Archive for the 'BtoB' Category


Top 10 Things We Learned at the IFA Conference (Part 1)

Seven inches of snow greeted the Weise Communications team upon landing in Denver from the International Franchise Association (IFA) 2013 conference in Las Vegas. Paris Hilton AdThe conference was full of highlights, including:

CEO of CKE Restaurants, Andrew Puzder explaining how Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s bucked the trend of targeting mom’s with children for a fast food restaurant and changing to a ‘Young Hungry Guys’ target which led to the infamous Paris Hilton commercial and unprecedented revenue increases.

A lasting, and to many frustating experience, was the image is the ½ mile long line of people queuing up to attend the speech given by former U.S. Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice. Her speech and the following Q&A were fantastic. She received multiple standing ovations from this friendly audience.

The four-day conference didn’t disappoint. After panels, concurrent sessions, roundtables and a host of meetings, we are going to break-up the top ten takeaways Tracy and I collected at the conference. Today, the first 5 takeaways deal with macro trends and issues that are franchise business specific. In part 2, we will reveal our marketing takeaways.

1. In 2012, there was optimism that economy is turning and that financing for franchisors and potential franchisees was beginning to loosen. That optimism has continued despite the November election eliminating the chance of a lower corporate tax rate.

2. Speaking of the elections, instead of focusing on electing business-friendly government officials, the election has provided certainty how the country will be governed. We are already seeing the impact of higher taxes, burdensome regulations and costly entitlement programs. The franchising industry response needs to be: adapt, figure out how to work the rules and grow business.

3. In a panel discussion featuring Shelly Sun of BrightStar Tariq Farid, CEO Edible Arrangements and Steve Greenbaum, CEO PostNet there was an exchange about indicators of when to make changes to the franchise business model. Tariq said all franchise systems will eventually have to change. Steve provided us with key indicators on when to consider making changes. They included:

  • When your customers’ needs have changed
  • When technology has evolved past your business
  • When there is over-saturation in the marketplace
  • When there is an absence of differentiation with your business and the marketplace
  • When year over year sales are flat or declining

4. There was a lot of discussion about paying referrals to franchisees to gain new franchise sales leads. There are two legal concerns that need to be considered:

  • If a franchisor pays too much for a referral, they are exposing themselves to a potential liability. The franchisee could be considered a broker and be exposed to licensing issues
  • The franchisee could be held to the same financial disclosure requirements as the FDD

5. Operation Enduring Freedom and the VetFran Program has been a raving success. The stated goals were to recruit and hire 75,000 veterans to careers in franchising by the end of 2014. IFA President Steve Caldeira gave an update during his State of Franchising address: 64,880 veterans, military spouses and wounded warriors have started careers in franchising.

Let us know if you think we missed something. Share your thoughts about IFA with us on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow @Weise_Ideas on Twitter.

Be on the lookout for our top five marketing takeaways from 2013 International Franchise Association Conference.



From Slacker to Savvy: Social Media Participation Evolves

As consumers Internet social behaviors continue to evolve, marketers social strategies must evolve with them. It’s critical that marketers personalize new and existing social programs to their target audience based on behaviors and preferences.

Forrester Research created the term ‘Social Technographics’ to analyze a group of people according to participation in social media, with the caveat that companies should analyze their social technographics, and then create a social strategy based on that profile. At the core of social technographics is consumer data that looks at the ways consumers approach social technologies – not just the adoption of individual technologies.

Here are the 6 main classifications:

  • Creators – Publish web pages and maintain blogs
  • Critics – Comment on pages, blogs, post ratings and reviews
  • Collectors – Use RSS feeds and tag web pages to classify content
  • Joiners – Use social networking sites
  • Spectators – Read blogs, watch videos, listen to podcasts; not likely to comment
  • Inactives – Simply don’t participate

In 2007, the first year Forrester tracked social technographics, inactives were the largest group, comprising 52 percent. In 2010, inactives were only 32 percent of the public. Spectators are now the largest group.

This methodology indicates a couple of action items for marketers. With spectators searching for content, it is essential that marketers understand the specific terminology their target market use to describe their struggles and desires. These terms will be also used as search terms; so the marketer must incorporate these terms in websites and social media content. Then, model programs on targeted customers, understand what makes them distinct and find more who act just like them.

Thanks to Andy Bell, CEO of Handyman Matters for introducing Weise Communications to this methodology.

Tell us if you think social technographics will be helpful in creating social media programs or if you think they are missing some important categories. Share your thoughts with us on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow @Weise_Ideas on Twitter.


Social media tips and tricks: Blogs

To complete our social media tips and tricks series, we wanted to cover some of the advantages that blogs can bring to the table.

According to eMarketer, 94.1 million adults were reading blogs in 2008. And astonishingly, the average time spent on a blog is much higher than the average time spent on a website.

The fact is that people are searching for the latest news online. And it is just not practical to update your website on a daily basis, but blogs are made to update daily – or even more frequently if you can produce content quickly. A blog can be a window into your office culture, a glimpse of your sales team, a peek at your originality or a reflection of your company’s genuineness. It shows clients and consumers the human side of your business and can be a great business tool.

Some things to keep in mind:

  1. Keep posts short and focused. People are more likely to read blogs that will only take them a minute or two.
  2. Optimize blog content and titles so that it is more likely to show up in search engine results for specific topics.
  3. Share blog posts thought RSS feeds and social bookmarking.
  4. Enable commenting so readers can join in the conversation.

There are a lot of free blog services out there. If you’re still not sure if a blog is right for you or your company, why not start a personal blog and test it out. By testing the capabilities of a blog, you’ll be able to better determine if a blog is something for you.

Let us know if you have some other great tips and tricks to keep in mind in while blogging.


Social Media Tips and Tricks: Facebook

To continue our series on social media, we’ll talk about some ideas to increase your brand awareness on Facebook.

Fans bring value to your brand. In addition to the digital word-of-mouth marketing, studies show that Facebook fans are more likely to buy a brand’s products than non-fans. So Facebook can be a great way to find your brand’s consumers and market to them directly. Today, more than 45 percent of Facebook’s audience is over the age of 26, so it’s not just for brands trying to market to tweens.

Here are four tips beyond the standard tactics of creating a profile and updating it with content:

  1. Paid advertisements on Facebook can help increase the reach and impact of exclusive offers and campaigns.
  2. See past the number of fans you have and look at your brand’s level of engagement. A fan’s activity on your page will spread throughout their personal network and news feed. And engagement is much more important than simple fan numbers.
  3. Facebook users like short polls and surveys. There are excellent tools that both B-2-B and B-2-C companies can use to encourage participation on the company’s fan page – and you many actually learn something about your fans too.

Let us know if you have any other great ideas to make Facebook work for you and your company, and check out Weise Communications on Facebook.


6 Twitter Killers that Businesses Must Avoid

What is a Twitter Killer? Engaging in activities that virtually ensure your followers will unfollow you. If you are making the effort to engage customers, clients, peers, influencers and prospects on Twitter – you must keep your followers.  On Wednesday, The Side Note Blog delivered Six Twitter Fundamentals. Today, we look at six Twitter actions you must avoid.

1. Tweeting Irrelevant Information – This intuitively makes sense, but here is a rule of thumb to help you focus on providing good compelling content and ensure that you are engaging in the conversation:

  • One third of your tweets should be a direct broadcast of information.  Take a stand, have an opinion and get the conversation started.
  • One third of your tweets should be retweets of valuable content you have found. Don’t simply rely on the headline, be sure to read the content of what you retweet. Once you retweet, you are taking responsibility for bringing the information to the table.
  • One third of your tweets should be replies to other tweets. This is the clearest way to participate in the conversation. Be sure to keep an eye out for people responding to you and reply.

2. Constant Tweeting – You may be reporting on a live event and in a short period of time you have a barrage of tweets, or you may have found the cure to cancer. In either case, you can be excused for constant tweeting.  According to Dan Zarrella of Hubspot the average user tweets 4.4 times per day.  Zarrella says, “Users who tweet between 10 and 50 times per day have more followers on average than those that tweet more or less frequently. The ‘peak’ of the curve is at 22 tweets per day.”

3. Repeat the Tweet – If you consistently repeat the same tweet, you risk your followers tuning you out.  On one side of the argument, you could say not everyone is looking at their Twitter stream all time, so repeating the tweet just increases your chance to get noticed. However, those managing Twitter disagree, as repeat tweets or repeat links do not show up in Twitter search results. Regardless, you gain credibility by delivering unique, valuable content.

4. Selling not Engaging – If your broadcast message tweets consist of the following shameless self promotion, you are not engaging:

  • Sign up for my RSS feed
  • Check out my blog
  • Today only: 20 percent discount on my product

Instead, follow this plan; tweets will do one of the four following things:

  • Deliver compelling content
  • Share valuable information
  • Participate in the conversation
  • Give away something beneficial

5. Automatic Welcome Messages – If you want to thank someone for following you, you should do so personally. The disadvantage of the automatic welcome message is that you are sending a generic message that is likely to be perceived as spam.  There is a level of insincerity with an automatic message and skilled Twitter users are inundated with them.  Nobody likes insincerity and that makes you an easy target to unfollow.

6. Not Getting to Know Your Followers – You can make an impact on your followers if you pay attention to what they are interested in learning.  The best way to accomplish this is by reading their tweets, blogs, RSS feeds etc.  By placing your focus on your audience, you will develop an engaging Twitter persona.

Of course, there are other etiquette rules to follow like don’t spam, give credit for retweets, don’t type in ALL CAPS and steer clear of overusing hashtags. If you avoid the six actions identified here, you’ll be well on your way to engaging people, building trust and developing relationships – which is what Twitter is designed to do after all.

If you agree or have another Twitter Killer that we missed, please comment here. Be sure to follow us on Twitter for future updates.


6 Twitter Fundamentals for Business

Twitter is a tool meant for engaging people, building trust and developing relationships.  Some of the most successful Twitter personalities built their large audience through previously established popularity.  Even though they didn’t start from ground zero, they continue to accumulate followers through the strength of their reputation/brand. Many of the early adopters of Twitter were entertainers, musicians, athletes and politicians. They used Twitter to stay relevant and give fans unprecedented access.

After journalists started using Twitter as the platform to break news stories, businesses began exploring how to use Twitter as an inbound marketing tool.

There are some fundamental tools that enable your company to develop a strong Twitter following.

  1. News and Information Sharing – Twitter provides quick and easy access to news and information. Using Twitter to engage people can be accomplished most effectively by sharing useful news, live coverage, event updates, link/articles and notifications.  It is especially powerful as a direct mobile link at events and conferences.
  2. Building a Reputation/Branding – One of the attractions of Twitter is the ability to develop and establish a social personality that is connected and approachable.  As your network of connections expands their base of followers, users will be attracted to well established Twitter personas.
  3. Enhanced Networking – Retweeting interesting posts from friends will deepen relationships for future benefits. Also, Twitter has the function to easily track messages from other users. This is a great way to connect with people outside of your sphere of influence. Adding relevant and active users to your circle offers the opportunity to interact with like-minded people or industry peers.
  4. Receive Feedback/Opinions – The opportunities to obtain feedback for business purposes are limitless. For example, need a recommendation for a vacant position, tweet a request. Need a different perspective on an issue, tweet a question. Reciprocation when asked these questions by others can establish your position as an expert and a valued source.
  5. Direct Traffic for More Information – There is a fine line between participating in a discussion and pushing products.  While it is important to raise the visibility of your company website, resist the temptation to simply direct people to your website – you may be viewed as a spammer. Instead, create tweets that address customer issues and concerns with a website location for more information. In the Twitter world, these tweets are more valued than blatant advertising pitches.
  6. Unselfishly Create the Conversation – Starting conversations about areas of interest is a great way to contribute to Twitter, but they can’t be self-serving. One way to show how unselfish you are: contribute to topics of interest to you by replying to tweets on that subject. Just replying isn’t necessarily enough to show that you care about the topic. Be prepared to define your views, thereby building your brand.

If you agree with our Twitter fundamentals, or think we should add another one, please comment here.  Be on the lookout for the ‘6 Twitter Killers that Businesses Must Avoid’ on the SideNoteBlog this Friday, follow us on Twitter for future updates.


Seven Keys to Running a Successful Contest

ContestsContests are a fun and inexpensive way to build buzz for your business. Everyone loves a chance to win free stuff and the media loves contests too. If you do it right, your company can garner thousands of dollars in free publicity just by hosting and promoting a contest.

Another great advantage to holding a contest is that everyone who enters the contest becomes a prospect for your business. Make sure you send contestants to your website for contest rules and ask them to submit at least a name and email address to enter. In your rules, make sure you state that by entering, they are agreeing to receive email communication from your company.

Here are some keys to starting a successful contest:

  1. Make it easy for people to enter – if people get confused or have to jump through too many hoops to sign up, they wont.
  2. Be straightforward – make sure to tell people up front if they are signing up for something other than your contest.
  3. Make it newsworthy – tie the contest to a recent news item if you can.
  4. Have valuable prizes – you can enlist other business owners to go in with you.
  5. Spread the word – use public relations, social media and word of mouth to spread the news of the contest.
  6. Make it fun!
  7. And don’t forget to check the laws in your state before running a contest.

If you want to give away a large prize, like $1 million, make sure to check out insurance. Insurance on large prizes can help you hedge your bets in case someone wins the grand prize.

With these steps in place, you are standing in front of a perfect storm for a successful contest. But don’t stop there, once your contest is complete make sure to leverage the winner for more publicity opportunities.

Creative contest ideas help you get noticed by prospective customers and the media alike. The possibilities are endless; you are only limited by your imagination. So now it’s your turn. What other kind of contest would build buzz for your business? Submit your contest idea here or post it on our Facebook page.


Exhausted with social media – how to make it better for customers

The recent evolution of Social Media and Social Networking has included business-to-business (B-2-B) marketers being able to improve prospect targeting and social networks connecting to each other. However, some of the members of the social networks are getting overwhelmed simply due to the size of these massive networks.  Once lost, the social media experience for the member causes them to disengage and look for alternatives.

Today’s great business idea focuses on one of the next social media innovations. It is an alternative social network focused on very specific desires and interests; micro-social networks.  These networks are less diverse, but highly targeted.  For example, OpenEco is a micro-social network with just 3,530 registered members that provide tools to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and encourage sustainability.  This extremely focused, very motivated network is sponsored by Sun Microsystems (now Oracle).

For companies that implement micro-social networks successfully, it can provide unique brand independence, in-depth data collection, long-term marketing, rich content, and even revenue generating opportunities.

It is one of the classic marketing dilemmas, do you reach a large crowd and hope to connect with a few or do you deliver more value to a smaller audience?

If you are interested in learning more about developing a micro-social network, one of the software companies that are providing a twitter-like experience is Blogtronix. They have recently released Blogtronix Micro, which incorporates multimedia into a social networking platform.  This micro-social network will enable companies to communicate and/or meaningfully respond in real-time to any customer or event regardless of their location.

Tell us if you have any micro-social networking success, and how you have been able to leverage the network into business gains.

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Top Six Secrets to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Revealed

I participated in a webinar conducted by HubSpot, the Cambridge-based Internet marketing company, focused on tips and tricks to organically optimize a company search engine rankings.

The biggest takeaway was the creating of a ranking algorithm as a combination of context, authority and social graph.  HubSpot identified six SEO tips for companies.
1.    Optimize Your Content – The content you create must be a combination of what ‘searchers’ are looking to find and the keywords that search engines require.
2.    Attract Links to Your Content – Links are on-line recommendations from trusted websites. The most often shared items are new data and insightful blog posts. On the other hand, discount offers and product information are the least shared items.
3.    Publish Relevant Content Frequently – Internal HubSpot research showed that 61 percent of blogs are updated once a week or less.  Also, if you commit to a daily blog, you’ll be in the Top 10 percent of businesses.
4.    Be Active in Social Media – With the explosion of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Digg, interesting content is shared by trusted sources. Sharing content you find interesting will also help others consider sharing your content.
5.    Build Large Social Media Networks – Lisa Barone of SocialNetDaily gives 8 Ways To Find Relevant Followers On Twitter – see how easy it is to share relevant content.
6.    Use Call to Action on Landing Pages to Convert Leads – Once you have increased traffic to your website, you need to capitalize on the increased interest in what your company is saying. In the same HubSpot research, 41 percent of businesses acquired a customer through Twitter and LinkedIn, 46 percent through their company blog.
Tell us if you have any success implementing these tips, if your search engine ranking increases and if you are able to convert a lead generated by your social media efforts.
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5 Keys to Successful Fusion Marketing

During challenging economic times, businesses are always looking for low-cost ways to market products and services.  Today’s idea is not only inexpensive; it is also a reliable and effective method of marketing products and services.

In its most simplistic form, fusion marketing is partnering with other businesses for the purpose of marketing for one each other’s business.  Here is an example, my neighborhood dry cleaners is located next to a sub sandwich restaurant.  When I dropped off some dry cleaning, I found a 20 percent coupon for the sandwich shop.  I thought I would grab some lunch and when I was paying for my discounted sandwich, I found a 20% percent coupon for the dry cleaners.

These two businesses were sending customers to each other. They had formed a strategic alliance and in marketing lingo, this is called fusion marketing.

The most critical component to successful fusion marketing is to identify the businesses with which to create strategic alliances; identifying these “Power Partners” is the foundation for success. A Power Partner is a business that has a similar target market as your business but doesn’t really compete with the products and services your business offers. Imagination is the only limiting factor when identifying Power Partners.

A powerful fusion marketing combination could be a wedding planner, a florist, a photographer, a baker, a mobile DJ and a bridal shop. How powerful would it be to have a ‘preferred partner’ link on each business website? How about having marketing materials at each business location, so when a prospective bride asks the florist, “Do you know a good photographer?”, the florist has a handy recommendation.

Here are the five keys to setting up a successful fusion marketing alliance:

Key 1: Identify your Power Partners.

Key 2: Determine the offer for each Power Partner.  The offers don’t necessarily have to be the same as in the coupon example above.

Key 3: Communicate with each other. Set up a regular meeting time to ensure that everyone agrees how to market each other’s businesses and refer customers.

Key 4: Share prospects and lead generation lists.  It may be possible to combine offers in the next customer sales pitch.

Key 5: Responsiveness and follow-up. Respond to customer inquiries and leads from Power Partners. Share lead conversions with Power Partners for future follow-up.

Tell us if you have any fusion marketing success, we are really interested in the combination of Power Partners and your best customer conversion story.

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