Archive for the ‘Consumer Driven Trends’ Category

3 Ways to Engage Your Customers

December 27, 2011 1 comment

By Heidi Adams

CONTESTS:English: Peanut butter cookie with a chocolate...

Run a contest in-store or on Facebook or BOTH to promote a new item you’re going to carry.  Perhaps give consumers the chance to name it.  Name this new cookie flavor and win, a month’s supply.

If you’re not in the cookie business you could have them guess the amount of something or come up with the next promotion themselves.  It’s a great way to get feedback.   The prizes don’t have to be expensive, remember you’re catering to people who already like you.  Something like a gift card or even merchandise you were going to put on sale anyway works fine in this instance.


If you’re like a lot of small businesses, you are trying to grow your online following.

Post from the Madison College Libraries page.

A fun thing to do on a Facebook Fan page is a give-away.  The giveaway would be randomly drawn from your list of fans once you reach a certain number.  For example, the Madison College Library wanted to reach at least 600 likes and they chose to give away a nook color once they reached that number.

Another tactic is to do smaller prizes but more of them – an example would be “help us gain 20 fans by the end of the week and we’ll give away a $15 gift card.”

If you’re a business that works with vendors frequently, you might be able to ask for some free product to help promote.  It’s always a great way for them to advertise, too.  “We got a set of widgets from our widget vendor, comment on this post and be entered to win them.”


So you thanked the customer after they paid for their merchandise.  What about when they got home, or even the next month to see if they are still happy with their purchase? You might think it’s excessive, but if done the right way it will build your relationships.

Here is an example,  you up-sold the customer at your salon on a new shampoo that would work for them.  What about emailing them or better yet- Facebook messaging them to get their opinion?  You could word it like, “Thanks again for coming in last week!  What do you think about that new brand, is it working for you? Let me know what you think”

If you have the customer snail mail address, write them a letter, “Thanks for doing business with us. We hope that welder is getting some good use, let us know how it’s going and send us a pic of your work!”

In this rough economy a little goes a long way.  Be sincere and say thanks!

If you have ideas or thoughts on customer engagement comment below or write us an email:


Instant Gratification and Hunting

December 23, 2011 Leave a comment

by Clint Dehnert

From my perspective, I see it getting harder and harder to have a realistic chance of harvesting a deer in Wisconsin.  For me, this chance is what drives me to get up at 4 a.m. and walk through the woods or a swamp in the dark. Hunting is a rite of passage and a tradition passed on by the elders. Groups of hunters are a brethren and the nine day season is anticipated for the whole year.  Good places to hunt for free used to be simply a knock on a door away.

Those days are simply memories that I treasure as of today. In the modern era of hunting, you buy a deer in one way or another. According to MS Forestry, leasing property is on the rise. This information is for Missouri, but it illustrates the trend that is going on nationwide. According to the link, land owners are leasing the recreational rights to their land for $3.50 to $15.00 an acre, per calendar year. This is good income for a land owner. Prime land calculated example; If you have a 1000 acre farm, and choose to lease it, it could yield $15,000 just for letting a group of outdoor enthusiast use it. On the low end, a farm this size would still bring in $3500.00 in residual income annually. My experience puts the figures of a 400 acre farm at $4.00 an acre in Southern Wisconsin.

To the non hunter, this is a lot of money and they may not believe this information, but it is the reality of the situation. The cost of purchasing land is what makes this trend reality. One acre of land with hardwoods on it brings a market price of $10,000. Ten acres of hunting land could cost in excess of $100,000.

You could just shot a deer in a pen, it is an option. It is possible to go to a deer farm and get it all done in one day. According to Maple Hill’s White Tails you will spend from $2000.00 to in excess of $12,000.00 for a trophy whitetail. I know most hunters would say  “that is not hunting!” Personally, I agree 100%. The fact of the matter is, once it is on the wall you can tell the story however you want. This is the world we live in. Instant gratification and money can buy anything, even deer tales.

I will stay away from the controversial topic of CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) and what the Wisconsin DNR has done to the ageless family tradition of deer hunting in Southern Wisconsin. I will not go on at length of the economic impact that the hunting industry has on rural towns and communities across the state. What I will mention is the decline in deer hunting when it comes to the archery sector of the season. When CWD was discovered in the deer herd in February 2002, bating was made illegal statewide. Not being able to better ones chances of seeing a deer has bow hunting numbers steadily declining. (The laws have been modified since 2002 to allow bating is select counties.) Bow hunters are dwindling, good places to hunt are harder to find, and the rules to pull the trigger are getting stricter every year.  Regardless of your views of fair chase or your preferred weapon, deer season just isn’t what it used to be, and that is sad.


December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Written By: Pete Patten

With everybody feeling the economic crunch in one way or another, the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) trend has gained momentum. This trend makes sense as people try to creatively save money anyway they can. Most of the time, technology is the driving force for DIYers. Smartphones, tablets, and electronic deviceshave unleashed a tidal wave of opportunities for people to track, analyze, control, and learn how to do something on their own.

English: A gray version of an emblem used by i...

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Health related DIY information, activities, and devices are becoming more available and popular to the public. Apple has over 9,000 health apps available through their App store. There are blood pressure monitoring devices, pedometers, work-out plans, dietary plans, and just about anything else you can think of.

With the recent boom in home improvement, there are shows that you can DVR that can help you step-by-step through a project of any size. Websites offer advice, blueprints, diagrams, and instructions, all geared toward lending a helping hand for people trying to save a few dollars.

Put aside the saving money part of doing-it-yourself for just a second. There is also the aspect of accomplishment and success that needs to be calculated into the DIY trend. Talk about conversation pieces – and having pride in the work that you can do on your own.

The bottom line is people need to take a step back for a moment and realize that you really can do it yourself. With so many resources available, it’s time to use the technology and knowledge that is out there at your fingertips. There’s no need to freak out when you gain a pound or two. There’s no reason to think you can’t update or replace the trim and doors in your house. Stop what you are doing for a minute and do a little research on how to improve the situation – on your own. It might take you a time or two to figure out exactly how to do something but it’s ok – you can save money while finding a sense of accomplishment at the same time.

Jump start small businesses with Groupon

December 21, 2011 Leave a comment

By: Steve Krause
If you’re a discount shopper you’ve probably heard about the online discount web site known as Groupon.  Well after hearing about this from a few friends of mine I decided to see what all of the hype was about.  After doing a little research online on, I learned that Groupon is a group buying website where discounts on products are offered in certain cities or regions where it could be 75% to 50% off of random products like hygiene supplies, services like spa therapy, or a certain meal at a restaurant.

Check out buzzraid for more details on the logistics!

However, the only way customers can take advantage of these “hot deals” on Groupon is if a certain number of people buy the discount which makes it a win-win for the customer who gets the discount and for the store owner’s who get enough business to make the discount worth their while.

This buying website is a great tool for business owners to not only get people into their doors, but it’s also a way to attract new customers to your place of business as well.  With Groupon members constantly getting email alerts about discounts in your store they have to make the effort to forward the Groupon deal to their friends, family, co-workers, basically anyone they can to try and get enough members to take advantage of the discount and make the online voucher valid.

Sure, you’re probably going to have to offer somewhat of an outrageous one-time discount like 50% to 75% off on a product or service you offer, but if enough people buy the discount on Groupon to make the offer valid, odds are you’re going to get all of those customers who bought the discount into your place of business to use the voucher.  Once you get the people into your place of business to use the online voucher they might be inclined to buy other products or services you offer or even become new loyal repeat customers.  Makes sense doesn’t it?

I feel that this could be a successful tool for smaller businesses to attract new customers and help their businesses grow. With the way consumers are pinching pennies these days, what better way to get them into your place of business than to offer them a great discount.  The hardest part about starting up a business or even maintaining a business is getting people into the door.  That is the beauty of using Groupon for your business is it gets people into the doors.  After that it’s up to you to build a relationship with them and retain them as a long-term loyal customer.

I recently read a small business Groupon success story in an online article in Inc. Magazine written by Jason Del Rey entitled, “How to Use Groupon to Boost Sales”.  The article states how a small brewery owner Matt Lincecum woke up one Wednesday morning and his office phone was ringing off the hook, for hours.  The article went on to say how the calls were so overwhelming that he had to direct them to the company voicemail with the greeting, “We love you very much, but we are overwhelmed at the moment.  Please check our web site on Monday to make reservations there.”

The article also went on to explain how Lincecum’s brewery, Fremont Brewery, partnered with Groupon to offer a tour of the brewery, a pint of beer, and a pint glass for only $7, a discount of over 50%, but led to such a demand for brewery tours that Lincecum had to hire another person to help give and schedule the tours.

That’s a classic example of the power of Groupon and how it can help jump start a small business and provide an abundance of business overnight.  Groupon targets and attracts deal hunters and penny pinchers, but if you get them into your store and have them leaving happy and satisfied not only will you possibly have a new loyal customer, but you also have some dam good word-of-mouth advertising as well for they will be telling their friends and families about this new small business they love that they found on Groupon.

The Photography Industry Goes Digital

December 15, 2011 Leave a comment

By Beth Eggemeier

kodachrome 200

Every industry that has experienced major change over the last 2 decades is a result of technological advancements. Technology advances in the digital revolution has replaced film in the photography industry. Kodak’s Kodachrome film ruled the photography industry for decades, but on September 14, 2010 the very last roll of Kodachrome film produced was given to famous photographer, Steve McCurry to shoot “old-school” film photos.

It ended an era. The emergence of digital photographyhas fulfilled consumer’s demands. It is now the preferred media for capturing photos. In our fast paced society, consumers are unwilling to wait to see photos of their loved ones, photos can be viewed immediately, which means instant gratification.  Editing images in a digital format can be done by the average person and the photos can easily be printed at home.  All of this,

Image representing Photobucket (Old) as depict...

Image via CrunchBase

without loosing any quality in the images.   Digital photos are easy to share with friends and family, which has sparked an emergence in online photo sharing sites such as Flicker, Photobucket as well as the surge in consumer’s sharing via variety of social media outlets.

Digital photography provides opportunities for small businesses and their marketing efforts. Historically, business owners paid top dollar for professional quality images for developing marketing collateral, product catalogs, and adding visual interest on their websites.  But as the technological advances in digital camera equipment increases, the prices remain affordable.  Business owners can now create visually robust marketing pieces much more affordably in a do-it-yourself fashion or by hiring a freelance photographer.

Nikon D700 camera

An extremely good quality digital camera can be purchased for about $500.00-$800.00.  Today, brands like Canon and Nikon are leaders in the consumer market.  The availability of price friendly equipment has resulting in many individuals exploring freelance photography businesses.  There are over a hundred photography studios in the Madison area, many of which are small freelance businesses who are able to provide high-quality digital images for marketing purposes.  Seeking out a freelance photographer for your next marketing campaign just got more affordable!

If you are interested in learning more about photography, there are many educational programs offered in Photography and Visual Communications at Madison Area Technical College.

You also might enjoy reliving the Paul Simon Kodachrome song from the 1970s!

Technology in Restaurants

December 15, 2011 Leave a comment

During the economic recession of 2008, no industry was hit harder than the restaurant industry.  With consumers struggling to get by, it seemed that the first costs to get cut by families and consumers to tighten up their budget was eating and dining out at restaurants.

Slowly but surely the economy began to make a turn for the better by 2010 and currently in 2011 is continuing to head in a positive direction.  With that said however, the restaurant industry still continues to face difficult challenges to get consumers into their doors.  Restaurant owners continue to monitor current trends to help them increase annual sales and reach their customers more effectively.

One current industry trend that is on the rise is and restaurant owners are keeping an eye on is the rise of mobile hand-held technology use.

HTC Aria android 2.2 smart phone review

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In the article, “The 7 Trends of 2011”, written in QSR magazine by Jordan Melnick, Melnick sites that Dennis Lombardi the executive vice president of food service strategies for WD partners stated about mobile devices, “ It’s the wallet of tomorrow, the Wi-Fi of tomorrow, the internet of tomorrow all contained in one device.”

With this current booming trend of mobile hand-held use, restaurant owners are devising ways to take advantage of the current trend to boost business and sales in the restaurant industry.

Melnick stated in the article, “Gaining access to consumers as they go about their daily lives is the marketing holy grail, especially for restaurants, which can benefit immensely from being able to reach consumers at that crucial time when craving strikes.”

The use of mobile devices not only can help restaurants get customers into their doors by receiving discounts and promotions on their mobile hand-helds, but can also give customers the option to txt in their orders ahead of time and transfer order history from one location to another offering convenient ways for their customers to communicate and conduct business with their favorite restaurants.

The use of mobile hand-held devices is not only a growing trend for the consumer, but is being considered as an advantage of by many restaurants in house.  Melnick stated in the article that Peter Wolf, CMO at Partech, said, “ restaurants in 2011 will begin to broadly integrate mobile technology into their in-store operations.”

By this, Wolf means that restaurants will begin to provide their servers with mobile devices to take orders from customers or running entire POS systems on mobile tablets.  Another emerging mobile trend in the restaurant industry is the use of mobile apps to cut out the middleman like severs or cashiers to complete and pay for orders with the use of the mobile app will also start to be on the rise for consumers in their dining out experiences.

Other emerging trends in the restaurant industry include using mobile devices to display information about products and product lists to their customers with the use of mobile devices.  In the article written in Nations Restaurants News entitled, “ Technomic Predicts 11 Trends for 2011”, written by Mark Brandau, Brandau states that, “ Look for restaurants to gain a competitive edge with the new technologies and applications, including kiosks for ordering and displaying nutritional information, iPads for displaying wine lists, and hand-held devices for providing tableside payments.”

These are new and innovative ways to convey information to their technological consumed customers through the use of hand-held devices giving the business owners a competitive advantage in the restaurant industry.

In the technological world we live in today which consists of individuals becoming more dependent on their smart phones, tablets, etc.  It’s clear that there are many ways for the restaurant industry to take advantage of these current trends to improve customer satisfaction and interaction. Creating customer convenience can and will benefit the in-house operation of a restaurant. By using POS hand-held software’s and displaying product information in new and unique ways to consumers they can enhance the dining out experience.

Krystal restaurant wi-fi poster in Birmingham,...

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It will truly be an effective way to improve the restaurant industry in the hard economic environment we live in today.  Mobile hand-held devices are becoming a way of life for consumers and offering apps and other opportunities for customers to interact and do business with your restaurant is an emerging trend that will surely keep your business ahead of the competition.  I encourage all restaurants owners to incorporate some of these emerging mobile industry trends into their businesses before your competitors do to not get left behind in the mobile madness that is sweeping our nation.

Groupon Collective Buying Power

December 14, 2011 1 comment

Written By: Jai ingersoll

Groupon has become a trend that offers a very useful tool for businesses to use with their online marketing campaigns. Groupon offers competitive daily deals with large discounts normally between 40% – 90% from top local business in over 100 U.S. cities.  The definition of Groupon taken from their site states, “Groupon uses the power of collective buying to create hundreds and thousands of new customers every day where each deal goes viral and often sells into the thousands”. Brands Groupon currently works with are consumer pacakaged goods, beer, wine, and spirits, fashion, accessories, diet and fitness, health and pharmaceutical, automotive, electronics, financial, beauty, entertainment, and travel.

For instance, you can purchase $40 for $85 worth of aromatherapy facials from A Healers Hand, located in downtown Madison, Wisconsin.  All deals includes a link to post to twitter, email, facebook send and facebook like.  Listed directly under the deal is a description of the business, a link to the website and facebook page,  testimonials , reviews and links to online articles,  and additional offers.

A referral service is offered in order to help facilitate and increase memberships.  If you refer a friend to Groupon, you can get $10 in Groupon Bucks once they purchase their first deal.  Groupon Bucks can be used toward any Groupon purchase, and they never expire!  You can share your personalized referral link using the tools listed on the left of the page by sending it via email, facebook or twitter.  If someone joins Groupon within 72 hours after clicking your link, Groupon will notify you within 24 hours of their first purchase and will automatically send $10 of Groupon Bucks to your account, and includes unlimited referrals.

GrouponWorks is the process by which business can set up a Groupon.  GrouponWorks offers businesses valuable new customers, efficient measurable marketing, and exposure via social media and face to face conversations.  Groupon can help you grow your audience, expand your market and deliver millions of qualified consumers with custom sponsorship and feature opportunities.  Groupon offers Merchant Services to educate merchants so they have the most satisfying Groupon experience possible with the highest return on investment through deal optimization, capacity planning tools, redemption cycle planning, editorials, webinars and simple redemption tracking.   They also offer a day of feature support to prepare you for the day of your feature with advice on customer service, website readiness, and discussion board practices.  Groupon can be consulted for feature support, promotion follow-up, best marketing practices, two-way ratings feature, and education via newsletters and webinars.   Groupon Now!™  Real-time deals that attract customers exactly when you need them.

According to an article in Time/Moneyland, posted in May of 2010, 23 million Americans bought daily deals at Groupon.  Mashable states that Groupon is worth $12.7 Billion, and began trading stock publicly as of Friday, November 4th, 2011.  Groupon’s top competitor is Living Social valued at $6 billion and climbing.  Groupon may or may not be a trend in the future, but with the type of marketing that can be done by almost any business using this tool, there will certainly be other new business models like Groupon popping up to join the bandwagon.