If a company is franchised, it’s safe to say that they’re doing something right. Franchising is a business practice that’s experiencing an impressive level of global growth in the current business world. Becoming a franchise is equated with success in large part because it takes a business plan that has proven to be successful to grow in such a way, and because such growth creates job opportunities and a place to put collaborative ideas to work, it’s easy to see why hundreds of thousands of small businesses aspire to join the movement.
E-commerce and online marketing is part of the reason franchising is becoming so popular on the global scale. Now more than ever, business owners have access to the tools, storefront platforms, and audiences they need to brand themselves and secure new clients.
Since helping businesses gain traction is what WebiMax is all about, the International Franchise Expo in NYC is an event we’re thrilled to attend. As the largest franchise expo in the United States, this event is an opportunity for attendees to network with over 400 of the country’s top franchises, learn how to grow their own franchises, find opportunities with others in their field, and gain insight about ways to catalyze their business’s growth. Whether you’re looking to get on board with an established franchise or seeking tips as a new franchise owner, this is an event you won’t want to miss.
No matter what industry you’re interested in, the International Franchise Expo is going to have an opportunity for you. The event is put together specifically to connect investors and those seeking opportunity with franchises that have opportunities to offer. It’s a unique and invaluable experience for franchisees to learn the ropes and find out about new and exciting industries. The event runs this Thursday through Saturday, the 20th to the 22nd, so drop by our booth if you’re going to stop in! We’ll be at booth number 373 for the entirety of the event. Hope to see you there!
People say you should learn from your mistakes. Not me. I prefer to learn from other people’s mistakes. It can save you a lot of headaches and sometimes a little embarrassment.
As Content Development Manager, I oversee a team of (awesome) SEO copywriters who help build and optimize content marketing strategies for our clients. But rather than tell you how incredible we are (seriously, we’re great), I’d like to use this Manager Monday to take a look at a few #epicfails by some of the biggest brands in the world–it’s much funnier and, honestly, more interesting.
Without further ado, here’s my big brand blooper reel for content marketing fails.
New York Times
Most of us have done it before. We’ve sent an email or maybe a text message that we probably shouldn’t have sent. However, it’s usually not to the New York Times’ 8 million current subscribers.
In December 2011, a simple email campaign turned into a marketing nightmare for one of the nation’s most popular newspapers. The paper meant to send an email to people who recently cancelled their subscription asking them if they’d be interested in signing back up at a discount. When the current subscribers received the email instead of the intended 300 ex-subscribers, most responded with concern that this was spam and some with anger that they didn’t get the discount.
Advice: Always make sure you check your recipients before clicking “Send” on any message.
Spoiler Alert: If you haven’t read Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins’s final installment in the Hunger Games trilogy, I sincerely hope you avoided downtown D.C. last spring.
Amazon came under fire last April when a Kindle billboard in Washington displayed the first page of the final book which revealed key plot points of the previous two books.
Advice: Don’t be a blabber mouth!
I’m a big fan of user-generated content. It makes my life as a writer so much easier. I mean people are literally doing the work for me and it’s good for SEO–#winning (is that still going on?).
But what happens when your users don’t have anything engaging to say? Well, you’d be in a situation similar to Pepsi whose home page consists of nearly all tweets that get little social engagement. They have nearly 9.5 million “likes” on Facebook yet the posts on their home page typically garner less than 10 (a lot of them have none).
Advice: If you don’t have anything interesting to say, don’t say anything…no, no wait–say something, but you might have to rely on more than your users to do so. Produce some of your own content and be more selective with the user-generated content you publish on your site.
I’ve seen this done on a few fashion websites before and really liked the idea. They use “in-image advertising” to market multiple products. So if you don’t like the jeans you see on the model in the picture but you absolutely love the necklace they’re wearing, there will be a link that directs you to that product’s page.
Unfortunately, this backfired big time for Express. They decided to help users find products on their site that were similar to clothing items in photos pulled from Yahoo News. This resulted in Express unintentionally offering users the chance to buy a scarf resembling one worn by an Afghan militant (the picture was taken from a story discussing a bloody attack in Afghanistan).
Advice: Stick to celebrity news, and just filter out stories that involve Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen, Chris Brown… okay, maybe just stick to your own photos.
GE recently launched a site called ecomagination. In theory, it’s awesome. It aims to be a thought-leadership blog for green technology and green living. They currently have almost 96,000 likes on Facebook, but the majority of their content struggles to get more than handful of likes. Why you ask?
Well, that’s because the majority of their content is self-promotional. It looks more like a news section of a site than a thought-leadership blog. This distances them from their audience and hurts their brand. People want to hear about the issues, not that your company is greener than an Irish bar on St. Patrick’s Day.
Advice: Be confident about your brand, not cocky. Either that or re-name your site egomagination.
Social media is a powerful device. In fact, it’s so powerful that users can take the reins on your social media marketing campaign and turn it into a (in my opinion rather hilarious) prank.
Back in July of 2012, a group of pranksters hijacked a Facebook promotion designed to send Pitbull to the most-liked Walmart. They used the hashtag #ExilePitbull for a campaign that eventually sent the Miami-based rapper to Kodiak, Alaska. At least he was a good sport about it saying, “What you gotta understand is that I will go anywhere in the world for my fans.”
Advice: I’m sorry, but this is just funny.
We all make mistakes, even some of the biggest, most well-liked brands out there. Sure most are unintentional, but in a world where your mistakes can be scrutinized under the microscope of the Internet (kind of what I’m doing for example), it’s important, now more than ever, to know your audience and think each strategy through to the end.
Oh, and by the way, as much as I talked up my team earlier in the post, we’ve learned from our mistakes as well. In fact, if you see any in the post, give me a shout. Happy marketing!
All’s fair in online marketing until zoo animals hurt someone… just a little online humor to open with. Actually, all is not equal online. There are too many factors to consider. Dr. Pete made a good point earlier in a great ‘catchall’ online marketing post:
“Search is algorithmic, so we assume it follows the same rules for everyone. In theory, it usually does, but those rules are incredibly complex and situational.”
Another post, catching my eye lately is GM’s decision to part advertising ways with Facebook. Wait! Isn’t Facebook like ‘the best social media site’ to use for your business? I’m sure you could find a post or two supporting the claim. Yet, GM, America’s third-largest advertiser, doesn’t want to advertise with the Facebook? You mean there are exceptions to online marketing!? Whoa, watch your speed driving that SEO train, business owners.
‘SEO’ is Marketing
I don’t want to get heavily into defining or redefining SEO; some people don’t like that (more inside SEO humor). Rather, for the purposes of business people, I’ll make it simplified. SEO is a method of marketing. Marketing is a method of drawing attention (to what’s offered).
Many peoples’ notions of ‘SEO’ are becoming more like traditional marketing, especially in the wake of stringent rules ushered by cute Pandas and Penguins. Basically, ‘SEO’ is/was ‘search engine’ optimization, meaning live pages were ‘optimized’ so search engines could read them well; so, if I wrote a page focused on copywriting, a search engine, like Google, would understand the main focus of the article. There are technical things I could do to the page to facilitate the engine’s understanding.
At some point, people went crazy, commercially abusing the engines…Then the Web blew up; the social and content aspect of the engines got more attention, leaving those outside of ‘SEO’ even more intrigued regarding its marketing capabilities. And yet…these days, I think more business owners are realizing the more successful SEO campaigns are light on technical aspects (because ‘over doing it’ can get you penalized) and heavy on marketing sentiments, you know, those notions of intriguing markets to products/services.
GM – FB = WTF?
In the intro, I mention GM’s subtraction of FB paid advertising. What gives? I see it two ways; either Facebook didn’t make sense for GM (That could be well understood; not every ad platform is going to work for everyone.) or GM’s marketing team couldn’t make sense of digital marketing. Are there any marketers out there who would like the opportunity to invest GM’s $10 million if given the chance? I bet there would be some takers.
My point is that marketing is not black and white. As Dr. Pete mentions in regard to SEO, there are a lot of factors to consider, making it highly difficult to produce ‘objectified’ results. This means I could devise an online strategy for BMW and GM, which looks similar; but, due to the shades of differences regarding BMW, GM, and respective target markets, the endeavors could go very differently.
Let’s say BMW’s campaign goes well; but, I can’t say the same for GM. Was I ‘off’ as a marketer? Yes and no. No in that maybe I find a good strategy (for BMW). Yet, yes, I was off regarding the notion of not finding an ‘X factor’ of GM’s campaign, in finding the differentiation which would make GM’s campaign drive well.
Engage in practices that make sense for your brand; take the time to learn and execute well. There is no grand solution; only solutions for single brands. Let’s consider a real-life example. Jason Acidre is an incredible link builder and marketer. Link building helps pages achieve better rankings; yet, how did Jason achieve online traction thus far? Was it by online ‘rank’? Taken from Jason’s guestpost:
“I didn’t get clients because of search rankings. I got them through my blog posts.”
Yellow Money Light, Green Consumer Light
Jason found a way to intrigue his target market (which could differentiate considerably from the link-building suggestions relayed to his clients). I’m urging you to slow down, business owners, in regard to your approach to online marketing and SEO. I believe the notion of a ‘flourishing business’ is causing some brands to make hasty online decisions, believing SEO is a dismissal of or circumvention of traditional marketing. It’s not. It’s another method of marketing. That goes for all the SEO-related initiatives too such as link building, social media participation, content orchestration, and so on.
Watch your speed. Slow down when it comes to the initial investment; but, accelerate internal notions of marketing toward your target market. It’s ALL ABOUT THE CONSUMER end to end. There are no exceptions to that rule. In theory, the product/service does all the heavy lifting. The marketing is a matter of introducing the service/product to the market. All the marketing in the world can’t put a magic spin on a wanting service or product, ask any consumer about that.
Although social media users swap countless IMs and posts across PCs and laptops every month, most people fail to realize the amount of direct messaging that takes place between mobile device owners through those same social networks. According to a blog published just a few days ago on the New York Times website, a number of recent studies all point to the conclusion that social media apps are quickly replacing standard phone SMS as a primary form of mobile communication. One particular report states that the amount of text messages relayed by cellphone owners in the Phillipines on a monthly basis has decreased by more than a third from 2010 to 2011 (down to 400 texts from around 660).
Yet, what does this all mean to the standard small to medium-sized business owner? Well, aside from the obvious fact that Facebook and Twitter are quickly replacing traditional phone texting, it’s important to recognize the ever-increasing need for a strong social network presence in the business world. As conversations continue to take place in greater frequency between social media users, companies want to be a part of that dialogue more than ever. It’s one thing to have a prominent link on a Facebook page or Twitter feed, but becoming a talking point in these back-and-forth messages is even more worthwhile.
Maintain an Undeniable Network Presence
Often a luxury exclusive to multi-million dollar corporations, wide-scale recognition on social networks is considered by many business analysts to be the ultimate goal of any social media optimization. At the end of the day, once the ad campaign is over and the dedicated bloggers, tweeters and status updaters have gone to bed, a business owner wants to rest easy knowing that all that hard work is still finding traction. While getting to this point can take months – or even years – of hard work, getting a campaign started on the right foot can make all the difference.
For the best social media results, small business owners and experienced marketers alike need to remain active when seeking out target demographics. By searching for interest groups, watching how the competition approaches their own campaigns, keeping up with industry-related news and always staying active with posts, a social media listing can establish the follower base and ongoing attention it needs to succeed. A dedicated effort on social networks can eventually establish one’s brand across a wide audience and keep traffic going to a page consistently.
Earn, and Keep, the Attention of Potential Followers
Getting communities on social networks to notice a company is not unlike being the center of attention at a party. Although companies can end up handling thousands of followers at a time, getting people to engage a business takes the right approach. Aside from constantly posting new blog content via Facebook and other social media outlets, companies can also remain relevant on social networks by interacting directly with users. In particular, running a contest is a fantastic way to get new followers to jump onto a business’ social network feed. Raffles and community-driven competitions for consumer goods and various leisure items often provide great incentives.
Of course, it can be difficult to secure these users once a contest has ended. Should a business try to use giveaways to bolster its online following, it’s important that it attempts to continually engage these new followers outside of the contest itself. A social media campaign manager should always try to ask questions and for feedback, do community spotlights or even feature posts from social media users. This type of community response rewards users for being actively involved with a company and provides a solid way to keep people following.
Supplement Social Network Activity with even more Activity
While the old adage of “less is more” certainly applies to social media campaigns, businesses still want to make sure their voices are heard. Although one should take care in not turning away users through excessive posting and in-your-face advertising, it’s a smart move to supplement campaign efforts through additional social networks. In particular, Twitter is an excellent avenue through which companies can spread additional links and updates for their other social media assets while not overwhelming followers on other networks.
Maintaining a strong presence in social media conversations is a true challenge that offers as many rewards as it does obstacles. Should readers have any further questions regarding the right practices for social media success, I can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t be pennywise and dollar foolish, business owners. Do you see the forest through the trees? Do you see the three-dimensional image emerging from the ostensible abstract graphic? The dynamic has always existed; yet, I believe brands of ago understood the value in providing “value.” It was expected (as should be). Then, an emergence of business began…
In The Beginning
I get a lot of my work ethic from older generations. My grandfather, though working a white-collar job, had to work very hard. All his peers did. It was expected. Why else would American people, coming out of the Great Depression, give their hard-earned money away? They wouldn’t. Quality and value was respected and expected.
Things Got Better (But for Whom?)
Things turned around for the economy; free enterprise emerged in a number of verticals. Innovation was up as well as the spending of Americans. The hunger of businesses also skyrocketed. More businesses existed in a number of verticals. The principle of ‘competition’ threatened revenue streams and existences of businesses.
What do you do when you can’t compete with a better competitor? Let’s not get into ethics; but, let’s face it. There are those who will do ‘anything’ to make a buck and sustain their ‘business.’
It took some years for us get comfy with the Web; but, today its popularity is undeniable. The line to the Web looked like the one inspired by Sylvester McMonkey McBean in Seuss Sneetches tale. Many licked their chops, salivating at the chance to make ‘mo money’ online.
This was great for consumers too (in part); it was convenient and made for a more robust shopping experience. However, the greed previously spawned before the dawn of the Web was fed by the new wave.
“All these dollar signs (I mean consumers) are on the Web now. How can I get them to buy my stuff? Oh wait, this search engine optimization thingy can get me ranked first for my services and products?! DAAAAAAAAAMN - bingo!”
Many in the industry rag on ethically-questionable SEOs. They are undoubtedly a problem; but, they’re really just hired guns, inspired by their own greed; but, shoddy SEO revenue is fueled by the greed of questionable brands who want to make money (and, yeah, maybe create some value; but, “If we can get the money without worrying about the value, that’s better, right?”)
So, business owners, at present, you have access to a range of SEOs who run the ethics gamut as you yourselves fall somewhere in the spectrum between scumbag and value creator.
Is it frustrating for the business owners who want to provide value? I’m very sure it is. Is it frustrating for upstanding SEOs who want to help in aligning value with target markets? I guarantee it.
We are in an age of transparency. I’m not trying to coin a new term; I know how some take to such notions; but, I digress. With each passing day, I celebrate the present evolution of online marketing; I’m happy for ethical SEOs and for consumers; because, there’s increasingly less room for the unethical to hide. The unethical SEOs are blaringly obvious to those in the industry; but, they’re not a threat to us in the industry; they just disrespect and smear our industry. They are not so readily seen by clients; yet, some clients are just as scummy as those rogue SEOs.
I have bad news for questionable practices and people. You’re going to fail…eventually. Like the time after the Great Depression, we are in the wake of the Great Recession. People care about how they spend their money, insisting on getting value (as it should be).
Those who need to hide will; yet, those who don’t won’t. Why the heck would they? They can be as transparent, footloose, and fancy-free as they want. They CAN DO what all their online marketing and SEO insinuates… Others can’t yet use SEO and online marketing as a means to a scumbag end.
So the cycle will play over. Those who can’t compete will try; but, it’s not going to be so easy anymore. I’m sorry for you (for a number of reasons).
Pro quo means “this for that” in Latin. It’s not rocket surgery (it was intended for a laugh.) People want something in exchange for their hard-earned money, something of value. You’re not deserved of their money because you have a business. You earn their money through respecting your brand, its operations, its employees, and yourself as a business owner. Otherwise, you’re just not getting it (people’s business too –that was a pun) and neither will your brand…in due time. Savvy yet? Don’t worry; I have more ink in my pen.
Consumers, peers, and service providers are a lot smarter than some questionable parties lead themselves to believe. I know companies are in business to make money; but, why would you think you’re entitled to sidestep the genuine business road? Make it your business (yeah, it’s a pun again) to create for the consumer. There is an inescapable dynamic involving creating value and creating a successful business. It takes hard work and dedication. There’s no alternative. Live it or leave business aspirations behind. People understood the dynamic generations ago? Are we degenerating? Some are. Others are finishing the ideals our forefathers/mothers started.
When business owners hear the term “online marketing,” many people immediately think of the more overt advertising that they see when surfing the web. Banner ads, PPC links on search results and pop-up ads are certainly all very common tools used by internet marketers. Yet many companies have been relying on more SEO-oriented techniques to get their brand’s name recognized by internet users. This change of pace isn’t due to lackluster results from PPC, but rather a repurposed focus on trying to elevate organic search results over paid efforts.
The popular internet advertising mindset these days is to reduce the amount of direct marketing a company does in favor of building traffic and conversion rates more naturally. SEO companies have adopted traditional paid links as supplemental components to more robust organic campaigns, and for good reason. While PPC and banner ads can certainly bring in visitors to a website, they generally tend to give SEO firms more to worry about in the long run. Some of the more common reasons for marketing firms preferring organic links over inorganic ones are as follow:
The Daily Barrage of Ads, Ads, Ads
The biggest issue with most marketing is the way it’s perceived by potential customers. Sure, an advertisement here or there can get people to notice a company, but a flood of ads simply upset people. We’ve all been in situations where seeing the same banner or video ad ends up only making us annoyed at the piece of marketing in question or the company responsible for it. This ultimately achieves the exact opposite of what the marketing was intended to do – bring a person to a company’s site.
High Cost for Short Term Payoff
While pay per click advertisements are very effective at bringing in traffic, they can be costly. More popular keywords and ad networks can quickly become financial sinkholes if a marketing firm is not careful. Even if these ads are approached correctly, sometimes the amount of resources put into the project is too demanding overall. PPC ads are an excellent investment when done right, but the resulting traffic often drops off sharply once the campaign ends. It’s because of this that many SEOs are hesitant to rely too greatly on paid links for their clients.
Organic Marketing has a Higher Retention Rate
Despite all the issues that may arise with direct marketing, it’s really the strength of organic linkbuilding that matters most to a SEO firm. Organically-focused marketing campaigns succeed by strengthening a company’s online properties so they show up high up in the SERPs and bring in traffic without unnecessary financial investment. The conversion rates obtained through organic links are less resource-intensive and also benefit from previous work done to webpages and social media listings.
All these reasons add up to one inevitable conclusion: organic SEO efforts should always be the primary focus of any company’s online marketing efforts. Should readers have any questions about organic SEO vs. paid links, I can be reached at email@example.com.