There's No Free Lunch!

Written by John Colanzi

Man alive. Sometimes I wonder if I'm inrepparttar twilight zone.

There's a large thread in one of my favorite forums about a new program. Most ofrepparttar 117559 questions are about how to get maximum spillover.


Well smack my wrist and call me shorty. I thought we were marketers, small business owners, entrepreneurs.

Where arerepparttar 117560 men and women who take responsibility for their own success?

Where arerepparttar 117561 shouts of "If it's to be, it's up to me!"

Whatever happened to rolling up your sleeves, rolling inrepparttar 117562 mud and getting sweaty.

I didn't hear anyone talking aboutrepparttar 117563 thrill ofrepparttar 117564 game. How they were so excited their blood was pumping.

Forgetrepparttar 117565 free lunch.

"Bridging the Gap": Don't Forget Your Core Customers!

Written by Donna Schwartz Mills

The big news inrepparttar business sector last month wasrepparttar 117558 resignation of Millard Drexler as CEO of The Gap. The once highflying retail chain has hit hard times, losing money inrepparttar 117559 last four quarters and slipping disastrously close to bankruptcy.

Retail fashion is a notoriously fickle business, with yesterday's hot trends marked down today like so many Pokemon toys. But for years,repparttar 117560 Gap had been impervious to fashion ups and downs by beingrepparttar 117561 favorite supplier ofrepparttar 117562 favorite clothes ofrepparttar 117563 Baby Boomers: Denim jeans, khaki trousers and basic shirts.

But asrepparttar 117564 Boomers hit middle age,repparttar 117565 Gap maderepparttar 117566 decision to go afterrepparttar 117567 youth market. Gone wererepparttar 117568 comfortable fit jeans its customers loved, replaced by hip huggers and belly shirts that could not be worn by someone carrying 20 years of cellulite. And that wasrepparttar 117569 beginning of their troubles.

Asrepparttar 117570 owner of a home business, I found this puzzling. After all,repparttar 117571 Gap had always identifiedrepparttar 117572 youth market as its own and was just carrying outrepparttar 117573 course it set for itself back in 1969, when it was a single store in San Francisco. But as their young customers grew, so didrepparttar 117574 chain, resulting in a clientele that stayed loyal for 30 years. By shifting gears to appeal to *today's* teenagers, they alienated millions of loyal customers who moved on to discounters like Target (which manages to evoke an image of "cheap chic") and newer outlets like J.Jill and Chicco, which proudly display relax-fit clothes that are stylish, comfortable and hide a multitude of middle-aged sins.

Inrepparttar 117575 meantime,repparttar 117576 young people Gap so desperately courted could not get over their image ofrepparttar 117577 chain as a place frequented by their parents. These kids flock to their own trendy stores like Hot Topic, and had little interest in whatrepparttar 117578 Gap had to offer. It was a "lose-lose" allrepparttar 117579 way around.

The lesson for home business owners is a reminder that it's never safe to *assume* you know what your customers want. Research is an essential tool in your business, no matter what its size, and it doesn't have to be elaborate or expensive. Those of you doing business online have access to several methods, including some tools you may already have but are not using for this purpose.

Marketer Karon Thackston of is a big believer in research and providing her customers with information they can use to make good marketing decisions. And likerepparttar 117580 rest of us, she loves finding quick, easy and inexpensive ways to gather that information. Karon recently discovered that her website's free search engine gave her a window into what her customers were looking for at her site. The engine she uses gives her access to reports onrepparttar 117581 most popular search terms. By checking these reports on a monthly basis, she can fine tunerepparttar 117582 content of her site, make advertising decisions, and create new products to fill their particular needs. Readrepparttar 117583 rest of Karon's article here:

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