Is Perfection Getting In Your Way?

by Admin on May 12, 2010

Question 1:  How would you describe the quality of a McDonald’s hamburger?

Question 2:  Who sells the most hamburgers in the world?

The answers to those questions makes an important point. McDonald’s is not letting perfection get in the way of selling a lot of hamburgers.

Are you making this mistake? In your pursuit of making the perfect hamburger (or product or website or idea) maybe, nothing ever actually gets launched.

Is perfection getting in your way? Don’t let perfection get in the way of the possible! Yes, strive for excellence and do a good job, just realize that creating something great and launching it is better than striving to create something perfect that never sees the light of day.


What Would You Say?

by Admin on October 2, 2009

We went to the Chamber of Commerce 1st Friday breakfast this morning. Every business gets 1 minute to say something about their business. This is a fun exercise. When you sit down at your table there are always lots of flyers and brochures on the table. Many of the business representatives refer to the flyers on the tables which give more information about their current sale or event or services, etc.

How many people, when it was their time to speak, pointed to their website for more information? None! I didn’t actually look at every flyer, but most did not have web addresses on them. How helpful would it be to say,” Hey, we are having a great sale this week, see our flyer on your table and go to our website at . . . ”

On your flyer (if you want to clutter up the table with yet another flyer), you list your website, and you tell your website address when you speak. When people go to your website for more information about your sale or event, they find what they are looking for! While they are on your site, they notice you have a blog with some interesting articles, you have a Facebook page where they can become a fan and receive updates and get to know you better.

What would you say?

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Guerrilla Warfare

by blogmistress on March 6, 2009


Herb Lawrence, Center Director of ASBTDC (Arkansas Small Business & Technology Devlopment Center) held a great seminar on Guerrilla Marketing last evening. There was a lot to it but here are a few things to take away:

1.  Focus on your customer (actively listen to your customer).

2. Let your customer know how your product/service will benefit them.

3. Be consistent.

Okay, that is good but maybe I should have listed them in the opposite order. Consistently, focus on your customer and let them know how your product/service will benefit them. If you have the opportuntity to attend a Guerrilla Marketing seminar or course, take it. If not, visit the official Guerrilla Marketing website for more information. There are also books available by the original Guerrilla Marketer, Jay Conrad Levinson.


The Art of the Deal

by blogmistress on March 4, 2009


Going through my daily reads, I ran across a couple of lines that caught my interest over at CopyBlogger:

People who think art is sacred and marketing is dirty tend to be terrible marketers and marginal artists.

People who think art is irrelevant and marketing is about tricking people into buying stuff they don’t need tend to be terrible marketers and worse human beings.

The struggle between art and marketing. I like this. Having known artists who insisted that they had to be true to their art and couldn’t lift a finger to help sell their art (although they want someone else to dirty their hands to do just that) and, also, having know the marketer who doesn’t see the art just sees how to sell it, quite the conundrum.

Obviously, the best comes from authentically, embracing both the art and marketing. The main point, being authentic. Interesting.

photo by incurable_hippie at flickr creative commons


Is Your Business Recession Proof?

by blogmistress on February 5, 2009

On my other blog calendar to see times and dates and to register for these great courses and more.

Growing Your Business In Tough Economic Times
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
424 W. 7th St.
Mountain Home

Seminar Highlights: Gas prices rising, consumer spending dropping, and the housing market floundering describes our current environment. Small business survival in these difficult economic times is becoming more challenging every day. Should we go into a recession is YOUR business going to survive? This is one workshop you can’t afford to miss. Small business owners will learn about the basics of recessions and the effect on their markets. Learn how to read the warning signs for coming recessionary periods and what your business can do to survive, even grow and prosper, despite the current economic changes. Topics will include keeping your cash flow healthy, easy marketing techniques to use, and even how to go against the grain to thrive in a recession.
Speaker: Herb Lawrence, ASU SBTDC Center Director
Cosponsor: Baxter County Library, Liberty Bank, Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce

First Steps To E-Commerce
Friday, February 20, 2009
9:00 a.m. – Noon
1600 South College Street
Mountain Home

Seminar Highlights: Do buzzwords like “new economy,” “information highway,” and “E-Commerce” leave you confused? This 3-hour seminar will teach you the basics of E-Commerce. Learn how to plan and develop an on-line business. You’ll learn about web hosting, internet marketing, shopping cart software, credit card processing, customer order fulfillment, and much more! A 30-page workbook is included in your registration fee.
Speaker: Christi Wharton, Wharton Website Design & Marketing
Cosponsor: Baxter County Library; Liberty Bank, Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce, Wharton Website Design & Marketing

Guerrilla Marketing Boot Camp
Thursday, March 05, 2009
6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
424 W. 7th Street
Mountain Home

Seminar Highlights: You don’t have to have thousands of dollars in your advertising account to get the word out about your business! In this seminar, start-up and existing business owners will learn guerrilla marketing techniques that will cost them very little to nothing to market their products or services. Big-business marketing doesn’t have to be expensive if you use creative and unconventional means.
Speaker: Herb Lawrence, ASU SBTDC Center Director
Cosponsor: Baxter County Library, Liberty Bank,  Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce

Blogging and Social Networking For Business Profit
Friday, March 20, 2009
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
1600 S. College Street
Mountain Home

Seminar Highlights: How would you like your product or service to be in the top 10 internet search engines? Did you know that dozens of businesses have been quietly exploiting a new Internet technology to do just that? This seminar will introduce you to web logs (blogs) and show you how to use simple, low-cost resources to position a product or service far ahead of its competitors. Learn why blogging is the important business skill of the decade.
Speaker: Christi Wharton, Wharton Website Design & Marketing
Cosponsor: Wharton Website Design & Marketing, Baxter County Library, Liberty Bank, Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce

Marketing Research For Small Business
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
424 W. 7th Street
Mountain Home

Seminar Highlights: Knowledge is Power. The right information is crucial to small business success. Whether it is industry analysis, customer segmentation, financial benchmarking or learning about your competition, successful entrepreneurs apply simple market research techniques to grow their own businesses. Now these market research tools and much more are available to your small business. Learn about the marketing research tools and assistance to help any type business improve revenues and grow their bottom line.
Speaker: Herb Lawrence, ASU SBTDC Center Director
Cosponsor: Baxter County Library, Liberty Bank, Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce

Search Engine Optimization
Monday, April 20, 2009
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
1600 South College Street
Mountain Home

Seminar Highlights: Is your web site underperforming? Would you like to dramatically increase online visitors and sales? Come attend Search Engine Optimization and learn how to optimize each page of your website to attract qualified customers seeking your product or service. You will learn how to find highly sought for search terms and where to place those terms to create a perfect page. You’ll also learn about free online tools for researching keywords and for tracking and analyzing your online customers. Don’t miss this opportunity to fine tune your website and turn it into the sales machine it was meant to be!
Speaker: Christi Wharton, Wharton Website Design & Marketing
Cosponsor: Mountain Home Chamber of Commerce, Wharton Website Design & Marketing, Baxter County Library, Liberty Bank


Do You Care?

by blogmistress on February 4, 2009


On my other blog A Southern Life, I recently wrote a post about my father and some of his sayings. My father died at the age of 54 of cancer. What amazed me about that post was the response from people who either knew him or someone like him. The impact he had on other’s lives was because he cared about people.

I’m writing about this on this blog because it has a business application. The impact you and your business have is directly related to how much you care.

Here is an example. My husband and I recently went out to breakfast at a new restaurant. The waitress was friendly and did a good job. Unfortunately, the cook (who was the owner) didn’t really care. The food did not look at all appetizing and didn’t have anything about it that was at all special. Basically, the owner didn’t care. We were disappointed and won’t be going back.

What your customers want is to know that you care enough to offer them a service that is worth something. We know that when we go to a fine dining establishment that offers impeccable service and excellent food we will probably pay more but it is okay because it is worth it.

Is the product or service that you offer worth what you give in return? Do you care about your customers and try to offer them a good return on their investment?

Learn a lesson from Daddy. It pays to care.


Market Research for Small Businesses

by Admin on February 3, 2009


Herb Lawrence, Center Director at Arkansas State University Small Business & Technology Development Center offers us a great guest post on marketing research. The ASU Small Business and Technology Development Center provides consulting, training and research assistance to a variety of start up and small businesses throughout Northeast and North Central Arkansas.

Over the years my business consultant and I have met lots of folks looking to start their own business. Generally after offering them a cup of coffee and asking what type of business they are planning to launch, my next question is, “so, what have you done up to this point to estimate the market demand?”.

Typical responses usually go something like these:

  • “My gut tells me it can’t miss!”
  • “my mom said she would come to my store”
  • “Everyone at church thinks it is a really good idea… we need one of those in town”
  • “Besides, I am here to get help putting a loan package together, what’s market research got to do with my loan request?”

Of course that nasty habit bankers have of asking how you plan to pay the loan back could be a hint. But usually when you talk about market research their eyes roll back into their heads. They think market research takes lots of money, lots of surveys, and statistics, certainly way above what a small business person could afford or understand.

The truth is, market research is absolutely critical to small businesses, regardless of the type of product or service and thanks to the internet, the data is easily available at reasonable costs, you just have to know what type of information you need.

Market research tells my small business owner:

  • How many potential customers are in the trade zone
  • How much they will spend on a product or service
  • Where they are located
  • What demographic, socio-graphic or other factors influence buying decisions and how to break the market into homogeneous sub groups to target
  • Who competitors are, where they are, and what their weaknesses are.
  • Whether the client is in retail or wholesale, manufacturing or service, transportation or health care, businesses (B2B) or to consumers (B2C)

Knowing the answers to the questions above is vital to long-term success. Part of the problem of course is the amount of information out there especially on the internet. A “Googled” market research resulted in 23,900,000 hits and free market research narrowed the field to only 38,900 possible sites. What to use? What is best? What is a scam? Easy to see why entrepreneurs throw up their hands and just “go on their gut.”

At the Small Business and Technology Development Center we use Hill Search, the James J. Hill on Line Reference Library for a lot of our clients initial market research needs.

As a quick example, let’s assume a client in Batesville, Arkansas (Independence County) came in to the office and wanted help finding market research information to determine feasibility of starting a retail jewelry store in that county. For this article we will keep it simple, a primary trade Zone of Independence County only and strictly a brick and mortar business (we will discuss e-commerce market research in another article).

Using the Hill Search Library in 45 minutes I was able to provide the entrepreneur with a good thumb nail sketch of the market potential for an additional jewelry store in that county and an initial market segmentation outline.

For the initial review I used three separate Hill Library resources:

  • Their DemographicsNow database that provides extensive demographic information about households and basic consumer expenditure data on trade zones (by zip code, town, county, MSA, state or region) that told me everything I wanted to know about demographic makeup of households in Independence County as well as overall consumer expenditure information on apparel and jewelry spending.
  • From there I hopped over to the Hill Library New Strategist Demographic eBooks, over 30 on-line books with specific information about how much consumers spend on a wide variety of products and services broken out by demographic sub categories.
  • I used their “Who is Buying Apparel” and “Best Customers: Demographics of Consumer Demand” eBooks to get detailed expenditure information on jewelry by a variety of demographic sub categories including income, age, education, and more. This information combined with the county household demographics will determine not only overall county demand for jewelry but also help segment the households to find out who the best potential customers may be.
  • Finall, I  stopped in at the Hill Library Special Issues database, searched for “jewelry” and found 8 industry reports outlining the State of the Jewelry industry for 2008, forecasts for the coming year and much more. All in about 45 minutes of searching.

So what did I have to report to my “client?”

From the DemographicNow section I found:

  • There are 13,888 households in the county as of 2008, up from 13,467 in the 2000 census and projected to grow to 14,148 households by 2013. With average household income of $48,236 in 2008 and projected to grow to $53,821 by 2013.
  • The average household in Independence County spent $121.00 per year on jewelry (not including watches or repair) So overall market potential for the county to purchase jewelry was just over $1.68 million and is projected to grow to $132.00 per household by 2013 or a overall market potential growth in next 4 years to just under $1.8 million.
  • At the present time there are only 2 existing jewelry retail stores in town. There were three, but a regional chain was forced to close in the fall. Of course Walmart and J C Penney have jewelry counters with sales, and jewelry is sold at various pawn shops in the area, even the gum ball machine outside Krogers. But only 2 retail jewelers. And total retail sales of jewelry in the county was less than $485,700.00 which meant that many consumers were buying their jewelry outside of the county so a leakage existed that might be exploited.

From the eBooks on Consumer Expenditure I found out who buys the most jewelry by demographic features. As a summary:

Households earning under $20,000 will spend an average of $30 a year on jewelry while households earning $70-80,000 per year will spend 171.32 per household and those earning over $100,000 will spend $353 per household on jewelry. Obviously there are far more households earning under $20,000 than over $100,000.00 but does quantity matter or does quality? High income households spend three times the average on jewelry and account for 40% of the total market. The 3,315 households earning under $20,000 will spend $30 a year or a market potential for that segment of only $99,450. But the 1,093 households earning over $100,000 will spend $353 per year or $385,829. Households earning over $100,000 make up only 7.8% of all households but will buy 23% of all the jewelry.

See how segmentation works?

Households where head of household is a high school graduate will spend average of $75 per year on jewelry, while those with a Masters or doctoral degree will spend $227.9 on average.

Married couples without children at home (empty nesters) spend 37% more than average.
Two age groups own most of the market 25-34 year olds (many buying engagement rings) and 55 to 64 year olds (many buying anniversary gifts).

Now, we can go back to DemographicsNow to find the actual number of households by the different income, age, even educational levels and apply that information to see how much my best customers will spend. Finally the industry information from the Jewelry Retail Association Trade magazines will provide information on issues impacting stores in the coming year.

So, if a small business or entrepreneur wanted to purchase this data what would it cost?

Demographic data on Independence County and summary jewelry expenditure data from a source called Demographics Now published by SRC, LLC. You can find a wide variety of consumer expenditure data, demographic data on a variety of groupings by zip, city, county, and state, MSA for all over the country for only $60 dollars per month or $550.00 per year. Specific demographic expenditure by categories and best customer eBooks lists from New Strategist Publishing which you can access for $60 to $80 per e-book. Or you can access all of this information along with a lot more data from the James J Hill On-Line Research Library for $1,295 per year subscription. Industry specific information is available from the Jewelry Retail Trade Association for a fee as well.

However, the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center network offices are all paid members of the Hill Search Library which means that their clients have access to all of this data through the center at no charge. Plus the ASBTDC staff provides free assistance in analyzing the data and helping the client make decisions based on the information. There is no charge to be a client, nor for any assistance through the centers.

Finding good, reliable market research data is possible. It is just a matter of knowing where to look. The Hill Library is an excellent tool, or using the free services of the ASBTDC to help develop initial market research. Next week, drilling down to find customers in your trade zone.I will expand on types of market research in future articles that will look at other tools and information available to small business owners in Arkansas. Let me know if this is useful. If you would like a copy of the demographic, consumer expenditure or industry information to see what the data look like, let me know. Post a comment or send me an e-mail and I will be happy to send you this example.


Does Your Business Need Help

by blogmistress on January 13, 2009

Good news business owners! One of the greatest sources of help in the state of Arkansas is free! The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC) offers services you may not even know about. A little information about ASBTDC from Herb Lawrence, ASBTDC Center Director:

Our consulting services and information assistance is all free of charge and completely confidential. My consultant and I will work with anywhere from 160 to 200 small businesses and entrepreneurs each year providing assistance with business plan development, market feasibility, business financial analysis, business valuations and loan packaging.

We also have a large proprietary database and on line reference library where we can help small business owners get answers to basic question, provide sample business plans, provide information about SBA loan programs, etc. On a typical year the ASU SBTDC will fill over 800 information requests.

Finally we conduct an average of 60 small business training workshops throughout our 15 county area on topics such as Starting A Business in Arkansas, Business Financing Options, Market Research, Guerrilla Marketing, Cash Flow Planning and more.

All of our consulting assistance and information research is completely free and confidential for any small business owner or start up in our territory thanks to our grant from the SBA. Some of our training seminars are also offered at no cost although others do have a registration fee usually between $35 and $49 dollars – basically to cover expenses related to the workshop.

Herb recently wrote a great blog post for The Voice of Batesville
about keeping cash flowing during a recession. Take advantage of these great services for your small business. To contact ASBTDC:
off-line (870) 972-3517
e-mail [email protected]

Wharton Website Design and Marketing is proud to work with the ASBTDC to help small businesses. Feel free to contact us for your website and internet marketing needs at:
[email protected]

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