December 12, 2017

Five Key Lessons Shared Between Non-Profits and Franchise Businesses

Recently, I’ve had some very honest and candid chats with some national non-profit leaders about the future of fundraising. Simultaneously, I’ve been talking with local franchise owners about the greatest challenges they face — regarding everything from communications to operations.
As it turns out, their challenges and struggles echoed each other. Be it easing cultural tensions, improving communication, encouraging mission alignment, or fostering consistency, many of the same issues keep them up at night. Between the two segments, I’ve distilled some parallels and will outline here five key lessons that local franchise owners can learn from national non-profit leaders.
1. Everyone can fund raise, but not everyone is a fundraiser.
To be a skilled fundraiser takes training and practice. Just because someone has the desire to go out and raise money, does not ensure they will be successful. Even if they are successful, it doesn’t guarantee that the success will be sustainable. Instead, train your people for the skills you need. Training should happen every time someone joins, but should also be on-going. Teaching the skills needed enables both success and sustainability.
2. It’s critical to connect people to your mission.
For non-profits, connecting people to their mission is the key to keeping the lights on. When individuals and corporations believe what you’re doing matters, then they show their support through donations and gifts. However, as more and more non-profits develop and ask for donations, the mission becomes a critical differentiator between them and their competition. Likewise, as the number of businesses increase and therefor competition, why you do what you do becomes as important as how you do it or what you offer. Know your mission, live your mission, and clearly communicate your mission so others can align with you.
3. Plan on people making it personal.
The more people invest in something, the more it matters to them. This investment could be time, money or both. Whether it’s the woman who dedicates hours volunteering for a cause because she or a family member is affected by a disease, or the husband and wife team who poured their retirement savings into buying into a franchise store. When it matters, it becomes personal. Channeling this passion can be an organization’s greatest challenge. To do so, give people a chance to express themselves. Listen as they express their concerns or share their ideas. Empower people to use their passions and motivations in creative ways. Give them a platform and the support needed to plan their Do-It-Yourself fundraiser, or design their own local marketing outreach. Yet, be clear and direct in policies and procedures so they know where the boundaries are.
4. Think global, act local.
The best executives always remember that for both non-profits and franchises, many of the most critical decisions happen quickly and at the local level. It’s easy to fall back on the national name recognition and forget about how stressful the small business environment can be. It’s tough! But, always remember to prioritize your goals, and work toward reaching one goal before moving on to the rest.
5. Incentivize initiative and show your appreciation.
Above all else, remember to say thank you. Be it volunteers or franchisees, expressing your gratitude matters. And it’s usually the little things that mean the most. A coffee mug filled with chocolates, a t-shirt with a note, these small things let the individual know that their hard work is noticed and appreciated. You can even set incentive levels to reward good work along the way. However, be weary of saying thanks with things. If you go too far and give someone too nice of a gift, it makes the whole experience transactional, cheapens it, and demotivates. Instead to motivate employees, thank then sincerely and frequently with small, appropriately sized gifts.
Though I never recognized it, the similarities between the national non-profit and the franchise business models are striking. Both have a national brand supported by local factions, yet, though connected by name, these chapters or stores often operate independently. So, it makes sense that they share similar struggles. All of these listed takeaways represent real organizational challenges for both non-profits and franchise businesses. They are all primarily people concerns and every organization will benefit from realizing it’s living, breathing, human value.
Jane Broadbent
Senior Strategist

October 20, 2017

Contemporary Coupons — More Than Old Fashioned Value

I was the kid that thought it was fun to cut the coupons out of the Sunday paper then sort and organize them for the proper category placement in my mom’s coupon organizer. Sure, you could call that OCD, but it instilled in me a habit that still holds true today.
No longer am I waiting for the Sunday paper, but rather, going to my grocery store’s website and loading the coupons straight to my loyalty card. Why, because, well who doesn’t like to stumble upon a good deal and save a little money. Free pint of Haagen Dazs, yes please!
This trend doesn’t end with the grocery store. Within minutes of searching, customers can find a discount or online coupon within a variety of retail categories.
And these savings aren’t just targeted to those of us that grew up with physical coupons, they have also transcended generations. Millennials are savvy and fickle shoppers. They aren’t as brand loyal and their willingness to buy private-label brands and try lower price brands has kept retailers on their toes. It’s their desire for a good value that will lead to choosing the brand that offers a discount.
And with the availability to find savings online and load them to a loyalty card or combine multiple coupons through an app, these fickle shoppers have become frequent online couponing users.
Now the question is, how to keep your brand top of mind for these millennial shoppers. Maybe it’s following the Bed Bath and Beyond method. Their coupon for 20% off shows up at my house and in my inbox regularly. Sure, I rarely use it, but when I need something and I don’t have the physical coupon, the first place I go is online. Just having it available when I need it is a definite perk.
Now, if only there was a digital coupon organizer. Good thing there is an app for that: Krazy Coupon Lady. Might have to give that a try!

Christie Hach

Account Director

February 27, 2017

Specialty Retailers — Tap Into the "Network Effect"

Why turn to Amazon instead of ordering products from specialty brands you love? Trust. By now, you probably trust Amazon. While they don’t sell everything, they very likely sell something close at a few different price points. Amazon has found a way to be at the front of the consumer’s mind before they even consider the next purchase. Not to mention the convenience of research experience and fast, cheap (or free) shipping.
These factors contribute to the surprising fact that 58% of people make the majority of their purchases with Amazon.* So what is a specialty retailer to do?
Adrien Nussenbaum, the U.S. CEO of Mirakl, digs into this for an article on Chain Store Age. He reminds us of ways that specialty brands with physical stores can gain an edge with their customers against the giant, Amazon.
Specialty brands should remember the importance of leveraging brick-and-mortar as an asset for opportunity, instead of a liability of overhead.
Brands need to be inventive to establish stores as a destination. They can do this by offering the customer a bigger reason to visit that doesn't hinge on simple "product for price" transaction. Nussenbaum explains that tying this approach to location to online community of people with lifestyles relating closely to the brand can create a “network effect.” Customers connect with each other at the store and share a connection with the brand. This leads to brand loyalty and involvement among individuals but also anchors a community.
Specialty brands are much better positioned to connect to passionate and interested people in niche communities. Open-minded leaders in niche retail must find the right mix of resources and strategy using location and experiences to connect with customers. And more importantly to connect customers to each other through the brand.
Here are a few examples of specialty, niche or hyperlocal brands making it work:
Lululemon offers their customers in-store yoga flow classes on Savasana Sunday.
REI encourages their people to "Opt Outside" and offers a variety of “skills classes."
Sur La Table offers cooking classes that are searchable by location and culinary styles
• Richmond’s own Carytown Bikes offers community rides every week at two different levels of intensity.
All of these examples allow customers some flexibility to join an event that fits their life and connect with the community and the expertise of the brands.
*Mintel — Online And Mobile Shopping, US
Emily Mondloch
Market Research & Insights
Jeff Smack
Director of Interactive Media

September 22, 2016

Let The Customer Lead

At Barber Martin Agency one of our Guiding Philosophies is “Let The Customer Lead.” Before social media and online review sites gave the audience an instant public voice, BMA knew that everything we do in business starts with what your customer needs and cares about.

If we don’t know what’s most important to the people that comprise your audience, your community or your most likely prospects, then we will only get so far.

I’d like to share this old parable of a man (the customer) who had succeeded in business and wanted to have a new suit made by a highly regarded tailor (the business).

The man went to Zumbach, the most famous tailor in the land, and had himself measured. When he came back to Zumbach’s shop the next week for the final fitting, put on his new suit and stood in front of the mirror, he saw that the right sleeve was two inches longer than the left.

“Um, Zumbach,” he said, “there seems to be something wrong here. This sleeve is at least two inches too long.” The tailor, who didn’t like backtalk from his customers, puffed himself up and said,

“There is nothing wrong with the suit, my good man. Clearly, it’s the way you’re standing.” With that, Zumbach pushed on the man’s shoulder until the sleeves were even. But when the customer looked in the mirror, he saw that the fabric at the back of the suit was bunched up behind his neck. “Please, Zumbach,” the poor man said, “my wife hates a suit that bulges in back. Would you mind just taking that out?”

Zumbach snorted indignantly, “I tell you there’s nothing wrong with this suit! It must be the way you’re standing.” Zumbach shoved the man’s head forward until the suit seemed to fit him to perfection. After paying the tailor’s high price, the man left Zumbach’s store in confusion.

Later that day, he was waiting at the bus stop with his shoulders lopsided and his head straining forward, when another fellow took hold of his lapel and said, “What a beautiful suit! I’ll bet Zumbach the tailor made that suit for you.”

“Why, yes,” the man said, “but how did you know?”

“Because only a tailor as brilliant as Zumbach could outfit a body as distorted as yours.”

I love this story. So many insights can be drawn from it.

The one I intend to emphasize here is the tension between the Zumbach’s brand, his position as expert, and his ultimate value to his client. He has created a reputation for himself that is attractive to his customer but he squanders his equity by letting the man live with a dissatisfying product and service experience.

This story lightheartedly reminds us that the customer experience must be paramount. Our clients and their customers have the ability to unlock our highest collaborative genius. If we are able to apply our own expertise to their own best wisdom then we can use both to serve an identified need and exchange the highest mutual value.

Jeff Smack
Digital Communications Director

May 13, 2016

Earn the Millennial Dollar Without Targeting Their Wallets

Airbnb knows what Millennials value.

Don’t sell price point. Sell experience. Most Millennials will tell you that. Me too.

Representing nearly a quarter of the U.S. population, Millennials spend around $200 billion a year on travel. Given that we’re settling down less than previous generations, travel represents a huge opportunity with some shelf life for the hospitality industry.

Many articles being written about us (not necessarily by us) put out some mixed messages about our price sensitivity. Some call us thrifty or savvy deal hunters. Others say we splurge. Both might be true. I would say that we readily spend what we have on the promise of an authentic experience.

Airbnb is appealing to a universal Millennial truth by focusing on authenticity. Although Airbnb is typically a very cost-effective stay option, they are not selling their price point. They are selling a unique experience.

The new campaign, Live There, highlights the host as a local expert for guests. This human element in many ways creates an instantly genuine experience. Live like a local. Immerse yourself in the neighborhoods and culture, of wherever you go. Live There is the Millennial equivalent of “When in Rome.” Something my mother always said to me.

 “When in Rome” or “Live There.” The point is Millennials know it’s good to experience new things and seize opportunities. Airbnb gets it and in doing so, they seem well positioned for the future in their industry.

Andrea Neudecker
BMA’s Millennial Marketer

December 10, 2014

Making a Better Impression

This week Google released some findings from their study on the viewability of digital display ad impressions. When the number came back a few points over 50% on average, there was a bit of a roar among the crowd.

Some articles seem to frame the point as if Google has been getting away with something, but in this case, Google is playing referee by conducting the study and releasing the findings to the broader industry so that advertisers may better define the value of their ad spend. The topic of viewability has been a hot one this year with the IAB and industry decision makers weighing in. This new study seems to be Google’s response as leader of the field.

It’s never been totally clear how valuable the awareness value of display advertising is. It’s an interactive medium so the bulk of the value rests on what happens beyond the impression. As well, Google isn't ultimately responsible for the quality of content or the design of its publishing websites. It has standards and guidelines in place. It holds very strong influence, but it relies on the vested interest in quality across advertisers, agencies and publishers in a rapidly evolving and currently self-regulated arena.

According to Google’s own literature, “An ad served doesn’t necessarily equal and ad viewed.” Common sense informs us of this. Even a viewable ad may not be seen by the user. However, when an ad is clicked we can safely attribute awareness value to that transaction. The behavior beyond-the-click is where the ad stands to serve a business goal and where the real value may be derived. You have heard these behaviors referred to as conversions or KPIs.

So it’s important to remember that before we implement a digital campaign of any sort, we want to identify what our business goals are first and then build a campaign that supports that. If this process is followed, then the incremental awareness value of impressions (or rather about half) served is just added value in pursuit of real goals and a more concrete return on ad spend.

Jeff Smack
Digital Communications Director

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