Business Solutions for Winter 2023

WI NT E R 2 0 2 3 VOLUME 6 • I SSUE 1 Increase Your Internet Speed to Increase Productivity 3 Business Spotlight: Vintage Station 4 Building Your Brand 6 Why Buy Local? 7 I NS I DE CONT ENT S BUSINESS solutions Mixing Old and New at Vintage Station

Mixing old and new can be an ideal combination. This is true in home design, where vintage pieces add character and new pieces provide sleekness and shine. We think the same thing can be said of the business world. Madison Communications works with many businesses that successfully blend longstanding traditions with modern technology. The inspiration for this issue’s theme came from the Business Spotlight on Vintage Station, which you’ll find on pages 4 and 5. Owner Sara Caldieraro shares her strategy for mixing old and new at the store, and we’re proud to say that one thing in the new category is fiber internet from Madison Communications. There are times when old things need to be replaced with new ones. For example, page 3’s Increase Your Internet Speed to Increase Productivity article talks about upgrading an outdated internet plan. On page 6, we offer tips on Building Your Brand —a process which may involve starting fresh or adding a few new elements. Then on page 7, we answer the question Why Buy Local? by reminding you of the value that small local businesses bring to our communities. Please let us know if you’d like to discuss anything about your Madison Communications services. Our team is comprised of experienced old-timers and innovative newcomers, which is an ideal combination for excellent customer service. Sincerely, The Madison Team 2 W I N T E R 2 0 2 3 Madison Communications Main Office: Madison Communications 21668 Double Arch Road Staunton, IL 62088 Monday – Saturday, 8:00 – 5:00 p.m. Payment Drop-Off Centers: 118 E State, Hamel, IL 594 Livingston Av, Livingston, IL 315 W Main, Staunton, IL 21668 Double Arch Rd, Staunton, IL Mailing Address: Madison Communications PO Box 29 Staunton, IL 62088 Customer Service: Phone: 800-422-4848 Email: Fax: 618-635-7213 Publication Contact: Lexy Hagler, Marketing Coordinator President: Robert W. Schwartz Business Solutions is a publication of Madison Communications 21668 Double Arch Road Staunton, IL 62088 Editorial and Circulation Contact: Lexy Hagler PO Box 29 Staunton, IL 62088 Extra issues are available to business customer employees on a limited basis while supplies last. Contact: Lexy Hagler, PO Box 29, Staunton, IL 62088, 618-635-5000 All brand names and product names used in this publication are trade names, service marks, trademarks, or registered trademarks of their respective owners. Copyright© 2023 by Madison Communications and Cornerstone Publishing Group, Inc. BUSINESS solutions

W I N T E R 2 0 2 3 3 BUSINESS solutions Bandwidth is vital for business growth and competitiveness Increase Your Internet Speed to Increase Productivity Is your current internet speed keeping up with the demands of your employees, suppliers, and customers? Ask yourself these questions: • Does it take too much time for your staff to do online research or receive large files? • Are your employees frustrated with the internet speeds at your business? • Do your customers have to wait on the phone while their account information is being loaded or transactions are being processed? • Is your staff unable to effectively use video conferencing for collaboration? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, it may be time to consider increasing the speed of your internet connection. But before you explore what a higher bandwidth would do for your business, it’s important to understand the terminology. What exactly is bandwidth? The term refers to how much data you can send through a network or modem connection. Bandwidth is usually measured in megabits per second, such as 100 Mbps. You can think of bandwidth as a highway with vehicles traveling on it; the highway is the network connection, and the vehicles are the data. The wider the highway, the more vehicles can travel on it at one time and the faster they get to their destinations. The same principle applies to computer data—the more bandwidth, the more information that can be transferred within a given amount of time. Most businesses can reap significant rewards by upgrading to a higher-speed internet connection. Such a move better equips you to fully take advantage of today’s data-intensive applications and cloud services. In addition, faster internet speed enables your employees to complete work tasks more quickly and efficiently, which can result in enhanced productivity and a better overall experience for your customers. How much speed do you need? That depends on the number of employees and connected devices, how your business uses the internet, and your performance expectations. Don’t let your competition get ahead because your business is hampered by a slow internet connection. To discuss a speed upgrade, call MadisonCommunications at 1-800-422-4848. We provide the area’s fastest and most reliable internet with speeds up to 1 GIG. To learn more, visit

4 W I N T E R 2 0 2 3 BUSINESS spotlight During high school, Caldieraro worked in medical records and later became a nurse. She continues to practice nursing on a part-time basis at Siteman Cancer Center. From 2005 to 2013, she also sold florals and crafts—first at the Old Coliseum, then at the Pink Elephant. She purchased the Vintage Station in 2014, located at 900 N. Edwardsville in Staunton and open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. “It’s practically in our backyard, and I love every inch of it,” Caldieraro said. Lots to Discover Shoppers will love every inch of Vintage Station as well. The store offers a beautiful selection of items including: • Gourmet gifts • Coffee and tea • Olive oil and balsamics • Baking mixes and dips • Wine and craft beer • Florals and wreaths “Originally, Vintage Station pretty much just had vintage resale items plus some food. Today we mostly sell new retail items, but we do it within a space that has a railroad/vintage feel. For example, we use old suitcases to hold merchandise, and we feature unique display items such as a 1915 cash register, original railroad lights, and Staunton memorabilia,” Caldieraro said. She added, “The name Vintage Station can throw people off. We sometimes have people come in, perhaps after clearing out a parent’s home, and ask if we buy such-and-such vintage items. We typically don’t, so I refer them to our dealer friends that do.” In keeping with the railroad theme, Vintage Station has two “sidecars,” which are shipping containers. They’re used for both off-season storage and as places to sell items. Caldieraro noted, “People love the sidecars, which are connected to Vintage Station by a little bridge. One of them features vintage clothing, including shoes from all eras, plus some new clothing. The other holds man cave stuff and tools.” Vintage Station Vintage Station owner Sara Caldieraro is a busy woman. Her career path includes two roads, which you might call “modern medicine” and “vintage treasures.” A stop at this station makes your journey more fun • Seasonal items • Decorative signage • Swarovski jewelry • Longaberger baskets • Home and garden décor

W I N T E R 2 0 2 3 5 BUSINESS solutions Pleased with Madison While the vibe may be vintage, the technology used is modern. Vintage Station gets fiber internet service from Madison Communications, which keeps the store’s POS (point of sale) system working seamlessly. “We’ve had no trouble at all with our Madison Communications internet. Vintage Station has a tin ceiling, which causes some customers to lose their cell service. But our Wi-Fi always works. I also appreciate that when Madison installed our internet service, they paid attention to cosmetic things to not disrupt our look. Plus, it feels like we know everybody there, and they’re so nice. They never act like our technology questions are silly,” she said. Special Days at the Store What does Vintage Station offer for holidays and special events? Caldieraro replied, “During the Christmas season, we do weekly drawings for prizes to show our appreciation to the customers that support our store and town. With Valentine’s Day coming up, people can pick out great gifts, such as pieces from our Swarovski jewelry collection.” Wine and craft beer were added recently to the Vintage Station product line, after Caldieraro did a little survey to find out what customers liked best. “It was a fun learning process,” she said. Customers can sit and enjoy these beverages outside the store when the weather is nice. In addition, women can schedule a jewelry party at Vintage Station that includes wine or simply make plans to meet girlfriends there to shop together. Spring through fall, Vintage Market hosts “Farmer, Flea, and Vendor Markets” on Saturday mornings. This provides an opportunity for local vendors to set up a table and sell produce, homemade crafts, and other items. Interested parties can call 618-779-2956 to reserve a spot and get more details. Weather permitting, Caldieraro hopes to begin the 2023 season in April. Who’s Minding Your Business? Zina Maurer Supervisor–Customer Operations Zina Maurer joined Madison Communications in August 2002. She previously worked at the Wall Street Journal and Edison Brothers Stores, holding positions in accounts payable, risk management, and circulation. As Supervisor–Customer Operations, Maurer supervises the entire Customer Care Specialist (CCS) Department, which includes Sales, Back Office Support, and Dispatch. She ensures the CCS Department is up to date on current policies and procedures along with their changes, supports the Customer Service Specialists on customer issues and projects, addresses escalated customers, and works with other Supervisors/Managers on creating, documenting, and implementing new processes. Maurer also fills in as needed within the CCS Department. What does she enjoymost about working for Madison Communications? Maurer replied, “I enjoy the family atmosphere that the employees have created and how Madison Communications has grown through the years.” In September 2023, she and her husband Bob will celebrate 36 years of marriage. The couple has three adult children, two sons-in-law, and two granddaughters. In her leisure time, Maurer enjoys cooking and spending time with family. We’ve had no trouble at all with our Madison Communications internet. Plus, it feels like we know everybody there, and they’re so nice.” — SARA CALDIERARO, OWNER, VINTAGE STATION

6 W I N T E R 2 0 2 3 Good branding helps define your company and includes elements such as name, logo, tagline, fonts, color schemes, and graphics. The marketplace is full of instantly recognizable brands with which customers create an emotional bond—from Nike to McDonald’s to Apple. Is your company’s brand as clear and powerful as it could be? To help determine whether you need to take a fresh look at your branding, ask yourself these questions: • Do your customers and your employees tend to misinterpret your mission or the benefits of your products or services? • If you put all your marketing materials side by side, does each one look different from the other? • Does your team disagree about who your customers should be and what needs you should be meeting for them? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then it may be time for a change. If you’re considering developing a new brand or enhancing the one you have, it’s a good idea to consult a local marketing agency or a small business development center. When you do, be prepared to answer questions like these: • What are the unique selling points of your products or services? Think about what truly makes you different as compared with your competitors. It can be just about any benefit—such as a better price, superior quality, or outstanding customer service. • What is your company’s mission? A mission statement is important since it helps educate potential customers about your business and defines employee expectations. It can also help you decide on a succinct tagline to represent your company. • How do you want customers to perceive your company? This encourages a discussion of your company’s personality. For instance, you may want your business to be seen as fun, innovative, socially responsible, experienced, or especially attentive to customer needs. • Who are your customers? You and your marketing firm need to have a clear picture of your current and prospective customers including demographics, needs, habits, and desires. Research can help you understand your customers better and help you avoid making incorrect assumptions. The information generated by these questions will help lay the foundation for building a brand that has meaning for your target audience. Once your branding is established, remember to consistently use its elements on your business documents, advertising and marketing materials, signage, website, and social media. This is how strong brands get stronger over time. Does your brand need work? How do you begin? Building Your Brand

W I N T E R 2 0 2 3 7 BUSINESS solutions Every time you choose where to purchase goods or services, you have a powerful opportunity to make a difference in this community. When you choose local businesses and locally produced goods and services, you’re reinvesting money right here and helping to create a stronger local economy. Here are some of the top reasons to buy local: Greater Economic Vitality The money you spend in locally owned stores has two to three times the economic impact of dollars spent at national retailers. Studies show that for every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $45 goes back into the community and our tax base. By comparison, for every $100 spent at a chain store, only $14 comes back. More and Better Jobs For every two jobs a national retailer brings to a community, three higher-wage jobs are lost due to local businesses closing. Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally and in our community, and they provide the most jobs to our residents. Protection of Unique Culture Local one-of-a-kind businesses reflect our unique culture and character, contributing to the success of tourism. Improved Product Selection A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products based on the needs of their local customers rather than a national sales plan, results in a much broader range of product choices. Environmental Benefits Big-box stores and other national retailers usually require large undeveloped land to accommodate their needs. Buying local means shopping closer to home, which means less sprawl and the resulting habitat loss along with reduced driving and dependence on oil. Increased Support for Community Groups Local nonprofit organizations receive an average of 250 percent more support from smaller, locally owned business owners than they do from national companies. Efficient Use of Taxes Local businesses typically require a much smaller infrastructure investment as compared to nationally owned stores that enter a community. This makes for a more efficient use of public services. While we realize it may not always be possible to buy what you need from a local business, please remember to think local first. Why Buy Local? Watch Out for Caller ID Spoofing One of the best ways to avoid phone scams has traditionally been to not answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize on your Caller ID. But crooks have a sneaky way around this. With Caller ID spoofing, they’re able to make it appear as if their calls are coming from a local phone number—perhaps even from someone you know. That way, you’re more likely to pick up. Unfortunately, Caller ID spoofing is a large-scale issue that’s impacting many homes and businesses. The goal of this scam is to get you to reveal personal information such as account numbers, passwords, and Social Security numbers. Madison Communications is aware of Caller ID spoofing and other fraudulent phone practices, and we’ve implemented all internal mitigation tactics currently available. The FCC is working diligently to develop additional ways to reduce the incidence of these scams. To learn more about Caller ID spoofing and watch a video on the topic, visit BUSINESSES RUN ON STRONG COFFEE AND STRONG INTERNET Weak coffee just doesn’t cut it when you need workplace energy for maximum productivity. The same goes for weak internet. To make sure your internet connection is always robust, count on Madison Communications. We’re your local provider and this area’s only source for speeds up to 1 GIG with unlimited data, no caps, and no throttling. Is it time to perk up the internet at your business? Call Madison Communications at 1-800-422-4848.