the same place.Here’s the small business marketer’s primary puzzler: why do they come to my store? What do they have in common that makes them my customers? Once I know that, then I can discover (and reach) more of them.If you are fortunate enough to have a customer database then you can integrate known data, primarily purchase data, with psychographic or demographic data you acquire from outside. You can then combine both the internal and the external data to construct a composite of your customer base.However, if you are like most retail stores, you will have to rely on other types of data, such as survey data and research data, to establish your customer profile.This type of research can get expensive. Very expensive. Frankly, top-drawer research data is often outside the budget scope of many small businesses. Yet, as a small business marketer you know that understanding your customer is a key to gaining a competitive advantage over your competition.We suggest two sources which are far less expensive than traditional research. Of course, if you have the budget, by all means spend a portion of it with a reputable research firm. But if you don’t here are a couple of sources that can give you some insight.First, look to your peers in your industry. Your trade association and your trade publications both have general information on your industry’s customer base. Granted, this isn’t primary research specific to your individual business. Plus, this is data typically compiled at the national level. Yet, you can combine this industry material with your own common sense and your state or city economic and demographic data. Once done you will have a localized picture of your industry. This can yield some good, if general, facts about your customer base.A couple of half-days spent in this type of research often can yield insights that can’t be acquired without extensive (and expensive) research that is hired out.The second asset: employee research. More on that in our next article.Remember: Brand (who you are) + Package (your Face to the Customer) + People (customers and employees) = Marketing Success.© 2006 Marketing Hawks

Relieve Your Stress by Playing Games

Everybody needs a bit of stress relief from time to time, sadly we aren’t all flexible to do yoga, or have the patience to meditate. So what better way to relieve your stress? By playing the best games online of course! If you choose the right games websites, then there are a plethora of games out there to sink your teeth into, no matter what your favourite genre, or even how old you are. Let’s take a look at some of the fantastic games you can play.Some of the best games online are arcade games. There is just something about the thrill of surviving, the chase to beat your top score, and of course, that quest to stay awake after sinking hours into your favourite online games. Make sure you choose a website that has a large array of online games though, that way you will certainly find something that you want to play for hours upon end.Next are action games. These ‘fast paced’ games are perfect for those that want to put their dexterity and reactions to the test. In these games you will be presented with challenges that just get harder and harder. The only way to succeed will be to develop skills, and sometimes your avatar to master the intense amount of power that it will take to get through a situation. These games are really the ones which will pull you in and keep you entertained for hours. You really will wonder where all that time has gone!If you are looking for a bit of action, but coupled with a bit of a storyline then the best games online for you will be ones that are classed as ‘adventure’. These games have been finely crafted to keep you entertained from start to finish, whether it is through intense amounts of combat, or perhaps through a bit of puzzle. When searching for the best games online, make sure you choose the type of adventure that you want to embark on the most, after all, you will be playing this game for a long time to come!Everybody loves racing right? Of course they do, so if you are looking to speed along the road without picking up a speeding ticket, then the best games online will be ones that have racing elements. Whether you are looking for formula driving, ATV or something else, the best game sites should have you covered.As mentioned before, one of the best ways to relieve stress is by playing the best games online. And what better way is there to relieve stress than by playing ‘funny games’. These laugh-a-minute games will put you in fantastic situations that will have you roaring with laughter.This is just a small smattering of what you can expect from the best games online, you also have strategy, shooting, sports and puzzle games. There really is something to keep everybody hooked from start to finish! Don’t forget to check out the top games that other people are playing. That way you know that you are going to be playing quality!

The Battle For Vacation Rental Supremacy – HomeAway Versus TripAdvisor

The sum paid for Holiday Lettings has not been disclosed but one would assume that it generated very good value for the 2 co-founders of Holiday Lettings. And, since TripAdvisor is owned by the publicly quoted Expedia, one would also assume that it represents value for Expedia’s shareholders over the long term.But question: Is this value for the customers of Holiday Lettings, the owners and renters that have made the site so successful until now?The Advantages of CompetitionFor starters, someone that challenges the supremacy of HomeAway brings competition to the market place. And with competition, usually the consumer wins either through price or through an improved product. Price is unlikely to change because an annual listing fee on these sites is typically around $300 hundred dollars. If you achieve a few weeks rental then it’s a relatively cheap and hassle free service. So if not price then what?Perhaps investment in product? Bearing in mind the millions which HomeAway is setting aside for it’s marketing programme, including the recent Super Bowl ad, then it’s likely TripAdvisor will put some money into Holiday Lettings, or it’s US based vacation rental business, Flipkey. But aside from investment and some competition for HomeAway it’s hard to see any other advantages, especially as TripAdvisor claims to be leaving Holiday Lettings to run independently.The Downside of GrowthWith boasts from HomeAway that they have 500,000 listings worldwide, and TripAdvisor surely having similar ambitions, we have to wonder whether these sites are becoming too large. With growth you usually risk losing sight of your customer who, in the end, controls the success of the product. And with growth some owners claim that their rental listing is lost among the masses of other rentals in their area.Where Should the Investment Go?What are vacation rentals all about? Surely they are now exactly what they were 10 years ago – a more personal vacation accommodation option than corporate hotel chains, with very good value and facilities. With the explosion of social media and the trend towards people wanting to engage with real people, we believe there is a perfect storm between social media, the internet and vacation rentals. If there is investment money available then let’s refine the product to bring real value to customers – give them the platform and tools to promote everything that’s great about vacation rentals. Let’s see the owner, let’s hear their knowledge of the local area, let’s see their videos, their Facebook pages – let’s bring personality back into vacation rental websites.


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