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

Can Virtual PBX Really Change How Small Businesses Are Run?

Everywhere you turn these days it seems like the expression “in the cloud” has taken on some strange magnetic pull or force all its own. Web users, business owners and companies of all sizes, are being bombarded with “cloud” or “virtual” services which are hosted on remote servers far removed from one’s place of business.According to Gartner, a well respected information technology advisory and research company, some of the leading cloud providers now include Amazon, Google, HP, AT&T, IBM and Microsoft. In addition, in a recent survey, Gartner found 19% of companies are using the cloud for most of their production computing and 20% use it for storage.However, these cloud services are just, not for storage or computing, we also have other business services hosted in the clouds. Online or Internet fax is growing in popularity as more and more companies and businesses modernize or update their means of communication in our computer driven world. Then you also have virtual phone and PBX (Private Branch Exchange) services for the home office and companies both big and small.Perhaps, the greatest force driving all these “cloud” services, is our insatiable need to be completely portable and mobile in today’s current wireless environment. We simply need the ability to do our work anywhere and at any time – regardless of location. It may even be argued any company or small business without this ability has already lost a competitive edge or advantage over their competitors.This factor is brought home when one considers the benefits of using a virtual PBX vs a conventional land-line system. Going with a cloud based system gives your company much more flexibility and scalability. You can be completely mobile and wireless, regardless of where your employees or salespersons are located.Then you have to factor in the much lower costs of running a virtual system, there’s no expensive hardware to install or maintain. Set-up is almost instant, and there’s only one low monthly fee to pay. Plus, all of these virtual systems are full-featured – you get voice mail, call waiting, message forwarding, online fax… and even a virtual receptionist to handle all your business communications.One of the major drawbacks for most people has to do with online security. How safe will your company’s vital information be when stored on a remote server? Do I really want my information and communications accessible on the web?We all have heard horror stories of sites being hacked and information stolen, but for the most part, online security has improved greatly over the last few years, and the major “cloud service” companies mentioned above are completely professional. Sad truth, most companies store their data on computers, which can be accessed from the Internet, depending on the security measures you have in place, your information could be MORE safe with one of these services supplied by Google, IBM, Amazon or Microsoft.Regardless, anyone running a home office or a business, must consider using the “cloud” to do their computing and storage. The lower costs, the complete mobility, the ease of use, the complete flexibility/scalability, the greater competitiveness and instant set-up… all have to be factored into one’s decision. It is probably a safe bet that in the future, more businesses and companies will be hosting their computing, storage and virtual PBX phone services in the cloud.

A Consumer’s Guide to Laser Dentistry

Millions of people neglect going to the dentist each year. For some, finding time to visit the dentist is challenging. For others, the thought of sitting in the chair and exposing their teeth to have work performed fills them with dread. The whine of the tools, the unique scent of drilled enamel, and the expectation of pain is enough to motivate them to avoid the office for as long as possible.Fortunately, the latest technology that oral care professionals use today to perform work on patients has all but eliminated reasons for alarm. Laser dentistry is a technique that is used by progressive dentists for many types of procedures. In this article, you’ll learn the benefits of this style of oral care, its applications, and the types of equipment used.Benefits Of Laser DentistryFor many patients, the most important benefit to using these techniques is that there is little to no discomfort, making anesthesia unnecessary. Plus, the recovery time after patients undergo major procedures is significantly less than would be the case if conventional methods were used. This is due, in part, to the lack of need for sutures. It is also due to the fact that using these techniques reduce the amount of bleeding, and the tissue around the affected area sustains less damage.Many dental professionals prefer using this form of dental care because they offer more precision than drills and other tools. This allows them to perform certain procedures more easily, including many not possible years ago. This specialized equipment also prevents some of the problems of using drills, such as tiny cracks developing in the teeth.Laser Dentistry ApplicationsDental health professionals are currently using form of oral care for a wide range of procedures. Simple work, such as cavity preparation and removing decay from teeth, can be done with these machines. They can also be used for complex work like root canals and removing lesions, as well as cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening. Some dentists even use them to treat periodontal disease, shaping the gums when necessary and removing gum tissue where disease has spread.Dental Laser TypesThis area of dental equipment are used for procedures that are broadly categorized as hard tissue and soft tissue lasers. Hard tissue varieties are typically reserved for cutting through bone and enamel. They are necessary to remove portions of a tooth or repair fillings that are old and worn. They are also used when teeth are bonded. By contrast, soft tissue styles are used to cut into the gums and other areas in order to remove portions that are damaged or diseased. They also seal blood vessels, thereby controlling bleeding.Within those two categories, these machines are used with varying wavelengths. Some are more appropriate for hard tissue, while other wavelengths are best used on soft tissue. Aside from the area on which they are used (bone, gum tissue, etc.), the wavelength is chosen based upon the goal of the procedure (i.e. eliminate bacteria, stimulate tissue growth, etc.).Having These Procedures PerformedWhether you choose Detroit laser dentistry, or laser dentistry in another city, it is becoming more popular within the dental community, but it is still a new technology and many dentists have not yet adopted the technique. That being said, patients who actively avoid going to the dentist’s office because they are afraid of the pain of having work performed may find the use of lasers a comfortable alternative. Call your dentist and ask whether he offers lasers as an option. You may find that your next visit is quick and painless.

Language Translation Services Provide Accuracy and High Standards

It has often been said that communication is one of the keys to any successful business. And that is even more crucial if you’re running a multinational venture, for you will have to learn many languages to be able to communicate effectively. Fortunately, language translation services abound to help you in this task. And although not every one of them is the same, there are some standards you can use to ensure that you end up with the best one.Good language translation services should first and foremost be accurate. This ideally means that the company has translators who are fluent in English, but are also primarily natives of the country you wish to communicate with. That is because language is a very complex thing, differing from country to country, and it is important to observe nuances which the translator must be aware of. Two sentences which have the same meaning for English-speaking people could have very different ones in another country. Any translator, therefore, must know not only how to say things, but also how to say them in the proper context.And if you want to find the most suitable language translation services for your business, you must look for one whose translators are familiar with the ins and outs of such a business. For example, if your business deals in the medical field, you will want translators who are especially trained to know medical terms and lingo in that country, as well as the names of common medicines, ideally even herbal ones. Otherwise you will lose valuable time while the translator verifies spelling, pronunciation, and other critical information. Worse, you will run the risk of getting confusing messages on your desk.You should also consider quality control. This means you have some way by which you can check the quality of the translation. You can check for this by asking if the company will allow you to talk directly to the translator, should the need arise. This is especially useful if the translation you got is ambiguous, or you are confused about a certain aspect of the message.Then there is the pool of translators. You should not go for a translation service who only has one or two translators for the languages you need. That is to avoid the frustrating situation of having absent translators at a critical time. And while some companies would provide a machine backup for this situation, that is almost always an even more frustrating and unreliable solution.So in the end, you should not only look at a company’s supposed experience or credentials, but you should endeavor to verify the above factors as well. This way you can be confident that the language translation services you get are on par with your needs.


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