February 2014 Archives

LinkedIn now makes it very easy for users to endorse skills listed by their connections. Typically, as soon as you open your LinkedIn window, there it is...that box with four of your connections asking you to endorse them for specific skills.

LinkedIn makes it very easy to do so. Simply click Endorse all, and you have done just that. Then the box disappears and you can get back to your LinkedIn business. You may also choose to click on individuals if you do not want to endorse them all, and you can search for other endorsement suggestions.

So, here's the sticky point to consider:

While you likely want to support your connections, what does it say about you if you endorse someone for a skill you are not actually certain they possess?

Every endorsement you make of someone else is a reflection of you. While they may be taken less seriously than an official recommendation letter, they still represent you.

Consider that if you do not know first-hand whether someone is truly skilled in an area, providing them with an endorsement may actually be a breach of trust. It can potentially devalue your word and decrease the respect others have for you and your recommendations.

While many on LinkedIn approach endorsements as just a friendly way to lend support, consider that there may be ways to provide support to your connections and still resist the temptation to endorse someone for a skill you truly do not know that they possess.

Sharing their content is one  way to do this. Also, if you truly want to be able to endorse them, then perhaps it's time to setup a meeting so you can get to know first-hand what it is that they do and the ways they do it well.

So, the next time that endorsement box pops up, consider carefully whether the recommended endorsements are a true reflection of who and what you would want to recommend.

Use LinkedIn Like an Expert

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I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out, and yell, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

My apologies to Peter Finch and Network, but how much longer will people complain "LinkedIn doesn't work for me!", when lazy habits are to blame?

No more excuses, LinkedIn members! Say it with me now:

"I can do this!"

"I can fit LinkedIn marketing into my day!"

"I can get great results quickly!"

Here are 5 quick shoves...errr, tips...to help you become more productive on LinkedIn, with minimal effort:

1. Stop Using Standard LinkedIn Language for Invites

"I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn." Why are you still using this tired old pickup line?

It shows a complete disinterest in people and a total lack of imagination. It says, "I'm rushing through this and you're just one in a huge number of nameless faces that make up my connection quota for the day."

People, use your heads. Or more accurately, your keyboards, to create several templated invitations. Save them in a word doc, then whip 'em out and customize them for more satisfying LinkedIn connections.

For example, something as simple as "Dear John, We share membership in the ABC group. I've reviewed your profile and would appreciate the opportunity to connect." Could it be any easier?

2. Failing to Connect with Who's Viewed Your Profile

Do you ever look at this feature to see who is looking at you? Those with paid memberships get an expanded view, but even free members can see who stopped by, as long as that member has no profile restrictions.

So what are you going to do about it? Send an email.

Yes, a simple note like, "Sue, I noticed you viewed my profile. Were you just browsing or can I help you better understand [insert appropriately]?"

I wish I had tracked my use of this strategy from the beginning, because I could be telling some great stories right now about the unexpected business I've earned from this simple action.

Once again, this is an email that can be written ahead of time and slightly tweaked to customize personally. 3 seconds...in and out. Not so hard, is it?

3. Standing on the Sidelines and not Joining Groups

Remember your prom? Remember standing on the sidelines, hoping someone would ask you to dance? Ever wondered how that experience might have been forever changed if you had just stepped away from the wall?

Joining groups and then sitting there like the proverbial wallflower is ridiculous. Why did you join the group? If this group met in person once a week, would you attend every meeting but never say a word? C'mon...groups are about participation.

Networking is about finding like minded people. New business is about connecting and engaging, none of which can happen when you are virtually invisible. Start talking!

4. Cluttering Your Homepage with Tweets

When it comes to syncing Twitter with LinkedIn, you have 2 choices: sync your Twitter feed to your LinkedIn home page, or sync your LinkedIn homepage to your Twitter feed. Which one is best?

Well, the answer depends in part on your industry and your tweeting style. As a general rule of thumb, sync your LinkedIn page to your Twitter feed. This way, you won't clutter your homepage with every single tweet unrelated to your LinkedIn network, which can annoy some members. In fact, it can be so annoying some members may decide to 'hide' your updates, meaning their connection to your insights is broken until the "unhide" button is chosen. You might be chatting in the wind, but you will never know....

5. Fear of Asking for Recommendations

People generally have a tough time asking for what they want. Asking for a recommendation is no easier. It feels awkward; you may be rejected, or worse, completely ignored. If you don't know what you want to achieve with the recommendation you are requesting, think it through before asking.

Recommendations are important to a well-rounded profile, but literally vital to pagerank, which can help you get found and get hired. If you are a bit nervous, ask colleagues, peers, friends, and good clients first. They won't say no, and they'll always say something nice.

Recommendations can be about work you've done, results you've achieved, your character, work ethic, etc. Recommendations can also be used to repeat important keyword phrases. No need to write a novel when a few sentences will do. Whatever you do, don't ask strangers for recommendations.

And for heaven's sake, don't accept LinkedIn's standard language, "I'm sending this to ask you for a brief recommendation of my work that I can include in my LinkedIn profile. If you have any questions, let me know. Thanks in advance for helping me out."

Good grief. Is this how you communicate with real people?

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So, your partners are getting their content out into the world wide web, now what?

Spreading it around and making sure people read it is the next step! Social media is a great platform to fulfill this goal because, as you may be aware, it has completely revolutionized the way we interact!

That's why, in this post, we'll review why social media is important for your partner local units and what it entails! Just so you get an idea of how big social media is, Facebook has over 400 million users; while "Tweeters" produce over 1 billion posts per month!

This is a big market for your business since potential customers are mingling and looking for local answers to their needs in there! Join several social media sites (the ones that make sense to your business), and get some of the benefits they have to offer:

  • Participating in Conversations about Your Business

  • Building a Relationship with Customers

  • Getting Feedback About Your Business

  • Raising Brand Awareness

  • Greater Exposure Online

What Partner Social Media Management Entails

Sharing in All Your Accounts

Partners should have their own social media profiles so they can share their customized content through them. Plus, the more social media they are a part of, the more exposure they'll get for their brand! Remember that the main objective for your posts is for them to be read, so make sure your partners are sharing them throughout their local social media accounts as soon as they're published!

Engaging the Audience

On top of that, you should think of social media as a way to start conversations about your company. This is a great way to start building relationships online. By sharing interesting news (for example) through local social media accounts, you're engaging audiences outside of your business! They'll get a sense of trust that will, more than likely, encourage them to join in on the conversation!

Answering Comments

Social media is a great space for you to get feedback from your customers because interactions are immediate. Just make sure you're answering back! Questions and concerns may rise from time to time and your customers could use social media as a way to reach out to you. A big part of managing social media is making sure that your partners are there for their customers when they need them!


I'm sure you've noticed it: people are constantly connected to social media. So much so that they not only use it as a way to interact with peers, but as a way to find solutions to their needs! They're talking about your business in there and your partners should join in on the conversation! Spread the word about your company at a local level and gain exposure in the vast sea that is the world wide web!


How Empowerkit Can Help

Again, social media is all about engaging recurrent and potential customers. It sounds like an easy and laid back task, but for those in a tight schedule, simply sharing content on social media can be perceived as a nagging task. Alas, local social media accounts are left dry and don't produce any results! If you or your partners don't have the time to be active on Twitter and Facebook to produce a successful web marketing program, we'll publish their latest content updates to their Facebook and Twitter profiles for them! This way, they'll have more time to interact with users at a local level!

Plus, if they don't have the interest, time or knowledge to keep their partner sites up, we'll be more than happy to help out! Partners can call us at 510.859.8452 to make new content updates!

To see what the other 5 key elements of a successful partner web marketing program are, click on the links: SetupDesignContent MarketingOff Site SEOAnalytics. Have any questions about this post or Empowerkit? Let us know in the comments! We'll be happy to reply! Try Empowerkit for Your Partner Web Marketing Program!

The post 6 Key Elements to Launching a Successful Partner Web Marketing Program: Social Media appeared first on Empowerkit - Local Websites for Franchisees.

Are you blogging for your business? You should be. The internet represents an unlimited opportunity for your brand, and blogs are just one of many platforms that can benefit you. Blogs can not only get your brand name some exposure, but they can provide value to your consumers.

Ripley PR is strong believer in the creative use of blogs to increase business-to-business communications. Keeping them updated with relevant information is key to keeping customers coming back.

A quiet blog won't do anything for your company or its followers. There's still a lot you need to know about how to run your blog and optimize it for everyone's benefit.

Here are eight ways that you can use your blog to improve your business:

1. Get people talking about your brand

Every small business could use some exposure, and blogs are a great way to do it. But it's not as easy as it sounds. The key to getting people to come to your blog is to provide timely, quality content. Keep it relevant, well-written and insightful. Provide your readers with content that they desire, and they will show up.

2. Do market research

Blogs present a quick, easy way to learn about your customers and find out who they are. Put up some polls to see what people think about certain products, or figure out their demographics. But don't ignore the opportunity to get open-ended feedback too, so ask questions about your customers on the blog and invite comments.

3. Keep customers up-to-date about your company

Your customers aren't going to sift through boring press releases or painstakingly search through tons of media outlets to find out what's going on with your company. Your blog can be a quick stop for anyone to check up on the latest happenings, but make sure you're posting items that are newsworthy. If it's worth a press release, it's worth a blog post, but make sure you add some value--in the form of additional analysis or new information--for your readers.

4. Reward your readers

Contests and giveaways are the most common ways to give back to your readers, but make sure you're creative with them. Do the unexpected every once in a while.

5. Interconnect the parts of your online presence

Your company is probably using a lot of different services on the web, and a blog can be used to help connect them. Link out to your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, and be sure to prominently feature a way to get to your main business website.

6. Share product reviews

Don't make your consumers go all across the web to find out what people think about your product. Not only can you share positive product reviews to help your reputation, but a blog gives you that rare chance to defend yourself against negative reviews. So don't be afraid to call out bad reviews that you find--either acknowledge them as useful criticism, or fight back.

7. Answer questions

Blogs are another platform that can be used to directly communicate with your customers. A blog can be used to answer common questions and concerns. If there's a particular issue that seems to be standing out for your customers, write about it.

8. Interact with your customers

Develop brand loyalty by showing that your company has a human side. Speak with customers personally, invite a few guest posts from your more eloquent readers and give them a wall or message board to voice their opinions, talk to each other and interact with you. Build a community, and be a prominent part of it.

If you're still not using a blog as a part of your B2B public relations strategy, get in touch with Ripley PR today. We'll show you more ways it can help you grow your business - and we can help you get started.

I read an interesting post by Jason Calcanis on whether Google was a good partner in the context of YouTube, publishers and advertising share.  

And it really resonated with me in all my conversations with agencies and partners, even most recently at the BWG Strategy Roundtable on SEO/SEM (where 90% of the discussion is SEM and not SEO where 95% of the clicks occur).    

The only entity that wins with Google is Google.   Perhaps that is why Matt Cutts, Google Spokesperson so clearly declared "Google doesn't have partners!"

Ouch.   You should take note.

Google is a Monopoly. Expect a Monopolistic Partner Policy.

I recently engaged in a conversation with some search engine experts where we talked about the real market share of Bing and Yahoo.  

Many industry stats declare it to be 30% but that is wishful thinking.   If you look at the SEO traffic from almost any sites Google Analytics, the amount of SEO traffic from Bing and Yahoo is sub-10%.  

Those 30% who use Bing and Yahoo don't search nearly as often as Googlers.  

So with over 90% search share, Google is a monopoly.

So Google sets the rules.  

And they run a very efficient marketplace, which means they balance the supply and demand of buyers and sellers with as little margin for the middle man (agencies, etc.) as possible.  

And with programatic buying methods getting more sophisticated, it's hard to establish a profitable margin without huge advertising spends.   And of course, Google is just as happy to help directly, so agencies can be easily disintermediated.

The result, costs per click are going up.  Margins and ROI are going down.  Google takes more of the pie.

Google Only Wants You to Play Their Game - Advertising

Facebook recently received a lot of bad press regarding their algorithm change which made it even harder for brands to get into the news feed.   Why?  Because brands now have to pay to get into the newsfeed of their followers with sponsored updates.   Hindering organic connections between brands and consumers means more advertising.

Google plays the same game. Over the past couple of years, Google has made it harder and harder to quantify the value and successful tactics of SEO campaigns by hiding the keywords from organic searches in analytics.  

What this means is that you might be able to see if your search traffic has gone up, but you don't know what's working which means agencies have trouble justifying their SEO spends to clients.   That's good news for Google who won't let Certified Partners state that they can help improve your rankings.   Google won't even acknowledge the practice of SEO.

Another example is click to call tracking which is critical for managing local campaign effectiveness.  Google enables it for advertising but doesn't track click-to-call on Google Places (but almost every other metric).   If you want tracking, better advertise.

Diversifying Your Effort, Delivering Better Marketing Value

The problem like dealing with any monopoly is the apparent lack of choice.  But there is a choice.  Only 2% of local businesses think pay-per-click advertising is effective.  Invest in the marketing channels that are more effective, even if the metrics are less clear.

  • Invest in SEO and spend the time educating why and how it is valuable.  Track what you can. Have faith where you don't have granular metrics (heck, even 71% of marketers think SEM has unclear ROI metrics)

  • Invest in growing and leveraging owned media channels.  If you have a direct line to consumers, you don't have to pay to play.  Email, social, etc.

  • Invest in channels that grow in value over time.  Once you stop paying for advertising, you get no additional value.  Focus your advertising on the owned channels.  If you have to play monopoly rules, use them to build independence.

We are big believers in the power of content marketing and we are not alone.  Check out the Google trends on Content Marketing vs search engine marketing.   It's still only 1/5th of "Pay Per Click" but look at the slopes of the lines.  People are already shifting their budgets.  Are you?


(The post Should You Really Put All Those Eggs in Google's SEM / PPC Basket? appeared first on LocalVox.)

Sometimes the best ideas come from brands that have already been around the block.

From burgers to fresh pressed juices, well-established brands and franchises are eager to put money into hot trends.

Check out these four innovative new restaurant franchises backed by brand giants such as Starbucks and White Castle.

Burger 21. Owners of world famous fondue chain The Melting Pot have expanded their horizons from melted cheese to chef-inspired gourmet burgers.

Burger 21 currently only has five locations but expansion plans are in the works. The first franchise unit opened in Orlando, Florida earlier this year and the chain recently announced two franchise agreements that would lead to a restaurant in Charlotte, NC, as well as four restaurants in Virginia and Maryland.

Evolution Fresh. The juice craze is so hot. From Greenwich Village to Hollywood crowds are clamoring outside of juice shops to get a glass of fresh-pressed juice, which is purportedly to be healthy, cleansing, and delicious.

The craze is so hot that even Starbucks has jumped onboard.

The iconic coffee chain has recently purchased Evolution Fresh from Naked Juice founder Jimmy Rosenberg. Offering fresh pressed smoothies and juices, Evolution Fresh promises "flavor and nutrition in every sip." A fourth unit recently opened up in Seattle and it looks like Starbucks plans to take the chain global.

Deckers. While Time Magazine might have just named the White Castle Slider as the most influential burger of all time, White Castle is always looking for new ways to attract customers.

The chain, which has thousands of units across the Midwest and the South, has recently launched Deckers in an attempt to take the double-decker Panini sandwich mainstream.

The new chain will also serve up soups, sandwiches, and salads.

The Laughing Noodle. While we are on the subject of White Castle, we should mention that they are expanding their horizons to much more than just double-decker Panini sandwiches. They've recently been pushing The Laughing Noodle, a new franchise that offers multicultural noodles to customers looking for something a bit healthier than a burger and fries.

The first Laughing Noodle opened up in 2010 in Springfield, Ohio, inside of a White Castle.

The first standalone Laughing Noodle is slated to open in Sharonville, Ohio this year.




Article by Jason Duncan, CEO/Founder of ManagerComplete.com.

ManagerComplete is an online software application that helps multi-unit franchises manage operations effectively.

Follow him on Twitter for latest updates.

For the 5 Most Fascinating Stories in Franchising, a weekly report, click here & sign up.

Whenever I've said in the past that a successful partner online marketing strategy is hard work, I meant it!

Still, just getting your partner sites set-up, designing them properly, venturing into content marketing, etc. won't cut it!

No matter how much we want it, online marketing doesn't stop in the partner sites: you need to encourage your channel partners to promote your company through business listings, have them look for opportunities to get back links and, even pay ads! It can be pretty overwhelming.

For example, link building is all about reaching out to other sites and asking them to give your site a back link (via guest blogging, blog syndication, etc.) Which means that, on top of creating unique, relevant content for their sites, your partners (or your content team) will have to write unique, relevant content for other sites!

This can be time consuming and exhausting and it's just PART of what Off Site SEO entails.

However, Off Site SEO is extremely important for any partner web marketing strategy, and here are some reasons why:

  • More Exposure: The more places your business is mentioned, the more possibility there is for others to see it!
  • Validation/Visibility: Backlinks "tell" Google that you are a real business and that you can be trusted, which gives your partners a higher ranking in the search pages.
  • Lead Generation: Off Site SEO means more traffic to your partner sites and, potentially, more leads.
  • Better ROI Online: The more leads, the better ROI you'll have thanks to the partner online efforts.

Preparing an Off Site SEO Strategy

Just as with their on site efforts, your partners should set certain goals for their Off Site strategy! How many backlinks do they need? What's your target? What Page Rank should the sites you're reaching out to have? These and more questions should be answered before moving forward!

Looking for/Evaluating Opportunities

Whether it is looking for the right business listings for your company or searching for great guest posting opportunities, you need to make sure that they will benefit your online presence. This means not going with the first options you get, but digging deeper searching for the link building strategy that your partners or corporate has put together for them.

Reaching Out

This is only applicable to guest posting but it is one of the trickiest parts! Your partners should reach out to those sites that they're interested in getting backlinks from via emails and, in most cases, suggest topics that they could write about for that site. Next, comes waiting for their reply and hoping that they'll like what your partners have to offer!

Producing the Information

Guest blogging, like creating content for partner sites, takes time: coming up with ideas, outlining, writing, proofreading, sending the post, etc. Likewise, your partners will need to make sure they're presenting the right information through their business listings and getting every piece of data that a lead may need to go to them!

Checking Back

Again, a great benefit these efforts provide is getting people to your partners and have them interested in your company at a local level! This is why you need to make sure your partners are checking back to answer any doubts and join in on the conversation. Whether it is through business listings or answering comments on blog posts, you shouldn't leave a potential customers hanging!

Putting up Ads

Another strategy in any Off SEO Strategy has to do with putting up online ads! This way, when people in your partners' area look for something related to your business, your company will appear as an ad. Nonetheless, this take money, time, and expertise because your partners will need to produce a relevant advertising message for their local audiences!

How Empowerkit Can Help

As mentioned above, Off Site SEO is crucial to a successful strategy and to get leads to your partner sites! But, as you can see, it is extremely hard work! If you'd like to give your partners a break, we can help! Empowerkit is not only a white label website builder, it is also a services provider that can help you all along the way to a effective partner marketing program!

For example, we can submit your partner websites to the appropriate directories and get them the backlinks they need to rank in Google! Plus, when your partners get their Empowerkit site, they'll also get $50 of free advertising credit that they can use for advertising your business!

With this credit they'll be able to market their partner sites towards their visitors. Last but not least, if at any time you or your partners would like to tweak the strategy, you can call us at 510.859.8452 and let us know what updates you need! Even if you or your partners don't have time, it won't matter! You can call us directly and we'll do it for you.


As you can see, having a successful web marketing program doesn't stop at the site! There are tactics that will help the search engines understand that your partners have a serious business and that they're relevant to the searches the users are making.

By failing to fulfill these tasks, you and your partners run the risk of having a beautiful, totally optimized partner site that no one will ever see!

Still, if you think that this is too much, contact us! We are happy to help!

To see what the other 5 key elements of a successful partner web marketing program are, click on the links: Setup, Design, Content Marketing, Social Media, Analytics.

The post 6 Key Elements to Launching a Successful Partner Web Marketing Program: Off Site SEO appeared first on Empowerkit - Local Websites for Franchisees.

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]

As someone who advises others on ways to increase their web traffic, including but not exclusively SEO, I use Alexa. Anyone interested in measuring web traffic should use it.

One thing that Alexa is great for is weeding out the hucksters. Most of us get email from so called SEO experts who promise to increase your SEO ranking. Take a quick look at their Alexa score and see if they can walk the walk.

Remember that the goal of SEO is to increase traffic NOT necessarily get ranked high on one or two keywords. For example getting ranked #1 for your company name on Google Search does not help your web traffic.

It is easy to get ranked high for one keyword but bit harder to increase relevant web traffic.

Alexa is an excellent tool for comparing website traffic in a general way in that it gives your website a ranking compared to all other websites. It is not great for measuring the website traffic for any one particular site.

For example I know what my site's Alexa score is and from Google Analytics and HubSpot I know what my site's traffic is.

Then, I can look at the Alexa rankings and tell if other sites are getting more or less traffic & if they are getting a lot more or a lot less.

You can register your site with Alexa for free and this will increase your chances of getting a more accurate ranking.

Paying for certification will give even more accurate results and give you tools to measure your site's activity.

For quickly measuring another website I use the SEO for Chrome extension for my browser and SEO Book has a great toolbar for Firefox.

This is a great article about Alexa and everyone publishing on the web should know about their Alexa score, because everyone else knows your score.

Why don't you?

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]

Last week, Joe and I were helping a franchisor supplier understand the value of his business listing in a online directory.

Companies and franchisors can pay between $150 to $900 monthly for a business listing in a specialized online directory.

They want referrals or leads.

But, many fail to understand how to evaluate the effectiveness of their listing.

We asked our client (2) questions.

1.  How many leads/month did he get from the listing?

2.  How did he know the answer to the first question?

He thought that he maybe got 5 leads/month.  He based this upon what the owners of the directory told him & what the leads said.

I didn't believe these numbers - more on why in a moment.

So, I asked him what he asked the leads?  "Oh, I ask them where they heard about us."  

"And you prompt them, don't you, with "Did you see us in X directory?" or something like it?", I said.

The client agreed - and then realized that of course the lead had no idea if they had seen his business in the directory.  The lead was just being pleasant and agreeing with him.

And what about the franchise directory owner's and their numbers?

"Well, they tell me that 5 leads is about what they see?"

"Really - and what reports are they sending you?", I  asked.

Despite the site having Google analytic tags, the franchise directory owners were not sending any reports on what traffic the listing was actually seeing.  

Because the franchise directory owners weren't tracking events, they could not they track how many people had visited the directory & clicked through to his website for a demo.

There are a number of solutions to this tracking problem - as long as you can access your directory listing and change the content.

1.  You could insert you own google analytics code - and get direct reports.

2. You could insert some other tracking code, from either Compete.com or Quantcast.com

But the solution, we favor and like, is different.

Put a simple form on your franchise directory listing - first, last name & email.  Offer something of interest in exchange for their first, last name & email.

And here is the extra sauce: construct a process by which the lead qualifies themselves for your product before you ask them to sign up for a demo.

One thing we are keen on is getting a LinkedIn verified lead - so that we have someone's Linkedin profile before we put a lead into our sale process.  

And we have various ways of getting the person to ask to connect with us - if they don't, they aren't a prospect only a suspect.

In fact, if you like this idea then, sign up for Franchise-Info newsletter.

97% of consumers search for local businesses online.

Which basically means that people are searching for you but at a local level!

This is where your partner sites fit in: as a platform to capture leads that are in need of a business like yours, but within their area.

Setting up your partner sites is the first step towards moving your brand into the Internet!

And it's a big step at that: in this first instance, your partners need to get EVERYTHING together since it's like they're starting from a clean slate. Basically, they'll need to build a whole site from the ground up.

To get a better idea of what needs to be taken care of in this stage of the process, here's an overview of what's included to set a site up and have it ready for a successful launch:

What Partner Sites Setup Entails

1. Planning

You need to figure out what your strategy is and how that affects your partner sites. Think about defining questions like: what are you going to control? what will you allow partners to edit? What materials will you provide?

2. Design

What will the partner sites' colors be? What typography are partners using in their site? What's the layout and navigation plan for the partner sites? Design is what gives off the first impression of your company to potential customers so be sure you have everything down!

3. Content

Content is the reason visitors are in your site. Design can make it appealing but, at the end of the day, content is what they're looking for. For example, there are some information musts that need to be in your site before anything else happens (like your contact info, list of services/ products you offer, among other things).

4. Elements

Now that you have some of the basics down it's time to move on to the other elements that will complete your site: buttons, CTAs, social media feeds, apps, images, and other elements in your site that need to be placed.

5. Usability

For a site to work properly, you need to think about the user experience. An unfriendly partner site can drive visitors away from it. Think about what users expect to get from your site and how you're providing it to them. For example: is your site mobile optimized? Is it intuitive enough for others to use it? And, what's the loading speed like?


Setting up a site is hard work because you're taking care of all the basics a site needs for it to work properly. From the design to getting it to work for mobile devices, a site is a lot more than what meets the eye. If you or your partners aren't ready to take on this step but still want to take advantage of all the traffic local businesses are driving to their sites, feel free to give us a call and try Empowerkit out!

How Empowerkit Can Help

As you can see, this task can be a handful. And, if it's not done right, it won't do much good for your partner online marketing strategy. And let's face it, doesn't matter how easy you make it for your partners to take care of this themselves, chances are they're too busy with their physical business to move into the world wide web!

But don't worry! Empowerkit can help you, your partners and your business out! We handle the initial site setup and on-boarding process to get you acquainted with our program. We take on the task of setting up your partner sites until they've reached the standards corporate have set for them.

Then, we scale this mold (known in Empowerkit as "Master Site") down to all partners who opt-in this co-op web marketing program. Plus, if there are any updates to be made for the Master Site later down the road, you can call us at 510.859.8452 and we'll work on them for you! Once they're done, the results will immediately appear in the partners sites!

The post 6 Key Elements to Launching a Successful Partner Web Marketing Program: Partner Sites Setup appeared first on Empowerkit - Local Websites for Franchisees.

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LinkedIn is one of the greatest social media sites for recruiting - both for hires and franchise owners.

Yes I know. You sell franchises & your leads are delivered to you.

But do you want LinkedIn to be a source of great and cheaply found new franchisees?

You and everyone else!

And that's unlikely to happen for your franchise, unless you pay attention to what I am going to tell you - experience I have gained by participating for more than 12 years on social media - blogs, forums and now social media sites.

The Franchisor Problem - Too much Content

You have all the social media buttons on your franchise recruitment website.

You put out press releases all the time.

You have automated your distribution of your releases, blogs and articles.

So why aren't the leads flowing in from all that effort?

Your Brand is 'out there', but You and your people are not Listening.

Let's face it, franchise executives and salespeople would rather go to a trade show to meet people, react to a lead that comes in from a franchise web portal, a franchise broker, a display advertisement that spurred a lead from your franchise recruitment website.

Might it make sense for you to try something else - using LinkedIn to augment all your other sales activities?

LinkedIn basics for Franchise Sales Executives who need to Listen.

  1. Your LinkedIn Profile needs to say you sell franchises and connect with me. So make sure it's accurate, complete and inviting.

  2. Put your LinkedIn business card on your franchise recruitment website. You're accessible right?

  3. Join LinkedIn Groups. Not just the obvious franchise groups with other franchise salespeople, but the groups that your kind of franchise-buyers are in.

  4. Comment first and continue to regularly in other people's LinkedIn Group discussions.

  5. Connect with members of your target LinkedIn groups.

  6. Check who's Looked at Your LinkedIn Profile once a day for 5 minutes and connect with those people.

  7. Get LinkedIn connected with your qualified leads you meet at your next franchise trade show.

  8. Your franchise sales administrators, qualifications specialists, marketing coordinators all need professional LinkedIn profiles as much as they need business cards. Maybe more so.

Master these 8 LinkedIn tips and you'll see a difference in your franchise sales.

All your other franchise recruitment marketing investments will work better for you when you are listening on LinkedIn.

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"My customers are not online, they don't do LinkedIn."

Generally this comes from a business owner who doesn't like social media or they talked to one of their customers who does not have a LinkedIn account.

For all I know they may be right.

I haven't researched their customer's profiles but after a few questions it is clear they have not researched their customers' profile either.

Even though some of your potential customers are not online many of them are. Most of these active, online prospects are not going to be reached with outbound marketing techniques like direct mail or an ad in the yellow pages.

Where can a business owner or marketer get information on what their potential customers are doing online?

First, you will need to define your customer profile or persona so you will know what your potential customer is like.

A good place to start is this blog from HubSpot: How to Build Better Buyer Personas to Drive Killer Content.

The next step is to start finding out a bit more about who your potential customers based upon the demographic data you have been collecting when they visit your website.

How to Use Forrester's Social Technographics Tool

In Forrester's ground breaking book Groundswell by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li, they classified consumers into seven overlapping levels of social technology participation. (See slide 3 for the classification.)

This tool shows you how different groups identified by age, gender and nationality fit into each of these classifications.

For example, with this tool we can see that 18 to 24 year old women in the U.S. are more likely than men in the same age group to be creators while men are more likely to be critics.

Both genders in this age group are more active online than those in the 35 to 44 age bracket.

Go ahead and try it, using the demographics you have been collecting on visitors to your website.

Link: Forrester Social Technographic Profile Tool

For the 5 Most Fascinating Stories in Franchising, a weekly report, click here & sign up.

Okay, I'm taking a brief break from franchising to talk about my other passion in life -- movies. If you see me at the International Franchise Association's annual conference this month, be warned - if you get me started talking about movies, you may not be able to get me to stop.

You may have had a chance to read my article in this month's issue of Franchise Times. This is the promised continuation of my annual "top 10" list. In 2013, I saw more than 200 films. In anticipation of the upcoming 86th annual Academy Awards, I thought I would share my favorites of 2013 with the franchise community.

10. We're The Millers

One of the hazards of seeing 200+ movies a year is that you see a lot (and I do mean a LOT) of previews. And you see them over... and over... and over again. Some previews you get absolutely sick of (I'm talking to you, "Grudge Match" and "Out of the Furnace"); others are a joy to watch every single time.

Paradoxically, when it comes to comedies, the trailers that make me most wary are the ones that are really funny - the ones that I don't mind seeing several times. You know the type: the jokes come fast and furious, and leave the audience members guffawing. Why am I so circumspect about those previews? Because, in my experience, the funniness level of the trailer is inversely proportional to the humor in the actual movie. Most of the really funny stuff is spoiled in the trailer, foisting upon the eager moviegoer the leftovers: a series of limp, tired jokes that don't live up to the promise of this preview.

Happily, "We're The Millers" was an exception to this rule. The preview, which was one of the few that I enjoyed seeing multiple times, didn't spoil most of the great jokes in the movie. My favorite comedy of the year, "We're The Millers" had all the elements of a great comedy: likeable characters, an engaging plot, and actors (particularly Jason Sudeikis) that have that perfect mixture of timing and delivery that give the lines comedic impact.

Listen, recommending comedies is difficult because so much depends on the viewer's sense of humor, which is completely subjective. What I find funny may not be what you find funny. So don't be angry with me if you watch this movie and don't laugh. Also, be warned - this movie is a hard "R." If you're easily offended, avoid this one.  

9. Rush

"Rush" tells the story of a vicious rivalry between two Formula One racers in 1970s Europe: the handsome ladies' man James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and the homely Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl). These men, matched on the racetrack, could not be more different in personality. James is reckless and a risk-taker in life, while Niki plays it safe; but it is James's charisma and appeal that leads, indirectly to an accident on the track that nearly costs Niki his life.

A glimpse into a world I know nothing about, "Rush" is less about Formula One racing than it is about sportsmanship and respect between rivals. Director Ron Howard is working at the top of his game, balancing the stories of these men and their lives off the track with heart-pounding recreations of the races that defined their careers. While it was not successful at the box office, "Rush" is destined to join the pantheon of great sports movies.

8. The Kings of Summer

Joe is a teenager living with his recently-widowed father, a gruff man who uses his biting wit as a defense mechanism to cope with his own loneliness. Joe and his two friends, each of whom are dealing with their own problems at home, decide one summer to run away from home and live in a ramshackle house they build in the woods near their hometown. Enjoying their newfound freedom, the boys live the summer happily in the house until a girl enters the picture, when jealousy and pettiness threatens to destroy their friendship.

My favorite movie of Sundance 2013, "The Kings of Summer" is a coming-of-age film that is both incredibly funny and poignant in a way that feels authentic and natural. It's a fun an easy watch, perfect for movie night at home (but it's not for young kids or pre-teens).

7. The Sapphires

"The Sapphires" is another retread of that well-known story: four Aboriginal girls, facing massive racial discrimination in 1960s Australia, form a Motown-inspired girl group and tour war-torn Vietnam playing to U.S. servicemen. What, you say you've never heard that story before? Neither had I. I love it when I learn something new from a movie; it's even better when the movie is as entertaining and infectious as this one.

Often, movies that deal with difficult subjects have an atmosphere of emotional gravitas that can leave the viewer drained. It is exceedingly rare for an inspiring film about overcoming adversity to also be infectiously optimistic and fun to watch. Somehow, "The Sapphires" manages exactly that. 

Roger Ebert once said "no good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough." While that is true of almost all of the films on my top 10 list, "The Sapphires" was the 2013 movie that most surprised me when the credits started rolling - the 103 minute running time flew by, driven by charismatic performances wrapped around delightful musical performances that left me wanting more.

6. All Is Lost

Robert Redford plays a man alone on a yacht in the middle of the ocean, left to battle a chance accident and the elements using only his wits and the few supplies he has on hand.

Being a frequent moviegoer, one of my principal frustrations when watching a movie is when the filmmaker treats me like an idiot. Instead of leaving me, as an audience member, to do the work and figure things out for myself, the director decides to spell it all out for me and make it crystal-clear. I don't like to be patronized or played down to. "All Is Lost" does none of that.

What I loved about this movie is that you learn almost nothing through dialogue. You, the viewer, are forced to watch actively for clues to decide why the man is out there alone. You question his actions, and are forced to consider how you would respond to the challenges thrown his way. As a result, every viewer's understanding of the movie is guided by his or her own experiences.

>5. Nebraska

A cantankerous elderly man (Bruce Dern) receives a come-on solicitation in the mail from a marketing company informing him that he "may have won $1 million," and he immediately starts hitchhiking to the company's head office in Nebraska to claim his prize. After first trying unsuccessfully to talk his dad out of the misguided mission, his son (Will Forte) decides to drive him there, hoping that he can use the trip to bond with his father. The road trip takes the pair to the father's home town, where he crosses swords with his family, friends, and former business partner.

"Nebraska," a film that looks both lovely and stark in black-and-white, is another home run by director Alexander Payne ("Sideways" and "The Descendants"). The cast is memorable, featuring a number of unknown, first-time actors that add to the authenticity of the movie; everyone has someone like "Uncle Ray" or "Aunt Betty" in their own family, and their living room feels like our own. Like many of the other movies on my list this year, "Nebraska" is about loyalty, family, and the bonds that tie us together.

4. Starbuck

Did you see trailers for that Vince Vaughn movie, "Delivery Man?" It was actually a remake of "Starbuck," a little-known gem of a film from Canada (in French, with subtitles). "Starbuck" tells the story of David Wozniak (Patrick Huard), a ne'er-do-well fortysomething with a good heart. David discovers, due to a mix-up at a fertility center to which he donated when he was a young man, that he has over 500 biological children. The children sue the center to learn his identity (which has been kept secret), while David learns more about them and acts as a "guardian angel" to each of his kids.

"Starbuck" is a comedy about what it means to be human: it's about connection, love, loyalty, friendship, belonging, and, most of all, family. While it's touching and heartfelt, it's also easily one of the funniest movies of the year. I challenge you to watch this movie and not get choked up by the ending, which is profoundly sweet without being artificial or cloying.

3. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

One of the troubling side effects of the Internet's omnipresence is that we are now so accustomed to receiving our news instantly that much of what engages us on a daily basis has begun to feel disposable. In fact, one might argue that much of modern pop culture has been reduced to daily memes or soundbites that light social media ablaze today, but are forgotten tomorrow. There have been many casualties of this instantaneous culture, including countless hard-copy magazines that have died off in the wake of the Internet revolution.

Connecting with the world and with other people has never been easier, or harder, than it is today. When we can "visit" another country or meet people with the click of a mouse, it is all too easy to stop trying to personally connect with people or places. But there is no substitute for reality; there is no better way to feel part of this world than traveling and experiencing it for yourself. This is the lesson of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty."

Bearing little resemblance to the short story by James Thurber, the Walter Mitty in this movie has lived inside his own head for most of his life, but circumstances force him to leave his comfort zone and experience Life for himself. During his travels, Walter learns a great deal more than books, magazines, or his computer can tell him - an experience that resonates with anyone who considers him/herself a traveler. Ultimately, this movie is about the value of personal connection and experience in a world that makes it possible for us to avoid those things.

2. Before Midnight

In "Before Midnight," we catch up with Jesse and Céline (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy), the two lovers that met first on a train outside of Paris in 1995's "Before Sunrise" and then crossed paths again in 2004's "Before Sunset." We learn that, in the time since the last movie, Jesse left his wife and moved to Europe to be with Céline.

In the first two movies, Jesse and Céline - who were not yet together -- were still idealizing one another. In this movie, they are facing the reality of living together and feeling the pull of conflicting priorities. Loving someone from afar is easy; sharing your life with them is hard. And, because we've grown with them over the past two decades, their pain hurts us, too. "Before Midnight" is the rare film that feels so real that it aches.

1. American Hustle

The film begins with a statement: "Some of this actually happened." With that opening salvo, we begin a rollicking journey of crime, con men, politicians, government agents, lies, and betrayal that explores the blurred lines between right and wrong.

Based on the FBI ABSCAM operation of the late 1970s and early 1980s, "American Hustle" tells the story of con artists Irving Rosenfeld and Sydney Prosser (Christian Bale and Amy Adams) who are used by FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) to lure elected officials into accepting bribes - so that the Bureau could capture it all on videotape. A string of politicians are ensnared by the trap and convicted, but the film asks the question: in a game of deceit, who is the real villain?

Easily my favorite movie of 2013, "American Hustle" is an example of first-class filmmaking. The ensemble cast (rounded out by Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner) inhabits the characters and breathes life into the history. The story is well-constructed and laced with observations about loyalty, relationships and the human condition that are both wry and apt, leading to some of the best comedic scenes of any film this year.

Runners up: Disconnect, The Great Gatsby, Man of Steel, Thanks for Sharing, Girl Most Likely, New World, The To Do List, Side Effects, Wadjda, Filly Brown, World War Z

So, what do YOU think? Do you agree or disagree with any of my choices? What were your favorite movies of 2013?

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2014 listed from newest to oldest.

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