Archive for the 'business to business' Category

25
Feb
13

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.

 

21
Apr
11

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.

05
Jan
11

Branding Content: How creating a persona for your brand creates ROI

Branded content is essentially a fusion of entertainment and advertising that has been around for decades, just think of soap manufactures and the soap opera. With social media and the increasing prevalence of mobile apps in our daily lives, branded content seeks to have an increasingly large role in marketing and advertising of brands in the future.

Branded content can be anything from a short film, music, game, blog, mobile app, newsletter, blogzine, microsite or real-life event. The content merely exists to entertain and educate the consumer, while conveying subtle brand messages in the mean time. But more than this, branded content creates a persona for your brand and helps engage target audiences in a reciprocal relationship.

The idea for a brand is to listen to online conversations and establish what interests your target audiences. Is there a need or desire for certain information? Can you provide that information in an engaging way?

The most successful branded content programs are able to blend messaging in a seamless and transparent fashion, while still getting the information across to the consumer. Branded content creation serves several purposes: customer entertainment, stealth advertising and social engagement.

An industry that has embraced branded content is the fashion industry (see Louis Vuitton’s NOWNESS), but other brands that get it right are:

The iFood application allows users to:

  • Email or print coupons for Kraft products or even add them right to your store savings card.
  • Find recipes and post the ones you love to Facebook
  • Scan and enter a barcode to add to a shopping list or find recipes
  • Print shopping lists, coupons, and recipes
  • Get detailed recipe directions and even video tutorials
  • Set alerts about planned recipes, recopies of the day or special offers
  • Find a retailer to buy your products

Now, tell me that wont build more consumer loyalty?

Branded content is about creating an experiential story; It’s about crafting stories though every communication tool – signage, display advertising, print, radio and television ads, that are then translated to the web, social networks and now mobile apps. In the end it really comes down to knowing your customer extraordinarily well. By consistently engaging your audience via editorial content that is expertly mixed into the e-commerce landscape, you can tie sales. The best social media and branded content executions out there are driven by narrative, not commerce.

Branded content is quickly becoming a cost effective, long-term online marketing strategy that industries will continue to utilize as brands and retailers look for new, innovative ways to connect with customers online.

What impact do you think branded content can have on consumer behavior and where do you think this technique is headed in the future? We’d love to hear, so post a comment on The Side Note Blog, send us a tweet @Weise_Ideas, or find us on Facebook: Weise Communications.

09
Sep
10

Google Instant: More than Interactive Search

On Sept. 8, Google announced the improved search feature, Google Instant.  Users on Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Internet Explorer 8 will begin to see results displayed as soon as they type in queries.

At first glance, this simply seems like a time-saver, Google estimates 2 – 5 seconds saved per search. Really only enough time to sip your coffee. However, there is real value to the consumer, and marketers will need to step up vigilance on search term optimization especially for pay per click (PPC) campaigns.

For the consumer, Google Instant is better than the Google suggestions at the bottom of the first page of results. By seeing results as you type, you are better able to refine your search on the fly.  Google Instant makes interactive suggestions based on where others have been before.

For example, I typed in ‘ex’ and as you can see Google Instant delivers Expedia as my first option.

BEWARE! Marketers need to be concerned with the rest of the Google changes.  In preparation for the launch of Google Instant, Google quietly updated their keyword tool. This generated numerous reports of huge drops in search traffic numbers.

According to Gary Adam Shannon of searchenginewatch.com, the (exact) phrase [golf clubs] used to report an estimate of 165,000 monthly searches two weeks ago:

As of right now, the (exact) phrase [golf clubs] reports 33,100 monthly searches.

If you are currently running a PPC campaign, you must re-evaluate your search terms based on the changes Google has implemented.  This will impact website planning, SEO efforts and embedding keywords in websites.

Additionally, a faster, more streamlined search means less opportunity for long tail searches. This will drive up the PPC cost for popular search terms. Online marketers are going to have to go back to the basics as it relates to managing the search engine.

Let us know what you think of Google Instant and if you have seen a drop in your search traffic.  Follow Weise Communications on Twitter for more updates.

08
Sep
10

We’re Weise…and we approve this message

Election Day is November 2nd and in the next two months, traditional advertising vehicles will be bombarded with political advertising. Expect to see more TV, radio, outdoor and print advertising advocating a specific candidate, issue or initiative.  Even though this is a mid-term election, there are so many congressional (both senate and house) and governor elections, traditional advertising channels will be inundated with political advertising.

There are two major impacts for marketing professionals:

  • Inventory of available advertising space is extremely low
  • People will become numb to advertising due to the political ad messages

Studies have shown that negative advertising moves the polls for and against candidates more than ‘what I stand for’ advertising. The fact that people tend to retain negative information longer than positive information is another reason why negative political advertising is so effective. Since it is effective is shaping opinions, we know we will see negative ads.  We always do.

Prior to Election Day, advertisers should consider alternate advertising vehicles.  For example, focusing on a vertical market segment.  If you are trying to reach men, focus on sports related media like Sports Illustrated or ESPN.com.

However, all is not doom and gloom as advertisers take for granted that the public’s dislike for political ads will spillover to product ads.  It is our opinion that there is a contrast effect for product/service advertisers. Exposure to negative political ads impacts the consumer feelings about politics – product/service ads are unaffected by these feelings. In comparison with political ads, product ads appear even more attractive and credible.

Advertisers create entertaining, emotional and humorous ads positioning products/services in the most attractive light. Positivity is the face of product/service advertising. In contrast, political advertisers typically anger, disgust and repulse their audience.

Advertisers should prepare for November 3rd (the day after Election Day) with renewed effort.  The inventory will be available and the public will be more receptive to your message.

Let us know if you agree with us and follow Weise Communications on Twitter where we approve our tweets.

13
Aug
10

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.

09
Jul
10

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.

07
Jul
10

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.

09
Jun
10

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.

02
Jun
10

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.

Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Weise_Ideas




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