Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

Creating A Picture of Your Local Marketplace – Demographics

Image Credit:  Briggs Chaney-Greencastle Farmers and Artisans’ Market

To effectively grow your business footprint, you have to understand the context of the market in which you operate.  One of the small businesses that I am working with is looking to expand its presence in the Colesville, Maryland area.   In order to be most effective in its outreach methods, I suggested doing an assessment of the local area demographics and trends in zipcode 20904.  Several tools are available to find basic demographic data such as average income, race, gender.etc.  I would recommend using sites like and to compile basic stats.   Here is what we found:

Age and Sex of Residents in zip code 20904               Zip code 20904 races chart


The small business we are working with is a fitness business targeting women 18-49.  The Colesville population fits the target quite well

  • Median age (Women):  36
  • Median HH income:  $90k per household ($20k more than the statewide Maryland average)
  • Ethnic Makeup:  Highly diverse (majority non-white)

Demographics are good starting point to creating a picture of your market but this is only the beginning.  To create a more complete picture of your marketplace, you need to understand the behavior and activities of your customer.  We will take a look at this in the next post.


The Return of Hyperlocal

How do you reach a 1 mile radius of customers?  Nothing has bedeviled marketers and small business owners more than this.   You could plaster flyers on telephone poles, put up real estate style signs on the corner or accost the public with handbills.  I’m here to tell you that these strategies are time consuming, require a lot of energy and rarely work.  It’s sort of like screaming out of car windows in traffic to find your soulmate.

In a piece from Businessweek, pundits savaged the business prospects of AOL’s Patch – a potential source of customer aggregation for small business marketers. I tend to agree that the strategy is wrong – you can’t templatize local news and community creation.  Having said that, I believe the ideal models combine technology and offline methods to supercharge word of mouth creation.  You need the impact of a street team combined with the scale of mobile platforms.

Over the coming months, we are going to delve into case studies, theories and experiments around what works and what doesn’t.  Given that I work with small businesses including my own, Fitwell Training Solutions, I’ll share real-life cases to add practicum to the theory.  I hope you’re looking forward to diving into the future of our country – the businesses that surround you within a 1 mile radius.