May 2015 Archives

Franchise online marketing strategy is as much about engaging the visitors on your website as it is about building traffic and search engine optimization.

The goal of online marketing is to convert leads into business.

Beyond all of the SEO work to get people to your website you must also pay attention to the content, layout and aesthetic appeal of your website in order to turn attention into conversion and even better... retention (which is driving people back to your site again and again).

Here are (3) easy actions which will create engaged visitors.

  1. Make sure that any links that lead visitors off of your website open in new windows. Do not direct traffic off of your webiste. Ushering people off of your website is not productive. By opening links in new windows, your website will still be up when they close that window. This is also applicable to your social media icons. Make sure they open in a new window as well. Keep the traffic on your site as long as possib
  2. Be aware of the users display. Remember, an increasing number of people are viewing your website on mobile, or handheld devices. Recent studies show that mobile traffic is on the rise, so having a strategy for a mobile friendly website both at the national and local levels is a must for 2012.
  3. Review your website for deficiencies regularly. It may be just as easy as mending broken paths or replacing broken code. Again your site is only as legitimate as it is functional. Use websites like http://validator.w3.org/ to validate your website and find issues with it.

Following these simple suggestions will garner results.

You will see a decrease in your bounce rate (visitors to your website who land on a webpage and leave without clicking deeper into your website) and an increase in the amount of time visitors spend on your website, the amount of content that they will read and ultimately the number of leads will you receive from your website.

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From time-to-time, we decide to use celebrity talent at re:group. Celebrities are great: they're fun, they're well spoken...and, hey, we'd be lying if we said we overlooked the fact that they're usually good looking.

But, although celebrities do a great job satisfying your shiny object syndrome, we want to warn you that committing to use them in marketing or advertising must be a strategic decision.

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The "Biggest Loser's" Pete Thomas as HealthPlus of Michigan's Health & Wellness Expert

There must be a connection between the celebrity and the brand. The Martha Stewart Collection at Kmart was a perfect example. It made complete sense to have Martha talk about her products in a store that supplied her premium selection of home goods. Similarly, if a celebrity has a charitable connection with an organization, it is an obvious extension to have someone with such a wide reach be the brand spokesperson or at least provide a testimonial. Think Marlo Thomas and her relationship with St Jude Children's Research Hospital. It also makes sense to consider using a celebrity when he has performed a role so many times that he is an 'expert' on subject or industry, like Dennis Haysbert as the "authority" for Allstate.

One of the cautions about celebrity talent is that their presence can sometimes overpower the message you're trying to convey. This can happen when people are so distracted by the talent that they aren't paying attention to the communication, or when a seemingly nice celebrity turns out to be not such a great a guy after all. When you have tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line, you need to weigh the risk of a potential temperamental personality disrupting your carefully planned production with the value that they can add to the execution.

Fortunately, we were extremely lucky with a recent production that used celebrity talent. Strategically, he was selected because he was an expert in the role we needed him to play. And, to our good fortune, was an absolute pleasure to work with--someone who cared about giving us his best work and was a genuinely nice person to have on the set.

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Will You Use iBeacon?

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Less than two years have passed since Apple first launched iBeacons in 254 stores across the country.

In the past two years, retailers have used iBeacons to find out who is shopping at their stores and to reach out to those customers with real-time information on purchases.

Available for Apple devices iOS 7 and above, iBeacon uses a Bluetooth connection.

Here are a few ways that iBeacons are revolutionizing retail.

1. Bringing Local Storefronts Online

In an age where online purchases often overtake in-store sales, iBeacons allow brick-and-mortar stores to come online and take their place in the clouds. That means greater online presence and greater sales.

2. Instant Market Research

By making careful use of data collected through iBeacon, it is possible for businesses to know here and now how many people, and what kinds of people, are frequenting their shop. Of course, like any other kind of market research, this data requires careful analysis.

3. Connect With Customers Now

On a fun note, did you know the Italian Zoo has recently developed an iBeacon enabled app which allows users to receive moment-by-moment information on the animals closest to them? While iBeacon does not support push notifications directly, retailers are using data collected from to fuel mobile apps and connect with customers, or prospective customers, now, in real time.

4. Attendee Tracking

As part of running your business, you doubtless attend the occasional business conference. iBeacon gives conference organizers an interesting way to get minute-by-minute data on large groups of people, so they know what topics draw the most attendees, and where attendees are going. This data, in turn, will continue to shape the face of retail.

5. A New, Competitive Market

iBeacons and other location services are a reality in today's world, and as with any other new development, competition is stiff. Companies benefit from this data and other companies benefit from being the ones to provide it. It will be interesting to see how this market develops in the next few years.

Are you utilizing iBeacons in your business? Do you have any fun stories to share? Let us know in the comments.

The post Five Ways iBeacons Are Revolutionizing Retail appeared first on Predict and Prevent Business Failure.

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I have talked about User Generated Content(UGC) videos and touched on Do-It-Yourself (DIY) videos that got a few of my colleagues discussing the pros and cons.

Of course a lot of us would be happy if everyone who needed a video would just hire a professional!

After all, that is how a lot of us make a living and I don't want to discourage anyone from using a professional. However there are times when a DIY video is just what you need. I've touched on what are the best types of video to use online in the past and different occasions call for different types of video.

My friend Jack Brumm of Pixel Wire Media pointed out that if your business strategy involves being "high-end" then producing substandard videos doesn't help your strategy. He then went on to say that he was talking to Steve Garfield, the online video expert from Boston, who talked about his concept of "business casual" videos.

The idea is that a lot of people are becoming accustomed to DIY videos on YouTube and if the information is compelling then just do it and make the video. This makes a lot of sense in a lot of instances.

For example a lot of business is not conducted in formal settings or corporate board rooms. A lot of business is conducted at informal networking events in khaki slacks with an open collar or out in the field in work boots and jeans. There is no reason why some of your videos can't be the same way.

Perhaps you are on the run, on the plant floor or at a conference and a quick video blog on your flip phone is the way to quickly and efficiently get content out. That gives the video a bit of urgency, immediacy and a bit of personal connection that is not found in many online videos. I would say experiment with this and try it.

I would caution against a one-size-fits-all approach to business videos online. There are times when you have to put on the white shirt, red tie and black wing-tipped shoes for that professional look. And by professional I don't mean stuffy business look, I mean a well-crafted, effective message.

Take a look at your marketing strategy. Where do style, content and professionalism count? Where is it appropriate to loosen your tie and be more casual? Who is your audience? What are you trying to accomplish? What will they respond to? Where does this fit into your online and social media strategy? Match your online video to match your business marketing strategy.

When do you think a "business casual" video would work? Is anyone trying it?

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Your website sells products, gives timely information, provides help, shows locations, answers frequently asked questions, gives information about the company, establishes your bloggers as thought leaders, and then load quickly.

It has to do many of these things and so sometimes competes with itself.

This charming short video by Google explains what happens next.

When you are serious about treating your website as business tool, then you are ready for Google Analytics.

When you are serious about marketing to franchises, connect with Joe or me on LinkedIn.

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Do you have a fear of commitment when it comes to social media? If so, you're not alone. I came across the infographic below, which shows that 86% of people surveyed will leave a website if they are asked to fill out a form.

I thought about this from my own perspective, and I believe I would fall into the 86%. If I'm just browsing online, filling out a form, at least for me, signals some level of commitment to the company - most times I don't want to make it, so I will move on to the next thing.

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However, if I'm truly interested in a company or website, I may fill out a form depending on what it is. The general reasons outlined in this infographic as to why people will leave rather than fill out a form are rather interesting, and make sense:

  • The form is too long
  • They are not sure how the information will be used
  • Password fatigue

The first two points make good sense and companies should be mindful of both when creating such forms. We all know that the point of having users complete forms is generally for lead generation; it's important to be transparent in the reasons for collecting a user's information.

Offering some of the following information can be helpful and sway people to complete the form:

  • That the information they share will not be shared or sold to third parties Will the user simply have access to information on your site?
  • Will you be sending emails/promotional offers?
  • If the information will be used for future communications, what is the approximate frequency?

Of course you want to capture as much information as possible when users are interested enough to complete a form. Just remember that it's the first step in relationship building - collect only the information you need on a very basic level at first.

People are wary of completing forms, so make it simple enough that you can start to create a relationship without turning away potential interest.

Password fatigue - how I love this term! I also love this statistic from the infographic: "2 in 5 feel that solving world peace would be easier than remembering all of their passwords."

Respondents also say that they'd rather have a social login for sites, meaning that they can log in via Facebook or Twitter. I can see that for convenience; I'll bet there are some, like me, who actually don't prefer this because I don't want to tie a site necessarily to my Facebook or Twitter account, and I'm not always sure if it will show up on my feeds or not.

This is a great infographic for companies to keep in mind when creating forms and lead generation capture points on their websites.

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According to research by Cisco more than half of all consumer internet traffic is video and it will continue to grow. That would suggest that video would be a great way for businesses to engage their customers. The other side of the coin Cisco's research reveled is it would take over 6 million years to watch all the video currently online.

This means there is a lot of competition so just making a video will not help you increase traffic or increase sales.

Part of the reason is the businesses often do not know how to effectively use online video and these mistakes prevent people from finding your video and may even cause you to lose customers.

  1. Making a Viral Video: If anyone suggests to you that success depends on making a viral video throw them out on their ear. That is like telling a teenage garage band that the way to rock superstardom is to record a hit record. Make videos with valuable content that people need. Worry more about providing value and less about making a hit.
  2. Not Optimizing the Video for Search: YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google and because Google owns YouTube there are a lot of similarities. Both search engines search the metadata attached to the video looking for keywords and phrases that indicate what the video is about. Using keywords in the title, description, categories and tags will help audience find your video. Check out the ebook: SEO for YouTube Videos.
  3. No Call to Action: Why are you making the video and what do you want people to do after they watch it? Tell them what you want them to do in the video and in the description for the video.
  4. Not linking to website: If you tell people to go to your website or a landing page you need to put in a link. We all know that you cannot put a hot link in a video but you can put it in the description of the video. I suggest putting the link somewhere in the first two lines and remember to include the "http://". While you are at it remember to link to a valuable landing page related to the video that is not usually your home page.
  5. Not attaching a Transcript: YouTube now has the capability of transcribing your video's audio content and attaching it to the video. This transcript can be used by the closed caption option on YouTube and it can be searched by search engines giving your video a better chance of being found by people interested in the content. (See How to add Closed Captioning on YouTube Videos).
  6. Video Blog Misuse: There is nothing wrong with video blogs but I've often seen blogs that are just a series of videos posted with no other information. If you are going to use videos as blog posts, especially if you are going to use video exclusively for blog posts, use the transcript (see No. 5) as the text in the blog. This will help with search engines and give people who prefer to read another option. At the very least give a description of the video so viewers know what it is about.
  7. Making the Video Too long: There is no optimal length for an online video but remember you do not have a captive audience. They can turn off the video at any time. Use the analytics tools in YouTube to see when people stop watching your video and you'll get a good idea how long your next video should be. In most cases you have 10 seconds to convince your viewer to keep watching.
  8. Poor Quality: If the quality of the video makes it difficult to follow, hear or watch it will do more harm than good. This does not mean that every video needs to be a Hollywood production but it does mean the quality should not get in the way of the message.
  9. Using the wrong video in the wrong place: For business and marketing videos there are generally three types of online video but they are often used in the wrong way. Outreach videos are distributed widely and encourage people to visit your website. Landing page or closing videos tell the visitor why they should buy your product or service. Post sales engagement videos such as training videos help your customers after the sale. The exact mix of these videos change from business to business but think about what video fits best with your prospects in your sales process. For more information take a look at my blog: The 3 Stages of Video Marketing.
  10. The video does not represent the organization: Just because a video gets lots of viewers does not mean it is a good video for your organization or company. The video must represent the values of the organization not only in its message but in its production values and style. An investment company should expect to make one type of video and a quirky, avant garde restaurant another type of video.

It is important to think about how a video will be viewed by your potential customers, how it represents your business and what you want them to do after they have viewed the video. Your goal should not only be to get viewers but to get the right viewers, people who need your services or product. Videos are not only about broadcasting a message but in providing value. Make something valuable and do not forget to have a call to action.

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Everyone wants to get a better return from their marketing spend at Trade Shows. Some companies are doing this extraordinarily well. How is your company doing?

Here are three tips on how companies are using sales 2.0 Strategies & Technologies to generate more leads, close more sales and take away business from your competitors at Trade Shows.

1. Pre Convention Marketing - Use a Robot.

Use a marketing automation system, which connects to your CRM system, to automatically perform a number of presale and follow-up tasks

You can gauge interest from the potential attendees before the convention by sending them educational and problem-solving material in videos via email. The material should be focussed on solutions and not slogans or sales.

2. At the Convention.

Use this time wisely. Don't have your marketing people scrambling to collect business cards, writing notes on them which will make no sense in 2 weeks to the sales force.

Have your marketing people engage with the attendees and get the attendees committed to registering for more information, to be delivered at a later date by email.

3. Post Convention Follow -Up Marketing Automation

Engage and follow-up with attendees at least 20 times before, during, and after the trade show.

Automate this process so that your salespeople can focus specifically on communicating with hot prospects rather than sending out emails and postcards.

Don't bombard attendees with overwhelming sales information. Instead, email them links to educational white papers, internet videos, and special reports that will produce a better educated customer.

Now, your hot prospects will request more information--but with no sales pressure. Your company will be considered an invaluable source of information.

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I continue to be amazed by the number of sales people who feel that LinkedIn doesn't provide any value to them.

Yet, these same people spend countless hours on Facebook telling people what they ate for breakfast, are leaving for work, or entering YouTube links. How is that a benefit to your bank account?

My feelings about LinkedIn are not theoretical and I'm not a paid advertiser of it. I am a beneficiary of this social media/marketing platform. I've personally used LinkedIn to build three businesses with this website as a lead source.

Recently, I spoke to a skeptical sales team about LinkedIn and the opportunity it provides.

Two minutes before I was going to demonstrate how to use this medium, I received an email from the president of a company interested in hiring me for sales management consulting who had found me through an article I published on LinkedIn. Rather than start the LinkedIn discussion with a demo of the technology, I put the email up on the screen and the skepticism evaporated.

LinkedIn provides sales people with a unique lead generation opportunity. However, the operative word is unique which means that the approach needs to be geared toward this medium. Imagine having prospects coming to you rather than you chasing them. It can be done if you have the right social media strategy when using this tool. This is marketing's job, right? Wrong! It is a co-shared responsibility. They have the global responsibility for positioning your company, but there is a role for sales people to play as well.
For starters, you need to take the approach that you are going to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry...an expert. Remember, as a sales person, you know more about your solutions than your prospective clients regardless of their titles. You track industry movement and trends...much more than the users of your products. This approach sets you on your mission of providing value with the goal of positioning yourself as an expert in your space. This will lead people to want to be associated with (or linked) to you.

The first step is to review your profile page on LinkedIn. What message is conveyed to someone who is reviewing your profile? This is where many sales people get stuck. They try to use their LinkedIn profile for multiple purposes...network with friends (save that for Facebook), leave the door open for a job search, and business development. That approach doesn't work as there is no clear message as to why you are on LinkedIn or what you seek to accomplish.

If your plan is to use LinkedIn for lead generation or business development, your approach should be linear. Your profile and recommendations should clearly position your role in your industry. Since you are not using LinkedIn, in this instance, for a job search, there is no reason to list jobs that don't reinforce your expertise. Provide only the information that helps paint the picture for the impression you want profile visitors to have of you.

When writing your bio, don't shoot for length...aim for focus. A one-paragraph bio that positions you in your industry as an expert is the goal. In this instance, people don't care about your personal information. If you aren't sure your bio conveys the desired message, have your peers read it and ask what message they derive from it.

Testimonials are very important. Your company probably has plenty of references for its product, service, or technology offering. However, your LinkedIn testimonials should be about you. What value do your clients receive by working with you? How do you support their account? Invite those whom you have earned the right to request a testimonial about their experience in working with you. The goal is not to get them to write that you are a sweetheart, but rather the results they received from working with you.

Remember, your profile serves as the foundation for everything else you will do on LinkedIn. All roads lead back to this page.
With your profile developed, the next step is to join groups. Again, the goal is to be linear. As a free member on LinkedIn, you can join up to 50 groups. It may seem like a lot, but you'll be surprised how quickly you use them. Using the search function at the top of the page on LinkedIn, search for groups using keywords that will show where your target clients are. If you are in employment screening, you may want to search on security, security professionals, small business, human resources, human resources professionals, etc.

The search will return a list of groups shown in order of number of members with the largest groups shown first. Join the largest ones, right? Nope! How can you be visible with 50,000 members? You'll get lost.

Ideally, join groups that have between 1,000 and 5,000 members. At that size, the group has enough mass to justify your time investment, but is not so large that you can't make yourself visible.

Once you are accepted into the group, there are a number of things you can do. Remember, your mission is to provide value first, not seeking to get buyers. Review the active discussions and participate in those where you can provide key insight. Resist the temptation to hawk your product here. Value first! (A suggestion...compose your responses using Word so you can spell/grammar check what you have written. LinkedIn does not have that functionality.)

You can also create discussions in groups. Don't create discussions that directly map back to the sale of your product. The group members will blast you for that. Use this opportunity to get key insight into the challenges that your buyers are experiencing. If you sell for a risk mitigation firm, you could create a discussion around the H1N1 pandemic and how organizations are handling this issue.

When people participate in discussions, their photo and link to their profile page are provided next to their comments. (Now, you see why your profile page is so important.) When readers are intrigued by comments, they research the author. When you are engaged in online discussions in a group, you can invite the member into your LinkedIn network. (Don't use the LinkedIn invite template...craft your own message.)

Once the members are in your network, you have a number of ways you can communicate with them. Remember, focus on value in every interaction. Want to learn more secrets to using LinkedIn for lead generation, get my FREE LinkedIn tipsheet. (Note. Before embarking on this journey, be sure to review your company's social media policy and/or check with your manager for approval.)

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Marketers have successfully used direct mail to sell just about every product and service you can imagine, at just about every price you can imagine as well.

So if you're taking a look at direct mail to sell your own product or service, you're on the right track.

But let's back up a step. In order to sell, you need customers. Happily, there is no better medium than direct mail for finding potential customers -- and for turning them into paying ones.

Four advantages unique to direct mail make this possible:

1. Direct mail is targeted. Want to reach prospects within five miles (or more!) of your location? There's a mailing list. Want to reach people who buy sweaters? There's a list. People whose demographics and interests resemble those of customers you already have? Yes, there's a list.

This targeting ability is extremely valuable. If your product or service applies to, say, one in 100 people, using mass media to reach all 100 people wastes 99ยข of every dollar you spend. Direct mail lets you target the one, effectively multiplying the power of your advertising 100 times -- without costing you a penny extra.

2. Direct mail is interactive. It is a medium that can call people by name on first contact. Moreover, direct mail creates dialog, by letting people reply to you. That way, you can build and mine a database of customers, along with their interests, habits and purchases.

3. Direct mail cannot be ignored. There is one way for people to sort mail: by looking at it. So when your direct mail communicates a benefit and a strong brand, you're getting your message across to 100 percent of your target.

4. People like mail. At work and at home, people look forward to receiving and looking through their mail. That can't be said for all marketing mediums.

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Social media can snowball and make things worse if your social media responses are automated

Take the case of a woman who was killed in a car accident in 2010. A family member recently wrote a blog post talking about the accident and going on to illustrate how Progressive failed to help them, and explains that not only did they not honor his sister's policy, but when the case went to court, Progressive lawyers defended the man who killed his sister.

This, of course, traveled like wildfire across the internet, and people naturally started flocking to Progressive's social media sites. Here is where things got tricky....

On Twitter, they tried to do the right thing. They posted a comment that read:

"This is a tragic case, and our sympathies go out to Mr. Fisher and his family for the pain they've had to endure.

We fully investigated this claim and relevant background, and feel we properly handled the claim within our contractual obligations.

Again, this is a tragic situation, and we're sorry for everything Mr. Fisher and his family have gone through."

So far, so good, except that it went over the 140 character limit so the message was shortened. That's still not awful in the grand scheme of things.

What happened next though inflamed already upset people - every time a Twitter user commented on the company's Twitter page, they sent the same message, over and over again.

What started out as a seemingly sincere comment now became automated and spam-like, which angered people even more.

Over on their Facebook page, the comments piled up. Thanks to the new timeline, these comments don't crowd a company's wall like they once did, but they are still visible and easy to access. I have reviewed their page and do not see any reference to this issue anywhere; in fact, they fell silent on the 13th, which is the same day the blog post was written.

It is possible they stopped their social media initiatives once they attempted to address the situation on Twitter and it didn't go so well. It's not stopping people from commenting though, and fans who were unaware of this recent development are now fully aware and potentially adding to the conversation.

Social media is difficult, especially in a crisis situation. Unfortunately, that is the time that you have to be the most careful and do the right thing since you are under a virtual microscope. It will be interesting to see how Progressive bounces back from this from a social media perspective; it's a good lesson to learn though.

Social media needs to be genuine and not automated - sincerity can go a long way, but it needs to be genuine and transparent.

Every company needs to use these real-life examples as a talking point within their company and have a concrete social media plan for this type of situation.

It will happen to every company, on some level, at one time or another, and it's best to be prepared.

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2015 listed from newest to oldest.

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