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Wed, Nov 19th - 10:41AM

Target Marketing for Small Businesses

If you’ve been keeping up with our blog then you already know how important it is to know your target market.  Now we will discuss an example of indicative target marketing.  This post will help you identify what facts are vital when researching details of your target audience. 

Let me begin by sharing a portion of a different blog post that I read the other day.  It’s on the topic of small business advertising spending during a recession.  A piece of the article touched on target marketing and it said “If your current advertising is out of synch with where people are searching then clearly you need to address this immediately. For example, if you're a local hairdresser who knows that 80% of your customers come from within 10 miles of your salon and 50% of these customers are under the age of 40 then a color advertisement in your local Yellow Pages directory isn't going to be a great investment if most of these under 40's are searching online for local hairdressers.” 

Now wait . . . go back!  Read that again please.  Did you catch the statistics regarding people under the age of 40 searching online for local hairdressers?  Or any concrete evidence that those under 40 within 10 miles of the salon don’t use the Yellow Pages directory or don’t have one?  That was a huge IF in the last sentence of their paragraph.  The statement “. . . most of these under 40’s are searching online for local hairdressers,” isn’t necessarily wrong or misleading.  It may even be fact.  But, if it is a fact, there is no research evidencing the statement as fact.  Therefore, it is merely an assumption.   

Maybe the under 40 customers within 10 miles of the salon use the Penny Saver, the local newspaper or even the Val Pak mailers to find fulfillment for their hair care service needs?  Maybe the percentage of those under 40 within 10 miles of the salon who use online searches is only 36%, those who frequent the weekly Penny Saver to look for and use salon coupons is 11% and 53% prefer word of mouth referrals from friends, family and co-workers when choosing a salon?  It is key to know.  Thus, working on a marketing strategy encompassing the referral process would be most beneficial to your salon. 

Be attentive when presented with research and documentation from media companies, advertising agencies, search engine optimization specialists and marketing firms alike.  Make sure that all the pieces of the puzzle are presented.  Just one missing piece leaves the puzzle incomplete.  And filling in the gap with other puzzle pieces (like assumptions about the target market) can leave you in the same predicament you were before: unwise advertising spenditures with little or no results.

On and off line marketing work together in synergy to reach potential customers.  By no means, does that mean you need to do it all.  It simply means start with an Integrated Marketing Plan from Vertical Insight.  Let’s work together to achieve maximum ROI for your advertising budget.  The plan will encompass critical details such as:

  • Target market (who, how, when and where)
  • Product(s) and/or service(s) (demand, off-season marketing strategies and seasonal strategies)
  • Where and when promotional spending should take place to reach the target audience

Execute the marketing plan and start grabbing the customers you’ve been missing out on.

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Wed, Nov 19th - 10:40AM

Just a Little Personal Story to Share

Last week, it was the afternoon and my children were home from school.  Of course, I was still working, but being the SUPERMOM that I am . . . I multi-task and help them while I work. (As I’m doing now).  

So my little one is sitting down working and he turns to me and says something just completely out of the blue and not on topic.  I wish I could remember his exact words, but I don’t have those kind of SuperMom powers.  Alas, he cracked me up and although what he said didn’t warrant a response of laughter, I just couldn’t help it.  He looks up at me with those big beautiful chocolate puppy dog eyes and I just knew SuperMom had to save the day. I look back at him with as much love as I can muster in my eyes (because remember he really had me going…the laughing was somewhat uncontrollable).  Then I say as sweetly as any SuperMom could ever say, “I’m not laughing at you, honey.  I just love you soooooo much that you make me smile.” With that, he returned the look of love in his eyes, gently smiled and continued his homework.  Never fear because SuperMom will always save the day! 

Bringing this occurrence into a small business perspective, sometimes through the course of our working days our reactions to people and situations are natural.  While they could sometimes be taken as offensive it’s just a part of our humanity.  So share the love with your customers and your vendors.  Build those relationships and bring as many as you can into your business family.  If they aren’t the right fit for your family, then seek out the customers and vendors who are.  Those are the people who are going to refer your company to others.

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Wed, Nov 19th - 10:39AM

More About Non-Traditional Targeted Media

So now that we know that the rise in use of non-traditional media is upon us, let’s discuss a new form of said target marketing, shall we?  There are a few very interesting advertising opportunities out there so I will bring to light one specific innovative technology that isn’t so well known . . . yet. 

First off, knowing your target market is essential!  If you haven’t thought about the who you are trying to reach, you’re most likely spending your advertising budget for minimal results.  Why reinvest in advertising for your business without a clear picture as to who you need to reach and how to reach them?   

For organizations in the health industry such as Juice Plus+ ( and Kangen Water (, reaching those who are interested in becoming healthier is key.  So if you can connect with your target market when they are not distracted by other advertisements, friends, family, or life in general, wouldn’t you exploit that opportunity to its fullest potential?  You may ask, “When does that EVER happen?”  Cue dream sequence sound effects . . . It’s that time of year and I’m waiting impatiently at the dentist’s office (or doctor’s office) for my annual check up.  Sheesh, the last time I was here I waited for almost an hour in the stupid waiting room!  Cell service isn’t the best in this God-forsaken building so I’m stuck with only the tattered outdated magazines in front of me to generically peer through so I don’t accidentally fall asleep in my chair. 

Hmmm, that sounds like at least a good half-hour to communicate with a new prospect.  Your target market takes care of their health (or at least frequents the physician when ill).  So why not take advantage of this uninterrupted time they have?  Engage your target market with WiSpots.  WiSpots is the newest “on-demand wireless connectivity, putting a world of information within arms reach of patients.” 

How does WiSpots accomplish this?  WiSpots provides the public with the WiPad, a wireless internet access device placed in waiting areas, so that anyone who wishes to have internet access can do so any time, free of charge!  Now that your target audience has something to read, review, learn about, etc. . . . products like Juice Plus+ and Kangen Water can share such things like health research and testimonials on the ad screen. 

It’s time to reinvest in your company wisely.  There are various other strategies to target your audience, but if you don’t have the time or experience to revamp your Marketing Plan, get with Vertical Insight.  Having a Marketing Director dedicated to growing your business, increasing you customer base and raising your sales is not only affordable . . . it’s a must have for your business to not only survive, but to become successful. 

For more information about WiSpots, visit their website at 

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Wed, Nov 19th - 10:38AM

Increase in Use of Non-Traditional Media
If you haven’t seen a dinner suggestion via e-mail from Kraft foods or a mobile coupon message from Kellogg’s yet, don’t think you’ve missed out.  Many major food companies have pulled away from mass media advertising to what is still considered non-traditional media.  This includes website marketing, mobile marketing, online coupons, viral marketing and more.  Soon enough our e-mail and cell phone inboxes may even become overloaded with such advertising from the food industry.  But, consumer opt-in programs make some of these promotions possible. 

Fortunately because of opt-in programs we won’t get bombarded with intrusive advertisements.  Rather, we have the ability to pick and choose which promotional materials we want.  Thus, non-traditional media becomes a win-win situation.  Businesses win because their advertising is targeted instead of broadcast to an audience uninterested and unsuitable for the product or service.  Consumers win because they get the latest on new products and services from their favorite brands and they receive discounts on items they may already intend to purchase or want to purchase.  Hooooahhhh!  By Joe, I think they’ve got it. 

Where does that leave your small business?  I don’t know.  Are you currently on the side lines?  Competition could be passing you up or maybe your SME has never really put proper effort into marketing to your target audience.  With the newest advertising wave on the rise, grab your board and let’s go.

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Wed, Nov 19th - 10:38AM

Invitation for Small Businesses in Otsego County, NY
The Telecenter in Oneonta is no more. However, Xtended Office has opened and is ready to fulfill the needs of area small businesses. Xtended Office is designed for local small business owners and entrepreneurs by providing convenient short and long-term access to necessary hardware and software at reasonable pricing. Use their space and technology to fully operate your business. SME’s can take advantage of our efficient environment and use it as incubator space to grow the company, bring in new clientele and increase profits.                                                                          

Central and Upstate New York are prime locations for entrepreneurs and small businesses. And minimizing expenses to increase the overall efficiency and productivity of an organization is an important aspect of running a business. Xtended Office can help reach these goals. Whether needs are periodic internet access for e-mailing and purchase orders, an affordable conference room, software training for your staff, or even payroll processing . . . Xtended Office has small businesses covered. The path to success has been mowed, raked and illuminated.

There are no more excuses for small business failure. Yes, the current economy is in a struggle. And yes, it is utterly critical to maintain or even cut expense. Xtended Office will help with that. It’s the premiere local spot for small businesses to strap on their wings and fly towards their dreams.

Conveniently located at 395 County Highway 26 in Toddsville, Xtended Office is available for the local community including Cooperstown, Oneonta, and all of Otsego County. Off-street parking is plentiful. So, for more information please feel free to visit And questions may be submitted via e-mail to

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Wed, Nov 19th - 10:19AM

Working in Retail: It's Not Just a Job

If you’re thinking that a job in retail is just a job . . . you might want to think twice. Go ahead and take a second peek at the world of retail. You might find that your perspective has changed (especially if you are interested in management, human resources, or if you are an entrepreneur at heart).

The usual point of view when working in retail is that one is merely there to stock shelves, assist with inventory, point customers towards desired merchandise and handle check-outs. . . blah, blah, blah. How do you suppose those who manage and own stores, boutiques, and specialty shops have made it past being a customer service rep. or cashier? Take it from us, standing around gabbing with co-workers isn’t what did it for us. So how did we go from retail beginnings to entering the positions of management and ownership? Here you will find some great insight to working smart in the retail sector. Let us examine.

Customer Service is the KEY to Building Relationships

So you’re applying for a job at the Mall or you just snagged the open position at a cool new shop. Congratulations! Now what? Really taking into account all you can during training sessions is important. First and foremost, you should be aware of company policies since each store runs differently from the next. Adhering to the policies ensures your respect towards those of authority, which will help you rise to those management positions. More importantly though, following proper procedures is a CYOB strategy. CYOB, you say? It’s ever so urgent to Cover Your Own Butt and what better way then to follow the rules to the “T.”

You know, customer service isn’t just about being friendly or keeping a smile on your face. Here is your opportunity to build a relationship with each and every customer. You might ask yourself, what’s the point? Well, have you ever heard of viral marketing? Word of mouth referrals are a part of viral marketing. What do you think your customers are going to share with their friends and family about the store, its products and more importantly about your service?

Learning to build lasting relationships with potential customers and consumers alike establishes your store above and beyond the rest –AND- pushes you higher in the eyes of customers and management. Taking advice from an excellent local store manager, Levi Jennes of FYE, “The most important concept when building customer relationships is really listening well to determine the true needs of each customer.”

When you shop, what persona do you bring through the doors? I’m the queen-bee and I want what I want, when I want it? Or I’m the top dawg and only my money matters? It’s pretty safe to say that most people feel exactly the same when they are ready to spend their hard earned greens. So bring it to the table for them. Store Manager, Angela Salvia from Fashion Bug says, “Treat every customer like your best friend or family member.” Great advice from a well respected team player and highly revered store manager.

Inventory: A Bunch of Stuff

While stocking and pricing a multitude of products can become a redundant task, keep in mind that inventory is not just stuff. Customers are coming to purchase “this stuff” from you because these items fulfill one (or more) of their needs. So paying attention to where items are placed, whether or not items are in stock and keeping tabs on delivery shipments, will help you provide the best service possible.

If your shop doesn’t supply the item your customer is seeking, there are options available. You can try to locate the item at a sister store or check if the item(s) can be ordered. Taking that extra step brings more value to your customer service and enhances the relationship you are building with your client.

Are you ready for this one? You may need to sit down (if you’re not already) . . . you can even refer a customer to a competitor. Sometimes it’s just not possible to get your hands on what the consumer wants. Sending them happily on their way to someone else who can accommodate their needs really takes your connection with them to the next level. You will display your sincerity in earning their trust while exhibiting the reality that you are there for them. Their trust in you to fulfill their needs is your gateway to their loyalty.

Customer Retention Management, What’s That?

Now that the gateway to customer loyalty is open, maintaining the relationships you’ve built is the next step. Keeping those connections is the source behind Customer Retention Management or CRM. You have made these established relationships, now where do you go from here? Keep the connection new and updated by following through with some simple CRM strategies.

For example, following up weekly with a quick phone survey on customer service works well. Fashion Bug contacts patrons who returned something the previous week says Store Manager, Angela Salvia. This is one way Angela and her staff at Fashion Bug maintain their client relations. But, there are many ways you can take care of the precious relationships you will establish.

As for Levi Jennes from FYE, “Providing consistent friendly service is fundamental in Customer Retention Management [CRM].” When customers receive the same positive service again and again, they feel comfortable returning to the store whether they are browsing, shopping, stopping by to chat, or exchanging or returning items.

Keeping this theme in mind, a local first-rate restaurant manager, Doug Dodd from Applebee’s Grill & Bar says, “It is essential to treat customers as individuals.” He goes on to explain, “Management’s acknowledgement of the personal lives of customers is how you can keep them coming back again and again. It’s simple really, treat them the same as an invited guest in your home.”

The combination of following corporate policies, providing excellent customer service, building core customer relationships and maintaining those connections will help you stand out in the workplace. You would never want to be labeled as one of these:
• The fly on the wall
• The cell phone gabber
• The register hog
So take part in the shopping experience of each customer. Treat them well, be consistent with customer service, and maintain those relationships. Following these simple strategies will keep your customers loyal, your customer base growing and your retail career on the fast-track.

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