Any retailer would like to know more about their customers--who they are, where they can be reached, and what they like about a product or service. These demographic details help businesses maximize advertising efforts and provide their customers with the best possible service. But, many small businesses do not have the resources to conduct their own market research. Now, a new product helps small businesses find out more about their customers' profiles and preferences by creating customized online polls.

Vizu Answers, a new service of Vizu Corp., a San Francisco-based market research company, helps users create polls to find out the answer to any question, from what kind of soda a target demographic prefers to what features should be included in a new product. Unlike traditional market research, which can be time-consuming and expensive, Vizu Answers quickly gets companies the basic data they need.

Vizu Answers helps users place polls before a targeted audience on sites within the Vizu Answer network, which includes and the blogs DealBreaker and Hollywood Tuna.

Vizu Answers charges users on a CPM basis or cost per thousand poll impressions. Bloggers and Web publishers earn revenue by allowing the service to place polls on their site. The cost of poll placement varies from site to site, as does the number of poll impressions required to get a specific number of responses.

Promotions: Keep Your Eyes on the Prizes

Have you tried generating leads by letting prospects drop their business cards in a bowl to enter a drawing for a free lunch or other token prize? How much more successful would the tactic have been had you covered a much wider pool of prospects and offered something extravagant as a prize? Caffeine Promotions Platform, a new service created by ePrize, a Pleasant Ridge, Mich.-based interactive promotions agency, helps small businesses quickly build and deploy customized online sweepstakes.

Caffeine Promotions Platform allows users to customize interactive promotional campaign templates by adding their own logo and selecting games, fonts, and color schemes from a design library. Small-business owners using Caffeine can offer their customers the chance to win expensive prizes from pre-established prize pools, which are funded and supported by Caffeine and include more than $500,000 worth of goods.

Caffeine Promotions Platform also helps users create instant-win promotions, printable coupons, tell-a-friend programs, and geographically targeted campaigns.

Microsoft Rolls Out Updated Point-of-Sale Software

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)  has released a new version of its point-of-sale software, Microsoft Dynamics -- Point of Sale 2.0, which integrates with Microsoft Office Accounting Professional 2007 and allows users to manage PayPal transactions, online invoicing, and eBay marketplace selling.

Like previous versions of the software, Microsoft Dynamics -- Point of Sale 2.0 integrates sales, inventory and purchasing processes. The software processes sales transactions made using a variety of payment options, including debit, credit, and gift cards, and allows cashiers to quickly access prices, inventory availability, and stock location. The software helps users track inventory and set reorder points and restocking levels.

Microsoft Dynamics -- Point of Sale 2.0 pricing starts at $799 for a single store, single lane.

Published on: Jan 17, 2007