March 2010 Archives

Assortment of gift cards

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The rules protect consumers from certain unexpected costs and require that gift card terms and conditions be clearly stated.

The final rules prohibit dormancy, inactivity, and service fees on gift cards unless:

(1) the consumer has not used the certificate or card for at least one year; 

(2) no more than one such fee is charged per month; and 

(3) the consumer is given clear and conspicuous disclosures about the fees.

 Expiration dates for funds underlying gift cards must be at least five years after the date of issuance, or five years after the date when funds were last loaded.

The Board's rules generally cover retail gift cards, which can be used to buy goods or services at a single merchant or affiliated group of merchants, and network-branded gift cards, which are redeemable at any merchant that accepts the card brand.

The final rules are issued under Regulation E to implement the gift card provisions in the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009.

The notice that will be published in the Federal Register is attached. The final rules are effective August 22, 2010.

Attachment (333 KB PDF)

Highlights of Final Gift Card Rule (13 KB PDF)

2010 Banking and Consumer Regulatory Policy


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Trademark Wars Online

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The European Court of Justice

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Google won a significant legal battle in Europe, critical to its business model.

The European Court of Justice ruled that advertisers could use trademarks that they did not own as keywords in their google adwords.

Here is how Google explains the trademark decision.

"Google aims to provide as much information as possible to users so that they can make informed decisions. 

For this reason, we have been awaiting a series of decisions by the European Court of Justice that explore the extent to which trade mark rights can be used to restrict information available to users. 

The first of those decisions was delivered today. 

The question before the court was whether advertisers should be allowed to choose keywords freely when reaching out to users on the Internet

In other words, if advertisers are allowed to show advertisements when another company's brand name is entered as a search query. Trade marks are part of our daily life and culture, helping us to identify the products and services that we may be looking for. They are key for companies to market and advertise their products and services. 

But trade mark rights are not absolute. 

We believe that user interest is best served by maximizing the choice of keywords, ensuring relevant and informative advertising for a wide variety of different contexts. 

For instance, if a user is searching for information about a particular car, he or she will want more than just that car's website. 

They might be looking for different dealers that sell that car, second hand cars, reviews about the car or looking for information about other cars in the same category."

This is a very important decision for both franchisee associations and franchisees.

A franchisee association may want to draw attention to its website by using ad and targeting the franchisor's trade marks as key words.  The franchisee association may not have permission to use the franchisor's trademark on their own website, so constructing online advertising targeting those keywords may be the next best thing.

A franchise may want to advertise on the internet using the franchisor's trademarks as keywords, but not advertising the franchisor's trademark on his or website.

This critical ruling by the European Court of Justice would allow the franchisee association and the franchsiee the necessary latitude to compete online.

Will the North American Courts follow suit?  A very important issue to follow.

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Mark Hayward has some interesting ideas about social marketing for small business owners, over at Pro-Blogger.


Here are his top five ideas.

1. Location is dead. We have now fully entered into the Interaction Economy.

2. It does not pay to engage in 'pissing contests' on business review sites or in forums.

3. When used properly, a small video camera like a Flip and a standard digital camera (or just an iPhone), can be like having your own marketing department.

4. Instead of trying to be everywhere in the social media space, determine what online activities work best for your business and focus your attention there.

5. Search Engine Optimization(SEO) is important but it needs to be combined with a well distributed plan for Search Engine Visibility (SEV).

However, compare what Mark thinks about geography to the Wharton School of Business,  which argues:

While the Internet holds immense promise for reaching retail customers far beyond traditional trading areas, new Wharton research indicates that old world dynamics, such as neighbors sharing word-of-mouth recommendations, can still have powerful effects on Internet sales.

In two recent papers, researchers found that geography continues to have an impact on efforts to market through the Internet in ways that could help online merchants target new customers. 

Specifically, the papers examine the effect of economic geography on Internet retailers trying to reach potential buyers of specialty products who live in an area where their purchasing decisions make them a minority.

Who do you think is right?

Does geography still matter or are we in the interaction era?

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Grow More Than Grapes

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Attention is the basis of the new economy, not scarcity.

How do you obtain and retain your customers with attention, when they don't have a lot of time for your pitch?

Aweber, a email vendor, has a neat list of strategies for email marketing they used for a winery.  But strategies can be used by any franchisee.

"As a winery, email marketing lets you reach your regular visitors, area restaurants and retailers and even consumers separated by distributors. 

And it's worth noting that millenials, the newest generation of wine drinkers, prefer their wine promotions online."


Here are a couple of their ideas, modified for franchisees: 

1. Have a contest. Announce it on your website for a few months. Require an email subscription and send the entry form as an autoresponder. (Broadcast the form to your existing list so they can participate, too.) 

2. If you are a QSR franchise, rent a booth at a state fair or farm show. Offer tastings - for free or for a fee - and ask those who participate to sign up for your emails. 

3. Web-savvy food consumers are found at many social networking sites. Create a profile, connect with users in your area and clearly display a link to your sign-up form on your profile. 

4. If you sell gift baskets, add a card inviting the recipient to join your club by subscribing to its emails. Direct them to a web form specific to club members.

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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