amp,#34,Bridging,the,Gap,#58,D DIY "Bridging the Gap": Don't Fo


When floating floors are made they are placed as planks which are clicked on top of each other. The costs of installing floating floors might be higher but the actual time taken for installing the floor is fairly short and can be done by alm If you're a parent looking for a one of a kind way to store toys, there are a plenty of options. From large storage systems to a toy box that can double as a blanket trunk once the children are grown, parents can likely find the right system


The big news in the business sector last month was theresignation of Millard Drexler as CEO of The Gap. The oncehighflying retail chain has hit hard times, losing money inthe last four quarters and slipping disastrously close tobankruptcy.Retail fashion is a notoriously fickle business, withyesterday's hot trends marked down today like so manyPokemon toys. But for years, the Gap had been impervious tofashion ups and downs by being the favorite supplier of thefavorite clothes of the Baby Boomers: Denim jeans, khakitrousers and basic shirts.But as the Boomers hit middle age, the Gap made the decisionto go after the youth market. Gone were the comfortable fitjeans its customers loved, replaced by hip huggers andbelly shirts that could not be worn by someone carrying 20years of cellulite. And that was the beginning of theirtroubles.As the owner of a home business, I found this puzzling.After all, the Gap had always identified the youth market asits own and was just carrying out the course it set foritself back in 1969, when it was a single store in SanFrancisco. But as their young customers grew, so did thechain, resulting in a clientele that stayed loyal for 30years. By shifting gears to appeal to *today's* teenagers,they alienated millions of loyal customers who moved on todiscounters 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.In the meantime, the young people Gap so desperatelycourted could not get over their image of the chain as aplace frequented by their parents. These kids flock to theirown trendy stores like Hot Topic, and had little interest inwhat the Gap had to offer. It was a "lose-lose" all the wayaround.The lesson for home business owners is a reminder that it'snever safe to *assume* you know what your customers want.Research is an essential tool in your business, no matterwhat its size, and it doesn't have to be elaborate orexpensive. Those of you doing business online have accessto several methods, including some tools you may alreadyhave but are not using for this purpose.Marketer Karon Thackston of http://www.KTAMarketing.com is a big believer in research and providing her customerswith information they can use to make good marketingdecisions. And like the rest of us, she loves finding quick,easy and inexpensive ways to gather that information. Karonrecently discovered that her website's free search enginegave her a window into what her customers were looking forat her site. The engine she uses gives her access to reportson the most popular search terms. By checking these reportson a monthly basis, she can fine tune the content of hersite, make advertising decisions, and create new products tofill their particular needs. Read the rest of Karon'sarticle here:http://www.family-content.com/articles/data/20020409193535.shtml At my website, http://ParentPreneurClub.com , I haveother tools I use to assess my visitors' interests andneeds. One is our weblog, which offers detailed reports onwhich pages are the most popular and how long visitors viewthem.Another is our library of 100 free eBooks. By logging theones which are downloaded the most often, I've gleaned awealth of information on the interests of my visitors. Up until I started tracking, I assumed that our businessofferings would be the most popular with my audience of workat home parents (mostly moms). However, *the* most populareBook in the Library has nothing to do with making money orrunning a home business: It's called "Healthy Living for aBusy Family" and it's been downloaded about three times asoften as my most popular business eBook. Those stats led meto add more family and lifestyle topics to the library, aswell as a couple of new cooking pages -- because managing ahousehold and raising healthy kids is as much a concernfor my visitors as making a solid profit.Finally, nothing is as good as actually *asking* yourcustomers what they want. Surveys are an extremely usefultool and several companies offer versions you can placeon your website for free. The one we've used is locatedhere: http://webpoll.sparklit.com/ Millard Drexler -- whose vision helped make the Gap thenation's number one apparel retailer -- is staying on withthe company until a replacement is found. In the meantime,the Gap's new old strategy of selling basics (jeans, khakisand white shirts) combined with an ad campaign that includesBoomer icon Dennis Hopper, appears to be working. It's justtoo bad these guys didn't ask their customers what theywanted before changing their course. Let's hope we homebusiness folk don't make the same mistake! Article Tags: Home Business, Most Popular

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