April 2013 Archives

When you look for a new doctor these days, how many Asian doctors do you find?

How many engineers, professors, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and CEOs?

Did you know South Asians generally over-index the US National Average in just about every meaningful consumer category?

Are businesses ignoring the marketer's dream come true?

What are the prejudices and biases that are holding companies back from reaching this higher income, more educated, larger families and growing market?

Check out these Census facts:

  • With 14.5 million Asians in the US, up 43% from the last census, Asians are the fastest growing minority group, very affluent and high educated, with household income 26% above Whites.
  • Asian Americans have the highest educational attainment of any group, 49% have at least a bachelor's degree (vs. 28% US avg). They also have the highest household income levels of any racial demographic at $65,637 (vs $38,885 US avg) with 28% exceeding $100K.
  • South Asian population has doubled in the last decade. Indian population, specifically, has grown 70%. And 67% of all Indians have a bachelor's or higher degree. Almost 40% have a master's, doctorate or other professional degree, which is five times the national average. 1 in every 9 Indians in the US is a millionaire, comprising 10% of all US millionaires.
  • South Asian households are 29% larger than the national average. And 93.6% speak English.
  • Although Iran is not technically considered "Asia" by Census, I'll include for my loyal Persian readers: 51% of Iranian-Americans have a bachelor's or higher degree, and 1 in 4 hold Masters or PHD. An NPR report recently put the Iranian population of Beverly Hills as high as 20%. Almost 1 in 3 households have annual incomes of more than $100K (compared to 1 in 5 US Avg). According to a study carried out by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Iranian scientists and engineers in the US own or control around $880 billion.

So when you think or speak of multicultural branding or strategy, are you ignoring this fastest growing group? What marketer wouldn't want to reach a more educated consumer with higher income and larger families without a re-deployment of marketing dollars?

The 2010 census data reported, of the 27.3 million added to US population in the last decade, only 2.3 million were Whites. While Hispanics accounted for well over half our gains, Asians made the next biggest contribution.

There is an absolute decline of white population under 18, as well as somewhat smaller decline of black youths. Hispanics, Asians, and multiracial children accounted for all of the net growth of nation's youth. And I believe the Asian numbers are under-reported through Census, since there is a big debate about race versus ethnicity.

The world "Multicultural" was intended to represent a mosaic of different cultures in one platform. But somehow it became a buzzword limited to initiatives toward Hispanics, as "Diversity" did the same with African Americans.

That's why I coined the phrase "New World Marketplace" to represent a new type of customer-influencing mainstream culture. It's important to recognize that various multicultural values have now become part of the fabric and reality of American society.

Here are 10 easy tips to get started that will apply to all multicultural branding and positioning:

  • Learn how much of your current sales volume is being generated by multicultural customers. It may be more than you think.
  • Then, learn exactly what demographic groups you could and should target for your products and services. How much sales potential in each market?
  • Get to know your existing and new targets. You can only do so by spending days in the life of your customers.
  • It all starts with the great product, which transcends all cultural differences. Make sure you have the right product and services and you are speaking to the needs and values of the customers who are actually buying them.
  • Research and research more. Not just about product attributes, but also about how your new customers want to feel and be treated as a part of the totality and oneness of the market.
  • Consult with experts. I am one of so many. Learn to use the right cultural symbols to avoid offending the very people you're trying to attract.
  • Sharpen your sensitivity to cultural standards and taboos. Dig deeper into the values and beliefs and leverage on "shared" values.
  • Avoid all stereotypes and clichés. Design your marketing materials to depict multicultural customers in a wide variety of roles.
  • Include a multicultural budget in your 2012 budget. Link compensation to multicultural performance for the sake of profit growth.
  • Be authentic, honest, respectful and consistent. Once you open the doors to build the relationship, stay the course to maintain the relationship.

If you liked this, you should sign up for the LinkedIn Marketing & Advertising Tips from Franchise-Info newsletter.

Or, for more information on the Franchise-Info Business Directory, call Joe at 1-443-502-2636 or email Joe direct [email protected]

In a recent study by the CMO Council, in partnership with Balihoo, 59 percent of national brand CMOs surveyed said localized marketing is essential to the growth and profitability of their business.

Yet only 7 percent of the brands believe they have "highly evolved campaigns and measurements in place to activate customers at the local level."

A number of factors--from budget constraints and lack of resources (43 percent cited lack of resources and bandwidth to coordinate with multiple regions, local marketers, partners and agencies), to the desire to tightly control brand assets in local marketing campaigns--have hampered the local marketing aspirations of national brands.

Local Marketing Automation

One of the keys to overcoming these challenges lies in the adoption of local marketing automation technologies.

The CMO Council study revealed 94 percent of brands currently use primarily manual methods to track compliance and application of their brands at the local level.

Manual approaches are simply no match for the ever-increasing number of digital channels publishing local business information today.

It seems that national brands recognize this, as 30 percent of the CMOs surveyed said they intend to invest in local marketing automation technologies to overcome their bandwidth, budget and brand asset control issues.

Local Presence for National Brands

One area of local marketing automation that addresses branding objectives and helps drive local traffic for national brands is business listings management.

An important first step for national marketers targeting locally is to ensure their local partners and affiliates can be found in local online and mobile searches.

Syndication and publication of consistent and enhanced business listings of local partners will go a long way toward helping national brands increase their local findability.

What's more, the increased traffic resulting from national brands' local business listings management efforts, should help brands win the hearts and minds of their local partners, making them more inclined to support additional local marketing initiatives.

Franchisors have a lot on their plates, so it's understandable that things get missed and pushed to the back burner, especially when it comes to local marketing support.

But given how critical local search engine optimization (SEO) is nowadays for most franchises, it's surprising how many times I see fundamental best practices missed - which in turn results in poor search rankings, lower traffic, and fewer conversions.

I thought it would be helpful to give a recap of the most important, no-brainer SEO best practices that franchisors should ensure for their corporate website and franchisees' local sites.

Top Level Domains or Subdomains for Local Sites?

If you only have a listing page with all of your locations, or basic landing pages for each location with duplicate content, I strongly suggest setting up local websites. Now, when it comes to what you should do regarding domains for your local sites, one of the most practical approaches is the use of subdomains (i.e. city.franchise-corp.com).

When done right, your local franchises can come up in search results for their target geographic area.

The other option is to use a top-level domain for each of your locations, and here's what Matt Cuts - Director of Web Search at Google - has to say about this topic:

"If your company has a bunch of store locations, please don't hide that information behind a search form or a POST. If you want your store pages to be found, it's best to have a unique, easily crawlable url for each store. Ideally, you would also create an HTML sitemap that points to the web pages for your stores (and each web page should have a unique url)."

Source: SEO Advice: Make a web page for each store location

The main downside to using top-level domains like "city-name-franchise.com" for each location is all the time it takes to register and track dozens or hundreds of domains. Subdomains are a very good alternative in most cases, and the use of a CMS (content management system) that provides an easy to use and practical dashboard for you and from franchisees is key.

There are many CMS options you have to choose from, but of course I recommend going with one that is specifically designed for managing franchise sites, like Empowerkit!

On-Page SEO

The aspects of on-page SEO for each location (and your corporate website) are very important, and you can handle all of the key items in a simplified manner. The use of tools like Google Webmaster Tools, and Google Docs can aid in keeping track of on-page adjustments.

Here are the main on-page SEO components you should account for:

Page Title Tag

Your page title is prime real estate, and including service or product keywords is important, along with some geographic terms specific to each franchise location (i.e. the city and state each location services should be included in their site's page titles), and some terms about what the page content entails. You may consider looking at your competitors' page titles to get ideas, and I'd also recommend creating a standardized page title structure for your local sites.

Page Description Tag

This acts as a back up to your page's title. Including synonyms and semantically related keywords within a concise description of the page's content will help the search engine identify a page on the site as relevant to the search query that a potential visitor enters in a Google search.

H tags and Section Titles

(Attention Grabbers) H tags, also known as headings, serve two very important purposes. For search engines, they show you are placing emphasis on the content that you are including in that section. And for visitors, it's an easy way to scan and identify a specific section. So include your keywords and related terms as part of your headlines, and make sure use h tags!

Content

Who are you talking to and what do you want them to do?

Content is a major part of SEO, in fact the most important piece by far, and it's also the hardest to do correctly across a network of local sites.

Whether you develop the content at home office, hire a content writer, and/or allow franchisees to make some content updates on their own, the important thing is that you a.) have as much unique, locally relevant content on the location sites as possible, and b.) publish new content updates (i.e. through a blog) as often as possible.

Think about who you are writing for, and what specific actions you'd like them to take when they visit a local site. Who is the target audience? What are they interested in reading?

Answering these questions can help in setting up a scalable content strategy for your franchisee websites. Don't forget to include geo-targeted terms like city names and communities along with your target keywords.

A simple way to develop geo-targeted content is to be in touch with the community that your franchise serves. Write about current events, upcoming seasonal events and or sponsorships.

What I usually recommend is that corporate leads the content strategy, providing ongoing ideas, templates, and other content resources to franchisees. Then franchisees can participate in producing content updates for their own local website - after all, they probably know their local communities best, and just need a proper framework and strategy to get moving.

There are many other SEO and content focused tasks that you can undertake depending as part of your online marketing strategy.

However, these simple initial best practices will get you moving in the right direction, and help your franchisees be more competitive in local search.

In a follow up article, I'll talk about tracking your on page SEO efforts and how you can identify key areas of opportunity based on your current results. Have questions or comments? Please share below in the comments section, and feel free to contact me directly: (510) 859-8452 or [email protected]

If anyone is wondering why your posts or comments have suddenly gone into moderation and hang up in pending when before you were able to do so in real time, blame LinkedIn Corporate and not your moderator.

This problem is caused by LinkedIn's heavy hand, while trying to deal with spam from the top down and as usual nothing works well top down when you are not in the trenches dealing with the issues of a given group as the moderator or owner.

What LinkedIn did was to override all of the group settings of the owners of the discussions, as if they were not capable of dealing with their own groups. LinkedIn's new "so called spam tool" did not do what was intended as it was not tweaked in the correct way, but caused havoc in many groups.

The problem with spam or steak is "where's the beef"? Pardon the pun, but one persons spam is another's beef so I can see how it can be tough for group owners to deal with this. The further problem, as I see it, with group members who's posts I sometimes read, some are simply offended by seeing a post that is made by someone else that they do not think is relevant to them personally and rather than pass it by they start a pitched battle in the discussion group. Crazy yes, but it happens.

There is also the occasional moderator who feels that one does not have the right to promote their books or businesses but that the group is purely for information only and totally free of any commercial intent. I try and stay away from those as much as possible, as most of us are here to promote something, whether an artistic endeavor or a commercial one.

Some group owners became overwhelmed with this new policy so that it virtually put a halt to all posts, including the good, the bad and the ugly, no matter which.

One owner was so overwhelmed that his "pending" file was backlogged by weeks of posts awaiting moderation and was close to 400 submissions before he asked for my help and I gladly offered it, clearing the deck.

Was I accurate? Who knows, but at least I erred on the side of caution and compassion for the poster unlike LinkedIn who simply erred.

All it takes is being dropped from a group by an owner and without warning.  Quite a while back I was dropped by an owner, which is what got me in trouble with the LinkedIn geniuses. As much time had passed with me forgetting I was there once before, I went recently to join the group again and was unable to.

When I contacted the owner as to why this was so, her reply was she "had no idea why I was dropped".  This points to how easy it is for one member to whine about "discussion purity" re another's post and for a group to ban one without warning or further discussion.  What more than likely happened was that a writer felt that once his/her book was written any conversation about how to produce or market it was irrelevant.

This of course flies in the face reality as well as of the many discussions caused by some of my posts and the kind comments I receive for providing useful and helpful information regularly from design through promotion.

Then there was the case of another LinkedIn member, who in fact blogged about this experience elsewhere, who contacted the group owner on several occasions about pure spam resulting with the owner simply getting annoyed by being contacted and dropped the member.  I can recall one case where recently I left a group when the owner clearly told me how overwhelmed he was with his large multitude of members to bother hearing from me at all re my issues.

The bottom line is that LinkedIn did not think this through to the end and therefore members are suffering the unintended consequences of LinkedIn's actions. Their "so called algorithm" was the simple dictum, if for whatever reason, justified or not, a group owner drops a member one is banned to "moderation", dumping the work load onto the group owner to undue LinkedIn's broad swath of the brush.

When someone is dropped from a group it may have been done because a member or two whined about "purity" of content.  Further compounding this is the sometimes failure of the owner to converse with the member in question prior to dropping them.

 What could linked in have done in order not to be faced with this heavy handed result? They could have automatically sent out emails to anyone being dropped prior to any action. They could also have used a more intelligent "algorithm" than the idiot one they used, such as after first an auto response type email to anyone posting a simple link without any intent on discussion, like one I am sure many of you have seen emanating out of China, Japan or India such as "buy cheap handbags" and then a shortened link address to click on. Now links such as these are clearly "missing the beef"!

Hopefully LinkedIn will rescind or amend their policy here and undue the havoc created for some who are valued contributors and discussion owners.

I may be the only person up to this point to not have a Facebook page or a Twitter account. It's not that I don't support either. In fact, I encourage our sales team to utilize social media.

I'm on LinkedIn and have found the groups I interact with to be extremely informative. So, why have I resisted diving into others? Part of it is my commitment to communication or, in some cases, the lack thereof.

My biggest concern was not being able to keep up. I have personal and business e-mails, texts, and voicemails. I wonder if I would be able to keep up with it all if I added a Facebook and Twitter to the mix.

While it's all pushed to one device, I still have to respond to everything.

My second and greatest concern is the lack of personal communication. I labeled one of the chapters in my book "Put Down the Blackberry Before You Dot Another 'I' Bob Cratchett" for a reason.

I believe electronic communication has altered the way we communicate, and while there are many advantages, I am concerned with the smart phone replacing face to face contact.

My co-author and I went around multiple times during this chapter. Why? He's in his early twenties and has grown up in an electronic computer world. I believe an e-mail or text saying "I can't make our breakfast meeting" is great compared to the call when you are five minutes from the restaurant.

It's terrific to send an e-mail at 11:00 pm, without the worry of waking someone up, and have the person shoot back a response when they see it. However, I am a firm believer that nothing replaces face to face meetings or phone contact when possible.

Call me old fashion, but I believe you build a better, stronger relationship when communicating in person.

In fact, I had a mobile phone when they were still attached to the car. It was the size of a house phone, and it cost about $500 a month in minutes, and something we called roaming.

What concerns me about becoming more social is watching everybody becoming less social. Sometimes I am watching a game, my kids and I are all on our laptops. I'm working. They're socializing with their friends on both their laptops and phones. I remember a day when you watched a game and talked about what just happened, not texting or tweeting about it.

One of the guys on my sales team said, "Tim, my kids are watching what their fantasy team is doing while watching a game."

I'm no better. I receive an e-mail during lunch, while in the field, and I answer it. The person I'm traveling with is doing the same thing. I'm not alone in my concern.

I hear from people all the time about how they are concerned with our next generation, their relationships, and lack of personal contact. I believe that electronic communication can be misinterpreted as easier than a call or in person conversation. Today people break up in text messages, but let's face it , back in the day people sent a break up letter.

Are we different, more advanced, too advanced, too connected, or not connected enough? I can't answer that question, but I'm diving in to find out.

Friend me, follow me, I will follow you and maybe we will find out some answers together on how to remain "social" in the world of social media.

Facebook: facebook.com/tim.burns.98478 Twitter: twitter.com/TimBurns212

If you liked this, you should sign up for the LinkedIn Marketing & Advertising Tips from Franchise-Info newsletter.

Or, for more information on the Franchise-Info Business Directory, call Joe at 1-443-502-2636 or email Joe direct [email protected]

Consumers don't get why brands will spend  lots of money to talk at them with smartphone ads, but yet spend no real money on customer service.  Why talk if you don't listen?

Most days it can be hard for a working professional to take off the "business" hat and approach stats from a true consumer approach. To the unsuspecting American, it sounds great that companies are spending more and more on digital marketing budgets to enhance the user experience, save paper, and increase the focus on continuous innovation in the mobile space.

According to an article written by Mark Walsh for Media Post, Annual digital marketing budgets, on average, amounted to 2.5% of a company's revenue in 2012 and will grow 9% this year. The majority of companies spend between 10% and 50% of their marketing budget on digital efforts, with an average of 25%.

From a consumer perspective, you see all that money being spent and think, "Wow, this 'going mobile' thing sounds pretty good for the economy, and certainly a sign of a stronger marketplace than a year ago!" And, from the consumer facing side of these stats, it's true- the more "screens" that we have to interact with, the more "screens" that marketers need to be present, and prominent.

Back to the marketing professional's point of view, it is stressful trying to put your best foot forward when suddenly you have two paths to walk down at the same time. Public or private, large or a startup, independent or franchised, businesses are all faced with the challenge of how to approach the mobile opportunities ahead.

For a fifth of companies, digital has already been incorporated into each function within marketing broadly, with budgets no longer broken out separately. The Gartner study also made a point to indicate that digital marketing spend is becoming more difficult to estimate as digital and traditional techniques merge. "We expect this trend to continue growth as areas such as second-screen TV, social TV and QR codes integrate with traditional channels," stated the report. This is already apparent considering Macy's new engagement campaign, which has rolled out with mobile touch-points with a traditional media twist.

According to a Mobile Commerce Daily article written by Lauren Johnson in March, Macy's is using a combination of QR codes, SMS and mobile Web as part of its partnership with NBC's "Fashion Star" television show to not only give consumers a chance to enter a sweepstakes, but also build up the retailer's mobile database.

The sweepstakes is part of a bigger campaign from Macy's to connect with TV viewers via their mobile devices this year. "The mobile strategy should be consistent with their overall digital marketing strategy," said Marci Troutman, CEO of SiteMinis, Atlanta. "Access to a brand's portal through mobile simply improves the amount of consumer engagement time on the site and allows for better conversion with real time marketing and sales opportunities," she said.

Why, then, is their store feedback survey so arcane?

Users have demonstrated that they prefer mobile for their communications- but they see it as a two way street, where as many businesses are still seeing it as a one-way communication vehicle- talking at their audience, but not remotely prepared to open the conversation up completely.

What does Macy's mobile campaign really say to consumers? Well, it says buy from us and leave us alone. That's the kind of strategy that insurance agencies get "dinged" for in TV commercials all the time.

The obvious response most could argue on behalf of Macy's would be, well, the technology must not quite be there yet for surveys to be totally mobile, so it must be an expensive investment and require a long transition project.

However, that doesn't mean that's true. For example, systems like ours here at On The Spot are built to run mobile surveys- with user experience as the focus. Surveys like ours cost around $2/day and can be accessed via SMS text, QR codes and mobile web. In fact, two in five companies say they are realizing savings from digital marketing compared to traditional methods(,) according to Gartner.

Sure, many consumers may not yet realize how readily accessible this technology is to businesses, but soon they will, and they will realize where their retailers place their digital budgets- and more importantly, where they don't.

According to Gartner, "Reinvesting savings into digital marketing activities is a smart move. And it's a relatively new activity in a corporate culture where technology has primarily been used in recent years to cut costs." So, the test is where you will put your cost savings to good use. The question is, will you fill an existing void in your mobile strategy mix, or continue to spend your budget on strictly sales campaigns?

This new digitally enlightened consumer is now able to see right through a company's social media façade. They still agree that Facebook is a nice tool for people to share their thoughts, but everyone is now wiser about its actual capabilities for connection within the company hierarchy.

About a third (34%) of businesses went outside for help in managing their presence on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites. So, it's not really enough to tell people to share their opinions on Facebook- they know it's not going to get to someone in operations who actually could fix the mislabeled sale items that same day. There's no chance for the company to make any actionable use of the data they receive through Facebook.

Macy's would be able to get away with ignoring the location-specific importance of their customers' opinions if they had not already proven in another campaign this past year that they have the means to be location-specific and relevant to consumers at the store level when they want consumers to buy something.

According to Johnson's Mobile Commerce Daily article, the retailer enhanced its iPhone app with Black Friday-specific features that were based on a consumer's local store. Via the app, consumers were able to find Black Friday specials, create shopping lists and pinpoint where a special can be found in a local store.

So, let's assume for a minute that Macy's just isn't aware that their customer engagement strategies lack, well, engagement. Let's assume with a sub-par customer feedback strategy, Macy's is also stuck with minimal insight from real consumers and doesn't "see" that their mobile strategy really comes off as being a one-sided approach to customer engagement.

Think about your own company for a moment- do you emphasize customer loyalty? Do you think a company can get too "big" to care about loyalty?

Hopefully, you'd disagree with the latter statement, since this is one area where we all know there is a payout for "buying in" to a strong loyalty strategy.

According to Ms. Troutman in her statement in Mobile Commerce Daily, "Loyalty programs are a valid and significant method of increasing the average ticket and shop frequency. The use of mobile in this process with all of the unique benefits will improve customer engagement(,)", she continued. "The key is how a brand harmonizes loyalty with offers."

That's about as clear and simple as it can get, but I challenge you to really dwell on that last sentence as you think about the decisions you make about using mobile in your everyday arsenal of customer communication and loyalty programs.

When it comes to mobile, the determining factor that will either elevate or depreciate a brand's overall digital image, is how well the brand is able to harmonize their loyalty reinforcement efforts along with their sales promotion offers.

When it comes to considering the use of call tracking numbers and their impact on local search and business listings information, local search optimization practitioners should take a page from the Hippocratic Oath, and "first, do no harm."

Search marketing specialist Christopher Sheehy of SEO provider Sidewalk Branding recently wrote,

"Businesses tell me all the time how difficult it is for them to know what marketing tactics work and which ones don't - what tools or services would be good for them, and what's going to hurt them.

So when a client was asking me about [call tracking] services recently - I went directly to the source and sent them the following excerpt from Google to answer their question.

"'You should only provide the phone number for the location of the actual local business. Types of phone numbers that should not be included are: call tracking numbers and phone numbers that are not specific to a business location [source].'"

As Sheehy observed, Google clearly discourages the use of call tracking numbers.

The reason is, phone numbers, along with business name and address, are the most important pieces of local search optimization data used by search engines to authenticate a local business.

Sheehy explains, "When the phone number is replaced with a generic number that is not consistent with the local standards - they lose that vital component of authentication.

Other SEO experts agree about the importance of a business' name, address and phone number.

As respected local SEO expert David Mihm advises, "Think of them as your business' thumbprint."

Consistency in your business thumbprint leads to confidence in your business information, which increases the likelihood search engines will rank you, increasing your online "findability."

As Mihm affirms, "Maintaining absolute consistency with your business information is the key to a successful long-term local SEO strategy."

The bottom line is that you must protect the authenticity of your business thumbprint. Steer clear of service providers that recommend publishing call tracking numbers as part of your business listings. They are a good tool for some companies. But they are harmful to businesses that rely on the core business listing details that authenticate their local attributes.

Work with a trusted local search optimization service provider that can bring your online business information up to best practice standards and effectively monitor and manage your business listings going forward, giving you the assurance that you can easily be found online by existing and prospective customers.

If you liked this, you should sign up for the LinkedIn Marketing & Advertising Tips from Franchise-Info newsletter.

Or, for more information on the Franchise-Info Business Directory, call Joe at 1-443-502-2636 or email Joe direct [email protected]

Search for Articles

Follow Us

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2013 is the previous archive.

May 2013 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Authors

Archives

Follow Us