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Perform a search for the word “franchise” on CareerBuilder and it will give you several thousand matches nationwide with a fair share of the results having the tagline: Be Your Own Boss. Working for yourself is a laudable dream and franchising may be the way to achieve it, as long as you ask the right questions.
Is it legit?
Before getting into brand identity, net assets or business plans, make certain that you are not getting ripped off. With the increase in franchise businesses over the last couple of years comes an increase in scams. Buying a franchise means that you are buying a brand’s reputation. A legitimate franchise wants you to succeed because it reflects well on the corporation as a whole. If they are pressuring you to become a franchisee or promising you wild returns on your investment, these are red flags of franchise fraud.
Is it right for me?
This question is very subjective. It asks you to look inward then make predictions about your future. This is not always the easiest of tasks to perform honestly and accurately. If your goal is to make money, there may be other ways to do this that are more effective. As an example, if you are thinking of getting a restaurant franchise, the national average salary for a restaurant owner is a little less than $54,000 annually. You can make that salary as a physical fitness trainer, an event planner or a flight attendant and none of these careers require extensive schooling. Author and vocational expert Marsha Sinetar tells us to do what we love and the money will follow. Remember that buying a franchise is more than getting a business. It is buying into a career.
How much money do I need?
Outside of the franchise fee, be prepared for additional business costs. Let’s look at a Jamba Juice franchise. The franchise fee is $25,000. Yet they recommend a minimum liquid asset of $350,000 and a net worth of at least $1 million. The 25K pays for the right to use the name. The rest of the money pays for employees, rent and insurance. And the list of expenses does not stop there. Here is where a good business plan is in order. Contact a payroll provider like Intuit to see if they can take some of the accounting burden off of you and save you some money. They can also help you develop a hiring strategy and create a payroll budget, which will be your largest budgetary item. Put together a budget that accounts for all of the costs, both direct and indirect, since this is what you will need to show to a potential lender. Bottom line, listen to the franchise organization. Their business model is one of the things that you are purchasing with your franchise fee.
When it comes to social media analytics, Twitter is often overlooked.
However, developing an understanding of who is following on Twitter can have a big impact on your business.
Find Twitter Analytics Tools
There are many tools and apps available to help you conduct some research on the people who are following you on Twitter.
You can glean some very useful information that can help you improve your social media marketing efforts once you know who these people are and why they are choosing to follow you.
Study Audience Demographics
Studying who is following you will give you statistics on your follower’s demographics. You can find out your follower’s age, sex, and location.
You may be surprised to see who these people really are who are following you.
For example, if you own a local business, you may learn that you have national or even international followers who are reading your tweets.
Reach Your Target Audience
Understanding your Twitter followers can help ensure you are targeting the right audience.
For example, if you sell products geared toward the elderly, you may have thought your tweets needed to target their children. You may be surprised to learn that you have many elderly followers who are apparently familiar with Twitter.
Your research may also show you that your marketing is right on target with the people you are hoping to reach. Either way, you can adjust the topics you tweet about according to your marketing needs.
Learn What Your Followers Tweet About
Many analytics tools also allow you to see what your followers are tweeting about. This could be very helpful information for many businesses and retailers.
For example, one jewelry store may discover that many of their followers are tweeting about fashion. However, another jewelry store may have followers who are tweeting about weddings, and a third jewelry store may have followers who are mostly talking about their children.
Once you know what your followers are most interested in tweeting about, you can join the conversations. You may gain more retweets and mentions once you’re on par with your follower’s discussions.
Reduce Spam and Bots
Learning more about your followers can also help you reduce spam.
Unfortunately, there are many bots out there and fake accounts that can wreak havoc on your social media efforts. They post spam and even try to hack into your account.
There are several apps that can help you identify probable spammers and bots that are following you. Once you identify them, you can report them and stop them from following you.
This can reduce the chances that they’ll be able to hurt your brand by mentioning you in spam messages or by sending direct messages to your other followers.
Study the Competition
If learning about your own followers isn’t enough, you can also study up on your competition. There are apps and tools that allow you to run comparisons between your followers and your competitor’s followers.
Learn what your competitor’s followers are tweeting about and find out their demographics. This can help you determine if you need to make any changes to your Twitter strategies to ensure that you’re attracting the right audience for your business.
The more you know about your Twitter followers the more you’ll be able to ensure your social media strategies are meeting their needs.
About the Author: Amy Morin writes about psychology and business related topics such as online reputation management.
For many business owners, landing new clients is the name of the game. The majority of their marketing money and focus goes toward attracting new customers.
But if you’re spending all of your resources on finding new clients, you may be neglecting an important source of revenue: Current and former clients.
Here’s why it’s important to nurture those relationships with people who’ve already purchased from you:
They already know and trust you
When you’re marketing to new clients, you have to spend time building trust and convincing them that you can provide the product or service they need, at a great value.
Your former clients already know you, though. You don’t have to waste advertising dollars explaining why you’re the best company for the job — they already know what you can do.
And, assuming you gave them great service the first time around, they’ll be happy to come to you next time they need what you have to offer. You just have to remind them that you’re there.
They can provide additional revenue through upsells
A new client may be leery of the additional items or more expensive service packages you offer them. They’re likely to feel that they don’t know you well enough yet to make those additional purchases.
But your former clients should already be sold on your services.
They understand the value you offer, and you’ll have an easier time convincing them that your additional products or services will be worth the investment.
They’re a great source of referrals
By far the easiest way to land a new client is to be referred by his or her colleague, friend, or family member. By asking your former clients for referrals, you stand a much better chance of making a sale.
You can build your relationship with your former client at the same time by offering an incentive or reward for referrals.
This can give your sales a significant boost, as you keep your name fresh in your former client’s mind while gaining new clients she sends your way.
Keep in touch without becoming a pest
So how do you nurture those former client relationships without making them feel hassled by your e-mails, calls, or direct mail?
There are several low-pressure ways to keep in touch:
• Provide valuable, relevant news from your industry or local market. Keep your former clients on an email or direct mail list, and send a regular newsletter to keep them updated on current information they’ll find useful.
• Send cards for events such as your client’s anniversary with your company.
• Make a follow-up call to your client a few weeks or months after their purchase, to make sure things are still going well and they’re still happy. Showing you care about the sale, even so long after the fact, will make a memorable impression and increase the likelihood of another sale or referral.
Marketing to former clients is overlooked by some companies in favor of always bringing in new customers.
But those who have bought from you in the past can be a valuable source of business, and you could be leaving a lot of money on the table if you ignore them.
About the Author: Freelance blogger Angie Mansfield covers a variety of subjects for small business owners. From business growth to marketing to logo mats, her work will give you tips to keep your business running smoothly.
Social media conferences can offer specific insights and ideas that can skyrocket your social media marketing efforts.
However, not all social media conferences are created alike.
Look for a social media conference that will give you specific ways to improve your social media strategy.
1. New Ways to Attract Attention
Social media changes constantly.
The ways people used Facebook and Twitter in the past just don’t work anymore. A good social media conference should provide you with the latest ways to attract attention to your social media campaign.
A helpful conference will teach you specific things you can start doing today to improve your marketing efforts.
Rather than simply giving you an overview of social media, a good conference will give you action steps that will help you attract a bigger following.
2. Strategies to Engage Followers
The most helpful conferences will teach you how to engage your followers.
Simply having a large audience won’t do you any good. Instead, you need to get your audience involved.
You should learn ways to get people talking about your Facebook posts, Youtube videos and Tweets. The more people share, like, and comment on your content, the more people you’ll attract.
3. Knowledge about Which Platforms Work Best
Social media can be overwhelming.
Every day there are new social media platforms emerging and lots of differing opinions about which platforms are most important.
It can be overwhelming for many small businesses to keep up with social media efforts. A good conference should help you determine where to best concentrate your efforts.
While Facebook may work best for some businesses, other businesses may thrive on Vine.
A good conference will help you learn how to determine which platforms you should use so you can be efficient with your social media efforts.
4. Information on the Latest Tools and Apps
There are many social media tools and apps which can be extremely helpful to small businesses. However, it’s hard to know which ones are best and how they work.
There are various ways in which tools and apps can help you save time and become more efficient with your social media efforts.
Some businesses may benefit from an app that tells them which hashtags are best, other businesses may benefit from a tool that publishes the same content to all their social media platforms simultaneously.
A good conference should explain the best apps and tools and you should walk away feeling confident about how they can help your business.
You should also learn where to find the latest information on tools and apps so you can explore them in the future.
5. Success Stories
A helpful conference should discuss specific case studies and success stories.
The success stories should not just discuss successful businesses, however. Instead, they should focus on how social media helped these businesses grow.
Case studies should offer specific insights and information about how each business used social media to improve their marketing efforts. Based on these case studies, a good conference will help you see how you can apply these methods to your social media efforts.
Look for a social media conference that will give you specific information on how to grow your business.
Walking away with new insights that you can apply to your social media efforts will be most helpful in improving your social media efforts.
About the Author: Amy Morin writes about parenting, psychology, business and topics such as auto insurance California.
Colleges now view an applicant’s social media profile 26 percent of the time, and according to a Kaplan Test Prep 2012 study, 35 percent of the impressions were negative. The social media stream also flows in the other direction, as universities are using social media to recruit and engage students. Ninety-seven percent use Facebook, and at 82 percent, Twitter is not far behind. Schools promote programs and post admissions deadlines, and the response has been universally positive. Below are six institutions of higher learning with a social media mission.
Ohio State University
In today’s age of media and marketing transparency, Ohio State University offers a refreshing behind-the-scenes look at the administration. The Columbus, Ohio-based university, famous for its buckeye fanatic following, features the university president Tweeting regularly, even requesting movie suggestions and generally remaining accessible to the community. The school also offers students a webpage communicating the top guidelines for ensuring students use it wisely.
Many online universities emphasize strongly engaging with students via social media platforms because meeting on campus is not possible. Penn Foster dedicates a webpage exclusively to social media with a section for each media type. The YouTube link includes a group of professionally polished marketing videos, student interviews and career presentations, and it sponsors a Pinterest contest with stuffed animal and college swag prizes for the students who pin the most Penn Foster education related posts.
Reed College in Portland, Ore., gets digital points for simply having a social media presence. The famously anti-establishment school that has no formal grades and an extracurricular club for protesting, was the central location in the book “Blue Like Jazz,” by Donald Miller, which was adapted into a film in 2012. The Facebook page features goats from a neighboring farm mowing the campus lawn, the Paradox student-run coffee shop, a professor Poe poetry reading, and the college president posing with a student dressed like Gumby.
University of Nevada at Reno
The University of Nevada at Reno naturally has an association with the legends of the Old West, and in a truly unique marketing move, it created Facebook profiles for former students from the early 20th century who are now deceased. The university wanted to emphasize the university’s enduring tradition and bring to life the campus from 100 years ago. The profiles for engineering student Joe MacDonald and Leona Lewis track their posts with concerns about tests and competitive excitement for approaching football games.The couple eventually married after graduation in 1917.
University of Georgia
Social is a way of life at University of Georgia, where 50 percent of students are Greek, and it won’t do to show up at the football games late without a date. The campus social media enthusiasm is no surprise. UGA has a college admissions app, with more than 70,000 downloads recorded in 2012, that informs students immediately following an admissions decision. Students can open the app on admissions decision day and immediately view the acceptance or rejection verdict.
Harvard University has a social media webpage directory as ambitious as its student body, that lists a streamlined list of the media categories — Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, etc. — alongside the departments that use them to post updates. A steady Twitter feed anchors one side of the page.
Social networking can be an effective way to promote brand awareness and customer engagement. Aside from that, it can also be used as a platform for marketing campaigns of businesses.
Large corporations as well as small enterprises found the need to get involved in various social networking sites for it is a practical way to reach out to their target consumers and perform several business processes.
Measuring the Success of Social Networking Efforts
Although this has been a tried and tested method for improving all sorts of business, it is still necessary to keep track of the progress that your efforts bring. Ways on how to monitor your progress vary from one social networking site to another.
For example, Facebook has a feature that updates Page administrators with regards to the progress of their page. This update is done weekly and it will tell you the number of people that are interested in your Facebook Page. LinkedIn also has its own version of this feature that serves as analytics for LinkedIn pages of businesses.
Aside from the mentioned ways, Google Analytics is also an efficient way to determine whether your social networking campaigns on various sites are contributing to your goal of increasing the amount of web traffic on the primary website of your business.
Ways on How to Improve the Performance of your Social Networking Sites
The success of your social networking efforts lies on several factors.
If the results of your analytics suggest that your social networking sites are not doing so well, you may want to consider the different factors listed below and determine which of these do you need to improve on:
In order to attract more subscribers for your social networking sites, you must make sure that your profile is complete. Add your company’s logo, complete all the required information, and provide a detailed description of your business as well as your products and services.
Obviously, it is more likely that people would want to subscribe to a page that provides them with enough information which makes it look credible and legit.
2. Quality of Content
One of the most crucial factors that will affect the success of your social networking sites is the quality of content posted on your company’s official accounts. Make sure that you provide readers with articles or other kinds of content that are well thought-of and presented in a creative manner.
When people see that your posts are of high-quality, not only will they regularly visit your social networking page, but will also willingly visit your main website as well.
As mentioned earlier, setting up a social networking account for your business may help in reaching out to your target consumers.
With this, it is necessary for you to build and maintain a good relationship with your subscribers or potential customers. Promptly answer any inquiries, start discussions, and participate on these in order to maximize your social presence.
Alternatively, you may also offer rewards or discounts to your followers to reinforce their behavior of being active on your page. By doing these things, you will eventually lead them to visit your main website and buy some products.
Whatever kind of business you have, social networking sites can be a great tool that can improve your company’s performance.
The high levels of brand awareness and customer interactivity as well as the positive effect of social networking on promotional campaigns can be considered as catalysts for higher sales and revenue.
However, if you feel that your social networking efforts are somehow coming up empty, just review the factors mentioned earlier and make adjustments with these things in mind.
About the Author: Tina Samuels writes on finding the best accounting software, marketing, social media, and small business topics.
Bad press can be detrimental to a company of any size but it can really affect a small business that has less of a social media presence in place to combat the negative effects.
Social media can be a wonderful tool for interacting with customers and obtaining feedback on the services that your company provides however there is a negative side to it as well.
With the freedom to say almost anything, potentially anonymously, there is very little regulation over negative feedback which may, or may not be true.
Here are some ways that your company can use social media to negate bad press.
When bad press is posted about your business it is important to respond to it immediately.
Social media allows companies a direct way to communicate with a large number of people instantaneously.
By addressing negative press regarding your company you are able to show two things. The first being that you pay attention to and value the feedback of the people who utilize your business. This sends a positive message regardless of what the topic is you are addressing.
The second way is communicating to your customers regarding the actual topic.
If the feedback is not true you can set the record straight and if it is true you can issue a public apology which will help customers trust your business more in the future.
Use Sincerity and Transparency
When dealing with public communications it is important to be strategic, however it is more important to be honest and transparent.
Customers’ value companies who they feel they can trust. When using social media you can help customers feel like they know the character of your business which will help them brush off any occasional bad press you receive.
By creating a strong relationship from the beginning you will put yourself in a position where bad press will have less of a negative impact down the road.
Make Your Voice Heard
Simply being a part of the conversation and making sure that customers get your side of the story is a huge way that social media can help you negate bad press.
Many companies are missing out on the opportunity to respond to the negative press which is being published regarding their company.
Make sure that you are cultivating a presence for your company on all of the major social media networks in order to be able to communicate with the largest number of customers and fans.
Unity across Platforms
Sending the same message on all of the media outlets is very important for companies who are responding to negative press.
If a company’s responses look scattered and fragmented, or customers are receiving different messages on different social media platforms it can hurt your business’s credibility as much as the initial bad press.
Make sure that you are executing your social media strategy across all of the platforms you are utilizing to communicate publicly with your customers.
About the Author: Thomas Verdone is an author who covers a wide range of topics, including finance, fitness, personal development, and budget help.
About the Author: Thomas Verdone is an author who covers a wide range of topics, including finance, fitness, personal development, and budget help.
In February 2011, Google temporarily penalized the rankings of J.C. Penney’s website for using an artificial linking strategy. This heralded Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, which lowered search rankings for sites deemed low quality or over-optimized. This is high drama for SEO specialists, but for the average small business website, the greater risk lies in being under-optimized. Many small businesses overlook some simple steps that are within Google’s guidelines that can help boost their search rankings.
Google’s Keyword Planner recently replaced its Keyword Tool, forcing SEO experts to adjust. Despite changing tools, basic keyword targeting principles remain constant. Many site administrators don’t develop a keyword target list, often because they lack a marketing strategy. Know who your market is and what interests them, and then use this to generate your keywords. Compile your initial list using ordinary language, then expand it using a keyword tool.
When selecting keywords, high search volume indicates high consumer interest, but this in turn indicates more competition. Your challenge is to identify keywords with sufficient market interest but low enough for feasible competition.
One way to lower competition is adding niche phrases. For example, the URL string verizonfiosdeals.com/new-york-city includes a geographical niche reference that limits search rankings to a specific area.
Position Keywords Correctly
Another mistake many sites make is failing to place target keywords in the most important place: the title tag. This header code lets search engines know what pages are about. It normally displays at the top of your browser window tab and page content. Place your page’s highest-priority keyword here.
To appeal to human readers as well as Google, your title tag must be readable and relevant. Use natural phrasing, and remember that search engines only index your first 70 characters. As such, place your keyword as close to the front as possible.
Help Google Help You
For search robots to index your site, they must be able to crawl your pages. Errors such as broken links can block robots, a problem that hinders hundreds of thousands of sites. To help, Google Webmaster Tools provides a Crawl Errors feature.
Have a Navigation Strategy
When search robots crawl your site, they navigate your internal links to determine which priority pages should be indexed most highly. Neglecting navigational strategy can rank pages incorrectly or make sites look artificial. To avoid this, design a logical hierarchy that serves your visitors’ navigational needs. For each page, ask, “Where does a visitor need to go from here?”
Build Natural Links
Google has recently targeted what it considers unnatural linking methods, such as large-scale article marketing and guest posting, and optimized anchor text in press releases. While this makes things challenging for SEO practitioners who have been using these methods, for the general website owner, it underscores the importance of natural link-building for search engine ranking. Building links to your site from relevant sources using natural anchor text is crucial to optimizing any website.
We’ve all heard the buzz that email marketing is no longer a valuable component to online strategies, but that’s simply not true. However, there is no denying that whether you’re marketing to a business or a company, the buyer mentality has evolved with the change of digital commerce.
The days of blasting out generic emails with terribly cold subject lines are over. What people nowadays want is personalization and information. With the entire world at our fingertips in the form of 4G networking, we can essentially find information on a product or service anywhere, any time. The trick now, is to be smart about your email marketing efforts.
Get rid of the idea that the more emails you send out the more possibilities for potential prospecting you have. Now, I’m not saying to entirely shut down your list, but rather to spend more time testing and analyzing the data you use for your campaign.
Think about why you open emails, what is it that causes you to click? After all, we’re not that different. According to Baydin, an email management service, the average person receives 147 messages per day and deletes about half of them. So ask yourself what makes you read or delete an email? Then start to develop your strategy around that.
Build Stronger Relationships
Begin your new approach by working on the relationships you maintain with your recipients. Make sure you segment your list so that you can tailor how you approach recipients differently. For example, you would not want to send a company’s CEO the same email and a member on the sales team because you interact and pitch differently with different business members. There are many different ways tosegment an email list including:
- Merge fields (like “job title,” or “ZIP code”)
- Signup date
- Interest groups
Once you’ve successfully segmented your list, based on your campaign, personalize your message. Try to remember the new buyer I spoke about earlier. People don’t want to be sold, they want to be informed. So use one, or more of the many techniques and technologies out there to personalize an email and speak directly to each recipient- the way they want to be spoken to.
When you’re ready to develop the email, keep your customers and prospects in mind. Understanding what they want, is key to creating the content for your email. Think about what you want them to know in as little words as possible, then develop your strategy around that small piece of information.
Lastly, don’t fall into the one-and-done approach many campaigns tend to go by. Interaction and follow through are key to appealing to today’s buyer. Urge your account and sales managers to send direct follow through messages and show your customers that you genuinely care about providing a solution with the product or services you’ve promoted.
Use a Few of These Best Practices
So like I’ve been saying, email marketing is not dead, but if your campaign is not evolving to approach the modern buyer than your email marketing efforts might as well be.
There are countless lists and articles with advice on how to approach a successful campaign; some is useful and some not. A few of my preferred tips and tricks are:
- Start with writing the quickest description and edit from there. I don’t know about you, but when I write I find the most excitement and genuine emotion comes across
- Keep it short and use bullets
- Personalize your greeting and make sure your subject line doesn’t look spammy
- Focus on the solutions of your product or service
- Insert multiple links to the same page
- Make a time sensitive incentive to motivate prospects and customers
Most importantly, remember to make your call to action clean, clear and concise. With so much information out there it’s no wonder people miss so many things in an email. If there was one click you’d want to get from a campaign where and what would that be? Make that click count in your CTA!
Long Live Email
Remember what I said about how many emails the average person receives a day? Clearly, email is alive and well, which is why I can’t understand who started that rumor. If it was so useless it would not be so widely used.
The truth of the matter is that email marketing is alive and well, however, like that modern buyer I keep referring to, so must email evolve to suit the mentality of a new era. And like anything in this world of online marketing, in order to market your product or service you must learn how to stand out in the crowd. So if you research best practices, test and analyze your data, and get in front of the trends, I predict your email campaign will have a long, healthy, lucrative life.