Archive for the 'Businesses' Category

06
Jan
14

Kmart’s Holiday Ad: Below the Belt or Missed the Boat?

Thanks to Jordan McNamara for contributing this article to The Side Note.

In a 2012 article, Advertising Age discussed Kmart’s shrinking presence in the low-cost retail field (http://bit.ly/1gc3yWF). Annual sales were down, causing Ad Age to suggest the brand had lost relevance with discount shoppers. In the realm of discount stores, Wal-Mart dominates the low-price segment and Target holds the throne for hip, so where does this leave Kmart?

Over the holidays, Kmart and parent company Sears Holdings Corp. (http://www.searsholdings.com) made a big jingle in the viral world with the release of the holiday “Show Your Joe” commercial.

Show Your Joe

Following last year’s “Ship My Pants” spot and “Big Gas Savings,” all created by agency DraftFCB, this indicates a major brand shift for the retail chain. Kmart’s Facebook page received many complaints from angry viewers, calling the ad “disgusting and not fit for family consumption” and “inappropriate for kids!!!” (https://www.facebook.com/kmart). Many customers also accused Kmart of sacrificing family values and decency in exchange for cheap laughs.
Departure from their traditional ‘baby boomer’ demographic in pursuit of younger shoppers may be exactly Kmart’s intention. According to a Forbes article from last February, Kmart is focusing on improving sales within the 18-34 year old group (http://onforb.es/1gc32bp).

However, Time reported humor is not an effective tactic for converting sales (http://ti.me/1cTMyET). Although funny spots succeed at being memorable for consumers, they do not distinguish why the brand is better or what problem the product solves. “Ship my Pants” and “Big Gas Savings” have more than 30 million views combined views on YouTube, but Forbes reported 3rd quarter sales for Kmart were still down (http://onforb.es/1cTN7hT).

The Joe Boxer commercial may be the perfect example of funny, but ineffective. With more than 17 million views on YouTube, the ad has unquestionably garnered attention. However, the spot highlights only one product line available in Kmart stores rather than the Kmart brand as a whole. Plus, it lacks differentiation—what about these specific boxers make them so great? Why are they better than others? Why should I shop at Kmart for underwear? The ad does not answer any of these questions to make the brand or product relatable to the consumer. Both earlier ads by DraftFCB mentioned above do speak to benefits Kmart offers its customers, but the most effective ads connect with consumers on a deeper, emotional level.

Due to holiday shopping, fourth quarter sales can account for as much as 40 percent of annual sales for retailers (http://bit.ly/1hrxzFG). With that in mind, Kmart needed a stellar season to climb out of the hole after six years of continually declining sales (http://aol.it/19XT3oU). Numbers for 2013’s fourth quarter have not been released yet, but if third quarter sales are any indication, this ad will not be enough to sway shoppers away from other discount stores.

Kmart may have some big…er, bells, but that might not have been enough to fulfill this retailer’s Christmas wishes.

Do you shop at Kmart? Tell us what you think of the Joe Boxer ad here. Is your brand in need of an overhaul? The Weise team can identify problem areas and create a strategy to give your brand a boost in our Navigator session. Contact us. 

05
Sep
13

Healthier Marketing: Taco Bell Cutting the Cord On Kids’ Meals

Fast food chains have been constantly under critique since pediatric obesity became a leading medical issue.  The convenience and favorable taste of fast food makes kids’ meals wildly popular,

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 their high calorie count and low nutritional value makes them highly criticized.  The unhealthy food is not the only problem.  Criti

In recent years, chains have begun to listen to health advisers. They claim to make steps toward healthier options, however, these changes might just be cosmetic, rather than a true interest in a creating healthier community.cs have long despised the marketing tactics of these restaurants, especially their relationship with children. The toy offering with each kid’s meal has been called unethical since children beg for the toy, not understanding the unhealthy food that comes along with it.

So far, Taco Bell has become the first national fast food chain to eliminate kid’s meals.  This decision was made following intense pressure from health advocates to eliminate the meals in order to promote healthier food choices for children.  However, CEO Greg Creed says that the pressure from the advocates was not the only force driving the elimination.  Creed says kid’s meals were not profitable for the company, representing only .5% of total sales, and the meals did not suit their target market of millennials.

Other fast food chains feeling heat from health advocates include Jack In The Box which eliminated the kid’s meal option in 2007, however Jack In The Box not a national chain.  For their Kids’ meals, McDonald’s, added apples and downsized the fries. Yet the toys still remain and the kids want them. Trust me, I was specifically asked by my five year old for dinner from McDonald’s last week so he could “get a cool toy”. Which I interpret to be: a piece of plastic crap surrounded by junk food he barely likes and hardly eats. And yet McDonald’s got my money.

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According to various reports, the real reason most brands eliminate kid’s meals or add healthier options is to increase their brand image.  Taco Bell looks good to health advocates and to the public by eliminating possible deceptive marketing to children that comes from offering cool toys in meals. Also, these other options do an excellent job of bringing customers in the doors, where they usually continue to buy the unhealthier menu choices and a profit is still made.

Should brands shift towards healthier food options, even if its not for healthier reasons?  Should Taco Bell be praised for eliminating the kid’s meal, even though they are doing it for primarily fiscal reasons? Is McDonald’s still king because apples are in  happy meals and the fries are smaller, or does it really make any difference?

Tell us what you think in the comments, and head over to our Facebook or Twitter at @weise_ideas.  Be sure to visit us at at WeiseIdeas.com

13
Sep
12

Health Care and Franchising – A Growing Business Model

ImageHealth care in the United States continues to evolve. With changes forthcoming, and past obstacles still being overcome, health providers are looking for ways to provide better patient outcomes and manage a sustainable business model. However, these are irrelevant if there is no access to care. Coupled with one of the largest issues to come out of the 2011 Healthcare Franchising Conference is the fact that more doctors are retiring than ever before, leading to increased opportunities to deliver a number of health care services through the franchised business model.

In my opinion, franchising give us the access to care, provides quality assurance and creates a sustainable business model for the business owners and providers.

Franchising is at the cross roads of health care and business.

Franchising has successfully evolved thousands of from thriving local businesses into iconic household names. Think: McDonald’s, Chick-Fil-A, Dunkin’ Donuts. The food industry possessed the beginning of the franchise era however, over the years franchising has branched out to include product distribution and services:  The UPS Store, Fantastic Sam’s, Curves. Today we are continuing this evolution. Everything we know about quality assurance, billing, marketing, and program development for franchising is being transferred into health care. It is time to put a greater focus on this transference of knowledge.

When we follow best practices in franchising, we can deliver quality assurance to patients. We can provide practitioners – physicians, nurses, medical assistants and licensed practitioners in many fields, with the ability to focus on service delivery rather than business operations. We decrease costs for service delivery and expand access.

The senior care industry jumped into franchising with great force, and the opportunity can be traced to the aging population. According to A Profile of Older Americans: 2011 developed by the Administration on Aging (AoA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; By the year 2030, one in five Americans will be a “senior citizen.” From 2010 to 2030, the number of baby boomers age 65-84 will grow by an estimated 80 percent while the population age 85 and older will grow by 48 percent. In addition, between 1994 and 2020 the nation’s population of 85 years and older is projected to double to 7 million, and then is projected to increase to 19 – 27 million by 2050. With the number of prospective clients growing exponentially, the franchise home health care/senior care industry is booming and will likely continue to grow.

Other health industries such as emergency care, dental services, chiropractic care, primary care, mental health companies, drug testing business and surgical centers are all growing in prominence in franchising. In essence, any effective healthcare business can replicate its model and begin franchising.

I do not believe we can or should solely rely on the federal government to provide us access to affordable health care. We are a country full of the entrepreneurial spirit and we house some of the best health care providers in the world. When you combine these traits, we have the opportunity to develop great health care franchises that will solve many of our cost and access issues. These solutions are right at our fingertips.

Weise Communications, along with Faegre Baker Daniels and Management 2000 will sponsor the second annual Franchising in Health Care Conference, October 24 – 25, 2012, in Denver Colorado. At this conference, we will cover challenges unique to this industry, including compliance and regulatory issues when across state lines. If you are interested in attending this conference visit our conference site for more information. http://www.franchisinghealthcare.com/ Hurry, the Early Bird pricing ends September 15, 2012.

For more information about how Weise Communications can help your health care company franchise, contact me at tracy@weiseideas.com.

24
Nov
10

Gain Mayorship, Earn Perks: Retailers Give Incentives to Foursquare Users

With the advent of Foursquare, social media has become competitive. Bragging rights of being a mayor is the big prize you win.

Being an active Foursquare user, I have caught the competitive social media bug. My friends and I compete to see who can unlock the most badges, check-in first at each establishment and earn mayoral rights. Since Foursquare users have become so competitive, my friends and I included, we all want to hold the mayorship of our favorite establishments; so it encourages us to drop in more often.

At some establishments it can payoff to become the mayor. Recently, Arby’s kicked off a Foursquare promotion in which mayors of 37 locations from Evansville, Ind., to Huntsville, Ala., gets reserved seats at a “Mayor’s tables” and 50 percent off meals. So not only are customers benefiting from being the mayor of Arby’s, but also the fast food establishment has the chance to run a loyalty program and test new products on valued customers.

Senior Vice President at Arby’s Restaurant Group Inc. Bob Kraut believes, “This [Foursquare] represents the intersection of the social media conversation we want to be a part of and the real world target ability that larger retail operations desire.”

Arby’s is not the only establishment giving its social media followers perks. The MarketFair Mall in Princeton, N.J., has designated one prime parking spot as Foursquare Mayor Parking and on the first Wednesday of the month. Mayor of the W Montreal hotel gets valet parking, a spa treatment or a night’s stay at no charge. In addition to mayoral prizes, companies can also sponsor badges. For example, those who follow Mazda and check-in at participating nightlife venues can earn the Mazda badge and enter to win a new car. Mazda chose nightlife venues to promote the Mazda badge in order to reach its tech savvy target audience.

Although marketers are questioning the function of Foursquare, it seems with the competitive nature of humans, there is ample opportunity if marketers choose to seize it.

Tell us if you think Foursquare will significantly change marketing and social media or if you think it’s just a fad. Share your ideas with us on Facebook at Weise Communications and follow @Weise_Ideas on Twitter.

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.

21
May
10

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, del.icio.us 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.
Follow Weise on Twitter and check out Weise Communications on Facebook and “Like” it for future updates.




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