Recently in Networks Category

When you are a big well respected company like Jacksonville, Florida based Paul Davis, lots of people come to you for your knowledge and expertise. The area of restoration and repairs, particulary after this awful spate of hurricanes, floods and now fires, is a busy one.

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Unfortunately, most of the calls that the EMS division of Paul Davis (Emergency Services--damage evaluation) receive brings them to an unhappy scene.

A house severely damaged or even lost, a teary-eyed family searching through what belongings may be saved. One can't help but sympathize with the emotions and difficulties these victims experience.

A full Paul Davis Restoration team then moves in to clean up and repair the scenes after evaluation. Not a happy time but often it does end up with a happy ending.

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Even without Mother Nature's huge events, common hazards of life can cause chaos. One is extreme cold; but surprisingly, there are easy and inexpensive things to do so you never have to deal with this particular problem.

On December 7th Paul Davis' "flood house", a demo home at their state-of-the-art training facility in Jacksonville, was used by consumer journalist Jeff Rossen to demonstrate all the ways in which one can avoid bursting pipes and other cold weather hazards.

We have shared here: https://www.today.com/home/how-avoid-bursting-pipes-costly-repairs-winter-t119612

Full segment: http://on.today.com/2zX7kTK


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Contrary to popular thinking, content is not king and cold calling is not dead.

Some marketers have begun to think if they do a great job at B2B social media, then qualified prospects will rain in. Grizzled sales veterans contend it's still all about building personal relationships.

The fact is, building and nurturing a business-to-business pipeline requires a delicate balance of both new social media approaches and old school prospecting.

Most companies don't get "invited to the party" because prospects don't even know you exist. While the search engine optimization (SEO) value of your content can generate leads, you will grow old waiting for it to fuel a solid pipeline.

You need to develop and qualify a prospect list and reach out to them with a thought-provoking combination of traditional mail, email and phone calls. Occasionally you will get lucky and reach a prospect with an immediate need.

But more often, if there is a glimmer of interest, the prospect becomes aware of you and will begin to pay attention to your content - either passively as you email it to them, or actively following you on Twitter, LinkedIn or your blog.

And so begins the nurturing process. When they click through an email or retweet a post, your sales team takes notice.

They happen to leave messages with prospects about the very topic they expressed interest in. The dance continues until you raise their level of interest and interaction or you get a definite "no."

Any shred of new information, whether it's a development in their company or a manner in which they respond, informs your next move.

If there is no response, back them off to a maintenance level of contact and move on to another manageable wave on your list.

There is no substitute for old school prospecting.

But it is a wasted effort today if it's not supported by rich content. That's where social media marketing champions are exactly right - B2B prospects will do their homework.

(They do want to feel like connecting with you was their idea. That's fine, we won't tell them differently!)

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]

(This was originally published in Progress Magazine, Volume 21 No. 5, and is relevant for all regional economic centers, not just Atlantic Canada.)

When it comes to developing partnerships and maximizing partner relations for business growth (and to strengthening Atlantic Canadian business overall), there are a number of online strategies that can support that process. In fact, neglecting these strategies often results in missed opportunities.

Here are four strategies to help your organization build partnerships with potential clients, investors, advocates, employees and other businesses.

1.Connect on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the most powerful tools today for building partnerships, so when you send an invitation to connect, write a short personal greeting. You'll be remembered for this. Ask for an introduction when you need one. Join and participate in relevant groups. Don't be shy. LinkedIn's entire purpose is to help people connect. Use it.

2. Monitor and Engage with Twitter Lists

Creating Twitter lists is a powerful way to stay connected with partners, stay on top of their activities, provide support and strengthen relationships. Lists cut through all the chatter and allow you to focus solely on the users whose activity you want to see.

From there you can share their content and engage proactively. Lists can be public, which is perfect when you want to make a display of your support. They can also be private when you want to keep a personal eye on things.

3. Link to Your Partners

Once partnerships are established and if you want to let the world know, use your online platforms to make the partnerships as visible as possible. Put their logos on your website. Share their blog posts through your social channels. Feature them on your site in interviews or partner profiles. This isn't fitting for every partnership, but when it works it can be a powerful promotional tool that benefits you both.

4. Stay Top-of-Mind

Use online tools to make sure your partners know that you're thinking of them. If you come across an article you know your partner would like, email the link. Send happy birthday tweets or more personal notes when special occasions occur. Celebrate successes by congratulating partners on milestones you come across on LinkedIn or by retweeting their good news.

Above all, be authentic in your online development and support of partners.

Also, consider where we would be collectively if all Atlantic Canadian businesses began to see everything other Atlantic Canadian business as a partner. Maybe it's time to break down the online (and offline) barriers and discover the difference we could make if we all truly did support each other.

Many customers need education or training before you can sell them your product or service.

And, they need to see themselves using your product or service before you can sell to them. The education or training of your customers or probable customers is done through a nurturing program.

Top of Mind Programs

A nurturing program can have a modest goal - to remain top of mind with a group of customers who will be in the market for your services or products.

From 1963-1977, Joe Girard sold an amazing number of cars-- 13,001 in his 15 year career! More than 6 cars a day, day in day out, for 15 years. 6 cars a day is more than many entire dealerships do.

How did he do it? He hand wrote and mailed greeting cards to everyone on his list. Regularly, once a month, if you were on Joe's list, you got a greeting card from Joe saying: "I Like You."

Joe Girard was simply reminding people that when it came to buying a car, Joe was thinking about them. Not a long or overcomplicated message. Not a message about cars, either. Just a reminder.

Effective, in part, because it was so time consuming. Joe's list at the end of his career was over 16,000 names & addresses. Girard's messages, all hand written, all sent by mail, like clockwork each month.

Shows a certain doggedness or relentlessness, don't you think? Probably trust a guy like that to get you a good deal.

Nurturing Programs

There is nothing wrong remaining top of mind for the right message. Indeed, you have to start with a Top of Mind program, or set of tools.

But, more modern nurturing programs go beyond just being top of mind. They are designed to establish you as an expert in the eyes of your customers, prospects and a "community of interest".

Modern nurturing programs aslso try to expand the reach of your message from customers to people just like your customers - but who aren't sold, yet.

Business Example - Premier Automotive - Standard Use of Customer List

For example, suppose you are an Premier Automotive trying to build out your business by sending out a coupon monthly for a discounted oil change.


oil 2.pngThere are (4) things wrong with this strategy.

1. You are building customer traffic, but not retaining enough of them to make up for the price of the discounts

2. You are training your current customers to be disloyal or shop solely on price.

3. You are not reaching past your customer list - nobody is going to share their coupon into their own network.

4. Finally, being top of mind for the annnoying message - get an oil change- is not where you want to be.

Nurturing Message

On the other hand, you could try this type message - send this to your current customer list, with the offer on the left hand side.

This message is intended to establish you as an authority beyond their own customer list.


When should you buy more more expensive oil for your car?

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Science has confirmed what many NASCAR teams already know: synthetic oils last longer, provide better protection and form less sludge and deposits.

The protection or greater performance was much greater in two situations:

1. Start-ups. or;
2. Extended highway driving.

But, when does it make sense for you to buy the more expensive synthetic oil because it lasts longer, provides better performance?

Well, a simple calculation is that if you plan to drive your current car for more than 100,000 miles, it makes sense to purchase synthetic oil, now.

And, at Premier Automotive, we have both types of oil and we would be happy to to explain in more detail to you in person which oil is right for you. ( A hyper link to a longer & objective scientific discussion.)

This nurturing message is more likely to convert casual customers into loyal & interested customers than simply sending a discount coupon on a monthly basis.

Which do you think will work better? Discount alone or discount with objective story about when to change your oil - especially if the story is sent out on a timely basis?

(Source Idea: - Tom's Sant Language of Success pages 189-190)

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]

That is a question we should all be asking.

Then we should decide if the answer matters to us or our business. 

If you are Erbert and Gerbert's Sandwich Shops and a Subway franchisee is going to several of your locations buying and tasting your sandwiches, there isn't much you can do about that.

But if you are Erbert and Gerbert's Sandwich Shop and Subway's HR person calls your best development person, or contacts them through LinkedIn for an interview, you need to ponder that dilemma and decide if and how to combat it.

We are in an age of lots of connection!  Do you have employees sending out resumes from the office computer? You can track that. Are they posting their resume on LinkedIn with notes such as "Looking for Job Opportunities"?  That's another matter. 

There is always the standard non-compete agreement which you can ask an employee to sign upon hiring.  Make sure the agreement is legal and protects you from the things that matter.  No need to put a bunch of items in that you can't enforce and do not matter to you and your business. 

I've always found in my thirty years in franchise PR, that an employee that is gone should be gone.  In other words, even if they seemed ideal, if they can be stolen, they shouldn't be in your shop. If you've let them go and they end up at a competitor, well that's his/her new headache, and no longer yours.  You know why you terminated them. Let your competitor find out too!

Then there is the matter in our case of clients stealing employees. I use the word "steal" but can they really do that? It's a human being.  Is it ethical? No   Is it legal? Yes, unless you have a non-compete agreement worded properly that forbids that action.  Even then you can ask for no more than a year-long reprieve. The upside? You got rid of a client with questionable character and an easily bought, disloyal employee.

My favorite is when you have been working with a company for years; they see how well you are doing and decide to go into your industry, in our case PR, by shopping your business or your competitors' for people.  

This scenario teaches you so much about people, loyalty and business that any possible damage that can be done by the occurrence is totally exceeded by the brilliant lessons you learn from it.

In this scenario, they likely end up with all the industry misfits that couldn't make it at the competitors' shops and really, when you look at all the pieces together, what's missing is the burning passion and talent that drove you to start your own PR firm, franchise service business, restaurant chain, consulting business, whatever you have created that built a name for you to begin with.

In other words, don't sweat it. The joke's on your competitor!

This post is the first of a four-part series co-written by Privy and On The Spot Systems to share some of the easiest and smartest ways to get new customers and turn them into repeat customers. 

In the daily grind of the business world sometimes it's easy to take certain 'best practices' for granted, so we've written a series of articles to review some of the key value-adding benefits of connecting online promotions, guest segments and guest satisfaction surveys within food service and restaurant businesses.

They will cover four steps: 

1. The Power of an Email Address

Every restaurant wants customer email addresses - but why?  Naturally, to reach out to consumers to inspire them to come visit your restaurant more frequently. 

The truth is, people don't want to hear from your restaurant unless you have something relevant to say. 

So, it's up to restaurants to understand what each individual customer appreciates so the messaging can be tailored to them. If your restaurant is able to do this successfully, you'll notice a un-take in your foot-traffic from customers returning more frequently.

But how do you collect email addresses and understand what each person behind the email address wants to hear?

2. Promotions Earn Email Addresses

Here's the short answer: offer a promotion in exchange for an email address and track where that person redeems the promotion.  People now do research online before they choose where to eat - that's why restaurants have websites, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and more.  Use these platforms to your advantage!  Use them to collect consumer contact information so you can own relationships with customers and get them to come back when you want, not only when they simply feel like it.

3. Surveys Earn Email Addresses

Are you already running mobile surveys to understand how your customers enjoyed (or didn't enjoy) your in-store experience? It's the same as a comment card, except for the 21st century.

Take the opportunity to ask customers for their email address within your mobile survey so you can both learn how to improve your in-store experience and collect information on a customer including the context of which location they visited, what meals they like to eat out, and what they liked or didn't like about your food.

4. You Must Track!

It's important that you track this information so you can begin to link important details about your customers, such as their contact information, what menu items they like, and which location they prefer to visit most frequently. This will enable you to effectively manage Step 2: Create strong customer segments.

If you don't have the most advanced customer tracking across all of your web properties and POS systems, don't worry!  There are other ways to segment your customers accurately and effectively.

5. Easy Tracking Tips

First, don't be overwhelmed by all the ways you could track customers; in reality there are only two ways you need to consider segmenting your audience of customers. One way is demographically - age, gender, zip code, etc. The other is contextually - are they a repeat customer? A first time visitor? Did someone refer them?

Do they follow you on social media or do they glance at your website from time to time?  Did they come on a whim or did they decide to visit because of an offer they received? The common denominator between all of these attributes is that your customers can answer these questions for you, even if your analytics tracking capabilities can't. 

Feeling overwhelmed? Try starting out by choosing just one demographic attribute and one contextual attribute. For example, say you want to segment customers based on their location for demographics, and based on if they are a repeat customer from a contextual standpoint. Many advanced mobile survey tools can automatically pinpoint the gps location of the respondent and the store location being critiqued, so you don't have to worry about that aspect.

And, if your POS analytics capabilities aren't set up to track metrics like repeat customers, that's okay. To make sure your data is completely fool-proof, don't be afraid to do the obvious- just ask! Simply build questions like 'How often do you visit our restaurant?' into your mobile customer satisfaction survey and email club signup form.

Once you collect contact information from various sources and build context around those customers, you will be able to create smart segments.

For more articles by Julie Ricchuito, please click here.

Yes, content is king. AND...using it properly through social networks is a crucial component of franchise growth.

Consumers today trust the information they find through social networks - what their peers have to say, the posts they find, the way franchises treat their audience - more than most other resources.

More than 70% of consumers purchase from brands they follow online.

So, what does this mean for franchises? They need to be using social networks properly. This means more than simply setting up a Facebook page. It means carefully choosing which networks to participate in and then engaging with them consistently.

The first step, of course, is selecting which networks are right for your franchise's participation.

Here are the issues.

1. Is your audience there? Is your competition there? If yes to both, you most certainly need to be there. If your audience is not there, it may not be a place you need to be.

2. Once you've decided where you need to be, you must determine whether to setup brand pages only or pages for each franchise location. This decision would ideally be part of setting up a whole-franchise online marketing model, created with input from franchisor and franchisees.

After you have pages setup, content is the new task at hand.

1. What types of content do you post and where? Different platforms require content to be presented in different ways. However, before deciding what goes where comes the process simply of identifying what types of content your audience would want to see from you.

2. Keep this in mind while creating content: limit self-promotion to less than 20% of your content. This means that if you put out 10 posts each week, only two of them would be "promotional" in nature. In our opinion, this is still too much.

We recommend staying under 10% and to focusing on how you can benefit your audience rather than how you can sell to them.

This does not mean hiding from your products and services, however. It simply means engaging with social media in such a way that you are focused on helping others rather than helping yourself.

For example, posting a photo of a newly created menu item with its ingredients (except for your secret ingredients, of course) is a great way to engage the audience. It is also helpful to them because they could try something similar on their own.

Realize here that you're not "giving it away" by giving them an idea for a recipe. You're inspiring them to create a delicious dish, and when they want the "real thing" they'll come see you.

Compare that with simply posting the photo with words such as, "Today only special - $9.95." That type of post feels very different. Instead of being inspiring it feels self-serving. The audience picks up on that.

Using that as a guide, consider the following: What could you post that would help your audience in some way?

  1. How can you inspire them?
  2. How can you inform them?
  3. How can you entertain them?
  4. How can you motivate them?
  5. How can you educate them?

And...how can you do those things by posting content that is relevant to your industry?

Consider media such as videos and images.

People love to be visually engaged. You may want to consider creating your own infographics or photo postcards, as well. Videos might be ones you create yourself, such as how-to tutorials or web TV episodes. They may also be entertaining clips from YouTube that you know your audience will enjoy.

Look around for quotes by other experts in your industry. Consider adding these quotes to images to make them more visual, too. Sharing the quotes form one of your own experts can be very effective, as well.

Locate articles that would be beneficial to your audience. LinkedIn can be a great resource for that, as well as other news sources.

Blog directories like alltop.com can also help you identify current articles and information.

You should also create your own content, post it on your blog and share on social media, as well. This is one of the best ways to establish your expertise and to link back to your website in a non-self-promotional sort of way.

Other types of content might include how-to tips and industry facts or statistics, and there are many, many others.

This is really just the beginning. Once you identify the types of content you want to share, posts must be created for unique audiences on each social network. The same content shouldn't go out to every social network because users want different things.

As a very brief overview, which is by no means exclusive and is only a starting point for a tailored investigation as to what YOUR audience would specifically be looking for on each platform, here are some hints:

1. Facebook users want to be engaged. Post lots of visuals. Speak to the heart. Entertain them. Make it personal. Ask them questions and encourage them to be part of the conversation.

2. Twitter users want quick, short bits that can sink in quickly. They like lots of quick tips and article links, and videos and images work here, too.

3. LinkedIn users want professional, educational resources. Think informative articles from well-respected sources.

4. Pinterest users want images, of course. Google Plus users want informative, mostly tech-related articles.

Content creation and distribution is just the beginning. Monitoring, engagement and customer service all go hand-in-hand to optimize your social media marketing. The foundation of online communication and relationship-building, however, is great content.

Once you have that, you have a great start!

For more of Frances Leary's marketing advice for franchises, click here.

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