The impact of target marketing in small business

Target marketing, according to Inc., is collecting information to determine your ideal customers among those who also need and will pay for your product or service.
For these purposes, you need their age, gender, family size, education level, and occupation. To find out where they are, you need their zip codes, size of the area, its population, and climate.
How does your ideal customer decide to make a purchase? The answer helps you determine why they buy what you’re selling, how much of it they need, and how often they must buy it.
Most social media profiles for your business provide a free demographic breakdown of customers like yours. Zip Codes can furnish vast amounts of info from the U.S. Census Bureau.
If you’re currently in business, your sales data clearly show what your customers are buying, when, and their purchase prices, among other data. For the essential feedback, talk to them in person or on the phone, conduct a few customer surveys. You don’t need a ton of responses to acquire a pretty good sense of your customer base.
In addition to the basic demographics, these should be among the takeaways from your target customers:
Is the distance to your location a problem? Parking? Public Transportation? Do, or can you, deliver?
How do they make a living? Knowing what your primary customers do can help you adjust your hours to fit their needs or devise special offers. Having an idea of the money they can or are willing to spend can help with your pricing. With this kind of information, you can confirm some of your assumptions regarding your customers and dismiss others.
Practical target marketing is almost always beneficial. And genuine interaction with your patrons — plus giving them what they want — is almost always a pathway to loyalty and future growth.

Why Facebook ads are often not profitable for small business

The revenue of Facebook ads is ever-increasing, and small businesses are the reasons why.
But not all small businesses profit.
With 2.2 billion users every day, Facebook will easily surpass $4 billion in advertising this year. It has a global reach that promises highly targeted audiences.
All this can be managed with a small dollar amount to begin if the audience is local.
Why, then, do 62 percent of small businesses not make any money with their Facebook ads?
The reason has four parts:

  1. Nature of Facebook
    Facebook has become a friends-and-family favorite, and enabling conversation is Facebook’s first mission, according to Facebook itself. It is an after-work pleasure for most. The key idea is that people are taking a break from work or are at home when they are on Facebook. Something to remember.
  2. The service or product
    Consumer items like clothes, decorations, games, and toys do sell on Facebook. Maybe this is because Facebook ads come to people when they are relaxed.
  3. Facebook targeting
    Facebook’s targeting abilities are widely acclaimed. Yet, it is sometimes impossible to see whether your targeted ad hit the target. You might get likes, comments, or shares, but many times you won’t get them from your actual audience. Why is this? Facebook claims that ads are shared. Yet, the person who shares is often not the target market. If your results are bad, change targeting, but you will probably never be able to confirm whether any portion of your ad hit your target.
    Consumer products that appeal to nearly everyone work best. Service niches, product niches, just won’t work as well. Business products won’t work as well either, though some do.
  4. User skill
    Still, if you want to buy Facebook, you must put in the time to become an expert in its targeting and ad styles.
    An eye-catching meme-like ad with an offer usually will attract likes and shares, which expand your audience organically.

Book Review: The dark shadows of “The Four”

According to serial entrepreneur and NYU business professor Scott Galloway, they’re The Four Horsemen of technology and digital media.
In his best-selling “The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google,” Galloway casts a harsh light on the dark features of their business models and impact on society.
He calls out Apple for its eagerness to become a luxury brand that maintains high prices for its devices.
Google, he writes, seeks the image of a public utility.
Amazon continues to devour the retail marketplace while leaving local shopping mails deserted if not already closed.
Facebook? According to Galloway’s book, it’s now “the world’s biggest seller of display advertising – an extraordinary achievement, given Google’s brilliant takeover of advertising revenues from traditional media just a few years ago.”
Indeed, Galloway foresees Google and Facebook ultimately in command of more advertising media spending than any two firms in history.

Less taxes
According to the book, from 2007 to 2015–when the average tax rate for the S&P 500 was 27 percent, The Four Horsemen paid much less.
Apple paid 17 percent of its profits in taxes, Google 16 percent, Amazon 13 percent, and Facebook 4 percent.
Meanwhile, the overall impact of The Big Four continues to alter the economy, impede the growth of innovation, and stifle competition. They don’t have many employees, but they do have millions to spend on D.C. lobbyists.
Nevertheless, Galloway believes the breakup of Big Tech will occur because “We’re capitalists.”
This book is a worthy read, especially for those in or starting a new business competing with even a segment of The Four.

How did the rate cut affect mortgages?

Technically, The Fed’s decision in July to lower interest rates by a quarter-point doesn’t directly affect mortgages. In reality, there are usually some things to keep in mind with any rate decrease or increase.
The Federal Funds rate is a measure of short-term borrowing, or the rate that banks use to lend money to each other. Mortgages are long-term notes.
If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage, you’ll probably see your interest rate go down when there’s a cut. To put that in perspective, a Bankrate article said that a HELOC (home equity line of credit) of $100,000 rises or falls about $250 a year with every change of 0.25 percent in interest rate, up or down. That works out to about $21 a month.
Additionally, variable-rate mortgages usually adjust annually, on their anniversary dates, and some don’t adjust at all for the first two to seven years.
However, this could be a good time to refinance into a fixed-rate mortgage and lock in the historically low rates. The average rate on a 30-year mortgage fell to 3.75 percent, down from a high of almost 5 percent in 2018.
Do a little math to figure out your savings over time, as well as closing costs, to determine whether this is a good move for you.

Hot trend: Build to rent

An interesting real estate trend has cropped up in recent years: while demand for rents has stayed strong, consumers have also turned their attention to single-family homes.
Renting is like having a home without the commitment. Or living in a home but retaining the agility to up and move quickly.
As prices of single-family homes have risen and lending remains strict, down payments and loans have become harder to come by. Add in Millennials, a generation of buyers with sometimes staggering student loan debt but growing families, or Baby Boomers, who don’t want the headaches involved with homeownership.
Flexibility and mobility have become the driving force.
Now, builders and investors are building single-family homes with the intent to rent instead of sell. In one of the bigger moves nationwide, Toll Brothers announced earlier this year that it had committed to invest $60 million in a $400 million venture that would build homes for rent in seven major U.S. cities.
An article in CNBC this summer called the built-to-rent (or B2R), the fastest-growing trend in real estate. Last year, about 43,000 single-family homes were built for rent, it said. And the built-for-rent share of housing starts is also rising, to nearly double its recent historical average from 1992-2012.
In Pradera, a gated community of three- and four-bedroom homes in San Antonio, Texas, the rents are $1,800 to $2,300 a month and the community includes a pool, fitness center, community kitchen and party space, plus dog park and dog-washing station. Interestingly, the average annual household income in Pradera is more than $100,000 — meaning many of the tenants can afford to buy but have chosen not to.

Wage and hourly lawsuits: Easy to file, devastating to lose

As a small business owner, are you 100 percent sure you’re paying employees correctly? Are you tracking their hours accurately? Are those you’ve classified as exempt really doing the work that qualifies them for it?
If not, take a sharp eye to your payment system very soon.
In the last few years, numerous small businesses have been hit by lawsuits citing them for underpaying or misclassifying employees, failure to pay required wages, and sufficient overtime.
And the smaller the company, the higher the risk.
Also, the threat to unprepared employers will increase early next year when a rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor takes effect. In its current form, the law would make an estimated one million more workers eligible for overtime pay.
Any vulnerabilities in a business’ payment system are red meat for plaintiff lawyers who appear to be getting more successful in their pursuits. They won 79 percent of 273 wage-and-hour certification decisions in 2018, an increase of six percent over the previous year.
Companies also absorbed a decrease of 11 percent in their odds of defeating cases with successful decertification motions.
Even more foreboding is the lone discontented employee who could hire a plaintiff attorney who then could parlay the case into a class-action lawsuit that would be very expensive for any company to fight.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, wage and hour disputes are cash cows for plaintiff attorneys: Their fees are easier to obtain than in other forms of commercial litigation.
To protect your business–and ultimately you and your family–make sure that all your workers (contractors, staff, overtime-exempt, and non-exempt) are classified correctly, and that they are being paid according to federal and state laws.
Also, seriously consider proposing an arbitration agreement with your employees that includes a class-action waiver.

Entrepreneur Michael Rubin: Bankrupt at 16, Millionaire at 21, Billionaire at 38

At the age of 16, Michael Rubin said there are only two kinds of business people: Those who take risks, and those who are rational.
What was he?
At 16, is it risky to own a snow-ski business in Pennsylvania’s sweltering summers while owing creditors more than $200,000?
At 21, is it rational to own a business worth $1 million, and $50 million a couple of years later?
According to Rubin, being $200,000 in debt was “a near-to-death” encounter.
Somehow, someway, he managed to pacify his creditors with the $37,000 he borrowed from his father. Then, honoring his Dad’s terms of the deal, he enrolled in college.
Six weeks later, he dropped out of Villanova University. Too boring, he said, answering the calls of his businesses.
Working smart had inspired Rubin since he was a kid.
At the age of eight, according to Enrepreneur.com, he was walking door-to-door selling vegetable seeds to his West Philadelphia neighbors. At 12, he’d opened Mike’s Ski Shop in the basement of his parents’ home.
At 14, he was operating a chain of ski shops, businesses, and a discount ski equipment retail shop (hence, the debt).
At 19, he had merged his burgeoning ski business, KPR Sports (named with his parents’ initials), with then publicly-traded athletic shoe company Ryka to form Global Sports Inc. (later GSI Commerce).
At 26, GSI was generating more than $130 million a year.
At 38, Rubin had sold GSI Commerce to eBay for $2.4 billion.
Rubin then bought and merged Fanatics (a licensed apparel retailer), Rue La La (a fashion flash site seller), and Shop Runner (a retail benefits program) and molded them into Kynetic, a billion-dollar e-commerce company.
Rubin is 47 now, and according to Forbes, his net worth is $3 billion.

Frequent flyer plans can save on travel

It’s easy to sign up for and use airline frequent flyer miles, but whether you will save money on travel depends, in part, on how much you travel.
A good rule of thumb is if you are expecting to make some major trips (or lots of small trips) in the next 18 months, frequent flyer miles might be the ticket to free air fare. But if you are not going to travel regularly, the miles might not do much good. Those miles (or points) usually expire over time.
Here is a primer on signing up for frequent flyer programs:
* Decide which airlines have a hub near you. These will be the airlines you will probably use most.
* Go to the airline’s website and sign up for its frequent flyer program.
* Book your next trip through the airline and give them your frequent flyer program number.
* When you have enough points, book a flight through the airline and the points will be credited to the cost of the ticket if you choose to use them.
You can also add up more points by using credit cards associated with the program. For example, American Airlines has two cards associated with their program and, with a substantial purchase on the card, you can get thousands of points. You can also get points for dining and shopping. Most programs offer a shopping portal to stores such as Target. If you are planning to buy something from Target, use the airline shopping portal and you get points.
One point is equal to about 1.3 to 1.4 cents, depending on the program.

The most common types of college scholarships

In 2018’s college graduation class, nearly 70 percent of students took out student loans, and their average debt was close to $30,000 each, according to Student Loan Hero.
In addition, 14 percent of their parents also took out an average of $35,600 in Parent PLUS loans to help support them.
With those alarming figures in mind, if you don’t want debt, scholarships are a must.
Academics should start the scholarship hunt. Academic scholarships usually have larger payouts and can even cover the entire amount of tuition for a four-year degree. These require not just a high GPA, but also participation in extracurricular activities.
According to the MarketWatch, about six percent of all high school athletes will compete at the college level and there is $3 billion in aid available across Division I and II schools. Gymnastics, fencing, and ice hockey have the lowest ratio of high school athletes to college scholarships, while volleyball has the highest. Football, the sport with the highest total number of scholarships available at 25,918, ranks fourth on the list.
Service-based awards can be a great way to get extra money.
Local churches, civic groups, and businesses often offer this kind of scholarship to students active in their communities. If your child frequently donates their time doing something like tutoring or spending time with the elderly, there is likely a scholarship somewhere to reward them for their service.
Even if it’s not cash, the Federal Work-Study Program can help students pay for college by providing a part-time job during college.

The simple life: Minimalists shun excess

Recently, a woman showed up in the conference room of a Midwestern bank wearing a T-shirt. She was 93 years old and had driven an old stick-shift car to the meeting.
She was a minimalist, and her net worth was $2.4 million.
Minimalism gets a lot of attention today. It’s all about living with less. Minimal or no debt. No unnecessary expenses. No excess stuff.
Pick an item you own. Any item. Have you used it in the last three months? If not, will you in the next three?
Look around your home. Do you really need that extra square footage? How much money could you save without heating and cooling it?
Minimalism is a theory rooted in the value of experiences over possessions. Quality over quantity may be a cliche, but it is a tenet in minimalism.
To live a minimalist life, you don’t have to get rid of everything you own but the essentials. By asking yourself, “Does this thing bring meaning to my life?”, you can pick and choose what’s right for you.
Getting rid of a few needless possessions, for example, in exchange for a hobby.
According to moneyunder30.com, living by a few minimalist philosophies can do wonders for an individual’s or couple’s finances.
Use one credit card (preferably one that offers rewards). Have one checking account, and one savings account for cash emergencies.
Don’t try to live up to another minimalist’s standards, advises medium.com. Respond to your own emotions, desires, needs, and goals. Educate yourself about minimalism. Do what serves you, rid yourself of what doesn’t. Allow yourself to evolve and to make changes. Once you know what you want, it’s easier to be a minimalist.