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 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.

Affordable Cosmetic Dentistry

Is smiling a thing of the past for you? Embarrassed by cavities and that obvious discoloration on your teeth? If that’s you, I’m sure it’ll be very comforting for you to know that you are not alone. Many people don’t get treatment for their dental needs because it’s just too expensive. This can impact a person’s self esteem in a very negative way. Is there a solution to this?Cosmetic dentistry is considered a luxury in most parts of the world. One of the primary draw backs to Cosmetic dentistry is that your dental insurance won’t cover it.There is, however, one option you might consider. Ever heard of dental discount plans? No, they are not insurance. They are just discount plans allowing you to avail some discount on of every day dental needs. The amount of discount really depends on the kind of service you want to undergo and the place which you live in. Consult a participating dentist within your network.When speaking of Cosmetic dentistry most of these dental discount plans take a step back. Only a few, though, offer little discounts on Cosmetic dentistry. But, 20% savings on a $200 bill is quite a saving! I mean you are saving $40 and that’s big money. That’s just an example though. Participation in these plans will cost you any where around $80 to $150 annually for an individual or a family respectively.With these plans you will not only save on Cosmetic dentistry obtain huge savings on regular dental Procedures like dentures, bridge work, cleanings, extractions, x-rays and much, much more.

For Fat Loss and Improved Fitness You Need Exercise, Not Just Activity

There are many different opinions about fitness and fat loss, but one of the more common viewpoints suggests that all you need to do is increase your activity level and/or decrease your caloric intake to be successful. While this may have some truth in theory, it does not always hold true in real life and it is certainly not the best strategy for improving long-term fitness and fat loss.Note: For the sake of this article I will only discuss fitness and fat loss as it relates to activity level and I will not address anything related to nutrition or calorie intake. I will cover the calorie intake component of this viewpoint at a later time.If you only take one thing away from this article, I want it to be that increasing your activity level and exercising are definitely not the same thing. While they are related, the difference between them is often the difference between success and failure when it comes to losing fat and improving your overall health and fitness.Exercising is obviously a way to increase your activity level, but there are many ways to increase your activity level that should not be classified as exercise. Webster’s defines exercise as: bodily exertion for the sake of developing and maintaining physical fitness. The key point in this definition is that activity has to affect fitness to be considered exercise.A good exercise program will always be designed to improve various aspects of fitness (strength, endurance, flexibility, etc.), as opposed to being designed just to burn calories. Having the goal to increase your activity level will increase the number of calories you burn, but it will not necessarily improve your fitness level. This is incredibly important, because increasing your fitness level is essential to long-term fat loss and improved health.It is common to start a new program with the goal of increasing your activity level and burning more calories to lose weight, but this approach usually only results in short-term success. You may have experienced this at some point yourself, if you ever had initial improvements, which were followed by a lack of further results. Personally, I went through a period where I was doing cardio workouts once or even twice a day to increase my activity level and lose fat, but soon after I started, I stopped seeing any improvements whatsoever.My problem was not that I needed to increase my activity level more, but rather I had to stop focusing on doing activities to burn calories and start exercising. In other words, I needed to perform activities that were designed to improve my fitness level and not just burn calories. There may not seem like a big difference between the two, but this small change in approach will lead to a huge improvement in results.Let’s go back to the scenario where someone initially sees results by increasing their activity level. I would argue that, especially for people who have sedentary (non-active) lifestyles, the initial increase in activity should be considered exercise. If someone is out of shape, almost any type of activity will improve their fitness level. I believe it is the improvement in fitness level and not just the increase in activity level that ultimately is responsible for the initial positive results.To further illustrate this point, let’s take a look at probably the most common scenario for increasing activity. Walking is a natural choice as a starting activity, because it is something people already know how to do, requires essentially no equipment (although appropriate shoes are recommended), and it can be done almost anywhere. For people who are not used to walking, it will be somewhat challenging at first, and their body will be forced to adapt to the new stimulus, thus improving their fitness level.However, as the person’s fitness level improves, chances are they will not make changes to their walking routine. It is very common for people to walk the same distance and speed, often taking the same route whenever they walk. Over the course of time, what was once a challenging walk that stimulated improvements in health and fitness, becomes a walk that just burns calories. More importantly, when the walk stops being challenging, it is also the point when fat loss usually stops occurring.Another important point is the more you perform an activity, the more efficient your body becomes at that activity. For example, take the person who goes for the same walk every day. After the initial fitness and fat loss improvement from starting the walking routine, not only will the walk stop being a challenge, but the amount of energy required to perform the walk will decrease as well. In other words, the same walk will result in fewer calories burned than when the person first started walking. This is another reason why walking or doing any activity just to burn some extra calories will not work in the long-run.I should point out that I am not trying to say there aren’t any health benefits to increasing your activity level and if you are currently not very active, doing anything to become more active is a good thing. However, if you want to lose fat and improve your fitness over the long run, just increasing your activity level will not cut it. You need to exercise and challenge your body if you want to experience continued improvement over time.One final note: Nutrition plays at least as big of a role as exercise in health, fitness, and fat loss. Even the best exercise program cannot make up for poor nutrition, but this article is only meant to address the activity level component of an overall health and fitness program.


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