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Right on the mark

How do you operate in a competitive market? Two startups share their customer-centered strategies.
By Dante Gagelonia |

For businesses, it’s not enough to simply set up shop: you have to reach out to your target market, and make sure that they remember you rather than your competitors. However, the current advertising landscape is so crowded, and the sheer quantity of businesses clamoring for attention can drown out all but the loudest and most extravagant marketing strategies.


What hope is there for small businesses that don’t have million-peso budgets? Quite a bit, as it turns out. The information age may have brought about a fl ood of advertising, but it has also opened up alternative marketing strategies that cost next to nothing, while revitalizing what remains the most reliable means of exposure: word-of-mouth endorsement from satisfied customers.


Beef up!

Tapa (dried or cured meat) is a classic staple of Filipino cuisine. Almost all Pinoy restaurants, from the humble karinderia to the pricey establishments, carry at least one kind of tapa on their menus. Several brands specialize in it as well, and have met with solid success. If you’re a young entrepreneur who wants to introduce a fresh take on tapa, how would you go about it? Taparazzi, a restaurant owned and operated by Ren Cayetano, 38, and his partners, is exploring exactly that.



Taparazzi opened on August 31, 2011, offering a diverse menu of reinvented tapa dishes alongside traditional fl avors. Originally intended to be a casual dining restaurant, Taparazzi was repackaged as a quick-service place when they acquired their space in McKinley Hill, a business and education hub in Taguig City. “It was important to match our offerings and our strategy with the market of the area. There are maybe a couple of thousand employees here, and then there are the schools, too,” explains Cayetano, who also has a retail business.



Its excellent location allowed Taparazzi to get off the ground quickly even without a strong marketing push. “We were just here,hoping that such a small neighborhood  would bring people over. And it did. When we started, we averaged around 300 people a day. That’s to be expected at the beginning, because everyone will always try something new at least once,” Cayetano admits. After the initial surge passed, the daily customer average evened out to approximately 200.




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