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What you should know about American co-ops

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Co-op Month, celebrated all through October, reminds Americans of the important role co-ops play in the economy.

Did you know that one in three Americans is a proud member of a cooperative, and that consumer cooperatives have over 343 million members across the country?

Here’s why co-ops are integral to our economy.

They foster economic stability
Cooperatives tend to be much more stable than traditional companies. A 2007 study by the World Council of Credit Unions showed that cooperatives in the United States had a much higher five-year survival rate than traditional firms: 90 percent compared to five percent.

In addition, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation reported that credit unions were five times less likely than banks to fail during the financial crisis, even doubling their lending to small businesses between 2008 and 2016.

Long-term survival allows co-ops to grow along with their communities and to adapt to the changing needs of their members.

They’re everywhere
Cooperatives come in many forms, largely because their structure is beneficial to a wide range of economic activities.

For example, over 2,000 American agricultural co-ops of all kinds have enabled producers to band together and ensure their financial stability while providing quality products to their customers.

Credit unions, on the other hand, are a staple of our financial landscape because their democratic organization allows them to put the needs of their members first.

They support communities
American co-ops generate over $25 billion in wages a year and create jobs for entire communities. Their unique structure and organization ensure that every worker is invested in the success of the co-op and this keeps members motivated.

Since members take part in the decision-making process, these companies also contribute to a stronger sense of belonging and community.

Find out more about Co-op Month at coopmonth.coop.

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The impact of target marketing in small business

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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.

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Why Facebook ads are often not profitable for small business

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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 gets 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.

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Business

Book Review: The dark shadows of “The Four”

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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.

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Business

Liven up your trade show booth

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In a trade show, salient branding is crucial to devising a booth that will draw traffic and be remembered in the future.

Branding advances your company’s message and distinguishes it from the competition. By branding every component of your booth’s display, potential customers can learn about your product or service at a glance.

According to SpeedPro.com, however, even super-efficient branding is but the first step toward creating a trade show booth atmosphere that’s interesting, informative, and often fun.

In today’s business world, it takes interaction too.

To generate interest and excitement in your trade show presence, launch a social media campaign months before the show begins. Talk up your booth, what it will feature, and why people should visit. Once the event opens, maintain social interaction with constant updates about your booth, its activities, and the show itself.

In a society captivated by selfies, install a photo opportunity area at your booth. It will draw traffic, produce hours of smirks and grins, and maybe introduce you to a potential client or two.

Since visitors and attendees spend so much time on their cell phones, provide a free charger at your booth. It will attract visitors, if only by necessity, and surely open time for a conversation about your business.

An interactive booth always offers the visitor an opportunity to test the product in one way or another. Other options are a game, contest, or freebie.

Still another way is strategically placing postcards around the venue just before attendees and visitors arrive. Each postcard alerts its finder that he or she has won a prize.

To redeem it, visit your booth. Naturally, a cordial conversation will follow.

Using the trade show’s hash tags, post the game’s winners on social media. It will make the game, your interactive booth — and your business — all the more memorable.

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Richard Branson: Born to beat the odds

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Chatham House [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

Born in London in 1950, Richard Branson dropped out of high school at 15. A dyslexic, he wanted no formal education. No business training either. All he wanted was to become an entrepreneur fast.

His headmaster told him he’d become a millionaire or wind up in prison.

After failed attempts to grow and sell Australian parakeets and Christmas trees, Branson started a magazine named Student. In addition to advertising popular records, he also interviewed and wrote stories about such luminaries as Mick Jagger, writer James Baldwin, journalist James Cameron, and actress Vanessa Redgrave.

The first issue of Student came out in 1968. A year later, Branson was worth about $50,000.

So Branson opened a record shop on Oxford Street in London but he soon got in trouble with customs.

A year later, Branson co-launched the record label Virgin Records. An early employee suggested the name because all of them knew so little about business.

Virgin went on to sign such bands as the Rolling Stones, Peter Gabriel, Steve Winwood, and Paula Abdul, among others. In a few years, it became the largest independent record label in the world.

He went on to found Virgin Group, a venture capital investment firm that today has interests in more than 60 businesses with planes, trains, and spaceships bearing the Virgin name.

In 2004, Branson introduced a new space tourism company, Virgin Galactic, to take paying passengers into suborbital space. Tickets: $200,000 each.

Now 69, Branson loves to set impossible challenges and try to rise above them. According to Forbes, Branson’s net worth today is $5.1 billion.

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3 reasons to start a cooperative

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If you’ve been thinking about launching a business, you may want to consider structuring it as a cooperative. Depending on your goals, it may be the best way to develop your project in the long term. Here are three reasons to start a co-op.

1. You hope to meet a particular need
Most co-ops are created with the aim of responding to the needs of their members. It may be to remedy a lack of accessibility to certain goods, to make services more affordable for the community or to help small producers achi¬eve financial stability. Workers, consumers and producers alike can form cooperatives.

2. You want to support your community
Co-ops have the potential to energize local economies. This is mostly because, unlike traditional companies, their main goal is to allow communities to come together and improve their overall situation in a way that helps stabilize and improve the local economy as a whole. This is hugely different than merely trying to increase profits for a handful of investors.

3. You value long-term stability
Democratic decision-making plays a large role in allowing co-ops to survive longer than traditional companies. Each member contributes their own knowledge and expertise, allowing decisions to benefit from varied and complementary perspectives. This allows members to feel like they’re really part of the company and increases the likelihood of sound choices being made for the future of the co-op.

Cooperatives offer many advantages over traditional companies. Their collaborative nature allows them to make the most of their members’ experience and expertise. If you’re interested in learning more about co-ops, visit ncbaclusa.coop.

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‘Tis the Season

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Front Royal
35°
Fair
07:2116:50 EST
Feels like: 29°F
Wind: 8mph W
Humidity: 54%
Pressure: 30.39"Hg
UV index: 2
WedThuFri
39/20°F
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40/36°F

Quotes

Upcoming Events

Dec
11
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 11 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 4 and Thursday, December 5: Gingerbread and Candy Canes will be the delicious theme of our stories, songs, and craft this week! Siblings welcome.[...]
Dec
12
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 12 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 4 and Thursday, December 5: Gingerbread and Candy Canes will be the delicious theme of our stories, songs, and craft this week! Siblings welcome.[...]
Dec
13
Fri
6:00 pm Holiday Open House @ Ruby Yoga
Holiday Open House @ Ruby Yoga
Dec 13 @ 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Holiday Open House @ Ruby Yoga
Ruby Yoga will host a Holiday Open House Friday, Dec. 13. Doors open at 6 p.m. with free gentle yoga starting at 6:20, followed by refreshments and door prize drawings.
7:30 pm Canticum Novum: Sing a New Song @ Front Royal Presbyterian Church
Canticum Novum: Sing a New Song @ Front Royal Presbyterian Church
Dec 13 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Canticum Novum: Sing a New Song @ Front Royal Presbyterian Church
The Blue Ridge Singers presents its 2019 Christmas concert titled “Canticum Novum:  Sing a New Song” featuring some of the finest Christmas choral music across the centuries at one of the most popular events in[...]
Dec
14
Sat
11:00 am Celebrate George Washington @ Samuels Public Library
Celebrate George Washington @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 14 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Celebrate George Washington @ Samuels Public Library
December 14 is the 220th anniversary of George Washington’s death. Today we will learn more about this great leader of our country and celebrate his legacy. Refreshments will be served. For ages 7 to 18.[...]
1:00 pm “Clara, Little Mouse & the Golde... @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
“Clara, Little Mouse & the Golde... @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Dec 14 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
"Clara, Little Mouse & the Golden Key" @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Join us for this original version of the timeless story ballet The Nutcracker Suite. Follow Clara and Little Mouse on a journey to find what the Golden Key unlocks… Christmas will never be the same[...]
Dec
15
Sun
4:00 pm R-MA Hosts Community Christmas C... @ Randolph-Macon Academy | Boggs Chapel
R-MA Hosts Community Christmas C... @ Randolph-Macon Academy | Boggs Chapel
Dec 15 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
R-MA Hosts Community Christmas Concert @ Randolph-Macon Academy | Boggs Chapel
The local community is invited to join the Randolph-Macon Academy family for an afternoon of holiday spirit with the R-MA Band and Chorus! The annual R-MA Christmas Concert will be held on Sunday, December 15th,[...]
Dec
17
Tue
4:30 pm Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 17 @ 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Tuesday, December 3: Kids will explore popular books and book series through science, games, food, and more! After reading a Christmas story, we’ll discuss giving and how it affects us and the people around us.[...]
7:30 pm Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA Campus
Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA Campus
Dec 17 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA Campus
Christmas Concert | Presented by the American Legion Community Band Tuesday, December 17, 2019, at 7:30 pm Boggs Chapel on the R-MA campus in Front Royal, VA
Dec
18
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 18 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 4 and Thursday, December 5: Gingerbread and Candy Canes will be the delicious theme of our stories, songs, and craft this week! Siblings welcome.[...]