Small Business Marketing Solution – Is Database Marketing Right For You

Database marketing sounds like something Wal-Mart or Amazon.com is fantastic at. And they are. But so are many small businesses down the street. My local coffee shop has one of the best database marketing systems in the world. Their order processing machines remember my favorite cup of joe and serve it up to me hot, on sight, without my even asking.Of course, their order processing machines are bipedal, with organic computers known as brains and eyes in lieu of optical scanners. Database marketing essentially seeks to emulate what the baristas at the Coffee House do naturally.So, how can you know if your company is a good candidate for database marketing? There are three essential questions to ask:1. Do you have best customers? Do you possess a group of customers that clearly drive more profits–not gross sales, remember, but profits–to your bottom line?2. Can you identify those customers?3. Can you reach those customers? Can you communicate with them, individually, and treat them special?It is extremely valuable to you, then, to answer the above three questions…after you answer this one:Are you already a successful database marketer?Many sole proprietors already are. So are thousands of sales reps. They are familiar with their customers, they understand their preferences. If they have under a hundred customers, maybe even fewer than 500, they know their names and their likes and dislikes and know which ones contribute the most to their pocketbook.But once a business achieves a certain size it becomes impossible for any one person to know all the customers. This is where the aid of the computer comes in. But, we don’t want to discuss tactics in this article. Rather, let’s simply focus on whether or not your company is a candidate for a database marketing program. And that means we need to devise some questions that help us answer each of 1, 2 and 3 above.Payment. Can you capture their individual financial contribution? Does everybody pay with cash or credit card, and then scoot out the door? Or do you invoice your customers?Communication. Do you know their name and address? Can you acquire their name and address? How about email address? Can you acquire it?Acquisition Method. Do you know how they heard about your company in the first place? Can you track and quantify how much it cost your to acquire that customer?Decision Maker. Does the person who actually buys from you control the purchasing decision? If you sell to consumers, the answer is probably yes; but if you sell to businesses it can get a bit more complex. In some industries even finding let alone reaching the true decision maker can be tough but–that’s the person you need to market to for you to be effective.OK, the above are entry-level questions to ask when evaluating if your small business is a candidate for a database marketing program. Again, the key advantage the application of a database marketing program affords as part of a small business marketing program is the ability to target best customers. You find those customers that send the most to your bottom line, and spend more of your advertising dollar on them.If you can’t identify and communicate with a best customer segment, then it is probably best to look at a mass marketing program, where you essentially spend the same marketing promotional dollars on each prospect.If you can identify these best customers, then you are ready to learn more about specific database marketing techniques.Remember: Brand (who you are) + Package (your Face to the Customer) + People (customers and employees) = Marketing Success.© 2006 Marketing Hawks

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.

The Auto Transport Broker and The Piracy of The Truck Driver

Have you ever thought about what it takes to run a profitable business? To tell the truth before owning my own auto transport business I never gave it a second thought. Frankly, I think most people are just like me. Many folks just get up in the morning, drive to work, put in their eight hours and go home. The next day they get up and start all over again; it is like being in a rut.You are probably thinking that is cold! Well, fact of the matter is that is exactly how I used to be. When we hate what we are doing, we just go through the motions. Who cares if there is a profit or not, it does not affect me – we think. All we are there for is to put in our time and collect a paycheck that doesn’t go far enough.You are probably wondering what this all has to do with auto transport and the piracy of the truck driver. Well, as employees we had better start caring about the company profits. Think about it for just a minute. If they do not make a profit, we probably will not have a job for long. Have you ever thought about it that way?Auto transport industry is no different…After talking with a truck driver, today this very point came to mind. Our whole conversation revolved around the economics of running our mutual businesses. There are so many pieces to the puzzle; but, one main reason really took the majority of the talk.Today there are too many auto transport brokers out there not doing their job the right way. Greed has set in and taken over all common sense. Their focus is on their commission today and not that of the customer, trucker or industry. There is no looking at the stability of the business for tomorrow, next week or next year.Doing whatever it takes to secure the order they lie, cheat and bait the customer to earn a few dollars. Now I am not saying it is not right to earn money, not at all. The point is that doing business that way is an injustice to all. How you ask?I could really get on my soapbox here and rant for hours. Instead, let us focus on just one area of concern…the truck driver, or as we call them the owner operator.Owner operators do not work for free either!As a business owner, many expenses occur monthly this is called overhead. There are necessary expenditures that keep the truck, office, drivers and other employees “in business”, or employed.The business owner goes into business to make a profit. Sounds reasonable, right? They know what it costs to replace tires, change the oil and other fluids necessary to keep the big rig safe on the roads. There are permits, fuel taxes and surcharges, insurance costs and fuel costs too. Of course we can not forget there are truck payments, trailer payments, and the savings surplus account for repairs.Next they must price out their loads to cover the driver expense, taxes, meals and sometimes-overnight lodging accommodations. Then there needs to be some sort of profit margin so the company can stay in business for the following month.If the business owner is the truck driver as well, he or she must factor in the personal expenses, too. Most have a husband or wife at home with kids. There is the mortgage, power and water bills, telephone, food, insurance and taxes just like all the rest of us.Auto transport brokers must educate the customer…Part of the job of an auto transport broker is to educate the customer. I do not know about you, but before becoming a broker I knew nothing about the industry. We learned by talking with truck drivers who had years of business experience under their belts. By implementing these principles in my own business we have been able to weather the storm of this new economy when others have not.Let me ask you a question…when is the last time you were able to walk into your local supermarket and tell the cashier what you were going to pay for that loaf of bread? Ha…won’t happen will it? Of course not. The market sets the price us consumers will pay for the product and we either buy it or we don’t, right?When auto transport brokers do their job correctly, the customer will understand how the transport business works. They will understand why the prices are what they are. Sure there will be slight differences between brokers. Healthy competition is expected and good in the marketplace.What is not good is when one sector of the industry turns to piracy. By charging the customer an excessive rate then paying the trucking company less than market rates this upsets the apple cart. It makes for an unbalanced industry and forces good people like you and me out of business.Two years ago, we watched as about 75% of owner operators handed in their keys. Some of these hard-working men and women were our friends. Business owners who had provided our clientele incredible service at equitable prices. We had developed friendships. They are real people, just like us. More than once, I cried myself to sleep after listening to the plight of these people and the causes for their decision.Today something has to change. More honest hearted people need to step up to the plate. Hard working auto transport brokers who own their own business need to get back to the basics. Educate the public that more than just diesel prices drive prices; which by the way is on the rise again.You would not work for free…stop asking these business owners to pay you to ship your car! As a broker we are not for the government stepping in to solve an industry’s problems like is so rampant today.However, as an individual auto transport business owner, I’m taking my stand. Education is key and our clients are well-educated, informed and happy. They are happy because their truck driver has a profitable business driven by fair market value.

A Look At The London School Of Fashion

What kind of passion do you have for fashion design? Is your style more traditional mainstream or do you like to think out of the box with an edgy style? Either way, the London School of Fashion (officially the London College of Fashion) could very well be the school for you. This well-known fashion school has an excellent reputation for producing top designers in shoe design, mens clothing, womens clothing and accessories. They also have top professionals in other areas of fashion such as fashion photography, fashion merchandising, fashion journalism, culture and communication, and many more.As a fashion student at the London school of Fashion, you will learn pattern cutting, garment production, designing in both manual and digital formats, the history of fashion, etc. The school is equipped with various high tech machines that you don’t find in most other schools. This gives students an opportunity to learn to use the latest machines that they would otherwise not have a chance to use until they were well established in the field of fashion design.The school encourages thinking outside the box to stretch the limits of the students imaginations so the students have the chance to stretch their wings and be truly creative in design. This gives the students a real chance to explore and find their own unique niche while still giving them a good grounding in tradition design. You can dare to be different.The tutors connected with the London School of Fashion are often successful working designers, so you have access to an invaluable resource here. Another extremely valuable resource is the work placement program where you get the chance to actually work in the field of design while you are still a student. This gives you experiences that will go a long way towards helping find a great placement after graduation in the exciting world of fashion and fashion design.If fashion is your career choice, check out the courses at the London School of Fashion. Expect to work hard and be rewarded with the best possible education in the fashion industry. Whether you are more traditionally minded or lean to the edgy side of fashion design, the London School of Fashion is the best place to prepare for a most challenging and rewarding career in the fashion universe.


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