Friday, April 18, 2008

Shopping, Phones, Pizza & More


Headlines with links and nothing from me on these subjects from Mediapost:

What If They Hand Out Stimulus Checks, And Nobody Shops?
by Sarah Mahoney
[Retail] Experts are predicting that the economic stimulus payments, which the IRS says will start going out to an estimated 130 million households May 2 and will be completed by July 11, are more likely to wind up paying off debt or buying gas than funding any shopping sprees. Except, perhaps, at Wal-Mart. - Read the whole story...

AT&T Campaign Seeks To Change Parent-Teen Cell Phone Convo
by Laurie Sullivan
[Telecom] Featuring music icons Meat Loaf and Tiffany, the effort is scheduled to run through the end of the month. It attempts to highlight the no-contract-required GoPhone service that lets consumers carry over a balance from month to month, providing unlimited talk to AT&T's network of 70 million customers. - Read the whole story...

No Tomato Cans Here As Pizza Rivals Go Mano A Mano
by Nina M. Lentini
[Restaurants] Domino's and Pizza Hut traded barbs in press releases this week about the size of their pies, the number of pepperoni slices and each other's value to the consumer. After the one-two punches, there was no clear winner--except that both got their strategies mentioned here. - Read the whole story...

Hilfiger, Sony Create Web Channel For Jam Sessions
by Karl Greenberg
[Retail] The site was produced by Amsterdam-based Media Republic. Tommy Hilfiger and Sony BMG have also partnered with YouTube and Joost to feature TommyTV content in online communities. The audition portion of the site involves participants uploading to YouTube videos of themselves performing. - Read the whole story...

Marketers Take More Targeted Approach To Selling Rx Drugs
by Aaron Baar
[Pharma] "There's been a lot of key learning [recently] from the financial and packaged goods industries about how to market to patients," says Cegedim Dendrite's Lynn Day. "They're also learning about expressing the clinical benefits of the products in ways the consumer or health care provider would want to hear." - Read the whole story...

Edmunds.com Now Offering Crystal Ball On Vehicle Prices
by Karl Greenberg
[Automotive] "This came up, this new product, because consumers always asked not only what, but when, should I buy," says Jessica Caldwell, manager of pricing and market analysis for Edmunds.com. "It comes into play with manufacturer incentives, which can change regionally several times per month. The same is true for finance, lease and cash deals." - Read the whole story...

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Anyone can have a voice


In this social media world we have the mobile web which you can view on your I-phone; we have MySpace; FaceBook; RSS Feeds; Twitter; and the list will continue to grow.

The fact is, newspapers and bloated traditional news outlets are going to suffer declines in viewers/listeners/readers simply because there are other ways to get information and entertainment. You can have a voice on the internet, and be equal to the 15 year news reporter in readership on the internet.

I prefer the Blog world which often allows two way comunication between the author and the readers. It's also easy to link to other sites and build some virtual networking along with local networking.

I recently wrote about the local blogging scene, click here to see how you can connect with other local bloggers.

Research was done on who are these bloggers? Who are these people who are compelled to share their voices with the world? Here's the stats:

Friday, April 18, 2008

What's A Blogger?

Bloggers are younger and higher percentages are Hispanic & African American than the general population. A higher percentage of Democrats than of Republicans are blogging.

Now that Blogging might better be called a market segment rather than a market niche, it's useful with regard to positioning the marketing message to understand what a Blogger looks like, as distinguished from the rest of the population. According to the BIGresearch Simultaneous Media Survey, 26% of all adults say they regularly or occasionally blog. Of those:

  • 53.7% are male
  • 44.7% are married
  • 28.4% hold a professional or managerial position
  • 10.4% are students.

Bloggers tend to be younger, averaging 37.6 years old, compared to 44.8 for adults 18+ (the "general population"). Ethnically:

  • 69.7% of Bloggers are White/Caucasian (vs. 76.1%)
  • 12.2% are African American/Black (vs. 11.4%)
  • 3.7% are Asian (vs. 2.0%)
  • 20% of Bloggers are Hispanic, compared to 14.8% of adults 18+

In addition, Bloggers report a lower income ($55,819 vs. $56,811) and are better educated (14.3 years of education vs. 14.2).

Political blogs are becoming increasingly common, especially in this election year, where 24.6% of registered voters say they regularly or occasionally blog. Political affiliation of regular/occasional Bloggers look like this in 2008:

  • 37.6% of Libertarians regularly/occasionally blog
  • 26.9% of Democrats
  • 25.7% of Independents
  • 22.9% Republicans

Analysis of Bloggers shows that they are using most forms of new media significantly more than the average market.

Regular/Occasional New Media Usage (Top 5)


% of Regular/Occasional Bloggers

% of Adults 18+

Cell Phone

93.0%

87.5%

Instant Messaging

75.3%

49.3%

Download/Access Video/TV Content

72.2%

45.0%

Video Gaming

66.9%

47.5%

Text Messaging

65.5%

45.2%

Source: BIGresearch, January 2008, N=15,727

Although Bloggers are more likely to use new media, the analysis finds that more conventional forms of media trigger their Internet searches. Magazines, at 51.6%, rank highest, followed by:

  • 48.8% reading an article
  • 46.1% broadcast TV
  • 44.5% cable TV
  • 42.5% face-to-face communication
  • 39.7% newspaper

Gary Drenik, President of BIGresearch, concludes "Bloggers are a diverse group and not who you would expect..."

For more information, please visit BIGresearch here.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Keeping it Real with Ad Fed

I could have done a review of today's AdFed Lunch meeting today, but Anthony Juliano did such a fine job of recapping, I'd rather just share with you what he wrote. But first, a few of my own personal observations...

I was born about 5 years too early to be a Gen Xer. But I identify more with them than the Baby Boomers that I am at the tail end of.

My kids are in Generation Y, or the Millennials and I noticed that they have a lot more in common with their grandparents generation, and I was wondering if this is a pattern through out history, of grandchildren and grandparents having similar values and desires. I'd like to see a study on this going back about 100 years or so.

Also, at one point, I thought, my head's going to explode. Face it, there is SO MUCH going on right now. I'm glad I'm rooted in understanding the human side of this which will be the basis of all marketing that truely succeeds.

There is one more point to make before I give you Anthony's review. A common thread in today's presentation about Youth Marketing was also a common thread in last months presentation on Marketing to Minorities. Keep it Real. The age of Hype & Hustle is dead.
That was the 1980's. Okay, here's Anthony Juliano:

Earning the !

Posted: 17 Apr 2008 07:08 PM CDT

I attended the Fort Wayne AdFed lunch today, which featured a presentation by Clint! Runge of Archrival, a "youth branding agency" in Lincoln, Neb. Let's start with that exclamation point: yes, it's really there at the end of his first name. When I first saw it I thought it was some cheesy gimmick that he used as a substitute for doing anything worthy of an exclamation point.* However:

1. Turns out that it's the name his mother gave him (or at least that's the story he's telling, which makes it much more palatable than if were just a cheesy gimmick), AND

2. This guy definitely deserves an exclamation point or two

Why do I say that? Well, a few takeaways from his presentation which focused on marketing to millenials/gen Y:

- If you're a Gen Xer (like me, and Runge), you're A LOT different than a millenial. So while you might think you can predict what they'll like since you're fairly close in age, you can't. Don't try. Instead, TALK TO THEM. Listen to them. Find out what they like, and why. And then...

- Be authentic--and you can't fake authenticity. Milenials won't even glance at a marketing message that seems contrived. They're not immune to marketing, but it has to speak their language and respect their low tolerance for artifice.

- Increasingly for everyone, but certainly for millenials, the cell phone is the "first screen," much more important to them than a computer. Marketers should be thinking well beyond simple web pages to consider how their content will translate to a mobile world.

- It's no longer true that cool starts on the coasts and moves to the center. Because of technology, what's cool in New York and L.A. is cool in Fort Wayne and Lincoln, Neb. pretty much simultaneously.

- Millenials want to be part of something bigger than themselves, which helps explain their connection to causes like the environment and the Barack Obama campaign, as well as the growth of social networks

- Niche social networks are capturing more and more of millenials' attention. I was already convinced of that, but it's good to know that I'm not alone.

- Urban gaming is on the rise. And I wish I had thought of Pacmanhattan. So does Runge, but the difference between him and me is that...

- He did come up with National Collegiate Rock Paper Scissors Tournament, which I only wish I had come up with.

All in all, pretty exclamation point-worthy stuff, and a good use of an hour or so, even on a really busy day.

*This would be the typical Gen X skepticism/vitriol rearing its ugly head. Just so you know.

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MarketingCharts.com Links

You want more numbers?

I've got them for you. Click on the headlines and you'll go to MarketingCharts.com for the full report.

Out-of-Home Patterns of Young Adults, the Affluent, Movie Enthusiasts Studied

As more consumers are “on the go,” out-of-home marketing is becoming an effective way to reach them, according to a consumer-insight study of the out-of-home patterns of young adults, the affluent, and movie enthusiasts by Aegis Media’s PosterscopeUSA.



Small Business Owners - Not All the Same

The more businesses a person owns, the higher his or her income, education level, and loan amounts and mortgage, finds an Experian study of small-business owners - sole business owners and multi-business owners. Findings were compiled from Experian’s demographic data of consumers and small business owners.

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Customer Service in the 20th & 21st Century

I was born 48 years ago. When I was 26 I moved into the advertising world and realized that I better become a student of marketing and human relationships, in order to succeed and rise above the mediocre and lame "Herb Tarlick's" in the advertising world.

So I read, studied, asked a lot of questions, and repeated this over and over and over again.

I even walked away from this business and had a "real" job a couple of times. What drew me back to this was my desire to help business people make smart decisions about their advertising and their overall marketing.

There was a report in my email today from MarketingCharts.com that shows that no matter how technology changes, there are still basics that we as people want.

Things like:

  • We want to feel valued
  • We want to feel important
  • We want to be heard
  • We understand that life is not perfect
  • We want you to take responsibility for fixing things when you screw up (imperfection)
This is what customer service has been all about for generations.

And it is still true today.

And Tomorrow too. Click on the charts in the following report to make them BIGGER.

Consumers Return to Online Shopping Sites That Embrace Web 2.0

With consumers continuing to spend briskly online, and social websites aggregating ever-larger numbers of participants, the twain - online shopping and social networking - may finally be meeting, according to a nationwide survey from Guidance and Synovate.

In the new survey, more than 60% of respondents report being drawn to online retailers that employ Web 2.0 tools and techniques.

The Guidance/Synovate eNation study of some 1,000 online consumers, conducted in March, asked: “When thinking about shopping online, what is most likely to make you return to a given shopping website?”

Among the findings:

guidance-synovate-online-shopping-why-return-to-website.jpg

  • 35% of respondents say they’re most likely to return to a shopping website if it makes recommendations on products or services for sale.
  • 26% say they want “a unique experience each time” they shop.
  • 18% say they’re more likely to return “if the site solicits their feedback” on its products and services.
  • 16% say “a welcome when they arrive” at the site is the factor most likely to make them return
  • 6% say they’re most likely to return “if the site makes them feel part of a community” with other shoppers/site visitors.

Drilling Down: Social Shopping Online

Other key findings:

  • Fully 41% of those age 18-24, the prime demographic for the social web, say they’re most likely to return to a site that makes recommendations. Only 29% of those 55-64 say so.
  • Women are far more likely to be influenced by a welcome greeting - with 20% saying it’s the feature most likely to get them to return, compared with 12% of men.
  • The older you are, the more you want to give feedback: The upper three age groups were more likely than the bottom three to say that a site that solicits their feedback is most likely to make them return.
  • A few groups went against the overall trend by not selecting “recommendations” as their No. 1 choice: non-whites (they chose both “unique experience” and “feedback” ahead of recommendations), those with post-grad education (”unique experience” was slightly higher), and those with incomes under $25K (first choice was the “welcome”).
  • There’s a wide gap between the lowest-income bracket and all others:
    • Only 26% of those who earn less than $25,000 per year chose “recommendations,” 10 percentage points below all other income categories.
    • Respondents in the lowest income bracket were far more likely to prefer a “welcome” - 27% said it was the feature most likely to make them return, at least 13 percentage points higher than the other income categories (14% of those earning $25K-$50K and those earning $75K+, and 12% of those earning $50K-$75K agreed).

“The economy is fragile and the competition for the consumer dollar is fierce, but as these findings make abundantly clear, online commerce is now a two-way street - and retailers need to embrace that reality, ” said Jason Meugniot, Guidance president and CEO.

“Online consumers and merchants are in dialogue as never before, and consumers are counting on each other for insights in making purchase decisions. Recommendations have become the new currency of online commerce, along with their corollary, the opportunity to give feedback to the e-Commerce site.”

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The Science of Pricing


It's a brain trick. And Retailers have been doing it for years.

If you pay $10.00 wholesale, the typical retail price is between $20.00 and $30.00.

But instead of using those nice round numbers, studies show that you will sell more at $19.95 than $20.00.

Here's the science behind the Pricing. (Click here)

If it works for them, why not the rest of us?

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And now the Headlines....


Wait, did we fire the guy who writes the headlines?

Even the New York Times is making news (again). Here's the story from Mediapost:

Bad News: Layoffs Likely At 'New York Times'
by Erik Sass
The New York Times will likely have to lay off some employees, since it didn't find enough recruits for voluntary buyouts aiming to trim the paper's newsroom staff by 100. The announcement came from Assistant Managing Editor Bill Schmidt in an internal memo to employees. He didn't specify exactly how many layoffs would be required. This warning may motivate more people to take the buyout offers at the last minute, before next week's deadline. - Read the whole story...

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Giving Your Best

Collective Wisdom is about collecting wisdom, knowledge, research and opinions from others, often adding my own 2 cents and presenting it to you.

However sometimes, I have nothing important to add. Like right now. So on with the show...

No Reservations

In a recent post at his blog, Seth Godin recounts the experience of arriving at a trendy restaurant for his 6:30 reservation. "We were promptly seated at the worst table in the place," he says, "in the back, in the corner, cramped by the kitchen." Though the restaurant was only a third full, the host rebuffed his request for a better—and unoccupied—table with the explanation that it was reserved.

"The chances, of course, that a particular table is reserved are close to zero," says Godin. "What he meant was, 'oh, we have a regular customer who deserves that table more than you.'"

For Godin, this raised the intriguing marketing question of who should get the "best table" your company has to offer. Do you give it to a valued loyal customer or a new customer who might be converted into a long-term client?

The answer, he says, is to please everyone by transforming lesser offerings into appealing alternatives. "Maybe the table in the worst location comes with a special menu or a special wine list or even a visit from the chef," he suggests. "Maybe the worst table, for some people, becomes the best table because of the way you treat people when they sit there." In other words, you might treat people differently, but nobody feels like they're getting the shaft.

The Po!nt: Says Godin, "No one wants to settle for the bad table, your worst salesperson, your second-rate items. Not the new customers and not the loyal ones."

Source: Seth Godin's Blog. Click here for the post.

I Trust You Because Your Floor Looks Clean and Shiny

How do customers evaluate quality? It can be simple when judging a product, where it's easy to see the workmanship. But what about the more intangible things—like the customer experience? Recent research says: Get out your mop and pail.

A study by the Chinese University of Hong Kong found that when consumers are uncertain how to evaluate the efficacy of a service provided, they use external cues to make inferences about the trustworthiness of the service provider. For instance, to evaluate a doctor, they might consider how welcoming the waiting room is, the friendliness of the receptionist, or even if the room is clean and tidy.

The fact that these cues may have nothing to do with the quality of the service provided does not appear to be important. A customer service desk may have caring reps in spite of its messy countertop. But first impressions count big with customers. And yes, that goes all the way down to the shiny clean floor.

External cues can impact just about any aspect of the retail process. For instance, if a product delivery is delayed, customers may be less irritated if they are advised of the delay, and the person doing so is friendly and courteous.

The Po!nt: Little things mean a lot. Keep up appearances, and stay courteous, since these seemingly little things actually have a big impact on customers' judgments of quality.

Source: "When Does the Service Process Matter? A Test of Two Competing Theories," by Michael K. Hui, Xiande Zhao, Xiucheng Fan, and Kevin Au. Journal of Consumer Research, 2004.

These stories are from:

MarketingProfs, LLC | 419 N. Larchmont | #42 | Los Angeles, California | 90004 Copyright © 2000-2008 MarketingProfs, LLC All Rights Reserved.

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Wisdom on Targeting your Advertising

Great stuff from Small Fuel, delivered to my email, and now here for you to read:

Boost ROI With Targeted Advertising That Fits Your Business

Posted: 16 Apr 2008 12:44 PM CDT

targeted advertising
When it comes time to consider the most effective ways to advertise your small business, one of the most common questions you might have is, “Which method of advertising is best for the amount of money and time I have to spend?”

That depends.

No one single method of advertising works for all businesses. A dry cleaner might have a different way to reach his clientèle than a clothing retailer, a gift shop owner or a furniture store retailer. Analyzing different means of advertising before starting a campaign is crucial. It also minimizes trial-and-error expenses.

Carefully consider the following points, and you’ll be on your way to better advertising and bigger returns.


What Do You Want to Achieve?

what are your specific goalsAdvertising campaigns need to have a goal, so what’s yours? What do you want to achieve with this campaign? Do you want to increase awareness of your business with the public? Are you looking to bring in more leads? Do you want to increase sales? Perhaps you’re seeking to promote a specific product or service.

Take a look at what you want to achieve and determine what your exact goal are before considering the different types of advertising methods you could use to promote your business. Ask yourself:

  • Do I want to promote a one-time event or have a long-term campaign?
  • Do I need a powerful burst of marketing or a more stable method?
  • What action should people take because of my campaign?

Targeting the Right People

targeting the right people
After you decide what you want to accomplish with your advertising campaign (and be specific), you need to consider how you’ll reach your target audience.

Wait; you did determine who your target audience is, right?

An ad campaign won’t be effective if the question, “Who am I trying to reach,” is answered with, “Everyone!” It just isn’t feasible for a small business to reach everyone.

Think of fishermen. These workers don’t take their boats out to cast a wide net in the hopes of catching a few varied types of fish. They wouldn’t be able to make a good living in their industry.

Instead, they target exactly the type of fish they want. They determine whether their fish swim high or low and in schools or individually. They learn where the fish go and what attracts them—as well as what makes them swim away. They examine the perfect weather conditions, water temperature and the best times of day (or night) to fish.

When they go fishing, they fish for one type—not a dozen.

Not to compare people to fish, but the method of honing in on a target audience is much the same in business. Ad campaigns target a specific group of individuals with particular likes, dislikes, behaviors, habits, needs and desires.

So be like a fisherman when choosing a method to advertise your business. Don’t cast a wide net and take a chance. Think about your ideal client and answer the following:

  • Is that person a younger one or an aging individual?
  • What type of job does the person have?
  • Does the individual have a need that your product or service fulfills?
  • What type of personality does your target client have?
  • What demographic does that person belong to?


How Can You Reach Your Target Audience?

reach your audience
Once you know whom you are trying to target, then you can decide how you will effectively reach that individual. There’s no point in creating a press release if your ideal client doesn’t read newspapers. There’s little point in an email campaign if your ideal client doesn’t use a computer often.

Take a look at the language of your campaign, too. To reach your ideal client, you need to speak a language familiar to the person. Younger people tend to prefer fast, snappy tones. Business people like a professional style. Baby boomers might like an adventurous, youthful sound.

Now examine the medium of advertising for your specific goal. Is email your best delivery method? Or is a hand-out pamphlet at a trade show the best method? What about a radio ad or a television clip? Have you considered a viral video or direct mailing?


How Long Do You Want The Campaign to Last?

Some strategies are perfect for short, fast bursts of marketing messages. They’re geared to land a quick sale or create a buzz around a promotion. Other campaigns contain long-term ad messages built to withstand the test of time, like a static website for a business.

Decide whether your campaign is for a one-time event or needs longevity with its message. Will you be carrying this consistent message throughout all your future campaigns? Do you want your ad campaign to be one that you can use once, every month or a few times a year?

If you want a short burst of advertising to be effective, opt for methods that are quickly set up and that provide fast returns on investment. Longer campaigns need to be flexible enough to adapt with time. They also need to provide a good, consistent return over a period with the least amount of attention.

When determining how long you want your ad campaign to last, ask yourself:

  • Will it need attention and revision from time to time?
  • Will you need to update the information often?
  • Do you want your campaign to be “evergreen”?

Keep in mind that while short campaigns are easily set up and produce fast results versus “evergreen” (year-round) campaigns, an “evergreen campaign” requires less effort in the end, producing more consistent long-term results without consistent attention.

“Evergreen” advertising does require long-term maintenance, though. It requires care and adjustments based on results to make it even more effective. When it has run its course, it may need an overhaul or a complete change to boost effectiveness again.


How Much Can You Invest?

How much can you invest
There are many factors involved in determining how much to invest in an ad campaign beyond cash.

Examine:

  • The available budget for advertising
  • The realistic potential for a return
  • The cost of time and labor involved in the campaign
  • The opportunity cost of choosing one method over another

The opportunity cost is an important one to consider. If you choose opportunity A over opportunity B, what is the loss of not having chosen opportunity B? Is A cheaper in dollars but B would cost less in man hours? Every choice involves lost opportunity, so weigh the pros and cons before moving ahead.

Many people choose ad campaigns that cost less in dollars but that may involve more time investment. They feel that the less they spend, the better.

Sometimes, that’s true. However, every hour that you aren’t working directly in your business making money is a loss of money—the trick is to figure out whether the hours you’d invest in your efforts would cost you more in the long run through lost income.

Always try to choose an advertising campaign that provides the highest rate of return based on the total investments of time, money and effort. You want an effective campaign—and an efficient one, too.


Making the Final Choice

Before deciding on any advertising method, think about all of the previous points. Here’s a summary of things to consider:

  • What do you specifically want your advertising to accomplish?
  • Who are you targeting as the ideal person for your ad?
  • What’s the best way to reach your intended audience?
  • How long do you need your ad campaign to last?
  • What is the opportunity cost and the potential return?

With those answers, you can examine various ways of advertising your business to people and see right away which methods are best for your target market, your goals, and ultimately your business.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Meetings to Attend in Fort Wayne

Here's where I'll be on Thursday April 17th:



Call in the morning if you want to attend, we'll squeeze you in.

Now next Thursday, April 24th, I'll be starting my day with Barry Labov and the folks at the Chamber:

the Boomerang and the Killer Stick.


When:
Thurs., April 24, 7:30 - 9 a.m.



Where:
Chamber of Commerce



Who:
Business owners, executives, managers and anyone interested in learning about some of today’s hottest business topics



How:
To register
Rita Chalfant
260.424.1435
rchalfant@fwchamber.org


Join the Chamber, LaBov & Beyond Marketing Communications and Taylor University for 68 minutes that will change the way you look at customer loyalty and employee engagement. Learn what makes a difference in attracting customers and what doesn't. Learn the eight lessons that will keep your customers coming back and fire up your employees' passion.

The Boomerang and the Killer Stick is an internationally acclaimed message on customer loyalty—see it performed by the people who created it. Pay for one admission and bring two co-workers or friends for free. Why spend days traveling to seminars when you can attend Boomerang and apply the learnings later that day?

The program begins promptly at 7:30 a.m. and ends before 8:45. Sign up today; there will be limited available seating.

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Ladies First

There is an old axiom in sales that you better sell the woman of the house. This goes back to the days of traditional one income two parent, stay-at-home-mom days, (50 years ago?)!

Yet, no matter what the living and earning scenario today's woman is in, they still make more of the spending decisions than their male counterparts in a majority of the purchases made each month.

Here's some numbers for you to keep in mind when you are contemplating your marketing:


Volume 2 Issue 4
April 16, 2008
1.

There were 14,600 spa locations in the U.S. in mid-2007, day spas accounting for 80% of locations, according to the International Spa Association.

2.

96.7% of secretaries and administrative assistants are women, reports the U.S. Department of Labor.



3.

52% of women spent $50 or less for handbags in 2007, says Mintel.

4.

Women (53%) are more likely than men (48%) to say online video ads are intrusive, according to Burst Media.

5.

The number of girls' varsity field hockey teams has grown 32% since 1990, reports the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association.


Marketing To Women (MTW) delivers research, market intelligence and business leads that demonstrate the best strategies for brands, media, non-profits and service providers to connect with today's women. Download a free sample issue to discover how the monthly MTW can lead you to more successful advertising and promotion campaigns.


MTW Datafile Info:
Editor: Ellen Neuborne eneuborne@epmcom.com
Publisher: Ira Mayer imayer@epmcom.com

MTW Datafile is an EPM Communications, Inc. service.
(c)Copyright 2008 EPM Communications, Inc. http://www.epmcom.com

160 Mercer Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10012 | P: (212) 941-0099 | F: (212) 941-1622

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Nearly Free Ways to Market Yourself


I deal with all different sizes of businesses each week. Multi-million dollar operations and part-timers wanting to go full time.

When you don't have a pile of cash to spend, there are still ways that you can market yourself. I came across this list of suggestions and links at TheCheapRevolution.com. Heck, even if you have a pile of cash to spend, you should still be doing some of these things:

15 Do-It-Yourself PR Ideas

It’s hard to allocate where your money should be spent when you’re a startup - and you sometimes have to stretch every dollar. Bootstrapping doesn’t have to be hard though. If you decide to promote your company yourself, read on for fifteen do-it-yourself tactics and get ahead of your competition!

1. Write an interesting article. Writing articles is a great way to establish credibility and drive traffic to your site. Check out this outline if you’re not sure of the layout or for some more ideas. The key here is to make sure your article ends up benefiting the person reading it. Some ideas include:

  • Talking about the social benefits of your service.
  • Providing advice on pitfalls you fell into when starting your business with examples on how you overcame them.
  • Creating a case study on a client.

After you put it together, submit it to online article submission sites such as ezinearticles.com. For a list of more than 150 other sites, check out this post. (Pick your shots and find the ones that will be the most relevant to your audience).

Other important aspects to take into account are to make sure your headline is thought-provoking and to include a byline at the end of article. Your headline should draw people in – make sure it’s short, funny, and/or engaging. Sometimes writing it last works best. Check out this great post by Copyblogger for other headline ideas.

Finally, your byline should give readers a brief background of yourself and your company. Be sure to include a link to your site readers can click on. If you have analytics software installed on your site, track which sites are bringing the most traffic and concentrate your future efforts in submitting articles to those sites.

2. Blog about it. Don’t have a blog? Get one! If you’re worried about the cost, you can sign up for a free account at blogger.com or blog.com. The title of your blog should be relevant to your product/service – you can also make it catchy or creative depending on the industry you’re in.

When writing your posts, take considerable time in writing your headline. In addition, make sure to include keywords that relate to your post. These keywords will be instrumental in helping readers find your post. Once you’ve published your post, submit it to bookmarking tools such as stumbleupon, delicious, and digg. For a great list of social media sites you can submit your post to, check out this entry by Tropical SEO. These tools will help drive traffic to your site.

I would also set up a Technorati account. This will help even more readers find your blog. It’s free to set up an account and you can set up your blog to automatically ping the site every time you post. MyBlogLog is another site I recommend setting up an account on. It allows you to build a community around your blog as well as network with other bloggers.

3. Send an e-newsletter. This implies you have a mailing list. If you don’t have one, start building it now. Include all the current contacts you have and be sure you have an opt in button on your site so you can collect more contacts. Another way to build your mailing list is by asking people at networking events if you can add them to it.

The next step is to write your newsletter. In it, you can talk about news in your company, recent hires, etc. Always make sure you include news your readers can use – there has to be at least one post that will benefit your readers directly. For example, in our last newsletter, we talked about leveraging social media for your business. Use an e-mail campaign service such as Constant Contact and iContact. For other alternatives, check out our previous post. Be sure to include an opt-out option or you will be violating the CAN-SPAM Act.

4. Submit a Press Release. Write a noteworthy press release in third person and submit it yourself at free online sites such as prweb.com. For other sites, click here. You can also send the press release to the local media around your area. To gain a better chance of getting it picked up, include a cover letter that showcases how the information in your release benefits your local community.

It’s important to also note that it may prove worthwhile to pay for one PR service if you have truly newsworthy information. We’ve used Businesswire.com with great success.

5. Profile your company in Wikipedia. It’s important to build an online presence and adding an entry in Wikipedia can help you accomplish that (even with the new nofollow attribute). Check out how other companies profile themselves and use the same format. Be sure to include links to your site so people can find you (We’re working on ours now!).

6. Get a LinkedIn Account. LinkedIn is a social networking site for business professionals. It allows you to connect with those you know as well as get introduced to those you want to know. In my opinion, it’s most useful function is its “Answers” feature. This is where users post questions on several different categories about a certain topic. Leverage your knowledge and experiences by answering them and post your own questions that make others notice you. Be sure to leave a response you’re proud of because the best answer given to a question can earn you an “Expert” rating.

7. Leverage Social Media sites. Social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Squidoo, Ning and Zaadz can be a great way to market your company and/or offering. Make a list of groups on each that are relevant to you, join them, network with other members, and promote yourself and your service. For a list of other social media sites, click here.

8. Add Signature Lines. You are probably constantly e-mailing vendors, clients, partners, etc. Did you know you can also market your new services in them? Add a signature line at the end of your e-mail with a link to your site that promotes your new service or blog post. It’s easy to do and can prove to be fruitful.

9. Go to trade shows. This depends on what industry you’re in but it can be a great way to promote yourself or your company. You can also set up a booth yourself if appropriate.

10. Speak at conferences. Find local, relevant conferences and offer to speak for free on an area of expertise you possess. This can be at your local chamber of commerce or other associations that relate to your industry.

11. Start a contest. Everybody loves to win something and a great way to market your company is to start a contest. Make one of your offerings for free as the prize. Use this opportunity to add to your mailing list (with permission of course).

12. Comment on blogs. Compile a list of blogs that complement your service/company or relate to your industry and comment on their posts. Try to be in the top three to comment and make sure to say something that is related to your area of expertise or knowledge.

13. Guest Blogging. Offering to guest blog on someone else’s blog can be a great way to introduce yourself or service to others. Research a list of relevant blogs and contact the blogger. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is and how willing bloggers will be to talk to you. You can also approach a expert in your area and offer to do a guest blogging piece on your own blog.

14. Ask for testimonials. If your clients were happy with your services, ask them for a testimonial to include on your site. If they don’t time to write one, write it yourself and ask them to approve it.

15. Network, Network, Network!

I hope you have the time to implement all of these steps. If not, consider using a virtual team to help you execute and accelerate the launch of your web business!

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Follow up on Free Money!



Earlier this month, I posted a story regarding the economic stimulus rebate checks, or whatever you want to call the $300 to $1200 government money that will be arriving soon.

If you are a regular advertiser, you should perhaps tailor some of your messages to those people that are going to have this extra cash.

Perhaps you will double their money on a big ticket item. Or you will make some offer that your customers really want. I mean REALLY want. A half baked idea is not what you want to do right now, it can hurt your overall branding.

And since you are already advertising, now is the time to start planting the seeds so when the checks arrive, your customers will already have spent it mentally with you.

Kara commented on what I wrote and provided a link to an interesting interview at the blog her agency in Maryland operates. Here's the beginning:

Cashing in on economic stimulus checks

We met with Sable Mi, strategic planning director, to get the 411 on economic stimulus checks and consumer spending behavior.

Why is the government issuing these checks?

Well, the economic stimulus checks were designed to put more money into the market. Gas prices are up, the value of the dollar is down, and there is uncertainty in the job market; all indicators of a recession. The Federal Government keeps cutting interest rates but that doesn’t help consumer confidence.

…Enter the rebate checks?

Exactly, people aren’t spending so the government is giving money to consumers to stimulate the economy. The checks aren’t a long-term fix, but there will be some short-term direct impacts.

Do you think any particular industry will benefit from the checks?

Retail in general will profit, but the checks will be especially beneficial to the home improvement and electronics (home theater) industries-instead of selling and buying a new house, people are more likely use the money to fix/improve their current homes. The travel industry is also working to profit from the checks; we’ve seen some packages and promotions, mostly domestic trips, designed to get taxpayers to spend their checks on vacation.

What about the ad industry, will it benefit from the checks?

The media industry will be the first to benefit. Retailers are fighting rigorously to get their share of the tax rebate money, and most of them will get their messages across through advertising. With the Presidential election and the economic stimulus package, media is having a pretty good year. I’m also curious to see how.... (click here to get the rest of this sentence along with the full interview!)


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What Cha Drinkin?


Summer is almost here and I guess that means beer season is heating up. ( I usually don't drink the stuff, so I don't know if there is a "Beer Season".)

Here's last year's Big Sellers in the "New" Category:

Top 15 New Beer Brands In 2007

1|
Miller Chill

2 | Bacardi Silver Mojito

3 | Landshark Lager

4 | Bud Light Chelada

5 |Smirnoff Ice Pomegranate Fusion

6 |Mike's Hard Light Cranberry Lemonade

7 |Michelob Ultra Lime Cactus

8| CM Parrot Bay Pineapple Colada

9 | Budweiser Chelada

10 |Michelob Ultra Tuscan Orange Grapefruit

Source: Information Resources, Inc.

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Signage

I've written about the various options you have for advertising, including billboards (click here & here), recently.

Anthony Juliano wrote this at his SoundBite Back blog this week regarding Billboards:

The future of billboards is up in the air

Posted: 15 Apr 2008 06:30 PM CDT

Billboards are hard to like. They clutter the landscape. They can distract drivers. And when they're bad, they're really bad.

But here's another thing about billboards: when done right, they can be tremendously effective.

Outdoor advertising is enjoying a resurgence of sorts, especially compared to TV, radio, and print. While other media struggle with changing consumption habits, and as audiences discover new ways to avoid ads, billboards remain as conspicuous as ever. There's no way to change the channel or fast forward past a billboard, making them an increasingly attractive option for advertisers looking to maximize their return on investment.

Read the rest by clicking here.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Picking Promotional Products

In the past week, I've signed up 5 or 6 new clients to participate in a Bridal Show that we are hosting with one of our radio stations.

Some of the folks have done trade shows and know exactly how to smile, engage, have handouts and be positively memorable. The others needed some assistance and they needed promotional items too, so I hooked them up with a couple of vendors.

Which brings up the question, How Do You Pick the Right Promotional Products for Your Business?

In my email today was the answer from the BusinessTurnAround blog:

Making Your Name Stick

Chewing_gumGive it away, give it away, give it way, now!
– Anthony Kiedis

In the break room, I’d often find leftover peppermints with the Sonic drive-in logo imprinted on them. Even though no one wanted to eat the mints, no one could throw them away because they were perfectly good mints. (Same with the catsup. We had a drawer filled to the top with nothing but packets of Sonic catsup.)

After seeing the peppermints with the little logo on the wrapper, I would want to jump in my car and head to the drive-in and pick up a # 1 double meat with cheese and an order of tater tots, (or as my nurse-daughter Emily calls it, “a heart attack-to-go”). Back at the break room, I’d finish the meal and then I’d leave the mints on the table.

So what can you give a customer - that won't get thrown away - to serve as a reminder of you when you’re not around?

A friend of mine owns a produce company. He often found his expensive full-color product brochures in his customers’ trash until he started placing exclusive recipes on the back. Now he finds the brochures pinned on the bulletin boards in the offices of his clientele.

Of course, not just any promotional gadget or "gimme" is going to work. For it to have any chance of triggering a positive memory of your company, it has to meet at least one of the following three criteria for the customer.

* Relevancy – it has to be related to your business and the customer.
* Personal – it has to be something that specifically fits the individual client.
* Functional – it has to serve a purpose for it be used and not forgotten.

Offering premiums to your customers is one way you can fight the big boys and win. The tactic of giving stuff away is certainly not new. William Wrigley Jr. started his successful career by selling soap and baking powder. He’d include a free stick of Wrigley’s gum with each can of baking soda. It seemed to work out pretty well for him.

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Everything old is (w)new again


18 months ago, we brought back legendary Fort Wayne Rock Station, WXKE, ROCK 104. From New York City, it looks like they are doing the same:

Legendary Rock Station WNEW Returns
Tuesday, Apr 15, 2008 9:33 AM ET
LEGENDARY NEW YORK ROCK RADIO station WNEW is returning on-air (102.7 HD 2) and online (www.wnew.com). The new WNEW.com features recordings from the dawn of the album era in the late 1960s and early '70s through the music of today's emerging artists. Spoon and Vampire Weekend will be played alongside The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd. Plus, thousands of hours of archival interviews by former WNEW hosts Scott Muni, Dave Herman, and Richard Neer, among others, with artists such as John Lennon, The Who, Stevie Wonder and David Bowie will be integrated hourly during on-air and online programming.

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Imbedded commercials beat the system


I wrote about this idea for radio and television previously. Click here.

Looks like at least one show is going to do it:

Live Ads Set For ABC's "Kimmel"
Adweek
ABC will soon announce that late-night program "Jimmy Kimmel Live" is to integrate live commercials into each episode, with the first such spots ready to go next month. A throwback to the early days of TV, the practice went out of style 30 years ago when most shows began being taped -- and had multiple advertisers. But with clutter increasing, live spots are a way to stand out -- and some advertisers believe they can also beat the increasingly-ubiquitous DVR by integrating product into the content of the show.

Says Doug Hochstadt, vice president of late-night sales for ABC, "Kimmel" will soon be ready to accept live ads: "We're thrilled to be offering it. It just gives us one more way that our customers can touch the product." And at least one buyer is intrigued. "I think it's a great idea," said David Barrington, executive vice president, managing director of video investments, at MPG. "The brand has to fit first and foremost, and I'm sure it's not for everyone. But to have someone who is a great talent like that make the ad a part of the content will help get our messaging across and also help break through the clutter." - Read the whole story...

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Lunch for a Fiver (plus tax and tip)

Fighting back by lowering the price of lunch, is how some casual food chains plan on surviving the current economic downturn.

They also could reduce portion size and promote themselves as the "healthy way to have your favorites."

Otherwise, they'll just be cutting their profit margins.

This story is from Mediapost:

Bennigan's Bows Campaign Touting 'Cash Crunch' Lunch Price
by Nina M. Lentini, Tuesday, Apr 15, 2008 9:25 AM ET
foodLeveraging the cash crunch so many consumers are experiencing, particularly around today - Tax Day - Bennigan's Grill & Tavern is launching a multi-pronged campaign touting a new $4.99 lunch.

The effort, created by Propaganda of St. Louis, Bennigan's AOR, includes cable TV, radio, email, online and in-store placemats and on-store banners as well as server T-shirts.

Susan Karlen, director of marketing, tells Marketing Daily that she expects that other quick serve and fast casual restaurants will follow suit. "They have to," she says. "They might not be as dynamic or aggressive as Bennigan's but in this economy they'll have to [lower their prices]."

Cable TV ads are slated for the Dallas/Ft.Worth market and will be made available to other franchisees. Radio ads will air in Dallas, Denver, Houston, Tampa and Orlando, Fla., Chicago and Cleveland, Ohio. In addition, lunches will be given away in radio promotions and email blasts will go out to Plano, Texas-based Bennigan's database and to the databases of participating radio stations.

The Cash Crunch Lunch program runs through June 16, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily. The menu items include five classics and five new fresh options, says Karlen. Regular prices for these menu items run from $6.99 to $9.29.

"We just want to help the consumer who is in a cash crunch and offer the opportunity for them to eat at a quality restaurant at an affordable price," she says.

Bennigan's has over 310 locations in 10 countries, and is owned by Metromedia Restaurant Group, which also owns Steak and Ale, Ponderosa Steakhouse, Bonanza Steakhouse and The Plano Tavern.

Nina M. Lentini edits Marketing Daily. Email her at nina@mediapost.com

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How to decide which advertising to buy



There are so many options for marketing your business and yourself.
There is a retired local television salesman that used to always wear a bowtie.
There is the saleswoman that always wears something red.
There is the steakhouse that always opens the door for you, no matter how busy you are.
There is the guy who always has bad coffee breath.

Okay, except for the last example, I urge you to develop your style and use it all the time.

When it comes to advertising options, I've got another question you should be asking. Click here to read more.

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The Power of 7's


Tucked inside this newsletter from Jim Meisenheimer is a gem that I learned from a store owner a few years ago. I have since applied the rule regarding the power of 7's and it seems to work in nearly every sales situation, unless you are keenly aware that you are being "sevened".

Read the latest from Jim:

The Price Is Right


The Price Is Right is a TV game show made famous by Bob Barker and his familiar call to the audience "Come on down."

I was reading an article in the Sunday paper about how restaurants, in an attempt to save money and increase profits, are downsizing their dinners. They are also using creative pricing strategies - which got me thinking about The Price Is Right.

Now you're probably wondering, what in the world does any of this have to do with selling? In fact it has a lot to do with selling.

David Letterman could probably come up with a list of the top 10 things that drive salespeople crazy. Based on my experience and observations and talking to thousands of salespeople, dealing with the price objection would be number one on this list.

Some salespeople are so fearful of hearing the sales prospect bring up the price objection they start talking about pricing even before the subject ever comes up. Now - that's not the way it should work.

The only time the price is right is when you don't have to lower it to get the business. If you must lower your price always get something in return.

For example, if a sales prospect asks, "How much better can you do with your pricing," you could respond with, "I can wiggle with the pricing if you can wiggle with the size up the order."

If you don't like this approach - change it. The point is you shouldn't have an exasperated look on your face every time you get the price objection. A little preparation and a lot of practice can overcome anyone's fear of hearing the dreaded price objection.

Whenever someone asks you, "How much does this cost" try responding with "It depends." Of course your sales prospect will then ask, "It depends on what?"

Then tell him, "It depends on the size of the order or it depends on the quantity or it depends on what else can be added to the order."

The article I was reading, focused on creative restaurant strategies, mentioned two things you might be able to experiment with in your business.

If you have any products that have pricing which ends in 95 cents raise it to 97 cents. This gives new meaning to the old saying - every penny counts.

Another idea which you may be able to use is to spell out the price instead of using numbers for example: three hundred and fifty dollars instead of $350. Don't discount the idea at least until you try it.

Here are a few more ideas and these did not come from the article. Never offer a price that includes zero's. Four example $3500. Those zeroes are an invitation to negotiate. Change this price to $3497. It's more specific and implies you've already sharpened your pencil.

You should also know that numbers ending with the number 7 sell more than any other number. It's true!

For even more ideas on how to deal with the price objection you can do a search on Google with the key words - price objections. You'll find 569,000 results. There's no shortage of ideas at Google.

There's no need to fear the price objection. The more you explain the value of your products and services the less you'll have to defend your pricing.

I used to get the price objection often. About 19.5 years ago I scripted a way to deal with it and have been using it ever since. And by the way, as soon as I prepared my response to the price objection I was getting - I didn't get it as often. Truth be told - I don't get the price objection as often because I'm very confident I can deal with it. Amazing isn't it?

If you want your price to be right don't talk about it.

And remember this Meisenheimerism - when selling, the more you talk about price the lower it gets!

Start selling more today and everyday . . .

Jim Meisenheimer
Publisher - Start Selling More Newsletter

Jim Meisenheimer
Start Selling More Sales Training
13506 Blythefield Terrace Lakewood Ranch, FL 34202 Phone: (800) 266-1268 Fax: (941) 907-0441 fax Email: jim@meisenheimer.com Website: www.startsellingmore.com

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Monday, April 14, 2008

The Price of Convenience



Gas prices in town climbed to a new high this afternoon. $3.49 I decided to wait until morning and drive to a station that will save me 15 cents a gallon if I buy their $5.00 car wash.

I'm typical when it comes to filling up my car. I find doing it a pain in the butt. And a pain in the wallet too. So I usually don't hang out at gas stations. I drive up, swipe my credit card, fill up, and drive away. And I am costing the gas station owners dearly.

See, they make pennies on me. They make a mint on the folks that go inside and buy a lottery ticket, gum, coffee and twinkies. That's where the money is.

If only someone could design a gas station that gave customers an incentive to buy something inside.... something that would get me, the guy that hates gas stations, to want to go inside and spend a little extra. Let me know if you can persuade me. In the meantime, check out this story:

Gas Stations Want Customers to Shop Inside

Gas prices may be sitting near record levels, but the owner of your local gas station quite likely is struggling.

Profit margins on gasoline sales are razor thin. Indeed, some gas stations are losing money on credit card sales, once the fees are factored in.

How do they stay in business? More and more a gas station's bread and butter is, well, bread and butter -- and the coffee and candy bars it sells in its convenience store. Most of these items generate much higher profits than gas.

"Gasoline is a relatively low margin part of what we do," said Jay Ricker, president of Ricker Oil Co. in Anderson, Ind.

Increasingly, a station owner's biggest challenge is convincing drivers to step inside the store after they gas up.

"It's all about trying to sell other things," said Scott Hartman, president and chief executive of Rutter's Farm Stores, a York, Pa., company that owns and operates 51 gas stations.

Jeff Lenard, spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores, estimates that gasoline accounts for 70 percent of a typical store's revenues, but only 30 percent of its profits. Paul Fiore, executive director of the Service Station Dealers of America, a trade association for auto repair shops, said the mix is about the same for service stations.

Low profit margins are squeezing companies along the length of the gasoline supply chain, from the biggest refiners to the smallest corner stations. Contrary to popular belief, 95 percent of gas stations in the U.S. are independently owned: Their prices and procedures aren't dictated by a major oil company, even if the station licenses that company's name.

With crude oil, gasoline's raw ingredient, recently soaring to near $112, up from about $60 a year ago, gas prices are actually struggling to keep up. Crack spreads, the difference between what refiners pay for crude and get for the gasoline they make, have gone negative on some days in recent weeks. That means that in those cases, refiners were losing money making and selling gasoline. In comparison, at one point last spring, crack spreads reached as high as $37 a barrel.

Oil's rise has been driven by investors snapping up crude futures as a hedge against a falling dollar and inflation. But while gas prices have tried to keep pace, demand for gasoline has fallen, limiting refiners' pricing power.

Top executives of the five biggest U.S. oil companies appearing before a Congressional committee last week deflected any blame for the effect of gas prices on consumers and argued their profits -- $123 billion last year -- were in line with other industries.

That pain travels down the chain to retailers, who base the prices they charge consumers on what they expect they'll have to pay for their next shipment of gas. Many make no more than a few cents a gallon selling gas, a margin that evaporates once credit card fees are tacked on.

Some decide it's not worth the bother. A station in Bushnell, Fla., stopped selling gas entirely a month ago after its owner determined he couldn't make money on it. He's not alone; many refiners have cut back on gasoline production in recent weeks due to low profit margins.

But most stations view gas as a loss leader -- something they're willing to take a loss on, or accept a very small profit for selling -- under the theory that it will bring people into their store or shop.

Competition between stations is becoming increasingly cutthroat as demand for gasoline falls. Energy Department data shows gas consumption has fallen about 1 percent over the last nine weeks, compared to the same period last year.

"High prices are pressuring consumers to conserve," said Tim Evans, an analyst with Citigroup Inc. in New York.

Unlike other industries, which might run a sale or slash prices when demand for their main product is falling, there isn't much gas stations can do to pump up demand. Most are reluctant to cut prices.

"We don't do that and most don't because you just start a price war," Ricker said.

"You really can't reverse a trend if people are driving less," Lenard said. "You have to steal someone else's customers."

To get a competitive edge, many station owners are investing heavily in other things. Rutter's Hartman says he makes more selling a cup of coffee than a gallon of gas, and is operating his stations with that in mind. He's emphasizing convenience, building bigger stations and investing over $1 million in bathroom upgrades, "more like you would find in an upscale restaurant."

The idea is to build a base of customers who could get gas anywhere, but choose to buy it at Rutter's because there's always an open pump and the bathrooms are nice and clean.

"That builds you a regular repeat kind of customer," Hartman said.

Ricker, who operates 30 stations throughout Indiana, advertises heavily at the pump. Signs touting fountain drink and sandwich deals are prominent, and Ricker is also experimenting with pump-top televisions advertising goodies inside the store.

Douglass Distributing, a Sherman, Texas-based company which distributes fuel and owns a chain of gas stations, is incorporating post offices and Subway sandwich shops into its convenience store designs. Owner Bill Douglass also offers a customer loyalty program that gives repeat customers discount cards and deals on certain products, much like a grocery store, and heavily promotes the availability at his stations of products such as propane, biodiesel and racing fuel.

"It's not a fun place to be, but it's manageable if you're working on it," Douglass said of the gas station business.

(Source: Associated Press, 04/01/08)

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